2021/12/04

Link drop December 2021

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Now to the final link drop of the year. It's been a weird year, but at least there was no new war in Europe (Armenia and Azerbaijan being south of Caucasus and thus Asian) and the war in the Ukraine didn't flare up (and I'd be surprised if it does during this winter).

I had a string of disappointments this summer and autumn, seemingly saving up good luck, for I finally had a major luck in private life (fully separated from blogging).

The plan is to return to the Saturdays-only schedule from now on. Reactions to comments can be much-delayed around Christmas time, as every year, this includes belated removal of spam.


nextbigfuture.com/2021/02/unipolar-carbon-nanotube-muscles-ten-to-thirty-times-human-muscle-and-two-to-six-times-diesel-v8.html

oryxspioenkop.com/2021/11/taking-africa-by-storm-niger-acquires.html

defence-blog.com/russian-cadets-creates-one-of-a-kind-spy-drone/

 

 

 

 

defence-blog.com/l3harris-to-upgrade-u-s-space-forces-first-offensive-weapon-system/

The interesting thing about this is that it's mobile and doesn't require any expensive platform. Such satellite jammers should be feasible at fairly low cost as they only require trailers, antenna mechanism and a powerful emitter with little requirements regarding frequency agility or frequency stability. The big question mark is whether such emitters could survive for long close to hostile (air) forces.

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warontherocks.com/2021/11/feeding-the-bear-a-closer-look-at-russian-army-logistics/

I don't fully agree on some things, but the Russian Army did have (probably still has) a logistics problem in that many of its logistics vehicles are old and defective. Aggressors can boost technical readiness for invasion because they do know the time of invasion, though.

I suppose that both Russia and NATO powers need to make use of civilian logistics to supply munitions from depot to a Corps logistics point, and to bring fuel to such points as well. Military logistics vehicles may suffice in capacity to move the supplies from there to the manoeuvre forces. We'd need to establish a second Corps logistics hub farther forward (or anticipating a withdrawal: farther back) to cope with the demands of mobile warfare. The distance that the military logistics vehicles need to travel needs to be kept in a margin of tolerance.

The problem is that we have probably not enough preparation for getting the civilian logistics main supply route going. Many drivers are above military age or conscious objectors or so young that they have never been mustered and can become conscious objectors any time, for example. One should not assume that civilians are fine with such military transport jobs, especially with explosive and flammable supplies in wartime.

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rhinoblinds.com/products/rhino-180-see-through-blind

It would rather not work in the mid and far IR spectrum, I think. The operating principle is AFAIK the same as to how you can see through a bush when you are close to it, but not when you are far from it. So outside thermal sensors can partially see the mid/far IR emissions of the user inside behind the concealment and would show that on a screen.

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factly.in/camouflage-design-photo-of-a-us-company-is-falsely-portrayed-as-the-photo-of-indian-army-soldiers/

I saw this first shown as an example of a really good camo, but most camo patterns look convincing if you use the right background, distance, light conditions, camera setting and possibly even photo editing. It would be interesting to have some kind of neutral institution that creates photos of the worn camouflage pattern under controlled and always identical conditions in a studio and then inserts it into a range of up to a hundred backgrounds. The photos could then be shown to the public. The visibility and the sympathy for the pattern could be rated on a 0...10 scale (sympathy included in an effort to separate it at least a bit from the judgment of effectiveness). The camo items would then be returned to sender or given away as lottery prizes. Instead, everyone who wants to sell some proprietary camo pattern or hype his favourite camo pattern can create photos or videos that make it look very effective. There may even be a place where UCP looks effective.

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thetimes.co.uk/article/british-army-returns-to-germany-in-face-of-russian-threat-bhs7lmnsv

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bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-59186655

 

[German] spektrum.de/kolumne/grams-sprechstunde-wer-globuli-saet-wird-impfgegnerschaft-ernten/1953463

"Einstieg zum Ausstieg aus dem wissenschaftlichen Denken"

 [German] rnd.de/promis/dirk-steffens-zu-umgang-mit-corona-und-klimaleugnern-falsch-verblendeten-das-wort-zu-erteilen-J6YHUZ6RX5CH7KFA54AU4UEI54.html

 

S O

defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

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2021/11/27

The interplay between deterrence and defence

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Deterrence is about the adversary's impression of your capabilities compared to his perception of his capabilities. 

Meanwhile, defence is about your actual capabilities compared to your adversary's actual capabilities.

Errors of judgment aside, the difference is mostly the difference between your communicated capabilities and your real capabilities (communicated + hidden).

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Now imagine you're a political leader and have to issue a task to the armed forces. Will you tell them to focus on deterrence? Will you task them with deterrence AND defence?

To focus on deterrence requires to communicate your capabilities well, secrecy would serve only to protect your capabilities (code secrecy and such). You can jam the adversary's battlefield radios? Let him know! You can stop his anti-tank missiles? Let him know! This may be a quite expensive path, as it provokes an intense offence-defence spiral as your adversary will strive to defeat your capabilities once he understands them.

To order both attention on deterrence and defence makes things difficult and it's indeed not an accurate guidance for the armed services. As was shown above, to bolster defence may deteriorate deterrence, and vice versa. The armed services can only fully meet this order with a budget much superior to the adversary's.

To order a focus on defence leads down the path of secrecy. Your armed services would build up an arsenal of mean surprises, but that could provoke a fatal underestimation of their capabilities by your adversary - and thus to a war that's still disastrous to health, prosperity and even culture of your population.

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What's the optimum? I consider just about every war to be a very bad event (exception; intervention against beyond reasonable doubt ongoing genocide), so I would want to avoid it. This requires effective deterrence. But the deterrence focus approach described above is excessively expensive in peacetime, and might actually fail to deter if you cannot afford it.

A smarter way might be to limit the communication of capabilities to just the needed amount for short-term deterrence, and convincingly communicate additional capabilities once there's a heightened risk of war (remember, the task is deterrence) or when you suddenly become convinced of additional adversary capabilities (which would call for more communicated capability of your own to deter).

