The overlap between artillery, battlefield air defence and C-RAM

I suspect technological change will drive huge changes in artillery and battlefield air defence in the future. Artillery, battlefield air defence and hard kill defences against air-dropped munitions, rockets, artillery shells and mortar bombs (short: C-RAM) are overlapping already. We will find new forms of arranging and organising these capabilities, and new development programs will increasingly transcend the borders between air defence and artillery.

The following table shows examples (and generic representatives) which demonstrate such overlaps ("aircraft" includes cruise missiles):

overlap of generic and actual systems (some of the "weapons" are "munitions" actually)

"RAM" = rocket, artillery (shell), mortar (bomb)
"C-RAM" = counter-RAM
"Polyphem": 60 km range fibre-optic guided missile project, potentially of use against helicopters. Similar: ALAS.
"kamikaze drones" (example TARES/Taifun) recognize, identify and engage targets autonomously
vertical missile launchers (a famous example was Netfires)
"MRL": "multiple rocket launchers", example MLRS
"Common launcher": An experiment with different misisles launched from MLRS-compatible launcher, including AIM-120 AMRAAM
"SeaWolf": British short range ship defence missile, intercepted a 114 mm cannon shell (simulating a Soviet supersonic anti-ship missiles) in the 80's 
"AGM": Fully automated 155 mm turret, based on PzH 2000 SPG turret
"Centurion": 20 mm gatling used as C-RAM
"DRACO": Italian naval 75 mm gun mounted on land vehicle, 2nd attempt
"Iron Dome": Radar-based C-RAM system with cheap radio command guided missiles
"COBRA":  representative modern (counter-)artillery radar
"AN/TPQ-36A": modified (counter-)artillery radar in use with NASAMS
"HAWK21": (or "Hawk XXI") similar in concept to NASAMS

We may ignore artillery radars and thus the whole C-RAM business and many of the overlaps if we don't trust the survivability or generally practicality of (counter-)artillery radars. A reason could be the risk of triangulation by opposing forces, followed by destructive artillery fires.
A for some reason(s) survivable and practical battlefield radar might combine a great many functions in one, though:
- detecting and tracking incoming munitions
- extrapolating their origin
- measuring the trajectory of friendly munitions, allowing for accuracy- and even dispersion-improving corrections
- measuring wind conditions by tracking weather balloons
- detecting, tracking and possibly even identifying (non-cooperatively) aircraft
- guiding radio command controlled or even semi-active radar homing surface-to-air missiles
- delivering target data for anti-air and C-RAM guns
- detecting shell impact dust clouds and thus measuring the location of impacts

This would combine classic artillery radars, classic battlefield air defence (air search and fire control, even target illuminator) radars and C-RAM radars in one. Which branch would operate these? Artillery? Air defence? Maybe electronic warfare troops as a compromise?

HIMARS used to launch AMRAAM missile

Missile launchers
Would it make sense to launch extremely expensive surface-to-air missiles (2+ million € a missile) from MRLs? A MRL cannot a easily swap between munition types as a howitzer can, after all.
The difference between C-RAM (anti-munitions) and modern VShoRAD (anti-aircraft) missiles is that the latter need to cope with the evasive manoeuvres and technical countermeasures of combat aircraft, whereas the former need to be cheap since most of their targets are cheap. A perfect merger is thus unlikely, but both could be linked to the same sensor (battlefield radar).
This may point at the possibility that C-RAM missiles may be handled by the same unit and carried by the same vehicles as will be vertical launch artillery rocket, and the latter may also serve as anti-helicopter and anti-drone missiles when the former cannot be used for want of a line of sight. The very expensive missiles on the other hand would probably justify dedicated launcher systems. Then again, this wasn't the path chosen for the expensive ATACMS rockets; they were launched from MLRS like the smaller typical MLRS rockets.

DRACO (76 mm)

Tube artillery
Will field artillery (155 mm SPGs, maybe 105 mm SPGs) serve in a dual role against ground and air targets, as was previously attempted during the Interwar Years and alter successfully done by the rather elaborate heavy anti-air artillery??
Let's compare today's 155 mm L/52 self-propelled guns with some of the most powerful WW2 heavy anti-air artillery (prototypes):
PzH 2000 and 15 cm Flak Gerät 55
calibre: 155 and 149.1 mm
muzzle velocity: 875 and  890 m/s
shell weight: 43.5 and 40 kg
barrel length:  8050 and 7753 mm
maximum elevation: 65 and 90°
traverse: 360 and 360°

A modern SPG largely is the equivalent of super-sized WW2 Flak, and vastly more powerful than any common WW2 Flak. It would potentially be able to defeat even aircraft at greater ranges than most common battlefield air defence missiles if it employed a guided projectile such as of DART's concept.
On the other end of the gun spectrum, DRACO with its 76 mm gun actually is capable of employing DART; a single of its 76 mm shells is not very impressive in indirect fire against most ground targets, though.

DRACO is rather representative of a gun turret that would accompany line-of-sight combat troops (such as a tank battalion), whereas AGM is rather representative of brigade- or division-level indirect fire artillery (but could be allocated to a battalion battlegroup as well). A modern Abbot SPG equivalent with a gun such as Denel's G7 (a high muzzle velocity 105 mm howitzer) would be somewhere in between.


The introduction of C-RAM to actual warfare during the Iraq Occupation was and is but one challenge for modern artillery branches:
The inclusion of more general air defence tasks is possible technically. Artillery radars may turn into general battlefield airspace radars soon, serving SPGs, MRLs, C-RAM and battlefield air defence. It'll take many years till this will be developed and replace the current inventories - especially in armies that purchased modern artillery radars not long ago.
The merging of tasks may require organisational changes and a merging of (radio) communication. It will also create a leadership challenge, since versatile systems need to follow a regime of priorities in order to ensure that the currently most important requirements are met instead of favouring less critical ones only. The prioritisation may need to change many times during the course of a day on the battlefield.
The very idea of "artillery" may soon change more than recently by PGMs, and for the second time ever (1st being introduction of missiles) the idea of battlefield air defences may radically change as well.


edit 2016-09: An example for a versatile radar that covers C-RAM, AD and counterfires missions is the Swedish Giraffe radar.



