Russia's moderate wars

None of the originally envisaged texts is ready for primetime, so let's ponder a bit about something that's more important anyway:

Russia employs a completely different idea of warfare than the West does.

Western wars have had maximalist objectives ever since the neocons couldn't stop whining about a supposedly "incomplete" job on Iraq in 1991. The objectives were maximalist ever since, and the missions kept being renewed or replaced.

We weren't satisfied by Yugoslavia toning down its measures against UCK rebels in Kosovo; we had to rip Kosovo out of Yugoslavia, and then kept it occupied it. Kosovo is occupied to this day, by about 4,000 NATO-led troops even though there's no real risk of Serbia trying to invade and annex Kosovo.

It wasn't enough to defeat the government that gave sanctuary to the terrorist who had motivated and supported the mostly Saudi 9/11 terrorists. Ordinarily, wars where you have an issue with a government and its actions end when you have destroyed the former and ended the latter. No, in the case of Afghanistan we had to launch a 17+ year occupation, install an utterly corrupt new government and pretend that not only the actual terrorist group, but also the political faction that once had given it sanctuary would have to go extinct. Except next door in Pakistan, of course. There they could dwell for eternity, which of course eliminated the prospect of it ever going extinct. The de facto mission wasn't only maximalist, but also obviously impossible to accomplish. A recipe for a never-ending involvement in a distant civil war.

It wasn't enough that Iraq had lost most of its conventional military power in 1991-1996 and had its NBC programs disassembled, with frequent and intrusive inspections. It just had to be destroyed as a government. And then be occupied for 13 years.

Daesh? Had to be destroyed. It wasn't enough to simply tip the scales towards their destruction - they had to be destroyed (in Syria, where the real deal sat), and several cities with them. Of course, the Western troops weren't withdrawn from Syria because the West is really crappy at getting stuff wrapped up, ever.

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Let's compare Russian warfare: They, too, have their neverending missions (Abkhazia, South Ossetia), but their objectives aren't that maximalist (except in the Crimea).

They didn't rip Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia - even in the moment of total Georgian defeat in 2008 Putin didn't move his troops into Tiflis, forcing the Georgian government to cede those territories into independence.

Crimea was invaded and annexed, alright - but Donbass was but invaded, not annexed. And the war in Donbass was fought with some restraint by Russia. Russia could have used its air force for air/ground attacks - it didn't. Russia could have gone for Kiev and taken it, and dictate a peace treaty - it didn't. Russia could have gone all-in with its conventional forces in the area - instead, it rotates its forces in and out. The Neocons would have annexed not only Crimea, but also Donbass by now - and they would have installed some puppet in Kiev, maybe even helped it to maintain power with an occupation force of 100,000+, calling on CIS governments for auxiliary forces.

Russia's involvement in Syria appears to tip the scales in Assad's favour, but it's far from all that Russia could do. Russia did not send a single brigade of ground forces, and it could muster much more ground attack aircraft. It didn't even only bring much artillery to the fight.

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Russia certainly has less resources and much greater security challenges at home than the U.S. or even NATO as a whole, but the pattern of limited objectives doesn't seem to be explained by resources alone. This is most evident in Georgia (though that episode may have been unintended as a whole).

There's no extremist or maximalist faction comparable to the Neocons steering Russian foreign policy. The whole pattern rather looks like typical great power games, with a certain emphasis on the own periphery. That emphasis is often interpreted as Putin intending to re-create the Soviet Union (or Russian Empire). I have written such an interpretation before myself, and it makes a lot of sense from the partisan view of NATO and EU; better safe than sorry regarding the Baltic members.

Yet we might actually see a Russia that's -at least under Putin- not maximalist or extremist in regard to war as we in the West have become used to be under the influence of American extremism since 2001. It may be all about playing great power games instead, which opens the door for entirely different dissuasion efforts to succeed.

One example is that we could threaten a set back in one of their great power games (such as helping Georgia to push out Russians from Abkhazia and South Ossetia) as countermeasure to some new Russian aggression elsewhere. This would be considerably less promising if imperial restoration was really the end goal, for then it might escalate the conflict into a stupid Russian attempt to gain everything desired in one war.




Modern electric heavyweight torpedoes

There are a couple things that modern electric heavyweight torpedoes can do that other torpedo types cannot do, or not nearly as well. Western navies usually don't have a mix of heavyweight torpedo types; they use either one or another design, and but two designs when they transition from an older generation to a new type. This may be far from ideal, as I will show by pointing out the potential versatility of modern electric heavyweight torpedoes.

