Road marches in Eastern Europe

Distance Saint Petersburg, Russia to Vilnius, Lithuania: 734 km
Distance Saint Petersburg, Russia to Riga, Latvia: 577 km
Distance Saint Petersburg, Russia to Kaliningrad, Russia: 967 km
Distance Saint Petersburg, Russia to Warsaw, Poland: 1,173 km

"Pristina airport incident" convoy (with Russian 8x8 wheeled BTR-80 APCs), 1999:
Almost exactly 1,000 km travelled in almost exactly 24 hrs,
with 8 hours advance notice for the troops involved.

Distance Berlin, Germany to Warsaw, Poland: 574 km
Distance Berlin, Germany to Vilnius, Lithuania: 1,023 km

NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force standard: 
"The VJTF’s rapid yet flexible response times are what set it apart from other components of the NRF; some units will be ready to deploy in just two days, whilst the majority of units will be ready to move in less than seven days."

Two days till some of them begin to move. A full week and maybe some still didn't commence any movement. That's what NATO calls "very high readiness".

We should get rid of everyone who tolerates a state of affairs in which less than a heavy division equivalent's reinforcements would arrive at the Polish-Lithuanian border in less than 48 hours. Everyone. From major to minister of defence and NATO general secretary, from state-level state secretary of traffic to minister of foreign affairs. We should get rid of everyone who tolerates slowness.

We don't need bigger budgets, we don't need more brigades - we need to get rid of slowness and marginal "readiness".



Deterrence and defence efficiency in Europe

Maybe I should clarify the underlying idea behind those "Fixing the ..." posts, the Baltic invasion scenario and some other blog posts:

First, a very, very foundational point: Military spending in itself has no net value for society. It's government consumption if we ignore the deterrence and defence purpose. 
Military R&D doesn't really advance science or civilian technology much any more, that's a thing of the past. Military service is rarely fun, so that's no contribution either. In fact, most economic effects could be had as well if people were instead paid to build homes, then demolish them, build, demolish, rinse repeat.

Second, there's no profit to be made for the society as a whole in military adventures / great power gaming. Individuals and corporations may make profit off this, but not the society as a whole.

Third, the inevitable consequence: Armed services have the primary and almost lone purpose of providing the common good of security against (organised violence) foreign threats. Their business is deterrence and (if this fails) defence.

The conclusion is that spending should be kept to the level required for deterrence and defence.

- - - - -

Now what's the required level?
The least unlikely threat scenario that justifies military spending is a Russian aggression (and I'm happy with the fact that this is still very unlikely). I think I showed that such a conflict would be very short and quick if there's much military power in the background that would make an aggression disastrous if it lasts longer. Now we should convince them (or keep them convinced) that even a quick invasion scenario doesn't work out well, for this should provide the deterrence that keeps the peace.

So there are three requirements founded in the Russia scenario(s):
(1) Forces that become effective within the first week and deter a quick aggression campaign plan.
(2) Forces that deter a longer aggression campaign plan.
(3) One or several alliance members sustain a nuclear deterrence (U.S., UK and France)

Fourth, we can add a certain 'competence core sustainment' mode for distant alliance members (for long term deterrence and defence option).
Fifth, at least one alliance member (U.S.) has Pacific Ocean allies and territories to keep in mind.

So for European policies I suppose we should be serious about orienting military policy towards deterrence and defence against Russia.
Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, France, Romania, USAREUR, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic should have their armed forces at least partially at a high-enough readiness for a 'first week' phase.
U.S., UK, France, Italy, Spain should have at least part of their air forces at high enough readiness for a 'first week' phase.
U.S., UK and France maintain the nuclear 'umbrella' (France and the UK could downgrade to cheaper systems than SSBNs/SLBMs, though).

Turkey can mind its own business, it's in a hot-enough neighbourhood (that's nevertheless not going to attack Turkey with regular forces) and may need to deploy its armed forces on its borders for national security any time (in addition to its less laudable ongoing de facto war of secession).

The rest of European NATO could follow military designs that are in part focused on territorial defence and in part focused on maintaining military competence* (but then it should really be competence, not obsolescent doctrine). This includes Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Belgium, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Norway (much territorial defence) and Denmark (NATO's lock for the Baltic Sea).

Some NATO members could demilitarise altogether, for their contribution would be insignificant anyway and they're not really wealthy (Slovenia, Albania, soon Montenegro).

Iceland is nice to NATO and provides itself as a base for air-sea warfare, and thus it's fair to return to the old arrangement under which the U.S. provides for its defence.
Luxembourg is a similar exception; it's tiny and lends its flag for NATO aircraft - its single battalion army is OK.

- - - - -

This is the real difference between what I'm proposing and what most commentary on military affairs in Europe is proposing: When I'm writing about a turn towards collective defence against regular military threats, I'm not only proposing to become qualitatively better about it. I'm also stating that we already have the quantity required AND re-orienting towards actual deterrence and defence can and should include cutting unneeded surplus parts, since these cause unjustified expenses.

Such as a German (or Polish) navy; cut this wasteful spending. Forced entry amphibious warfare vehicles; cut them. Fleet replenishment ships; you don't need those if you defend, for you cannot "defend" far from home.** Occupation warfare equipment; scrap it.*** Obsolete hardware that would fail in a clash of 1st class regular armed forces; scrap or replace it.

The usual commentary doesn't propose to cut such unnecessary parts, and it doesn't mention or take into account that the level of spending and manpower is already grossly in favour of European NATO compared to Russia (and even more so with American NATO).

Instead, the usual commentary on a pivot towards defence against Russia prefers bigger budgets, more troops, more new weapon systems. That's probably even more wasteful than the great power games about occupying Muslim countries.


*: One might be tempted to question this for example in regard to Italy; isn't it a maritime power that needs to defend the Southern flank? The question is; against whom? Algeria, Tunisia and Libya are probably not going to be able to pose a regular military threat to Italy for decades to come. Besides, when did an Italian navy ever justify its budget? Italian naval power hardly ever justified its existence post-Lepanto; exceptions in the 20th century were motor torpedo boats, minelayers, minesweepers and submarine chasers. The Italian armed forces could reduce to a mechanised brigade, militias on Sardinia and Sicily, coastal minehunting systems and a few dozen multirole combat aircraft and Italy would be safe even as a neutral country.
By the way, a single budget brigade or two would be fine for maintaining land warfare competence.
**: The British may shriek now, but frankly, it's idiotic to spend billions for the defence of a community of less than 3,000 inhabitants. 
***: Or lend it to UN blue helmet missions.


