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Topic: Military Science and Military Issues (Read 112724 times)
Re: Military Science
Reply #50 on:
August 15, 2007, 12:32:08 PM »
If we want to take on the world's problems, we may need the draft. Still want to?
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2007, at 3:40 PM ET
Until last week, we hadn't heard much from Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, President Bush's "war czar," and I suspect that, after his recent remarks on National Public Radio, we won't be hearing from him again anytime soon.
On Aug. 10, Lute told NPR that reactivating the military draft has "always been an option on the table" and that it "makes sense to certainly consider it."
The notion of bringing back conscription has no real political support in this country—and not much support from the ranks of military officers either. (In a less-quoted part of the NPR interview, even Lute said that "we have not yet reached" the point where a draft needs to be seriously discussed.)
And yet the question is tacitly raised or evaded every time the issue of troop shortages in Iraq comes up. Adm. Michael Mullen, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified at his confirmation hearings this month that the surge in Iraq could not be sustained beyond next April without a change in the Army's "force structure"—that is, without more troops or a change in the way they're deployed or organized.
Two weeks ago, Gen. Richard Cody, the Army's vice chief of staff, was asked, during a Q&A session at the Captains' Career Course at Fort Knox, Ky., whether the U.S. armed forces could deal with another conventional military threat, should one suddenly arise. Gen. Cody said, "No, not a big one."
Most serious military analysts, regardless of their views on the Iraq war, think the Army needs more troops. But from where? An alluring array of incentives and bonuses has kept recruitment drives afloat but hardly soaring.
The draft ended in 1973, just before the Vietnam War did. But its demise was foretold four years earlier, on March 27, 1969, when Richard Nixon—just two months into his presidency—announced the creation of a "commission on an all-volunteer armed force."
It was well understood that the purpose of the commission was to sanctify the abolition of the draft. The panel was chaired by Thomas Gates, a former secretary of defense in the Eisenhower administration. But more to the point, it was set up by Martin Anderson, Nixon's campaign chairman and a free-market economist who opposed conscription on philosophical grounds. And among the commissioners that Anderson appointed were two of the nation's most renowned libertarian economists, who shared Anderson's view on the matter: Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan.
The report, released on Feb. 20, 1970, concluded—no surprise—that the nation would be secure enough without a draft.
However, even these panelists noted that conscription might be necessary under some circumstances. For that reason, they urged that mandatory registration be continued for all draft-age males. (The recommendation was adopted and remains in effect.) This "standby draft," as they called it, might be activated in case of "an emergency requiring a major increase in force over an extended period."
In the event of war, the report noted, the nation would deploy volunteer forces. In the first stage of expansion, it would call on the National Guard and Reserves. But if the war were to go on for a while, the "standby draft" might have to be mobilized, in order "to provide manpower resources for the second stage of expansion in effective forces."
Judging from the recent statements by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Army's vice chief of staff, we seem to be approaching that stage in Iraq today.
The 1970 commission report assumed that the all-volunteer armed forces would attract 2 million to 3 million troops, with 40 percent of them—or 800,000 to 1.2 million of them—in the Army.
The real-life, present-day all-volunteer force consists of 1.4 million troops, 35 percent of them—or 489,000—in the Army.
Of course, in 1970, the Cold War was still on; NATO and Warsaw Pact troops faced each other along the East-West German border. Maybe a million soldiers are no longer necessary. Then again, in 2003, the Army chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, told Congress that "several hundred thousand" troops would be needed to stabilize postwar Iraq.
In any case, regardless of scenarios, the all-volunteer forces and especially the all-volunteer Army are much smaller than the commissioners assumed they would be.
Size, of course, is not everything. In the past few years, I have asked many officers, of varying ranks, whether they would like to see the revival of a draft. Almost all of them have said they would not. Two captains that I asked recently gave succinct renditions of the most typical replies: "I'd rather be fighting with soldiers who want to be there," and "With a draft, there'd be too much riff-raff."
The latter response might surprise those, like Michael Moore and Rep. Charles Rangel, who claim the all-volunteer force draws mainly on poor, uneducated minorities. The stereotype was true in the first decade or so of the all-volunteer force, in the wake of Vietnam. But, according to official data, members of the armed forces today are better-educated than civilians in their age group; they score higher on aptitude tests; African-Americans are only slightly overrepresented in the enlisted ranks, and Hispanics are underrepresented.
Still, if political leaders want to send the troops to solve a vast range of the world's problems—if they want a military that's far-flung, deployed on many fronts, and fighting in multiple theaters—then, at some point, numbers do matter. Or, rather, numbers and missions matter. If we want to maintain all these military missions, then the numbers have to go up. If we don't want to do everything necessary to push the numbers up, then the missions have to be cut back.
So, should we continue to send troops overseas to fight wars, keep peace, settle conflicts, impose order, and build nations? How do we get the extra troops—pay them a lot more (and where do we get that money?), mobilize all the reserves, reactivate the draft?
Or should we handle international affairs in a different way, relying much more on military alliances and diplomacy—not because (or not just because) that's often regarded as preferable to unilateral military force, but simply because there is no practical alternative?
The authors of the 1970 commission report emphasized that if the standby draft is ever activated, it should not be ordered into effect by the president; rather, it should be authorized by Congress. Before such a momentous step is taken, the panelists wrote, there must first be a "public discussion."
It's getting very near time for that public discussion now.
Preparing for the Wrong Fight
Reply #51 on:
August 15, 2007, 08:59:27 PM »
This could have been posted several places, but ultimately is a piece about practicing military science poorly.
August 15, 2007
Why the Brits are Losing Basra
By James Lewis
Why is the most best European fighting army, the British, losing the battle for Basra in southern Iraq? Because the UK Ministry of Defense supplied its soldiers with the wrong equipment, having invested its shrinking budget in long-term European Ego Projects to keep the military bureaucracy happy.
Given soft vehicles that are terrifyingly vulnerable to IEDs and car bombs, the Brits initially claimed that "soft power" would do the job -- just as the Dutch boasted that having tea with the Taliban would ensure peace and love in their area of Afghanistan. But the British MOD was just rationalizing its own weakness, especially in equipment. British soldiers were sacrificed to politics.
All that is not my conclusion: It comes from close analysis over the last several years by the excellent British blog Eureferendum, which has its own sources in the UK Ministry of Defense. Building blast-resistant military vehicles starts with ancient knowledge: To deal with bombs and shells, you need armored walls that deflect the blast, positioned diagonally to the incoming force. That is why fortifications were built centuries ago with massive, slanted sides.
Blast-resistant vehicles are basically trucks with slanted, V-shaped body hulls. They are very effective in deflecting car bombs and IED explosions, the major killers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, as Euroreferendum constantly points out, armored vehicles must be designed so that soldiers are never seated over the front wheels, which are most likely to set off mines. The US Marines, always fast to adapt, are bringing bomb-deflecting vehicles into the Iraq battle as fast as possible, in preference to vulnerable Humvees. So is the US Army. In Afghanistan, the Aussies and Canadians are also using properly-built combat trucks. Only the British are lagging behind, inexplicably.
After yet another group of British soldiers died in thin-skinned "Snatch" Land Rovers, Euroreferendum just wrote,
"So, while the MoD (UK MInistry of Defense) fritters away its money on "toys" for the RAF and new carriers for the Royal Navy, and while the Army brass wet their knickers in excitement over the prospect of buying expensive new APCs, all under the name of FRES, our troops die, and they die and they die. Hundreds more are horribly mutilated, their lives wrecked forever.
"All this is because these vainglorious, useless organisations elevate their own ambitions and concerns above their primary duty of safeguarding their own people. For their collective failure, which includes the media, they really, really should rot in Hell."
The British media are just beginning to catch on. From the Telegraph,
"Dozens of British troops have been killed inside the lightly armoured Snatch vehicles which are being replaced by the more robust Mastiff trucks."
But if Eureferendum is to be believed, the death rate isn't just dozens of soldiers but scores. And the Mastiffs are not being supplied in nearly high enough numbers even several years into the war. It's a terrifying tale of incompetence and mismanagement, high in the chain of command.
Soft-skinned rectangular vehicles are not the only equipment failure that Eureferendum has called attention to, time and time again. In Afghanistan, British soldiers live in tents rather than fortified housing, while taking regular mortar attacks. They have not had anti-artillery radar, to pinpoint and strike back at attackers before they run off. Air support has been dismal, helicopters almost non-existent.
Just read Eureferendum's careful tracking of the story and thank your lucky stars for former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld, who forced our military establishment to adapt, adapt, and adapt again. The political losers in the US DOD are still screaming, of course, but without ruthless reshaping of our military we would have lost every war in history. Abraham Lincoln reshaped the US Army, and FDR did too. Ronald Reagan forced reorganization in the DOD and CIA. Rummy did it for the WOT, because our military career structure was still tailored for massive army-to-army warfare against the Soviets in Europe.
What we are facing today is the opposite of conventional large-scale war, and much of the career incentive structure in the military has had to change. Special Forces have been elevated to their own command. We've seen scores of hostile leaks from the Pentagon in the New York Times and WaPo, as officers find their careers threatened. The payoff comes in saved lives and vastly improved fighting effectiveness. We overthrew the Taliban in Afghanistan using three hundred CIA and Special Forces on the ground, plus precision USAF bombing and a lot of bribe money.
As a result of tough military reorganization we are now much better equipped to apply General Petraeus' newly formalized counter-insurgency doctrine. Yes, the Brits are admirable soldiers, smart and tough on the ground, but their defense careerists back home have been a disaster.
The Basra failure is a mirror image of the Concorde Supersonic Ego-jet, which never made any financial sense, but simply allowed European aerospace to parade around the world, claiming it had the only civilian supersonic passenger jet. Well, that was true. Meanwhile, other airplanes were winning in the market because the Concorde was much too small and expensive for the average air passenger. The Concorde ultimately had to go. It was a pure prestige investment, like all those African palaces that were built by kleptocrat dictators. Post-colonial African governments suffered from a gaping inferiority complex, and so does contemporary Europe. The response is similar.
Instead of preparing for clearly visible dangers today, Europe's military investments are going into giant prestige projects for the future European Army, expensive multinational investments like aircraft carriers and the Eurofighter jet, none of which are ready for combat, while cheaper and more effective weapons systems are ignored. Europe is not facing the Soviet Army; but it is pretending to, so the EU can buy off as many countries as possible with "defense" moneys. (We do the same thing in the US Congress, except that our military actually fights wars. Our voters also have some control over who goes to Congress, while the EU is unelected. So our military must keep their noses to the grindstone. Since Europe is always happy to let Uncle Sam do the hard work in Kosovo and the Middle East, they can get away with a pretend military. But what will happen when Uncle Sam walks away?)
Instead of preparing for counterinsurgency warfare, the most predictable ground war for the near future, the EU wants the biggest, flashiest and most gold-plated toys. The EU Galileo satellite navigation system is soaking up billions of euros just to duplicate the free American GPS system, because Europe must have its own high-tech toys. Compared to the European Union, the US Congress looks like a congregation of virgins.
British soldiers are paying in blood for the decisions of their political masters. Since the UK is being steadily seduced into the EU, the military bureaucracy is being rewarded for all the wrong things. So is every other UK ministry. And the average citizen is asleep in front of the telly.
You can call it poetic justice: While Europe went mad with anti-American rage during the Bush years, the Europeans also sabotaged themselves. Europe has been in massive denial of the terror threat, of Islamic fascism, and of nuclear proliferation to rogue regimes in the Middle East. Instead, they have been marching around like a cock with barnyard matter on its feet, blissfully ignorant of mounting dangers.
Meanwhile a flock of black vultures are circling the fat cities of Europe. We need another Winston Churchill, but all we see today is hordes of political hacks.
James Lewis blogs at
Chinese anti-satellite technology
Reply #52 on:
August 23, 2007, 09:23:28 PM »
Chinese Missiles Could Target U.S. Satellites
Popular Mechanics | Carl Hoffman | August 15, 2007
At 5:28 PM EST on Jan. 11, 2007, a satellite arced over southern China. It was small -- just 6 ft. long -- a tiny object in the heavens, steadily bleeping its location to ground stations below, just as it had every day for the past seven years. And then it was gone, transformed into a cloud of debris hurtling at nearly 16,000 mph along the main thoroughfare used by orbiting spacecraft.
It was not the start of the world's first war in space, but it could have been. It was just a test: The satellite was a defunct Chinese weather spacecraft. And the country that destroyed it was China. According to reports, a mobile launcher at the Songlin test facility near Xichang, in Sichuan province, lofted a multistage solid-fuel missile topped with a kinetic kill vehicle. Traveling nearly 18,000 mph, the kill vehicle intercepted the sat and -- boom -- obliterated it. "It was almost just a dead-reckoning flight with little control over the intercept path," says Phillip S. Clark, an independent British authority who has written widely on the Chinese and Russian space programs.
For China, a nation that has already sent humans into space and developed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the technology involved in the test was hardly remarkable. But as a demonstration of a rising military posture, it was a surprisingly aggressive act, especially since China has long pushed for an international treaty banning space weapons. "The move was a dangerous step toward the abyss of weaponizing space," says Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information, an independent defense research group in Washington, D.C. "China held the moral high ground about space, and that test re-energized the China hawks in Congress. If we're not careful, space could become the new Wild West. You don't just go and blow things up there." In fact, after the Chinese test, India publicly stepped up its development of antisatellite technology. And some Israeli officials have argued that, given China's record of selling missile technology to Iran, Israel should develop its own program.
For many countries, the most disturbing aspect of the test was not the potentially destabilizing sat kill, but the resulting debris, which poses a serious threat to every satellite in orbit, as well as to the International Space Station. "Space debris is a huge problem," says Laura Grego, staff scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "A 1-centimeter object is very hard to track but can do considerable damage if it collides with any spacecraft at a high rate of speed." Think of a shotgun pellet traveling at 10 times the speed of a bullet, smashing into a device built to be as light as possible. And then consider that China's antisatellite (ASAT) test produced as many as 35,000 of these pellets, or pieces of debris, in the 1-cm range. Nearly 1500 pieces were 10 cm and larger.
Although the United States knew that China was planning to test ASAT technology, administration officials -- reluctant to disclose the level of U.S. surveillance -- chose to say nothing. China failed two or three times before successfully launching the missile in January. All the attempts were observed by the U.S. Air Force satellite system known as the Defense Support Program. Infrared telescopes on these 33-ft.-high defense satellites can spot the plumes from rockets launched anywhere on Earth.
America's Own Sat Kills
Every industrialized country relies on satellites every day, for everything from computer networking technology to telecommunications, navigation, weather prediction, television and radio. This makes satellites especially vulnerable targets. Imagine the U.S. military suddenly without guidance for its soldiers and weapons systems, and its civilians without storm warnings or telephones.
Some satellites, however, are at greater risk than others. Most spacecraft -- including spy sats -- are in low Earth orbit, which stretches 1240 miles into space. As the Chinese test proved, such targets could be hit with medium-range missiles tipped with crude kill devices. GPS satellites are far higher, orbiting at about 12,600 miles. Many communications sats are in the 22,000-mile range. Destroying them requires a much more powerful and sophisticated long-range ballistic missile -- yet it can be done. "You'd need a sky-sweeping capability to comprehensively negate a space support system that is scattered all over," says John Pike, a space analyst at GlobalSecurity.org. "You'd need ICBM-size boosters -- hundreds of them."
Such an all-out satellite war would render space useless for decades to come. "There'd be so much debris up there," Clark says, "that it wouldn't be safe to put anything up in space."
The United States and Russia, the two countries with proven ASAT capabilities, have long steered clear of satellites as military targets. Even during the Cold War spy sats were hands-off; the consequences of destroying them were greater than those of unwelcome surveillance. "The consensus," Clark says, "was that anybody could look at anybody else."
Nevertheless, the U.S. military has spent decades designing weapons capable of killing other countries' satellites. The crudest American ASAT test, code-named Starfish Prime, took place in 1962, when the U.S. Air Force detonated a 1.4-megaton nuclear weapon at an altitude of 250 miles. The explosion, which occurred about 800 miles west of Hawaii, disabled at least six U.S. and foreign satellites -- roughly a third of the world's low Earth orbit total. The resulting electromagnetic pulse knocked out 300 streetlights in Oahu. Clearly, nukes worked as ASAT weapons, but far too indiscriminately.
To develop a more surgical capability, the Air Force launched Project Mudflap, which was designed to destroy individual Soviet satellites with missiles. But inaccurate space-guidance systems plagued early tests. Then, on May 23, 1963, the Air Force pulled off a successful intercept with a modified Nike-Zeus ballistic missile launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It took out a rendezvous and docking target for NASA's Gemini missions at an altitude of 150 miles.
Over the next several decades the Air Force graduated to more sophisticated air-launched missiles that could hit targets with far better accuracy. In 1985 the United States destroyed an American solar observation satellite using a three-stage, heat-seeking miniature vehicle fired from an F-15 fighter jet. That test, like the Chinese one earlier this year, used a kinetic kill vehicle that spewed debris into space. Funding for the program was cancelled before the air-launched system could be perfected.
That same year, at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the Air Force began operating the powerful Mid-Infrared Chemical Laser. In 1997, it was used to temporarily blind sensors on an Air Force missile-launch and tracking satellite. The sat remained intact; no debris was created. And no laser tests have been conducted since. However, the current federal budget includes funding for a laser to be fired at a low Earth orbit sat from the Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland Air Force Base, in New Mexico, later this year.
Some $400 million has been spent in recent years to develop another sophisticated kill vehicle -- a three-stage missile that smacks an enemy's craft with a sheet of Mylar plastic, disabling it without producing any debris. It has yet to be fully tested, and would only work on satellites in low Earth orbit; communication and GPS sats are too high.
Destroying an adversary's satellites has far-reaching implications. Do you take out only military sats or so-called civilian ones, too? Nearly every satellite has dual uses: A civilian weather satellite used for tracking hurricanes also could watch military movements. Many satellites are used by multiple nations. And once a nation disables an adversary's satellites, it puts its own in peril. As Charles Vick, a senior analyst at GlobalSecurity says, "It's an act of war."
Sending A Message
So why did China risk provoking international hostility? The country's government has been opaque. "The experiment is not targeted at any other country," said a foreign ministry spokeswoman in Beijing.
Some experts think at least part of China's motivation lies in an unclassified 2006 U.S. report on the future of military activities in space. The document reaffirms that "The United States considers space capabilities ... vital to its national interests. Consistent with this policy, the United States will: preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space; dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so ... and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests."