First, a description:
A modern heavyweight torpedo with electric propulsion has or can have
  • a giant battery capacity relative to other torpedo categories (depends on torpedo length),
  • an electric motor capable of accelerating the torpedo to higher speed than any ship, but not as high speed as some other torpedo engines,
  • a fibre-optic cable that connects the torpedo with the launch platform (submarine) with a high data transmission rate (two way),
  • a passive/active sonar (including the ability to sense active sonars and incoming hard kill torpedoes),
  • wakehoming terminal approach mode with the necessary sensor,
  • a fuse that detonates the torpedo below the target ship and
  • processing capacity to identify ships by their acoustic profiles and choose promising target approaches including retargeting after falling for a decoy without fusing.
an example of a modern electric torpedo;
other examples are the Indian Varunastra and the Italian Black Shark

There's little published info on how exactly modern torpedoes would be employed other than most simple patterns, so I'll simply write about some ways that could be done with this combination of attributes.
  1. short distance sprint attack (guided or unguided)
  2. normal wide-guided torpedo attack; medium speed cruise on intercept course, user chooses target based on torpedo's sonar data and torpedo initiates terminal attack sprint
  3. long range self-deployment to mission area, sinks to ground, becomes mine (long life due to large battery capacity), engages detected target in very short range sprint
  4. entire salvo of torpedoes deploys at slow speed to a location in front of a predictable convoy (or into a narrow strait), uses just enough propulsion to avoid sinking too low, torpedoes act as mobile mines and initiate engagement when convoy comes close enough
  5. multiple torpedoes launched at slow or medium speed, sonars and accurate navigation enable a accurate-enough triangulation of acoustic signatures even though the submarine's sonar couldn't determine the range to the target in passive mode on its own (at least not quickly and reliably).
  6. torpedo used as mobile decoy, mimicking submarine behaviour and to some degree its acoustic signature. It could reproduce picked-up active sonar waves if its own sonar can cover the same frequency band. The fake contact could even be behind the torpedo as long as there's but one active sonar looking for it (and the torpedo's echo is too small to be picked up).
  7. hard kill defence against incoming torpedo (that's inefficient with a heavyweight torpedo, but feasible)
  8. torpedo launched in one direction, possibly left there for a while (as the sub rests at sea bottom as well) and finally tasked to simulate a threat from its axis in order to lure targets into the sub's no-escape kill zone as part of their evasive action
  9. HWT as mobile and spaced active decoy, mimicking active sonar signals (if its own sonar can cover that frequency band) and thus faking a moving submarine

The important advantages of the electric HWT are in its endurance. This is visible in the mobile mine applications, including the torpedo salvo-in-ambush scenario (#4) and the self-deploying mobile mine scenario (#3).
A navy that limits itself to a torpedo such as Mk48ADCAP or Spearfish misses out on many of the above-listed scenarios in favour of a higher sprint speed.

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BTW, I still suppose that submarines could be well-served with a SSG approach; a dozen vertical launch silos for modern anti-ship missiles could enable a submarine to quickly engage distant audible contacts without reliable range estimate and without needing to replace torpedoes in the torpedo tubes (which would be a problem in a surprise contact with a hostile submarine). The launch could be from such long distances and the missiles could fly such a pre-programmed path that the attack wouldn't give the location of the sub away.

That in turn begs the question why one should go to such lengths (submarine operation, sub-launched anti-ship missiles) at all, since land-based air power is really good at deploying anti-ship missiles as well.

The answer is in my opinion that submarines are still platforms that make the most sense for underdog navies and navies that insist on attacking where their surface fleet and air power cannot routinely go. Submarines can go on missions even when and where hostile forces dominate the sky and the surface.
I see but one real justification for non-SSBN submarines in European service; the employment as aggressors in training of ASW units. The ship-killing and reconnaissance functions could be accomplished by much more versatile air power.



P.S.: I know there are hordes of SSN fans who read too many biased books, but I'm not going to convince any of those people about how unnecessary and redundant SSNs are anyway.


Link drop and comments July 2018

This link drop and commentary is much bigger than usual, don't get used to it! ;-)

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"According to a growing number of scientific studies, the kind of man who stockpiles weapons or applies for a concealed-carry license meets a very specific profile.
These are men who are anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market, and beset by racial fears. They tend to be less educated. For the most part, they don’t appear to be religious—and, suggests one study, faith seems to reduce their attachment to guns. In fact, stockpiling guns seems to be a symptom of a much deeper crisis in meaning and purpose in their lives. Taken together, these studies describe a population that is struggling to find a new story—one in which they are once again the heroes."

By Jeremy Adam Smith on March 14, 2018

I like the "heroes" angle in the article (it mentioned lots of correlations as well) as an explanation, for it explains how much at heart the issue seems to be for many people. I would like to add a specific observation of mine about conspiracy theorists:
Conspiracy theorists are in my opinion people who lack the intelligence or inquisitiveness to acquire a real information advantage relative to peers. They compensate this by making up or adopting conspiracy theories. Once a believer, they feel that they know something that the peers lack the intelligence or inquisitiveness to know or understand. Every rejection only reinforces their belief in their superior information status, for the others just 'don't get it'. And then many of them go on making up derogatory terms about 'those who don't get it', to feel even more superior.

I think this is quite similar to the "hero" angle of the article, for conspiracy theorists do create this narrative in which they are better and more responsible than the peers want to acknowledge, just as the gun nuts who discuss whether a 45cal has good-enough stopping power against a home invader or if it needs a 12 gauge pump action.
In their own narrative, they are the better people. Reality must not apply.

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(no comment)

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Let's take the list of the authors and check after the 16th what gifts the self-proclaimed master negotiator handed over - and what he got for it (if anything).

