A president they deserve?


I saw an interesting thought on the internet: What if Kim Jong-Un would run for president in the U.S. (assuming he was eligible; natural born citizen and not an insurrectionist).

I suppose the person who wrote that thought meant to imply that a certain party would fall for such a candidate. I'm not sure said person got right which party would do so.

Kim Jong-Un (c)DonkeyHotey

What would Kim Jong-Un bring to the table?

  • He's fat.
  • He's demanding total loyalty.
  • He's got a weird haircut.
  • He wants to jail political opponents.
  • He wants total loyalty of law enforcement to himself (rather than to the law).
  • He  wants total loyalty of the judiciary to himself (rather than to the law).
  • He boasts all the time (or lets mouthpieces do it for him).
  • He loves the allegiance of "his" generals.
  • He would love cheerleading news and pundits.
  • He loves to play with rockets.
  • He brings family members into positions of power.
  • He sets up a family member as likely successor.
  • He doesn't respect women other than select family members.
  • He would promise to punish the deviants.
  • He's talking a lot about how he brings greatness to his country (or lets mouthpieces do so for him).
  • He would be a nobody without inheriting stuff from his father.
  • He's a sociopath.
  • He's a serial liar.
  • He's issuing threats very often.
  • He's an attention whore.
  • His accomplishments are propaganda lies - all of them.
  • He would promise a proper border protection - with strong fences, landmines and military personnel ready to shoot at intruders.
  • He doesn't believe in any god or goddess.
  • He's exploiting ideological preparation of the country for own political gain.
  • He's in favour of the death sentence, even for innocents.
  • He loves holding events where citizens subjects cheer him.
  • He's never shown any capability of intelligent discussion of any topic.
  • He wants to live in a gilded palace.
  • The economic well-being of fellow countrymen doesn't interest him.
  • His party and country shall follow the leader principle.
  • He pretends to be a strong leader, but he's terribly fearful and a pussy.
  • He's in favour of torture and abuse of prisoners.
  • His foreign policy makes him hated all over the world.
  • He's a laughingstock.

We already know that this is an offer that yields 47% of the popular vote in a U.S. presidential election.

I suppose we Europeans should wake up and realise that large demographics of allied countries have left our civilization. It's not just the Russians who are uncivilized. All three serial aggressor countries are at least 1/4th uncivilized.



also related:





The Suez Canal issue


The naval-minded people love to pretend that maritime trade is a bigger thing than it is. They usually use the metric of % world trade in tonnage, while the rest of the world thinks of trade in terms of value (which shows the importance of services and air freight).

Now there's some piracy (considering the Houthi forces as non-state actors) against Red Sea traffic.

Personally I don't mind the impoverished Yemen having some couple thousand brand-new cars, but such piracy does make ship operators shy away from that route.

I don't advocate that navies from faraway places should police the sea there, but every country is free to waste its money on that, of course. The most obvious navy responsible for the Red Sea is the Egyptian Navy, which nominally has 20 frigates and corvettes in service and the Red Sea is their backyard. The second most-obvious navy is the Saudi one.

Egypt should be especially motivated to secure the Red Sea because an impeded Red Sea maritime traffic means reduced Suez Canal transit fees (FY 2022/3: USD 8.8 bn) for Egypt.

But there's the pretence that European wealth depends on the Suez Canal. Just how important is it really to us?

The short term damage by a partially or entirely blocked Suez Canal is difficult to estimate, but estimation becomes much easier when you ignore transitory effects, as we should in regard to strategymaking and grand strategy.

8.8 bn $ (about 8 bn €) - why don't the Egyptians levy greater transit fees?*

Presume the Suez Canal's benefit to the shipping companies is 100 bn $ per year. How much of that would the Egyptians skim off through transit fees? I say no less than 60%, no more than 90%. Less than 60% would be stupid, as they could enrich themselves much more without provoking too much diversion of traffic and more than 90% would too much risk to do exactly that in the long term.

I'm going to argue here that the Suez Canal is not a terribly big deal in the long term for our wealth in Europe, so I'm going to give the other side of the argument the benefit of the doubt and assume that the Egyptians only skim off 60% of the benefit.

Now if 8.8 bn $ is 60%, then 100% is 14.67 bn $. With 8.8 bn $ of the benefit going to Egypt, that leaves 5.87 bn $ benefit for the rest of the world (the remaining 40%).

Now again I will give benefit of the doubt to the opposing side of the argument and pretend that all of those 5.87 bn $ benefit are to Europeans, not to their overseas trade partners.

The GDP of the European Union is 16.75 trillion $ and the GDP of the United Kingdom is 3.09 trillion $. That's a combined GDP (approximating European GDP, but not all of it) of 19.84 trillion $.

5.87 bn $ is about 0.03 % of European GDP.

Germany's GDP is 4.08 trillion $, 20.56% of the GDP mentioned above for EU+UK. So about 1.2 billion $ share of estimated Suez canal net benefit fall on Germany (the figure would be a bit higher if we use share of goods trade instead of share of GDP). 1.2 bn $ per annum is not a big figure for Germany. It's again about 0.03% of GDP.

There are 448 million people in the EU and 67 million in the UK. 5.87 bn $ distributed among 515 million people is 11.40 $ per capita. Basically, one meal at MacDonald's.

I dare say the Suez Canal is not of great importance to Europeans in the long term. The short term transitory effects of its (hypothetical) total blockade would be troublesome, but its importance drowns in statistical noise in the long term.