The smartest way is to turn your adversary away from hostility towards a stable peaceful co-existence in which both model you and your model adversary can live with each other and without wasting many resources on the capability to harm each other. Deterrence should be considered to be the price to pay to buy the time for developing such stable peaceful relations.


 
P.S.: This was written from the perspective of a power with superior resources that wants to avoid wasting resources. A power with somewhat inferior resources might try to deter by fostering uncertainty, promoting rumours and advantageous stereotypes instead of communicating real capabilities.
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2021/11/20

Change of guards in Africa

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It happened slowly and mostly during the past decade, but so far I didn't write about it: There has been a change of guards in Sub-Saharan Africa. The once ubiquitous T-55 is no longer the go-to tank for African armies. An (East) African army that expects or fears an inter-state war in the next years instead imports 100+ T-72 tanks.
 
examples:
 

The list of Sub-Saharan operators according to Wikipedia is
 
Angola
Congo
Djibouti
Ethiopia
Kenya
South Sudan
Sudan
Uganda

The concentration in East Africa is obvious. Angola is the one not East African country in this list (Congo is clearly in Central Africa, but large enough to border on East Africa, its main security issues are related to Rwanda/Burundi).

The price for a serviceable T-72 is sometimes said to be about 500,000 $, albeit corruption, updates and refurbishing can drive this up by much and the purchase of tanks with worn components can be much cheaper.

The operating expenses do no doubt severely restrict training until wartime, and thus it would be foolish to expect more than assault gun tactics (fire support for infantry, possibly ambushes against hostile tanks) from such tanks.

The much better protection of T-72s compared to T-55 means that the old inventories of ATGMs (which are almost certainly past shelf life and were most likely not stored optimally) are obsolete. Likewise, a RPG-7 without the rare 105 mm warhead is not really a defence against such tanks.

The import of T-72s is likely to provoke arms races in the region (see the example links above, with the suspicious focus on East Africa). The most expensive approach to arms racing - symmetrical arms racing - appears to be the favoured one. Well, tanks are versatile even in poorly-trained hands while dedicated anti-tank assets are rather specialised.

Armoured cars such as the classic AML-90 had great difficulties against T-55s, now even high-end armoured cars with a 105 mm gun would struggle to defeat a T-72 frontally (mostly the lower glacis is vulnerable to them).

The availability of munitions (in case of tanks mostly high explosive cartridges*) and spare parts is important for such countries. They must not make themselves dependent on supply from a single supplier such as France or the U.S., which appears to doom many developments of superficially efficient armoured fighting vehicles and AFV armaments from the West. The Jane's yearbooks on armour and artillery (upgrades) are full of examples of Western designs that found no or hardly any customers.
Meanwhile, the second-hand T-72s are so extremely widespread  and the supply of spare parts and munitions is so diverse that T-72s almost look like a very manageable choice - if there wasn't the inability to economically sustain a decent amount of peacetime training.

 
P.S.: I still don't understand why the West never produced a 100mmx695R low recoil gun (that's the calibre of the ubiquitous T-55's D-10T tank gun) for 6x6 AFVs. The easy availability of HE cartridges for this calibre would have made this gun much more attractive than the weaker 90 mm and more powerful 105 mm calibres.
 
By the way, there's a similar change in regard to African Air Forces. Ethiopia and Eritrea purchased Russian supersonic combat aircraft and hired Russian mercenary pilots in the 90's for their '98-'00 war. Now Ethiopia invests in drones instead.
 
*: Tanks rarely shoot at other tanks, but a tank platoon can go through multiple full sets of HE cartridges in a single small battle for a small village. The HE consumption is enormous during infantry fire support. It is very likely that the African armies purchased rather many tanks (highly visible and prestigious) and rather small stocks of cartridges (hidden from sight, hardly ever mentioned in publications).
 
 
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2021/11/17

Hypersonic missiles of long range

The hype around hypersonic missiles (the big ones, not the tank killers) implies or directly supposes that hypersonic missiles are an important innovation once in service. 


 This requires that

  1. air-breathing cruise missiles either could not do the job for want of sufficient energy or would not penetrate defences
  2. relatively normal (quasi-)ballistic missiles would not penetrate defences

Some hypersonic missiles might possibly have a range advantage over ballistic ones, but this is hardly a game-changer. A bigger yet still simpler ballistic missile could reach just as far.

Failure due to insufficient energy is unlikely. Cruise missiles can use a shaped charge precursor to penetrate very thick reinforced concrete objects and they can also use a shaped charge to insert an explosive warhead as a shot into the hole. This precursor shaped charge approach is by now ancient (WW2-era) technology, mass-produced for portable bunker-busting munitions and I suspect that a driver behind procurement of cruise missiles with such warheads isn't just military bunkers (munition depots and hardened aircraft shelters mostly), but also the destruction of bridge pillars. 

This largely leaves the possibility that the air defence technology progress since the 1970's may have defeated subsonic terrain-following cruise missiles even if they're designed for radar stealth. The ballistic missile defence obsession since the 1980's (and especially since 1991) may furthermore have produced enough technological progress to defeat (quasi-)ballistic missiles.

This is not a binary issue, though. The existence of effective defences doesn't mean that an attacking missile wouldn't accomplish its mission. The costs, quantity, location and readiness are still hugely important factors.

So let's look at readiness.

I very, very strongly suppose that a large missile salvo at the beginning of a war would hit its targets to the limit of the technical reliability of the attacking missile systems. The defences would simply not be deployed and ready. Such a strategic surprise attack could easily be done even with slow cruise missiles. They might need 90 minutes to the last target, but that wouldn't matter much. Hardly any defences of a surprised country or alliance would activate properly within 90 minutes. Almost no fighters are equipped with actual air combat missiles in peacetime, for example. Air defence battery radars and air defence fire control cabins are parked in barracks; they're targets, not defences.

A surprise attack on NATO could take out the majority of European air power and just about every important bridge, about half of the European warships and hundreds of other high value targets. This wouldn't even be expensive; maybe € 2 bn of investment.

