Neglected tech (I): Acoustic sensors


6 years earlier, similar blog post: https://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2016/10/acoustic-sensors.html

The typical forward observer of the Second World War did not enjoy a great vantage point, had no mast-mounted thermal camera with zoom and did not fly in an aircraft. The typical forward observer had thus a limited ability to see what's going on. I recommend looking around when you're driving in Europe; you can usually not see much farther than 2 km, unless there are some mountains or hills involved. There's usually something breaking up the line of sight, usually trees or buildings. There's additionally smoke from pyrotechnics, smoke from other burning stuff and dust involved, too. The typical WW2 forward observer needed to be able to assemble a situational picture mostly from what he heard. Only occasionally did he actually see enemies and could identify them as such.

The typical way of detecting howitzer batteries to counter them by counter-battery fires during the World Wars wasn't aerial reconnaissance (only). It was sound ranging, at night assisted by flash spotting when observers had a good vantage point (or were using a tethered balloon). The flash spotting could be countered with additives placed in front of the propellant charges, though. The sound ranging used the time delay between shot sounds arriving at different listening stations. It's a very capable approach when not too many guns fire at the same time, and not for too short a time (the sound takes about a minute to travel 20 km). Radar is much quicker and more accurate in calculating the battery positions, but it's dependent on treacherous emissions.

 Counter-sniper detectors were all the rage before the jammers against radio command-controlled mines (fashionably: "IED") took over the lead as most fashionable must-have tool for moving around as soldiers in distant countries that didn't attack us and where people want you dead. The principle was not always focused on the muzzle noise; at least some counter-sniper acoustic sensor systems were rather using the sonic boom of the supersonic bullet, an approach that would fall flat against subsonic bullets as I pointed out before.


I will argue that we should pay more attention to acoustic sensors despite the availability of radars. I will further argue that the acoustic sensors are complementary to radars and gain much utility by digital datalink networking that's been all the rage for two decades anyway.

First, let's look at what benefits a battlefield vehicle (tracked AFV, wheeled AFV, scout car, unmanned ground vehicle) could have from employing a 3D microphone array:

  • sniper detection (at least against supersonic bullets)
  • approx. detection of relatively nearby (~20 km) artillery
  • detection (triangulation) of AFV main gun shots (probably down to 30 mm calibre)
  • detection of firing 60...160 mm mortars (normal mortar pattern)
  • more accurate direction-finding (not triangulation) to tracked AFV noises
  • detection and direction-finding to multicopters
  • aiding in detecting and confirming subsonic anti-tank guided missiles
  • helicopter detection, including non-line of sight
  • limited non-cooperative IFF against helicopters
  • giving AFV crews acoustic sensing of their surroundings when the hatches are closed

The mass and power demands of such acoustic sensors are negligible in the overall picture, the costs affordable. The volume of such systems and how the clutter for example a tank's turret roof might be an issue in some cases - especially when we're talking about upgrades that get patched onto a tank.

And here's the beauty: We do not need to develop, produce and retrofit or issue a gazillion different acoustic sensors to make practically full use of the technology's potential! We just need to develop one type and field it, and even its integration into a tank with an already cluttered rooftop won't be too much of an issue, either.

I've argued that we need a large quantity of decentralised anti-drone shunter-killer systems to cope with saturating drone swarms of the near future. The old approach of fielding one dedicated anti-air system such as the Gepard SPAAG of the 1970's won't cut it because drones can attack from within trees, below  trees, from within buildings. The drones may switch between flying and ground movement. The typical attack of a drone swarm could be in areas of short lines of sight rather than over open fields. We need many defence systems to cover those areas, and their range can be short without this being much of a downside.