One might consider us responsible for anti-piracy work in the Red Sea IF there wasn't Egypt. But there IS Egypt, which is the main beneficiary of the Suez Canal and thus of Red Sea maritime traffic. Yet Westerners are so Western-centric and so eager to play with their own military toys that I haven't even seen anyone else mentioning that Egypt should secure Red Sea trade so far.

And I don't give a shit about Houthis pretending to fight Israel and Arabs trying to avoid looking like they defend Israel. The Houthis are attacking ships rather indiscriminately and the Saudis have bombed them for eight years already. If the Egyptian tyrant insists on pretence over hard cash, then Egypt deserves to lose billions of dollars, and media should make sure Egyptians understand this. Fuck them, there's absolutely no reason why Westerners should clean up the mess caused by foreign people playing dumb. We got enough of a mess to clean up in topics where we're actually at fault.

Sometimes it's empowering to say "So what?" and to shrug shoulders at miniscule economic losses rather than to allow foreigners and your own irrationally to drive your actions. 

Next time you see economic interests used as motivation for military action try to look up how big said economic interest is. The supposed oil fields around the Falkland islands used as part of the reasoning for reconquest of the islands in 1982 are still not pumping any oil.



*: The transit fees are set to rise by 5 to 15% in 2024, but that doesn't change the overall argumentation here substantially. It doesn't mean a 5 to 15% increase in transit fee revenue anyway, for some shipping would be diverted on cost grounds. Future fees should not be compared to past GDP, so I simply used the most recent figures available.

P.S.: Everytime I wrote "Red Sea" I meant the Gulf of Aden as well, of course.



On people going nuts and supporting Hamas


We've seen some strange behaviour by some people in the past weeks. Some people who were famous for something (often advocacy) began to side not just with Palestinians/Arabs, but even with Hamas.

It reminded me of an old blog post of mine:


I think you need to be a certain kind of person to dare leave the conventional consensus and be an outspoken champion for a change of the status quo. This readiness to turn against the mainstream doesn't necessarily correlate with great judgment, of course.

All those gold bugs are plain idiots when it comes to economics and monetary policy in particular, for example. They get every single it 180° wrong and don't care that all the evidence is against them. Still, they are people who dare to turn against the mainstream opinion on money.

So people may have become famous for some advocacy against the mainstream position, and maybe they were right on that one - but that doesn't mean their opinion is a smart one on another topic that they chose to become outspoken about.

Just as famous businessmen are usually delusional when they think they can give good economic policy advice.

Yes, I'm self-aware that I wade into many different topics and am greatly at risk of being wrong in one or another. See this about that.





Armoured raids fuel logistics


Let's have a quick thought experiment: How deep could an armoured battlegroup raid (including a fighting withdrawal)?

The Leopard A4 has a "road range" of approx. 500 km (it differs a little from vehicle to vehicle, and this isn't comparable to the range metrics of a private car). The first approximation is that the raid could go 250 km deep.

Leopard 2A4 (c) böhringer friedrich (unchanged)

But the raid wouldn't be all on roads, so let's use the mixed surface range from the Swedish trials that I wrote about ages ago. The practical range was then 167 km. Later Leopard 2 versions are all heavier, so they would probably not even reach 150 km in such a test. So let's say the 2nd approximation is that the raid could go about 83 km deep.

Such a raid would not go linear, of course. IIRC a rule of thumb from WW2 operations was that you drive 100 km to get 50 km forward. The third approximation is thus that the raid could go about 42 km deep.

There was an old rule of thumb form aviation to always have 25% extra fuel in order to not run out of fuel in case of headwinds, navigational errors - stuff happens. Let's apply a 20% safety margin to the armoured raid - so one 1/6th less range. The fourth approximation is thus that the raid goes to a depth of merely 35 km.

A tank raid may be unattractive - who wants to give up terrain, after all? So maybe one is more interested in just advancing - but you cannot advance to the limits of your fuel without excessive risks, so an armoured battlegroup advance would still not go 2x35=70 km, more likely the limit is near 50 km.  This figure could be pushed up by driving more on road as the Russians did in February 2022 (risky and not promising), but not beyond 100 km.

A tank is famously characterized by protected firepower with mobility on the battlefield; the famous triad of firepower, mobility and protection (Germans sometimes add "Führungsfähigkeit" as 4th pillar, which is about human action, sensors and communications).

Sadly, the neglect of the variable "range" in "mobility" limits its mobility to the battlefield. Operational actions beyond the battlefield into areas without battle-ready opposing forces is hardly possible without the support of fuel-carrying logistic vehicles. So how many offroad-capable (8x8 or 10x10) logistics vehicles with diesel fuel would accompany the battlegroup? How many at least bulletproofed such vehicles (protection also for the diesel fuel, not just for the cabin) do we have? AFAIK the count is zero.

The consequences of fighting opposing forces of low capability in sandy regions and especially of training on tiny unrealistic army training grounds are merciless. Logistics is about supplying, carrying and living off the land. We need to carry more fuel for more mobility, for else even a frontline breakthrough could not be exploited decisively.

The German military of WW2 was sometimes unable to stop Red Army offensives by fighting the spearheads and resorted to accelerating that they ran out of supplies instead, moving the culminating point in their favour. Ground attack aircraft did better shoot up supply transport on the road than to try destroy the very difficult tank targets in the field. American logistics vehicles deliveries (Lend-Lease) allowed the Soviets to push the culminating point farther ahead of their railheads. This is how you think about operational art when you don't have overwhelming firepower, one side has the ability to break through and you're not mentally restricted to tactical peacetime training on small training areas.








Too simple minds

Humans have a troublesome tendency.