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"The Washington Post's Fact-Checker blog has been keeping a strict count of President Donald Trump's many misstatements, untruths and outright lies. And, over the weekend at a rally in Michigan, Trump hit a(nother) milestone: He topped 3,000 untrue or misleading statements in 466 days in office.
That means that, on average, Trump says 6.5 things that aren't true a day. Every. Single. Day. (Trump is actually picking up the pace when it comes to not telling the truth; he has averaged nine untruths or misleading statements a day over the past two months, according to the Post's count.)
The problem with Trump's penchant for prevarication is that it's hard to contextualize it. We've never had a president with such a casual relationship to the truth. We have no count of how many lies Barack Obama or George W. Bush told per day because, well, they weren't as committed to saying and then repeating falsehoods as Trump quite clearly is."

Frankly, this makes meaningful big topic diplomacy with the U.S. almost entirely impossible. Nothing he says can be trusted to have any meaning, and he even lies to the face of foreign heads of government  when he ought to know that they know better. He's moronic enough to even admit it (though maybe that was an even more moronic lie). The foreign policy influence of the U.S. is now likely lower than at any time in the past 120 years. Even threats of aggression have a 'throw a coin' quality now.
He's a moron, and the U.S. is a security liability now, not an ally. The U.S. military spending does not matter, at least not as benefit to the allies-by-treaty of the U.S..

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related: Qatar has apparently understood how useless it is to host a U.S. military base. I called those who trust in U.S. military presence as security guarantee "fools" long ago already.

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 for those who can read German:
I made such an observation in 2009.

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I remember a Western much more ambitious project/proposal (from years ago) for an aerial sniper drone, including a semi-auto sniper rifle. It was fixed wing instead of multicopter, IIRC.

Small kamikaze drones with ~50 mm HEDP just ring more practical to me. They could target vulnerable surface*angle combinations of MBTs, penetrate all other IFVs and devastate individual infantrymen. Active protection systems and roof-mounted machineguns would be saturated by a swarm of such drones unless there's a suitable counter-drone hardware mounted at high readiness. Infantry would probably protect itself in bivouac and in buildings with the use of Dyneema nets, which might lead to a net-cutting counter-countermeasure (akin to barrage balloon-countering bomber in WW2) and so on.

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It's competing with established the central tire inflation system + run flat tire approach. RWT seems much heavier, likely limited in speed, has much more (moving!) parts and thus more opportunities to fail and higher maintenance requirements.
I suppose a non-pneumatic tire with a narrow contact surface for roads and a wider one that comes into play on soft soils is the way to go, especially if the elastomer has additives for reduced flammability and the sides are walled off to keep mud out.

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I totally get that Taiwan wants conventional AIP submarines (they're the underdog and submarines are the only major naval units that would be survivable and or might escape to friendly ports in the event of a PRC attack), but it's a very weird choice for Australia. Even SSNs could hardly do much for Australia's deterrence and defence unless they were armed with nuclear-tipped missiles. The Australian submarine cost estimates were terribly high from the start, cost growth should easily kill off the whole program if it was about deterrence & defence, not shipyard subsidising.

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Does anyone else wonder what fighter (combat) aircraft the Chinese are planning for their carriers?
The J-20 is extremely large, and almost certainly uneconomically large if not dimensionally unsuitable for the naval fighter job. The Chinese clearly appreciate having at least some low RF observable fighters, so it's plausible that they would want a naval LO fighter on their carriers in the 2020's. Their domestic alternative (J-10 series) is not LO.
It might be that the FC-31 (rumoured J-31) is the naval strike fighter option, or there's yet another project that the public doesn't know about (but then it's unlikely to yield operational carrier air wings until the late 2020's).
Whatever the Chinese are cooking up, it might end up in the hands of users in the European periphery or at the very least Pakistan.

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I disagree; in my opinion the current (Western?) command system is a result of poor incentives, poor disincentives, lacking oversight and poor self-discipline. The complexity that the author seems to identify as driver for the growth of command staffs could be addressed by the subsidiarity principle (this is similar to mission command in spirit, but more general). 

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I looked at the crime stats a while ago and considered writing about it. The supposed crime wave post-2015 is non-existent.

Some excerpts
Homicides in 2015-2017: Lower than in 2009, slightly above 2014. Really high figures for '93-'97 instead.

Rape-murder: 8...13 in 2015-2017, compare that with 26 in 2011 and more than 20 in every year 2000-2006 (33 in 1999!). 2016 and 2017 were two of the three years with the least rape-murders since the reunification!

Then there's a category 'felonies against sexual self-determination' - rape, sexual harassment.
Minimal increase 2015-2016, bigger increase 2016-2017. That is, back to what was normal in 1997-2008. One has to keep in mind that this includes false allegations (rape-murder on the other hand should have about zero false allegations).

Another statistic is quite interesting, and shows why there was a jump from 2016 to 2017; change of laws and thus statistic. "Vergewaltigung und sexuelle Nötigung §§ 177 Abs. 2, 3 und 4, 178 StGB" was stagnant 2005-2016 (in the 7,022...8,133 range up and down), but for 2017 the statistic instead shows "Vergewaltigung und sexuelle Nötigung/Übergriffe §§ 177 Abs. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 und 9, 178 StGB" and boom! figure is up to 11,282 in 2017 from 7,919 in 2016. So that's mostly due to the enlarged definition.

One statistic is weird; rape by groups. It's up from 254 in 2015 to 524 in 2016. Now I suppose xenophobes and islamophobes cheer that finally one real world statistic validates their beliefs, but the same statistic went back to normal in 2017; 258 (without change of definition). The 2016 figure may be a typo.