The United States "basically said it has the right to restrict the use of space to only its allies," Clark says. Adds Jeffrey G. Lewis, an arms control expert at the New America Foundation: "Much of the world was appalled at the tone of the policy. One British newspaper columnist basically said it made space the 51st state."
In that context, some experts say, the Chinese test was an effort to force the issue, to show the United States the potential consequences of refusing to negotiate a favorable treaty on the military use of space. "The U.S. was restricting all these arms treaties," says Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in security studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "For the Chinese, [the test] was an effort to deal from a position of strength."
Pike believes China may have another rationale for flexing its space muscle: Taiwan. China has long yearned to reabsorb the breakaway island state, which the United States has pledged to defend. In the short term, Pike says, China has only two strategies that could lead to a Taiwan takeover. It could bluff the U.S. in a nuclear confrontation, or it could try something altogether different: Fire medium-range missiles from mobile launchers, just as it did in the January test, and take out America's low-flying imaging satellites. Doing so might blind U.S. military planners long enough for Chinese military forces to gain a foothold on the island.
"The Chinese stage these big amphibious exercises off Taiwan all the time. One day, maybe it'll be real," Pike says. "Either the U.S. will get there quickly enough to stop them or the Chinese will win the race and there won't be the American political resolve to kick them out. All the Chinese would need is time." A half-dozen sats, Pike says -- that's all it would take. "Those satellites are low-hanging fruit. It's a no-brainer."
In that scenario, the ASAT test was not really about China showing the United States its capability. It was about China confirming that its own war plan is feasible.
America's Trump Card
The long-term ramifications of the test will take years to play out, but, for now, few observers think China scored any gains. "It was a mistake," O'Hanlon says. It fueled American hard-liners who want to restrict American technological cooperation with China. And, "It doesn't help China's case saying it isn't a threatening military power," Vick says. "It is a threat, and the test showed that." Whether the United States suddenly accelerates its ASAT capability beyond the testing phase remains to be seen. The country is in the midst of a war; budgets are already tight. Russia is not perceived as a threat and China has only 60 satellites -- few of these are worth shooting down.
America's most robust ASAT weapons were not designed for destroying satellites at all -- they are missiles developed and operated by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), formerly known as the Strategic Defense Initiative. All U.S. ballistic missiles are actually dual-use, and while their ability to shoot down incoming rockets has been proven only in tests, it would be easy to direct them against any low Earth orbit satellite. Twenty-four MDA missiles are operational in Alaska and California, far more than would be needed, Pike says, to handle any immediate ASAT needs. There is, he says, "just nothing to shoot at."
For now, that is. The militarization of space has long been debated. With one blown-up old weather satellite, China has made the prospect of a new arms race far more likely. It showed the world that it is willing to go toe-to-toe up in the final frontier.
Re: Military Science
Reply #53 on:
August 24, 2007, 03:24:44 AM »
Drama of a Tough Marine
By Ralph Peters
The New York Post | 8/24/2007
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq - A Marine appeared in the doorway of the battalion commander's office. "Sir, we've got an ident on a mortar team."
Marine Lt. Col. Nate Nastase stood up behind his desk. He'd been briefing me on his area of operations just east of Fallujah, where the sheiks recently flipped to our side and a fading, but still lethal, al Qaeda struggled to stay in the game.
Nastase moves with a purpose. He led the way through the smack-down heat to the operations center next door. Adrenaline laced the air. The ops staff of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, believed they had a fix on a target they'd been hunting, a terrorist hit-and-run mortar crew determined to announce that al Qaeda was still around.
But there was a problem. Ordinarily, Marine artillery would've shot counter-fire as soon as their radars picked up the incoming round. But there had been a line-of-fire issue. Fortunately, a well planned surveillance mission was in the air at just the right spot. The system didn't catch the round being fired, but quickly spotted a vehicle at the shooter's location.
It didn't seem like a coincidence. The area was a scrub waste, with no one else in evidence. There was no good reason for anybody to be there.
Lt. Col. Nastase would have to make the decision to green-light an airstrike.
Sounds clear-cut. But few things are straightforward in Iraq. Since no one saw a concealed mortar actually fire from the truck or beside it, it was impossible to be 100 percent certain.
What if it was a coincidence? The Marines had spent months building a crucial partnership with local tribes who had been our enemies for years. Now the local Sunni Arabs are on board in the fight against al Qaeda (and al Qaeda doesn't like it - earlier in the week, a mortar round killed a key sheik's daughter and one of his bodyguards).
Everyone in the room and the adjacent bay felt the same longing to pull the trigger, to take out that mortar crew. But Nastase would have to decide. And the vehicle was already on the move, headed toward another unit's sector, jumping a boundary - the military equivalent of a state line.
Nastase remained a study in self-control, reining in the emotions in the room simply by giving clear instructions and asking short, sharp questions. Appearing no older than a captain, Nastase looks like a combination of Tom Cruise and a Sicilian boxer.
A ground-attack aircraft was on station, but would soon need to refuel. What did the battalion commander want to do?
Suddenly, the target vehicle stopped in the middle of nowhere. Another vehicle, pointed in the opposite direction, pulled up beside it. Was the mortar crew switching rides, letting an unsuspecting driver take the hit if the Americans were on to them? Was evidence being transferred?
What if there was an innocent explanation for the vehicles' behavior? A misguided attack could alienate the locals again.
The vehicles broke apart, with the main suspect taking off toward the sister unit's sector. That meant checking to ensure that no friendlies were in the area and coordinating all fires - if the decision were made to shoot.
The vehicle pulled up beside a house. Just inside the other unit's boundary.
What if al Qaeda were setting the entire thing up to get us to attack a home where women and children were present? What if they were playing all of our technical advantages against us and springing a political trap? Contrary to the myths of the left, no Americans leaders want to harm the innocent. And the local repercussions of bad targeting could set back reconciliation efforts by months.
Still, everybody in that room wanted to shoot. Hitting back is the natural impulse for Marines or soldiers - get the enemy, any time you can. Nail that mortar team while we've got them.
Everything was in place for the attack.
The commander looked over the incoming data one last time. A decisive man, Nastase still had to be the one perfectly clear thinker in the room. Everyone else was doing his job, and doing it well. But unleashing the power of the U.S. military was up to one lieutenant colonel.
He chose not to shoot. If a surveillance system had actually spotted a mortar round coming out of the vehicle or from a position near it, the decision would have gone the other way. But there was just enough uncertainty to convince the battalion commander that protecting the vital, new alliance with the local sheiks was the priority.
Everyone must've been disappointed. But they didn't show it. They're Marines. They just carry on with the mission.
Nastase must've felt the letdown, too. But he was comfortable with his decision. And the mission wasn't a complete failure, not by any means: Two suspect vehicles had been ID'd and the Marines could be on the look-out for them. A house had been pinpointed as a potential terrorist safe haven or staging area - the adjacent unit could raid it, maybe grabbing key terrorists and making an intelligence score.
All of the work by the troops out in the outposts and on patrol and by the staff was paying off: The Marines had narrowed down the possibilities and had known approximately where to watch for the terrorists this time. Next time might well be their last time. That mortar team wasn't going to live long.
But the round had gone to the terrorists. Even though they shot wild - almost as if they'd really been nothing but bait.
Everyone yearns to do the satisfying thing. But a leader has to do the wise thing. The battalion commander hadn't held back from a lack of guts, but because he knew that, this time, restraint was a better fit for his mission.
But it was a hard decision to make.
Lt. Col. Nastase gave a few final orders and walked back out into the heat. Alone.
Re: Military Science
Reply #54 on:
August 25, 2007, 06:31:32 AM »
Russia: The Fundamentals of Russian Air Defense Exports
August 24, 2007 16 04 GMT
Russia displayed the new S-400 surface-to-air missile system at the MAKS 2007 air show in Moscow that began Aug. 21. Although Belarusian Defense Minister Col. Gen. Leonid Maltsev expressed interest in acquiring it, Moscow is not ready to export the S-400.
Russia displayed its latest surface-to-air missile system, the S-400 Triumf, at the Aug. 21-26 MAKS 2007 air show in Moscow. The system was tested successfully in July and is now slowly being deployed around Moscow. Other countries, including Belarus, are keenly interested in the latest air defense technology. However, Igor Ashurbeily, CEO of S-400 producer Almaz Central Design Bureau, made it clear Aug. 23 that the system will not be exported until 2009. Russian air defense considerations, financial prudence and foreign policy all tend to argue for even longer delays in export.
Air defense is hardwired into the Russian military psyche. For much of the Cold War, Russia was at an extreme disadvantage in terms of intercontinental reach -- especially in terms of aerial reconnaissance and strategic bombers. To put it simply, Russia was more vulnerable to U.S. reconnaissance planes and strategic bombers than the United States was to Soviet planes.
Part of this is geography, part is history. The United States began designing an intercontinental bomber to reach Tokyo the moment the Japanese fleet bombed Pearl Harbor. The Russians, on the other hand, were fighting a massive and devastating land war against the seasoned German army. They had little time or patience for the niceties of long-range aviation. That disparity defined how each emerged from World War II to wage the Cold War. Air defense -- particularly surface-to-air missiles -- was consequently a major strategic consideration for the Soviets.
At the apex of this tradition are the late models of the S-300 series, especially the S-300PMU2, which are renowned as some of the best air defense hardware money can buy. Their range and capability make them coveted strategic defensive assets. With exceptionally long ranges, they can reportedly engage stealth aircraft and low-flying cruise missiles, and even intercept shorter-range ballistic missiles.
The S-400 is the most recent variant. Despite the new designation, at one point the program was known as the S-300PMU3. The S-400 is quite similar to its older cousins, especially in outward appearance.
If the nomenclature here is beginning to get a bit dense, that is no accident. The Soviets became quite adept at clouding their military capabilities by using confusing basic distinctions. Two "variants" of the same system could bear little apparent and even less actual resemblance to one another.
This also cuts the other way. Moscow can use changes in nomenclature to make two quite similar systems appear to be very different. These skills are not lost on today's Kremlin.
This is where export considerations begin to come into play. The ruse works only while no one else knows the finer points of the system. As long as the latest missiles remain sealed in their launch canisters and the electronic emissions of their engagement radars remain more or less out of the reach of American hands, the unknown remains unknown.
Widespread proliferation of S-400 batteries would make them increasingly accessible to study -- clandestine or otherwise -- by the U.S. military. (The Department of Defense acquired several components of various older versions of the S-300 from former Soviet Union states in the 1990s.) Such study would allow a concrete picture of the system's capabilities to emerge. A concrete picture defines the parameters of a problem, and a problem with parameters allows for the creation of concrete solutions.
The second reason Moscow is unlikely to let the S-400 slip out the door any time soon is that the Russian military-industrial complex has become particularly adept at refurbishing and upgrading old equipment and turning it around at a profit. Indeed, it is still selling variants of air defense systems with roots in the late 1950s. The Kremlin can then use this money to finance production and upgrades of the latest systems for itself. Meanwhile, it locks in a returning customer, who keeps coming back for upgrades and replacements for hardware that is much closer to slipping into obsolescence. This kind of thinking has an economic logic to it.
More than anything else, the export of strategic weapon systems is a tool of foreign policy. Such sales can help facilitate military cooperation or simply aid the enemy of one's enemy. Moscow certainly was not playing nice when it delivered shorter-range Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran. But Russia thus far appears to have refrained from selling more serious systems -- such as late-model S-300 systems -- to either Iran or Syria, despite sincere efforts on the part of both Tehran and Damascus. That is a line Moscow has decided not to cross with Washington.
Moscow has not widely sold the latest models of the S-300 system, and the Russians are hardly likely to begin exporting the S-400 before they expand production of its predecessor systems. Circumstances can change, however, especially as the United States continues to push toward a pair of ballistic missile defense bases in Europe, and Moscow is taking this potential shift into consideration.
Russia Holds its Ground
Ultimately, the S-400 builds on its predecessor. It is almost certainly an incremental improvement over the S-300PMU2. Those improvements, however, largely appear to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. However, even if the S-400 is little more than the S-300PMU2 with a new paint job, it is still one of the best strategic air defense assets money can buy. And Russia gains little from the system's capabilities being distributed internationally and pinpointed any further.
Although the deployment of the S-400 around Moscow hardly equates to Russia's readiness to put the system on the export market, the fielding of this "next generation" will lead almost inexorably to the increased export of later-model S-300s. That alone will facilitate a qualitative leap in air defense for a number of buyers.
Though the only true test for such systems is a shooting war, Russian air defense technology appears to be, at the very least, holding its ground in the face of generational advances by the U.S. Air Force -- and that technology will become increasingly available for the right price.
Russia's Skat UCAV
Reply #55 on:
August 25, 2007, 06:40:21 AM »
second post of the morning:
Russia: The Unveiling of the Skat
August 24, 2007 16 06 GMT
A new Russian unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) called the Skat was on display Aug. 24 at Russia's MAKS 2007 air show. Though the UCAV is still under development and details about its capabilities remain unknown, the Skat should not be underestimated.
A mock-up of a Russian unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) being developed by the MiG Aircraft Corp. was displayed Aug. 24 at the MAKS 2007 air show near Moscow. This UCAV, dubbed the Skat, is not to be underestimated, though much about its development and capabilities remains to be seen.
Vaguely similar in appearance to the U.S. Navy’s Northrop Grumman X-47B, the Skat is hardly a new product on the world arms market. UCAVs, which are designed to deploy weapons, are under development in a number of locations around the globe, particularly in Europe. Hence, it is no surprise that Russia, one of the world's chief arms suppliers, also is pursuing them.
Though the unveiling of a wooden UCAV mock-up should not be taken too seriously, it also should not be dismissed offhand. MiG reportedly has been working on the Skat for more than two years, and Russia claims to have committed substantial funds to the country's ongoing unmanned aerial vehicle development.
However, many details about the Skat's development and capabilities are still unknown. The tailless flying wing configuration is a delicate design and requires fly-by-wire technology. Further software development is necessary to allow such a plane to operate autonomously -- an important step up from a more rudimentary remote-control configuration. And indigenous software development capacity is limited in Russia. The Soviets have historically regarded computers solely as a military technology; consequently, software development remains a very underdeveloped sector of the country's economy, and workers with these kinds of skills are aggressively courted by foreign firms.
Reports that the first of two functional Skat test beds will actually have a built-in cockpit for a human pilot -- a substantial design change at a substantial additional cost -- suggest that Russia still has much to do to perfect its unmanned technology.
Furthermore, the development of stealth technology requires a lot of work. The Russians have never believed in such technology, and they have refused to invest in it since the 1970s because of their belief that radar technology would improve faster. (Moscow does not share Washington's faith in small numbers of complex, advanced systems.)
The Skat will not be the best UCAV on the market, and it certainly will not be the stealthiest. But the Russians will build it from the ground up with production efficiency in mind. If they succeed, they will deploy the Skat in numbers and formations larger than those envisioned by the Pentagon for comparable missions. They might suffer a higher rate of attrition, but one should not assume the Skat will not get the job done.
Re: Military Science
Reply #56 on:
August 27, 2007, 02:38:19 PM »
A nice piece on tactics. Lays out in good detail the lay of the land and how our troops are moving ahead.
The Weekly Standard
Operation Phantom Strike
How the U.S. military is demolishing al Qaeda in Iraq.
by Mario Loyola
09/03/2007, Volume 012, Issue 47
On August 15, several hours after night fell over Baghdad, an air assault squadron of the 3rd Infantry Division launched the first attack of Operation Marne Husky. A dozen darkened transport and attack helicopters took off and headed south along the Tigris River, carrying a full company of infantry--about 120 young riflemen with night goggles and weapons loaded. Their objective was a hamlet several dozen miles away. At about 11 P.M., the force landed and rapidly surrounded several small structures. The occupants were taken by surprise. Five suspected insurgents were captured. By 4 A.M., the entire team was airborne again.
Every night since then similar scenes have unfolded at dozens of locations in and around Baghdad--all part of a larger operation named Phantom Strike. The attacks involve units of all sizes and configurations, coming in by air and land. In some cases, the units get out quickly. In others, they pitch tents for an extended stay. The idea is to keep the enemy--al Qaeda and its affiliates--on the defense and constantly guessing, thereby turning formerly "safe" insurgent areas into areas of prohibitive risk for them.
Time and space
The impetus for Phantom Strike was, in a way, born in Washington, where Congress created a series of benchmarks for progress in Iraq by mid-September, at which point an "interim report" is required from Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander. The legislation inadvertently (perhaps "negligently" is a better word) created a "Tet" opportunity for al Qaeda here. If it can dominate headlines with spectacular mass-casualty suicide attacks in the days and weeks leading up to the report, the political climate in Washington might turn irretrievably against the military effort, thereby snatching a victory for the terrorists that they have failed to win on the ground. (Just as the Viet Cong's Tet offensive in 1968, while a military debacle for them, convinced U.S. media and political elites that that war was lost.) With this in mind, operational planners earlier this year began laying out a strategy to disrupt al Qaeda's ability to carry out the expected attacks.
Learning from past mistakes, commanders of the "surge" forces now take territory only if they can hold it. But for certain elements of Phantom Strike, they are making an exception to that rule. Divisional commands across Iraq have been instructed to cash in their accumulated intel and attack insurgents where they are most likely to be hiding--whether it makes sense to hold the territory or not. In planning rooms across the central third of Iraq, commanders looked at their target wish-lists--places where they had taken fire in the past, or tracked possible insurgents, or gotten credible tips from the population--and chose the most enticing ones.
The Joint Campaign Plan, a document that operationalizes the surge in accordance with Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy, calls for coalition forces to give the government of Iraq "the time and space that it needs to succeed," according to military officers. The practical emphasis has been on "space." By pushing coalition forces out from their bases and into neighborhoods across Baghdad and other major urban centers in Iraq, commanders have sought to establish "area security" through "clear, control, and retain" operations. Key to retaining these areas is the participation of Iraqi Security Forces and other nonmilitary Iraqi government support.
The success enjoyed in places like Anbar province has come because security forces convinced people that they were there to stay. Those populations have shown their appreciation by joining the fight against al Qaeda in their neighborhoods, joining the police, and establishing neighborhood watch systems. Purely disruptive raids in which neither control nor retention is sought have thus fallen somewhat into disfavor.