Western great powers' privilege

I'm still trying to understand the reactions to the Paris attacks. They were like

1. France bombs Daesh for 14 months with hundreds of tons of explosives
2. Daesh bombs France on one day with a few kilogram of explosives
3. Daesh attacked France! Everybody rally with France!

This was not exactly common behaviour in world history. The closest analogy that comes to my head was the great powers' treatment of China, where Westerners could be offensive to China at will, but the slightest hint of Chinese resistance was perceived as if barbarian thugs had massacred innocent white folks and intervention armies were shipped to China.

What's the detail that creates the perception that Daesh is free game and has no legitimate right to strike back?

Is it the fact that Daesh killed civilians directly instead of piling up even more dead civilians as "collateral damage"?
Is it the gruesome Daesh propaganda campaign?
Is it the fact that Daesh is no state?
Is it about disrespect towards Muslims?
Is it about disrespect towards Arabs?
Is it a misunderstanding about the (actually defensive) nature of NATO?

My best guess is that it's a different mix of these to different people. The outcome is the same. Step 1 gets ignored.

It is ultimately stupid to expect them to endure and not strike back (particularly since they were called "terrorists" more than a year before they attacked any Western country already).

It's also most disconcerting (at least to me) to see how the perception of NATO diverged towards a kind of 'the West bombs you united, not alone' club, away from a collective defence pact.

And then there's political correctness, of course. Hardly anyone dares to point out that France needlessly provoked Daesh for more than a year with bomb attacks as great power entertainment game, since now the only politically correct stance is to portray France as a victim of aggression that deserves our solidarity.

It's probably a Western great powers privilege to bomb other countries at will and still demand that counterattacks are considered to be illegitimate. 
Would you have perceived a Sudanese bombing attack on a factory in the U.S. legitimate after the U.S. bombed a fertilizer factory in Sudan? How about an Iraqi air attack on an Israeli nuclear reactor post-1983? An Iranian invasion of Mexico in order to turn it into a theocracy after  the U.S. attacked Iraq to (supposedly) turn it into a democracy? A Russian-enforced no-fly zone protecting Libyan civilians from "collateral damage" by Western bombardments? How about something as peaceful as Chinese navy task forces cruising all year off the coast of Hawaii and California? Iranian warships cruising 3.1 nm off the coast of Israel in a "freedom of navigation" patrol? Vietnam mining the harbours of the United States during the Iraq War without a declaration of war?



Go pills in land warfare

Many fighters in Syria appear to be high on the drug Captagon, including the supposedly "Islamic" fighters:
"So the brigade leader came and told us, 'this pill gives you energy, try it,' " he said. "So we took it the first time. We felt physically fit. And if there were 10 people in front of you, you could catch them and kill them. You're awake all the time. You don't have any problems, you don't even think about sleeping, you don't think to leave the checkpoint. It gives you great courage and power. If the leader told you to go break into a military barracks, I will break in with a brave heart and without any feeling of fear at all — you're not even tired."
(Context: Wikipedia about Captagon)

I imagine those who don't know much about land warfare will  be impressed by this, but I myself am not.

The challenge in land warfare isn't to be fit for a day or two. It's to avoid collapse after four days of mobile warfare. Common soldiers take a quick nap at every opportunity (learned in and beginning in basic training), but leadership usually doesn't want to be seen napping, and that's a huge problem after four days because they simply collapse and fall asleep then. This was part of the reason (next to logistics needing to catch up) why the invasion of Iraq was in 2003 wasn't particularly quick. Drugs could extend this by a day, but the following collapse would be even worse afterwards.

This is analogue to the difference between a 100 m runner and a 400 m runner. The former will lead at 100 m and probably still at 200 m, but will stand no chance over the full distance of 400 m. His only advantage would be in 100 m or 200 m competitions. In land warfare there's the technique of "delaying action"; slowing down and decimating the enemy while avoiding a decisive battle. This can be used by the "400 m runner" to defeat a "100 m sprinter".

The "no fear" feature is no less deceiving. Fear exists for a reason. You can have too much and too little of it, and "no fear" is no doubt too little. Fearless attacks are not the best attacks; smart ones are. Fear of defeat or death is necessary to react well in face of changing (worsening) circumstances. 

One might now think that the drug may be fine for enlisted personnel and junior NCOs at least (save for the long-term brain damage), but I disagree even with this notion. They would collapse after four days or so instead of taking naps whenever possible. Their decision-making is important as well; squads and even fire teams can and should manoeuvre as freely today as did platoons during WW2, so junior NCOs are important decisionmakers as well (unless your army had terrible rank inflation).
The decisionmaking of individual soldiers of the lowest ranks is important as well. This is why 'green' replacement troops had such horrible attrition rates in battles. It wasn't about them being poor shots; it was about them doing the wrong moves at the wrong time at the wrong place. A fearless private is a dumb private is a dead private real quick.

This was about land forces. Air forces need "go pills" only for air crews on stupidly long range missions and navies cope with problems with a much better shift system than established in either air or land forces (2 shifts on small warships usually, 3 shifts on many large ones).



What would make sense for the Russian navy?

Assuming Russia does insist on great power games, an elaborate MAD deterrence instead of a minimal deterrence AND enjoys fine economic growth (unlikely) - what would make sense was an objective strength for an all-new Russian navy by 2035?

First of all, Russia will still have multiple coasts:

(1) The Arctic coast with its main base near Murmansk and Arkhangelsk as potential reserve base, both well suited for accessing the Arctic regions North of Russia and thus potentially able to exchange ships with the Pacific bases even during hostilities:

(2) The Pacific Fleet, based in Vladivostok and near Petropavlovsk.

(3) The Baltic Fleet, now reduced to St. Petersburg and its vicinity, and kind of locked up behind the Kattegat and Skagerrak (I don't think Baltiysk is a serious naval base in the long term even though the navy is important for the economy there).

