2014/10/27

Repost: Senri nyumon - An Introduction to the Principles of War (Japan, 1969)

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This is a repost from late 2010:

It came recently to my attention that this little '69 gem from Japan isn't as well-known among military-interested people as I assumed.

A Translation from the Japanese
by
Dr. Joseph West

Original authors:


Kentarō Anabuki Nobuyuki Suzuki Ryōichi Funakoshi
Minoru Ueki Seiichi Tauchi Hachirō Maeda
Kaoru Onisawa Kenji Takagi Shōsuke Maki
Yūkō Kashiwaba Inao Tanaka Masaya Maki
Makoto Katō Sunao Chamura Katsunori Makino
Toshio Kamo Matsuji Tomisawa Tomohiro Matsui
Kokki Kiyofuji Mitsukuni Narishige Diahachi Matsumoto
Yasushi Kunigo Shōki Noguchi Yonejirō Matsumoto
Osamu Kōno Naoyuki Nozoe Tomoyoshi Miki
Keijirō Sakae Takatomo Hamaguchi Takeji Yamauchi
Harutaki Sasaki Hitoshi Fujiyoshi Taneaki Yamanouchi
Hisashi Shibata Kiyomi Haruyama Kazuo Yamamura


S O

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2014/10/23

Lies about atrocities in the Eastern Ukraine

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It shouldn't come as a surprise to those ho look at military history, but the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine yet again repeated the pattern of propaganda exaggerations and lies about the evil! other side's alleged atrocities.

 Amnesty International

The persisting problem is that naive people fall for propaganda and then accuse the seasoned, actually not naive sceptics of naiveté, of being FSB operatives et cetera. This helps the war mongers who want (others, and particularly not their own sons) to enter the meatgrinder out of an irrational love for war.

Maybe one should compile a list of  lies and exaggerations and the next time someone pushes for us or others going to war because of allegations of atrocities the non-stupid persons in the room simply shout the warmonger down with a seemingly never-ending list of examples for how his ilk were proved to be worthless and harmful fools.

S O
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2014/10/20

[Deutsch] Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten!

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(A German politics and civil liberties topic.)

Ein Grundproblem der deutschen Konservativen ist, dass sie sich selbst nicht vorstellen können, dass sie vielleicht gefährlich sind. Im Selbstverständnis sind sie so fern der Nazis und Kommunisten, dass der bloße Gedanke an Parallelen außer Reichweite zu sein scheint.

Diese Einstellung produzierte bereits Stasi 2.0, Zensursula und - und nun einen Innenminister, den man wohl als Ulbricht 2.0 bezeichnen sollte.

Eine Sonderkonferenz der Innenminister des Bundes und der Länder hat sich nach einer Pressemitteilung des Bundesinnenmisteriums darauf verständigt, ausreisewilligen radikalen Islamisten den Personalausweis zu entziehen, wenn es Indizien dafür gibt, dass diese im Ausland in den Kampf ziehen wollen. Sie sollen ein papiergebundenes Ersatzdokument erhalten, das "einen deutlichen Hinweis" darauf enthält, dass sie Deutschland nicht verlassen dürfen.

Auf der Pressekonferenz nach dem Treffen der Innenminister präsentierte Bundesinnenminister Thomas de Maizière einen Papierausweis, der Islamisten daran hindern soll, aus Deutschland auszureisen.
Quelle heise.de
 


Zugegeben; das ist meiner Meinung nach auch eine unerhörte Aktion der 16 Landes-Innenminister, die längst nicht alle Konservative sind. Aber die SPD hat ja letztlich dasselbe Problem (siehe einst Schily als Innenminister).
_____________

Um es mal klarzustellen: 

Die BRD gibt keine Ausweise an Ausländer aus, die nötig wären um ins Ausland zu kommen.


Jugendliche hingegen können ihren Personalausweis von ihren Eltern eingezogen bekommen, und ohne deren Kooperation wird ohnehin nur seltenst irgendetwas gegen ihre Ausreise z.B. nach Syrien gelingen. Die meisten Möchtegern-Dschihadisten - insbesondere Minderjährige - könnten leicht mit dem Ausweis eines Anderen ausreisen; Aussehen und Größe ändern sich bei Minderjährigen so schnell, dass die Ausweisbilder ohnehin wenig taugen. Ebenso leicht lässt sich eine elterliche Erklärung fälschen, die den Türkeiurlaub erlaubt.