You wouldn't get the idea that something drastic happened in 2015 by looking at German crime stats. Instead, you'd get convinced that crime was MUCH worse during the 90's, and also worse during the 2000's than during the 2010's so far.

That doesn't matter to the 'real world must not apply' faction, which prefers its own made-up stats a.k.a. fantasyland over reality.They even 'justify' their fantasy by claiming that the official statistics are rigged and they themselves know the real ones, even though they have zero statistics-gathering capability of their own.

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"114 candidates in Mexico's upcoming elections have been murdered, so far"

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"An ambassador’s primary function is to serve as a go-between, German politicians and diplomats say—to explain and relay messages between the two countries.
Grenell, however, clearly views his role as a much more active one. Multiple sources from across Germany’s political, diplomatic and policy corps who have met him or been present for his meetings with high-level German officials say Grenell has made it clear he doesn’t want to be a messenger. Instead, these sources say, he sees himself as a “player” who has a role in influencing policy decisions—and a portfolio extending beyond just Germany to Europe more broadly. In return, Berlin sees Grenell first and foremost as someone who is here to sell Trump and Trumpism on this side of the Atlantic.
“He does not understand what the role of an ambassador should be,” says Nils Schmid, foreign policy spokesman for the center-left Social Democrats in parliament. “An ambassador is a bridge-builder who explains how American politics works, how the American government works, and at the same time explains to America how Germany sees things.” But Grenell, Schmid says, has “defined his role for himself, and it is not the traditional role of an ambassador. … He will work as a propagandist.”"

Chancellor Merkel and foreign minister Maas deserve to be ridiculed as weaklings if that Moron doesn't get kicked out soon. The current immigration debate is the perfect opportunity to kick him out. The wannabe fascists are going to count any change of course on immigration as their victory anyway, so inflict on them a defeat in parallel!

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I got 11/13 right (guessed a few, though), was a little too pessimistic on #5 and #9, though I still doubt #5. I suppose it's a translation issue and they probably didn't ask for school time, but education time. It was evident from the first question that their German translation isn't perfect.

Feel free to do the test before you watch this kinda weird dude's video.

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The really good news about this is that once it's clear (if ever) that POTUS is a puppet we will know that this was an amazing natural experiment. The military of the United States was next to irrelevant to European Security and nothing terrible happened yet, not even a finishing campaign in the non-allied Ukraine.
This should kill (for rational, thoughtful people) the nonsensical myth that the U.S. subsidises Europe's security in the post Cold War world.
Remember that the non-American NATO partners outnumber the Russian military almost 2:1 in personnel and have two nuclear powers either of which is capable of killing 20% of Russians in 30 minutes!
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I intend to write about infantry doctrines for specific scenarios (especially the Baltic countries) soon. Feel free to give me hints about existing publications and doctrinal ideas that might be of interest for this. So far I took inspirations from Raumverteidigung, Jagdkampf, LRDG - but it doesn't quite satisfy, specifically for wintertime.

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Now you may call me "anti-American" if you want, but that's no derogatory term where I live any more, and an argumentum ad hominem is little short of a surrender on the issues.



Fire support reaction times

Some infantry-related posts at D&F had a working assumption: Modern infantry would suffer most from indirect fires lethality (80...90% of KIA and WIA), and the only reasonable approach to survival is thus to be elsewhere when the lethal fires arrive. Even tanks cannot cope with artillery hits, so individual armour is unsuitable as a #1 approach for survivability. This will stay true even if and when powered exoskeletons with full body armour arrive.

What I never wrote much about is the extreme range of actual delays between friendly troops being identified and lethal munitions arriving at their spotted position. I used a rule of thumb that NATO infantry should expect to enjoy a time window of no more than 2...4 minutes. That was derived from the performance of modern (1990's and later) artillery fire control networks as they are in use in some of the better-equipped land forces in NATO (and the associated doctrines and times of flight of munitions). There's actually a much wider range possible, and the difference between the extremes leads to entirely different visions of modern great power land warfare. Assuming self-propelled howitzers (360° traverse turret) at about 18 km distance there are the following archetypical delays:

up to 20 minutes delay for land forces stupid enough to insist on complete centralised deconfliction and not centralised approval (~U.S.Army in small wars mode)

10...15 minutes delay for poorly equipped and poorly trained forces*

about 2...4 minutes for well-established modern artillery fire control**

1 minute or less for state of the art fire control networks with fully automated software decisionmaking and check for no-fire zones and fratricide prevention (a decisionmaking lag of milliseconds)

Delays of 10+ minutes require no particular doctrinal response. Combat troops leaders aware of this can handle this if they have the means to maintain or regain enough freedom of movement.

Delays of 2...4 minutes require hit&run tactics (raids, ambushes, fires from alternating small units) as I have proposed them over and over again.