Such an aggressor would thus not expect to face much BMD capability for days, either. Only after maybe a week or two he'd face some BMD clusters that would protect certain critical areas (very likely large airbases, maybe a capital or a bridge). Normal air defences might by then protect military bridging over certain rivers, a port and a main supply route.

Would the ability to overcome these few BMD clusters with hypersonic missiles make much of a difference? I doubt it very much. The effect of a couple more hits on the conflict would be very small and a saturation attack of other missiles would very likely succeed even against deployed defences.


Hypersonic missiles may be interesting to bolster nuclear deterrence in face of BMD, and they might be relevant to carrier-centric naval warfare scenarios, but I see very little reason for any elevated relevance in European land warfare.

(This is merely a personal opinion, of course. I have no insider knowledge about technical capabilities of hypersonic missiles or air defences/BMD. Then again, my reasoning doesn't require either as critical input.)

related

/2010/07/first-week-of-peer-vs-peer-air-war.html

/2018/10/inf-i-dont-hold-back-this-time.html

/2020/02/disruptive-technologies.html

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

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2021/11/13

[German] Behelfsweise Schnellreparatur des BMVg innerhalb einer Legislaturperiode

 

Man kann viel erhoffen für die Verteidigungspolitik in einer Legislaturperiode, doch schon bescheidene Hoffnungen werden seit Jahrzehnten zuverlässig enttäuscht. Die Bundeswehr bedarf jedoch erheblicher Reparaturen nach Jahrzehnten des Herabwirtschaftens seit 1990, nachdem die Bundeswehr schon 1989 eigentlich bereits vielfach Die Note "Mangelhaft" in Ausrüstung, Doktrin und Bevorratung verdiente. 

Hierzu beschuldige ich nicht vorrangig die Politiker. Das Hauptproblem stellt die Inkompetenz der Berufsoffziere und die kulturelle und organisatorische Nicht-Eignung der gesamten Organisationskultur oberhalb der Kompanieebenen dar. Die vielen offensichtlichen und katastrophalen Probleme gehen nicht darauf zurück, dass diese Leute nicht wissen, was funktioniert und was nicht:

Die Berufsoffiziere als Gruppe arbeiten schlicht systematisch in die falsche Richtung. Wer als Politiker ohne viel Ahnung ins BMVg kommt und sich erhofft, das Berufsoffiziere ihm/ihr/es erzählen, was getan werden sollte, ist bereits verloren und nutzlos. Die Böcke sind am Gärtnern. Und die Böcke wählen die nächste Generation von Gärtnern aus und befördern sie.

Die Schuld der Politiker ist hauptsächlich, dass sie nie das Ruder herumgerissen haben. Mehr Geld auf die Bundeswehr zu ver(sch)wenden hätte nichts gebracht. Man sieht ja, wie nutzlos die Steigerung des Einzelplan 14 von 2014 zu 2019 um nominal ein Drittel war. Die Lage hat sich nicht verbessert.

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Hier ist meine Liste an Top Prioritäten für eine behelfsweise Schnellreparatur der Bundeswehr innerhalb einer Legislaturperiode. Das wäre keine Generalüberholung, sondern Flicken dort, wo besonders große Hebel oder größte Verschwendung sind.

Zweifellos hat jeder eine eigene Liste und die Allermeisten hätten gewiss einen diplomatischeren Stil in der Formulierung, aber ich könnte jeden Punkt recht ausführlich mit Fakten begründen und meine Geduld und Nachsicht mit der Bürokratie ist erschöpft. Dass die hoch angesiedelten Rädchen der Bürokratie seltenst absichtlich sabotieren oder böse sind ändert nichts daran, dass durchgegriffen werden muss. Die Reihenfolge der Liste ist übrigens bedeutungslos.

