The early FRG Luftwaffe

I read a book about the history of the (West) German air force in 1950-1970 recently. The corresponding military history book about the army in 1950-1970 was very interesting. I can summarise this Luftwaffe 1950-1970 history book for you:

Nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, *breathing* nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes.
And then some considerations about organisational issues and such, but seemingly mostly about nukes.

Seriously; the two main themes of the Luftwaffe in those early years were the "strike" role  (nuking targets especially in Eastern Europe, primarily using F-104s) and stopping about 95% of all red strike bombers (presumably mostly with Nike Hercules and HAWK missiles, since even F-104G would rarely intercept in time) before they destroyed our strike assets on the ground.
Both were utterly stupid, nonsensical ideas for a long list of reasons each */**.

A single hardware argument sufficed as a knockout argument against both roles at once; ballistic missiles reached their targets with a nuclear warhead at all relevant ranges, and were impossible to intercept under wartime conditions. They were furthermore practically impossible to destroy prior to their launch except with strategic surprise, and aircraft on airbases would have suffered from such an attack even more.

The F-104s, HAWK and Nike Hercules batteries constituted almost the entire combat power of the Luftwaffe by the late 60's, so almost the entire Luftwaffe followed an idiotic design.

This isn't really about hindsight; the basics about ballistic missiles were understood early on. The mistakes made were utterly ordinary and plausible ones:
A Luftwaffe dominated by pilots was able to understand the capabilities of ballistic missiles, but not willing to yield to the conclusions. Second, they were fascinated by the destructive power of nuclear warheads and simply had not thought the whole World War Three thing through.***

The book mentions  that the young new pilots weren't too much irritated when an exercise demanded them to nuke an airfield right next to an East German town. The more mature senior officers may have expected more scruple from them, but they themselves failed to have enough scruple and to think rationally about nuclear warfare at their level. The understanding of nuclear war appears to have remained patchy instead of being clear and calling for clear, sweeping consequences.

In other words: The early FRG Luftwaffe did not serve the people, it was full of shit. We were really lucky that we got through the Cold War alive with such dumb Cold Warriors. I don't even blame these officers; I blame those who allowed such men to be in such positions. More mature men with more analytical minds were needed. The ones who ran the early FRG Luftwaffe were former nazi air force generals and former nazi ace fighter pilots; neither did a good job.

The more history I learn about the Cold War the more I get convinced that the reason for why the Warsaw Pact never attacked wasn't our deterrence, but that the pseudocommunists were not all that motivated to conquer Western Europe to begin with.


*: Strike was nonsense: It was all-or-nothing deterrence, and its employment in actual war would have led to the destruction of the German nation. Ballistic missiles were more reliable means. Ballistic missiles were not dependent on long runways. BMs could be dispersed for survivability in times of crisis or war. BMs were single purpose (de facto nuke only), so they didn't suffer from attrition in a conventional role until used for nuclear strike (quite a concern with the Starfighters). Many nuclear strike targets (and most tactical nuclear strike targets) were on German soil, those missions would have been perverse.
**: Radars of the time didn't reliably detect strike bombers below 1,000 ft, so intercept was nonsense. Strike bombers at Mach 2 and at very high altitude were almost impossible to intercept with the required reliability. Surface-to-air area defence missiles (Nike Hercules, HAWK) were considered the mainstay of bomber interception, but they were easily saturated, due to their de facto or complete static setup easily targeted (similar to what happened to Egyptian SA-6 late in the Yom Kippur War), and the missiles were initially useless below 1,000 ft especially in the hilly Southern Germany. Missile stocks would have been expended in less than an hour of intense defence. Starfighters had a radar, but it wasn't very good and indeed useless against low-flying aircraft at night. There were SAM belt gaps in the north at sea. The SAM systems could be defeated by jamming. Nike Hercules wasn't really effective without using a fallout-producing 2 kt or bigger nuke of its own against incoming bombers. HAWK didn't reach up high enough; all combat aircraft were able to overfly its engagement zone.
The nonsense was clearly to hope for an almost impenetrable shield that would protect the strike assets till they take off to their strike missions. All that SAM belt effort was thus meant to partially compensate for the wrong choice of strike platform; BMs would not have needed that kind of protection. The way to go was to think about air superiority; exchange ratios should have been at the centre instead of '% of strike bombers stopped on their first sortie'.
***: They weren't exactly intellectuals and seemed to have overemphasised the protection of Germany from being a conventional battlefield, at the expense of risking it would become an uninhabitable nuclear battlefield.


Russia's moderate wars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Modern electric heavyweight torpedoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

edit 2019:
There's also the theoretical option of letting a torpedo engage an ASW helicopter that's using a dipping sonar. It could triangulate the stationary dipping sonar (only minehunting dipping sonars are towed AFAIK), sprint towards it, jump out of the water and engage well within lethal radius to the helicopter IF the dipping sonar was deployed for a long-enough time (which is a truly big IF). So that's a 10th, hypothetical, employment option.


Link drop and comments July 2018

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

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

By Jeremy Adam Smith on March 14, 2018

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

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

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(no comment)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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