German defence White Paper 2016

The German ministry of defence has published the White Paper 2016 (Weißbuch 2016) a few days ago. At first I didn't want to write about it at all, but now I decided to do it after all.

I read it quickly, but found nothing really interesting or new. It's a patchwork of uninspired fashionable talk and ministerial self-interest in my opinion.

There's but half a page on "Interstate conflict", which is actually THE constitutional purpose of the entire military and its ministry. I can easily quote all of it here:

The renaissance of traditional power politics, which involves the use of military means to pursue national interests and entails considerable armaments efforts, elevates the risk of violent interstate conflict – even in Europe and its neighbourhood, as is illustrated by the example of Russian actions in Ukraine. The stability of the international system is being jeopardised by the increasing role of the military in the ambitions of emerging powers in combination with ongoing territorial conflicts and struggles for regional hegemony. This is happening not only in and around Europe. Regional territorial disputes in connection with power projections are a source of concern in particular for the countries of Southeast and East Asia. Furthermore, the risk of escalating interstate conflict increases when nationalist sentiments gain in importance and are instrumentalised.
Yeah, as if East and SE Asia issues were relevant for German security or NATO collective defence [sigh]. Also nice how they recognize a risk of violent interstate conflict in Europe AFTER it happened in Georgia & Ukraine.

Chapter 5.2 ("Mission of the Bundeswehr") is at the very least close to unconstitutional IMO.

and I don't like politicians making up further missions to enrich their choice of gaming options.

(1) The Federation shall establish Armed Forces for purposes of defence. Their numerical strength and general organisational structure must be shown in the budget.
(2) Apart from defence, the Armed Forces may be employed only to the extent expressly permitted by this Basic Law.
(3) [...]
(4) [...]
The federal constitutional court expanded the interpretation to include collective defence and UN missions.

Chapter 5.2 should better quote the basic law than making stuff up.



How to invade the Baltic countries and get away with it

I'll lay out a basic plan for how to invade the Baltics (as Russia) in the near future
and get away with it.
Parental advisory: Please do NOT try this at home. I mean it!

Before the invasion

Sleeper agents and malware infections particularly at infrastructure and (electrical power) utilities companies were prepared.

There were but a few early indicators that could have served as warnings about the timing of the invasion:
Russian corporations chartered RoRo and other ships as well as heavylift aircraft such as An-124 for not very profitable endeavours for more than a year to desensitise Western intelligence, and finally there were two spikes in such chartering activities; one was a test to see whether the West would react and the second was for the actual invasion date. This way the West was deprived of many RoRo ships that could have sealifted especially UK land forces and also of many most valuable heavylift aircraft that could have supplemented the military heavylift aircraft to speed up Western counterconcentration of forces.

Many Western pundits and 'experts' expected "hybrid warfare" of Russian troops without national patches (as on the Crimea and in the Eastern Ukraine) and armed ethnic Russians living in the Baltic countries to be important parts and early indicators of an invasion, but almost no such thing happened. Instead, the Russian public was merely prepared by more or less bogus reports about Estonian men raping ethnic Russians and other events that supposedly proved that Russians were in danger in the Baltic region and painted the Baltic states' governments as dysfunctional, corrupt and fascist.
One such event shortly before the invasion was staged to provide a final (fake) motive for invasion.

Likewise, Western pundits and experts had expected that a major exercises would be used to conceal final invasion preparations, but the only Russian exercise planned for the time of the invasion was a VDV (airborne forces) exercise. The land  and air forces had been drilled for quick deployments by rail and air respectively during the preceding years, though.

Secrecy was ensured by Russian military planning for many contingencies, including scenarios against NATO. Western intelligence services were content to have infiltrated this and enjoying redundant and thus confirmed insider reports. These plans made at the regular HQs were but a cover for the real invasion planning which was done by a staff of a mere hundred officers. They drew on preparations done for the HQ plans, but developed a very different plan while being confined at and in fact locked up in a remote previously vacated mining settlement with no military past. This plan would lack the early warning indicators that the HQ's plans had.
This plan was held back until days before the invasion, and even then all but a few orders were still sealed and encrypted. The leaders of the regular military forces that led the invasion only learned about their orders in the evening before the invasion.

Putin himself made the preliminary decision on the invasion date only a week early, and gave the order for the actual invasion date only hours before it began. Reliable early warning was impossible. Even if NATO/EU had reacted on suspicions, they would have been desensitised to the threat of invasion by it never happening while they were expecting it. This game couldn't end other than in favour of the invader because but one party was intent on invasion, and it was in no hurry.

The invasion

The time of invasion was on a Sunday, 0100 local time. It was February and all rivers and lakes in the Baltic region as well as the Gulf of Finland were frozen.

The token foreign NATO forces in the Baltic region were blown up by air and missile strikes within 20 minutes, including the puny air policing fighter flights.

A salvo of Iskander and Klub missiles launched from 'supply' containers stored in Kaliningrad knocked out the majority of Polish Air Force F-16C/D fighters, destroyed many Leopard 2 tanks and knocked down all heavy duty Vistula bridges, while much of the rest of Polish military was spared from this early strike because much of it was obsolete or in disrepair anyway.
Artillery of the Russian forces in Kaliningrad did hit the foolishly close Polish army bases of the 9th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, 20th "Bartoszycka" Mechanized Brigade, 15th "Giżycka" Mechanized Brigade, though. Guided rockets were used to hit buildings and vehicle parking/storage areas early on, whereas later on unguided munitions were used to keep any presence and activity in those military bases very hazardous.
Task forces of the Russian army reached those Polish brigades at daybreak, and defeated the still not combat-ready troops swiftly. A third of the Polish army was defeated within hours, and the Polish air force became largely irrelevant.

Belarus was not actively involved in the scheme. Secrecy would have been too much of a challenge, and the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko was rather intent on building a dynasty with his son rather than recreating the Russian Empire, which no doubt would have swallowed Belarus. Belarus did help Russia passively, though. Russia was able to use military bases in Western Belarus that -under the cover of this country's neutrality - proved valuable as forward electronic listening posts. The bet was that NATO would not want to pull Belarus into this conflict, for this would widen the front, escalate the conflict, constitute an aggression and offer Russia many more bases as well as adding the army of Belarus to the conflict at a time when NATO member Poland would be desperate about protecting its capital Warsaw.

The VDV reinforced the isolated Russian brigade at Kaliningrad through airlift of an entire brigade before dawn, with most personnel jumping at low altitude to save on airfield capacity.