They do often times identify one evil, and then follow a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" policy due to a "the enemy of evil is good" logic. That's obviously untrue.

Sometimes the enemy of evil is evil as well. Sometimes someone whom you identified as the bad guy in one context is the good guy in another context. Vice versa

Particularly zealous people seem to be particularly vulnerable to this (I suppose it's a) logical fallacy.

An example is Noam Chomsky, who correctly identifies some evil in Reagan's foreign policies and then stuck with the mind set that the U.S. is an evil imperial power. Worse; he all-too often depicts adversaries of the U.S. as good when they're clearly not.

Another example is Julian Assange. He helped to expose war crimes of the Obama administration and was opposed harshly by the same. This turned him into a hater of the Democrats, without any consideration about whether the Republicans wouldn't have been just as mean, if not worse - both in Iraq and to him.

There's a similar nonsensical illogic at play regarding the conflict in the Levante.

Some people (who am I kidding? Almost all people!) appear to be incapable of managing enough information in the mind in parallel to think of political actors as separate of the people as a whole or to maintain the thought that being victim in one context isn't in conflict with being perpetrator in another context.

And don't get me started on how incompetent the notion of war crimes is being handled. Hardly anyone ever read the Geneva Conventions (officers should know the basics, and I can at least say that I read much of the full text of the conventions).

Simple bogeyman thinking appears to rule. Most people appear to pick one hunter-gatherer clan to side with and that other hunter-gatherer clan is eeeevil!

Exceptions are being treated as if they were inconsistent or hypocrites, while I respect them for at least being able to think a bit more advanced than a caveman - even if the conclusions aren't mine.

The worst are of course the racists, who simply force their whole racism bollocks on the topic.

- - - - - - - - -

So in case anyone is ever confused about my stance:

  1. Israel has to leave the occupied territories and go back to its pre-1967 borders. The state of Israel is only legitimate within the pre-1967 borders.
  2. The U.S. is at fault for #1 not happening due to its unethical UNSC vetoes. It does thus deserve a major share of the blame for the mess.
  3. Any talk about pre-1967 borders being indefensible is bollocks. It's militarily untrue and it doesn't matter anyway. Singapore isn't exactly defensible either, but that doesn't mean it gets to steal land from Malaysia. The security interests of one country do never justify territorial expansion or occupation of foreign lands. No exceptions!
  4. The Geneva Conventions bind the signatory power Israel. Violations thereof are war crimes.
  5. Intentional killing, injuring, torturing or abducting civilians is a crime (at least in customary international law). It's obvious that all parties do or did at some point commit this crime.
  6. Israel has a right to close its borders with Gaza, but a naval blockade of Gaza just because Gaza was ruled by a disliked political faction was never legitimate.
  7. There's no violence followed by counterviolence in the Levante conflict any more. It's all counterviolence by now.
  8. Assassinations of non-combatants or against a country without state of war are illegal and deserve sanctions.
  9. Casual and habitual bombing of foreign countries at will is not acceptable, not legal, never legitimate and must not be normalised.
  10. The European politicians have been worthless  in the Levante conflict since 1967 (after when France ceased to export weapons to Israel in reaction to it attacking neighbours with French weapons). That's the nicest way to put it that I've come up with.
  11. Being a victim in one context does not authorise being a perpetrator in any context.
  12. The talk of "Staatsräson" in Germany is bollocks. The German government has to serve German interests, not foreign ones. The word "Staatsräson" or "Staatsraison" does not appear in the constitution, nor does the word "Israel". All this "Staatsräson" talk is bollocks of the same high grade as the "Supergrundrecht" bollocks. Keep in mind #10.


The conflict in the Levante is a big mess. Only fools find any "good" party there. Our (Western) handling of the conflict is an embarrassment. It shows the widespread failure of intellect and the all-encompassing worthlessness of Western politicians in this conflict.

The best path to cooling the conflict in the Levante down does include an end to the U.S. veto policy in the UNSC, which is not in sight. Democrats stick to Israel regardless of what its government does (short of nuclear genocide) becuase they don't want to lose the votes of New York City. Republicans stick to Israel regardless of what its government does (limit unclear) because they have a strong pseudo-Christian nutjob faction in their lying moron-dominated party that insists on supporting Israel due to one or another moronic bible interpretation.



Fahrer im Turm


There was a German-American project for a joint main battle tank development in between the Leopard and Leopard 2 development. It was too technologically ambitious, too expensive and the two countries could not agree on a common approach or even type of main gun. The project failed by about 1970 already (the Soviets were much more successful with their technologically daring tank project, which became the T-64).


The turret is so huge for a serious reason: The driver was in the turret. This solves some problems (especially how he gets out through the hatch real quick in case of fire and main gun just above the hatch) and added huge problems.

I suppose that modern technology with all-round cameras has largely overcome those added problems, albeit maybe not for  all kinds of battlefield vehicles.

A self-propelled gun (SPG) is a category of vehicles that does not require much line of sight combat capability, especially not on the move. So I suppose a tracked (nowadays continuous composite bandtracks) SPG could make use of a driver in the turret. SPGs have the gun in a certain travel position (usually straight forward) during almost all movement anyway.

The further crew could be two men for loading (one for shells, the other for propellant modules). Manual loading with just some power ramming is fairly cheap (unless you insist on active duty personnel all year round), very reliable, low maintenance, very adaptable and there's more personnel for maintaining and securing the vehicle than with a more or less extreme autoloader concept. The driver would be busy driving while on the move, but could be the commander while in firing position. One of the loaders could watch the flatscreens and make decisions for crew on the move. A fourth person would increase volume and weight for allow for a conventional (permanent) commander function and would also add much (but likely not important) combat capability on the move.