But there is one good reason not to abandon them altogether. Disruption is a way to seize and maintain the initiative. Disruptive attacks keep the enemy off-balance, guessing as to your next move. That makes him concentrate on defense, and put off his own attacks. It's like a boxer keeping his opponent on the ropes with a flurry of jabs until the right moment for a knock-out blow.
Operation Marne Husky is just such a disruptive operation. Most of General Rick Lynch's 3rd Infantry forces are committed to massive "clear control and retain" (CCR) operations in his area. He was therefore somewhat short of troops to contribute to Phantom Strike activities. But he wasn't short on targets. His operations have produced a steady stream of al Qaeda and other insurgents fleeing further south for safety, mostly to an area on the Tigris known as the Samarrah jungle. Flushed from their safe havens, and tracked by intel, the insurgents were now vulnerable--in some cases, sitting ducks. Once the Phantom Strike guidance gave Lynch the order to attack, all he needed was a little ingenuity to come up with the right assets.
The 3rd Infantry Division headquarters has a combat air brigade with more than a hundred helicopters. Marshalling other support services, and mustering a company of crack infantry freed up by the dramatically reduced tempo of operations in Anbar, Lynch put together an ad hoc unit for targeted strike operations, rather like a special forces contingent. In the first week of operations, this small force killed seven fighters and detained 64 suspects including 14 high-value targets, clearing nearly 120 structures in the process.
Such results are an early return on investment for the doctrines developed by Petraeus. The Counterinsurgency Field Manual, formulated under his command and released last December, chews through a lot of theory to arrive at one basic practical tenet: "Intelligence drives operations." The counterinsurgency manual specifies that being able to distinguish between insurgents and civilians is the key to victory.
The only way to do that is to provide protection for the population, enfranchise them, and enlist their help in identifying the insurgents. This creates a virtuous circle--security operations produce good intel which produces better security operations and in turn better intel. The CCR operations in and around Baghdad have produced a trove of actionable intelligence on al Qaeda--its movements, its senior leaders, and the sources and locations of its weapons, explosives, and bomb-making equipment. Phantom Strike has capitalized on that intel, further reducing al Qaeda's capacity to attack, which has improved security and increases the population's confidence in the Coalition and in the Iraqi Security Forces.
Of course, al Qaeda has not taken all of this lying down. All the good news coming out of Iraq recently is even more depressing for al Qaeda than it is for Harry Reid, if that is possible, and al Qaeda could smell that something like Phantom Strike might be coming. It had to pull off a spectacular attack--and it did. On August 14, four near-simultaneous car bombs destroyed whole rows of mud-brick houses in a pair of small farming villages in Yazidi, killing on the order of 400 Iraqis, and wounding many more--a horrifying toll even for today's Iraq.
But the site of the terror attack--in the far northwest of Iraq, 75 miles west of Mosul beyond the upper Tigris--was very interesting.
Lay of the land
To understand why, it is necessary to know something of the human geography of Iraq. Baghdad sits at the confluence of the Tigris River and its main tributary, the Diyala; these both flow from the north. The Euphrates River travels across Iraq from west to east, curving sharply south in the southwest suburbs of Baghdad. From there, the Euphrates and the Tigris converge gently, finally issuing, far to the south, into the Persian Gulf. Because Iraq's populated areas hug its great rivers, the human geography of the country lies along five corridors all connected to a central hub--Baghdad.
Outside those fertile corridors lies a scorching, lifeless desert--in many places no further than three miles from the nearest river. Because the desert has no water, it favors the army that can most easily maneuver over long distances with its own water. The Americans are thus masters of the desert in Iraq.
The insurgents, by contrast, don't do so well there. Even when they disguise themselves as Bedouins, their patterns of congregation and movement are easily detected by the scores of unmanned aerial vehicles constantly on the prowl overhead. And they can't move around readily, because the desert is largely impassable and in any case totally exposed, its few roads easily monitored. This means both the insurgency and the counter-insurgency center on Iraq's five river corridors.
Of these, the one where al Qaeda has suffered its clearest and most humiliating defeat is along the western Euphrates--the corridor stretching from Baghdad to Falluja, Ramadi, Haditha, and on to Al Qaim near the Syrian border. Not too long ago the heart of the Sunni insurgency, the entire corridor has fallen to coalition forces. Insurgents are finding that they can't get past the outer checkpoints far enough to approach any of the main cities, and even crossing from one side of the Euphrates to the other has become extremely difficult. Indeed the situation in Anbar has advanced to the point where the Marine Expeditionary Force has hit all of its major "intel targets" and had virtually none to nominate for the Phantom Strike campaign.
Moving counterclockwise, the corridors formed by the southern Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and the irrigated land between them, are mainly Iraq's Shiite heartland. But this twin corridor is dominated at its northern end by a belt of Sunni settlements, running along the outer perimeter of southern Baghdad. Saddam Hussein contrived this as a defense-in-depth of his precious capital. In this Baghdad belt, Lynch's division has been conducting a series of enormous CCR operations. Insurgents are fleeing south, but will soon start running into the Shiite wall, where (after years--indeed decades--of abusing the Shiites) they are likely to suffer a fate far worse than getting captured by coalition forces.
The next river corridor to the north is the Diyala valley, which leads from Baghdad to Baquba, Muqtadiya, and Mansuriyah, finally hitting the Kurdish region where the terrain becomes mountainous. Starting in mid-June with Operation Arrowhead Ripper, which focused on Baquba, this area has seen the heaviest fighting in Iraq since the start of the surge last February. It is also the site of the most complex and interesting of the Phantom Strike operations--Lightning Hammer--which focuses on the upper Diyala River valley from Baquba to the Kurdish region.
These four corridors, which only a year ago were wide open to the insurgents, have become increasingly nettlesome and dangerous for them since the start of the surge. The large areas shown on intel maps as "safe" for the insurgents only last year have been whittled down to small pockets here and there. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are increasingly desperate for safe havens from which to operate and lines of communication they can rely on.
Increasingly the insurgents' only option is the fifth corridor, the northern Tigris River valley stretching from Baghdad to Samarrah, Tikrit, and Mosul in the far north. This is why the location of al Qaeda's August 16 attack, 75 miles west of Mosul, was so telling. The car-bombs were likely assembled near Mosul because of the increased risk of trying to assemble them anywhere else in Iraq. And they were "delivered" locally because al Qaeda probably decided that the long journey down the Tikrit-Samarrah-Baghdad highway was too dangerous.
Al Qaeda understands how to manipulate western media well enough to know that they don't always need to attack in Baghdad. Indeed, the bombing dominated the headlines in the United States in the dramatic opening days of Operation Phantom Strike. But because of where it occurred, it told the coalition's planners that they have been effective, too.
Hammer and anvil
No current fighting shows the ingenuity of U.S. planners better than the Lightning Hammer operations in the Diyala River valley. The focus of Lightning Hammer at the moment is an elegant and dramatic attack on the suspected havens of the al Qaeda elements that were forced north out of Baquba earlier this summer.
The attack unfolded in two phases, the first of which was the rapid concentration of forces at several different points along the upper Diyala River valley. Two air assault squadrons, one from the the 25th Infantry Division out of Kirkuk, and another of the 82nd Airborne out of Tikrit, took off for the western side of the valley. Consisting of several dozen helicopters and some 240 soldiers, the two squadrons converged on five locations among the maze of canals and broken farmland that runs along the western edge of the valley. Their purpose was to establish a screen to block the most likely escape routes for the insurgents who were about to be flushed out of the valley.
Meanwhile, snatching helicopters from other units in the area, another air assault squadron was attached to a battalion of the armor-heavy 1st Cavalry Division at Forward Operating Base Normandy, in the northern Diyala River valley. The entire force then headed south out of the FOB, some 300 soldiers in a column of tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, Humvees and helicopters. They pushed through Moqdadiyah and plunged towards the valley.
Simultaneously, another battalion of the 1st Cav pushed northeast from Baquba in a small operation dubbed Pericles (also part of Lightning Hammer and Phantom Strike) meant to attack specific intel targets within one of the few remaining pockets of safety for insurgents in the area. The operation had the secondary effect of putting a full battalion of heavy infantry in the field at the bottom of the Diyala River valley just above Baquba, to act as an anvil for the coming operation.
The two battalions wasted no time in launching the second phase of the battle, moving towards each other from opposite ends of the valley, in a simultaneous, massive, and rapid CCR operation. In six days, the two battalions flooded 28 specific targets--including whole villages--in a fast-moving combination of ground and air assaults.
Many al Qaeda fighters appear to have had just enough warning to make good their escape. But in so doing, they were forced to abandon their new "operations center" north of Baghdad--a command post, medical clinic, scores of rockets and mortars, dozens of IEDs, and even their personal weapons.
The prospects for these fighters are not good. The north and south end of the valleys are blocked, as is the valley's western border. The eastern escape from the valley is open for them, but that leads them into a bowl of farmland that is regularly scoured by patrols from FOB Caldwell, and is ringed to the northeast by the Kurdish "wall," to the south by the Shiite "wall," and to the southwest by coalition forces operating in strength between Baghdad and Baquba. Their only solution is to travel without their weapons and explosives--the things that make them dangerous.
Meanwhile, not beset by the force limitations that constrain General Lynch south of Baghdad, General Benjamin Mixon's Multi-National Division-North has orchestrated the Lightning Hammer attack as a CCR on the pattern developed by the Marines in Anbar. Close behind the American units came units of the Iraqi Security Forces, aiming to stay, and behind them, government officials and technical advisers meant to levee the population into the organized neighborhood watch programs that have proven fatal to al Qaeda in Anbar. Planners told me that the coalition forces were greeted warmly, and locals pledged to help, as the Sunni tribes have in Anbar.
The way forward
Al Qaeda in Iraq had many initial advantages--including a message that, though false, was superficially appealing. But they never achieved national scope. They have never looked to anyone like they could actually govern a country. They never gained the open support of any foreign army. And now, after giving the people of Iraq a taste of their brutal sadism--after executing children for playing with American-donated soccer balls, after chopping the fingers off young men for smoking, after murdering entire families in front of the youngest son, so he would live to tell the tale--Al Qaeda in Iraq is more widely hated than feared.
In the words of one soft-spoken coalition planner in Baghdad, "We are demolishing them." After four long years, the coalition has finally grasped the keys to victory. Al Qaeda has begun to lose the staging areas it needs for attacks in Baghdad. Just staying alive and avoiding capture is becoming a full-time occupation for them. As security envelops Baghdad, and calm spreads along the river corridors that extend out from the capital to the furthest reaches of the country, what is already clear to many people here in Iraq will become increasingly impossible for the rest of the world to ignore.
Because they have finally learned how to protect the people of Iraq--and help them to protect themselves--the United States and its allies are winning this war.
Mario Loyola, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is embedded with the Marine Expeditionary Force in western Iraq.
© Copyright 2007, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
Re: Military Science
Reply #57 on:
September 03, 2007, 10:45:27 PM »
August 27, 2007 Issue
Copyright © 2007 The American Conservative
The Chips Are Down
With our computers frozen, would the U.S. still be a superpower? China intends to find out.
In this galaxy, in the not too distant future . . .
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan demanded that the U.S. military focus its attention—and much of its research and development—on how best to respond to low-tech threats such as primitive improvised explosive devices. While the IEDs proved to be deadly for the troops of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq—the majority of casualties suffered were from exploding roadside bombs—the long-term effect they had on the American military was far more consequential. The real impact was felt only a few years later when the United States became involved in its next major conflict—with China.
The two wars in the Middle East were, from a scientific perspective, low-tech engagements in which conventional military forces fought urban guerrillas. Following a sweeping victory that brought the U.S. military from the Kuwaiti border right up to Baghdad and beyond in record time, the administration believed that victory had been attained and prematurely declared the end of major combat operations. As we were to find out, this was far from the case. American soldiers and Marines—and the 60,000-odd contract workers supporting the U.S. military—soon had to grapple with a new problem: roadside bombs detonated by remote control. Lethal as they were, these homemade gadgets were rudimentary. They were relatively easy to assemble, hide, transport, place along the roads where coalition troops were bound to pass by, and detonate remotely. At one point, U.S. soldiers found that a simple remote control sold with $50 battery-operated toy cars at Radio Shack allowed American troops to preempt the IEDs by detonating the insurgents’ bombs ahead of American convoys.
As the casualty toll from the IEDs began to grow, the military focused on countermeasures. Resources from the military’s own research groups and defense contractors across the country became absorbed by the problem. As could be expected, the resistance and the jihadi fighters answered by creating more sophisticated bombs, for example, building the casing out of plastic to avoid detection by mine sweepers. This only prompted the military to keep looking for ways to thwart newer generations of IEDs. And the deadly cycle continued until the end of the war in October 2017—or at least the end of the war for the United States.
American engagement in Iraq officially ended when a detachment of Navy Seals—the last group of U.S. Special Forces—were extracted out of Anbar Province in the middle of the night. Al-Qaeda fighters, having learned from an informer of the U.S. evacuation plan, attempted to ambush them. They began firing on the 16 Seals—divided into two teams of eight—as they hooked harnesses onto cables attached to the underbellies of two large CH-47 Sea Knight Marine helicopters. The gunmen missed the Seals for the most part. Three Marine Cobra attack helicopters providing cover fire quickly silenced the attackers.
Between the time the first American soldier set foot on Iraqi soil in 2003 and the last of the Navy Seals commandos left the country in 2017, and while the U.S. military remained preoccupied in countering threats emanating from low-tech devices in an asymmetrical war, halfway around the globe the Chinese did not remain idle. Aware that the day would come when the People’s Liberation Army might have to face the American Army in battle, China began looking toward the place that conflict might be conducted. Their conclusion: the one who controlled space was guaranteed victory.
The Chinese leadership was fully aware that the PLA could never stand up to the U.S. military in a conventional war, despite China’s superior number of troops—one million under arms. The U.S. war machine is made up of the most fantastic pieces of armament ever incorporated into any fighting force in the history of man.
From the main battle tank, the Abrams M1A1, to Cobra attack helicopters, to Marine vertical take-off and landing Harrier jump jets, to the U.S. Air Force’s crown jewel, the B1 stealth bomber, to the magnificent armadas that the U.S. Navy can deploy with its nuclear powered aircraft carriers, attack submarines, and destroyers anywhere on the face of the globe, the Chinese military leadership had reason to worry.
Its war planners projected that the day would come when they would have to face America’s military in a standoff, most likely over the island of Taiwan, seen by China as a breakaway province and considered by the United States to be a friend and ally. They began to plan accordingly.
While the U.S. military was occupied developing simple solutions to counter low-tech threats in the Middle East, Beijing quietly went about developing high-tech systems to place aboard dozens of “communication” satellites that were developed, tested, and launched into space. Today, the Chinese have 56 satellites in space.
On Jan. 11, 2007, a missile was launched from the Chinese mainland to an altitude of 537 miles, slamming straight into its target—an obsolete Chinese weather satellite. The target was instantly destroyed, reportedly producing almost 900 trackable pieces of space debris. At that time, the U.S. military was far too preoccupied with what was happening in Iraq to worry about Chinese missiles. It proved to be an oversight—a major one.
China made good use of this oblivion. Along with its space-launched missile defense initiative, the Chinese busied themselves with finding ways to immobilize America’s far superior tanks, warplanes, and battleships and render the U.S. military’s computers and their communication and command-and-control systems useless. The Chinese knew that time was limited and that once the U.S. began to disengage from Iraq and Afghanistan, its military would regroup and reassess new threats and move to counter them.
The conflict began pretty much like most conflicts do: gradual escalation and exchanges of strongly worded communiqués, culminating with threats, followed by military action.
Beijing announced that if the newly elected government in Taiwan declared independence, China would intervene militarily. The United States responded by dispatching two carrier task forces attached to the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Ronald Reagan. Besides the usual high-tech armament, including ship-to-shore missiles, ship-to-air missiles, and ship-to-ship missiles, and 400-odd warplanes aboard the carriers, the combined task force also included two Battalion Landing Teams, some 4,000 Marines.
The Chinese had nowhere near as many warships, planes, or tanks, but they had 350,000 men aboard transport ships—and they had a secret weapon in orbit.
As the Chinese expeditionary force approached Taiwan, they crossed an imaginary red line drawn across a Pentagon map, breaching the point American generals estimated would be one from which the Chinese would not turn back.
From his command post aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, Adm. Anthony S. Samuelson picked up a secure telephone connecting him directly to the Pentagon and to the office of the secretary of defense. The secretary picked up on the first ring.
“Tell me it’s good news, admiral.”
“Wish I could, sir. They are now in firing range and are not about to turn around. It looks like this is it.”
The secretary of defense asked the admiral to stand by. He picked up a burgundy phone on his desk.
The president answered instantly. “Madame President,” said the secretary, “You must order the attack. If we are to proceed, it must be now.”
The president scanned the room, moving her eyes around the Oval Office where her national security advisers were gathered. Each in turn nodded his head, indicating a silent “yes.” The president of the United States put the phone to her ear and told her secretary of defense to proceed. With a heavy heart, Chelsea Clinton placed the receiver back in its cradle.
As the first Chinese soldier set foot on the beaches of Taiwan, the order was received from Adm. Samuelson’s headquarters to open fire.
Minutes before the order was given, some 300 miles up in space, a Chinese scientific satellite released a burst of electro-magnetic energy aimed at American and Taiwanese forces. Other similar satellites positioned strategically around the Earth released a number of similar bursts directed at strategic U.S. missile silos in the continental United States, Korea, and Australia.
Total confusion followed. Not one order issued electronically by U.S. command-and-control centers reached its target. Missiles fired from the ships of the Seventh Fleet went straight into space and exploded harmlessly above the earth. The Abrams M1A1 tanks started to turn around in circles like demented prehistoric dogs trying to bite their tails. The few planes that managed to take off from the carriers crashed into the South China Sea. Search-and-rescue helicopters were unable to even start their engines.
The Chinese were able to walk ashore and take Taiwan without firing a single shot.
Thankfully, the battle for Taiwan unfolded only in this author’s imagination. But the scenario is not entirely outside the realm of possibility. It is time to finish the war in Iraq and hand the Iraqis responsibility for their land and their own future. It is also time to look ahead. Our competitors are.
Claude Salhani is International Editor and a political analyst with United Press International in Washington, D.C.