The main thrust into the Baltic region was aimed at crossing the only major obstacle - the Daugava River - as soon as possible.The distance to the Russian border was little more than 100 km, but the Russian 6th Army was located around Saint Petersburg, and even the all-wheeled task forces of both the 138th Guards and 25th Motorised Rifle Brigade first had to travel more than 300 km within Russia.
The eventual crossing of the river was greatly eased by it being frozen enough to walk on it. Russian army engineers laid metal carpets to distribute the mass of vehicles on the ice and thus allowed light motor vehicles to cross the river almost immediately. They also dragged pontoons over the ice and linked them up to allow heavier vehicles to pass the river. No bet was made to capture bridges intact, though a battalion-sized Spetznaz air assault was conducted to try to secure a bridge at Daugavpils. This one was destroyed later on the first day by a large salvo of Royal Navy cruise missiles, though.

The 6th Army's thrust towards the Lithuanian-Polish border and Kaliningrad Oblast was supported by "go" drugs and completed within 60 hours. All opposition they encountered were token "tripwire" forces (that had suffered badly under the initial missile barrage), as well as the weak Lithuanian and Latvian regular and paramilitary forces. The push was this quick because the capitals were not taken directly, but circumvented. Both Latvia and Lithuania had much of their feeble land power concentrated in their capitals.

The Russian Air Force demolished what little manoeuvre forces existed in Latvia and Estonia during day one and two, and allowed Russian paramilitary troops that had been flown to Saint Petersburg with civilian aircraft to flood into all three Baltic states and to occupy them within days. These troops weren't in control everywhere, but they were dominant everywhere. The civilians were under a curfew.

A notable air assault took place on the Estonian islands. They were accessible by land over the ice anyway, but the presence of VDV forces was meant to deter NATO from establishing a foothold there.

Supporting actions

The Finnish government was informed on the first morning that Russia would perfectly respect and guarantee Finnish sovereignty if both Finland and Sweden abstained from any support to NATO or EU, much less turning hostile themselves. The Finnish government then contacted the Swedish government and reached an agreement to mobilise and wait for further developments. No NATO air power was allowed into Swedish air bases.

Agents badly damaged the majority of the few dozen NATO and British E-3 Sentry (AWACS) aircraft on the ground with small guided missiles and mortars as well as by sabotage.

Electrical grids failed in Poland, Germany and Denmark due to sabotage by agents and malware, and a combination thereof. The electrified railroad lines in Germany and Poland became useless for days due to sabotage of the signal system and power outages.

Cruise missiles launched from a freighter that departed from Murmansk into the Baltic Sea knocked down all Oder river bridges and destroyed dozens of Typhoon aircraft on German Luftwaffe airbases in their hardened shelters (which had been under observation by agents) and in airbase maintenance hangars.

The Russian intelligence had a ship placed over the Eurotunnel that quickly drilled to the Eurotunnel and emplaced a one kiloton nuclear mine right on top of it, then plugged the hole. The explosion occurred hours later, opened the tunnel and flooded it. The UK could not send its military assets or supplies through this tunnel any more for months to come.

Additional bargaining chips

The airspace over Kaliningrad had become too dangerous for airlift operations after two days, but the transport aircraft assembled were not left unused. A parallel invasion of both Iceland and Svalbard was launched with VDV forces that enjoyed the best cold weather training and equipment.
Afterwards, an entire S-300 regiment, coastal defence missile batteries and field artillery were flown to Reykjavík. It would take many weeks for the U.S.Navy to amass enough amphibious warfare capacity in the North Atlantic to liberate Iceland. An airborne invasion was out of question because the airborne forces available to NATO lacked both armour and reliable artillery support.

Securing the flanks

Georgia was overrun by Russian forces from the Southern Military District in a repeat of 2008, and the government of Turkey was promised by Putin that Turkey would not be attacked and Russian forces would leave Georgia - save for Abchasia and South Ossetia - within a month if Turkey promised to limit its article 5 support to NATO's cause to what it could do from home, and not tolerate any foreign air power in its country. Caliph Erdogan agreed in secret, being fed up with European and American politicians who previously had criticized him for human rights abuses and for his foreign policies.

The air war

The air war was waged by NATO from bases in Germany and the Czech Republic mostly, and heavily dependent on tanker aircraft. Radar planes such as E-3 and E-8 - if still available at all - were pushed back by Russian long range missiles (S-400 surface to air missile system and various fighter-launches long range missiles). This limited their use to the area controlled by friendly ground forces and the Western Baltic Sea.
Hardly any long-range intrusions into Russian-dominated airspace were attempted by NATO despite its material superiority: The risk that NATO combat aircraft would be attacked with surprise by Russian aircraft (which benefited from the few Russian AEW&C aircraft and the many S-300 and S-400 regiments' radars) was too great. There weren't very many targets more valuable than individual tanks in range anyway. Too few tanker aircraft were available - in part because they kept suffering losses to Russian agents in particular during take off and landing since they had to make use of civilian airports while combat aircraft were based on the crowded active and former Cold War military airbases, most of which were in rural and thus more easily secured areas.

Russian satellites began to emit signals to jam both GPS and Galileo signals, making both satellite navigation systems largely useless in the theatres of war. Powerful land-based lasers were used to dazzle and permanently blind espionage and scientific earth observation satellites. Even radar satellites were jammed.
The United States did quite the same to Russian satellites, of course.

Aircraft losses were atrocious on both sides during the first week, but afterwards NATO had defeated the integrated air defences that had been set up in Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania enough to force them into survival mode; with few radars and modern missiles left, the area air defence were only activated on particularly promising occasions and Russian combat air patrols typically circled along the Russian border.

Camouflage, deception, numbers and short range air defences made it very difficult to reduce the Russian ground forces that were still facing mostly Polish forces with few German, American, French and Czech forces in between. The American and French forces were mostly on wheeled armoured vehicles only and suffered badly whenever they attempted offensive manoeuvres or were reconnoitred for Russian artillery strikes. The German forces awkwardly avoided Kaliningrad Oblast and were deployed to protect Warsaw, mostly facing Belarus. This was driven by political directions from Berlin, since the German government only slowly digested the news and hoped for a quick, seemingly self-evident armistice as had been demanded by the UN General Secretary. German Typhoons had mostly flown defensive combat air patrols, being short on modern missiles and weakened by the early strikes. Some German Tornado ECR aircraft had participated in the reduction of Russian SAM radars, but soon ran out of missiles - just as other NATO air forces. Anti-radar missiles had to be flown in from distant carrier groups, Pacific and North American bases to replenish the quickly exhausted supply. There were too many Russian radar decoys and too many Russian radars were switched off in time to avoid a missile hit.