My recommendation is thus a remotely controlled weapon station (RCWS) with a rapid fire weapon (7.62 mm MG3 with high rate of fire might be enough, the maximum would be a 30x113 mmB autocannon with AHEAD shrapnel with .338 machineguns and 20x102 mm autocannons with self-destructing HE-T in between). Such a RCWS needs identification and targeting sensors (thermal camera with zoom, electro-optic camera with zoom, laser rangefinder), but this wouldn't be enough. Even an automated search (rotating gimballed sensor package on top) would not suffice in my opinion. The challenge wouldn't be the targeting, it would be 24/7 readiness and ability to detect threats in time. Diving loitering munitions that have already shut their engine down are a huge challenge, but at least all those rotary flying drones could very well be detected by acoustic sensors at useful distances. So the base of the RCWS should have a microphone ring and the gimballed sensor head on top should have a microphone as well (for calculating the elevation angle towards the noise source).

The very same RCWS could be mounted on a MBT, IFV, APC, other AFVs, 8x8 logistic vehicles, 6x6 logistic vehicles, 4x4 vehicles and some unmanned ground vehicles (UGV). Almost all vehicles except assault bridgelayer tanks and cabrio low profile scout cars would qualify (remember, I'm against red cross-marked vehicles on the battlefield). An American-style combat brigade has approx. 4,000 personnel and approx. 1,000 motor vehicles. Imagine it having approx. 900 such RCWS! Saturation attacks by drone swarms would still be possible, but the bar for them would be much higher.

All these vehicles would have a digital radio datalink capability anyway (yes, even the logistic vehicles), so all these sensors could transmit their interesting sound readings with timestamp and direction to a server at a battalion command post which would then be able to determine movements and firing positions of hostiles (and friendlies). Target acquisition drones could be tasked to look at the acoustic contacts and would find the exact position of AFVs and mortars. Air threat warnings could be issued about moving multicopter swarms or helicopters, and fibreoptic-guided missiles (or fast radio-controlled loitering munitions) might be launched to engage hostile helicopters and artillery beyond the line of sight.

All this, and not one radar would have directed its beam towards hostiles. Just the (anyway quite unavoidable) radio communications would be required, and those could use tiny sub-kilobyte message packets.

Quite importantly, the sensors could also confirm the absence of noise sources. A rumour about a tank assault could be debunked by the absence of tracked AFV noises in that area, for example. Reports about the absence of hostile activity are hugely useful to clear the fog of war, one should keep that in mind.




Part II: Soon, promised, I already know what it will be about.




edit March 2024: Ukraine uses a microphone network to detect and track flying kamikaze drones.



Zentraler Sanitätsdienst / medical services in a military

According to the Bundeswehr itself, the central medical service of the Bundeswehr counts 19,860 personnel out of a total of 183,116 (31st July 2022). This does not include soon-to-be officers who are studying at universities, those are counted separately. The personnel share is thus 10.8%. The Heer has a 34.3% share only! This is insane. The constitutional mission of the Bundeswehr is defence, not being a self-licking ice cone.

This large share is not all due to the greater ease of recruiting (particularly for officers, as they can easily transition into high-paying civilian jobs after their volunteer term). The Bundeswehr does traditionally maintain an oversized medical branch, and it did protect itself well against the otherwise widespread outsourcing to civilian contractors.

Overpriced, overweight, oversized MEDEVAC - a nightmare


(c) Wolpat

I will propose an entirely different way of doing business that would provide better care* AND reduce costs. But first, let me make a statement appraising the extremely important role of army medical services:

The confidence of the fighting men in getting good and timely medical treatment is an extremely valuable boost to morale. The effect of seeing a comrade in pain with a leg bone shattered by a bullet turns into sheer horror if you think that he'll either bleed to death, get his arm amputated or die in agony due to wound infections. Small unit leaders can get the minds of his comrades back on track to pursue a mission if the wounded man's pain gets treated (so he stops screaming), his bleeding stopped and blood loss compensated with intravenous liquid (better things than saline solution are available) supply. He needs to be moved away for medical treatment properly, and well-informed troops will understand that the survival rate can be near-100% if wounded men arrive at a surgical hospital within an hour, as even the really bad cases have a good chance of survival if they arrive there alive.

The army needs to take care of its soldiers and doing so does indeed help accomplishing missions. I don't doubt that at all, it's just that the bloated peacetime medical service is largely unnecessary and partially even detrimental to this.