(4) The Black Sea Fleet, with recently secured Sevastopol as main base but kind of locked up behind the Bosporus.

(5) The Caspian Sea Fleet with Arkhangelsk as main base, in the inland Caspian Sea.

Russian new corvette Steregushchiy,
a photo added solely to make the text easier to the eye

There's little that can be achieved in the Baltic Sea other than if necessary violent (peacetime) convoys to Kaliningrad. Likewise, there's almost no potential for achievements in the Caspian Sea. The Black Sea Fleet is dependent on passage through the Bosporus (under control of Turkey) for effect beyond the Black Sea, and there's hardly any real military utility in the Black Sea other than a largely irrelevant naval blockade against Georgia.
The Pacific Fleet is no doubt the first choice for naval or at least sea-based great power games in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The only possibly opposing power in East Asia that would not destroy the Russian Pacific Fleet with ease would be North Korea and maybe South Korea, though.
It's hard to tell (for me) which of the three Western bases would be best for a great power games squadron for the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean. The Black Sea would be best for the Med, and unlike the other two it doesn't freeze over during wintertime. Murmansk on the other hand is the least bottled-up by NATO, but the Baltic Fleet has a less restricted passage to the ocean than the Black Sea as well.

Overall, I would expect a four-part Russian navy:

(a) Dedicated Arctic naval ships, especially icebreakers. These would be based at Murmansk.

(b) Nuclear deterrence flee, mostly SSBNs. The Russians could make do with air-launched cruise missiles, rail-mobile ICBMs, road-mobile ICBMs and submarine-launched cruise missiles, but they may choose to insist on SSBNs as well (their navy lobbyists no doubt will). 

(c) Atlantic and Pacific great power games squadron with an aircraft carrier, ASW/AAW escorts, LPDs and possibly a hospital ship each. These would often visit overseas bases at friendly countries (the Atlantic squadron would likely do so during Northern hemisphere wintertime).

(d) Small, general purpose frigate-based coastal squadrons for Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Caspian Sea.

Long endurance non-nuclear and thus affordable submarines with air-independent propulsion (SSI) could be used if naval warfare played a big role in plans for great wars (wars against one or multiple great powers), but the need for operations below the Arctic ice would necessitate nuclear propulsion submarines. It's imaginable that a SSBN could take over the job of a SSN with a reduced payload of ballistic missiles (SLBMs), though. The sub forces would make most sense for the Northern/Arctic and Pacific fleets, but at least some SSI would be needed for ASW training of the Baltic and Black Sea fleets as well.

This leads to requirements for these ship classes in addition to policing and rescue ships for coast guard-like duties:

SSBN (with SSN-like qualities and reduced SLBM payload)
DDG (general purpose)
FFG (general purpose, including the new-built so called corvettes)
icebreaker (long range)
hospital ship
replenishment ship

2 Great power games squadrons each:
   1 CV
   4-6 DDG
   1 SSBN
   4-6 LPD
   1 hospital ship 
   2 replenishment ships

3 Coastal squadrons each:
   2-4 FFG*
   0-1 SSI (none in Caspian Sea)

2 Strategic deterrence squadrons each:
   5 SSBN
   2 icebreakers
   2 FFG
   1 SSI

for a total of

   12 SSBN
   2 CV
   10-12 DDG
   8-12 LPD
   8-14 FFG
   4 icebreakers
   4 SSI
   4 replenishment ships
   2 hospital ships

This was already sorted, with the more expensive ship class programs first.

A navy of this size would allow to pick the low hanging fruits in regard to warmaking potential in the vicinity to Russian harbours and provide a more than minimal nuclear deterrence with one SSBN patrolling in the Arctic and one in the Pacific at all times (in addition to air force nuclear deterrence).
The great power games squadrons would see a SSBN catching up in time** for interventions in or against poor small powers with a powerful air defence that keeps the demand for combat air patrol small, powerful anti-submarine defence, some land attack capability and enough air power to enjoy air superiority against >90% of countries.

This begs the question which aircraft would be used to equip the carriers? I suspect PAK-FA or a still undisclosed J-31 equivalent are the only realistic options for 2035-2040.
_ _ _ _ _

How would "the Western powers" (including Japan) react?

Most likely the navy lobbies would point at the carrier battlegroups and the silent submarines as great threats, and expenses to counter these threefold would be demanded. Why threefold? Well, the U.S.Navy requires three ships to counter one 'threat' ship of lesser capability: One in port or shipyard, one cruising the very long distance between home port and patrol zone and one "forward deployed".*** Other navies would welcome the bogeyman to 'justify' their funding as well.

Somewhat more rational responses would include the development of a doctrine for how to block or counter such seaborne interventions, a doctrinal emphasis on offensive minefields and SSI ambushes in order to limit the utility of the Russian fleet to exactly one sortie in the event of war and effective shadowing of both CVBGs.

Weak countries with more or less overt hostilities with friends of Russia (state or non-state) would have much more reason to be concerned about such a (still hypothetical!) Russian Navy. How does a small power defend itself against a nuclear power's CVBG? A victory in battle might prove to be a Pyrrhic victory real quick not only due to the nuclear threat, but also due to the prestige at stake. Russia might lose one CVBG, but it would soon thereafter seek a new battle using not only a CVBG, but additional naval forces including submarines. The only real counter would be a naval or air force effort by another nuclear power, and this could re-polarise the world into a Western bloc, a Russian bloc and a Chinese bloc after the first or second display of intervention power.
_ _ _ _ _

There's very little to be gained for Russia both in prestige and in actual military potential by a larger navy than this hypothetical one. This is especially true in comparison to what utility additional land-based air power and ground forces would offer (opportunity costs).

An attempt to match and potentially defeat the Chinese, American or even only Japanese naval power would be wasteful for such an obviously continental power as Russia.

It's remarkable that Russia has hardly ever benefited much of having a large navy at all. A navy wasn't even necessary to conquer Finland during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Ever since, the Russian navy failed during wars or was of little utility (such as against the Ottomans). Its Cold War nuclear deterrence role was made redundant by mobile land-based ICBMs afterwards, but I suspect they will stick with expensive SSBNs.