Delays of 1 minute or less cannot be coped with, period. You need to increase that delay or avoid that the hostile fires can take effect at all. 
This can be done by various approaches:
  1. 'cyber' sabotage of the fire control network
  2. radio jamming
  3. destruction of relay radios
  4. low visibility battlefield (unsustainable amounts of smoke munitions if it's daytime)
  5. the well-known "hugging" tactics (staying too close to substantial hostile forces for most support fires to take effect - such as being  in the same building)
  6. delay of identification (camouflage, concealment, deception including mimicry) till the hostile observer is defeated
  7. destruction of hostile fire support assets
  8. hard kill defences ("C-RAM", AFV with APS)
  9. deprive hostiles of the organisational order and logistical support necessary for the identification-to-destruction event chain
  10. aggressive exploitation of blue force tracker-ish radio emissions to make that mode too hazardous, depriving the opposing forces of a quick fratricide-avoidance check
  11. decisively undermine the opposing forces' trust in their fire control network
  12. Best approach of all: Keep the peace.
Again, armour won't help. The hostile fire control network would simply allocate fires that can  overwhelm the armour.

The timing of exposure of friendly forces (synchronisation of exposure and anti-fire control network support measures) could become the central element of combat. There is likely no persistent and affordable counter to hostile support fires.

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Maybe you doubt the one minute scenario, or that anyone would give a computer software such a high authority over lethal fires. Nobody would set up and authorise a fire control network that allows an infantry small unit leader to mark & classify a target and then without any further human interaction some missile launcher or howitzer crew gets an order for lethal fires on that position, right?

Well, there's Fire Weaver, a Rafael land forces fire control system.

It encompasses weapons such a ATGMs, artillery systems, mortars, attack helicopters, combat aircraft. It's a software and an electronics board that gets connected to the weapon and locator hardware. The levels of authority can be set from fully automatic to ordinary doctrines of full human decisionmaking and checks. City maps get updated to account for battle damage changing the face of the city. Positionfinding is not dependent on satellite navigation; especially in urban terrain terrain referencing can be used (such as building, side, floor count, window #). No fire zones can be marked and managed, friendly forces can be avoided as well by a Blue Force Tracker-like function (with much more frequent situational updates, I suppose).***

The decisionmaking time in fully automatic mode is down to milliseconds, and the time from target ID to arrival of lethal munitions may very well be well below one minute, especially if the detected target is a tank and the allocated weapon an ATGM launcher.

(c) Rafael, taken from Rafael press kit - same as 2 next pictures

Is it wholly dependent on radios? I think so. Could opponents of a Fire Weaver user trust on their ability to disrupt the radio comms? Well, sure - at their own peril.

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At less than one minute lag between ID and lethal effects there's no point in making our forces more agile any more - that applies to the 2...4 minute time frame instead. At one minute lag or less all you can do is to kill them quicker than they kill you (triumph of offence over defence) or to disrupt that fire control network decisively.

I've seen gazillions of infantry tactics discussions about section sizes, rifle calibres, whether your grenade launcher is bigger than someone else's and so on. All of these discussion had a very low quality.

The real tactical doctrine development parting of the ways is all about how long the reconnaissance-strike lags really are.****

At 5+ minutes the infantry should have great firepower, at 2...4 minutes it should be very agile with high short-time firepower and at less than 2 minutes it depends on support for survival and should probably have an intermediate design between agility focus and firepower focus.


P.S.: One word of caution:  Things are never as bad as they seem. Rarely has a technology kept its promises, especially not soon after its first introduction.

*: Honestly, this is probably the normal range for the Russian army, but outliers could be in the 2...4 minute range. 
**: About two minutes are possible if everything works as advertised, about four minutes are a reasonable assumption for many battle conditions.
***: I extracted this (and more) from Rafael's Fire Weaver program manager in a detailed interview, you won't find all this in the short press release.
****: Tip of the hat to those who emphasised the centrality of reconnaissance-strike complex designs to land warfare doctrines decades ago already. I wasn't among them. I learned of ADLER (here some info on ADLER III) and believed that nobody would give up control to cut the process much shorter.


There's little emphasis on brigades and divisions

Many European armies have displayed a tendency to think in battalions rather than in brigades or divisions during the past 15 years. The U.S. armed forces with their huge size have shown this tendency much less by comparison, often deploying entire brigades (albeit with some of their units repurposed) for occupation warfare.

The multinational pseudo tripwire battalions in the Baltic countries and Poland even combined contributions as small as companies into multinational battlegroups. NATO's so-called quick reaction forces such as VJTF are composed of battalions that would be ripped out of their national brigade or division structure.

Germany had brigades for years that were incapable of combined arms tactics as they lacked artillery. I criticised these merely administrative organisations (that were no combat formations) before.

All this emphasis on companies and battalions does to some degree fit to the increased tactical mobility (full motorisation) and the few forces that are available for large potential theatres of war. The more mobile and less numerous troops you have, the more you're inclined to disperse them into small packages to still cover the large area. You better be able to mass once in a while (and quickly), though.

On the other hand, we used to have brigades and divisions for a purpose; they were combined arms formations that had almost all they needed in battle as organic assets, including specialist troops and equipment such as bridgelayers and battlefield air defences. We could have had a patchwork of individual independent battalions all the time, but we chose to set up brigades and divisions to foster better understanding and cooperation between officers who know each other, brigade commanders to whom a battalion isn't just a designation and a map symbol, but associated with officers of a known quality, and the commanders also used to know the state and quality of the training. They knew this instantly, and didn't need weeks or months to learn about those forces as with multinational patchwork forces.
NATO has emphasised interoperability for decades, but I have a gut feeling that even perfect "interoperability" would be no sufficient substitute for officers and staffs really knowing their subordinated and neighbour units.* I've experienced NATO bureaucracy bollocks myself and are thus inclined to suspect that whatever on-paper descriptions of units the NATO staffs have aren't worth the paper unless they are impractically long.