Re: Military Science
Reply #58 on:
September 06, 2007, 10:51:04 AM »
By MACKUBIN THOMAS OWENS
September 6, 2007; Page A17
Events have vindicated the claims of those who argued that President Bush's "surge" strategy in Iraq could work. Security, the sine qua non for ultimate success, has improved. This is especially true in Anbar and other Sunni-dominated provinces where the Sunni sheiks, who may have previously supported al Qaeda, have concluded that the Americans are now the "strongest tribe" in the region and have turned against their erstwhile allies.
Gen. Creighton Abrams watches during ceremonies transferring U.S. river patrol boats to the South Vietnamese Navy, Oct. 10, 1969.
This is an important development. Of course, success also depends on the actions of the U.S. Congress and the behavior of the Iraqi government. But the military element is important. Advocates of the surge argued that militarily, success would depend less on the number of U.S. troops in Iraq than on how they were used. Under Gen. David Petraeus, they have been used correctly to conduct effective counterinsurgency operations. What perhaps is not fully appreciated is the significant cultural change that his approach represents.
Some years ago, the late Carl Builder of Rand wrote a book called "The Masks of War," in which he demonstrated the importance of the organizational cultures of the various military services. His point was that each service possesses a preferred way of fighting that is not easily changed. Since the 1930s, the culture of the U.S. Army has emphasized "big wars." But this has not always been the case.
Throughout the 19th century, the U.S. Army was a constabulary force that, with the exception of the Mexican and Civil Wars, specialized in irregular warfare. Most of this constabulary work was domestic, the Indian Wars representing the most important case. But the U.S. Army also successfully executed constabulary operations in the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, which involved both nation-building and counterinsurgency.
The seeds of a conceptual transformation of the Army were sown after the Civil War by Emory Upton, an innovative officer with an outstanding Civil War record. Graduating from West Point in 1861, he was a brevet brigadier general by the end of the war. He later became a protégé of William Tecumseh Sherman and when Sherman became general in chief of the Army, he sent Upton around the world as a military observer.
Upton believed the constabulary focus was outdated. He was especially impressed by Prussia's ability to conduct war against the armies of other military powers and its emphasis on professionalism. Certainly Prussia's overwhelming successes against Denmark, Austria and France in the Wars of German Unification (1864-71) made the Prussian army the new exemplar of military excellence in Europe.
Upon his return to the U.S., Upton proposed a number of radical reforms, including abandoning the citizen-soldier model and relying on professional soldiers, reducing civilian interference in military affairs, and abandoning the emphasis on the constabulary operations in favor of preparing for a conflict with a potential foreign enemy. Given the tenor of the time, all of his proposals were rejected. In ill health, Upton resigned from the Army and, in 1881, committed suicide.
But the triumph in the U.S. of progressivism, a political program that placed a great deal of reliance on scientific expertise and professionalism, the closing of the Western frontier, and the problems associated with mobilizing for and fighting the Spanish American War made Upton's proposed reforms more attractive, especially to the Army's officer corps. In 1904, Secretary of War Elihu Root published Upton's "Military Policy of the United States." While many of Upton's more radical proposals remained unacceptable to republican America, the idea of reorienting the Army away from constabulary duties to a mission focused on defeating the conventional forces of other states caught on.
While the Army returned to constabulary duties after World War I, Upton's spirit now permeated the professional Army culture. World War II vindicated Upton's vision, and his view continued to govern U.S. Army thinking throughout the Cold War. It is still dominant in the Army today, with the possible exception of its small and elite Special Forces. The American Army that entered Iraq in 2003 was still Emory Upton's Army. But Gen. Petraeus's strategic adjustment suggests that the Army might be undergoing a significant cultural change.
Focused as it has been on state-versus-state warfare, Upton's Army has not cared much for counterinsurgency. This is illustrated by Vietnam, especially during the tenure of Gen. William Westmoreland as commander of U.S. troops from 1965 to 1968.
Westmoreland's operational strategy emphasized the attrition of the forces of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces in a "war of the big battalions": multi-battalion, and sometimes even multi-division sweeps intended to find and destroy the enemy with superior firepower. In so doing, he emphasized the destruction of enemy forces instead of controlling key areas in order to protect the South Vietnamese population.
Unfortunately, such search-and-destroy operations were often unsuccessful, since the enemy could usually avoid battle unless it was advantageous for him to accept it. But they were costly both to the American soldiers who conducted them and the Vietnamese civilians who were in the area. In addition, Gen. Westmoreland ignored the insurgency and pushed the South Vietnamese aside.
The Marine approach in Vietnam was different. It was based on the Corps' experiences stabilizing governments and combating guerrilla forces in the Caribbean during the early 20th century. This experience was distilled in Marine Corps Schools lectures beginning in 1920 and was the basis of the "Small Wars Manual" published in 1940.
This approach comprised three elements: pacifying the coastal areas in which 80% of the people lived; degrading the ability of the North Vietnamese to fight by cutting off supplies before they left Northern ports of entry; and engaging PAVN and Viet Cong main force units on terms favorable to American forces. Gen. Westmoreland focused on the third element at the expense of the other two.
Westmoreland was critical of the Marine Corps approach, which unlike his own, took counterinsurgency seriously. He believed, as he wrote in his memoir, that the Marines "should have been trying to find the enemy's main forces and bring them to battle, thereby putting them on the run and reducing the threat they posed to the population."
When Gen. Creighton Abrams replaced Gen. Westmoreland as overall U.S. commander shortly after the Tet offensive, he adopted a new approach -- one similar to that of the Marines -- that came close to winning the war. He emphasized protection of the South Vietnamese population by controlling key areas rather than the destruction of enemy forces per se. He then concentrated on attacking the enemy's pre-positioned supplies, which disrupted PAVN offensive timetables and bought more time for Vietnamization. Finally, rather than ignoring the insurgency and pushing the South Vietnamese aside as Gen. Westmoreland had done, Gen. Abrams followed a policy of "one war," integrating all aspects of the struggle against the communists.
But despite an improved security situation from 1969 to 1974, Congress ended support for South Vietnam, Saigon fell, and the Army, badly hurt by the war, concluded that it should avoid such irregular conflicts in the future. In the 1970s, the Army discarded what doctrine for small wars and counterinsurgency it had developed in Vietnam, choosing to focus on big wars.
But Iraq proves that we don't always get to fight the wars we want. While the Army must continue to plan to fight conventional wars, given the likelihood that future adversaries will seek to avoid our conventional advantage, it must be able to fight irregular wars as well. Gen. Petraeus's success in Iraq so far indicates that the Army has begun the necessary transformation. Let us hope that the Army will internalize these lessons, something Emory Upton's Army has not done in the past.
Mr. Owens is professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He is writing a history of American civil-military relations.
Don't Show the Enemy your Cards
Reply #59 on:
September 12, 2007, 08:48:01 AM »
September 12, 2007
Iraq as Qaeda Bait
By James Lewis
The Left thinks Iraq is a killing field for Americans. Actually, it is a killing field for our enemies, at a very great but vitally important sacrifice. That reflects a grand strategy, tailored to the peculiar nature of the global terror threat.
You don't shoot poisonous fire-ants with a BB gun; you just set an ant trap. Ant colonies are highly "distributed" biological societies, much like the world-wide web. They can't be killed with a BB or a pressure hose; even pouring flaming gasoline on an ant hill won't work.
Instead, you destroy ant colonies by attracting hungry ants to a chemical bait, and then kill them all in one small place. Ant traps work.
That's the Bush strategy in Iraq. Al Qaeda isn't centralized, with big cities or steel industries like Nazi Germany. So you can't destroy the enemy by hunting them one by one. Rather, you bait a trap -- provoke them to come to you, and make sure they don't get out alive.
Iraq is a trap for Al Qaeda. Our mere presence in the heart of the Osama's Caliphate-To-Be draws them like ants to sugar. General Petraeus just reported that
"...in the past 8 months, we have considerably reduced the areas in which Al Qaeda enjoyed sanctuary. We have also neutralized 5 media cells, detained the senior Iraqi leader of Al Qaeda-Iraq, and killed or captured nearly 100 other key leaders and some 2,500 rank-and-file fighters. Al Qaeda is certainly not defeated; however, it is off balance and we are pursuing its leaders and operators aggressively."
Most of the Qaeda fighters come from Saudi Arabia and other breeding grounds. Now that the Sunni tribes are turning against them, they are more exposed and hunted than ever before. Wars are fluid and unpredictable, but no one can imagine that Al Qaeda is happy with its victories since 9/11.
In Afghanistan, they have been on the run since 2003, although the Pakistan border regions continue to supply new recruits. But in Afghanistan they are being destroyed before ever reaching the cities. Add that to a sizable numbers neutralized in Pakistan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and more. Add to that the cells pinpointed in Europe and America, the Philippines and Indonesia. We are wiping out the fire ants wherever they can be found.
At that attrition rate, every single year we stay in Iraq, we could get rid of another couple of thousand AQ fighters. Yes, we pay a high price -- but nothing like the price that baddies running loose and attacking us at home would exact.
We are demonstrating who is the strong horse, and who is the weak horse. When the message is finally driven home, the enemy will come to his own conclusions.
In addition to Al Qaeda, other jihadi militants, like Iranian Quds officers and Shiite militants, are being caught in Iraq. A top Hezb'allah operative was just captured there -- and Hezb'allah has been killing Americans ever since they blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon. As the President said when our perverse press pointed out that the terrorists might hit us in Iraq: Bring them on. That was not an idle boast, but just a statement of the bait and kill strategy. The many critics of that statement simply do not understand or do not want to understand the strategy.
Now take a look at the map of Iran,
and notice where our military are today. To the west is Iraq, where American forces move and attack freely. To the east is Afghanistan, where the same is true. South and south-west are Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and the Gulf itself; those Sunni countries now consider Iran to be their biggest threat.
We therefore have hundreds of thousands of military surrounding the next biggest problem, Tehran: to the east and west, and on naval vessels in the Gulf, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean. We just had joint maneuvers with the Indian Navy, the Japanese and the Aussies. In Qatar we have major bases. We just sold another 20 billion dollars worth of military equipment to Saudi and Oman, including anti-missile defenses. Farther away, Egypt and Jordan are American clients -- within limits. So, of course, is Israel. In sum, Tehran can be struck from most points of the compass by our air and missile forces. The Israeli Air Force just struck Iranian weapons located in the eastern corner of Syria, right next to Iran.
Iran is a rising threat, and no one knows how that scenario will play out. But would you really want to be Ahmadi-Nejad today? Every time he makes another wild boast, more people become convinced that he cannot be allowed to get nukes. The German government has just been reported as giving up on the European negotiation effort to stop Iranian nukes. Instead, German officials
"gave the distinct impression that they would privately welcome, while publicly protesting, an American bombing campaign against Iran's nuclear facilities."
It can't be comfortable to be a regime supporter in Tehran today.
Or would you want to be a Baathist general? A few years ago they were at the top of the heap.
The fact is that we are drastically weakening or destroying our terror-supporting enemies: Saddam is dead, Al Qaeda is being degraded, the Taliban are hemorrhaging, and the Mullahs are surrounded.
Yet all the know-nothings think there is no strategy for Iraq.
There's even a clever ironic twist in terms of domestic politics, because our liberals are constantly screaming Defeat! Defeat! Defeat! That message of weakness and vulnerability inspires more and more of our enemies to come to Iraq and join in the bloody slaughter of Americans.
But when they get there, they discover they've been suckered. It's not the Americans who are taking a beating, but the jihadis who fell for the headlines and who listen to the American Left. So even our malicious liberals end up encouraging the enemy to go to Iraq to die.
As President Harry Truman did, George W. Bush recognized the stakes, set in place the right strategy, and was vilified by critics as stupid. But good poker players like Harry S. Truman and George W. Bush know that you don't show your cards too soon, just to make people think you're smart.
James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/
New Russian Bomb
Reply #60 on:
September 12, 2007, 05:22:06 PM »
Nice post Buz. Changing subjects abruptly, the following seems to me to be highly significant. This much power without the consequences of radiation-- this seems to me to be huge.
Russia Tests Powerful 'Dad of All Bombs'
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV – 14 hours ago
MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian military has successfully tested what it described as the world's most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered bomb, Russia's state television reported Tuesday.
It was the latest show of Russia's military muscle amid chilly relations with the United States.
Channel One television said the new weapon, nicknamed the "dad of all bombs" is four times more powerful than the U.S. "mother of all bombs."
"The tests have shown that the new air-delivered ordnance is comparable to a nuclear weapon in its efficiency and capability," said Col.-Gen. Alexander Rukshin, a deputy chief of the Russian military's General Staff, said in televised remarks.
Unlike a nuclear weapon, the bomb doesn't hurt the environment, he added.
The statement reflected the Kremlin's efforts to restore Russia's global clout and rebuild the nation's military might while the ties with Washington have been strained over U.S. criticism of Russia's backsliding on democracy, Moscow's vociferous protests of U.S. missile defense plans, and rifts over global crises.
The U.S. Massive Ordnance Air Blast, nicknamed the Mother Of All Bombs, is a large-yield satellite-guided, air-delivered bomb described as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in history.
Channel One said that while the Russian bomb contains 7.8 tons of high explosives compared to more than 8 tons of explosives in the U.S. bomb, it's four times more powerful because it uses a new, highly efficient type of explosives that the report didn't identify.
While the U.S. bomb is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT, the Russian one is equivalent to 44 tons of regular explosives. The Russian weapon's blast radius is 990 feet, twice as big as that of the U.S. design, the report said.
Like its U.S. predecessor, first tested in 2003, the Russian bomb is a "thermobaric" weapon that explodes in an intense fireball combined with a devastating blast. It explodes in a terrifying nuclear bomb-like mushroom cloud and wreaks destruction through a massive shock wave created by the air burst and high temperature.
Thermobaric weapons work on the same principle that causes blasts in grain elevators and other dusty places — clouds of fine particles are highly explosive. Such explosions produce shock waves that can be directed and amplified in enclosed spaces such as buildings, caves or tunnels.
Channel One said that the temperature in the epicenter of the Russian bomb's explosion is twice as high as that of the U.S. bomb.
The report showed the bomb dropped by parachute from a Tu-160 strategic bomber and exploding in a massive fireball. It featured the debris of apartment buildings and armored vehicles at a test range, as well as the scorched ground from a massive blast.
It didn't give the bomb's military name or say when it was tested.
Rukshin said the new bomb would allow the military to "protect the nation's security and confront international terrorism in any situation and any region."
"We have got a relatively cheap ordnance with a high strike power," Yuri Balyko, head of the Defense Ministry's institute in charge of weapons design, told Channel One.
Booming oil prices have allowed Russia to steadily increase military spending in recent years, and the Kremlin has taken a more assertive posture in global affairs.
Last month, President Vladimir Putin said he ordered the resumption of regular patrols of strategic bombers, which were suspended after the 1991 Soviet breakup.
While we're on the subject of thermobaric armaments
Volumetric weapons include thermobaric and fuel-air explosives (FAE). Both thermobaric and FAE operate on similar technical principles. In the case of FAE, when a shell or projectile containing a fuel in the form of gas, liquid or dustexplodes, the fuel or dust like material is introduced into the air to form acloud. This cloud is then detonated to create a shock wave of extended duration that produces overpressure and expands in all directions. In a thermobaric weapon, the fuel consists of a monopropellant and energetic particles. The monopropellant detonates in a manner simular to TNT while the particles burn rapidly in the surrounding air later in time, resulting an intense fireball and high blast overpressure. The term "thermobaric" is derived from the effects of temperature (the Greek word "therme" means "heat") and pressure (the Greek word "baros" means "pressure") on the target.
Thermobaric munitions have been used by many nations of the world and their proliferation is an indication of how effectively these weapons can be used in urban and complex terrain. The ability of thermobaric weapons to provide massed heat and pressure effects at a single point in time cannot be reproduced by conventional weapons without massive collateral destruction. Thermobaric weapon technologies provide the commander a new choice in protecting the force, and a new offensive weapon that can be used in a mounted or dismounted mode against complex environments.
The USAF and USN are actively pursuing conventional weapons technology to destroy Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) and support/storage facilities while retaining or destroying the agents within the structure and minimizing collateral damage including fatalities. Thermobaric weapons use high-temperature incendiaries against chemical and biological facilities. The USN is working on an Inter-Halogen Oxidizer weapon while the USAF is pursuing a solid fuel-air explosive using aluminum particles. Both of these weapons use an incineration technique to defeat and destroy the CB agents within the blast area.
The Thermobaric Weapon Demonstration is a proposed Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD). Under this program, prototype weapons are to be tested under operational conditions for their performance, and leave-behinds are to be delivered to the customer. The program aims to develop a validated means of delivery to/into a tunnel adit [entrance]. Technical risks include the extent to which candidate thermobaric payloads do not perform substantially better than existing high explosives in tunnels.
The Thermobaric [TB] Weapon Demonstration will develop a weapon concept that is based on a new class of solid fuel-air explosive thermobarics.The weapon could be used against a certain type of tunnel targets for a maximum functional kill of the tunnels.
Most of the Hard and/or Deeply Buried Targets (HDBTs), namely tunnels in rock, are so deep that the developmental and current inventory weapons cannot penetrate to sufficient depths to directly destroy critical assets. One of the warfighter's options is to attack the tunnel portals with weapons that penetrate the thinner layer of rock above the portal, or though the exterior doors, resulting in a detonation within the tunnel system. Penetrations through the door systems have the potential to place the warheads deep within the facility. Detonations within a tunnel, even only in a few diameters, have a significant increase in airblast propagation into the facility compared to external detonations. Tunnel layouts range from long, straight tunnels to various types of intersections, expansions, constrictions, chambers, rooms, alcoves, and multiple levels. All of these configurations affect the propagation of airblast.
Air blast propagation within a tunnel system has the potential to cause significant damage to critical equipment and systems. If the critical equipment within a facility can be damaged or destroyed, then the function of the facility can be degraded or destroyed, resulting in a functional kill. Depending on the purpose of the facility and the level of damage, a functional kill can be as permanent as a "structural kill," in which the facility is destroyed in a more traditional manner.
Functional kill from air blast loads is predicated on the ability to accurately determine the blast environment from an internal detonation. The response of critical equipment cannot be calculated without accurate blast loads. Unlike free-field blast loads, a detonation within a tunnel system can have a significant dynamic pressure component. This dynamic pressure component, in conjunction with the overpressure component, makes up the entire pressure-loading history necessary to predict component response.