Drive-by-wire was extremely ambitious during the 1940's to 1960's, but today it's nothing special any more. A driver in the turret could steer the vehicle easily with drive-by-wire.

What's the benefit of having a driver in the turret? You get rid of some ergonomics issues (see the driver escape hatch problem of Boxer SPG) and the vehicle can be a lot (almost 1.5 m) shorter. The vehicle would be reduced to frame, suspension, wheels, bandtracks, a front engine compartment and a big turret. A shorter vehicle is a lighter vehicle, but it would also be less comfortable on rough ground (more pitching movement).






A simplified view on WW2 Eastern Front


There are occasionally distorting publications that overemphasize certain things or pieces of equipment in conventional warfare, and WW2 in particular. I will try to guide the reader's thoughts about such subjects to certain essentials.

From the German perspective, this is what was a must-have (beyond mere sustainment and trivial things) to defeat the Soviet forces in WW2:

#1: Capture many POWs

The primary tool for this were highly mobile (enough suitable vehicles and fuel) "fast divisions" (not just tank divisions) that enabled encirclements with not too porous pocket walls.

#2: Kill or maim many Red Army soldiers

The tool for this was ~80% indirect fires; howitzers and mortars. The quantity of available HE munitions was more important than qty of guns. The conflict saw much more KIA than POW in 1942-1945, as the Germans had lost the combination of factors that enabled grand encirclements.

#3: Reduce Red Army operational mobility and reduce its supply throughput

The tool for this was (night) bombing or railway infrastructures and especially "railheads" (where supplies were unloaded). The venerable He 111H of 1940 was fine for this even as late as 1945 on the Eastern Front.

#4: Stall Red Army attacks

Post-WW2 literature recounted that more losses were inflicted on Red Army assault troops by shelling marshalling locations prior to the assault than during the assault. About half of the defeated Red Army attacks were stalled before the small arms fields of fire of the German infantry. So this is in part about #2, but also very much about military intelligence.

#5: Break tank attacks

The most important tools for this were by far two basic types of long 7.5 cm cannons; one anti-tank gun (L/46 barrel) and one for AFVs (L/48), which foolishly used different cartridge formats. They proved to be effective enough even in 1945.

Such armaments could have been available in the mid 30's (two such guns existed then) already.

#6: Keep friendly losses bearable

A steel flak vest would have helped greatly, as would have a widespread availability of APCs for infantry assaults and general transportation on the last mile. Most important was proper infantry training, though. 6 month training binds many NCOs, but it leads to much lower casualty rates than 6 weeks training.

 #7: Good quality leadership that doesn't waste personnel and material with gross violations of operating principles (Einsatzgrundsätze).

This included to some degree good communications including radio tech.


This may all seem terribly obvious, but it wasn't obvious enough. Different compromises were made, and that led to military disaster.

You can deduct the importance of things during that campaign from these 7 (8 with sustainment) pillars. I suppose that they are still relevant.



Accidents in warfare


There will be a couple severe malfunctions of guided munitions that stray a long distance from their intended target if you launch thousands of them.

The cruise missile that hit Poland while being aimed at Ukraine was an exhibit of this fact.

Likewise, there will be a couple severe malfunctions if you launch thousands of unguided rockets that were mafe under shoddy circumstances.

It is thus not surprising if and when some munition hits a taboo location in Gaza - a school, hospital or a hotel packed with international reporters.

It's in that conflict very unlinely that either party would do such a thing intentionally in Gaza, but it is a risk that both parties accept.

The only really interesting part of a story about a hospital, school or hotel hit by a munition is this risk acceptance in my opinion. You can blame a party for accepting risk, but it's foolish to blame it for bad luck.



Transitory drone tech implications


The current use of remotely-piloted vehicles (usually with video feed from drone to user) is likely but a step en route to more or less (likely most of the time) autonomous drones on a battlefield.

To simplify, I see it like this:

1st step: manned aviation*

2nd step: remotely-controlled aviation with high bandwidth feedback

3rd step: remotely-controlled aviation with low bandwidth feedback

4th step: partially autonomous unmanned aviation with occasional communication only (mission updates and reports)

The 1st step can be done without radios.The 2nd step requires a low bandwidth radio uplink for control and a high bandwidth radio downlink, typically for a videostream. The 3rd generation will process the video data such that a much smaller bandwidth downlink is good enough. The 4th generation will make do with less than a kilobyte of data transfer per day if it communicates by radio at all.

The bandwidth is the bottleneck. You cannot have a high density battle with thousands of drones operating in a 5x5 km area and transmitting a 720p colour video feed simultaneously. 

You may have that drone density with the 3rd step, and at the 4th step you could concentrate drones more than any practical necessity. In fact, having very many drones in an area may be beneficial then because drones could relay messages and thus reduce the required power of the onboard radio.

The limitation caused by drones largely using certain frequency bands further reduces how many drones can be concentrated. The classic RC channels have already been augmented by 5.8 GHz and drone onboard radios may be built for many different frequency bands (though antenna size and frequency band are linked), but that takes time, and we may just as well progress to step #3 instead. Many other frequencies are in use for other purposes or physically unsuitable anyway.

The drawn-out and long frontline nature of the Russo-Ukrainian War offers step #2 drones great opportunities to shine, though jamming equipment will be rolled out to counter RC aircraft. The question is whether we'll see a high density conflict that requires step #3 drones before either jamming becomes too effective or effective step #4 drones arrive in quantity and assume tactical roles other than pre-planned missions.


