Dolchstoßlegende, assault infantry and modern personnel affairs

During the Inter-War Years, many Germans (mostly centre and right wing) believed in the "Dolchstoßlegende": The idea that the German army hadn't been defeated by enemy armies at the front; the problem in 1918 had supposedly been those socialists who stabbed the army in the back by causing trouble at home.

It was utter bollocks. The supreme army command had strongly urged the civilian government to plea for peace after the army had badly failed on the Western Front on August 8th, 1918; the successful beginning of the Western powers' offensives of 1918.

The army in the field had failed to hold the front lines because it was exhausted.

The problem was relatively simple, but rarely appreciated by authors: A robust defence isn't only about men, guns and terrain. It requires effective counter-attacks. Some losses of positions are bound to happen if dangerous hostiles launch an offensive against you. These need to be counter-attacked to save the position unless you're willing to trade land for blood. The German generals in August 1918 were not willing to trade land for blood; they knew that later lines of defence farther to the back (behind the main line of resistance) would have much worse field fortifications. It was less horrible to fight where they were.
The only way to hold a line for long without counter-attacking successful break-ins is to make the line strong up front. This means many - not few- men far forward. Far forward; that's where the hostiles observed the best, where their artillery was the most powerful and where their tank attacks still had cohesion and most tanks were still mobile. It had been understood long before summer 1918 that having many men far forward was too bloody and the resulting defence was brittle in face of powerful offensives and an eventual failure of such a stiff, brittle defence would be much worse than the failure of weak forward elements of an elastic defence.

The problem by August 1918 was that there was war. 
Another problem - which concerned almost exclusively generals and politicians - was that there had been a bloody war for such a long time that the ability of the army to counter-attack locally had been diminished too much. The elastic defence had failed as well.
Now how had the ability to counter-attack locally been diminished precisely? In addition to the battles of 1914-1917 (the pre-War troops below rank of battalion staffs had been 'spent' by 1916 at the latest), lots of losses had been suffered earlier in 1918 during German offensives of unprecedented 'success'. (Malnutrition and the flu epidemic were other problems.)

In order to achieve the required breakthroughs, Germany had mustered in addition to the usual means a couple tactical and organizational innovations, most notably Bruchmüller's artillery plans and some of the first (finally) seriously trained modern infantry. These German infantry units were similar to Russian and Italian efforts at creating specialised assault infantry in that they finally trained properly and equipped properly for the task. The German assault troops were quite numerous; many were raised in order to enable breakthroughs in many places simultaneously. German army formations and basic training units had to send the best infantry for the attack to this training and employ them in breakthrough attacks.
The tactical success was striking, but so were the losses. The German army had exposed its best assault infantrymen to fire and burnt them. They weren't left for local counter-attack any more.

So what kind of troops are 'the best' for assaults? The junior officers of the time knew this by observation, but the 20th century was bloody enough to teach us a lesson or some and we can actually make some general observations about who is likely better-suited for assaults than average troops are.

(a) Men who are married with children (or simply very much in love) tend to have more survival instincts. This means they're not as aggressive as single men. They do not tend to give up easily under pressure, which makes them suitable for tactical defence.
(b) Stupid men do stupid mistakes and die too easily.
(c) Smart men are smart enough to understand dangers, and thus to avoid them. Dangers such as assaulting entrenched infantry.
(d) Older men are typically not fit enough (especially a hundred years ago) for much infantry action.
(e) Men older than something around 30 tend to be less daring than young men.
(f) Men from rural background did tended to be superior to urban men for warmaking that involved close combat. This was a recurring theme from late Roman antiquity till sometime after WW2. It was likely about better nourishment and cleaner water and may no longer be relevant.

So the ideal assault infantryman of 1918 came from a rural area, had normal intelligence, was adult but not older than late 20's, single and had no children.

The First World War consumed these men at an astonishing pace, and several warring countries fell once they had lost too many of them (Russia, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Germany, France only almost in 1917). The same happened to Germany in WW2 and even to the Soviet Union in WW2; that's why the Red Army of late WW2 had to emphasize artillery and tanks in their assaults so very much: Artillery and tank troops required fewer troops for combat power. Infantry was still employed in great numbers, of course - but it was the weakest pillar of Red Army combined arms attacks by 1944.
Similarly, the German army of 1944 had to emphasize artillery fires as the main pillar of defence because the thinned-out infantry was only capable of maintaining a thin screen.