Was Herr de Maizère als klare Rechtslage in Bezug auf den Resiepass von vermeintlichen Möchtegern-Dschihadisten bezeichnet, bezieht sich wohl auf ein Urteil des VG Berlin. Er scheint zu einer eher großzügigen Auslegung des Urteils zu neigen, was eine typische Verhaltensweise eines Staatsorgans wäre, denn Bürokratien mögen Einschränkungen ihrer Macht nicht.




Das Dümmstmögliche im Kampf gegen Terroristen, Anarchisten und Extremisten ist das Ofern der eigenen freiheitlichen Werte. Unglücklicherweise ist dies aber auch die Standardreaktion derjenigen, die diese Werte ohnehin nie 100%ig verinnerlicht hatten.

Terroristen, Anarchisten und Extremisten an sich sind heutzutage für uns praktisch harmlos. Kühe sind gefährlicher als diese Gruppen zusammen. Ebenso Busfahrer.
Die viel größere Gefahr stammt von denjenigen, denen Viele keine Gefährlichkeit zutrauen wegen Gutbürgerlichkeit usw., die aber beim kleinsten Reiz bereits die Freiheitlichkeit über Bord werfen.


S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

P.S.:  Später (auf Englisch) mehr zum Thema Dschihadisten-Tourismus und wie irrelevant er für unsere innere und äußere Sicherheit wirklich ist.
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2014/10/19

[Blog] New layout

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Yes, I changed the blog layout (and will rework the header sometime).

The old layout had a heavy, amateurish look (my own work and now lost). It reminded me of layouts I did in the 1990's, and that's certainly no good sign. 
It was impossible to update because blogger disabled most options; I wasn't able to add a background tile either through the blogger interface or even in the source code (or what posed as such). It was frozen beyond repair.

I hope the new layout will be more relaxing to the reader's eye. The texts are meant to be demanding, not the layout!

S O
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[Deutsch] Kleine und große Anfragen

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(About answers of the ministry of defence to parliamentary inquiries in general and an example about the costs of a tactical air force wing in particular.)

Die Bundesregierung hat dem Parlament u.a. Antworten auf sogenannte Kleine Anfragen und Große Anfragen zu geben. Bisher habe ich darauf nicht verwiesen, aber manchmal sind interessante Detais in diesen Antworten enthalten.
Sehr oft drückt ein Ministerium jedoch in seinen Antworten auch passiv-aggressiv sein Missgefallen an der Anfrage (der Opposition) bzw. der Kompetenz der Fragestellenden aus und antwortet, als ob es nicht um Informationen für den Gesetzgebers, sondern um sein Bloßstellen ginge. Andere Male wird die Auskunft auf Basis von Geheimhaltung verweigert (ich finde dies eine sehr zweifelhafte Praxis, schließlich hat das Parlament die Aufsicht über die Exekutive).

Hier ist eine Webseite, deren Betreiber sich die Mühe machen, die BMVg-relevanten Antworten in einer Liste direkt zugänglich zu machen: bundeswehr-monitoring.de


Hier einmal ein Beispiel:

German Eurofighter - (c) Krasimir Grozev

"Das Taktische Luftwaffengeschwader 74 Neuburg a.d. Donau hatte im Jahr 2013 im Durchschnitt 21 Luftfahrzeuge in seinem Verfügungsbestand."
und
"Die Gesamtkosten des Taktischen Luftwaffengeschwaders 74 Neuburg a.d. Donau für das Jahr 2013 belaufen sich auf rund 317 Mio. Euro."
und
"Beim Taktischen Luftwaffengeschwader 74 Neuburg a.d. Donau waren durchschnittlich 1126 Soldatinnen und Soldaten sowie 163 Zivilangestellte im Jahr 2013 stationiert bzw. beschäftigt."
und
"Die retrospektiv zu ermittelnden Kosten einer Flugstunde sind für das Jahr 2013 noch nicht abschließend berechnet. Der für das Jahr 2012 ermittelte Kostenansatz lag bei 78197 Euro."
und
"Im Jahr 2013 wurden durch das Taktische Luftwaffengeschwader 74 Neuburg a.d. Donau 3204 Flugstunden durchgeführt, von denen 211 Stunden im Rahmen von Verlegungen nicht in Neuburg a.d. Donau geflogen wurden."
und
"Im Jahr 2013 wurden im Taktischen Luftwaffengeschwader 74 Neuburg a.d. Donau 12751000 Liter Flugkraftstoff an Eurofighter ausgegeben. Dies entspricht ca. 10200 Tonnen Flugkraftstoff.


Aus diesen Informationen kann man direkt und indirekt erkennen:

Geschwader = ca. 21 Flugzeuge*

Gesamtkosten je Eurofighter und Jahr = ca. 15 Mio. Euro

Flugstunde Eurofighter = ca. 78.000 Euro**

Flugstunden Eurofighter je Jahr = ca. 152 h***

Nachschubbedarf Kerosin je Flugstunde im Friedensbetrieb
= 3,4 t****

Es fehlen eigentlich nur noch Angaben zum (typischerweise unzureichenden) Munitionsvorrat und Ersatzteilversorgung. Dem Einzelplan 14 kann man jedoch entnehmen, dass die Beschaffung von Munition durch die Bundeswehr insgesamt typischerweise bei 340-400 Mio. Euro/Jahr liegt.

Bei solchen Werten sollten Fans von Luftmacht ins Grübeln kommen, besonders im Vergleich zu dem, was das Heer stattdessen mit dem Budget machen könnte.

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: Im 2. Weltkrieg war das nicht mal eine Gruppe; die hatte ca. 40 Maschinen und ein Geschwader hatte typischerweise 3 Gruppen + Stabsschwarm. Ein heutiges Luftwaffengeschwader ist nicht nur im Vergleich dazu eher eine große Staffel. Die Dienstgrade der involvierten offiziere sind natürlich nicht mit der Flugzeugzahl mitgeschrumpft.
**: Ein katastrophal hoher Wert, allerdings ist die Vergleichbarkeit mit ausländischen Angaben wohl nicht gegeben.
***: Was bei einem Piloten je Eurofighter so wenig wäre, dass ein ausreichender Übungsstand für eine Mehrrollenfähigkeit praktisch unmöglich ist. Dafür müsste man in Richtung 240-300 h/Jahr gehen und aufgrund der konstanten Fixkosten würden dann auch die Kosten je Flugstunde sinken.
****: Relevant v.a. für Einsätze von schwer zu versorgenden vorgeschobenen Flugplätzen aus.
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2014/10/15

Stripper clips and the infantryman's load problem

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With hundreds of years of more or less empirical research, anecdotes and conventional wisdom, many or most armies are still overburdening their infantrymen. One of the aspects of debate surrounding the infantryman's load problem is ammunition, and how to arrange it.

It's quite evident that storing cartridges in magazines is weight-inefficient in comparison to belts (excluding cartridge weights):

100 rounds 7.62x51mm in 20 rds magazines:
approx.  900 g*
100 rounds 7.62x51mm in disintegrating (M13) belt:
approx. 400 g*

magazine pouches for 100 rounds 7.62x51mm in 20 rds magazines:
approx. 350 g*
belt pouch for 100 rounds 7.62x51mm in disintegrating belt:
approx. 120 g*

Belts win hands-down.
Yet belts are considered a poor choice for normal rifles and carbines, not the least because the mechanism required in the weapon itself tends to be heavier than for (spring-powered) magazine feed.

There is a third (old and unspectacular) option and it slightly confuses me how rarely one reads about it: Stripper clips.
Stripper clips were used to fill the fixed rifle magazines of old (the ones you hardly ever saw from the outside), but they can also be used to refill exchangeable magazines - both apart and in the rifle. Some transition guns of the mid- and late 40's had this capability. A stripper clip for 20 7.62x51 rds weighs about 16 g (80 g for 100 rds)*.