The radios and their encryption (if present at all) may be compatible, and technical terms may be sufficiently harmonised (at least their English versions), but "interoperability" and knowing each other are apples and oranges - neither can fully substitute the other.

Moreover, actual warfare in Europe would happen over a large area, with corps or theatre headquarters in their normal non-small war job description. Formations at an intermediate level between battalion and corps seem wise for certain activities.
We could devise a doctrine in which no brigades or divisions exist; just a theatre command and lots of battalions. It may be possible that such a doctrine would serve well in deterrence and defence. We don't have such a doctrine, though. We need the formations that are prominent in our actual doctrine in order to be efficient at deterrence and defence.


P.S.: I've been an outsider for so long that I cannot be sure about this, it's rather a suspicion, me connecting a few dots. 

*: Even though the CvC school of thought would emphasise a need to mass, but that doesn't need to be the correct answer. CvC's main body of work is poor advice for underdogs, for example. Hence his remarks about guerilla warfare.


Eurosatory 2018

Generally speaking, the Eurosatory 2018 was a disappointment to me because I hoped for much more novelties than were shown. I recognised most portable equipment and even many of the vehicles from Eurosatory 2008.

This is kinda representing the spirit of innovation there
Here's a photo album of 300+ photos from Monday and Tuesday:

Sorry about the many early blurred photos. Lots of indoor photos are blurred but almost all outdoor photos are clear despite the wind. I suspect the brochures bag that often dangled from my left arm caused the blurring.

Many photos of hardware have some related context photo (designation, often specs) very nearby. Often times there was simply no such thing to make a photo of.
I used a cheap, old type smartphone with a 5 MP camera. Many photos were repeated because I didn't trust the 1st try. Photobucket failed to upload some photo files and I don't know why.

Someone got creative in the quest for attention.
The #1 hardware novelty was almost certainly Nammo's design for a ramjet 155 mm shell that's supposed to fly 100 km far with a decent payload (there's a lengthy presentation in the photo album about it). They clearly hope to exceed what Leonardo offers with its 155 Volcano design. A question remains; why put so much effort into teaching 155 mm to fly far with good or great precision if it's much easier to pull off with a fin-stabilised guided rocket launched from a multiple rocket launcher or even a plain box?

The #1 software novelty was likely Rafael's Fire Weave (though there's also some dedicated hardware involved). I talked a lot to a Rafael representative, and will likely write more about it later.

Nexter showed off some Leopard 2 hull / Leclerq turret hybrid (which I utterly ignored as I only paid attention to the turret), and its stupidity. They seriously showed off vehicles and guns to the public at a trade fair, but also spent on having almost one guard per project who angrily pointed at tiny 'no photographs' signs.

Even more hilariously stupid, some other exhibitors posted 'no photographs of vehicle underside' signs at indoor vehicles. I can't tell if they were serious (stupid) or actually trying to redirect attention to the belly.

The displayed drones were unimaginative, and thus I didn't pay much attention to them.

There was a weird, near-total absence of infrared-only ILLUM and multispectral smoke products on the trade fair.

I call this "the Matrix camouflage pattern".
Noptel and Junghans: I asked them about their old optical fuse design. Noptel (original inventors, now a subsidiary of FNH) hinted that it was too expensive, Junghans flat-out claimed that it never worked (mistook clouds for the ground), but admitted that it might be about time to look at the jamming-proof concept again since technology advanced. Well, at least the representative admitted this after I pointed out that one could simply couple the proximity fuse with an electronic timer that is programmed to activate the fuse only for the last 50 or 100 metres and the Shortstop fuse jammers had evolved into many rather widespread IED jammers, proliferating the concept. The Junghans rep did express extreme confidence in their RF fuses' ECCM at first, though.

I asked a representative of a well-known small arms red dot sights and night vision sights producer about the NATO (accessory) rail and especially what's going on regarding a powered NATO rail, since the products were marketed as Picatinny rail-compatible (NATO rail is backwards compatible to this, but Picatinny rail is inferior). He know nothing about either, and after some explanations he finally got the idea why a powered rail with a central battery in the grip and potentially even data transfer between accessories may be a fascinating idea. Seriously; he was supposed to be the expert.

A representative of a big armoured glass producer knew nothing about some old basic research into non-shattering armoured glass. I showed him some infos, he's going to look it up. Flabbergasting.

Lots of other reps answered my questions by telling me exactly what I had already guessed based on incomplete info. 

I noticed something for the very first time about the Ultimax 100; the (drum) magazine is too close to the trigger for resting my index finger straightly. That's uncomfortable and bad for trigger discipline. I compared this to some other displayer LMGs and the problem didn't exist anywhere else, so this isn't my index finger's fault.

The M4 Carl Gustav feels incredibly light on the shoulder, likely because the centre of gravity (unloaded) is only about 15-20 cm in front of the shoulder. The SAAB rep couldn't tell whether the USMC would buy many more M4 to get enough for its new infantry squad TO&E, as customers apparently often buy old CG versions even when a newer, better one is available. BTW, SAAB guarantees a life of 1,000 shots with SAAB munition for the M4. The rep signalled no interest in a slip ring version of the HEAT munitions, even though it could eliminate spin almost entirely and thus increase armour penetration.