P.S.: I skipped mine countermeasure ships and boats because the required quantities are very hard to guess.
This is the real Russian navy today (infographic by RIA Novosti).

edit: Murmansk and other Arctic harbours don't have the problem of St. Peterburg with a freezing sea during wintertime. They're saltwater ports, where the water doesn't freeze. Still, there's precipitation, and the Arctic regions are no nice place for a surface fleet during wintertime at all. I'm not sure, but this may be a big issue with the Russian Pacific ports as well. The decontamination system and water guns may be used to disperse anti-freeze over the ship, but I have never seen this in the context of the antenna masts

*: Caspian Sea FFGs would be a good choice as training ships, since there's so little military utility otherwise and little need for a high crew competence.
**: There wouldn't be a SSBN ready to leave with the squadron at all times due to the limited quantity of SSBNs in this scenario. 
***: I'm still amazed how that navy lobby pulled it off that nobody questions then navy's competence and sanity whenever they use such a rotation scheme to 'justify' their need for a huge fleet. Then again, we're talking about taxpayers and politicians who do not dismiss the demands of "regional combatant commanders" as meaningless even though all CO and other bureaucrats ask almost always for more, no matter how much they have already.


Did anybody notice

... that the errorists struck one of the two countries with the most extreme mass surveillance and police powers in the EU?

Rational people ought to think about whether these measures are effective at all. Judging by their records, intelligence services may be snake oil sellers in the counter-terrorism field. The NSA with its gigantic budget can point at hardly any errorist plots foiled by its output.

As far as I know the only solid example was that some money sponsor was caught after transferring a couple thousand bucks.


P.S.: The gut reaction call for more intelligence services powers and activities in reaction to the Paris attacks reminds me of a certain saying about a definition of insanity.


Rapid beer delivery

Amongst all that anger about stupid instincts and politics, some light food for a change.

Pay particular attention to 1:40 :-)



Back during economics studies at the university I once attended a course on the theory of public revenues. It turned out to be no less than a philosophy course with an appalling use of math to describe the different philosophical concepts. Only the very last lecture of about twenty was about some down-to-earth topic, but by then I had already completed my preparations for the test (there were no mid-term tests) in the following week and began to learn for other tests. (Guess what lecture was the only one covered by said test!).

The lectures were appalling, but in the long term I appreciate their usefulness; I long since forgot some intricacies of fiscal policy, but this fundamental stuff influenced me a lot. One of the valuable lessons was that since philosophy doesn't offer us a convincing way to value the emotions of a person relative to another one, we cannot conclusively calculate an optimal policy even if we were otherwise all knowing.

Economic theory knows but one approach to circumvent this in pursuit of an optimal policy; to draw on the wisdom of the masses. The people shall express their preferences* through casting a vote. Thus every time economists cannot calculate a solution, they have democracy as fallback recommendation.
Political science, game theory and psychological research mess this avenue up by documenting its many problems. People vote against their best interests, imperfect information, group dynamics, the importance of the order of choices between candidates or policies (game theory) and so on.

In the end, there's still no perfect way to pursue an optimal policy. We could be gifted with a computer of infinite memory and calculating speed and we would not be able to program it to pursue an optimal policy. We could even add a device that informs this computer about every atom of this world in real time and it would still lack information and even concepts for the identification of optimal policies.

Everything I write in terms of recommendations or critique is thus first and foremost an expression of my preferences within the constraints of my knowledge. 
It's merely an expression of my preference when I regard the daily death of about 200 Frenchmen to tobacco-induced cancer after months of suffering worse than a one-time event with less than 200 people experiencing a relatively quick death. 78,000 deaths a year weighs heavier about 130 in one year when my brain does the calculation and thus I'd advise the French to allocate the finite resource "attention" on the bigger killer instead of a errorist problem that's not going to be reduced much by additional efforts anyway.

Other people may be wired differently, and their preferences may drive them to emphasize the spectacular, recent problem which the media are pointing at so much these days.
Yet again others may have subscribed to inconsistent and outright idiotic racism, conspiracy theories et cetera - and arrive at their own outlandish idea of what should be done. Such as deportation of millions because of a dozen asswipes' actions. Suffice to say, Germans should appreciate that such radical thoughts rarely shape history. It's why we exist to this date at all.

I do understand other people arrive at different opinions. I just think they're a disappointment**. I think better of mankind at least on optimistic, sunny days.
It's not the errorists who disappoint me; I'm aware that every country has a few per cent dangerous idiots. I merely had higher expectations for the vast majority.


*: The classic idea of preferences as taught to econ students is taste. Robinson and Friday sit on an island. One likes fish more than coconuts, the other one likes coconuts more than fish. The latter is the better fisherman. Voilà, trade theory and microeconomics introduction commences with lots of drawings. It's easy to find the optimum trade with a drawing at this level of model simplicity.
**: In regard to errrorism response - not in regard to every disagreement.


Mentally troubled people


I meant to write some hardware-focused posts these days, but those drafts look petty in the context of an avalanche of instinctive caveman reactions to the Paris attacks these days.

The Independent

This is unimportant to the stupid people, of course. In their opinion foreign terrorists would 'justify' bombing other countries, while domestic terrorists would 'justify' the suspension of religious freedom and ethnic cleansing fantasies. Either way, they're primitive.

NYT Editorial Slams “Disgraceful” CIA Exploitation of Paris Attacks, But Submissive Media Role Is Key
The Intercept

The reflexive exploitation of tragic events by the usual suspects for lobbying for normally unacceptable legal changes is very common, far beyond the errorism issue. Americans know this from school shootings, for example; the usually suspended gun control debate flares up after every such even for a few weeks.
I suppose such reflexive demands are not a mere failure of the news media that's a willing multiplier. The real causes are likely that we don't get problems solved without extraordinary pressure and don't decisively penalize dangerous idiots for being just that, rather allow them to return and return and return.
The Intercept

This was interesting in two ways; for one, it rejects some of the reflexive claims and accusations of the despicable pro-mass surveillance state crowd. Second, it reveals that yet again a large multi-target terror strike only succeeded because law enforcement and intelligence services have failed to make good use of a wealth of hints, as in 2001. These communities should be penalized for demanding more authority and less civil rights, and even more so they should be punished for failing on their job.