Thermobaric compositions are fuel rich high explosives that are enhanced through aerobic combustion in the third detonation event. Performance enhancement is primarily achieved by addition of excess metals to the explosive composition. Aluminum and Magnesium are the primary metals of choice. The detonation of Composite Explosives can be viewed as three discrete events merged together. All three explosive events can be tailored to meet system performance needs:
1. The initial anaerobic detonation reaction, microseconds in duration, is primarily a redox reaction of molecular species. The initial detonation reaction defines the system’s high pressure performance characteristics: armor penetrating ability.
2. The post detonation anaerobic combustion reaction, hundreds of microseconds in duration, is primarily a combustion of fuel particles too large for combustion in the initial detonation wave. The post detonation anaerobic reaction define the system’s intermediate pressure performance characteristics: Wall/Bunker Breaching Capability.
3. The post detonation aerobic combustion reaction, milliseconds in duration, is the combustion of fuel rich species as the shock wave mixes with surrounding air. The post detonation aerobic reaction characteristics define the system’s personnel / material defeat capability: Impulse and Thermal Delivery. Aerobic combustion requires mixing with sufficient air to combust excess fuels. The shock wave pressures are less than 10 atmospheres. The majority of aerobic combustion energy is available as heat. Some low pressure shock wave enhancement can also be expected for personnel defeat. Personnel / material defeat with minimum collateral structure damage requires maximum aerobic enhancement and the highest energy practical fuel additives: Boron, Aluminum, Silicon, Titanium, Magnesium, Zirconium, Carbon, or Hydrocarbons.
Thermobaric materials can provide significantly higher total energy output than conventional high explosives. The majority of the additional energy is available as low pressure impulse and heat.
Re: Military Science
Reply #61 on:
September 13, 2007, 10:17:37 PM »
Russia: A New Development in Naval Propulsion
An "accidental" news story on a local Russian municipality's Web site that has now been removed offers some intriguing possibilities for the future of Russian submarines.
Details of a potential new "top-secret" Russian submarine were "accidentally" released by the municipal government of Sarov on Sept. 6. The story, published on the municipality's Web site, was removed Sept. 11, the day before Russian daily Kommersant (a paper friendly to the Kremlin) published the story. The Russian navy has denied any knowledge of the Project 20120 submarine. Politics and media faux pas aside, if true, the details of this new submarine could indicate an advance in Russian air-independent propulsion (AIP).
AIP is actually a series of technologies that seek to extend the submerged endurance of conventionally powered patrol submarines. From World War I to the present, conventional submarines have relied on a diesel-electric power plant. The diesel engine allows the boat to move efficiently on the surface or near the surface with a "snorkel" that cycles fresh air through the engine compartment. But to function quietly and without a snorkel running to the surface, the submarine switches to electrical power provided by a large bank of batteries. At slow speeds, a well-built and well-run patrol sub can be exceptionally quiet -- but its submerged endurance also is generally limited to less than a week.
Having seen two world wars and one Cold War, the diesel-electric system has been stretched more or less to its limits. Countries that have the technology and know-how have replaced it with nuclear propulsion. Some refinements continue to be made (for example, with Russia's latest -- and much more public -- conventional submarine, the St. Petersburg), but the limits of the method are apparent.
Both Germany and Sweden have already fielded combined diesel-electric and AIP systems. The German system uses hydrogen fuel cells while the Swedish Stirling design uses a closed-cycle diesel engine fed with liquid oxygen. These systems can be used to either run at a slow cruise of 5 to 6 knots or to charge the batteries. Both systems have more than doubled submerged endurance without the need for snorkeling; the German Bundeswehr U32 conducted a two-week transit using AIP in April 2006, and the Stirling system could have even longer endurance.
Russia has long been exploring AIP, and Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms export monopoly, has advertised "electrochemical" AIP as available for "follow-on installation" on its latest subs. But the mysterious Sarov news release could indicate that Russia has progressed further than many thought -- and in a different direction entirely -- with its own AIP system.
Sarov was once the secretive closed city Arzamas-16, also known as the Russian Los Alamos for its role in the Soviet nuclear weapons program. Though nuclear submarine construction is well-established at the Sevmash shipyards in Severodvinsk, Sarov could be a site for further research into the use of radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs).
RTGs use the heat of radioactive decay from radioisotopes like plutonium-238 and strontium-90 to generate electricity. They are much simpler than full-fledged naval reactors and have been used to power remote lighthouses and weather stations as well as deep space probes unable to rely on solar energy.
However, there are technological hurdles that must be overcome. RTGs have been used predominantly in situations where wattage was not the limiting factor. Modern RTGs used on NASA probes produce hundreds of watts and are about the size and weight of a 120-pound person. But to use both German and Swedish systems as a benchmark, a magnitude of 200 to 300 kilowatts is necessary for AIP. Though much of this distance can be overcome by designing an RTG specifically for this purpose and then fitting multiple RTGs to the submarine, there is still a technological gap the Russians would have had to overcome.
The point is not how an RTG-based AIP would stack up against the German or Swedish methods; rather, the point is that an RTG is rather uniquely fitted to the Russian knowledge base -- and the Sarov locale.
Though not earth-shattering, a successful AIP uniquely suited to the Russian defense industry is a potentially significant development for the next generation of Russian patrol subs -- both for domestic coastal defense and export abroad.
Re: Military Science
Reply #62 on:
October 09, 2007, 11:31:14 PM »
The Geopolitical Foundations of Blackwater
By George Friedman
For the past three weeks, Blackwater, a private security firm under contract to the U.S. State Department, has been under intense scrutiny over its operations in Iraq. The Blackwater controversy has highlighted the use of civilians for what appears to be combat or near-combat missions in Iraq. Moreover, it has raised two important questions: Who controls these private forces and to whom are they accountable?
The issue is neither unique to Blackwater nor to matters of combat. There have long been questions about the role of Halliburton and its former subsidiary, KBR, in providing support services to the military. The Iraq war has been fought with fewer active-duty troops than might have been expected, and a larger number of contractors relative to the number of troops. But how was the decision made in the first place to use U.S. nongovernmental personnel in a war zone? More important, how has that decision been implemented?
The United States has a long tradition of using private contractors in times of war. For example, it augmented its naval power in the early 19th century by contracting with privateers -- nongovernmental ships -- to carry out missions at sea. During the battle for Wake Island in 1941, U.S. contractors building an airstrip there were trapped by the Japanese fleet, and many fought alongside Marines and naval personnel. During the Civil War, civilians who accompanied the Union and Confederate armies carried out many of the supply functions. So, on one level, there is absolutely nothing new here. This has always been how the United States fights war.
Nevertheless, since before the fall of the Soviet Union, a systematic shift has been taking place in the way the U.S. force structure is designed. This shift, which is rooted both in military policy and in the geopolitical perception that future wars will be fought on a number of levels, made private security contractors such as KBR and Blackwater inevitable. The current situation is the result of three unique processes: the introduction of the professional volunteer military, the change in force structure after the Cold War, and finally the rethinking and redefinition of the term "noncombatant" following the decision to include women in the military, but bar them from direct combat roles.
The introduction of the professional volunteer military caused a rethinking of the role of the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine in the armed forces. Volunteers were part of the military because they chose to be. Unlike draftees, they had other options. During World War II and the first half of the Cold War, the military was built around draftees who were going to serve their required hitch and return to civilian life. Although many were not highly trained, they were quite suited for support roles, from KP to policing the grounds. After all, they already were on the payroll, and new hires were always possible.
In a volunteer army, the troops are expected to remain in the military much longer. Their training is more expensive -- thus their value is higher. Taking trained specialists who are serving at their own pleasure and forcing them to do menial labor over an extended period of time makes little sense either from a utilization or morale point of view. The concept emerged that the military's maintenance work should shift to civilians, and that in many cases the work should be outsourced to contractors. This tendency was reinforced during the Reagan administration, which, given its ideology, supported privatization as a way to make the volunteer army work. The result was a growth in the number of contractors taking over many of the duties that had been performed by soldiers during the years of conscription.
The second impetus was the end of the Cold War and a review carried out by then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin under then-President Bill Clinton. The core argument was that it was irrational to maintain a standing military as large as had existed during the Cold War. Aspin argued for a more intensely technological military, one that would be less dependent on ground troops. The Air Force was key to this, while the Navy was downsized. The main consideration, however, was the structure of the standing Army -- especially when large-scale, high-intensity, long-term warfare no longer seemed a likely scenario.
The U.S. Army's active-duty component, in particular, was reduced. It was assumed that in time of war, components of the Reserves and National Guard would be mobilized, not so much to augment the standing military, but to carry out a range of specialized roles. For example, Civil Affairs, which has proven to be a critical specialization in Iraq and Afghanistan, was made a primary responsibility of the Reserves and National Guard, as were many engineering, military-intelligence and other specializations.
This plan was built around certain geopolitical assumptions. The first was that the United States would not be fighting peer powers. The second was that it had learned from Vietnam not to get involved in open-ended counterinsurgency operations, but to focus, as it did in Kuwait, on missions that were clearly defined and executable with a main force. The last was that wars would be short, use relatively few troops and be carried out in conjunction with allies. From this it followed that regular forces, augmented by Reserve/National Guard specialists called up for short terms, could carry out national strategic requirements.
The third impetus was the struggle to define military combat and noncombat roles. Given the nature of the volunteer force, women were badly needed, yet they were included in the armed forces under the assumption that they could carry out any function apart from direct combat assignments. This caused a forced -- and strained -- redefinition of these two roles. Intelligence officers called to interrogate a prisoner on the battlefield were thought not to be in a combat position. The same bomb, mortar or rocket fire that killed a soldier might hit them too, but since they technically were not charged with shooting back, they were not combat arms. Ironically, in Iraq, one of the most dangerous tasks is traveling on the roads, though moving supplies is not considered a combat mission.
Under the privatization concept, civilians could be hired to carry out noncombat functions. Under the redefinition of noncombat, the area open to contractors covered a lot of territory. Moreover, under the redefinition of the military in the 1990s, the size and structure of the Army in particular was changed so dramatically that it could not carry out most of its functions without the Reserve/Guard component -- and even with that component, the Army was not large enough. Contractors were needed.
Let us now add a fourth push: the CIA. During Vietnam, and again in Afghanistan and Iraq, a good part of the war was prosecuted by CIA personnel not in uniform and not answerable to the military chain of command. There are arguments on both sides for this, but the fact is that U.S. wars -- particularly highly politicized wars such as counterinsurgencies -- are fought with parallel armies, some reporting to the Defense Department, others to the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The battlefield is, if not flooded, at least full of civilians operating outside of the chain of command, and these civilian government employees are encouraged to hire Iraqi or other nationals, as well as to augment their own capabilities with private U.S. contractors.
Blackwater works for the State Department in a capacity defined as noncombat, protecting diplomats and other high-value personnel from assassination. The Army, bogged down in its own operations, lacks the manpower to perform this obviously valuable work. That means that Blackwater and other contract workers are charged with carrying weapons and moving around the battlefield, which is everywhere. They are heavily armed private soldiers carrying out missions that are combat in all but name -- and they are completely outside of the chain of command.
Moreover, in order to be effective, they have to engage in protective intelligence, looking for surveillance by enemy combatants and trying to foresee potential threats. We suspect the CIA could be helpful in this regard, but it would want information in return. In order to perform its job, then, Blackwater entered the economy of intelligence -- information as a commodity to be exchanged. It had to gather some intelligence in order to trade some. As a result, the distinction between combat and support completely broke down.
The important point is that the U.S. military went to war with the Army the country gave it. We recall no great objections to the downsizing of the military in the 1990s, and no criticisms of the concepts that lay behind the new force structure. The volunteer force, downsized because long-term conflicts were not going to occur, supported by the Reserve/Guard and backfilled by civilian contractors, was not a controversial issue. Only tiresome cranks made waves, challenging the idea that wars would be sparse and short. They objected to the redefinition of noncombat roles and said the downsized force would be insufficient for the 21st century.
Blackwater, KBR and all the rest are the direct result of the faulty geopolitical assumptions and the force structure decisions that followed. The primary responsibility rests with the American public, which made best-case assumptions in a worst-case world. Even without Iraq, civilian contractors would have proliferated on the battlefield. With Iraq, they became an enormous force. Perhaps the single greatest strategic error of the Bush administration was not fundamentally re-examining the assumptions about the U.S. Army on Sept. 12, 2001. Clearly Donald Rumsfeld was of the view that the Army was the problem, not the solution. He was not going to push for a larger force and, therefore, as the war expanded, for fewer civilian contractors.
The central problem regarding private security contractors on the battlefield is that their place in the chain of command is not defined. They report to the State Department, not to the Army and Marines that own the battlefield. But who do they take orders from and who defines their mission? Do they operate under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under some other rule? They are warriors -- it is foolish to think otherwise -- but they do not wear the uniform. The problem with Blackwater stems from having multiple forces fighting for the same side on the same battlefield, with completely different chains of command. Indeed, it is not clear the extent to which the State Department has created a command structure for its contractors, whether it is capable of doing so, or whether the contractors have created their own chain of command.
Blackwater is the logical outcome of a set of erroneous geopolitical conclusions that predate these wars by more than a decade. The United States will be fighting multidivisional, open-ended wars in multiple theaters, and there will be counterinsurgencies. The force created in the 1990s is insufficient, and thus the definition of noncombat specialty has become meaningless. The Reserve/Guard component cannot fill the gap created by strategic errors. The hiring of contractors makes sense and has precedence. But the use of CIA personnel outside the military chain of command creates enough stress. To have private contractors reporting outside the chain of command to government entities not able to command them is the real problem.
A failure that is rooted in the national consensus of the 1990s was compounded by the Bush administration's failure to reshape the military for the realities of the wars it wished to fight. But the final failure was to follow the logic of the civilian contractors through to its end, but not include them in the unified chain of command. In war, the key question must be this: Who gives orders and who takes them? The battlefield is dangerous enough without that question left hanging.
Re: Military Science
Reply #63 on:
October 24, 2007, 10:45:54 AM »
CHINA, ISRAEL, RUSSIA: China will sell Iran 24 J-10 fighters that are based on Israeli technology, RIA Novosti reported Oct. 23. The aircraft have Russian-made engines and are based on components and technology Israel gave China after the cancellation of the Lavi project in the mid-1980s. The total cost of the planes, which are expected to be delivered between 2008 and 2010, is an estimated $1 billion.
Geopolitical Diary: The Russo-Japanese NMD Dispute
For several months, the Russian government has focused its propaganda machine on combating U.S. efforts to develop an anti-ballistic missile network around the Russian periphery. Moscow views such systems at their core as an effort by Washington to nullify the Russian nuclear deterrent and therefore to sweep Russia to the very edge of strategic relevance.
In the past few days, however, Russia's attention has come to rest on Japan -- the state that is most consistent in its effort to participate in national missile defense (NMD) -- and on Tuesday, the Japanese government flatly, officially and firmly rebuffed Russian calls to abandon the system. The core Russian concern is that the system ultimately will be fine-tuned and expanded so that it can hedge in Moscow -- something that may well be lurking about in the depths of U.S. strategic planning. But Japan wants NMD for its own reasons.
While Japan's imperial past gives the country some influence throughout East Asia, it mostly has earned Japan enmity. Particularly vitriolic is the contempt in which Japan is held by the Koreans -- who resent Japanese cultural influence, economic domination and attempts to forcibly redefine Korean identity during the Japanese occupation. North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan in 1998 in a show of force, and in 2006, Pyongyang tested a nuclear device. Marry those two technologies and Japan clearly has a pressing need for NMD -- and this is even before the economic might of South Korea is combined with North Korean military technology in a reunification that is crawling ever closer.
China, of course, offers a more direct and immediate challenge. As big as Asia is, it probably does not have room for both a land-based and a sea-based regional superpower. Japan's technological edge combined with China's existing nuclear arsenal leaves Japan pushing for NMD, no matter what the Russians do.
But even without the more pressing concern of Asia pushing Japan toward NMD cooperation with the United States, Russia is on Tokyo's radar. The two hardly have a friendly history: Japan has served as Washington's proxy in East Asia, blocking Soviet access to the Pacific. Russia still has not reached a peace accord with Japan -- for World War II. And before that, Japan defeated Moscow in the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War, becoming the only Asian state to defeat a European power and inflicting the geopolitical equivalent of a root canal.
The Kremlin is attempting to put pins in a number of potential conflicts in order to focus on its own immediate concerns. But so far as Japan is concerned, Russia remains firmly on the "future trouble" list.
Reply #64 on:
November 02, 2007, 06:56:54 AM »
Insurgent Sniping In Iraq
A look at how the insurgents are operating and their weapons
By David Fortier
It was only a matter of time before the insurgents in Iraq began to realize the potential of properly employed snipers.
Although U.S. troops have faced snipers in Iraq for years, as of late the danger posed by Jihadist snipers has been growing. Photo by Emily K. Fortier
In stark contrast to merely rattling away with a Kalashnikov in the direction of the infidels—in the belief that “If Allah wills it,” the bullets will fly true”—in recent months insurgent snipers have been more successful at dropping American troops with carefully aimed rifle fire.
In doing so, they have made the lives of our fighting men much more dangerous and stressful. While not classically trained in the Western sense, this new crop of insurgent snipers has nonetheless proven to be adept at firing one well-aimed shot and then displacing before they are located. News of the growing threat of insurgent snipers first spread on the Internet and eventually became a feature story on the front page of the New York Times. As the threat is indeed very real, I felt that it is an appropriate time to share some information I have collected over the past few years, along with my own thoughts on the matter.
As Americans, we have our own opinions on what constitutes both a sniper and sniping. Our Western view demands that a real sniper be school trained in the classical sense. Equipped with a heavy-barreled, bolt-action precision rifle topped with a high-magnification optic, he has the ability to reach 1,000 yards or more. He is trained to estimate distances, read wind/mirage and drills hitting targets far beyond the range of an ordinary rifleman. In addition, his stealth and fieldcraft skills are carefully honed to the point that, properly “ghillied up,” he can move virtually unseen. The end result is a warrior with the ability to spot and engage targets at astonishing distances while remaining undetected. In the Western mind, the longer the successful shot, the more impressive the sniper.