The war at sea

There was no real war at sea in the Baltic Sea. The German, Dutch and Danish navies focused on closing the Danish waters and thus the entry/exit of the Baltic Sea, for Russian submarines.
The war in the North Atlantic was all about the Russian navy trying to protect its SSBNs north of Russia and NATO SSNs sprinting to blockade missions around Iceland and Svalbard. No attempt was made to destroy SSBNs, since this would threaten a second (retaliation) strike capability and might thus lead to a preventive nuclear strike.
French, British and American SSBNs left ports and went on patrols for deterrence of strategic nuclear attacks.

A frustrated U.S.Navy launched hundreds of cruise missiles at targets on Iceland, Svalbard, in and around Murmansk and in the Caucasus region with little effect. This had been anticipated and much valuable equipment had been moved, replaced in place by decoys.
Probing by Russian air power including the sinking of an escort on air defence picket duty forced the single U.S. carrier group in the Atlantic to focus on self-defence until additional carriers would arrive and bolster naval air power strength. The only carrier that arrived in the first week was the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which had no fighter aircraft yet and served as little more than an alternative refuelling point for naval helicopters.

The end

Within a week Russia had occupied what it wanted to conquer and gained enough bargaining chips. It was about time to end the conflict before superior NATO conventional forces would arrive despite all delays and crush the thin defence mounted by the Russian army and air force.

A threat was made:
Invade Iceland and nuclear weapons would be used on ship targets and ultimately on Reykjavik itself.
Invade Svalbard and nuclear weapons would be used on ship targets and land forces.
Try to reconquer any Baltic state and tactical nuclear weapons would be used on land and air power targets.
The mini nuke used to flood the Eurotunnel was mentioned as evidence for Russian readiness to use nuclear munitions.

The President of the United States, the UK's Prime Minister and France's President were too stubborn or proud and didn't signal their readiness for a truce in the demanded time window.
As a consequence, a Norwegian destroyer was engulfed by a 10 kt nuclear explosion at sea. The Russian armed forces previously visually confirmed the ship identification with a swarm of drones too large to be shot down with missiles and too distant to be destroyed by guns. Putin directly ordered that only a single small power warship would be destroyed, not a nuclear powers' warship.

The risk of escalation towards mutual destruction became unbearable, especially considering that but a few million people lived in the Baltic region, and those would likely suffer more from continuation of the war than from a truce. There was nothing to be gained from war for NATO.

Finally, a compromise was made: Russia evacuated Iceland and Svalbard, but kept the three Baltic countries occupied. There would be no formal peace treaty since there was no formal declaration of war, but Russian control of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania became a fact.


Both NATO and Russia entered a decade of arms racing, with NATO recovering from the blows and addressing its weaknesses. A line of dispersed military bases would be established from Poland to Romania, and a series of arms control treaties would be negotiated with Czar Putin to cool the continent down again.

Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians were under the terms of the truce free to leave their countries. Many Lithuanians emigrated to Poland, Germany the United States and Canada. Many Latvians emigrated to Germany, the United States and Canada. Almost a majority of ethnic Estonians fled to Finland. Poland received huge assistance from the EU to host the Lithuanian refugees and rebuild after the war's devastations.

NATO was dissolved by members leaving it because NATO 2.0 was founded, this time excluding Turkey and of course Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

- - - - -

The entire invasion scenario rests on surprise and the few Russian land forces (that were either in the region or deployable by air) being able to outweigh what forces NATO has in the region and can deploy in time. The window of Russian conventional superiority was measured in days in the air and at most weeks on the ground. Reconquest could only be prevented by means of nuclear munitions and 'diplomacy'.
On one hand a limitation of the conflict (keeping Finland, Belarus and Turkey out) kept it somehow manageable from the Russian perspective, while on the other hand an escalation (Iceland, Svalbard, Georgia) beyond the region of interest provided bargaining chips.
NATO was too much surprised to collect bargaining chips of its own.



"Arming for deterrence"

July 19, 2016

That's a report on deterrence and defence needs of Poland in particular, but also the Baltics.

I haven't read all of it yet, but it appears to be overly focused on Poland, as if Poland itself was a realistic target for invasion and annexation. Such a focus appears to be typical of most reports and articles on NATO Eastern frontier security. For example, I myself mostly wrote about implications for the German army, RAND did a U.S.Army-focused piece.
Inevitably, ever such focused piece can at most be satisfactory to the target audience (RAND satisfying the interests of its client, the U.S. military, for example).



"I told you so!"


Do you remember the post-2003 obsession about how best to occupy Muslim countries and nation-build there? Practically everyone who dared to write anything new about how best to defend the alliance against old school blockade, bombardment or invasion was deemed a Cold War relic, a dinosaur, incapable of adapting to the new, post-Cold War world.

Well, occupying Muslim lands never reaped any benefits to speak of, and proved to be a badly misguided obsession. Instead, we're back at worrying about Russia, although the pendulum has swung so far (people are calling for unnecessary spending increases to meet this 'new' challenge) that by now I'd prefer to brake its movement already.

Let me reap the (marginal) benefits from having been right, not wrong, and a  long time ago already:

The article is relevant in its entirety, so I'll repost it in entirety:

Military history is just like general history an excellent tool for learning. You cannot make enough personal experiences to match what history offers you.

History offers valuable lessons for our strategic situation today. We feel extremely safe from threats of conventional war in Europe, and see no conflicts that could lead to such a conflict any time soon. Finally, we don't believe that any other power could challenge us in Europe - after all, we would have nukes for the worst case that our conventional forces fail.

There are two very disturbing lessons in military history that offer parallels to this situation.
I scratched on the surface of these lessons before, but they deserve a more thorough presentation.

I never truly believed the "nobody attacks us because of our nuclear weapons" ideology.
Air war theorists expected massive genocide from the air with gas bombs for the next war in the inter-war years (1919-1939) - but there was next to no poison gas usage in World War II. Hitler had the very first nerve gasses under his control and thereby a considerable advantage. But he never used any gas. Even not when the conventional attacks on England in 1940 failed or in more dire situations afterwards. No other power used gas in quantity on the battlefields or for bombing cities.
This means that there's an historical example that matches our expectations of 'WMD' dominance in the next European major war - and this example tells us that such expectations don't need to become reality.
We should (stay) prepare(d) for the case that some nation calls our nuclear deterrence bluff and not rely much on the nuclear deterrence.