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman appears to have a faint hope that Hollande isn't just gone nuts, but maybe exploiting the increased freedom of action for macroeconomic good. I think Hollande went much farther than necessary for such a strategy.

By the way; where does the idea that panicking and demanding aggressive actions, discrimination against millions of people, bigger budgets, more intelligence service powers are signs of a 'strong leader' come from?
To me, this sounds like fearful chicken(hawk) behaviour. A 'strong leader' would laugh off the scratch and point out that a ridiculous rag tag militia and stupid immature boys cannot do more than itch a community of 800+ million Westerners. Daesh is the equivalent of a flea to us; its bite may be irritating, but ultimately it's utterly harmless to us as a group. Our real problems are larger by multiple orders of magnitude.
Politicians who freak out about errorists are the equivalent of a person jumping onto furniture to escape the terror of a common spider walking on the floor.




Hat tip to BoingBoing

... for trying to stem the tide of stupid.

I'm terribly depressed by the primitiveness of most published reactions.
Caveman-level intuitions seem to override everything these days.

It's no wonder that politicians are often very cynical people who disrespect the population and exploit it. Sometimes one really has the government that one deserves.


"... which the investigation will help establish"

“It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh, against France,” Mr. Hollande said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
“It is an act of war that was prepared, organized and planned from abroad, with complicity from the inside, which the investigation will help establish,” he added.

I have a really, really, REALLY bad feeling when politicians blame a favourite bogeyman for an act of terror and know in advance what investigations will reveal.

I'm beginning to fear that this time much of Europe will go nuts.



Moderate Pacifism

Clarification: I am a moderate pacifist.
A moderate pacifist recognises war as wasteful and something to avoid, but does not reject the concept of self-defence outright. Wars of choice are evil, but wars of necessity are often the lesser evil compared to surrendering to demands.
I served in the German military with good conscience because back then it was not usable for a war of aggression (yet). My moderate pacifism was fully developed only once I learned (in 2001) about the propaganda lies that were used by warmongers to enable the Kosovo Air War against Yugoslavia. I felt silly for falling for these lies despite my then already extensive knowledge of history and military history. My patience with the pro-war side was exhausted completely.
My stance is thus to keep a calm head, think rational, keep the proportions in mind (errorists are a mere nuisance compared to the real public health hazards, and the so-called "counter-terrorism" efforts are inefficient compared to many not yet enacted life-saving policies if not even exacerbating the problem). Wars of choice are a no-go, save for a tiny exception; intervention against genocide that's been proved to happen beyond reasonable doubt.
Wars of necessity on the other hand - others attacking us (for real, not puny errorists) or collective self-defence - should provoke an altogether opposite approach:
Total war from the start, tit-for-tat regarding nuclear warhead employment, and a campaign that leads to end the war as soon as possible. The only demand should be status quo ante. Any more ambitious demands would only prolong the war.
In short, I am convinced we should abstain from warfare unless it's forced on us, and then we should do nothing less than unleash the beasts of war.
Frankly, despite all the wet paper bag talk, I suppose we all know mankind doesn't want my country to unleash the beasts of war ever again. Thus simply don't attack us or our allies unless they attacked you first.



Article 5 and Paris

Were the recent attacks on France enough to use article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty?

Article 5
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

Obviously not.
Article 5 enlarges self-defence to collective self-defence.
France striking back at Da'esh is not self defence in response to the attacks in Paris because France bombed them for quite some time already.*

You cannot as a collective defensive alliance member go to a foreign place, attack a foreign armed group or country, wait till they strike back and then claim that all your allies now need to attack them, too. That's not how this works or was ever meant to work.

It's still possible that politicians will agree to use article 5 - but only so as a fig leaf for an escalation of Western participation in the Syrian Civil War (and Libyan strife). That would happen because they want to do it, not because they are obliged to do it.

Many people - including those who fantasized about nuking Mecca in blocked comments already - will not keep their ability to look clearly at facts and pretend that to not strike back with great force will be a show of weakness, not of calmness. Those are irresponsible, irrational people who should under no circumstances ever be voted into high political office.


P.S.: It's the same with the Treaty of the European Union.
Again, no collective defence in this case.



Yesterday's mass killing in France

Yesterday France suffered so many deaths that hundreds of left-behind relatives will mourn for years. Exact death toll figures aren't available yet and probably never will be available, but it's reasonable to estimate 200 deaths attributed to a single avoidable cause in a single day.

This tragedy demands decisive political action. The despicable individuals who committed this massacre should be identified and hunted down, finally hit with the full force of the law for killing so many people.

I doubt any of them ever will. Big tobacco managers seem to get away with any kind of mass killing. 
"Tobacco is the primary cause of cancer and avoidable death in France, with 73 000 deaths per year, i.e. 200 deaths per day. These deaths represent 22 % of male mortality and 5 % of female mortality. "

The French allow this to happen, waving the white flag of disinterest and no action while they get decimated by a poisoning campaign that's killing almost ten times as many Frenchmen as did poison gas in all of the First World War

Maybe that's because irrational people easily get distracted by troubles that are minuscule by comparison.

On another note, the news media didn't even take notice of the aforementioned mass killing in France.


P.S: This was satire! Suing is pointless.


A "budget brigade" for 2020

Modern military equipment is expensive, and small ground forces have a hard time building and maintaining full competence in the full range of specialisations in a well-rounded army.
One example: The Czech military has only about 20,000-25,000 military personnel including the air forces - a typical divisional slice (army personnel per division) used to be in excess of 30,000 personnel in the Cold War NATO. It's impossible to maintain even only a division and some participation in a corps HQ with such a small military.