A stripper clip-compatible rifle would allow its user to carry one magazine in the rifle, two in a double magazine pouch and all other cartridges ready in stripper clips in further pouches.** The weight saving for a load of 210 5.56 mm rounds would be almost the weight of four magazines - approx. 0.7 kg (or approx one to two pounds). That would be a great deal already, since the overall weight we need to shave off is about 5-15 kg.***
Every infantryman in full equipment showing more than one double magazine pouch looks suboptimal to me. And this is just about every rifleman nowadays.

One disadvantage is that the stripper clip is fed from above into the magazine (integral or exchangeable) in a rifle. This means there could be no rail or optics right above the magazine. A reliance on clip feeding into magazines directly would allow the continued use of any rifle, of course. It's more fiddly at night, though. Clip feeding into a rifle could be made as easy as a magazine change without tools.

I suppose the return to an emphasis on aimed single shots and move away from a focus on controllable full auto (or burst) fire may benefit a re-appraisal of the stripper clip.


This is totally un-original, of course. All this has been known for decades, and there were a few (non-official) voices in favour of stripper clips. Stripper clips for quick reloading of magazines were in widespread use until the 80's or so.
This begs the question; was the 100% move from clips to magazines excessive and now no-one in an army wants to go back to reputedly 'obsolete' clips or did I miss some powerful contra-clip argument?

related:

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: I looked example figures up and wrote "approx." because there are obviously different ones as well (old steel models can be much heavier). The exact ratio of weights depend on the which specific products are being compared.

**: Hardly any assault rifle / automatic carbine is prepared to empty more than three magazines without severe overheating problems any way.
***: In addition to dropping about 10 kg of hard body armour plates.
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2014/10/13

Hot spots near or in Europe

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(This was written more than a year ago - before the Euromaidan crisis - thus no special emphasis on the Ukraine conflict.)

There are a couple troubling hot spots in or near Europe, and it would be nice if EU members could mobilise a political effort to put these international security-related troubles to rest. This rather strategic approach would no doubt be smarter than to wait till some flared-up conflict surprises the politicians which then hurry with little knowledge to extinguish the flames.

My personal of such trouble hot spots list (excluding all those Arabs) includes

* The status and relations of Transnistria
* Ukraine's inner division in Western-oriented and Russia-oriented, Ukrainian ethnicity and Russian ethnicity (or loyalty)
* Hungary's slide towards a one party dictatorship
* Belarus' lasting dictatorship
* Estonian-Russian conflicts, which I consider driven by the Estonian psyche
* Turkey's conflict with Kurds
* Abchasia secession (Georgia)
* South Ossetia secession (Georgia)
* territorial conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia
* antipathy between Turks and Armenians (since First World War at the latest)
* division of Cyprus

None of these conflicts are a piece of cake, or else they wouldn't last. 

I suppose the conflicts about Estonia and Transnistria are the easiest ones to solve.
European politicians could tender to Estonia's soul, motivate a bit more than symbolic legislation to accommodate the Russian ethnicity better and motivate a treaty between Estonia and Russia to settle certain issues. The EU also sponsors a modern rail connection through the Baltics to Warsaw to propel the Baltics forward economically.
Transnistria is one of those Russian expatriate issues, in which Russia gets or may get involved to protect interests of ethnic Russians abroad. Its secession from Moldova to the Ukraine makes some sense, given that two thirds of its population are from the Ukraine's two major population groups, Ukrainians and Russians. Once absorbed into the Ukraine it would become part of the Ukraine's troubles, which at least cosmetically reduces the list by one.

Hungary's slide towards dictatorship could be strangled by EU policies because it's land-locked and almost surrounded by the EU.

Abchasia and South Ossetia will probably follow the example of Kosovo sooner or later anyway. The EU should come to a non-hypocritical stance instead of being a force for delay. Then again, Russia itself is even more hypocritical on these issues.

The conflicts surrounding Turkey are tricky. Turkey is big enough and its government self-confident enough to avoid foreign contributions to a settlement of its conflicts (since this inevitably requires a compromise).