So here's how I would do it (or rather, this is a first order proposal for a long-term transition):

(First, a precondition; the German military is for deterrence & defence, not for military adventure bullshit on distant continents. Any deployment outside of geographic Europe and NATO-included territories should be banned (save for tiny 2-men military observer missions).)


Every soldier has to join an ordinary Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (regulated health insurance, the most common kind of health insurance in Germany) and the Bundeswehr pays 100% (rather than the normal 50% employer co-pay) for the basic health insurance (no co-pay for any extras, but 100% reimbursement for dental treatments after service-related dental injuries and for certain jobs also 100% co-pay for eye surgery for improved vision). Illnesses and injuries in peacetime would thus overwhelmingly be dealt with by civilian medical care capacities.

The peacetime medical personnel gets reduced to

  • One medical doctor per battalion-sized garrison, ideally with a civilian government-employed medical doctor (Amtsarzt) as helping out as backup. This medical doctor (actually no doctor degree required) gives medical courses at the garrison, confirms when a soldier is really too sick for work and is part of the battalion HQ.
  • One combat medic with a combat medic backpack (and additional stuff stored in motor vehicles) per almost every** platoon meant for employment on the battlefield (not a member of the medical branch)
  • Soon-to-be reservists on basic training
  • Reservists on two-week refresher exercise
  • A tiny, tiny overhead at whole Bundeswehr level administration for medical topics, mostly busy trying to introduce improvements (methods, tools, consumables, vehicles) and getting necessary procurement initiated.

(No medical doctors would be needed for the navy, for I would disband the useless service.)

The mobilised/wartime medical support would look like this:

Every non-officer in the Bundeswehr completes a full First Aid course (with a theoretical and practical test that needs to be passed!) every 2nd year, army personnel additionally receives combat injury-specific courses during the other years (also biannually, also with mandatory pass test). All personnel has a personal injury kit (mostly stored in upper leg pouches due to the low weight) and at least one canteen with (ideally sterilised) water (essential for treating white phosphorous wounds, for example).

Combat medics at platoon level stop external bleeding, replace blood loss (avoid volume shock), treat injury pain, provide quick assembly stretchers and arrange for casualty evacuation together with the assistant platoon leader. These combat medics would still be armed with a self-defence subcarbine with 100 m iron sights and carry maybe 2x20 rounds for it. Some platoon combat medics would receive secondary training as a signaller, to watch radio traffic for the platoon leader when the primary signaller is not available. Infantry combat medics would additionally carry non-munitions supplies such as batteries and not have an active combat role (other than keeping an eye on radio traffic and the back).

Battalion battlegroups have a bandaging station with a medical doctor and a few medics. They provide extra blood loss compensation, improve the blood loss stop and take care of burn wounds to limit the risk of infections. These bandaging stations/vehicles are the transfer point between casualty evacuation (CASEVAC***, transport by ordinary vehicle) to medical evacuation (MEDEVAC, using a dedicated vehicle with a medic taking care of the wounded during transportation - usually 4x4 vehicles).  They need to be highly mobile and should generally match the mobility of the battlegroup (so at least two 4x4 vehicles of less than 8 tons gross weight with 1.2 m maximum fording depth ability, better a 20 ft ISO container on a 8x8 universal container/pallet transport vehicle with protected cab). I would prefer complete camouflage over Red Cross markings for these vehicles, as the Russian military doesn't respect the Red Cross anyway.

We should not rely on helicopters for MEDEVAC, but (mostly civilian) helicopters could be commandeered for the purpose (with a new crudely-applied paintjob) - maybe their employment is not too risky, after all. No gold-plated nightmares like NH90 would even only be maintained in service, neither for MEDEVAC nor for CASEVAC.