One sniper rifle very commonly employed by insurgent snipers is the Romanian PSL. A simple design, it is capable of acceptable accuracy. Photo by Emily K. Fortier
While there is nothing wrong with this now-traditional Western view, in reality it is just one take on sniping. Keep in mind, the nuts and bolts of sniping is to merely eliminate key targets and/or demoralize and drive fear into the enemy through the use of a rifle. While sniping equipment has changed drastically over the years, the art itself is the same as it was 100 years ago. Its crux is to locate a target without being seen, eliminate it with a single well-placed shot that seems to come from nowhere, then disappear, leaving a frustrated enemy behind who does not know where/when you will strike next. The insurgents in Iraq, despite their deficiencies in equipment and training, have learned to do just that.
How have they managed to accomplish this? Simply put, they have decided not to play by our rules, and in doing so they have turned their weakness into strength. Rather than trying to snipe at our troops at long range, they have instead elected to dramatically close the distance. Through stealth and subterfuge, the Jihadists are often closing with their targets to increase the probability of a successful shot. This allows them to ensure a hit on their chosen target, place their round to bypass our troops’ body-armor hardplates and film the shooting for propaganda purposes.
Spotted while attempting to collect information, an insurgent sniper team using this car was killed by Marine snipers. Note the video camera and captured M40A1 sniper rifle. Photo courtesy of the USMC
One method they have been employing successfully in urban areas is to use a vehicle as a mobile hide. This allows them to move undetected into position to take a shot, then immediately afterward disappear unnoticed into traffic. Typically, a car is modified to both hide the shooter and provide him with a firing/observation port. As an example, in one case a vehicle was disguised to look like it was simply transporting rolled-up blankets. Loaded with these, it could pass through a checkpoint after a quick once-over, as the soldiers/police wouldn’t make the driver unload his entire cargo.
However, beneath the blanket cargo was a hidden space containing a sniper with his weapon. A string allowed him to lower/raise one side of the rear bumper. With the bumper lowered, a hole cut in the car’s bodywork provided a port for the sniper to observe and fire from. In another instance a car was modified by having a hidden compartment added beneath the floor/trunk, between the frame rails.
Another sniper rifle fielded by the insurgents is the 7.62x39mm Tabuk. Built in Iraq with Serb assistance, it is a simple DMR based upon the RPK. Photo courtesy of LTC Kendrick McCormick
This was just large enough to allow a sniper to lie in it with his rifle. Sometimes a tail light will be removed or modified to provide an observation/firing port for a hidden sniper.
When using this method, the driver, who also acts as the spotter, plays an important role. As the sniper has a very limited field of view/fire, the driver must locate the target and then maneuver the car, without being noticed, to provide a clear shot for the sniper. In some instances, once the car is parked the driver will exit the vehicle and stand next to the trunk, where he can observe the area while speaking to the sniper hidden in the vehicle.
There have been occasions in which a third insurgent is used to bring a soldier into the kill zone. As an example, an insurgent posing as a good Samaritan may point out an IED to a patrol to funnel them into the kill zone. Shots of this type are usually taken at very close range with substantial traffic and civilians in the area. This makes it very difficult to locate where the shot came from or to return fire.
Marine Cpl. Daniel M. Greenwald survived being shot in the head thanks to his Kevlar helmet. Photo courtesy of the USMC
The insurgents then choose a specific target. These include, in order of importance to the enemy:
Our snipers. The main threat to a sniper is always another sniper.
Humvee gunners. They can lay down a lot of hate and discontent in a very short amount of time.
Medics. If they shoot the medic, there is no one to treat him or anyone else they shoot.
Chaplains. The insurgents offer a $10,000 bounty for killing a U.S. military religious leader.
Interpreters. This hinders the unit’s ability to interact and gain information from the locals.
Radiomen. This hinders the unit’s ability to communicate, pass on information and request medical assistance.
Leaders. This degrades the unit’s performance and ability to react by removing the men in charge.
All of these targets are easily identified. If a head shot is required, such as on a Humvee gunner sitting behind an armored gunshield, the insurgents will often attempt to get within 50 meters. This allows them to place the shot, even with a 7.62x39mm Tabuk, with surgical accuracy, ensuring a kill. If a body shot is chosen the sniper will aim to by-pass his target’s body armor SAPI hardplates, as these are capable of stopping his round.
Insurgents also improvise sniper rifles and sound suppressors. In this case a Mauser M98 has been fitted with a PSO-1 scope and a home-made suppressor. Photo courtesy of the USMC
To do this, he will shoot a man standing sideways to him in the upper arm. The round will perforate the arm before entering the torso in the region of the armpit. Such a shot will bypass body armor while hitting one or both lungs and possibly the heart. If making such a shot is not possible, the sniper will aim at the center of mass. If the target’s hardplate is not struck, his round will easily penetrate the surrounding Level IIIA soft body armor.
However, if the round is stopped by his target’s hardplate, the sniper hopes the shock of getting shot will at least cause his target to fall down. Insurgent snipers normally videotape their shots for propaganda purposes. So if an American soldier falls down after being shot in his SAPI plate, even if he gets back up it is still useful for propaganda purposes on the Internet.
As an example, Marine L/Cpl Edward Knuth was hit in his SAPI plate while his squad searched a market. Although the bullet was stopped, the impact knocked him to his knees. Another Marine dragged him to cover, then his unit rushed a line of cars, but the sniper had escaped.
Three common 7.62x54R sniper rifles seen in the hands of insurgent snipers in Iraq are, left to right, the Soviet SVD, Iraqi Al Kadesih and Romanian PSL. Photo by Emily K. Fortier
After the shot is taken the sniper team’s vehicle will casually pull out into traffic. In doing so, it will disappear before the target’s comrades even realize what just happened. A spotter, often riding on a Moped to enable him to move easily through traffic, then searches for a new target. When he locates one, he contacts the sniper team and the cycle begins again.
A Jihadist sniper operating in such a manner was recently killed in Baghdad. Luckily, he aroused the suspicion of an American sniper team he was preparing to engage. In the ensuing exchange, the Muslim got off the first shot but missed at a range of 225 yards. The American sniper put an end to the Jihadist’s career by punching a 175-grain Sierra MatchKing through the rear quarterpanel of the car, killing him.
Another Jihadist sniper operating in the Baghdad area plied his trade shooting from overpasses at oncoming military vehicles. An above-average rifleman, he was quite successful for a time in this fashion. His method was fairly simple. He would note what route a convoy or patrol would use in a particular area and pick his position accordingly.
Insurgent snipers try to carefully choose their targets for maximum effect. High on their list are medics, chaplains, interpreters, radiomen, leaders and heavy-weapon operators. Photo courtesy of the USMC
He would choose an overpass that the convoy/patrol would travel directly beneath. Then, as the convoy/patrol approached he would pick out a specific vehicle and fire a single shot at the driver at a range of approximately 150 meters. Considering the angle, speed of the target and deflection from the windshield, this particular sniper was fairly skilled with a rifle. I was told he killed 10 of our soldiers, including four headshots in a single-day, using this method. Equipped with a commercial Remington 700 hunting rifle in .308 Winchester, he was subsequently killed by U.S. forces.
On November 3, 2006, northwest of Baghdad in Karma, Iraq, a Jihadist sniper struck a patrol from the Second Battalion, Eighth Marines. After letting one fire team pass through his kill zone, he placed his scope’s aiming chevron on the right biceps of L/Cpl Juan Valdez-Castillo, the unit’s radio operator. At the shot, Valdez-Castillo fell heavily against a stone wall. The 7.62mm round passed through his right upper arm; entered his side, collapsing his lung; and exited his back.
Upon seeing one of his men down, the unit’s squad leader, Sgt. Jesse E. Leach, sprang forward. Disregarding his own safety, he entered the kill zone, grabbed Valdez-Castillo’s drag handle and hauled him through ankle-deep mud to safety.
With some concealment between them and the sniper, Sgt. Leach administered first aid, and Valdez-Castillo was safely evacuated. The insurgent fired from a distance of not less than 150 meters from an area with numerous civilians in it. He fired a single round, hit exactly at his point of aim and refused to compromise his position by firing more than one shot. After firing, he displaced to a different location and was not found.
A Marine sniper team hunts terrorists in Iraq. Although insurgent snipers are growing more effective, our boys continue to hunt them down and kill them. Photo courtesy of the USMC
The vast majority of shots taken by insurgent snipers in Iraq are at targets within 400 meters. While this may seem relatively short, it is actually in line with sniper actions during both world wars. The shorter ranges also favor the sniper rifles and optics commonly available to the insurgents.
Reply #65 on:
November 02, 2007, 06:57:58 AM »
They have fielded a wide array of rifles, including Russian SVDs, Romanian PSLs, domestic Al Kadesihs and Tabuks along with commercial sporting rifles and captured American sniper rifles. For the most part, the SVD, PSL, Al Kadesih and 7.62x39mm Tabuk are not noted for their sterling accuracy. However, inside 400 meters they can be quite deadly.
Items captured from a Jihadist sniper team’s vehicle included a Bushnell laser rangefinder, P35 pistol, grenade and video camera used for intelligence gathering and propaganda. Photo courtesy of the USMC
Optics usually consist of Romanian I.O.R., Yugoslavian Zrak and Chinese PSO-1s with a magnification of 4X. Offering the same magnification as our ACOG, these scopes work quite well at this distance. Indexing a man’s head with their chevron reticle is easily accomplished at 300 meters. So, considering the equipment they have, the urban terrain they are operating in and our troops’ body armor, it makes no sense for the insurgents not to close the distance if they are able.
The insurgents have used an array of 7.62x54R ammunition against our troops. Loads identified as currently being used by insurgent snipers against our troops in Iraq include:
7N1 sniper ammunition. This is a dedicated sniper load developed by the Soviets for their SVD sniper rifle. Loaded with a 152-grain bullet, it has a muzzle velocity of 2,723 fps. This ammunition can only be identified by its packaging, which is clearly marked “SNIPER.”
Jihadist snipers will often choose firing positions shielded by civilians/children to prevent our troops from returning fire. Photo courtesy of the 3/7th Cav.
7N13. This is a steel-core ball round capable of penetrating a 10mm-thick grade-2P steel plate 90 percent of the time at 250 meters and 25 percent of the time at 300 meters.
7B-Z-3 (B-32) API. This is a 165-grain Armor Piercing Incendiary round with a muzzle velocity of 2,673 fps. It is claimed to be cable of penetrating a 10mm-thick grade-2P armor plate 80 percent of the time at 200 meters. B-32 cartridges are identified by a color code consisting of a red band beneath a black bullet tip.
7T2M (T-46) Tracer. This is a 152-grain Tracer load with a muzzle velocity of 2,642 fps. It can be identified by a green color code on the bullet tip.
To provide a higher probability of defeating our troops’ body armor, insurgent snipers often use 7.62x54R Armor Piercing and Armor Piercing Incendiary ammunition. A Special Forces friend commented that every PSL magazine they had captured had been loaded with straight API. I noted that one such captured cartridge he gave me was loaded by Russia’s Factory 17 (Barnaul) in 1981. On November 2, 2006, an insurgent sniper used a 7.62x54R AP round to knock L/Cpl Colin Smith from behind his machine-gun turret.
Although everything appears peaceful here, an insurgent sniper could be lurking in one of the cars, behind a window or on a rooftop. Photo courtesy of Dillard Johnson
Smith’s unit was leaving a rural settlement on the edge of Karma, near Fallujah in Iraq’s Anbar Province. They were climbing back into their vehicles after searching several houses when a single shot rang out. Smith, who was peering from behind a gun shield, was hit in the head. The 7.62mm AP round penetrated his Kevlar, passed through his skull and was recovered. Although Smith survived, he fell into a coma. The sniper took the shot from a minimum of 150 yards away using a canal as an obstacle. After firing the shot, he disappeared.
In addition to the 7.62x54R sniper rifles, the insurgents also field 7.62x39mm Tabuks. A domestically produced long-barreled Kalashnikov DMR, the Tabuk was manufactured with assistance from the Serb arms manufacturer Zastava. A friend, LTC Kendrick McCormick, while training Iraqi forces in Iraq, tested an example in unfired condition and shared his results with me.
Firing prone off sandbags at 100 meters using a Russian 6x42mm scope and Chinese-produced steel-core ball ammunition manufactured by Factory 9141 in 1979, he found the weapon capable of posting consistent two-inch groups. He felt that hitting a man-size target at 400 meters would be well within the capabilities of the weapon in the hands of an experienced shooter. This is quite acceptable accuracy for a weapon of this type. Ammunition in this caliber commonly used by insurgent snipers is standard M43-type steel-core ball. Exterior ballistics of this round are fairly poor, so it is best deployed at relatively short ranges.
Despite making a good shot, a sniper failed to kill Marine Pfc. Joshua Hanson when his 7.62mm bullet was stopped by Hanson’s SAPI plate. Photo courtesy of the USMC
In addition to the common Iraqi, there are also experienced foreign snipers operating with the insurgents, some of whom are quite good. The most talked about are the Chechens. Highly regarded due to their experience fighting the Federal Russian Army, they are a dangerous foe. Remember, a Jihad is being waged against the West by radical Muslims, so Jihadists may be of any nationality. As an example, SFC Dillard Johnson and SSG Jared Kennedy of C Troop 3/7 Cav engaged in a duel with an enemy sniper in Salman Pak on December 14, 2005.
At a range of 852 meters, the insurgent put a 7.62x54R round within six inches of SFC Johnson’s head. Smacking on the wall behind him, the round forced him to crawl to another position. Luckily, Johnson was able to locate the insurgent’s position and replied with an M14-based DMR. Adjusting his fire, Johnson hit him with his second shot, while SSG Kennedy killed the insurgent’s spotter with a bigbore Barrett rifle. The insurgent sniper SFC Johnson killed was not Iraqi but rather Syrian. Equipped with a Romanian PSL topped with a commercial German scope, he was suspected of killing more than 20 coalition soldiers.
One important aspect of the Jihadist sniping strategy that should not be overlooked is their value for propaganda purposes. It is the norm for Jihadist snipers in Iraq to videotape their operations for propaganda use on the Internet. Their desire is to arouse coverage by the international media. A friend currently working in Iraq made the comment, “They don’t care about killing soldiers as much as they want the publicity. They want their five minutes of fame to get their message out. Remember, propaganda is the terrorist’s friend.”
(Left) Insurgents often use API ammunition, identified with a black-and-red tip, to enhance their chance of defeating our troops’ body armor. (Right) The 7.62x54R round, in its various loadings, is the workhorse cartridge for insurgent snipers in Iraq. The cartridge shown is a 7N1 sniper load. Photos by Emily K. Fortier
That they are indeed starting to get their message out can be seen by the article “Sniper Attacks Adding Peril to U.S. Troops in Iraq” on the front page of the New York Times published just three days before the November 2006 election. Most of the world believes Americans have a very short attention span and no stomach for body bags. The Jihadists believe that if, having survived the initial U.S. military onslaught, they can successfully play the Vietnam card by keeping U.S. casualties in the news, the American public will cave and they will win. Snipers, especially with the recent Democrat victory, are becoming an important part of this strategy.
Gunners on armored vehicles are favorite targets of insurgent snipers, who attempt to get close enough to take a head shot. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army
Although our enemy is using snipers to a larger and more effective extent then previously, the problem is not something our military cannot handle. In actuality, our troops have been doggedly hunting them down and killing them. Just today I spoke via telephone with one of our snipers in Iraq. He had recently engaged in a duel with three Islamic snipers and killed all of them. Although his story is not one you will see in the liberal media, you can be proud to know our troops are quietly going about their work, making the world a better place for all of us, 175 grains at a time.
Re: Military Science
Reply #66 on:
November 13, 2007, 04:21:16 AM »
The uninvited guest: Chinese sub pops up in middle of U.S. Navy exercise, leaving military chiefs red-faced
The forum where I found this had one poster say that this happend last year. If so, I missed it at that time.
By MATTHEW HICKLEY - More by this author » Last updated at 00:13am on 10th November 2007
When the U.S. Navy deploys a battle fleet on exercises, it takes the security of its aircraft carriers very seriously indeed.
At least a dozen warships provide a physical guard while the technical wizardry of the world's only military superpower offers an invisible shield to detect and deter any intruders.
That is the theory. Or, rather, was the theory.
American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk - a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board.
By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier.
According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.
The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.
One Nato figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik" - a reference to the Soviet Union's first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age.
The incident, which took place in the ocean between southern Japan and Taiwan, is a major embarrassment for the Pentagon.
The lone Chinese vessel slipped past at least a dozen other American warships which were supposed to protect the carrier from hostile aircraft or submarines.
And the rest of the costly defensive screen, which usually includes at least two U.S. submarines, was also apparently unable to detect it.
According to the Nato source, the encounter has forced a serious re-think of American and Nato naval strategy as commanders reconsider the level of threat from potentially hostile Chinese submarines.
It also led to tense diplomatic exchanges, with shaken American diplomats demanding to know why the submarine was "shadowing" the U.S. fleet while Beijing pleaded ignorance and dismissed the affair as coincidence.
Analysts believe Beijing was sending a message to America and the West demonstrating its rapidly-growing military capability to threaten foreign powers which try to interfere in its "backyard".
The People's Liberation Army Navy's submarine fleet includes at least two nuclear-missile launching vessels.
Its 13 Song Class submarines are extremely quiet and difficult to detect when running on electric motors.
Commodore Stephen Saunders, editor of Jane's Fighting Ships, and a former Royal Navy anti-submarine specialist, said the U.S. had paid relatively little attention to this form of warfare since the end of the Cold War.
He said: "It was certainly a wake-up call for the Americans.
"It would tie in with what we see the Chinese trying to do, which appears to be to deter the Americans from interfering or operating in their backyard, particularly in relation to Taiwan."
In January China carried a successful missile test, shooting down a satellite in orbit for the first time.
Last Edit: November 13, 2007, 04:23:59 AM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #67 on:
November 26, 2007, 09:26:54 PM »
Reply #68 on:
December 18, 2007, 04:23:03 PM »
Why TR Claimed the Seas
December 18, 2007; Page A20
On Dec. 16, 1907, the 16 battleships of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet sailed from Hampton Roads, Va., on a 43,000-mile journey around the world. The occasion was immediately understood as Teddy Roosevelt's way of declaring that the United States, already an economic superpower, was also a military one. Unnoticed by most Americans, this past Sunday marked its centennial.
There is an enduring, bipartisan strain in American politics (think Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) that wishes to forgo the military role. As wonderfully recounted by Jim Rasenberger in "America 1908," the voyage of the Great White Fleet, as it was popularly known, was energetically opposed by members of Congress, who sought to cut off its funding when it was halfway around the world. Sound familiar? Mark Twain considered the venture as further evidence that TR was "clearly insane . . . and insanest upon war and its supreme glories."