The Azerbaijan/Armenia conflict is far from Europe and should be addressed through a UN mission headed by famous and respected politicians to give it more weight, attention and a higher probability of success.


S O
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2014/10/12

The Death Spiral and 'asymmetric' warfare

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Most readers who didn't visit this place only because of a search engine result will know the death spiral of arms procurement:

The costs for a new generation of big ticket items (tanks, aircraft, helicopters and ships) rises quicker than the the nation's economic output. On top of this, military budgets even stagnate or shrink simply because of relaxed foreign relations and disaffection with military adventures due to poor results. The end result is that old systems don't get replaced 1:1. It's rather typical that 140 aircraft replace 500 aircraft.* The new systems are usually more capable**, but quantity's intrinsic 'quality' is lost.

This problem is old and has been recognised since the 1950's at least, when the expensive and often heavy first and second generations of supersonic aircraft led to light fighter concepts such as Gnat, Skyhawk and Freedom Fighter. Later during the 60's another lightweight fighter effort led to the F-16 and a bare bones approach led to the almost avionics-free A-10.
The same problem was also rampant in armies since the late 60's, when the excessively expensive MBT 70 project was cancelled and the first Chobham tank generation turned out to be more than twice as expensive as their predecessors (Leopard 2 started at DM 3.8 million, Leopard 1 versions ranged from DM 1 - 1.7 million). Battlefield air defences got an even worse shock when (multiple) radars were installed on vehicles to achieve a useful probability of hit against 1970's threats: More than DM 2.8-5.6 million for a single Gepard, following much less than a million for a M42.
Contrary to intuition, the quality difference between two generations of tanks is rather less important than the quality difference between well-trained and green crews, so an upgrade of hardware is usually a downgrade of capability for months to come.
The importance of training (which costs a lot in spares and fuel) is easily neglected when an armed bureaucracy squeezes the funds for a major hardware upgrade out of its budget. All-too often new high-end "95% solution" aircraft are purchased and then the pilots get much less than 200 flying hours per year and stay 'green' in comparison to a well-trained pilot.
Stocks of ammunition and spare parts suffer from the same neglect.

The concern that NATO could ruin itself and become grossly inferior in conventional warfare due to gutting itself with too expensive hardware was prominent during the 60's to 80's. It was unjustified for one simple reason: The Soviets weren't able to resist the expensive new hardware any better than the West. They suffered from the death spiral as well.
NATO dumped old hardware into Turkey and Greece, the Soviets dumped theirs into Siberian depots, assigned to reserve divisions on paper.***

- - - - -

Other conflicts did not possess this symmetry; this became visible at first in Korea, where the motor-centric American divisions were less suitable than the light infantry-centric North Korean and later Chinese forces. The answer chosen was to throw more resources at the problem, and eventually a face-saving status quo ante ceasefire was reached.
Vietnam was less forgiving, first to the French who worked mostly with WW2 vintage hardware and later to the Americans and Australians, who spent extremely disproportionate resources on the problem (following the standard "If at first you fail, throw more resources at the problem!" approach). This time the unsuitability was even more obvious.

The war over Kuwait in 1991 was a best possible case, earlier generation hardware + poorly trained troops + poorly led troops + open terrain + mostly clear skies ... it gave a brief respite from the troubles of the death spiral. The later occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan weren't so nice. The issue there wasn't the procurement costs, but rather the extraordinarily long tail. The support required for major weapon systems and helicopters was huge. The occupation forces apparently required more (and different) fuel than the occupied country itself, for example. The ever-increasing ambitions in regard to how much supply troops deserve led to some bases having 80% base personnel and 20% personnel for actions 'outside the (barbed) wire'. And plenty of those 20% were for mobility enhancement (helicopters, road demining, convoy escort) or medical evacuation. The high-end approach of high cost, high support, high maintenance had defeated itself and turned into a sad self-parody.

The death spiral in its wider sense, going beyond mere procurement cost escalation, has long since become embarrassing, but it's probably not even an issue for collective security. Any power intent on attacking the alliance for real would likely suffer from the same symptoms. It would be nice if we didn't - for it would save much taxpayer's money, of course.