I'm totally in favour of not doing any experiments about total warfare ever again, but there's still an interesting facet to this: The usual notion is that we have now a youth that's much less suitable for warfare than earlier generations. Yet I cannot see a great many married men with children below age 30 here. It was common to be married by the mid-20's (for life) and have children early in the 20th century. This isn't normal any more. Instead, relationships of young men are rather temporary in nature.
The advantage of "rural" recruits certainly waned, so the entire description of the ideal assault infantryman is now much more representative of young men age 18-29 in Western Europe than ever before. Obesity is rare in that age group.

You may think that we have few men in the relevant age group due to demographic change. I assure you, that's nonsense. Germany has more than 10 million men of military age, more than five million men in their 20's and roughly four million are citizens. I doubt anyone knows a plausible scenario for war in which we would run out of men to draft (unless one assumes that a catastrophe have already killed tens of millions of Germans).



I'm asking for a show of hands:
Who expected Russia to be a threat to Danish sovereignty over Greenland?
Who expected the U.S. to be a threat to Danish sovereignty over Greenland?

I remember a lot of articles and blog posts about the Arctic and how there could be conflicts over it in the near future. Those articles were written with a distinct perspective and more or less implied idea of who would be the threat. They seem to have been a bit off.

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Worth mentioning when mentioning Greenland:



Unreliable partners

(I had nothing prepared for this Saturday, so I present you a text that was finished, but apparently not published in March 2017. I think it aged well. The rather pro-conservative but not pro-fascist Washington Post recently published that the lying moron had passed 12,000 falsehoods and misleading claims since inauguration.)

Trump made a speech that was hailed as this best in a long time, kind of "presidential", literally unpresidented.

The problem with this is that fact checking found him false on up to 51 of 61 claims made in 61 minutes.


There's a controversy about a few of those, so I play it safe and say he said 40+ falsehoods in one hour of speech to the legislative branch of government. That's the speech that was widely considered his best.
Now think about this for a while. 40+. Maybe you like Trump and are inclined to claim that there were maybe only 20+ or 10+ falsehoods. That would still be 10+ falsehoods in an hour. With previous presidents of the post-WW2 era (save for maybe GWB and Nixon) 10+ falsehoods would have been considered be outrageously much and the speech to be their worst - not the best as with Trump. That's how normal the constant lying has become in U.S. politics since Trump appeared on the stage.

It's difficult to come up with 40+ falsehoods of Chancellor Merkel over the entire course of her Chancellorship since 2005, and I write this despite disliking her and many CDU policies.

Thus it's established (once again, as if any further proof was needed) that the president of the United States is a liar, likely a pathological liar or what was called a "bullshit artist".

The conclusion is that the United States have a very powerful president whose statements are worthless because of the high frequency of falsehoods and who bases his policies on ideas that don't stem from reality, but from fiction.

The United States have essentially become an unpredictable random factor in global affairs.

It's pointless to talk to the United States' president unless the plan is to manipulate the president. Nothing he says can be considered a reliable statement of fact or a promise.

This is a stark contrast to the immensely stable 'Washington rules' establishment foreign policy which had its flaws, but rarely did anything unpredicted. Reagan's nuclear arms reduction negotiations were among the most unpredictable policies under the old paradigm, and they were a pleasant surprise.

Today, form a German perspective, the #1 partner in national/collective security should be France. I chose France over the UK because the UK hasn't made up its mind about whether it's a European or a North American country. The executive branch leadership of the U.S. is a near-worthless partner as of now, unpredictable and living in a fantasy world of "alternative facts".



INF 2.0

It's official - the INF treaty is gone.
The question is what should we do now.

A launcher for SS-20 "Saber" (RSD-10 "Pioneer"),
the missile that scared the West into negotiating the original INF treaty

I've pointed out before that medium range ballistic missiles with conventional precision guided warheads are a terrible threat to high value targets (HVT) in Europe.

Ballistic and cruise missiles offer vastly more bang for the buck than strike fighters and their precision-guided munitions (PGMs) if you plan for but a week or two of air war. A combat aircraft approach (manned or not) causes huge costs for the platform, and it takes many sorties to compensate for this by using cheaper (than 500+ km missiles) PGMs. The break-even of costs between a strike fighter and surface-to-surface-missiles depends on many variables, of course. I wager it's not in the first two weeks if you take into account that strike fighters have operational expenses for on average 20+ years, which adds to their fixed cots in this comparison.
To make this more clear, here's a simplistic model to show the general idea:

An aircraft costs 150 million €. It needs a munition costing 100,000 € to deliver a 250 kg warhead precisely.
A medium range missile costs 750,000 €. It precisely delivers one 250 kg warhead each. Its launcher has a negligible price (simplistic model, but quite true if you look at the simple Sergeant missile launcher, for example).
The break even would be after 230 targets engaged with 250 kg precision-delivered warheads at about 173 million € total costs with either approach.