I'd like to propose a specific approach to get the best value for the money in such cases, and it takes into account what I wrote earlier about the need to resist enticing "balanced" forces. It is not my intent to propose to degrade small alliance members into pools for very specialised auxiliary troops, of course. Ideas such as one country specialising its entire military on NBC defence are nonsense. Such a national military should maintain the ability to revert to a national defence doctrine without allies in the short term.

My proposal is to set up versatile "budget brigades"* and to attach them to corps (or divisions) of allies, including a detachment of officers and NCOs contributing to the divisional or corps HQ and as liaison officers and NCOs at divisional or corps support troops. A small allied country would not need to raise or maintain specialised support troops this way.

The first principle for such a budget brigade is thus to shed specialised support and instead arrange for receiving such support from a higher level HQ's (foreign) support units. This greatly reduces the quantity of different jobs and career paths in a small army.

The second principle would be to cut costs by never paying development costs directly, save for communications compatibility or language translation. It just makes no sense to develop anything much more sophisticated than a shovel specifically for very small armed forces. The British were able to throw away hundreds of millions of pounds for preliminary development work on some already existing armoured vehicles without getting a single one into service. This makes no sense for a force with but a single tank battalion (or even only for the British). A group of small allies with small individual armed forces could ask arms makers to develop a certain item and then pay for this as part of the purchase deal, of course.

The third principle would be to keep training simple and equipment standardised. The quantity of different vehicle and engine types in the brigade should be cut to a minimum to make maintenance and repair training easier. Compliance with alliance-wide (de facto) standards enables the use of their supplies in times of crisis,exploiting alliance-wide economies of scale.

The fourth principle is to control one's desire for great quality and high technology. 'Great' is the #1 enemy of 'good enough'. KISS - Keep it simple stupid. One needs self-discipline in developing a reasonable force structure with very constrained resources.

A "budget" brigade could look like this:*

HQ Coy (including signals and MP platoons)

2 Infantry Bn (mobility by bulletproofed 6x6 lorries)

1 Tank Bn (3 Coys with MBTs, 1 Coy HAPCs with dozer blades)

1 Artillery Bn (24 105 mm SPGs based on bulletproofed 6x6 lorries)

1 Logistics Bn (15 ton 8x8 lorries mostly)

1 Engineer Coy (4 recovery and 2 bridgelayer tanks, few bulletproofed 6x6 lorries with dismounting engineers)

Sophisticated surveillance (air search and artillery radars, passive electronic intelligence, aerial reconnaissance) would be omitted. Reconnaissance at short ranges would be done by the line of sight combat battalions themselves (tank Bn mounted recce and security, infantry Bn dismounted and small flying RPVs/UAVs).
Engineer support for river crossings would be omitted. Air defence would be limited to jam-proof Bolide missile launchers and machineguns in use with artillery, infantry and logistics battalions' support companies. Long-range artillery and all mortars would be omitted in favour of a modest calibre howitzer artillery. The artillery's mission thus includes the support tasks usually assigned to heavy mortars, but does not include fire support for distant non-organic forces (neighbouring brigade, armoured reconnaissance forces).

Anti-tank tasks would be shared by all combat battalions (tank, infantry and artillery) without any special vehicles or dedicated AT small units.
Expensive infantry fighting vehicles would be done away with, replaced by heavy armoured personnel carriers (HAPC, if available) in the transport role (battletaxi doctrine) without the burden of many expensive electronics. Remotely controlled weapon stations with a 20x102 mm gun on each MBT turret (operated by the loader) would substitute for IFV autocannons. The HAPCs should be left unarmed to guarantee that they will neither be misused as combat vehicles nor be put at risk without MBT support.** They should be able to double as medical evacuation vehicles (stretcher-compatible seats, combat medic backpack onboard). Air defences are limited to (V)ShoRAD, unable to defend against attacks from medium altitudes with precision-guided munitions.
Electronic warfare capabilities would be limited to warning and self-protection jamming.

My compromise in favour of 105 mm artillery is in part driven by the cluster munitions ban and in part by the rise of effective multiple rocket launcher ranges, the combination of which removed the original reason for NATO standardising on the 155 mm calibre. 105 mm is still a common-enough calibre for the ready availability of shells, propellants and fuses and it's very efficient.

The brigade could quickly road-march ready for a defensive task and would become capable of participating in an operational offensive action once the tank battalion was unloaded from rail wagons, did a road march to the brigade and completed the then advisable maintenance and refuelling break. The extra expense of tank transporters is not to be expected.

Small NATO members could afford one useful manoeuvre brigade or even several such brigades with this approach. Useful pairs for bi- or multinational corps (or binational divisions) with such brigades could be:
Belgium + France
Czech Republic + Poland
Denmark + Germany
Lithuania + Poland 
Netherlands + Germany***
Slovakia + Poland****
Slovenia + Croatia*****
Portugal + Spain

Cold War NATO did arrange for national commitments for certain forces during the early Cold War, at least for Central Europe. Members pledged to provide a certain quantity of divisions (Germany pledged 12 of 26, provided 11 real  divisions and additional troops). This fizzled away after the end of the Cold War  - nowadays there's seemingly little common orientation. Individual governments create 'balanced' military forces coined by seemingly arbitrary budget changes, a desire to keep a seemingly balanced and complete force and an interest in non-defence missions such as occupations of some Muslim countries, blue helmet missions et cetera.

A definition of a small NATO brigade template and individual small members' pledge to provide a certain quantity thereof might be a good idea. It would re-focus military force structures on the alliance's deterrence and defence purpose, and help these countries to stay on track towards actually useful manoeuvre formations instead of assortments of individual battalion equivalents of questionable utility.


P.S.: An example for 15 ton 8x8 lorries is the 8x8 15 ton HX series. "bulletproofed" means in this context simple welded RHA plates compliant with STANAG 4569 level 2, including roof.