*: Especially notable examples were the late First World War ground attack aircraft and the Second World War flying forward observers.


Gaza '23 and more in general: Our politicians are worthless


This episode of counterviolence breeds counterviolence is part of an ongoing conflict that's older than my mom. It's kind of not really interesting, just noise of tragedy.


I see only one hot fix that would work for Israel, and that's sweeping Gaza with hundreds of thousands of troops to weaken Hamas before handing it over to Fatah (their political opponents who control the non-occupied parts of West Bank). Fatah regaining power in Gaza like that would lead to its long-term demise, though.

The pursuit of a two-state solution has failed to deliver on its promise and is an obsolete approach in my opinion. Obsolete or not, a failing poly should be replaced by a more promising one.

Suppose there are two children on the schoolyard taunting and brawling every school day, and have done so for years. I understnad it's fashionable to sit down to talk to them, mediate, talk, tlak, talk.

A more classical (and in my opinion more promising) approach is to not give a s*!t about their opinions and simply enforce the rule that everyone on the schoolyard has to be peaceful, or else will be sanctioned so much that he/she/it regrets to not have been peaceful.

It's time to stop talking to Arabs and Israelis, and to stop hosting talks between them. It's about time they learn to OBEY. They need to obey international law, or be made to regret it. There's almost no prospect that the cycle of counterviolence will end for good just because the involved parties suddenly get nice.

Sadly, the U.S. with its veto power in the UNSC is the main (possibly only) obstacle to this.

The UN(SC) should MANDATE that Egypt takes over Gaza and meets its responsibility to ensure there won't be any attacks on israel from Egyptian (including Gaza) soil. Extremely severe and ten-year sanctions against these countries should commence in 12 months if the UNSC hasn't confirmed their satisfactory compliance until then. Egypt would later be held responsible for every aggression from its soil, just as any country should be held responsible for such a thing.

Ideally, the same should be done regarding Jordan (West Bank) and Syria (Golan Heights), with Blue Helmet (MP, MI and CivMil, not combat troops) support.

Israeli military security concerns about having Egyptian military nearer to Tel Aviv and Syrian military on great vantage points on Golan Hieghts carry ZERO weight, just as Russian desires to have vassal states between itself and NATO carries zero weight.

There's hardly any Syrian conventional warfare military left, hardly any Jordanian military and the Egyptian military will freeze when the U.S. stops subsidising it. Meanwhile, everybody knows that Israel is a nuclear power with a quite robust 2nd strike capability and all of itself is within range of precision-guided missiles nowadays (which devalues depth). So security concerns about reestablishing the 1949 borders are not very substantial anyway.

Maybe if Germany hadn't such a useless, timid, worthless chancellor we could be part of the solution. A charismatic, fluent English-speaking and decisive German chancellor could pressure POTUS Biden through public diplomacy and behind closed doors diplomacy to not veto a 1949 borders restablishment UNSC resolution that mandates Egypt to take over Gaza and establish security. The time for this is perfect. There are many ways how POTUS could be pressures behind the scenes. Germany could threaten to kick out all American troops without giving them time to set up a replacement for Ramstein, it could threaten to leave NATO*, threaten to sabotage U.S. foreign policy in many ways.

That would require a non-fossilised, action-oriented chancellor, though. You can't have any good results with a worthless potatoe. I respect the office of the chancellor, I do not respect the person AT ALL. he should rot in jail for defalcation in the CumEx scandal.

The politicians we have can only think in old narratives and thier only actions are about spending money.

Their inaction thorugh three generations of crisis in the Levante KILL people, just as their inaction in the Mediterranean migration crisis KILLs people.




*: Germany is not threatened itself, is also in the EU alliance and there's no such thing as accumulated obligation to stay in an alliance. We can leave the North Atlantic Treaty at will, within a year (see its article 13).



Ukraine and the tank survivability argument


Tank forces don't quite shine in the Russo-Ukrainian War, and losses are (slowly) piling up. The Russians and to a seemingly lesser degree also the Ukrainians appear to use (mostly old) tanks for indirect fire support as an alternative to more exposing tactics.

Some people chime in from more or less far away from the battlefield; they suggest (or are strongly convinced) that the tank is in a survivability crisis. Maybe its days are soon over altogether.

That argument can be made with a look at technology, but the Russo-Ukrainian War doesn't provide decisive evidence that tanks are obsolete.

Evidently, neither Russians nor Ukrainians are competent at employing tanks the way they give best results (akin to 1940 & 1941). They also lack what it takes to employ tanks in the way they crushed hostile forces in brief and brutal battles (1967, 1973, 1991).

The Russo-Ukrainian War shows the demise of the tank no more than did the quite similar Iraqi-Iranian War of 1980-1988.*

Yes, remotely-piloted vehicles (flying drones) with cheap RPG warheads hit and destroy moving tanks, but those drones could be defeated easily by jamming. Have a look at the range and proliferation of counter-IED cell phone jammers that were deployed in response to roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those roadside bombs did not make road-bound motor vehicles obsolete, did they?

Tanks were always very vulnerable. They were no more than bulletproofed until 1937. The U.S. introduced and successfully used a light tank (M24) during the Second World War in Europe that was easily pierced and destroyed by all anti-tank guns ever built on some of its surfaces even by anti-tank rifles. Light anti-air guns (especially 37 mm calibre) were a terrible threat to it as well. A 16 year old boy could carry an anti-tank "Panzerfaust" that would defeat a M24 light tank at 60 m distance.