I have also made my case that the least unrealistic actual defence scenarios for NATO (or EU) in Europe might last no more than a few days or weeks because a threat of tactical nuclear weapons employment could (and would) prevent a counteroffensive politically.

These are my three pillars for my assertion that conventional 500...3,500 km precision-guided missiles are a terrible security threat to Europe. A few hundred such missiles could deliver a terrible blow to our air forces, navies, headquarters and army HVTs (such as counter-battery or air defence radars and command vehicles). The cost of preparing such a terrible blow could be a billion € or less.

There was no such precision strike technology available to the Soviet Union, so most people don't appear to have understood its ramifications yet (since the Americans mostly used such missiles for bullying Third World countries, not so much for unexpected Six Days War-ish first hour strikes). The mass media stupidly writes and talks about nuclear-tipped medium-range missiles, as if Russia couldn't hit us with longer-ranged nuclear-tipped missiles at will if it meant to. The news media totally misses the real problem. INF was a nice cost-savings deal for the very late Cold War, but afterwards it turned into a requirement for the viability of Western European air power.

I see two general options in response to the end of INF:
  1. Accept that our deterrence and defence must not critically rest on high value targets that could be targeted by PGMs and restructure our deterrence and defence accordingly.
  2. Quickly replace INF with something that keeps Western European air power viable.
#1 will be almost impossible. There's too much path dependency, too much inertia, too little chance to convince people of the extreme threat of conventional PGMs to our HVTs. Armed bureaucracies such as air forces will no doubt fight to preserve what they love; especially the gold-plated combat aircraft.

#2 is thus the only hope of avoiding horrible levels of waste that go even beyond the ordinary military bureaucracy wastefulness.

Sadly, the United States' foreign policy is controlled by a lying moron who may be a Russian asset, so they are of zero use to Europe (as in so many other cases these days). Even the "Transatlantiker" crowd (zealots with an ideology of emphasis on European-U.S. cooperation) have given up on the concept of cooperation with the administration of crooks, grifters and incompetents. That change was overdue, for it's been obvious for two years that it's pointless to negotiate with someone who lies and wants to cheat you, and who considers the signing of a treaty as but the end of round one of cheating and bullying.

The good news is that nobody needs the United States to create a useful INF 2.0.

I'll lay out a draft of how INF 2.0 could work, taking into account that the Russians need to be motivated to sign, ratify, implement and sustain it.

INF 2.0 should feature these rules
  • treaty members; EU countries, European NATO, Russia, Belarus
  • missiles of 500...3,500 km range would be banned in Europe, Turkey and south of the Caucasus*
  • no treaty member bases or transports 500...3,500 km missiles on ships or submarines (excluding a defined list of sea-based legacy missiles and legacy naval aviation missiles)
  • Russia must not have any 100...500 km missiles in Kaliningrad Oblast
  • Russia would be allowed to have a moderate quantity (to be agreed-on, should be no more than 300) of 500...2,000 km cruise missiles in Asia**
  • Russia's Asian 500...2,000 km cruise missiles must not be loaded into or onto any aircraft
  • air-launched 500...3,500 km legacy  missiles can be retained, and replaced on a 1:1 basis (single warhead each and no replacement of cruise missiles by ballistic missiles)
  • no conversion of ICBM or SLBM for conventional warheads by any treaty member, nor any preparations for such a conversion
  • treaty members must not increase their quantity of ICBMs or SLBMs
  • European signatories do not permit U.S. or Canadian missiles to be based in Europe or Turkey
  • European signatories do not permit U.S. or Canadian ships with 500...3,500 km missiles to enter their territorial seas (exception for passing the Straits).
  • European signatories do not participate in or help fund the development or procurement of operation of missiles that they couldn't operate under this INF 2.0 treaty.
  • Russian 500...2,000 km cruise missiles would be accompanied by a European observer mission, which gives Europeans an early warning if these missiles are moved into range (denying the strategic surprise attack option); this means a right to unlimited access to every missile for inspection including x-ray inspection up to a specified total x-ray dosage per missile
  • General inspection regime to certify compliance, run by the United Nations with bloc-free country personnel only
  • This general inspection regime includes that missile tests need to be announced and observed, and the inspectors get the opportunity to see if the range limitations are observed
  • Range of missiles defined as range when carrying a 50 kg payload (warhead + guidance, could be calculated based on test results with a heavier payload)***
  • Treaty members may leave the treaty 12 months after announcing the move to the other treaty members
  • We could sweeten the deal with some long term contracts for Russian commodity exports and a European aviation project using a Russian gas turbine design.****