An (the) army corps maintains two pairs of leap-frogging (moving alternatingly) mobile surgical hospitals. These would not be container & tent villages, but rather prefer to make use of civilian buildings with man-movable equipment (same as headquarters above battalion). Tents would be backups that should be avoided. Such a mobile surgical hospital would be the place for surgical treatment (including for eye and burn injuries), largely drawing on civilian emergency room experience of their personnel. Much attention would be on maximising the survival rates of highest priority patients, so these surgical hospitals have to be within range for the golden hour for battlefield injuries of almost all combat troops (not forward scouts). The primary job of these mobile surgical hospitals would be to make the patients ready for transportation by civilian medical transport vehicles to civilian hospitals. It would take care of all patients until they can be transported. This explains why we'd need leap-frogging hospitals; whether the army corps advances or withdraws or simply moves laterally to a different region; one hospital of the pair would stay behind with those patients that cannot be moved except in most dire emergencies. The exact required quantity of hospitals is driven by the operations area of the Corps (all combat formations within one hour radius of a mobile surgery hospital) and this leapfrogging (x2).

The MEDEVAC vehicles and their crews (for movement of wounded to the mobile surgical hospitals) would form each one MEDEVAC Company per mobile surgical hospital, consisting almost entirely of reservist drivers and reservist medics.

Battalion-level garrison medical doctors exist as in peacetime (though typically being reservists in wartime) unless the garrison is largely empty (it might be in use for refresher training for reserves in wartime).

And that's it. The use of civilian medical care in peacetime improves the care and reduces costs, while the wartime strength of the medical service would largely depend on reservists, especially regarding medical doctors.

The key challenge would be to recruit the medical doctors and medics who would normally work in the civilian world, but be available as reservists. This is so far being done by giving people contracts for 17 years including the time when they study medical jobs at civilian universities.

We'd need to apply a different motivation than providing medical training while paying them on the job for many years. I basically propose to pay only as much as necessary; they get subsidies for their years at a civilian university and become reserve officers (medical doctors for surgery/emergency care and for eye emergency care) and reserve non-commissioned officers (medics) with little basic military training and a two-week refresher course once every 2nd year (ideally with much of the 2nd week overlapping with a non-computer exercise at corps or at last battalion battlegroup level). The pay would be good, the intrusions into their life kept minimal and they would be shielded from the usual red tape bollocks as much as feasible.

Now keep in mind; this was partially tailored to an army that's based in its own country, preparing for being deployed to a rather populous (not desert-ish, devoid of hospitals) developed world region for alliance defence. This approach would work just as well for Republic of Korea (save for the navy) or Taiwan (save for their stupid forward fortress islands and their navy) and any European country if it abstains from stupid military adventures such as the stupid occupation wars of the past two decades or the war of aggression against Iraq in 2003.

- - - - - 

You may have noticed that what I described is not extremely different from what's being done or meant to be done, but I

  • skipped insane waste of budget by relying more on civilian medical personnel,
  • opposed the container+tent village nonsense for field hospitals,
  • opposed MEDEVAC (dedicated vehicles) within the manoeuvre forces on the battlefield****
  • and opposed gold-plated helicopters due to their high costs and survivability concerns.



*: Disclosure: I received spectacularly bad dental "service" in the Bundeswehr in the 90's myself, and this poor treatment was directly caused by persisting systemic nonsense. The dental assistants were inexperienced and thus incompetent and did not find the correct tools for the dentist.

**: Not for tank platoons, for example. Platoons of mostly vehicle crews (also some logistics small units) could simply have some extra supplies such as IV solution and extra bandages stored in their vehicles and a member or two with extra training. It would be difficult to find a good place for a medic in such platoons.

***: By the way; vehicles suitable for CASEVAC (this includes APCs and if existing IFVs, both of which should have folding seats to enable transportation of stretchers and small pallets) should have equipment to mark themselves as in CASEVAC action, so for example military police knows to prioritise them in traffic. This could range from detachable blue lights to a red cross flag attached to the vehicle front.