Tanks formations don't need near-invulnerable tanks to be successful, but they do need certain tactics of employment, and we don't see much of that in Ukraine.

  1. Blitzkrieg-style rapid advances possibly over hundreds of kilometres for encirclement, inciting chaos, overrunning forces unable to resist tanks or to seize key objectives such as an important bridge: The Russians tried this early in 2022 and failed where they faced much resistance. The terrain Northwest of Kyiv did not allow to move much off paved roads and in Northeast of Kyiv the Russians largely stuck to the main roads as well. A tank gives protected mobility with great firepower. The Russians failed in these deep penetration attacks because they did not use mobility to good effect.
  2. Liddel-Hart's indirect approach of cruiser tanks that seek to attack non-infantry and non-tank forces after breaking through a frontline: Didn't happen.
  3. Breakthrough efforts or battles with massed and overpowering forces in Israeli, American or 1943-1945 Soviet style: Didn't happen.
  4. Infantry fire support for very many infantry platoons attacking along the front: Didn't happen most of the time; such attacks have been limited to relatively small sectors.

The large and persisting area gains by the Russian armed forces in the South of Ukraine during Spring 2022 happened mostly because Ukraine had very, very few troops defending in the South. The advance stalled once the Ukrainian reserves arrived and the Russians had to withdraw to the Kherson bridgehead for months until they had to give that up, too.

- - - - -

Again; a case can be made that (autonomous!) drones render mechanised forces obsolete in a couple years, but the 'moderately competent' forces fighting in Ukraine don't prove it. We saw that kind of blundering before (Soviet Union 1941, Iraq-Iran War). Tanks do only produce great results with very competent forces.

A case can also be made that manned combat aviation is obsolete (for several reasons), but the very largely unsuccessful employment of airpower over Ukraine does not prove this, either.



*: Misnomered in English into "Iran-Iraq War" to hide the fact that the subject of American hate, Iran, was the victim of aggression rather than the aggressor.


Road march speeds in WW2


I remembered some data from road march speeds during WW2 (and the 50's) and found something curious. First, let me tell you  about the data:

The historical daytime road march speeds* varied from event to event, but the rules of thumb were


4 kph ~ 30 km/day

marching on foot, horse-drawn carts and artillery (not taking into account resting times)


60 km/day

European-style horse cavalry (10 kph for slow canter and up to 20 kph for fast canter for a brief forced march)


18...20 kph

bicyclist troops


20+ kph / minimum 200 km/day (rarely done 150+ km)

This applies to both tracked and half-track motor vehicles. Crew and passengers were exhausted by vibrations and noise. Both troops and vehicles needed many maintenance stops.

This speed probably also applied to motor-towed artillery, as artillery ordnance had poor suspensions and was thus often speed-limited, such as up to 30 kph except in emergencies. Even today most towed artillery is limited to 60 kph.


40+ kph / minimum 300 km/day

wheeled motor vehicles (likely 50...60 kph on good paved roads)

Wheeled motor vehicles had a substantial road march speed advantage (likely more pronounced compared to tracked vehicles than just 3:2*). Yet there was no substantial use of all-wheeled motorized formations as quick reaction reserves. They weren't even undisputedly dominant among armoured reconnaissance in Europe.

The disadvantage of a-wheeled armoured fighting vehicles goes beyond just inferior soft soil mobility compared to tracked and most half-tracked vehicles. The first tanks became shell-proofed instead of just bulletproofed by 1937, a move that wheeled armoured vehicles never matched. They have a too large armoured area compared to the more compact same-weight tracked designs (same problem as with half-tracks unless you reduce the wheeled front to an unprotected skeletonised structure). Armouring wheeled vehicles up to 60+ mm steel would make their ground pressure unacceptable on soft soil (true to this day, despite much better tires and CTIS).

So the wheeled armoured vehicles were not able to prevail in the gargantuan military experiment of the Second World War, despite attempts and already-understood hard soil/road mobility advantages. Even the ability of 4x4 motor vehicles to tow anti-tank guns and the ability to move even divisional field artillery portée (carried for march, set up like towed guns for firing) or as self-propelled guns on wheeled motor vehicles did not lead to such quick formations.

This begs the question why exactly they became such a fashion in 1999...2003 and later (post-2003 rather 4x4 and 6x6 MRAPs than 8x8 APCs). The Kosovo and Pristina deployment embarrassments and armies panicking about "relevance" cannot be the full explanation. Buying all those vehicles was really expensive, so I doubt the advantage in operating costs over tracked vehicles was a strong real argument, either.

The introduction of central tyre inflation systems, wider tyres and improved self-locking differentials did reduce the disadvantage of wheeled vehicles on soft soils, but their rise in weight more than countered this.)




*: I mostly remembered these, but checked Middeldorf/Handbuch der Taktik just to be safe. The minimum 200 km and minimum 300 km figures stem from it, I think both downplay the wheeled motor vehicle mobility of the time. A ratio of 200:450 seems much more plausible during that period. The cruise speed was double and the need for maintenance breaks was lesser with wheeled vehicles. Both tracked vehicles at 200 km an wheeled vehicles at 400+ km would have required one refuelling break, but refuelling was possible by decentralised use of jerry cans and fuel drums.



SEAD, Russian style


I don't know much about how the Soviets intended to attack Western air defence radars. I know they had a couple radar jamming helicopters that were highly effective against IHAWK and they had a MiG-25 version that would fly at very high altitude at very high speed and launch some big anti-radar missile before running away.

The French had a less spectacular approach. They used their own anti-radar missiles for use by ordinary Mirages and Jaguars and had Elint suite to support their employment. They had no dedicated anti-air defences aircraft.