The real problem of this greater death spiral problem rooted in out-of-control ambitions of the armed bureaucracy itself is in the superfluous military adventure games played by politicians: Western military forces aren't as capable of great power games in underdeveloped places as they were a century ago. It's not only because it's nowadays not tolerable to massacre indigenous people in the hundred thousands.

They're also less capable because they're fat, sick, inefficient, self-defeating. Their efforts to adapt better to such missions only add fat (dedicated camp defences, more base infrastructure, MRAP, more fuel-guzzling hangar queen helicopters) because that's how the bureaucracy rolls and no political master forces it onto a different path.

S O

*: Approximate relationship between Eurofighter and the replaced Tornado IDS + F-4F.
**: There are apparently exceptions; LCS and F-35 are a partial improvement, but also a partial step back.
***: Which scared the shit out of the CIA, which saw Soviet strengths where the Soviets were mediocre and was unaware of Soviet weaknesses. 

edit: I changed the Gepard price because I saw the lower price in a different source. I don't care which value is correct because both were very much greater than the predecessor's. I  think the 2.8 million figure doesn't even come close to program cost/vehicle.
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2014/10/11

Beheadings propaganda

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The beheadings in Syria, primarily the beheading of a handful Western prisoners, appear to get a media echo in German and anglophone media which focuses on one and but one interpretation: 'IS/ISIS/ISIL is evil!'

I'm underwhelmed by this - in my opinion primitive - interpretation.

One reason is this:

"19 Beheaded in 17 Days; 8 for Nonviolent Offenses"
Human Rights Watch

Aljazeera



FYI, Saudi-Arabia is now bombing along against IS/ISIS/ISIL. It's not getting bombed or in any substantial trouble for beheading people - including foreigners - basically all the time. To the U.S., Saudi Arabia is "their" "bad guy", and thus a "good guy" - and frankly, we've seen this hypocritical BS happen too much already.

- - - - -

I have a different, more interesting, interpretation for why they behead the Westerners and make such a fuzz about it:

There's a widespread feeling of powerlessness against the West and Israel in the Arab world. Too many humiliations occurred, too much hypocrisy, too corrupt own governments even cooperating with the foreigners against the interests of the people, conspiracy theories (including our own 9/11 truther idiots).
Now there's IS-something, and they dare something. They even behead Westerners simply for being Westerners. This not only asserts power, it also has the attraction and promise of something new. 
Add to this the "caliphate" dream of re-unification and you end up with a potent recruitment mixture.

These beheadings are in part an unofficial backlash to what was done (after all, Israel and the US doesn't exactly get slapped by an UN embargo for bombing Arab countries at will) and in part it's highly effective recruitment propaganda.

It's not one important thing, though; it's not an indication that a civil war party a couple thousand kilometres away is a national security concern to my country, or to countries even farther away from the scene.

- - - - -

The exasperations about IS-something's actions furthermore do a great disservice to our societies: The depiction of IS-something as an extraordinary evil warps our understanding of the evils of war.
A handful dead guys - the exact cause of dead was surely of secondary concern shortly before they died - does normally not even warrant a footnote in a book about a war. Thousands are dying there, and the utterly normal horrors of war are worse by orders of magnitude than a more or less clean cut through the neck of some people.

Some more months of anti-IS-something propaganda in the news and millions in the Western world will likely associate the regular horrors of war with extraordinary evilness, and become unable to correctly associate said horrors to war itself. The usual suspects L-O-V-E this.


S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de
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2014/10/10

How to cheat people into being courageous

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(...) two groups of people who said they were very afraid of snakes were shown slides of snakes while listening to what they believed was their heart rate. Occasionally one group would see a slide with the word “shock” printed on it. They were given a jolt of electricity when they saw this slide, and the researchers falsely increased the sound of the beating of their hearts in the monitor. When they later were asked to hold a snake, they were far more likely to give it a shot than the group who didn’t see the shock slide and hear a fake increase in heart rate. They had convinced themselves they were more afraid of being shocked than of snakes and then used this introspection to truly be less afraid.
"You are not so smart", David McRaney

This made me think of how greatly the fear of becoming a prisoner of war in Siberia reportedly motivated German troops in 1943-1944 (the more common explanation of stubborn defences in 1945 was concern about the safety of German civilians).
I suppose there are many ways how creating an artificially elevated fear of something else can be used to provoke greater courage on a mission. "Honour codes" created the fear of losing one's (or one's family's) honour, for example.
And obviously it's no good idea to help the opposing forces' leaders doing their job; good treatment of prisoners (and reports to home through the international red cross) is a very prudent strategy.