(Russia would likely not agree to a total MRBM/IRBM ban because the Chinese wouldn't, and the Chinese wouldn't agree to it becuase they need such missiles as one of the ways to keep American carrier battlegroups at a safe distance in wartime. Hence the complicated Asia exception which necessitates extra tracking by inspectors.)

We need to push our intelligence services***** to learn about Russian 500+ km inventories and missile production. It's the #2 priority behind early warning of an attack.

INF 2.0 should be in force before 2025. The heads of government of Germany, France, Italy and Spain need to step up and publicly, urgently warn the public about the problem once we know that we won't get INF 2.0 before 2025. We'd then (at the latest) need to move much funding from air forces and navies to armies AND deploy at least half of our combat and combat support aircraft to a permanent training mission in Canada where a surprise attack would be much more difficult to pull off.

My guess is that European politicians are so unimaginative and used to muddling through without any actual strategy that they couldn't pull this (or anything smarter) off. The ability to develop and enact strategy has atrophied in the West. We'd need a von Bismarck-calibre politician to change this quickly.



*: 3,500 km suffices to hit all of Europe from Russian soil east of Kaliningrad Oblast
**: 2,000 km is the approx. distance between Asia (Ural mountains) and European NATO
***: This is so low because relatively light Small Diameter Bombs proved to be able to penetrate hardened aircraft shelters. This means a 50 kg warhead would almost certainly  be able to do the same if mounted on a very fast impact 3,500 km quasiballistic missile.
****: Raw materials commodities and gas turbines are almost all that works well in the Russian economy. The commodity deal would be economically and fiscally important to Russia and the gas turbine deal would be a substantial prestige boost, at least if we sign a NDA that keeps us from bitching about the product quality afterwards.
****: The spying ones, not the counter-intel ones, of course.

P.S.: Not every single EU country would need to agree. INF was only a bilateral treaty and worked even though the Soviets  knew that legally the Europeans could cheat the spirit of the treaty by getting MRBMs. INF 2.0 could work just as well as long as the Russians trust that the European non-signatory powers would not cheat its spirit, either. Germany, Poland, Baltic countries, France, UK, Turkey, Italy and Spain would probably be required members.


Link dump August 2019

edit later this day: Blogger appears to have a problem with commenting right now. I myself cannot reply to comments using Google Account or Name/URL options any more.

It's important to have a people working in the government who live in the reality, not in some racist fantasyland.

Just so you guys know; I WILL ignore (and delete) crude attempts of explaining the crime stats in the one pic with a single correlation.
The insinuated/supposed correlation isn't even one, as anyone who looks at statistics the way a scientist looks at them (rather than someone in pursuit of bias confirmation).

I have accumulated so much knowledge about causes of crime (that should be common knowledge, but sadly isn't) that the two deleted primitive comments are way beyond my and thus the blog's dignity.
Don't get me started on how complicated and laborious it is to do actual research on topics such as causes of crime. One could have a discussion on scientific findings on the subject, but crude attempts to do primary research or insinuate primary research results that aren't is a no go. The two comments on the topic so far were on the 'nazis ate breakfast, thus breakfast causes world wars' level of 'thought'.

Besides; anyone who thinks the stats in that pic were the point of that section didn't get the point.

(Have you ever wondered, how certain things get into places they don't belong?)

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A good summary of the idiocy.

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The total costs of the Puma program (350 IFVs for the German army) is 5,989 million Euros. 17 million Euros per vehicle. I suppose the insanity is obvious.

We need to phase out (dishonourably disband) the procurement bureaucracy and blacklist all officers who were ever involved in it (save for the technical experts) or in corresponding jobs in the ministry of defence. Then we need to set up a new procurement bureaucracy with all-new procurement rules that employs the technical experts for nothing but their technical expertise. All executives in new equipment programs should preferably be retired SaZ officers (no active or former professional officers) with thorough project management training (much more than just the IPMA basic certificate!) and at least three years of civilian development project or procurement management expertise. Ordinary civilian procurement executives can be hired for the repeat purchase of spares, replacements and so on.