The other remarkable and very irritating lesson of 20th century history is that you cannot plan your forces as much as five years in advance. To attempt it and stick to the plan leads to failure in case of real need for forces.
Germany had a 100,000 men military army in January, 1933. There was no military aviation allowed. And these troops were all volunteers, conscription was forbidden. There had been no training of reserve troops for many years by 1933 and the World War veterans weren't fit for combat service anymore.
Less than seven years later Germany had the most powerful army, a small but dangerous navy and an air force that was better prepared to support army operations than any other air force in the world. This rise of a phoenix shows how quickly a strategic situation can change.
Our policy would have a serious lag before it recognizes and reacts to such a challenge as did the policies of the European nations in the 1930's. The power which prepares for war in a specified time frame can more easily build up a modern and ready force than such a force can be maintained for decades.
The similarities between 1933 Germany and today's Russia are striking.
Mortified, defeated, survived economic crisis, shrunk military, authoritarian government, desire for national greatness, territories to reclaim, history of military strength even without major allies, arms limitations treaties in force...let them ally with PR China and they could grab Eastern European territories just like Germany was able to grab Saarland, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Memel before appeasement was given up. Imagine a reunification of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. We'd quickly face a nation much stronger in population, geo-strategic means, economy, arms industry and military - and probably backed up by an allied China.

The feeling of complete security in Europe and the assumption that it would require decades to threaten us with conventional war is completely wrong. History's lesson is clear-cut: Such safety cannot exist, there are historical precedences for what it would take to create a conventional total war in as few as a couple years.


I did not predict the Crimea and Donetzk grabs as the first (and so far only) ones,  and I didn't predict the salami slicing approach of Russia exploiting whatever freedom of action it has. Instead my warning was about their ability to go the brute strength route in an alliance with the PR China - which may still happen. Either way; it would have been beneficial to pay more attention to collective security instead of fruitless and costly great power games.


P.S: There was a small inaccuracy in the old article. The Reichswehr had 100,000 men in the army, navy was extra 15,000 men.I corrected that.


How to fix UK land power

The third part of the unofficial 'how to fix' series turned into a guest post at Think Defence. It has a lengthy introduction on the background, something I skipped in the first two instalments because it was covered in earlier blog posts.

(Comments are closed here, and open there.)



"Kerry warns Turkey's NATO membership could be in jeopardy"

Headlines these days:

"Turkey coup could threaten country's Nato membership, John Kerry warns"

"Kerry urges Turkey to maintain democratic principles after coup"

"Kerry Warns Turkey that Actions Could Have NATO Consequences"

Uhm, actually - no.

The North Atlantic Treaty has no such provision. Freedom, rule of law, democracy are mentioned in the preamble only, that's the non-binding part.

NATO did not kick Turkey out when it was a military dictatorship nor Greece when it was a military dictatorship and it let Portugal join while it was a dictatorship.

And how could it have kicked them out? There's no article in the treaty regulating how a member could be kicked out.* All others might leave and found NATO 2.0, and that's really the only legal way how to strip Turkey off its NATO membership.

I doubt anyone in Washington, DC who gets elected to high office is stupid enough to even want Turkey to leave NATO.

I suppose Kerry did a disservice by warping the public perception of NATO. Maybe I should add to my list that now some people believe in NATO as the first alliance ever to insist on democracy?


*: I checked all accession protocols, too: None of them even only mentions "democracy".

edit next day: The NATO Secretary General gets quoted implying the same nonsense:
"Being part of a unique community of values, it is essential for Turkey, like all other allies, to ensure full respect for democracy and its institutions, the constitutional order, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an e-mailed statement on Monday." 

Fixing German Army brigades

I was disrespectful enough to claim to know how to fix U.S.Army brigades, now I have little excuse for not doing the same to about the German army.

For background:

German army OOB 2012 (c) Noclador
German army bases
The problems are still approx. the same and there are equipment in-unit inventory and depot inventory issues as well as training issues etc, but I will follow the pattern from the other post and only describe a very, very short list of pivotal changes that should be done. Nothing about ideal designs from a clean sheet of paper.

First, hardware (mostly excluding munition stocks issues):

AFV and other vehicle issues would produce a long list. IFV Puma is nowhere close to ideal, but no alternative is realistic till 2020. The MBT is OK, the SPG is superb.

Anti-tank defences rest almost entirely on the Leopard 2's 120 mm gun, the still-new EuroSpike missile and Panzerfaust 3. I recommend the same as with the U.S.Army; we should introduce a HVM before 2020 because the IR-guided ATGM approach of both EuroSpike and the Trigat LR (the latter used by Tiger helicopters) requires a dissimilar alternative for redundancy. There's no reliability of long range AT defences without true redundancy. To control systemic risks (eliminating that one point of failure may crash the whole) this is basic risk management. 

We badly need a solution to the neverending story of the mortar crisis. I don't insist on a new mortar system and I'm certainly no fan of those excessively expensive and heavy mortar turrets, but we need better than 1960's style 4x4 car-towed 120 mm mortars only. The much-publicized Wiesel 120 mm mortar merely exist in numbers worthy of prototype status.
A self-propelled 105 mm soft recoil gun might be great for the purpose, but trajectory-correcting munitions AND a super-short high angle fire minimum range round that can emulate a 120 mm mortar's ~400 m minimum range in high angle fire* should be used for it, or else such a SPG cannot really replace mortars.

It was a mistake to eliminate more than 90 % of our battlefield air defences. Our legacy inventory of Stinger missiles is either near-useless after long storage and decades of countermeasures development or will be near-useless very soon.
It's not really an option to try to bring back Gepard and/or Roland in my opinion.
IRIS-T SLS is not the answer. I'd rather like them to have a close look at a combination of Bolide and MICA VL, though the latter may be too expensive for large numbers.** It's also important that all remote-controlled weapon stations for machineguns be prepared for use against low-flying helicopters and drones.

We need enough tank transporters (in-service types are Mammut, Franziska and Elefant) to deploy by road all tracked vehicles of half of the brigades at the same time. This means we may need to purchase additional Mammut vehicles, since we have less than 400 of all three types.

Tan transporter SLT 50 Elefant, (c) Sonaz

There aren't enough COBRA artillery radars. They have each less than 120° field of view and need to stare (emit) in order to provide reliable coverage. This means at least four per brigade would be needed, before accounting for attrition.

Second, organisation:

This is where the bigger sins are at.

Artillery needs to be organic with brigades, period.

We should clean up the many different brigades. We know that there's but one halfway realistic area of operations, and it makes sense to optimise for it in order to achieve the desired deterrence with great efficiency. Three terrain types are relevant; flat open agricultural areas, settlements (no megacities) and flat woodland. The agricultural areas and flat woodland may have a very soft and wet soil. The typical trees have thin-enough stems for being knocked over by MBTs.

I assume that capitals in the region would be defended by their national forces, so delaying actions and (counter-)attacks in alternatingly open, village and woodland areas would be predominant for German brigades.