A reusable Instalaza C90 - I didn't have this on my radar before. It blows the M4 CG out of the water with its weapon weight (3.5 kg, about half that of the M4 CG), but munition weights and calibre are extremely close. It's a choice for land forces that do not insist on the smaller dispersion of the CG's HE shells at longer distances, I suppose. (The C90's barrel is smoothbore, while the M4 CG's is rifled.)

That Dragon C thermal sight that I had in the list for ultralight infantry is actually available in a 640x480 pixel version with the same weight already.

Spike SR is confirmed to lack top attack mode due its lack of a movable IIR sensor (it cannot look at a sufficient off-boresight angle for a top attack flight profile; it would lose the lock-on). It can supposedly fly to 2,000 m (Rafael first claimed 800 m effective range, then 1,500, then 1,800, now again 1,500. Supposedly, they do now market is as having 1,500 m range to not chip away at the case for Spike MR). 1,500 m is apparently its tank ID distance ("ID" as the user can tell a tank from a car at that distance - identification is likely the main argument in favour of the heavy command launch unit used with Spike MR).

Those Cockerill 105 mm turrets with 42° maximum elevation have the potential for indirect fire, but aren't really prepared for it in any way other than their huge maximum elevation. Indirect cannon (cannon ~ fixed cartridge case) fire is a capability that customers could demand and get with little additional development work. There's no fire control for indirect fires, no dedicated munition types, no preparations for manipulating the propellant power (the easiest method would be semi-fixed cartridge cases that allow to add or remove propellant charge modules).

I discussed ballistic helmets with a rep, but got no answer for my question why nobody tries to bring a soft, foldable helmet (that could conveniently be stored close to the hip) into the market. I suppose it might work with soft body armour textile layers and foam trauma pads, at least up to a frag protection rating equivalent to what the 1...1.1 mm thin steel helmets offered (enough to protect against falling bullets and fragments from distant explosions in the air). I suppose that such a soft helmet / ballistic hat might be carried along by troops who would otherwise just use a hat for convenience.

Some brochure photos:

just a Brahmos anti-ship missile brochure

backpack radio jammer (mobile phones and tactical radios),
RF fuse jammers look similar (see the classic 90's Shortstop)

Some (apparent start-up) passive exoskeleton, not yet optimised for low own weight

Slovakian LORANA FOG missile equivalent.
The drawing is extremely similar to a drawing in an ALAS brochure.

ultralight thermal sight (clip-on or stand-alone with digital zoom)
all-round through-armour vision system

Apparently, there are three ways how to provide an AFV crew with all-round under armour vision.
#1 is to do what was done in the AH-64  ages ago; single sensor that turns to look the same direction as the (one) user. Nobody seems to pursue this approach any more.
#2 is to have a box on top with multiple staring cameras that provide 360° vision, even to a helmet-mounted display of multiple crewmembers.
#3 is to have distributed sensors, but they provide no seamless vision to helmet-mounted displays. They can rather feed screens only, and are thus similar to panoramic mirrors.

I suppose #2 will be the preferred retrofit solution, while #3 makes more sense for new AFV designs where you can integrate the sensors into the outside, rather than occupy the roof with yet another pole and box that provokes sniping.

still the same Sentinel product

some data on Sentinel
lighter than M4 Carl Gustav, but lacks the rifling

The representative gave me this without me wanting it. Well, have a look at the maximum target velocity: Mach 2
Fast-moving warheads don't expel their fragments exactly to the sides; the combination of outward fragment velocity and forward velocity leads to a cone-shapes fragmentation pattern (or continuous rod pattern). This is important, as you need to get the timing right against targets that approach very fast from the front. You might miss those if the fuse acts too late. The FREMEN fuse appears to do just that against faster than Mach 2 missiles. I don't quite understand why they push this info with a marketing brochure.

SPACIDO, a very promising fuse for 155 mm HE shells.
Some South Korean very light personal role radio (intrasquad radio)

Intrasquad radios are likely the biggest improvement of infantry in the past 30 years. The in-service models are anything but small or lightweight, though. I don't think that the South Koreans are technology leaders, but these brochure photos can give you an idea about how capable, small and lightweight such radios can be.

a bit heavier, thus a bit more capable

This would be rather for fire team or section leaders.

Laser module for burning small drones.
Have a look at the operating temperature range if you like that idea.

Flexible ballistic neck protection. Better than to use your hands for it when prone.

One of the most important army items.

Some digital press kits:


P.S.: I'm visible on one of the photos; the good-looking dude with the camera. :-)


Bundeswehr structure - what I would do (revisited 2018)


Regarding conscription: 

Conscription was deactivated. That was probably the only good major action of that horrible minister of defence. It can be reactivated easily, as I proposed.

Regarding the air force:

I do still largely agree with myself from 2010, though now I would mention that the Luftwaffe should largely get out of the air/ground business save for stand-off missile launches (Taurus) and air/sea strike (requires integration and purchase of 100...200 modern anti-ship and anti-radar missiles, only one Typhoon wing would have to train for it). I would also mention that I'm fine with a reduction in Typhoon numbers by a third in favour of better training and that I insist on better proofing against surprise strikes.
Ground attack efforts are likely not efficient early in a conflict, and I see Germany as a "first two weeks" defender of NATO and the EU in NE Europe. Other air forces that would first need to build up strength in the theatre of war are better suited for wearing down air defences and doing air/ground strikes with little or no stand-off.