  • Zerstörung aller Besatzungskrieg-spezifischen Geräte einschließlich Verbrennung aller persönlichen Tropentarn-Ausrüstungsgegenstände (bis auf Museumsstücke) in Freudenfeuern . Nie wieder Militärabenteuer außerhalb Europas!
  • Einstellung aller Marinebeschaffungsvorhaben und Herunterfahren der Marineausgaben und -rekrutierung. Grund hierfür ist die weitgehende Nutzlosigkeit und Irrelevanz der Marine für die Bündnisverteidigung, an der sich durch fortgesetzte Rüstung auch nichts ändern wird.
  • Einstellungsstopp für den Sanitätsdienst und erst mal keine Übernahmen von Sanitätspersonal in das Berufssoldatentum. Der Sanitätsdienst ist katastrophal aufgebläht.
  • Begrenzung der Luftwaffen-Kampfaufgaben auf eine reduzierte Zahl von Eurofighter eines hohen Ausrüstungsstandes. Grund ist die weitgehende Nutzlosigkeit der vorhandenen 80er Jahre Flugabwehr und die zweifelhafte Durchsetzungsfähigkeit unserer Luftangriffe während der ersten Tage eines V-Falls.
  • Zahlreiche (eigentlich kostengünstige) Maßnahmen, um die Position von beweglichen Hochwertzielen gegen Überraschungsangriffe zu verbergen
  • Umorganisation des Heeres für ein Feldkorps mit vier ausbalancierten Feldbrigaden für das Gefecht der verbundenen Waffen (Panzerbataillon, PzGrenBtl, JägerBtl, PanzerartillerieBtl, UnterstützungsBtl einschließlich Pionieren) und einem Spähregiment einschließlich Fernspähern.
  • Dieses Feldkorps übt wie verrückt. Ausgebildet wird da nicht, nur geübt. Meisterschaft kommt von Übung. Auf dem Kasernengelände wird nur Material gewartet, repariert und gelagert. Üben, üben, üben (und angemessener Ausgleich durch zusätzliche Urlaubstage)!
  • Ausbildung von Heeressoldaten für das Feldkorps von Grundausbildung bis Verbandsausbildung im extrem beweglichen Gefecht der Verbundenen Waffen erfolgt außerhalb des Feldkorps, wofür mindestens ein weiterer vollständiger und identischer Brigadesatz Material benötigt wird (SaZ 6 oder Weiterverpflichtung nötig für Mannschaften des Feldkorps)
  • Alle Verbände des Feldkorps machen in Sommer und Winter jeweils unangekündigte Verlegeübungen nach Litauen oder Polen; 80% Einsatzbereitschaft von Material und Personal binnen 48 h vor Ort wird gefordert, Munition und Diesel für 48 Stunden Kampfeinsatz mitgebracht (alternativ Ballast statt Munition). Die Termine werden mit Polen vom Auswärtigen Amt abgesprochen und gegenüber dem BMVg bis zuletzt geheimgehalten. Ausgenommen sind Zeitfenster, in denen jeweils (nur) eine ganze Feldbrigade eine 16-Tage Urlaubsperiode hat.
  • Sofortauswahl eines Ensembles von Digitalfunkgeräten für das Heer, das sich bei einer vertrauenswürdigen Partnernation bereits bewährt hat (+Fähigkeit zur Emulation unserer Antik-Funkgeräte zwecks Funktion mit vorhandenen Peripheriegeräten). Dann direkte Beschaffung per Bundesgesetz, notfalls unter Mißachtung von EU-Recht (Ausschreibung auf Farce reduziert). Hier kann man nationalen Notstand und Recht auf Selbstverteidigung geltend machen, auch wenn das für europäische Verhältnisse vermutlich eine juristische Innovation wäre. Der Bundestag verabschiedet wissentlich ein verfassungs- oder EU-Recht-widriges Gesetz nach dem Anderen, das kann dann auch mal für einen guten Zweck riskieren. Vollausstattung von Feldkorps und entspr. Ausbildungsverbänden bis Ende der Legislaturperiode.
  • Entsprechend rabiate Beschaffung von genug Wärmebildvisieren (auf Waffe, für Infanterie) und typgleichen Monokular-IR-Handkameras (für Nicht-Kampftruppen-Unterführer des Feldkorps)
  • Sofortige Ausschreibung für ein RCWS (ferngesteuerte Waffenstation für Fahrzeuge) mit 7,62x51 mm bis 20x102 mm Waffe und guter Hunter-Killer Fähigkeit gegen Drohnen in der Luft und am Boden ohne Einsatz von aktiven Sensoren bei der Zielsuche. Preisrahmen niedriger bis mittlerer sechsstelliger Bereich/Stück bei zehntausenden zu beschaffenden RCWS (Beschaffungskooperation mehrerer Länder, aber ohne Einbringung von Sonderwünschen). Software und Hardwarekomponenten/Chippläne offengelegt. Denkbar wäre auch ein RCWS mit entsprechender Aufrüstmöglichkeit für Anti-Drohnen-Fähigkeiten.
  • Verdoppelung der Anzahl M3 Amphibien, alle einzusetzen in aktiven Verbänden nahe der Oder und ständig wechselnden Parkplätzen mit Sichtschutz gegen Satelliten und Agenten. 
  • Wenn nach zwei Jahren auch nur bei einem einzigen eigentlich zu erträglichen Preisen beschaffbaren Ersatzteil Mangel herrscht, werden bis zur Abstellung des Mangels die Berufsoffiziere des Heeres jeden Monat dezimiert (zufällige 10% werden in die Wüste gefeuert) und die Zahl der Planstellen für Berufsoffiziere des Heeres 1:1 reduziert. Motivation ist alles!
  • Bau eines OHK Truppenübungsplatzes mit möblierten Wohn- und Gewerbegebäuden im Stil baltischer Siedlungen.* Realistische Bewegungs- und Sichthindernisse (sehr viele Bäume aus Stahl+Kunststoff, Kunststoffhecken, flache Gräben, Holzzäune, Gardinen, Polycarbonatfenster mit Stellen zur Simulation von Löcher schlagen und komplett einschlagen).
  • Die Division Schnelle Kräfte wird ersatzlos aufgelöst. Sie ist zur Bündnisverteidigung völlig ineffizient ausgerichtet. Auflösung der Heeresflieger und Außerdienststellung aller Heereshubschrauber, weil sie auf einem osteuropäischen Schlachtfeld nutzlose Ziele wären.
  • Alle Stäbe von Heeresverbänden werden um durchschnittlich 3/4 ihrer Offiziersplanstellen reduziert bzw. die Reduzierung in der Summe wird teils mit  Auflösungen erreicht. Keine Aufstockung der anderen Stellen dieser Stäbe. Die personelle Verschlankung ermöglicht eine Beschleunigung, teils auch durch erzwungene Beschränkung von Aufgaben.
  • Internationale Ausschreibung für eine kinetische Panzerabwehrrakete (KE Durchschlagwirkung wie 120 mm DM63 ab spätestens 500 m, 90% Treffer auf 40 km/h fahrendes 2x2 m Ziel auf 500...2000 m Distanz, PLOS Autopilot); kein Entwicklungsbudget, sondern Festpreiskaufangebot für 4.000 Raketen für 1 Mrd € bis 2027, vorausgesetzt es werden Hard- und Softwareinterface bis Vertragsschluss spezifiziert. MELLS und alle anderen in Dienst stehenden PzAbwLFK sind konzeptionell 30+ Jahre alt und deshalb als längst technisch durch Gegenmaßnahmen entwertet und nutzlos gegen russische KPz zu betrachten.
  • Internationale Ausschreibung für ein Heeresflugabwehrsystem mit weniger als 400.000 € Munitionspreis je Abschuss einer Mach 0,75 Drohne auf 30k ft Höhe (bei rechnerischer Berücksichtigung von probability of kill). Außer russischen, weißrussischen, nordkoreanischen und chinesischen Systemen muss binnen zwei Jahren ein System ausgewählt und der Vertrag unterschriftsreif sein (sofern überhaupt ein passendes Angebot vorliegt). Bei Nichterfüllung dieser Vorgabe halbjährliche Dezimierung aller Berufsoffiziere von Heer und Luftwaffe bis zur Erfüllung. Noch eine exzellente Motivationsmaßnahme für die Bürokraten, die sich Generale nennen.