The Americans developed their sophisticated and expensive SEAD/DEAD (suppression enemy air defences / destruction ...) over North Vietnam. It included dedicated wings with specialised antenna-laden two-seat aircraft and two different anti-radar missiles (one of which was terribly expensive and the other had a variety of seekers against different radars). Standoff Elint and jammer aircraft supported all this. The dedicated anti-radar aircraft would find and engage radars, but the actual destruction would often be left to accompanying fighter-bombers that went close in and bombed the air defences similar to how American fighters of WW2 strafed and bombed Japanese air defences to reduce the threat tot he following bombers. This American approach was developed further and they now have a versatile anti-radar missile, satellites help with finding radars and they mess with the radio communications of an integrated air defence. The American approach excelled over Iraq in 1991, but it failed to destroy most of the old Yugoslavian air defences in 1999.

The Israelis used quantity low level strikes to roll up the Egyptian air defences in 1973 and later introduced ground-launched anti-radar drones and ground-launched anti-radar missiles to their DEAD mix.

All this is public knowledge. So what do the Russians do over Ukraine?

  • They sometimes targeted air defence high value targets with a precisions trike by ballistic PGM  Iskander.
  • They provoke air defences with cruise missiles and drones. 
  • They sometimes use remotely piloted vehicles (Lancet drones) to attack air defence high value targets close to the front
  • Some of their fighter patrols and strike fighters carry a (rather big) anti-radar missile, ready to shoot at targets of opportunity and presumably hoping that this capability also protects the aircraft itself.
  • They fail to overcome Ukraine's Soviet-era air defence systems even though they know them to 100% detail and had 30+ years time to train against them.
  • No published information (AFAIK) about effective airborne jamming of Ukrainian air defence radars
  • No published information (AFAIK) about effective airborne jamming of Ukrainian air defence communications
  • No published information (AFAIK) about effective use of satellites (presumably because the Ukrainians change positions briefly after certain Russian reconnaissance satellites passed them)

Even the German air force might be more effective than that in DEAD (using its few Tornado ECR, a couple radar satellites, commercial photo/IR satellites, GUMLRS PGMs, Taurus and a small stock of old HARM missiles)!

I could draw up a fantasy force with an extremely resilient yet still affordable air defence. It would be necessary to deny the Americans effective use of bomb runs, even against their strike package tactics. Yet it's entirely unnecessary against the Russian armed forces, which are so crappy that they fall well short of meeting expectations based on a 1991 air campaign that lasted a few weeks. They had one and a half years. 

We need not look further than the 40 years old Buk-M1 system if we want to see what an effective counter to Russian combat aviation looks like. You'd at most need some gun-based system to keep them from being effective at terrain-following flight (less than 200 ft altitude).

Meanwhile, the Western military-industrial complexes focus on gold-plated cutting edge air defences. This makes sense to some degree (you need lock on after launch missiles to engage targets at very low altitudes and modern datalinks and processors sure make sense), but it's also very expensive. I'm guilty of this as well, but in my defence; at least I saw the need for some cheap missiles to defeat munitions (cruise missiles, smart glide bombs) in the mix.








The direct/indirect fires armour battalion - tactics


I realised that I didn't describe the tactics for the armour battalion for the exploitation brigade properly.

That battalion has four companies of tanks that are very good at shooting with high explosive rounds in indirect fire (up to 42° maximum elevation, with sufficient accuracy out to 15 km).

The idea is this:

The companies tend to manoeuvre as such (platoons maybe spread over 3x2 km). A pair of companies is close at all times, so there are two pairs manoeuvring around.

Now one company gets into contact with dangerous hostiles. The nearby other company of the pair moves into flanking position. They might also act as a leapfrogging couple in a delaying mission or during advance.

The other pair can do the very same, and whenever a pair is ion contact the other pair (about 4x3=12 tanks per company) would be available and be at a good distance for giving indirect fire support with good effect (this would be difficult at short distances in many terrain forms).

This is part of the reason why it makes sense to have four tank companies in that battalion, not three. With three you'd have either two companies giving such indirect fire support or one indirect and one direct fires (line of sight) support. That's A LOT less and would not suffice, as the brigade was designed to not require a separate artillery battalion (there are a few mortars in the concept, though).





Exotic ancient weapons: (X) The sasumata


I did consider to continue the series with the sasumata or the (not terribly exotic or ancient) boar sword, but did put this off for a long time because the sasumata seemed too impractical, too weird to me. I saw a lot of weird weapons from the Indian subcontinent and the Philippines, but the sasumata seemed too weird.

Yet I saw it's actually still in use. That blew my mind. It's one of those things that are truly alien in some other part of the world.






It's even worse; this to me totally alien concept of a weapon/police tool was actually also a thing in Europe: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_catcher

It would (in a non-thorny version) probably be useful in the UK, where many suspects are armed with a knife.







Coaxial machineguns are machineguns that point the same direction as a tank's (or IFV's) main gun. This makes aiming simple and the vehicle needs no additional means for training and elevation of the machinegun.

Coaxial machineguns use the mass of the turret for cooling and can be reloaded from under armour. Their biggest downside is that most coaxial machineguns allow burnt propellant gases to pollute the air within the turret, but that's an even bigger issue with the main gun, so ventilation is a must in crewed turrets. Coaxial machineguns have been common since the 1930's.

A special (and rare) kind of coaxial machineguns are retrofitted heavy calibre machineguns that are mounted outside of the turret.