****: I am in favour of having tracked protected carriers with a crew of two but no dedicated cargo or passengers, held at infantry battalion level. These kind of (H)APCs would move infantry, supplies, prisoners of war (evacuation only) and civilians (evacuation only) through dangerous areas of the battlefield, preferably with concealment (by smoke and terrain features), rarely support by neutralising or suppressive fires (usually only for infantry assault to objective). They would have thin folding seats on the sides of a separated transport compartment to offer maximum cargo and stretcher capacity with folded seats. These universal battlefield transports would be preferred for casualty evacuation and could easily store a couple litres of medical supplies. The infantry would normally ride in vehicles that have the very same (limited offroad, 1.2 m fording, 1000 km road range, 80 kph road march) mobility and protection (presumably mostly against 99% fragments of 152mm HE@50 m, maybe PKM ball bullets @100 m threat) as the vehicles of the battalion battlegroup support.




The ideal scout car


I want to go on record with my opinion about scout cars.

The background is not offensive scouting, certainly not offensive scouting over long distances. The core missions of such scout cars would be rather providing near reconnaissance at 10...20 km distance to friendly combat troops in a mobile land warfare situation (defence against invaders, so on own or allied territory) and defensive reconnaissance along the lines of this.

Both tasks would largely require surveillance (including acoustically) and defeating lightly armoured hostile scouts (BMP-2-like threats at most).

This is also a  relevant blog post  (this is no mistake, despite it seemingly being about something else initially).

The vehicle

4wd cabrio car (polycarbonate windscreen folding forward, tarp weather protection not for use on a mission), electric drive (one electric motor per axle) with range extender engine (even a two-stroke petrol engine without catalytic converter would be militarily acceptable) for rare long marches. A classic forward engine compartment holds the batteries, as an underfloor battery would increase the height of the chassis.

Variable height suspension.

Camouflage paint, camouflage mats, additional camouflage materials (burlap, netting, local plants), including reversible to adapt to two different environments in a matter of minutes. Various civilian tire profiles in use.

This is the ideal configuration; a civilian 4wd SUV could be converted into an acceptable vehicle in a day by field workshop.

Close, but too high and lacking a .50cal.

The crew

A crew of three; driver, commander/dismount and gunner

The equipment

  • eLORAN/GPS/Galileo precision navigation
  • microphone array (direction finding against tracked vehicles, engine noises, helicopters, mortar shots, gunshots from small arms to tank guns
  • IFF interrogator for aerial targets (as the one on the man-portable Stinger launcher)
  • IFF interrogator for land vehicles (if that's in use with the army)
  • fresh water and provisions for days
  • a tactical radio linked to vehicle power supply, allowing to feed info into a battle management system 
  • a hand-held thermal viewer + colour camera with GPS/Galileo/laser rangefinder/digital magnetic compass 
  • a high powered spotter scope
  • a small radio for the commander to transmit imagery from the handheld sensor through the tactical vehicle radio into a battle management system
  • tablet computer with battle management system / navigation software
  • collapsible ladder, equipment for fast-roping from a vantage point on a roof
  • a pintle-mounted 12.7x99 mm machinegun with red dot + thermal sight and SLAP munition
  • a few 1 kg anti-tank mines (magnetic fuse, shaped charge warhead, activated by radio signal for the next minute) 
  • tools to overcome fences and ditches, break into garages and houses
  • possibly unattended ground sensors (radio datalink, GPS/Galileo, battery and possibly additional PV power) mostly to detect traffic along roads (vibration wake-up, sound recording and wide angle photo for ID)
  • cheap radiation and chemical agent detector equipment
  • the crew itself may have carbines, mostly to deal with hostile stragglers (else pistols would be plenty firepower)

The tactics

  • These scouts would basically be everywhere behind FLOT*; no need to send scouts out before combat troops move into a certain direction; the scouts are already there and can report what's there and what's not and how usable the routes are.
  • Hostile scout vehicles short of main battle tanks could be defeated at about 500 m or more (depends on heading of the target). To upgun to a M621 20 mm gun would further increase this effective range, but I consider this unnecessary.
  • Threats would be detected, reported, even indirect fires could be called to defeat temporarily not moving threats.
  • The costs per team would be considerable (less than 250 k € should be possible, though), but super affordable compared to IFV-like scout vehicles.
  • The team and its vehicle would be super stealthy; silent, low silhouette, well-camouflaged, the vehicle would be easily hidden even in civilian car garages and ISO containers.**
  • The team has a third person*** to dismount while retaining mobility (driver) and firepower (gunner). The dismounting commander could inspect buildings including bridges and could interact with local civilians to gather information.