Nichts, absolut gar nichts davon wird so oder ähnlich umgesetzt werden.

 

S O

defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

 

*: Beispielbilder für baltische Ortschaften:

shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/aerial-early-summer-morning-view-small-1125499943
shutterstock.com/de/image-photo/aerial-view-over-slampe-village-latvia-1452198905

 man vergleiche, was für einen Dreck von OHK Übungsgelände die Bundeswehr beschafft und auch noch stolz drauf ist:

youtube.com/watch?v=UajU2aUTK1g 

youtube.com/watch?v=ySvKGYJT6cY


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2021/11/10

Pricing yourself out of the battlefield

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I know a field manual that described among other things how a tank should move through a landscape of open fields and woodland. The advice was to hug the edge of the woodland, as to become less visible at long ranges to anti-tank guided missile and main battle tank threats (at least in the visible spectrum).

It was a 180° wrong advice in case that RPGs are the greater threat; then the tank should strive to keep a safe distance from either left or right or if possible both woodland patches where RPG gunners may more likely hide than in foxholes on open ground from whence they could not retreat.

This is analogue to the situation of tanks in a drone threat-rich environment. Imagine autonomous killer drones capable of flying AND ground movement. Every tank would need to have at least one 360°x90° movable weapon station with 360°x90° threat detection sensors to enable a defence against drone threats that made it past friendly drones trying to kill off hostile drones, akin to how surface warships depend on a line of defence made up by fighters since 1942 (as their own anti-air defences cannot cope with many threats at a time).

Such tanks under drone threat would have too little defensive depth in closed terrain; their anti-drone defence might be effective out to 2 km, but they would be almost defenceless if a drone can attack from behind concealment at 50 m distance. A last ditch defence such as today's hard kill active defence suites might stop two or three drones even at such a distance, but hardly 10...20.

This scenario assumes extremely expensive, sophisticated, electronics- and sensors-packed tanks that would cost about € 20 million today (actual today's high end tanks cost about € 10 million). They would be limited to certain terrains and require a lot of support (drones more so than infantry and indirect fires, but also fuel, repairs, high capacity bridging and so on). That's a lot of necessary effort for assets with very restricting movement options.

What's on the upside? Tanks could still carry big, powerful armament (such as a 130 mm gun). Yes, that's about it. They could bring a big gun to the fight. Everything else is about bringing this gun into the fight without being suicidal. What can this gun do that you can't do without it? Missiles and drones could bring big explosive charges onto a target as well, also from the same (flat) angle. Missiles can mimic even a tank's Mach 5+ kinetic penetrator arrow (APFSDS munition), as the LOSAT program showed conclusively.

Missiles can be expected to be more expensive than tank gun-launched shells and penetrators because they require more stored chemical energy for propulsion and it would take a guided HE missile to substitute a dumb tank gun HE shell. So how many shots does it take till the more expensive munitions with cheaper platforms add up to the same total bill as the cheaper munitions with the more expensive competing platform (tank)? I wager it takes more than we could reasonably expect a tank to fire in wartime.

Moreover, tanks are associated with extremely high training expenses. To move fast on tracks wears out components quickly, the high density engines don't last very long and the fuel consumption is appalling as well. The very expensive electronics fail and require replacement when you carry them around for years in a tank with lots of vibrations, mechanical shocks and humidity.

In the end, there might be a way how we could continue to use tanks in a battlefield dominated by autonomous drones, but they may price themselves out of any sensible force structure. They might follow the path of the navies' destroyers and frigates; soldier on at great expense until an intense high-end war shows their unsuitability and marginal utility in any high threat environment.

Doomsayers have declared the end for the tank over and over again and it persists, but does it persist for good reason? Have we seen tanks justifying their expenses post-1967, ever? They provided some utility in some conflicts since, but this doesn't prove that we couldn't have had that utility by cheaper means as well. The mass destruction of tanks in 1973 and 1991 surely showed at least to the battle losers that their tanks weren't worth the expense. How well would the battle-winner tank forces have fared if the battle-losers had invested their resources more smartly?

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

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2021/11/06

Link drop November 2021

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economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/ethiopias-capital-is-under-threat/21806092

First rule of starting a civil war as government: 

Make sure you win. Quick. 

Second rule of starting a civil war as government:

You cannot meet the first rule if you start a war against the majority of your own army officer corps.

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Back in May 2018 I wrote about hypothetical ultralightweight infantry equipment and still arrived at a heavy load. One of the measures to cut weight was to ditch the full-blown CBRN mask in favour of a "hypothetical escape hood-style lightweight NBC mask with one filter" with an estimated weight of 500 grams.

Well, I wasn't too far off; the Avon CH15 is available at 508 grams since earlier this year and its bulk seems tolerable for all-the-time carry, unlike ordinary CBRN masks.

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news.northwestern.edu/stories/2021/10/protective-fabric-chemical-biological/

I remember that the "more performance, more performance, more performance" crowd that doesn't pay attention to weight dreamt of regular soldier clothes becoming NBC protection clothes since at least the 1990's. Regular long-time use NBC protection suits (I don't mean the simplistic overgarments or rubberised suits) are rather meant for no more than 24 hrs of continuous use IIRC.

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 Little remark about the summit to moderate climate change:

It's fashionable in certain  countries to talk about climate change as a national security threat. That's bollocks, of course. People are talking like this in some countries because those countries are rather militaristic. To frame a challenge as somehow military-ish or equivalent to military defence/defense is in such countries a path to gain attention and to motivate. In some (militaristic) countries it's a lot easier to mobilise 0.1% GDP additional spending for some additional military expenditures than to invest in health, infrastructure or education or to help disabled or poor people. Only stupid people copy such rhetoric in non-militaristic countries, and then get hardly any attention for it. It's quite a litmus test IMO.