S O
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2014/10/09

Western forces: If at first you fail, throw more resources at the problem!

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If at first you fail, throw more resources at the problem!
Contrary to pretensions, this is the state of the Western applied operational art.


Kosovo Air War 1999:
*
 "When asked about effects-based targeting applications in Allied Force, the former commander of the Joint Warfare Analysis Center, which provides senior warfighters with the principal analytical support for such targeting, remarked, "the campaign was more like random acts of violence than true effects-based targeting. The legal restrictions and political constraints in the target approval process were inexplicably given as excuses not to do effects-based targeting. Achieving the desired effects while minimizing the undesired effects, particularly under the restrictions and constraints that were placed on SACEUR, is precisely why effects-based targeting should have been applied. Anything else is just high-tech vandalism."
"NATO's Air War for Kosovo" Benjamin S. Lanbeth, RAND Corporation


Quite the same happened in Afghanistan 2001-2011:


It's an all-too human phenomenon, as mentioned before. I just think it's worthwhile to remind people about the lack of sophistication in actual military campaigns, which runs contrary to the impression communicated by the armed bureaucracies and its princes themselves.


S O

*: The sorties statistic shows a lesser increase. The ratio US-allies was reversed over Libya, for which I did not find a statistic on aircraft committed during OP "Unified Protector".
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2014/10/07

Another assorted link dump

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in English:



(possibly the future of non-nuclear submarines)



Update on the construction of islands and airfields in the South China Sea

15 lessons from 15 years of blogging
(I agree largely after seven years)

The American Public: A Tough Soldier or a Chicken Hawk Cowering in a Cubicle? Some Thoughts on ISIS Intervention

Submarine Cable Map
(with stylized and thus inaccurate positions)

Scribd: US Military Vehicles (till the 50's)
I was especially fascinated by Chapter 11; "The Low Silhouette Project"

Corps to field new lighter, smaller warning lasers
I always wondered why there wasn't more noise made about dazzling lasers for suppression.It could greatly help against the 'weight of ammunition carried' problem if it works. I wonder whether it was proved impractical or whether the spectral filter (laser protection insert) goggles are a too good countermeasure.


(andere) deutschsprachige Links:

(über BND Spionage)

(teilweise über Gerüchte)

Ideen sterben nicht
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2014/10/06

Brute force and finesse - Part I

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The mass media's depiction of Western warfare as fireworks with cruise missiles, bombs and attack helicopter massacres of defenceless people on the ground isn't too far off: The availability of such "overmatch" capabilities provokes an emphasis on brute force.
Everyone can test this all-too human trait on himself or herself: Just play chess against a five year old boy. You won't try any fancy chess tactics (unless you want to teach the same and assuming you don't want to let him win). This also happens in video games, tennis - all competitions. We're only provoked to give our best if victory is really in jeopardy. We prefer to play simple, use brute force, when we're not well-challenged.

The employment of advanced tactics instead of brute force first is thus not only a question of theory, doctrine, training and experience; it's especially dependent on the opposition.

There is at least one more endogenous factor at play, though: Discipline. 
(Self-)Discipline can be used to overcome the tendency towards brute force. It would be overly optimistic to bet on self-discipline because basically life tells us that the world doesn't function like this. So how could one impose discipline on a military's junior and senior leadership?

It's been said that no general ever has declared to have too many capabilities at his disposal. This confirms on one hand the bureaucratic nature of the military (the same can be said of senior civilian bureaucrats), and on the other hand it points at another reason for the emphasis on brute force. More resources at hand means less risks. Less risks means often times losses won't incur which would have incurred with less resources.

This poses a major challenge to attempts to force discipline on leaders regarding the balance between finesse and brute force.