Bn = battalion, Coy = company

*: Working title only. A realistic final title could be "NATO standard brigade".
**: This is essential to keep a company-sized element in action past the first two days. It's utterly counter-intuitive to keep a heavily protected vehicle unarmed without a red cross on it, but it sure makes a lot of sense. These HAPCs should seek concealment (including smoke) or cover instead of firefights. A look at a vehicle can easily lead one to think of it as an individual vehicle instead of as a tiny part in a larger organisation. That's how early tank developers mounted guns and firing ports in all directions instead of having tanks rely on all vehicles of a platoon supporting each other, for example. A RWS with a 20 mm gun would be no technical challenge for a HAPC, but it would entice the troops into overly risky behaviour, and the vehicles would be lost for their actual purpose; protected mobility for infantry under fire. 
***: There's already close cooperation and integration.
****I assume Slovakia would want to confirm its independence by not cooperating with the Czech Republic on this. 
*****: Binational Divisional HQ and national divisional support battalions. I suppose the nationalistic Hungarian government would not be available for a cooperation.

edit 2016-09: Some more explanation about the choice of 105 mm over 155 mm: The extra range of  155 mm guns would hardly be exploited by the brigade because other than firing at objects on maps it would lack the organic targeting capability. Interoperability with other armies' artillery fire control systems would incur extra expenses. The brigade would likely not disperse enough for 105 mm ranges to be inadequate because such dispersion would weaken the brigade too much considering its simplified equipment. Thus I assumed 155 mm and MRL support for long range fires to be provided at divisional or corps level, by better-funded allied forces.


UK Draft IP Bill

I saw little reason to consider the United Kingdom a free nation for years, but their government sure is working to make it ever more obvious.


original text:
Presented to Parliament
by the Secretary of State for the Home Department
by Command of Her Majesty
November 2015

Look, my intent with this blog was all along to treat domestic threats to freedom as well as foreign ones. The German society is doing a half-hearted job at keeping the authoritarians at bay, but the British don't even seem to try that little - their march into an ever less-free society is quite obvious.
Meanwhile, British folks on the usual corners of the internet have no difficulty obsessing about the defence of some remote islands or other marginal military topics, as if there was any substantial foreign threat to their country.

The City, MI5, MI6 and MoD appear to be served by the British people more than they serve them. If I was British I would prefer them to be in the slave position and the people in the master position, but that's the UK; they don't even call the people the sovereign, but an elderly woman with funny hats.




TTIP appears to be a lobbyism-driven assault on sovereignty of the involved nations, an expression of crony capitalism. There's but marginal gains left to be gained by more free trade (less than a one-time boost of 2% GDP if any), but the secrecy of negotiations that largely excluded even our legislative branches strongly hints at it being a package of lobbyist wet dreams that favour special interests over national welfare. TTIP is likely not even a free trade treaty draft, but a regulations-regulating treaty draft and thus an undue limitation of sovereignty.

Here are a couple links related to TPP and thus the conceptionally apparently similar TTIP:








The topic is very large, and these links cover mostly one (my) side of the argument, so feel free to inform yourself in greater detail about the TTIP!

Oh, wait. It's not really possible because TTIP negotiations are kept secret. So far we only saw tiny leaks:

Let's guess how much time we'll have to see the document before it's getting ratified. The lobbyists of the industries have had years to shape the treaty into their wish list. Consumer protection NGOs, environment protection NGOs and ordinary citizens will likely have a few months at most, and this mostly after the text has been finalised.

In short: I don't think it's a good idea. There's no valid excuse for the level of secrecy (particularly not in light of public demands for more transparency).

The TTIP negotiators give us a hard time to like the treaty with their secrecy, I'll make it easy to oppose them. Feel free to add yourself to almost four million petitioners against it if you want:

To visitors who are not long-time readers: The concept of the blog is not all about military affairs. Military affairs are but one aspect of protection against external threats. To not readily give sovereignty away is another way of defending sovereignty and freedom.
I want our government to be able to regulate for food safety (for example) without fearing the need to pay billions to some foreign corporations only because those claim they'll use future (imaginary) profits and some foreign court agrees.



The Geschwindstück

I want to share this link to a wonderful file describing light artillery pieces of the mid-18th century that were built for rapid fire.


A superficial look at such guns would not reveal that and why they fired so much more rapidly than other guns:
Rapid fire with light muzzleloader guns was restricted by the risk of premature propellant (blackpowder) explosion in the hot barrel. To elevate the barrel as highly as otherwise known from howitzers only allowed for a loading procedure which did not endanger any crew member even when the barrel was hot already. This allowed for about six shots per minute during what we called Sturmabwehrschießen since the 20th century at least, the defence against a rapid assault with fire. The rate of fire for normal firing wasn't any different from that of comparable ordinary guns.

Geschwindstück ~ quick (artillery) piece
geschwind = old German word for "quick" (not really in use any more)
Stück = piece

Such guns were used as a kind of infantry gun, serving alongside the infantry battalions and regiments instead of in separate artillery batteries. The fusil (flintstone msuket) had an effective range of about 300-350 m against infantry lines (few per cent hits and sufficient effect of hits), but such light guns made shots at 1 km range worthwhile and thus brought hostile infantry lines into disorder before the infantry began shooting. They also helped when hostile infantry used walls or for protection and such guns were the reason why wagon circles fell out of use as a tactic in Europe.



The enticing idea of a balanced force, and the tunnel vision on national defence

I was working on a draft about NATO's weak spots during the Cold War, and it reminded me once again on two related problems:

(1) The enticing idea of a balanced (mini) force

It's striking how even small countries maintain an army, a navy and an air force - even while being in the most powerful alliance in human history with no intent to leave or risk of getting kicked out. 
The German naval growth during the 1930's was all about a "balanced" navy as well - ships of just about every kind were built. Battleships, cruisers, destroyers, submarines, minelayers, minesweepers and (too) late also aircraft carriers. The surface fleet stood no chance of having any important influence in a war against the then anticipated opponents Poland and France. Yet the urge to build a balanced fleet was strong, so the critical mass was lacking in all categories but minesweeping.
Modern armies often tend to have armoured troops, light infantry, mountain infantry, airborne infantry - even if the latter is but a battalion as in the East German army of the 1980's!
Air forces tend to insist on having air combat, ground attack and reconnaissance capabilities; even the Belgian air component (air force) with its 48 old F-16s does so, despite the country having severe fiscal troubles.