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gcaptain.com/fire-fire-fire-how-navy-failures-destroyed-the-uss-bonhomme-richard/

usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2021-11-04/navy-fires-2-top-officers-of-submarine-damaged-in-collision

 Compare #4 here.

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oryxspioenkop.com/2021/10/the-cargo-cleared-for-print-uae-wartime.html

WTF could be the UAE's interest except earning money??? I don't know of ANY link between the Ethiopian government and the UAE that would matter.

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politico.com/news/magazine/2021/10/23/colin-powell-foreign-policy-expansionist-advice-516795

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thesovietarmourblog.blogspot.com/2021/07/soviet-atgms.html

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dw.com/en/rwandas-military-intervention-in-mozambique-raises-eyebrows/a-58957275

bbc.com/news/world-africa-58079510

africanews.com/2021/08/09/rwanda-military-says-it-has-helped-mozambique-retake-mocimboa-da-praia//

bbc.com/news/world-africa-58783030 

ft.com/content/6ab0712b-2bc2-45dc-a681-452c62dff76e

I've heard good things about the Rwandan army's proficiency before, and Rwanda's government has been making visible progress on some other areas as well.

They might have the highest quality military in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa.

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oryxspioenkop.com/2021/10/german-drones-in-ethiopia.html

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svi.co.za/max-3/

sa4x4.co.za/svi-max-3-the-bulletproof-land-cruiser-79/

techeblog.com/svi-max-3-troopy-toyota-land-cruiser-79-armored-vehicle/

tuningblog.eu/en/kategorien/autos-von-a-z/svi-max-3-309662/

A bulletproofed armoured car or APC for about 100,000 Euros.

One of the many existing third axle conversion kits for the base vehicle could easily extend the APC version to 2+8 seats plus have some other military-suitable modifications and the price would still be no worse than about 150,000 Euros bulk price per copy.

Compare this to the common procurement of 4x4 4-seat armoured vehicles of not much better protection for 400,000+ Euros that even some of the poor European countries had in the past two decades.

The current JLTV has comparable utility (and no doubt more protection, but does that difference really matter? How often would it encounter threats that B7 protection doesn't ward off as well?) It costs around 250,000 Euros in bulk purchase, but can cost twice that in small numbers.

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leonardocompany.com/documents/20142/14265297/Surveillance+Radar+Capabilities+Brochure+new.pdf?t=1620745595683

This PDF is remarkable because it shows radar imagery of ships. The actual capabilities are likely not much greater than advertised. Imaging radar (synthetic aperture radar mode) can create imagery of ships that allows to discern between a freighter and a frigate, but you could not reliably tell one frigate class from another.

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boingboing.net/2021/10/19/englishman-nathaniel-courthope-spent-four-years-defending-a-tiny-islands-nutmeg-from-the-dutch.html

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reuters.com/business/environment/clean-environment-could-become-un-human-right-not-so-fast-say-us-britain-2021-10-05/

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boingboing.net/2021/10/05/unbreakable-glass-developed-say-researchers.html

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sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214914717300600

Could be used to defeat hard kill active defence suites

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ukdefencejournal.org.uk/classified-tank-specs-leaked-on-war-thunder-game-forums-again/

AGAIN

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Imagine this appearing over some battlefield in some African backwater region, accompanied by a fitting sound show!
 

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therecord.media/windows-10-ios-15-ubuntu-chrome-fall-at-chinas-tianfu-hacking-contest/

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Huh? I guess I have to correct my dictionary with a pen till I get a revised edition.

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[German] heise.de/news/Plaene-fuer-deutschen-Weltraumbahnhof-nehmen-langsam-Gestalt-an-6183302.html

Das ist Unsinn für alle Orbitalsatelliten. Je näher an den Äquator, desto besser. Wenn man eine nationale Lösung haben will, dann baut ein Spezialschiff (Start) und mindestens ein Unterstützungsschiff (ggf. zwei wenn man mit wiederverwendbaren Raketen auf einem Schiff landen will) bzw baut welche um. Dann schließt man einen Kooperationsvertrag mit einem Land am Äquator (zum Beispiel Sao Tomé und Principe; schön harmlos, stabil und geographisch isoliert gegen Probleme in der Nachbarschaft) am Atlantik, sodass man die Raketen günstig per Schiff dorthin schaffen und am Äquator starten kann. Das geht dann mit Nutzung von Unterkünften, Büros und Flughafen an Land. Wenn die Kooperation mit dem Partnerland schlechter wird, kann man den Partner einfach wechseln, die aufwändige Infrastruktur ist ja auf den Schiffen beweglich. Allerschlimmstenfalls startet man von europäischen Gewässern aus.

"National" bedeutet nicht unbedingt "daheim".

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[German] heise.de/news/Bundeswehr-Generalinspekteur-will-weg-von-anfaelliger-Militaertechnik-4919585.html

Im Kontext des Funkgeräte-Megaskandals erscheint dieser alte Artikel in einem neuen, bitter-sarkastischem Licht.

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Now looking at the size of this thing it seems I tried to fool myself with that whole "only one blog post per week" approach anyway. I'd have created four or more blog posts out of all this stuff before I started the "first Saturday of month link dump" series.

 

S O

defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

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2021/11/03

Optimum army truck strategy

(I have too many blog post drafts ready to go, well into December. I'll thus publish this and maybe another in addition to the regular Saturday rhythm.)

Years ago - in ancient times before the Great Pandemic - I visited a small exhibition of old firefighting vehicles. Beautiful red & chrome trucks with special firefighting payloads. They were oldtimers, but in fantastic condition because they stood in firefighters' garages for decades.

I mean this literally. Most firefighting vehicles are hardly moving, like ever. There was a 1950's firefighting truck which had run only about 15,000 km until it was retired. 


currently on offer: 42,656 km at 35 years age

For comparison; a logistics company can easily get 400,000 km out of a comparable vehicle in eight years.

The demands are thus very different. Firefighters don't need to care about fuel efficiency or durability in terms of kilometres driven. They need to care about longevity; seals and rubber components need to be either fine for decades of service or easily replaceable. Corrosion is not really a concern because they park their vehicles indoors.