The proper brigade archetype for this is an upgraded mechanized infantry brigade (Panzergrenadierbrigade), though its leadership should be capable of both infantry- and tank-centric mindsets. We should have minimum six of these, eight if we get rid of the navy and some other wasteful spending. No budget increase is required for this.

Mechanised brigade HQ company (small)
   Tank battalion
      (3 tank companies)
   Artillery battalion
      (PzH 2000s only; MARS should be above brigade level assets)
   Mechanised infantry ("Panzergrenadier") battalion
      (4 IFV companies and 1 organic indirect fires company)
   Infantry ("Jäger") battalion
      (3 infantry companies, 1 indirect fires company, 1 anti-tank company)
   Logistics battalion
      (carrying enough supplies for three days; 1,000 rds per indirect fires tube and about 1,500 tons diesel fuel)
   Anti-tank ("Panzerjäger") company
      (HVMs and Skorpion)
   Engineer company
      (mostly minesweeping and bridgelaying)
   (Artillery) Sensors, EW and MI company
   Air defence company
   Military Police Platoon
      (traffic control and HQ security tasks, in emergency usable as motorcycle couriers)

The doctrine for these brigades would rather not be to keep them together, but to (initially) deploy three mechanised battalion battlegroups that may converge for a massed action temporarily. The tank, mechanised and infantry battalion HQs would for this reason be identical once deployed. Only the administrative parts may differ.
A support group would host the support assets (including some of the artillery and air defences) and would primarily be secured by the infantry battalion whenever it's not required to sweep or defend infantry-friendly terrain.

The brigades would be in a two-phase cycle:
12 months training phase with deployability (90% of personnel and equipment) within 14 days.***
12 months quick reaction phase with deployability (90% of personnel and equipment) within 4-7 days.***

Support units allocated at division or corps command, but based very close to the brigades, would need to provide the tank transporters. These units would need to alternate bases yearly in order to always be close to the QR brigades.

Two light infantry ("Ranger" or "Jäger") regiments should exist in parallel. I would not designate them as brigades since I wouldn't want any 155 mm artillery, medium or heavy AFVs in there. These regiments would thus not be true combined army formations on their own. They would be able to self-deploy by road in 1st and 2nd week respectively.

There should be no Franco-German brigade. To disband this brigade is not feasible in itself due to its symbolism, so I suppose we should cheat and form a "Franco-German division" consisting of a French brigade and a German brigade.

_ _ _ _ _

The idea is simple: An army that could reliably deploy a robust**** force capable of delaying actions and (counter-)attacks against invaders to the region of Warsaw in mere days. Additional collective defence contributions for the first two weeks in NE Europe should include corps-level support (area air defences, some army rotary aviation, rocket artillery, combat service support) and combat air patrols by most of the Luftwaffe's Typhoon wings, which should be based in Eastern Germany.*****
This fits to the constitutional mission of the Bundeswehr and no-one would have good reason to claim that we don't do enough for collective deterrence an defence if we could deploy as much land forces power in the first week or two into Poland as the rest of NATO combined - in addition to the Luftwaffe's contribution beginning on day one.
I think this can be done without spending more than we spend so far - if we muster the self-discipline to cut wasteful spending.


P.S.: I don't know enough about the current equipment of the Heer for radio communication and electronic warfare to comment on these possibly decisive elements.

*: This may necessitate +80° maximum barrel elevation and fin-stabilized smoke and high explosive rounds for ranges of 400 to about 2,000 m only. 
**: I wrote MICA VL instead of IRIS-T SL because MICA VL exists with alternative RF and IIR seekers. It's rather unlikely that both will be countered effectively by the same target. Ironically, the Swedish military appears to intend to replace RBS 70 with IRIS-T SL, so I may be wrong here. I insist on Bolide (a RBS 70 version) because of its low price and its laser beamrider guidance that is most difficult to counter. An emphasis on IRIS-T SL or MICA on the other hand would emphasise a higher ceiling, which matters much against air attack with guided munitions.
Small numbers of ShorAD missiles such as MICA VL may suffice to force attack aircraft to higher altitudes, from which detecting, identifying and engaging targets is more difficult and in its effect less efficient. IRIS-T SL and MICA VL would in theory also be able to lock on after launch on an attack helicopter that's not in line of sight to the missile launcher.
***: Deployment by road to the vicinity of Warsaw - regardless of weekends, holidays etc. Legal preparations for this need to be done by German state governments, the federal government and the Polish government.
****: Actually robust, not buzzword "robust". By "robust" I mean not brittle under great pressure, without predictable points of failure such as countered anti-tank defences, unreliable radio communication, personnel without common native language or not survivable indirect fires support.
*****: Not too far and not too close. Tornado units and one training-focused Typhoon wing with early batch Typhoons would be meant for the 3rd and 4th weeks. Enough A310 MRTT need to be available for supporting Typhoon operations over Poland and Baltic Sea at the latest in the 2nd week (these planes can be converted between transport and tanker configurations). Used civilian A310 are available at low prices and could be converted to MRTTs.

Correction: Skorpion was scrapped already. The reason was obviously the AT mines, which can be triggered by infantrymen and are thus banned already. The vehicles were rather slow and in poor shape as well.


Tactical reserves

I've seen very poor definitions of "tactical reserves", all seemingly derived from each other or from one common origin. For this reason I'll try to give a more satisfactory definition to get at the core of the idea:

"Tactical reserves are those subordinate combat forces that a commander strives to keep out of contact with opposing forces in order to commit them to action only after the area of their most promising employment has been identified or an opportunity for their most promising employment has arisen."
Tactical reserves have been most important throughout much of history. The layered Roman battle orders with Triarii in reserve and Alexander the Great's heavy shock cavalry are typical examples. Some other doctrinal systems such as the Greek polis' phalanx line knew no such reserves and were very susceptible to collapse and routing once one part of the formation failed.

In mobile warfare between armies consisting of mechanised brigades or smaller battlegroups one  would typically expect either clashes with extremely high attrition rates (1967, 1973 and 1990 examples) or contests between forces and tacticians of comparable quality in which the opposing commanders strive to fix or slow down hostile manoeuvre elements and especially the hostile reserves. The employment of the own reserves would be expected to yield the best results once the hostile reserves are busy elsewhere and unable to counter one's offensive move any more.
I remember a recollection of an army exercise in which an American officer was very proud that his division commander had the self-restraint to not tell his brigades to engage and destroy the red forces with brute force, but committed the author's brigade only until military intelligence reported that the opposing forces' reserves were already committed. The entire mission of that brigade was to draw in the opposing reserves, nothing else - and it was ordered to break contact once those reserves were understood to have been committed elsewhere already.

