2019/08/10

INF 2.0

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

previously:

S O

*: 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.
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23 comments:

  1. POTUS doesn't exist for Europe's benefit.
    The US is far more concerned with dealing with China in the Pacific than keeping Berlin safe.

    The EU is smaller economically than the US.
    In another decade, it'll be smaller than China.

    You cant be a poor backwater and expect the world to revolve around you.

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    1. And this is related to the topic how?

      BTW, the GDP of the EU is slightly smaller than the GDP of the U.S. in currency exchange rates, but it's clearly bigger in purchasing power parity terms. So whatever you meant to convey was based on a false premise.

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    2. After the horrors of the second world war reduced Europe to rubble and wiped out a generation of its male population, Europe was still more than half of the worlds economy.
      Europe WAS the world.
      The World ordered its affairs based on what Europe wanted.

      But now, after 75 years of decline, that is simply not the case.

      You keep saying, Trump does X/Y/Z and its inconvenient for Europe, but you dont seem able to grasp that nobody cares if they inconvenience Europe any more, in fact, its actually a goal for some people.

      "These are my three pillars for my assertion that conventional 500...3,500 km precision-guided missiles are a terrible security threat to Europe."
      "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."

      Not necessarily disputing this, just, and?
      Why should the US care if the defence plans of Europe are thrown in to disarray, any more than if the defence plans of Brazil are?

      "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."
      Why would Canada agree to that?

      "Germany, Poland, Baltic countries, France, UK, Turkey, Italy and Spain would probably be required members."
      You may not have noticed, but the UK and EU are in the throes of about the most severe falling out since we last bombed Germany.
      The UK would likely buy in to a US SRBM program *because* it complicates the defence picture for Europe, you cant threaten us if your eastern flank is volatile, for what possible reason would we want to free up your armed forces to be used against us?

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    3. The lying moron did stupid, and harmed the security interests of allies. This is a completely justified statement regardless of how important Europe is. BTW, given the foreign policy incompetence and smaller de facto economy and much smaller population, the U.S. should learn about its own insignificance.

      "Why should the US care if the defence plans of Europe are thrown in to disarray, any more than if the defence plans of Brazil are?"

      A good ally does. A poor ally deserves to be treated accordingly. Hence I don't think the banning of USN ships would be too bad.

      "Why would Canada agree to that?"

      It already does (see Goose Greene) and only stands to gain with some economic activity in its still-wastelands.

      "You may not have noticed, but the UK and EU are in the throes of about the most severe falling out since we last bombed Germany."

      Not really, only the dysfunctional right wing has such issues with Continental Europe. Besides, the RN and RAF are near-useless for actual deterrence & defence without INF 2.0 or the described emergency measures. Having a hissy fit does not change the military situation.

      "for what possible reason would we want to free up your armed forces to be used against us?"

      That looks like an idiotic line to me. There may be a Brexit, but nobody talks about the UK leaving NATO.

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    4. "The lying moron did stupid, and harmed the security interests of allies. "
      But why should he care?
      Why should the US put US security at risk to avoid disrupting Europe?

      "There may be a Brexit, but nobody talks about the UK leaving NATO."
      You are talking about barring the US Navy from Europe, and yet believe NATO still exists?

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    5. You're operating with way too many nonsensical assumptions. Killing INF did not serve U.S. security in any way. I literally wrote an entire blog post about that.
      Besides, he's 'disrupting Europe' for idiotic giggles. Look at how he promotes Brexit, neonazis and insulting European countries. That's a moron at work, you shouldn't pretend that such behaviour is reasonable.

      "You are talking about barring the US Navy from Europe, and yet believe NATO still exists?"

      INF banned American missiles from Europe and NATO persisted. It's really only an issue if one stupidly insists on turning it into an issue.
      Besides, you should step and look at world history. It's not normal for a navy to patrol distant waters unless it has a colonial empire.
      You should also step back and read the North Atlantic Treaty full text. It doesn't mention permanent deployment of armed forces in allied territory.

      You seem to have normalised the lying moron (and the unusual features of NATO), and that is reflecting poorly on you.

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  2. Well, aircraft aren't one trick ponies meant for ground-attack. To some degree, things like air-defence, reconnaissance and striking mobile targets require aircraft. UAVs aren't yet at the required level to reliably fill those roles. Having resources available for ground-attack is an added bonus of operating a fleet of aircraft. Striking fixed targets is definitely a domain where ballistic missiles would be useful though. A saturation attack would be incredibly hard to counter, though with proper dispersion and hardening of infrastructure, not entirely impossible. Ballistic missiles are still quite expensive.

    When it comes to the possible INF 2.0. I could maybe understand Italy, Germany and France joining it, but what about countries like Poland? Surely there would be political pushback within Europe. I'm also not sure whether it would be possible to make Russia hold up their side of the bargain properly. They could easily transport such missiles from the other side of the country by trains if they really wanted. The issue is quite tricky to be honest.