Armies are similar to firefighters, save for the indoor parking. Some truck types remained in service for four decades, and not just the model; the individual trucks lasted that long.

A look at a platform for used military vehicles provides some anecdotal confirmation:

https://www.trucksnl.com/de/militarfahrzeuge-lkws

At the time of writing I see examples ranging from a 1988 4x4 truck with 2,014 km to a heavier 1993 4x4 truck with 130,198 km. A 1996 IVECO EuroTrakker is one of the heavier and more-used vehicles, 1996 and 85,910 km.

So basically the civilian businesses drive trucks much and wear them out in a few years, while the government rather has trucks in the inventory for training and 'just in case we need them when shit happens'.

This parallel existence of both philosophies is extremely wasteful. Here's an alternative truck strategy:

  • Talk to manufacturers of civilian trucks and tell them to keep longevity in mind.
  • Buy civilian vehicles after they've run about 200,000 km in less than 10 years. 
  • Repaint them, modify the cab, install what payload the military needs.
  • Keep using them for another 30 years, adding only up to 150,000 km.*
  • Repair them when possible with spare parts recycled from spent civilian vehicles. Using a COTS** design has the benefit that you have an easy spare parts supply.


It should be mentioned that the construction site vehicles that would be most suitable for military use (due to 6x6 or 8x8 formulas) do not drive quite as much as logistics vehicles, but the concept still works with them.

The IVECO Trakker range has plenty 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 models for civilian uses that are also reasonable choices for military uses, for example. Up to 200,000 km Trakkers can be had for much less than 100,000 € despite the current price peak for used motor vehicles.

ivecodefencevehicles.com/Pages/Products/logistic-vehicles.aspx

The standard cab types are VERY similar to civilian Trakkers. Low budget armies might not be able to afford "tactical" trucks and instead make do with 6x6 and 8x8 "logistical" trucks, which have a little less off-road ability. Most army wheeled vehicles only need as off-road ability for hiding inside woodland or bypassing craters/wrecks on a road anyway. They don't need super gymnast suspensions. 

I strongly suppose that the army bureaucracies with tight budgets and no national truck manufacturers to subsidise by government contracts could benefit greatly from such a strategy.

 

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

 

*: Such vehicles are usually fine for 400,000...500,000 km. 

**: Civilian off-the-shelf

edit: fixed typos, inserted picture
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2021/10/30

Heavy infantry armour in history

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I wrote in the skirmishing blog post that pre-absolutism skirmishers seemed to have been skirmishers because they were low budget (and if self-equipped: poor) troops. At some times you didn't need more than a primitive sling and picked-up stones to be an effective skirmisher (albeit the mercenary skirmishers often used more effective lead projectiles and small cheap shields).

Heavily armoured troops tended to be expensive professionals of nobles whose life, horses and equipment were supported by multiple farming households.

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The often-reported problems and ineffectiveness* of present-time armoured infantry (armoured as wearing bulletproofing body armour, even including shoulder guards and somewhat bulletproofed helmets) made me think.

What if this is not something new, what if this is how it always was? Were more heavily armoured infantrymen of the classical and medieval period really of superior military value?

I suppose the easiest example to look at are late republican / early imperial Roman legionaries, for we know that they had very few servants and pack animals compared to heavily armoured infantry of other periods.

The reputation of these legionaries is still extremely high about two millennia later, but there's something odd:

The biggest and most important expansion of Rome's power happened from the last years of the First Punic War (about 240 BC) to the end of Augustus' reign (until 14 AD). The reforms of Marius that created the all-heavy infantrymen (which always needed reinforcement by dissimilar mercenaries) army of late Republican and early imperial Rome happened only in 107 BC.

The defeat of Carthage, conquest of Greece and conquest of half of Iberia fell into a period during which the Roman army had severe quality issues and was far from the now-common idea of Roman legionaries. The decades of warfare and neglect of family farms since around 260 BC had ruined the base of Roman power; the citizenry (and socii citizenry). Their army was divided into three classes of middle and upper class men, separated by wealth. By about 215 BC there was little left of what we would call middle class now.

The army was at the time about 30% lightly armed velites, skirmisher infantry no better equipped than most enemies (previously about 15%). Velites used for all we know no body armour. It's even questionable whether many of them used helmets. The role of velites and later particularly lightly protected hastati apparently kept growing until the Marian reforms, as Roman society became increasingly economically unequal and the middle class kept eroding through warfare and exploitation of the upper classes. The sum of light troops (including mercenaries) may have exceeded 50% rather often on Roman campaigns.

The classical trio of triarii (few rich men, mostly held in reserve), hastati (main infantry and velites (skirmishers, poorest men able to afford any regulation infantry armament at all)** 

So Rome's empire was in large part built not by the famed heavy infantry legionaries stomping their opposition by their own, but by armies which were in large part light infantry without body armour. The Roman demographic, economic, organisational strengths and certain details*** were almost certainly much more important factors in Roman military success than heaviness of arms and armour.

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I understand that heavy body amour was and is often preferable in pitched battle from the point of view of the user. Or at least it seemed so to those who had no heavy body armour, a phenomenon that we were able to observe during the early years of the Iraq occupation.

You could hardly motivate men to sign up for decades of legionary service without protecting them well. They had neither tetanus vaccine nor penicillin. There was no proper military pensions or disability benefits system for crippled discharged soldiers until the 20th century. They would turn beggars and probably starve real quick. There were historical mercenaries with little or no armour, but those were short-time mercenaries, hired only for a specific campaign.

The question remains whether heavily armoured troops were really more effective. I picked an example in which they could be compared almost 1:1 to light troops. Heavily armoured infantry of other eras had such a train of servants, pack animals, carts and other support that they could hardly be compared 1:1 to light troops. In some cases (mounted knights) it would be appropriate to compare them 1:3 or more.