Let's for a moment believe that such a focus on tactical reserves as a major determinant of "success" in battle is appropriate. What are the consequences?

To commit an entire brigade merely to draw in equivalently powerful reserves sounds inefficient to me. What about committing much smaller forces, and feigning that those much smaller forces are actually a much greater threat?
A single battalion battlegroup could be sent to threaten some important objective (ammunition depot, army aviation forward airfield, corps HQ, river bridge etc.) in order to distract the reserves. It could exploit the terrain in order to be an unacceptably tough target of attack to merely equivalent-sized forces.
More friendly forces would then be available for the friendly tactical reserves, which could then be committed to exploit an offensive opportunity.

My old idea of manoeuvre elements (including armoured recce-like elements of at most company size) that don't fear being "behind" or "around" hostile brigades etc. interacts with this tactical reserves topic in an interesting way: Such elements could easily be told to converge on the hostile reserves and to keep them busy for a defined time window in order to achieve the same diversionary effect as would a much more substantial frontal attack of a brigade or two.

The key idea should be to achieve the desired diversionary effect with minimal resources (or rather minimal casualties). It would be of great help if the feint could gain the appearance of a more powerful force or at least of a major threat. This means the vehicle types, movement, electronic and fire support need to help generate this impression. It would also be of great usefulness if just any battlegroup could feign to be of double or triple strength instead of limiting such a deceptive capacity to but a few elements.

A commander and particularly his staff need a high level of self-awareness for this; they need to know what they would do if this feint was really a major action, or else they could not intentionally and consciously emulate this behaviour. Feints share the same disappointing fate with many other military preparations (such as prepared artillery missions); all-too often they fail to be effective because the opposing forces aren't predictable enough.

Tactical reserves and feints are not very prominent in field manuals about tactics, particularly for battalion  command and below. It seems that tactics course teachers, not textbooks, are meant to convey the importance and centrality of both tactical reserves and feints in "our" and "their" doctrines. This is somewhat risky, since it's this way less likely to be preserved as important part of the doctrine over generations of peace than if it was written down with more emphasis.



How NATO changed the perception of what an alliance is and does (II)

First part:

(9) Never before did an alliance have its own air force (NATO E-3 planes officially belong to Luxembourg, but they really are NATO's planes)

(10) Alliances didn't use to routinely deploy symbolic force detachments into areas of crisis. Nor was such behaviour expected, much less without any such obligation in the treaty text.

(11) Permanent ("forward") deployment of forces in allied states wasn't typical of alliances at all prior to NATO (and the Warsaw Pact). The current "normalcy" of forward deployed forces is a leftover from post-WW2 occupation forces - path dependency led us here. Previously, permanent military detachments in allied countries were typical of a hegemon-client relationship between the allies (such as Nazi Germany and Romania 1939/41, or Sparta and Thebes etc.) only.

I suppose that modern Europeans aren't really aware how atypical NATO is as an alliance. Seemingly self-evident features of NATO have hardly ever or never before been observed in other alliances.



Civil defence sirens


Actually, few cities and towns in Germany still have these. Many (if not most) were taken out of service since the mid-90's.

This is the sound that no German ever wants to hear, particularly not those who remember the Cold War:

Imagine (unless you experienced it) to hear it on  test run with a test signal sequence, knowing that you live at the frontier of NATO during the Cold War, expecting to simply die within minutes, hours or days after hearing that signal above - regardless of what you do or our soldiers try. It would make no difference between getting killed by a red or a blue bomb.
The perception as I remember it wasn't that "only" a million or two of us would die as simulated since the 50's, but more likely pretty much everyone.

It's been a quarter century already, and I wonder by how much the collective memory has faded and will fade.



Fixing U.S. Army brigades


I stomped on the idea that the U.S.Army brigade designs might be sensible for conventional warfare a few days ago. Now let's be constructive and think about how they could fix that.

First, the hardware issues.

Hardware: Tube Artillery

In addition to largely absent battlefield air defences, the U.S.army's tube artillery has mediocre to poor quality (155 mm L/39 SPG and even towed). Their ranges and rates of fire (first minute) are substandard by now, and the towed guns have terrible survivability and issues and substandard responsiveness due to their limited traverse.
A correction of this deficiency might be possible with AGM / DONAR, which apparently can even be mounted on an 8x8 platform for a good road march mobility (I would rather propose HEMTT with protected cab as platform than Boxer, though). Other solutions than AGM are available, of course, but AGM looks most promising (if it really is reliable - I cannot judge this).

AGM module (on Boxer platform); 155 mm L/52, 10 rounds in first minute

Their only powerful anti-tank systems in their medium and light brigade types are few mounted TOW2 launchers and the portable Javelin launchers. Russia et al had 20+ years time to adapt to (counter) both; no Cold War ATGM remained without an effective counter for 20 years. Indeed, ordinary multispectral smoke does break both Javelin's and TOW2's approach to guidance easily.

Hardware: Short range AT
The U.S.Army might add man-portable unguided short range munitions such as Panzerfaust 3-IT600, or a supercalibre tandem shaped charge munition for their M3 Carl Gustav*. These are short-range munitions, but they require no guidance to meet expectations at all. The in-service AT4 is not a serious anti-MBT munition; AT4-CS is so only in urban warfare.
Panzerfaust 3 is more of a munition than a weapon, since only the grip and sight module piece is reusable. 
Panzerfaust 3 with computerized sight for 600 m useful range

The difference between "weapon" and "munition" is more important than it might seem: Army bureaucracies have tables of organisation and equipment. It's easy for the bureaucracy to change the equipment with additional munitions, but commonly it's difficult to add weapons beyond what the TO&E grants the small unit or unit. The less a piece of equipment is considered a weapon, the more likely it may be added to adapt the capability of a small unit to challenges of the next hours or days.

Panzerfaust 3 grip+sight units and rounds might be issued up to clip-on piece + several rounds per fireteam if there's a great need for short range AT firepower. The Carl Gustav on the other hand is a weapon allocated to infantry only, and but one per platoon. It's most unlikely that multiple of these heavy weapons would be handed out for a few hours or days only, and if so at most one per squad. This may make a huge difference, for many active defence suites are likely going to fail against salvo fires.

The Carl Gustav is more of a portable infantry gun than an anti-tank weapon actually, and won't be used in great quantity due to its launcher weight.
To adopt Panzerfaust 3-IT600 would thus offer much more AT firepower. It would also be 100% military off-the shelf, with no development costs or development time. I point out PzF 3 for its powerful calibre of 110 mm (more than the RPG-29's 105 mm), not because it's German. Man-portable 100-120 mm AT weapons/munitions are actually quite rare, but they're the only ones that can almost be trusted against MBTs.
MBT LAW and the weird (enhanced) ERYX are more options and likely more powerful against MBTs, but they're not quite as versatile.