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    1. You need to compare a strike fighter fleet to SBRM+SAM batteries once you take the fight against hostile air power into account. I merely kept it simple.

      Poland would be among the great beneficiaries of INF 2.0 - look at the removal or SRBM from Kaliningrad Oblast that I've put in. Right now, practically all Polish investments in high value targets such as combat aircraft are pointless and an expression of incompetence.

      Ballistic missiles are expensive if you buy NATO designs. You could just as well buy Indian or Israeli designs, and the Russians don't have a habit of making missiles needlessly expensive either.

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    2. Poland would still be unlikely to join, not because it wouldn't be beneficial, but because of "other" political reasons.

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    3. "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."

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  3. How do you get Russia to sign such an agreement without the US or China involved?

    Maybe the EU needs to start a nuclear IRBM/SRBM program. That seemed to scare them enough into INF 1.0.

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    1. Well, supposedly the Russians have no MRBM/IRBM program for land-based missiles, so one should not need many bargaining chips...

      Serious interest in purchases of Indian & Israeli missiles as well as in additional Apache/SCALP/Storm Shadow/TAURUS/SOM ALCMs might do the trick.

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    2. Well, you'd want any INF 2.0 "sticks" to be land-based, since otherwise their air bases are subject to the same destabilizing attacks from ballistic missiles you're trying to eliminate.

      I suppose your plan does have some definite "carrots" for Russia. One being effectively kicking the US Navy out of Europe.

      "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)"

      Since virtually every US DDG and submarine, and soon aircraft carrier, carry missiles like this, they would be banned from EU territorial waters.

      "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)***"

      This could effectively ban Predator-style UAVs, since they can carry Hellfires and bombs. Really any UAV that has a 50kg or greater payload, as they could be easily converted to a slow cruise missile.

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    3. The USN would likely simply continue to cruise the Med just in case a POTUS wants some of the brown people countries there bombed. Morocco might offer them a base.

      Regarding Predators; I suppose the definition of "missile" includes that it cannot be re-used.
      In fact, combat drones could be used to circumvent the rules listed - but that would be a violation in spirit, just as would have been British land-based cruise missiles during INF 1.0. I suppose the combat drone arsenal would not be grown to disarming first strike sizes.

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    4. Spain might balk at Rota losing a major customer. Italy might be the same with NSA Naples. Or they might not. Assuming Brexit, one could imagine the US Sixth Fleet relocating there.

      USN port visits would be effectively eliminated.

      US Army units with PrSM might fall in this treaty.

      USAF units may as well, if they can carry JASSM-ER.

      At that point NATO might as well be dead.

      Yes, the Russians would love this.

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    5. Joint exercises with the US in EU territorial waters, land, or air spaces would have to go, or be heavily curtailed.

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    6. "Assuming Brexit, one could imagine the US Sixth Fleet relocating there."

      UK was mentioned as one of the necessary signatories ("European NATO").

      "Joint exercises with the US in EU territorial waters, land, or air spaces would have to go, or be heavily curtailed."

      I don't see much value in surface USN for European security anyway. SSN ops would be unaffected.

      "At that point NATO might as well be dead."

      INF 2.0 wouldn't be the true culprit. Besides, I've long been convinced that the biggest utility of NATO is to keep Europe and U.S. from becoming antagonists. That function would be gone if the lying moron stays in power anyway.

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    7. Effectively kicking the US military out of EU territory would end NATO. So yes, passing INF 2.0 would be the culprit.

      Without it, NATO could continue to mutter along, hopefully outlasting Don the Con.

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    8. I wrote a whole blog post once about how very much NATO has warped the idea of an alliance. The deployment of troops on allied territory during peacetime has hardly ever been part of actual alliances. Moreover, it's no requirement of the North Atlantic Treaty, save for the contribution of staff to NATO HQs (which would not be affected).

      The lying moron killed off INF 1.0, and avoiding the possibility of a giant conventional MRBM/IRBM first strike by Russia is more important than what little the Americans actually contribute to European security in my opinion.

      So I don't see the hypothetical INF 2.0 as a NATO killer. If anything, it's the lying moron and a warped perception of what an alliance is or what constitutes NATO.

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    9. I think it would be very hard for the US to stay in NATO (both politically and practically) if the EU effectively banned US warships from entering EU territory.

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    10. USN ships with nuclear reactor are banned from several allies' ports, including Japanese. It's only a big deal if you want to make it a big deal.

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    11. That's not the case for Japan. The US permanently deploys a CVN at Yokosuka (CVN-76) and there are regular SSN port visits.



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    12. I'm sorry. New Zealand and Denmark banned nuclear-powered ships from their ports. Not sure about Italy.
      In Japan it's merely contentious.

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