Teddy Roosevelt addresses sailors of the Great White Fleet, February 1909.
In fact, Roosevelt had sound strategic reasons for putting the fleet to sea. A year earlier, the British had commissioned their revolutionary Dreadnought battleship, setting off an arms race with Germany that helped set Europe on a course to World War I. Labor riots against Japanese immigrants in California had strained relations with Japan, whose dramatic naval victory over Russia at the battle of Tsushima had made the rest of the world keenly aware of this rising Asian power.
"Nearly every day fresh bulletins of sinister Japanese maneuvers appeared in the European and American press," writes Mr. Rasenberger, including rumors of thousands of Japanese troops disguised as Mexican peasants, "preparing to attack America." Roosevelt himself later explained that he had "become uncomfortably conscious of a very, very slight undertone of veiled truculence" from the Japanese. "It was time for a show down."
The voyage itself was fraught with risk. By shifting the bulk of America's naval might to the Pacific, Roosevelt left the Eastern seaboard largely undefended. Slight miscalculations on the first leg of the journey nearly left the fleet without enough coal to reach South America. The transit through the Straits of Magellan (the Panama Canal would not open until 1914) could have crippled any one of the ships and sunk the entire enterprise. There were serious worries the Japanese would sink the fleet at anchor in Yokohama. The fear was compounded by the discovery that the armor belt of the battleships, fully laden with men and stores, dropped several inches below the waterline.
The fears turned out to be misplaced. Journalists embedded in the fleet used primitive wireless devices to report rapturous public receptions everywhere from Rio de Janeiro to Sydney to Marseilles. The fleet crowned itself in further glory when it provided disaster relief in Messina, Sicily, after a devastating earthquake. The tradition would live on in U.S. Navy relief operations, most recently in Indonesia and Bangladesh.
Perhaps the greatest surprise were the supposedly hostile Japanese, who greeted the visiting fleet with an honor guard of 16 companion battleships and crowds of Japanese waving American flags. "The Japanese nation," the mayor of Tokyo told Rear Adm. Charles Sperry, "asks you to convey the message that the Japanese believe that war between Japan and America would be a crime against the past, present and future of the two countries."
From the perspective of a half-century, the mayor's assurances may have seemed bitterly hollow, but the arrival of the American fleet was followed four years later by Japan's first real experience of democracy and two years after that with Japan's entry into World War I on the Allied side. Plainly, no similar impression was made by the fleet on the Europeans, and one wonders what might have been if Germany, which so consistently underrated American power, had had a closer look at it. A prewar "entangling alliance" between the U.S., Britain and France might also have dissuaded Berlin from marching toward the Marne.
Yet if there was a lesson here, it was lost to the U.S. during the interwar period. Just 13 years after the Great White Fleet returned to the U.S., it was physically scrapped under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, which set strict limits on the number and size of battleships the major powers could build and deploy. Only after Pearl Harbor and World War II did Americans really seem to learn the lesson that their position as a maritime power could not be wished away, and that their maritime interests could only be defended by a powerful Navy.
That remains no less true today, even as the Navy goes through something of an identity crisis. America's wars have become up-country affairs, and the big ships of our blue-water Navy are not quite adapted to brown-green waters where today's conflicts are likely to take place. John McCain, whose grandfather sailed with the fleet (and was among the officers pictured here listening to Roosevelt), recently complained to The Wall Street Journal about the huge cost overruns in the development of a new generation of so-called Littoral Combat Ships.
Whatever the procurement problems or tactical issues, a supremely powerful Navy is not a luxury the U.S. can safely dispense with. In September, ships of the People's Liberation Army Navy made their first-ever port calls in Germany, France, Britain and Italy, and Chinese admirals are frequent guests on American warships. "The Chinese Great White Fleet is not too far off on the horizon," says a senior Navy official in a recent conversation.
China's current rise, like America's a century ago, is not something anyone can stop. It can be steered. Making sure our vision for the Navy stays true to Teddy Roosevelt's is one way of ensuring the Chinese don't make the mistake of steering it our way.
• Write to
M-4 in dust test
Reply #69 on:
December 22, 2007, 09:41:59 AM »
Newer carbines outperform M4 in dust test
By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Dec 17, 2007 9:25:16 EST
The M4 carbine, the weapon soldiers depend on in combat, finished last in a recent “extreme dust test” to demonstrate the M4’s reliability compared to three newer carbines.
Weapons officials at the Army Test and Evaluation Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., exposed Colt Defense LLC’s M4, along with the Heckler & Koch XM8, FNH USA’s Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle and the H&K 416 to sandstorm conditions from late September to late November, firing 6,000 rounds through each test weapon.
When the test was completed, ATEC officials found that the M4 performed “significantly worse” than the other three weapons, sources told Army Times.
Officials tested 10 each of the four carbine models, firing a total of 60,000 rounds per model. Here’s how they ranked, according to the total number of times each model stopped firing:
• XM8: 127 stoppages.
• MK16 SCAR Light: 226 stoppages.
• 416: 233 stoppages.
• M4: 882 stoppages.
the results of the test were “a wake-up call,” but Army officials continue to stand by the current carbine, said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, commander of Program Executive Office Soldier, the command that is responsible for equipping soldiers.
“We take the results of this test with a great deal of interest and seriousness,” Brown said, expressing his determination to outfit soldiers with the best equipment possible.
The test results did not sway the Army’s faith in the M4, he said.
“Everybody in the Army has high confidence in this weapon,” Brown said.
Lighter and more compact than the M16 rifle, the M4 is more effective for the close confines of urban combat. The Army began fielding the M4 in the mid-1990s.
Army weapons officials agreed to perform the test at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in July. Coburn took up the issue following a Feb. 26 Army Times report on moves by elite Army combat forces to ditch the M4 in favor of carbines they consider more reliable. Coburn is questioning the Army’s plans to spend $375 million to purchase M4s through fiscal 2009.
Coburn raised concerns over the M4’s “long-standing reliability” problems in an April 12 letter and asked if the Army had considered newer, possibly better weapons available on the commercial market.
John Hart, a spokesman for Coburn, who was traveling, said the senator was reviewing the test results and had yet to discuss it with the Army.
The M4, like its predecessor, the M16, uses a gas tube system, which relies on the gas created when a bullet is fired to cycle the weapon. Some weapons experts maintain the M4’s system of blowing gas directly into the firing mechanism of the weapon spews carbon residue that can lead to fouling and heat that dries up lubrication, causing excessive wear on parts.
The other contenders in the dust test — the XM8, SCAR and 416 — use a piston-style operating system, which relies on a gas-driven piston rod to cycle the weapon during firing. The gas is vented without funneling through the firing mechanism.
The Army’s Delta Force replaced its M4s with the H&K 416 in 2004 after tests revealed that the piston operating system significantly reduces malfunctions while increasing the life of parts. The elite unit collaborated with the German arms maker to develop the new carbine.
U.S. Special Operations Command has also revised its small-arms requirements. In November 2004, SOCom awarded a developmental contract to FN Herstal to develop its new SCAR to replace its weapons from the M16 family.
And from 2002 to 2005, the Army developed the XM8 as a replacement for the Army’s M16 family. The program led to infighting within the service’s weapons community and eventually died after failing to win approval at the Defense Department level.
How they were tested
The recent Aberdeen dust test used 10 sample models of each weapon. Before going into the dust chamber, testers applied a heavy coat of lubrication to each weapon. Each weapon’s muzzle was capped and ejection port cover closed.
Testers exposed the weapons to a heavy dust environment for 30 minutes before firing 120 rounds from each.
The weapons were then put back in the dust chamber for another 30 minutes and fired another 120 rounds. This sequence was repeated until each weapon had fired 600 rounds.
Testers then wiped down each weapon and applied another heavy application of lubrication.
The weapons were put back through the same sequence of 30 minutes in the dust chamber followed by firing 120 rounds from each weapon until another 600 rounds were fired.
Testers then thoroughly cleaned each weapon, re-lubricated each, and began the dusting and fire sequencing again.
This process was repeated until testers fired 6,000 rounds through each weapon.
The dust test exposed the weapons to the same extreme dust and sand conditions that Army weapons officials subjected the M4 and M16 to during a “systems assessment” at Aberdeen last year and again this summer. The results of the second round of ATEC tests showed that the performance of the M4s dramatically improved when testers increased the amount of lubrication used.
Out of the 60,000 rounds fired in the tests earlier in the summer, the 10 M4s tested had 307 stoppages, test results show, far fewer than the 882 in the most recent test.
in the recent tests, the M4 suffered 643 weapon-related stoppages, such as failure to eject or failure to extract fired casings, and 239 magazine-related stoppages.
Colt officials had not seen the test report and would not comment for this story, said James Battaglini, executive vice president for Colt Defense LLC, on Dec. 14.
Army officials are concerned about the gap between the two tests becaus the “test conditions for test two and three were ostensibly the same,” Brown said.
There were, however, minor differences in the two tests because they were conducted at different times of the year with different test officials, Brown said. Test community officials are analyzing the data to try to explain why the M4 performed worse during this test.
Weapons officials pointed out that these tests were conducted in extreme conditions that did not address “reliability in typical operational conditions,” the test report states.
Despite the last-place showing, Army officials say there is no movement toward replacing the M4.
The Army wants its next soldier weapon to be a true leap ahead, rather than a series of small improvements, Brown said.
“That is what the intent is,” he said, “to give our soldiers the very best and we are not going to rest until we do that.”
Col. Robert Radcliffe, head of the Directorate of Combat Developments for the Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga., said the test results will be considered as the Army continues to search for ways to improve soldier weapons.
For now, he said the Army will stick with the M4, because soldier surveys from Iraq and Afghanistan continue to highlight the weapon’s popularity among troops in the combat zone.
“The M4 is performing for them in combat, and it does what they needed to do in combat,” Radcliffe said.
Tech Sales to China
Reply #70 on:
January 02, 2008, 09:00:01 AM »
Marx wrote of the last capitalist selling the rope to the executioner who would hang him, or something to that effect.
Eased Rules on Tech Sales to China Questioned
By STEVEN R. WEISMAN
Published: January 2, 2008
WASHINGTON — Six months ago, the Bush administration quietly eased some restrictions on the export of politically delicate technologies to China. The new approach was intended to help American companies increase sales of high-tech equipment to China despite tight curbs on sharing technology that might have military applications.
But today the administration is facing questions from weapons experts about whether some equipment — newly authorized for export to Chinese companies deemed trustworthy by Washington — could instead end up helping China modernize its military. Equally worrisome, the weapons experts say, is the possibility that China could share the technology with Iran or Syria.
The technologies include advanced aircraft engine parts, navigation systems, telecommunications equipment and sophisticated composite materials.
The questions raised about the new policy are in a report to be released this week by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, an independent research foundation that opposes the spread of arms technologies.
The administration’s new approach is part of an overall drive to require licenses for the export of an expanded list of technologies in aircraft engines, lasers, telecommunications, aircraft materials and other fields of interest to China’s military.
But while imposing license requirements for the transfer of these technologies, the administration is also validating certain Chinese companies that may import these technologies without licenses.
Five such companies were designated in October, but as many as a dozen others are in the pipeline for possible future designation.
Mario Mancuso, under secretary of Commerce for industry and security, said the new system of broadening the list of technologies that require licenses, but exempting some trustworthy companies from the license requirement, results in more effective protections.
“We believe that the system we have set up ensures that we are protecting our national security consistent with our goal of promoting legitimate exports for civilian use,” he said in an interview. “We have adopted a consistent, broad-based approach to hedging against helping China’s military modernization.”
But the Wisconsin Project report, made available to The New York Times, asserts that two nonmilitary Chinese companies designated as trustworthy are in fact high risk because of links to the Chinese government, the People’s Liberation Army and other Chinese entities accused in the past of ties to Syria and Iran.
One of the Chinese companies, the BHA Aero Composites Company, is partly owned by two American companies — 40 percent by the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing and 40 percent by the aerospace materials maker Hexcel. The remaining 20 percent is owned by a Chinese government-owned company, AVIC I, or the China Aviation Industry Corporation I.
“In principle, you could find companies that would be above suspicion, but in this case they haven’t done it,” said Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project. “If you just look at the relations these companies have, rather than be above suspicion, they are highly suspicious.”
The Wisconsin Project report also charges that both Boeing and Hexcel have been cited for past lapses in obtaining proper licenses for exports.
Spokesmen for Boeing and Hexcel said in interviews that they are fully confident that BHA has no ties to the Chinese military and that its use of aircraft parts and materials were strictly for commercial and civilian ends.
“Boeing is not involved in any defense activities in China,” said Douglas Kennett, a company spokesman. “All our activities in China are in compliance with U.S. export laws and regulations.”
Both companies also say that the past failure to get proper licenses has led to tighter controls and, in any case, was the result of improper paperwork affecting products that continue to be exported as licensed.
Mr. Milhollin said that research by his staff had uncovered several links with the Chinese military establishment involving both BHA and another of the five companies, the Shanghai Hua Hong NEC Electronics Company.
Page 2 of 2)
AVIC I, the Chinese government entity that owns a minority share of BHA, also produces fighters, nuclear-capable bombers and aviation weapons systems for the People’s Liberation Army, the report says. The State Department has cited another AVIC subsidiary, the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation, for links to arms sales to Iran and Syria.
The report also says that Shanghai Hua Hong NEC Electronics is majority owned “through a corporate chain” by the China Electronics Corporation, which the report says is a government conglomerate that produces military equipment along with consumer electronics. It has a unit, the report says, that procures arms for the military.
Mr. Milhollin said that the new policy granting companies the right to import some technologies without prior licenses was adopted quietly as “a stealth attack on export controls.”
But Mr. Mancuso, the Commerce Department official who oversees the program, noted that the department proposed it publicly in mid-2006 and adopted it a year later after lengthy public comment by interested parties and members of Congress.
In addition, he said, no Chinese company can receive certain technologies — as part of a category known as “validated end-users” — without a vetting of its record by the State, Energy and Defense Departments and by relevant intelligence agencies. The five companies designated in October, he said, were approved without dissent by these units of the government.
In general, the Commerce Department tries to make it easier for American companies to export to markets overseas, and there has been a particular emphasis on selling to China. The United States is expected to show a trade deficit with China of nearly $300 billion in 2007.
At the same time, at least since the 1990s, Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders have called on the Bush administration, and the administration of President Bill Clinton, to exercise more vigilance toward China as it seeks to modernize its aerospace defense network.
“China is a huge market for our commercial technology exports,” said Mr. Mancuso. “Yet there are real security risks we are mindful of. We take that concern very, very seriously.” Only those companies that have “a demonstrable record of using sensitive technologies responsibly” are approved, he said.
Beyond that, he said companies for which licensing rules have been lifted are subject to additional disclosure obligations, including on-site visits by American government personnel.
Groups that advocate greater technology-sharing with China in civilian aeronautics and other areas say the administration has been cautious in its policy, choosing Chinese companies with American partners or owners.
The three other Chinese companies named “validated end-users” in October are Applied Materials China, a subsidiary of Applied Materials, a maker of semiconductors based in California; Chinese facilities operated by the National Semiconductor Corporation, another American company; and the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, based in Shanghai.
William A. Reinsch, head of the National Foreign Trade Council, which promotes international trade, said the administration over all had tightened controls on China and called the lifting of license requirements on only five firms “a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.”
Mr. Reinsch administered export controls as an official in the Clinton administration.
A House Republican staff member had a similar view. “We were told by Commerce that they were going to make some very safe choices,” he said, speaking anonymously because of the delicacy of the subject.
The Commerce Department says that, out of $55 billion in American exports to China in 2006, only $308 million were items requiring licenses to make sure the Chinese military could not use them. The five companies named as “validated” accounted for $54 million of those goods.
Re: Military Science
Reply #71 on:
January 12, 2008, 12:01:53 PM »
James T. Conway
First to the Fight
By BRENDAN MINITER
January 12, 2008; Page A9
When James T. Conway went down to see the draft board at the height of the Vietnam War in 1969, he was told "we're not going to draft you. You've got a great number and you don't have to worry about military service." He responded, "You don't understand, I actually want to go."
Today, as Commandant of the Marine Corps, he's one of the nation's leading military commanders. He's led tens of thousands of Marines on two significant campaigns in Iraq. The first was the drive on Baghdad in 2003; the second was what turned out to be an aborted assault on Fallujah in April 2004. In 2006 he became the steward of a fighting force with a history that stretches all the way back to 1775, before there was a United States of America.
But it's the future of the Corps, not its past, that dominates Gen. Conway's thoughts and our conversation. We met at the Pentagon earlier this week -- just a few days before the one-year anniversary of President Bush's decision to "surge" more troops into Iraq. He was dressed in cammies, combat boots and an open collar. He's lean and tall and he seemed to envelop the table we were seated at. He's also a man who gives the appearance of someone who would much rather be with his Marines in Anbar province than in an office on the outskirts of Washington.
Two related concerns about the war occupy his mind: That in order to fight this war, his Corps could be transformed into just another "land army"; and, if that should happen, that it would lose the flexibility and expeditionary culture that has made it a powerful military force.
The Corps was built originally to live aboard ships and wade ashore to confront emerging threats far from home. It has long prided itself in being "first to the fight" relying on speed, agility and tenacity to win battles. It's a small, offensive outfit that has its own attack aircraft, but not its own medics, preferring to rely on Navy corpsmen to care for its wounded.
For more than a decade, the size of the active-duty Marine Corps has been 175,000. The Army, by comparison, has more than 500,000 soldiers on active duty.
Now, however, the Corps is being expanded to 202,000 over the next couple of years. And what's more, the Marines are being asked to conduct patrols and perform other non-offensive operations in Iraq that are forcing the Corps to become a more stationary force than it traditionally has been.
It's a "static environment where there is no forward movement," Gen. Conway says. And "that gets more to an occupational role, and that's what the Army historically does and the Marine Corps has previously seen very little of."
One way the Marines are clearly changing is in the vehicles troops use to patrol in Iraq. "If you look at the table of equipment that a Marine battalion is operating with right now in Iraq," Gen. Conway explains, "it is dramatically different than the table of equipment the battalion used when it went over the berm in Kuwait in '03, and it is remarkably heavier. Heavier, particularly in terms of vehicles.