Hardware: Long-range AT

Equally important might be an introduction of CKEM, a hypervelocity missile. Its quickness eliminates several counters that are relevant to Javelin, though CKEM would need to be coupled to a (possibly jamming-troubled) millimetre wave radar to eliminate the problem of concealment by multispectral smoke. Smoke couldn't be deployed in time to counter a launch (other than with Javelin and TOW-2), but artillery- and mortar-laid smoke that lasts for minutes (in the IR spectrum!) might provide a good preventive concealment. CKEM differs from Javelin and TOW-2 in its method of armour penetration: It is nearly identical to the M1 Abrams' 120 mm APFSDS munition. The minimum effective range of a CKEM may be several hundred metres (due to the slower acceleration than in a tank gun), so the aforementioned short range munitions would be important in some terrains.

Test footage of LOSAT missiles, conceptually similar to CKEM. Disregard the fake sounds.

AGM, Panzerfaust 3-IT600 and CKEM: Three hardware options to overcome critical shortcomings.

Now about the structure (brigade designs):

Structure: Heavy BCT
Their most sensible current brigade pattern is the heavy ("Armored") BCT pattern, though its road march deployability is poor. Hundreds of HETS are necessary to quickly deploy a brigade from Germany to Warsaw, for example. 
Too many tracked vehicles would break down on a long road march under own power. The march with all those routine maintenance breaks would be very slow, at least the drivers would be exhausted and the brigade would generally take days to technically recover from the march. The U.S.Army has enough HETS, though I have not seen any indication that enough are available to the Armored BCT in Germany. I don't consider deployment by rail as a reliable option because the rail network is too easily disrupted (the signals system is vulnerable even if diesel locomotives are used to avoid powerline issues). An entire battalion equivalent for operating enough HETS would be needed with the brigades in Germany. The personnel might be drawn from already present small units that serve no essential purpose in the event of crisis.

Structure: Medium BCT

The medium ("Stryker") BCT pattern is lacking a sensible concept of operations. The AT and arty firepower fixes would make it much more effective on defensive missions, but reinforcement by a tank battalion would be necessary for most offensive missions. It would make sense to have such a tank battalion's equipment in Germany and to fly in the personnel in times of need. The nearby Armored BCT's tank battalion could switch between using its own and 'foreign' tanks from month to month in order to avoid poor material readiness.

Structure: Light BCT

The light ("Infantry") BCT pattern needs the same treatment as the medium one. Again, the BCT should have limited (mostly by choice of terrain) defensive capability and after arrival of MBT reinforcements a limited (slow-moving) offensive ability in conventional warfare.
_ _ _ _ _

By the way:
I don't think that a forward deployment of some Armored BCTs to Northern or Eastern Poland would be desirable. The fiscal and political costs of setting up bases would be huge and a countering reallocation of Russian tank brigades would almost be guaranteed. It makes sense to plan for such a deployment, even assuming one or two years in improvised barracks, but a deployment right away makes no sense as long as the Russian Western Military District is strong only in regard to Moscow's integrated air defence cluster.
This drives my emphasis on quick 1,000+ km administrative marches with little or no early warning.

It doesn't take a super-complex and super-expensive program like FCS to drastically increase the fitness of the U.S.Army's hardware arsenal and brigade patterns for conventional warfare.
My proposals above weren't clean sheet optimal design proposals, but minimum quick fix proposals that could become effective within months (HETS allocation) to about five years (CKEM and AGM orders, production and introduction).


*: The Swedes developed a supercalibre shaped charge munition for the Carl Gustav in the early 80's, but it wasn't a tandem design to defeat explosive reactive armour (or overflight and sensor-fused EFP top attack design as MBT LAW) yet:

FFV 597

edit 20 July 2016: One could also look at SPIKE-SR (110 mm warhead, non-gimballed IIR senor, fire&forget, 50-1,500 m, from Israel) for short range SR due to its low weight, but it now has a range of 1,500 m declared, which would make it look like a Javelin (2,000 m) successor despite inferior capabilities. This would make it difficult to introduce SPIKE-SR as a lower range complementary equipment. Then again, Javelins are approaching the end of their shelf life and a successor isn't a terrible idea anyway.



A couple days ago I wrote that I wouldn't mind getting rid of an entire German armed service. 
Now my challenge to (German) readers:

Offer me an example for collective defence (NATO or EU being under attack by a foreign government's armed services) in which a German navy is necessary to keep Germany from getting blockaded, bombed or invaded/occupied or necessary to reconquer/defend an ally that got blockaded, bombed or invaded & occupied!*

Phrases such as "Germany's navy would seal off the Baltic Sea exit for Russian navy" don't count. If that was really important and likely, the Russians could simply order those Baltic Fleet units to deploy to the Northern Fleet prior to a hot conflict.
Phrases about German ports needing naval mineclearing don't count either, since there are minehunter ships in allied navies as well, and the small Baltic Sea ports would hardly be used during a hot conflict (for safety reasons).

I think it's obvious that a German naval presence would hardly be felt in a Mediterranean conflict, but such a conflict is super-unlikely for want of a threat anyway.**
A Eastern European conflict on the other hand requires a super-quick deployment (or predeployment) of ground combat (and air defence) forces, as well as air power intervention. Navies would be utter sideshows unless the conflict escalated to the Atlantic Ocean, and in that case a German navy would hardly be felt either.

One might say that keeping a navy just in case, as a pool of competence,  would make sense. That's the ideology of balanced military forces - as if having a coastline inevitably makes a navy necessary (regardless of allies), even though landlocked allies do not need a navy at all (with equal apparent self-evidence).
I counter this with the 100+ year track record of German navy uselessness. I don't think it's worth spending billions waiting for a mythical time in which a German navy makes sense for a change. We wouldn't even have much use (and thus not any need) for it if we were alone and without allies again.

This is not a proposal for Germany to freeride on allied efforts. It's a proposal to tailor the armed services for collective deterrence and defence. Our geographic location puts an above-average burden on us as early defender of Eastern frontier allies. The navy is a mere distraction to this.


*: I wrote this rather complicated set of requirements because it's unrealistic to demand that military power prevents every alliance member from even only temporary naval blockade, air attack or hostile forces incursions.
**: Israel is the only somewhat relevant non-allied power there, and it's extremely unlikely that it attacks NATO or the EU.