There is the question of why no armour? The scout team would need very, very bad luck to be hit by artillery or mortar effects. The weakest weapon that hostile scouts would likely use is a 14.5x114 mm machineguns with about 30 mm RHA penetration. Even a mere vertical all-round protection for the crew (not engine compartment) would amount to more than a ton weight and add much cost. Moreover, any armour at window level would greatly increase the silhouette and this is detrimental to survivability. Many hostile scout vehicles would have 30 mm guns with at least APDS, and to protect against this leads to a well-armoured IFV that cannot be hidden easily at all. The whole armour thing is a super slippery slope towards being big & expensive and thus unavailable in the desirable quantities.

The idea is furthermore that dedicated military vehicles might be used by the army/militia in some quantity, but could be reinforced and replenished by civilian conversions with about identical tactics. Representatives of the latter category should thus also be used on ~10% of the exercises in the field.



*: Forward line of own troops. Likely not really a "line", and certainly not a straight one. It's just the briefest way to say that they're not infiltrating to scout between hostiles.

**: The option of hiding the vehicle and deploying the acoustic and handheld viewer sensors to an observation post for a dismount is a good reason not to choose a mast-mounted sensor as in the Fennek vehicle.

***: I see absolutely no reason why a volunteer woman would not be suitable for this team, so I did not write "man".



It's the four big levers and the basics, stupid!


The recent wars (Azerbaijan-Armenian and Russo-Ukrainian) confirm and -to those who pay attention- remind us of what really matters in defence, and it's not what you normally read about.

Only a few key levers absolutely need to be covered with good-enough hardware, even against a 1st rate opposition:

  1. You need to be able to destroy many main battle tanks.
  2. You need to be able to very largely mitigate the effects of hostile air power.*
  3. You need to have effective support fires.**
  4. You need to be able to usually maintain quick (message) communications***

Then everything else is about will (morale), good-enough doctrine (what is being taught & trained), good-enough training (quantitatively & qualitatively)**** and getting basics right.

The latter includes avoiding building a hollow force.*****

Your doctrine doesn't need major updates over what was state of the art (of war) up to the 1960's. Most things haven't changed much anyway, and (almost?) all armies are incapable of matching that level or tactical, operational and strategic proficiency anyway.

To get the basics right is laborious, inglorious, largely the job of non-commissioned officers and it's hardly profitable for the arms industry. Politicians know much about allocating more funds to the military, and next to nothing about what basics their army and air force don't get right, and how to fix that.


*: "very largely" ~ 80+% / This does not require big, expensive hardware. All that it takes could be distributed on civilian pickup SUVs.

**: Artillery shooting 105 mm HE shells of WW2-ish quality and range would suffice, as long as the gun and its crew are survivable enough to pull it off.

***: "usually" ~ 80% connectivity even in face of a main effort attack / "quick" = quicker than motorcycle couriers, so by cable or by light or by radio frequency comms. Such quickness is important to achieve responsive (and thus effective) support fires. High bandwidth is no requirement. One 100 bytes message per minute is plenty bandwidth on a company leader to battalion HQ line.

****: Well-trained troops have better morale and are incredibly more effective. A well-trained reservists crew could be reassembled after two years of civilian life and be 10x as useful with a Soviet-era (1983) Buk M1 air defence system than the average Russian crew could be with the newest (2006) Buk M3 air defence system, for example.

*****: If you raise an army of a thousand howitzers, you better also buy millions of shells, fuzes and proportional quantities of propellant charges for it and store those properly. So for a thousand howitzers better have at least two million shells, and if that's too much in your opinion then a thousand howitzers are too many. If you think you can make do with 200,000 shells, then don't buy and train for more than a hundred howitzers. One might disagree on how many shells per gun exactly are appropriate and the correct figure may be different for Singapore than for Vietnam, for example. Yet the figure surely is between 1,000 shots and about 10,000 shots. At certain high round per gun counts you'd additionally need to be have certain spare parts and the corresponding maintenance & repair capacity, for that will be needed long before 10,000 rounds can be spent. .