You've very likely read about the threat of remotely-controlled flying drones to tanks. They're radio command-controlled and susceptible to jamming, but few tanks have such jammers. Netting is used to counter such drones, but purpose-built fuses would easily counter any such net.*


The answer to such drones is mostly jamming, though you may also shoot them down or burn them with lasers. Jamming can be done with quite simple means; you merely need power supply, a radio transmitter for the correct radio frequency band and a (directional) antenna that fits said band as well.

The whole package can be compact enough to be a one-man 'weapon'.


It's obvious that Western MBTs and IFVs are not prepared to deal with such a threat, and they are VERY vulnerable to it. We could equip them with jammers with omnidirectional antennas, but the permanent emissions by such antennas would be very easily triangulated and inform the enemy about tank locations and movements. We could switch such jammers on only when needed, but this requires the knowledge when they are needed; the detection of the drone.

You may use a weaker (or at same output power more effective) jammer with a directional antenna when you know where the drone threat is. So there's a case for directional drone jammers to be added to armoured fighting vehicles.

We already have quite a garden of antennae, cupolas, sensors and guns on top of tank turrets, though. A coaxial installation of a drone jammer antenna may thus be the way to go IF one decides against an omnidirectional antenna jammer. It may also make sense to have omnidirectional self-protection jammers and one tank or infantry fighting vehicle per platoon equipped with a longer-ranged directional jammer. The longer ranged one would be against observation drones, while the self-protection jammers would only affect the much more close attack drones.

I didn't write much about such jammers in the past because I consider remotely-piloted vehicles as a transitory thing. The really big deal will be drones with a degree of autonomy that allows them to do their job without an intact two-way datalink with a human operator.

My preference remains the use of mass-produced standardised remotely-controlled weapon stations (RCWS) on almost all battlefield vehicles (80+ % of the vehicles of a mechanised infantry brigade, for example). I hope we can make do without onboard search radars.



*: Drones with simple impact fuse can be countered, but a fuse can be built with an acceleration-measurement chip that sense the sudden deceleration when the drone gets caught by the net or cage and initiates the shaped charge explosion. The result would be a shaped charge attack with near-optimum standoff distance; even worse than a textbook impact fused shaped charge attack.


"Sanctions don't work!" (That's bollocks!)


Certain people on the intertubes are claiming that sanctions on Russia don't work, that sanctions circumventing renders them moot. It appears to be fashionable to cite trade statistics with Central Asian countries to provide supposed evidence for this assertion.

I'm not going to publicly guess why these people do so, or what their sources of income are. Instead, the economist in me found the topic a bit interesting from an analytical point of view:


Suppose you want to buy a used car. You spend time looking at offers on the internet, you drive to car sellers, discuss with friends, finally you travel to a specific seller and actually buy a used car from him for 10,000 currency units.

What was the cost of this purchase? I suppose the average economics layman will say it was 10,000 currency units. The average economist should be ashamed if he/she/it gave such a reply. Economists know about the concept of transaction costs. All those other activities around the used car purchase deal caused transaction costs; currency units and time were spent on that deal beyond the purchase price.

Now let's look at a hypothetical case of a 250,000 CU machine being purchased from a Western company by a Russian company through a middleman in some Stan-country. That purchase has a long rat's tail of additional transaction costs; middlemen, briberies, additional transport costs, a greater time delay, additional risks.

So we know for sure that circumventing sanctions like that imposes extra economic burdens on Russia(ns).

Furthermore, economists know a concept called price elasticity of demand. The usual case is that less goods will be purchased if the price increases. The opposite is so super rare that these freak cases have their own name (Giffen goods).

Imagine a 10 € spare part for a 250,000 € machine. Its price could triple and it would be purchased just as often. Imagine the machine's price increased from 250,000 € to 750,000 € and the quantity sold will plummet.

So what's the effect of additional transaction costs on products that Russia(ns) want to import from the West? The quantity will be reduced by this change, as many of the import goods have a price elasticity of demand that means less purchases at higher costs of purchase. Moreover, Russia(ns) not only get less, but they pay more for it per copy.

This was a "ceteris paribus" analysis. We considered how the outcome changes if one input variable is changed. The overall outcome may be influenced by a gazillion input variables and others may override this one input variable's influence, of course. Trade statistics of poor countries have a lot of statistical noise. There may be a mighty influence for less trade and the end result of all input variables may still be an increase of trade for a while.

A certain input variable has recently been very powerful, though; inflation. The "Sanctions don't work!" crowd doesn't attempt to convince people of their opinion by using trade statistics that were  corrected for inflation, currency exchange rate issues or even things such as population and economic growth. A serious economics scholar would be expected to do so if he/she/it proposed a paper on the subject for peer reviewed publication. No, that highly opinionated crowd uses relatively short run and raw trade statistics (nothing like 'since 1991', no 'real', no 'per capita', no '%GDP').

In short; they're not in the information dissemination business. They're in the propaganda business.


Long story short; sanctions don't work as absolutely as desired, but they hurt. Adjustments can be made to the sanctions regime, and it can become ever more restricting, an allegorical anaconda strangling an aggressor state. Russia's quality of life won't plummet much, though. The cases of Cuba and Iran show that a country with decent natural resources luck can maintain regime survival and a low-but-not-starving consumption level for decades in face of severe sanctions.



P.S.: More could be written about this. I didn't touch on the subject of opportunity costs this time, for example. And the whole 'thinking' of the "Sanctions don't work!" crowd is somewhat reminiscent of the bollocks spreaders who claim that minimum wage increases get significantly if not fully neutralised by what inflation they (supposedly) cause.