Regarding the navy:
I didn't yet speak out freely by calling the German navy useless back in 2010. I did so in the meantime. The German navy could and should be disbanded because it's a useless diversion of resources. Coastal minehunting can be done without manned ships or boats and could also become a civilian or paramilitary task again, as in the early 50's (maybe that would be a fitting job for the civilian THW). 

Regarding the army:

Eight years later and I still didn't fully write about what I called "unorthodox ideas" back then. [sigh] Well, I would now certainly mention an emphasis on rapid deployment by road, more pontoon bridging for the Oder river, better air defences, better AT missiles, better combined arms TO&Es for the brigades and a vastly improved missile artillery.
I would also leave no doubt that all "special forces" but the Fernspäher (long range scouts, of which we should have many more) units should be disbanded in favour of an improved personnel situation in the infantry (or be re-roled into Fernspäher units).
edit: Last Fernspäher company was disbanded in 2015. My bad.
I did write about "an army corps for Germany" in much greater detail in the meantime.

Regarding the Streitkräftebasis:

It's still quite a blind spot of mine because I have no personal contacts there and hear or read very little about the Streitkräftebasis.

Regarding the centralised medical service:
I didn't pay attention to it in 2010. Now I would crash the inflated medical service, and brutally so. 11% of German military personnel is medical personnel - that's ridiculous! Military medical care can be limited to open wound, burn wound, blunt trauma, eye trauma and counter-biological/chemical agents care till the patient can be transported to a civilian hospital. The troops should simply be insured by the cheapest civilian health insurance (the rates depend on the region) for ordinary health care. I suppose the non-mobilised central medical service could and should be reduced to 2-5% of the personnel strength.

Overall, I don't think we need a permanent increase of military spending. A period of reform investments might require an increase for about four years, but then the spending could be slightly below current level and we could still greatly contribute to deterrence and if need be defence of NATO (and the EU)  in Europe. It's more a question of readiness, seriousness, stocks, doctrine, rapid reaction deployment capability and robustness than of a large budget. 
Four excellent mechanised army brigades with good corps-level support, 40 air superiority Typhoons and 20 air/sea Typhoons would be a plentiful contribution to collective deterrence and defence if they were quickly in action even after a powerful strategic surprise attack on NATO.


edit: To clarify; I'm not really in favour of the gold-plated long range scout concept that the Heer had till 2015.  A force of more than 200 personnel yielded only eight LRS teams. This kind of inefficiency makes LRS near-pointless. LRS need to be resources-efficient first and foremost. Efficient LRS can make large area surveillance affordable, and that would have extremely beneficial effects on battalion battlegroup- to corps-level tactics. An alternative to the employment of a LRS mesh is to rely on elusive militia small units that are from the area.


From current occasion: That moron('s) ambassador

The supposed ambassador of the U.S. managed to cross several lines that are unacceptable and justify an eviction (persona non grata status), and a stern lesson to U.S. senators to not send such a moron to Germany ever again, for no such overt moron would be accredited as ambassador (persona grata) ever again.

Here's what that moron did in the span of less than four weeks of supposedly being ambassador of the United States in Germany:

The ordinary offences that almost nobody cares about:
  1. lied about Germany in context of NATO and military spending
 The offences with at least minimal deniability due to the choice of words:
  1. threatened German corporations regarding business with Iran (right on his first days in Germany)
  2. lied about German democracy by supposing our top politicians decide who gets to win elections (reality: We don't have primaries, but our elections are proper.) 

The offences that are knockout criteria:
  1. lied about a nonexistent "silent majority" (he meant the so-called "alt right"*), thus disputing the legitimacy of the Merkel administration (the ruling CDU/SPD/CSU coalition).
  2. says that he wants to empower one specific political group in Germany.
Germany used to be one of the countries that were important enough to the U.S. government to not send political hacks and donors as ambassadors, but most experienced and knowledgeable career diplomats. People who knew and understood Europe for real (not some propaganda fantasy of it), knew and understood Germany, were able to fluently talk German on difficult topics. Now the moron and his enablers in the U.S. Senate sent an incompetent and lying (or delusional) political hack to Germany as "ambassador", and he's not welcome.

The knockout criteria leave IMO no reasonable choice other than to unofficially tell the "ambassador" to go home and to tell Trump that either there's going to arrive a non-moronic ambassador of the U.S. that's not a lying POS (as opposed to a fine representative of Trump) or we shall treat the "ambassador" as an ambassador from a hostile country**, give him a last chance but persona non grata him after his next public mouth fart.

I doubt that Merkel has the balls for any drastic action, though. She can only administrate the status quo and do about one political u-turn per about two years, not real active policy. A likely outcome is that the moron gets a gag order from the fatter moron and gets silently dispatched in 2021.

for reading on the issues:


P.S.: I went to the original English language articles to check if the German reports about the choice of words was accurate and it was. I will not link to that fascist publication, of course.

*: fascists and neonazis and people who are too close to them to distinguish them from them. Their election potential is below 20%, far from a "silent majority".
**: As were the hostile ambassadors of Warsaw Pact states in NATO countries during the Cold War.