I suppose the military reformers who decry brute force approaches and preach the use of finesse (usually linked to some personal favourite military theory) are doing the labour of Sisyphus: They're preaching against human nature.
An emphasis on finesse in the presence of an available resources overmatch will only become available if leaders' discipline can be enforced through some scheme of punishment and rewards - or maybe through lying at them about the actual scarcity of resources. To teach them finesse some more will yield little, for they know plenty tactics or could devise them on the spot if pressed properly. To simply withhold resources will lead to another suboptimal outcome in which too often tragedies happen because available resources were made unavailable.

How to discipline leaders way beyond superficialities, well into their choice between brute force and finesse, should probably be one of the focal points of military theory development.

S O
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2014/10/04

Early gun control in Germany

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I do often read a story that goes like this:
"The Nazis came to power and introduced gun control to disarm the population and prevent an uprising against their dictatorship."

I understand this is a NRA propaganda myth and even Germans aren't particularly well-educated on details from that era, so it would ask much of Americans to resist such a myth based on actual knowledge.

I'll try to make this a lot easier:

The story begins in 1918 when Germany lost the First World War because its infantry failed to hold the Western frontline after losing too many young, aggressive infantrymen up to spring 1918. You cannot defend a line without counterattacks, and the German army was too bled white to live up to its performance of up to early 1918 any more.
The Versailles treaty of 1919 blamed the only losing country still capable of paying reparations for the whole war, and forced a de facto disarmament on the whole country of Germany. The army was limited to 100,000 men and 12 year volunteers, preventing a large pool of reservists with short training. Arms production and development was also restricted.
It was still possible to keep Germany defensible at least against the new Eastern neighbours such as Poland or Czechoslovakia by supporting unregulated militias (Freikorps) and generally by mobilising World War veterans and equipping them with rifles "lost" during the chaotic demobilization of 1918/1919. There were hundreds of thousands of small arms and probably hundreds of artillery pieces and aircraft unaccounted for.

The support for the Freikorps was eventually revealed and the problem of unaccounted for guns realised, and the consequence was that these unofficial means of national defence were targeted. Germany had to outlaw small arms possession in 1920. This ban on small arms was ineffective due to a lack of gun registration and merely good as an excuse to the British, French and Belgian governments.

Then there were the 20's, during which the Freikorps were dissolved, the Ruhr area was first occupied by Frenchmen and Belgians and then left alone again. The veterans aged and became ever less relevant for national defence. Germany was by the late 1920's no threat any more, nor perceived as such in London or Paris. The interpretation of the Versailles Treaty had become less harsh; the victors were by 1928 rather interested in milking Germany for reparations than concerned about its military potential.

Then came the Gesetz über Schusswaffen und Munition vom 12. April 1928, a gun control law which enforced gun registration and permitted trade with and possession of guns. Please note; this was almost five years before Hitler became Chancellor!

The reasoning behind laws is usually supposed to be written in the preamble, but this is an exception. One could hardly expect the German legislative of 1918 to write into the preamble that the registration of all rifles and carbines in private possession makes a mobilization in case of a conflict with Poland much easier! Yet exactly this was likely the greatest benefit of this law; the state finally knew how many standard calibre (7,92x57 mm) rifles would be available in the event of war.

Gun control was enacted and largely enforced in Germany before the Nazis established their dictatorship in 1933.* Gun control is nothing Nazi-ish, it's not oppression er se. It's difficult to see why driver's licenses are less controversial than gun licenses when you were not exposed to decades of NRA propaganda.

S O

*: Interesting detail: The gun control law of 1928 outlawed gun possession by gypsies AND folks moving around like gypsies (circus acrobats and homeless people, for example) as well as felons (for five years after the arrest), mentally retarded people and people under age 20. So in case you hear about how gun control was used to oppress gypsies - remember this may indeed have been about crime concerns regarding nomadic people in general.

Edit: Comments closed. This blog post is meant to bust a politically motivated myth about German history that's only known in the Anglosphere. It's not about any of the many behind the times cultural wars the USA is still fighting domestically. And it was certainly not meant to ask for ignorant insults.

edit 2015: I found this piece, which explains the story similarly.
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