Adapting to a paper tiger threat


I find it remarkable that Russia failed so badly at mobile warfare.

The initial invasion was more akin to the Czechoslovakia occupations than to mobile warfare. This failed in the North due to stern opposition and enhanced rasputitsa (mud season reinforced by intentional flooding of some areas).

There were some -successively less ambitious- two-pronged encirclement attempts in the East. All of them failed to even only breakthrough on both sides.

Ever since that, Russia has gained very little terrain, and only so with massive use of artillery and very slow advances to limited objectives.

There's practically no hints of the mobile warfare competence of the Warsaw Pact armies left that was feared by NATO throughout the Cold War and rested on what the Soviet Union had shown to be capable from late 1942 to autumn 1945, especially Operation Bagration and the Manchurian Operation.

It's going to be most important to understand the reasons for this displayed low capability. To understand the reasons may help us understand how long this ineptitude will last (Can it be reformed away in a few years?) and inform us about indicators that tell us when it gets or got resolved.

My suspicion is that they are too stretched thin to be able to form operational reserves, as even mechanised formations need to hold the front-line. They may also have hoped to break Ukrainian morale through artillery bombardment during the summer.

- - - - -

Russia is still the main land threat to Europe, as China is far far away. EU and European NATO land warfare capabilities should be very largely oriented against Russian aggression against NATO/U. We can safely cut military expenses to a lower level if we properly understand how weak Russia is and why it is so weak. It makes absolutely no sense for our societies as a whole to go into a military spending frenzy now. Military spending is government consumption. All unnecessary (excessive) government consumption is a bloodletting against our own prosperity.

We can radically change into WHAT land power capabilities we spend our military budgets in order to achieve maximum efficiency when and if we understand the Russian land warfare capabilities. Right now it appears that a few key weapon systems suffice to counter Russian armoured vehicles and to largely degrade the effect of Russian air power over the battlefield.

Infantry is not really an arm of decision; it sweeps, observes and holds, and that's it. Massed infantry attacks seem not only inappropriate, but also plainly inefficient.

This leaves artillery. Russian artillery excels with quantity while being largely devoid of quality. We need to counter this quantity, and better than by just blowing up some munitions depots with GUMLRS missiles as the Ukrainians do. Russia can cope with this by dispersing its munition dumps and improved counterespionage may enable proper hiding of the same.

We know the tools of the trade that counter artillery. Artillery radars, sound ranging and flash spotting (the latter especially by aerial platforms) can be used to detect firing artillery and mortars. Other sensors (mostly airborne ones) can be used to track the artillery or mortar system as it changes position after firing. Precision-guided munitions and up to a certain range also dumb or merely trajectory-corrected artillery fires can engage the tracked artillery or mortar system when it's not on the move any more.

We could also jut detect the position and then immediately send fibre-optic guided missiles out that could engage the firer system even on the move. Nothing came of German and American efforts to make such a missile system ready, but the Serbians have one and the Japanese could offer us theirs for license manufacturing. The Israeli systems of this kind are at most suitable for counter-mortar fires due to short range.

So we could fix some of your shortcomings (spare parts stocks, deficient battlefield air defences, munition stocks), put some emphasis on defeating a quantity-rich Russian artillery and focus on getting the force design most efficient based on what we know. Nothing of this requires a sustained increase on military spending in free Europe.



*: Russia overran Georgia in 2008, so apparently the Georgians had a spectacularly bad army, below even Arab standards. Well, they were trained by the U.S. armed forces, which was historically a near-100% guarantee to lose the next (and often also the ongoing) war. All Western army training missions were disasters or are disasters-in-waiting. They seem more serve to corrupt the indigenous army with preparations for a Western-controlled coup d'état than to be a real military training mission.