I've read way too many books on historical warfare, but rarely have I encountered the notion that light troops might have been superior to heavy ones. The outstanding exceptions were (Parthian) light horse archers and that one victory of peltast skirmishers over Spartan hoplites. Then again, I am very confident in my assumption that not one modern author of those books has experienced a pre-firearms battle.

I remember only one source from antiquity urging the use of body armour to troops who did not use it; Vegetius****. It's worthwhile to note that he writes about body armour as the solution to military problems because the infantry of his day apparently did NOT use it. So it may be that he was a believer in body armour without actually being able to fully assess the military value upsides and downsides of the same.

I strongly suppose that investigating the true military utility of body armour in history is something that military historians should do. Modern armies should be aware that we might very well exaggerate passive protection at the expense of tactical mobility and endurance.

 

related:

/2017/09/hard-body-armour-possible-compromise.html

/2020/04/military-theory-of-skirmishing_18.html

 

S O

defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

 

*: Slow, quickly exhausted, thus moving little during firefights

**:  The sources are not clear and this trio may have been rather about age brackets (age 15-46 overall, velites youngest and triarii oldest), with varying equipment quality within the age brackets. It is especially doubtful whether the most or even all Triarii used mail armour, as it was very expensive. In the end, it doesn't matter to this text, for a larger share of the poor among the levied meant a larger share of troops who could not afford good arms and armour (even though those were in the late Republic purchased from the centrally procuring state). There's no source known to me claiming that anyone but proletarii (the citizens normally too poor for service as infantry) got much equipment provided by the state. 

The rise of the share of velites was either driven by performance considerations or by the poverty of the levied men. Either way, the share of light infantry increased according to the known sources.

***: An example is that Romans built field camps on hills rather than close to rivers or lakes (where there's high risk of diseases) because they simply dug wells for water supply. Even in battle this was an advantage, as hills offered vastly superior positions and the Romans could wait for enemies on a hill even in Mediterranean summer heat. I have never seen mention of their enemies digging wells on campaign. The Roman armies had many such detail strengths.

****: See section "The arms of the ancients" here

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2021/10/23

Digital sovereignty

There's a European (and German) policy of pursuing digital sovereignty; reducing dependence on foreign cloud servers, for example. I am no expert on the topic (I was never terribly interested in it) and cannot comment on details, but what I saw through general news media was unimpressive.

We would need to address many more vulnerabilities and would also need to change a certain government attitude to reduce our vulnerability significantly.

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Back this summer Samsung announced that it had deactivated internet-capable Samsung TV sets that were stolen from a warehouse in South Africa. This is apparently built into all Samsung TV sets; Samsung can brick Samsung TV sets at will if they're connected to the internet. This is in principle a possibility for all kinds of internet-connected hardware.

Microsoft added a Microsoft Exchange Emergency Mitigation service recently. Exchange servers had been affected by malware to a catastrophic extent, and Microsoft developed this as a general countermeasure. To create and apply patches that remove a certain vulnerability to malware takes quite long, and malware can spread much in the meantime. It's much quicker to identify some commands the malware is using and to block those in your software. So Microsoft now builds into Exchange servers the ability to centrally brick them partially, but in effect also to brick them completely. Microsoft can de facto brick all Exchange servers whose admins haven't switched this default active emergency mitigation to off. There's no-one stopping them from coding their software to enable an override over this choice.

This points at a more general problem: Every automated software update capability is in effect a backdoor for the update provider. The software developer or someone who has thoroughly re-engineered and analysed the software can apply an update that turns the software non-functional or adds malicious functions. It can also be used to prevent further updates, as happened to some internet-of-things devices that were accidentally bricked by a poorly designed update in yet another anecdote and could not be repaired any more.

The malicious functions can include surveillance. Microphones can record sound, but loudspeakers can do so as well.

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In other words; it's not just Samsung or Microsoft or the U.S., just about every big player has the technical opportunities to shut down our economy, and this includes the ability to cause irreparable harm to our hardware.

A great internet shut down wall as set up by Russia wouldn't help at all (theirs only makes sense as an option for political oppression), nor would blocking certain IPs in the event of crisis. No matter how many satellite and fibreglass communication links you severe, a fingernail-sized storage device can smuggle all the malware into a country that's needed to turn a domestic network computer into the attack launch point.

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It would help to prioritise IT security over IT vulnerability. This sounds trivial if not offensively obvious, but then again we're talking about European and American governments.

So far the German government policies and the policies of the U.S., UK and so forth were aimed at implementing vulnerabilities and preventing much security and encryption. This stems from a mindset of bureaucrats who want more and more power, more and more authority - and this leads them towards favouring vulnerabilities that they themselves can then exploit. Even the BSI (German agency for IT security) has been compromised by this

The pursuit of backdoors, unpatched vulnerabilities and encryption weaknesses to enable the own surveillance, spying and sabotage is exposing our whole civilization to hacking on a scale that lets hacking against drug dealers, kiddie porn watchers and errorists look petty and irrelevant. A warlike scale of insecurity exploits could crash government and economy to a greater degree than the 1944 bombing of Germany and bring the railroad infrastructure to a halt for weeks (the German railroad control and signal techs in use are too diverse and antique for much more sabotage through software).

Yet again, I conclude that we need political leadership to understand the issue and to turn the bureaucracies away from pursuing their self-interest, pushing them on course to serve the common good. It's an ambitious request.

S O

defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

P.S.: Audited open source software (compiled by the user himself) with an automatic pause for automatic updates and an unpatchable reversibility of past updates would protect us pretty well. Physically secure and separated backups are a necessity. Encryption should be one-time pad encryption with satisfactory randomisers whenever practical.

A joke for you: The Israeli arms industry sends me press releases and stuff, and one of their companies seriously tries to sell cyber defence software. As if anyone not utterly stupid would trust Israelis with his/her/its cybersecurity after all their hacking (keyword Pegasus), obvious assassination campaigns and other subversive actions. They might have sold their stuff to the lying moron, but the rest of their target audience got to be corrupt or utterly, utterly stupid. That target group is probably the same as for U.S. military trainers abroad.

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