No country seems to be able to resist this urge to have well-rounded rather than economies of scale-optimised armed forces. This seems fiscally wasteful.

(2) The tunnel vision on national defence

It's not only true that the members of an alliance don't shed tiny parts in order to achieve better economies of scale with emphasized components; they also don't seem to do build their force structure or to choose their hardware primarily on the criteria of strengthening the alliance's deterrence.
The usual debate on military strategy reviews, major procurement projects et cetera is about the national armed forces, though their relevance for alliance defence depends on the greater alliance picture.
I have yet to see anyone asking a question such as "How many area air defence batteries will NATO be lacking in Europe?", but I've seen people mention that "the German Patriot batteries need replacement!".
This tunnel vision on the national level is entirely inappropriate and wasteful in the context of a large defensive alliance. (I understand it's being used in regard to intervention capabilities, but it's not confined to those.)
It leads at times to capability gaps of the national armed services getting plugged, while no such capability gap existed in the alliance - the entire effort is wasted because the decision-makers and their advisers lacked the intellectual self-discipline to focus on the correct level.

This text is totally lacking polish, but I suppose the central idea was conveyed nevertheless:
We should focus with great self-discipline on the relevant instead of always the national level and we should optimise the cost/benefit ratio in order to avoid waste of taxpayer money and waste of parts of the workforce.
I don't see much of this in the outcomes or debates.



Freedom of navigation patrols

So the United States Navy had a guided missile destroyer cruise through what the Chinese claim as territorial waters around what they call an island of theirs. I suppose a link to the story is unnecessary.

I think this was a very, very stupid and primitive idea - and at the same time utterly predictable.

Here are the reasons why:

First, Chinese history background. Also, this was not all fiction - these patrols existed for real. The United States maintained river gun boats on the Chinese river Yangtze to "protect their interests" (against the Chinese in China!) from 1854  till 1941, and by the latter date we can all tell this mission wasn't given up voluntarily.

USS Penguin (AM-33), part of Yangtze river patrol
I do often get annoyed by how many Americans with interest in military affairs appear to be obsessed about the American Civil War - imagine this passion magnified several times and you get the picture about how the Chinese are aware of how their nation was humiliated, exploited and violated in their sovereignty, partially colonized even, by Caucasians (and later the Japanese as well) for generations. Hong Kong was among the port cities turned into de facto colonies and it was returned as late as 1997, so this is not ancient history to Chinese.

This in combination should suffice for everyone to understand that any move regarding Chinese sovereignty may weigh much more heavily in China than Westerners would assume typically. There was and is no guarantee that the Chinese consider this destroyer cruise as all about some islands, for example. Many Chinese will no doubt interpret it as a more general violation of Chinese sovereignty.

Then there's the extra burden of American hypocrisy as well.
The United states Navy is usually lying when it claims to enforce "freedom of navigation". That's about as sincere as when a recruiter claims service will be "adventurous".
The United States Navy has a proven history of not enforcing freedom of navigation, but of violating freedom of navigation and using "freedom of navigation" as a pretence for provocations if not aggressions.


First World War: Supposedly the United States did not want to tolerate indiscriminate submarine warfare, but they had no substantial problem with tolerating that the Royal Navy stopped even freighters with food as only cargo as part of their naval blockade nor did they protest the British use of submarines or their procedures. All pretence and hypocrisy.

Gulf War 1980-1988: Supposedly the United States Navy escorted tankers to ensure freedom of navigation.
It did not protect Iranian tankers from Iraqi attacks, though. It did exploit the patrol as a pretence to attack Iranian naval units in Iranian territorial waters and the attempted murder of two Iranian F-14 pilots*  which turned out to be a kill of an entire airliner.
The whole action wasn't about freedom of navigation, but about vengeance bullying for the Embassy hostage crisis and it was meant to ensure that the aggressor Iraq would not lose its war of aggression against Iran quickly due to legitimate economic warfare.

Gulf of Sidra: Libya claimed this area as territorial waters in 1973, which was not internationally recognised. That means hardly anything, certainly international shipping was not affected, for any freighter passing that area would either be on a very bad detour or headed to a Libyan port or coming from one. Save for research ships, treasure hunters or sports boats hardly any other unit would have a desire to be in this area without visiting a Libyan port. See for yourself. Still, the U.S. Navy conducted utterly unnecessary "freedom of navigation patrols" in the area and twice provoked deadly clashes which were nothing but the consequences of a bully policy (1981 and 1989).

- - - - -

The United States Navy and the United States have a history of using "freedom of navigation" as a pretence for bullying, provocation and (at ship level) aggression.

The United States Navy and the United States also participated in the exploitation and humiliation of China for several generations.

The United States (and again, prominently its navy) also clashed with the PR China during the Korean War and are since the famous "Pacific pivot" positioning themselves as a great power opposing and encircling China.
- - - - -

A United States Navy warship was the most horrible and most ignorant choice for conducting a symbolic "freedom of navigation" cruise through the area. This was utterly  tainted by past hypocrisy and aggressions.

An adequate ship for such a cruise would have been a Brazilian warship, a Mexican warship, or a Turkish warship. These countries did never harm China with imperialistic policies, never used freedom of navigation for a pretence for hostile behaviour and these countries aren't even linked to this behaviour by Commonwealth or even only perception of being "Europeans".

On the other hand, this was an opportunity for the USN to turn "freedom of navigation" into something non-hypocritical. I don't think this was worth it, though. In fact, I don't think this was what they were trying, for the decisionmakers were likely not aware of the track record of hypocrisy - they likely believe in their predecessors' propaganda.

It's also utterly natural for the USN to happily adopt "freedom of navigation" patrols as a mission: Every bureaucracy wants more missions, for this means more funds, more leadership positions, more prestige and more attention. A historian would have been a much better advisor than an admiral for this reason.


*: They knew an F-14 had no anti-ship weapons and the airliner flew no offensive manoeuvres at all - it was attempted twofold murder.