"I mean the Humvees were canvas at that point for the most part. Today they are up-armored and we're looking at vehicles even heavier than that. We've got a whole new type of vehicle that we're patrolling in, conducting operations in, that's the MRAP [Mine Resistant Ambush Protected], a 48,000 pound vehicle. . . . these type of things, make us look more like a land army than it does a fast, hard-hitting expeditionary force."
Gen. Conway commends the MRAP's performance: "[W]e had over 300 attacks against the MRAP without losing a Marine or sailor." And, he says, "We always have to be concerned about protecting our Marines. We owe that to the parents of America."
"But," he adds, "first we have to be able to accomplish our mission. And I think there are a lot of instances where a lighter, faster, harder-hitting force that gets to a scene quickly is more effective than a heavier, more armored force that gets there weeks or months later."
It is clear that the MRAP can make it more difficult to maneuver in a battle zone. "We saw some problems with the vehicle once it went off of the roadways," Gen. Conway says. "Its cross-country mobility, particularly in western Iraq where you have wadis [dry riverbeds] and small bridges and that type of thing was not what we hoped it would be."
And it is something Gen. Conway has decided to have fewer of. He recently announced that the Marines are halting orders for these vehicles. The Corps will take delivery of a total of 2,300 new MRAPs by the end of the year, which it will use to conduct missions in Iraq. But Gen. Conway is canceling orders for 1,400 additional MRAPs that he and his advisors believe they will not need in the coming years. In the process, Gen. Conway is saving Uncle Sam $1.7 billion. "Yeah. I mean, that to me was a common sense kind of determination."
In short, wars have a tendency to change the culture of the militaries that fight them. For the Marines, the cultural change they fear most is losing their connection to the sea while fighting in the desert.
Today there are about 26,000 Marines in Iraq, many of them on their second or third tour, and tens of thousands of others who have either recently returned or who are preparing to go in the coming months and years. Keeping a force that size in Iraq has made it difficult for the Marines to give mid-level officers assignments that would hone the skills necessary to conduct what has always been a central component of Marine warfighting -- landing troops on a beach head.
"If you accept a generation of officers is four years," Gen. Conway says, "that's what an officer signs on for, we now have that generation of officers -- and arguably troops -- that have come and gone, that are combat hardened, but that will never have stepped foot aboard ship. . . . an amphibious operation is by its very nature the most complicated of military operations; and that we have junior officers and senior officers who understand the planning dimensions associated with something like that, that have sufficient number of exercises over time to really have sharpened their skills to work with other services to accomplish a common goal -- these are the things that concern me with the atrophying of those skills and the ability to go out and do those things."
Gen. Conway graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 1969, got married, and volunteered for the Marines at a time when the Vietnam War was still raging. He had friends -- fraternity brothers -- who hadn't kept their grades up and who got drafted.
Not that he regrets signing up. "I thought about trying to contact [that recruiter] and thank him for the way he kind of reeled me in," he says.
As a young officer, Gen. Conway didn't end up in Vietnam. But he did get a front row seat in watching the Marine Corps rebuild itself after the war in Southeast Asia ended. And now, looking back through history, he has a clear perspective on the turning points in the development of the modern Marine Corps.
The first turning point came in World War I at the Battle of Belleau Wood, where a few thousand Marines helped stop a German advance that otherwise might have taken Paris and knocked France out of the war. Marines fought so ferociously in hand-to-hand combat in dense French forest in that battle, that the Germans nicknamed them "Devil Dogs." Afterward, Congress expanded the size of the Marines to more than 70,000, up from about 14,000 at the start of the war.
The second turning point brings Gen. Conway back to his concern for protecting the Marines' institutional culture. "Others will cite other battles," he said, but he sees the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II, a six-month campaign in the Pacific starting in August 1942, as a turning point.
It was there that Marines, later reinforced by Army units, dealt the Japanese their first significant land defeat. "It was only our expeditionary ability to get out there rapidly, as rapidly as we could . . . to put the force out there, smack in the path of the Japanese [that] was a major capability and one we're still very proud of."
So is the Marine Corps the right force to be fighting in Iraq now? It's a loaded question because in recent months Gen. Conway made headlines by airing a plan that would have had the Marines rotate out of Iraq and, with a somewhat smaller force, into Afghanistan. The plan was a nonstarter with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and has been shelved.
"Yeah, I think we are," Gen. Conway said. "For what the nation is now engaged in, it is a major insurgency. From our perspective a counterinsurgency. And when the nation is as hotly engaged as we are in Iraq, I think that's exactly where the Marine Corps needs to be.
"Now, it has necessitated that we undergo these changes to the way we are constituted. But that's OK. We made those adjustments. We'll adjust back when the threat is different. But that's adaptability . . . . You create a force that you have to have at the time. But you don't accept that as the new norm and you do the necessary draw-down at a time when you can."
As for now, he sees the expansion of the Corps to 202,000 "as good . . . We need a Marine Corps that's larger. We need an Army that's larger until we get through what probably is going to be, I think will be, a generational struggle. I think it is absolutely necessary. . . . our military today, all the services all uniforms, is still less than 1% of our great country."
Has the country already forgotten the lessons of 9/11?
Not all of us, Gen. Conway says. "I still hear that a lot, you know, we saw [a] surge [in enlistments] after 9/11, but if you talk to a young Marine out there, even people who were, I don't know, 12, 13, 14 at that point, [they] are still saying that, you know, that they are offended by that, are still incensed by that and they realize that those are still essentially the people out there that we're fighting, so it continues to reverberate. . . . When I visit Gen. Odierno in Baghdad, he's got a picture, a very large picture of one [World Trade Center] tower burning and the other plane about to hit. And I think that our country would do well to remember how we got to where we are today."
Mr. Miniter is an assistant features editor for The Wall Street Journal.
Tough Calls, Good Calls
Reply #72 on:
January 22, 2008, 05:21:27 PM »
Tough Calls, Good Calls
By J.D. CROUCH II and ROBERT JOSEPH
January 22, 2008; Page A19
One of the most difficult and consequential decisions of the Bush presidency took place in January of last year: the decision to fundamentally change our strategy by "surging" more U.S. forces to Iraq.
This decision was taken against the backdrop of escalating violence in Iraq, calls for immediate or "phased" withdrawal, prognostications of imminent defeat, and an abundance of political blame directed at the White House. The president's move was met with skepticism and outright vilification, except for a few principled politicians like John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Today, people are getting in line to claim credit for the "surge."
Mr. Bush's decision was guided by a clear strategic principle. The president wanted the U.S. to win, and refashioning our strategy was the best opportunity to succeed in this goal, as well as to leave Iraq policy on a sounder basis for his successor. Whoever wins the presidency in 2008 will be pleased that he did. What a difference a year makes.
The surge may turn out to be Mr. Bush's most important decision. But he has made other such decisions since 9/11, including to commit ground forces to Afghanistan, to eradicate the regime of Saddam Hussein, to use the CIA to conduct strategic interrogation of high-level terrorists, and to conduct strategic surveillance of terrorists communications.
Mr. Bush has faced so many tough choices over the last seven years that his decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty has been at least partially forgotten. Yet this decision, announced in December 2001, was no less consequential. It also defied the critics who argued that it would lead to a new arms race, increase nuclear proliferation and ruin cooperation with Russia on nuclear arms control and terrorism.
None of these things have happened as a result of the ABM Treaty withdrawal. But the decision will enable us to counter a still-growing 21st century threat.
In the summer of 2006, when Kim Jong Il was again seeking to intimidate America and its allies with medium and long-range missiles, the president had no real options short of pre-emptive attack or retaliation. And yet here, as with the surge, our next president will have tools at his or her disposal because Mr. Bush did not hesitate to do what was necessary for U.S. security.
Mr. Bush has assigned direction of our missile-defense capabilities and their integration into our overall defense strategy to the United States Strategic Command, part of whose mission is the responsibility for defending the nation from strategic missile attack. A global command and control system is being built, and is already functioning, to network our existing sensors and weapons. This can exercise real forces against current and emerging threats.
Meanwhile, a test bed has been built in the Pacific that includes operational assets -- sensors and shooters -- from California to Alaska, from the Aleutian Islands to Hawaii. Despite critics' claims to the contrary, test after test of kinetic kill interceptors has demonstrated the effectiveness of our defenses.
The first strategic missile interceptors since 1975 are deployed in Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg AFB, Calif. They stand guard against an attack on the entire country. Sea-based interceptors that have far greater capability than the Patriots of Iraq are being deployed, using the SM-3 missile and Aegis radars.
Cooperation with key allies on missile defense is at an all-time high, and we are finally able to cooperate in ways that protect both American and allied territory. In Japan, we have deployed a radar capable of providing data for protecting both Japanese and U.S. territory. We are also co-developing a new version of the SM-3 that will have greater capability against long-range threats.
None of this could have happened if President Bush had not decided to withdraw from the ABM Treaty. What are the next steps that the country should take to capitalize fully on this strategic choice?
First, the president's call for a third strategic missile defense site in Europe must be carried out. This site provides additional capability to protect the U.S., and to protect as well our European allies from a growing Iranian missile threat. The site would further cement the development of a global sensor-and-interceptor network necessary for effective missile defense. Failure to follow through would have implications for our alliances both inside and out of Europe.
Second, we can expect that rogue states such as North Korea and Iran are already looking at ways to counter our existing defenses. One way they might do this is to deploy decoys or other countermeasures on their existing offensive missiles that must be attacked, and could thus exhaust our limited supply of interceptors. Fortunately, we can now explore cost-effective solutions to this threat.
One solution is to develop interceptors with multiple kill vehicles -- something that was explicitly banned by the ABM Treaty. Another solution is to develop advanced discrimination techniques to tell the decoys from the real threats. These techniques include using radars, space-based sensors, or a new concept that uses dozens of miniature interceptors that can literally sweep away an entire threat cloud of decoys, allowing the missile interceptor to hone in on the real warhead.
None of these techniques is fully proven, but neither was the hit-to-kill technology begun by President Reagan and later successfully deployed by President Bush. We must focus investment in the discrimination problem and improve our existing systems with these new capabilities.
Third, we can do more to increase the capabilities of existing assets. We can, for example, improve our sea-based capabilities -- both our performance against long-range missiles and the number of assets deployed. Under the ABM Treaty, we had to "dumb down" our so-called theater systems to ensure that they could not be used to defend the U.S. from attack. Free from this restraint, as well as from the Treaty's prohibition on mobile-launch platforms, we can now do much more to integrate our defense with that of our allies and make the most of the assets we have deployed.
Finally, we must look again at space as a place to deploy interceptors.
There is no question that space provides the highest leverage against the missile threat: Targets are more visible, more accessible and more vulnerable when attacked from space. While there are concerns about "weaponizing space," these pale in comparison to the increasing vulnerability of U.S. space-based satellites by weapons from the ground traversing space. The recent Chinese anti-satellite test was a wake-up call.
Space-based interceptors, like those proposed by former President George H. W. Bush in 1991, have the potential to strengthen missile defense, and to provide protection for key intelligence and communications assets in space that are now vulnerable from ground-based attack.
The progress of the past six years stems from one tough decision. That very same decision will allow us to stay ahead of the 21st century ballistic-missile threat.
Messrs. Crouch and Joseph are senior scholars at the National Institute for Public Policy. Mr. Crouch was formerly deputy national security adviser and Mr. Joseph was formerly undersecretary of State in the George W. Bush administration.
Stryker; Mil-supplier scum
Reply #73 on:
February 09, 2008, 08:29:29 AM »
New Stryker Faring Poorly in Field
Military.com | By Christian Lowe | January 30, 2008
BAQUBAH, Iraq - The newest version of the Army’s popular Stryker combat vehicle is garnering poor reviews here from Soldiers assigned to man its tank-like hull.
The General Dynamics Corp.-built Mobile Gun System looks like a typical eight-wheeled Stryker, except for a massive 105mm gun mounted on its roof. The gun fires three different types of projectiles, including explosive rounds, tank-busters and a "canister round" that ejects hundreds of steel pellets similar to a shotgun shell.
But while the system looks good on paper and the Army’s all for it, Soldiers with the 4th Battalion of the 9th Infantry Regiment -- one of the first units to receive the new vehicle for their deployment to Iraq -- don’t have a lot of good things to say about it.
More news from our man in Iraq .
"I wish [the enemy] would just blow mine up so I could be done with it," said Spec. Kyle Handrahan, 22, of Anaheim, Calif., a tanker assigned to Alpha Company, 4/9’s MGS platoon.
"It’s a piece," another MGS platoon member chimed in. "Nothing works on it."
The gripes stem from a litany of problems, including a computer system that constantly locks up, extremely high heat in the crew compartment and a shortage of spare parts. In one case, a key part was held up in customs on its way to Iraq, a problem one Soldier recognizes is a result of a new system being pushed into service before it’s ready.
"The concept is good, but they still have a lot of issues to work out on it," said Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Teimeier, Alpha, 4/9’s MGS platoon sergeant and a tanker by trade.
According to a Jan. 28 report by Bloomberg News, the 2008 Pentagon Authorization bill included language limiting funds for the MGS pending an Army report on fixes to the vehicle’s growing list of problems. The Pentagon’s director of Operational Test and Evaluation said in his annual report the vehicle was "not operationally effective," Bloomberg reported.
Soldiers here say the searing heat in the vehicles -- especially during Iraq’s blazing summer -- forces them to wear a complicated cooling suit that circulates cold water through tubing under their armor. Ironically, Soldiers often complain the suit makes them cold, Teimeier said, adding to their vehicular woes.
Despite the poor review from DoD auditors, the Army is standing by its vehicle, Bloomberg reported.
"The Army has determined that the MGS is suitable and operationally effective," Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Martin Downie, told the financial news service.
Where there is no debate is in the lethality of the vehicle’s firepower.
But Soldiers in the middle of a tough counterinsurgency fight here in Diyala province say commanders are reluctant to use the vehicle’s lethal gun on enemy strongholds out of concern of killing or wounding civilians. As a result, many of the dozens of MGS vehicles go unused while precision air strikes have become increasingly prevalent -- along with the usual Soldier-driven raids.
That’s got MGS drivers here frustrated. Not only do they have to deal with a complex system that gives them fits, but when it is working, they’re not allowed to employ the vehicle in combat.
"You can kick down doors and risk losing our guys," Handrahan said. "Or I can just knock down the building from a [kilometer] away and call it a day."
DoD Cover-Up Alleged Over Helmet Fine
New York Post | February 04, 2008
Two whistleblowers claim that a $1.9 million fine leveled against their former bosses - who allegedly underweighted the bulletproof material in combat helmets to save money - is too measly and part of a Pentagon cover-up.
Jeff Kenner and Tamara Elshaug, who worked at the Sioux Manufacturing Corp. in North Dakota, had charged that their company was involved in the "underweaving" of the bulletproof fabric in more than 2 million "P.A.S.G.T." helmets handed out to National Guardsmen, Army Soldiers and Navy Sailors across the country.
With the help of Long Island lawyer Andrew Campanelli, the pair sued on behalf of the government, and each received $200,000. The company - which has denied the allegations and said no U.S. Soldier was ever injured or killed as a result of the alleged underweaving - also was fined $1.9 million.
"The Department of Justice really did a good job, but I feel the Department of Defense is trying to cover up things," Kenner said, charging that the $1.9 million fine was less than the company had saved on shorting the Kevlar bulletproofing material in the helmets.
"Any time there's less Kevlar, there's less protection. The American people should know about this. It's just greedy people - it's all about money to them [the company]," Kenner said.
Despite the problems with shorting the lifesaving material, the Pentagon awarded a new $16 million to $72 million Kevlar helmet contract to the same firm, before the lawsuit was settled, said an incredulous Campanelli. Campanelli said that, before the settlement last month, someone fired three bullets into Elshaug's mobile home. One bullet pierced her stall shower but no one was injured. No arrest was made.
"It has the earmarks of a cover-up," the lawyer said of the shooting.
U.S. Attorney David Peterson said, "The matter was looked into, and a settlement was ultimately reached."
He declined to comment further.
Last Edit: February 09, 2008, 08:33:18 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Military Science
Reply #74 on:
February 26, 2008, 11:17:00 PM »
Geopolitical Diary: A Military Choice and Challenge for India?
February 27, 2008
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is visiting India. The most public issue between the two countries is the U.S. offer of civilian nuclear technology for India, despite the fact that New Delhi has declined to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. While this is not trivial, the most significant geopolitical dimension of the visit is the rumor that Gates plans to offer India the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, to be delivered when it is retired from the U.S. fleet in 2012. This rumor is persistent and widespread, though the Defense Department has strongly denied it. However, if the reports turn out to be true, such an offer would be an interesting and potentially effective U.S. move.
India: Aircraft Carrier Dynamics
This would place the United States and Russia in competition with each other over India. In 2004, the Russians and Indians signed a deal under which New Delhi would acquire the Russian carrier Admiral Gorshkov for $1.5 billion. But in 2007, the Russians surprised the Indians by raising their asking price. After intense negotiations, the Indians agreed to pay approximately $800 million extra. In return, the Russians agreed to improve the modernization package they had offered the Indians to include a new ski jump facility that would allow for the use of the Russian MiG-29. Given the potential aircraft sale, the Russians are ahead on the deal. However, as of Gates visit, the new agreement had not been signed.
If the rumors about a U.S. decision to offer the Kitty Hawk to India are true, the move clearly is designed to block the sale of the Gorshkov. An American and a Russian carrier in one fleet would create substantial problems for the Indians. Operating an aircraft carrier is one of the most complex military and engineering functions in the world. Having two different carriers made by two different countries housing two different sets of equipment separated not only by age but also by fundamentally different engineering cultures would create a hurdle that probably would be beyond anyone’s capability to manage — and certainly beyond India’s. If India wanted both carriers, it would have to sequence the acquisitions and have the second one rest on the lessons learned from the first.
So, Gates could be offering the Indians a choice and a challenge. The choice would be between U.S. carrier technology — which, even when obsolete by American standards, is the result of several generations of battle-tested systems — and a Soviet-era system that challenged the Soviet ship and aircraft designers. On that level, the choice would be easy.
But the potential U.S. offer also poses a challenge. India once was a historic ally of the Soviet Union and hostile toward the United States. After 9/11, U.S. and Indian interests converged. The United States offered India military technology, and the Indians bought a great deal of it. But as good as U.S. military technology is, each purchase increases Indian dependence on the United States for spare parts and support. It has not been easy shifting away from the Soviet weapons culture; years of training and a substantial Indian knowledge base rest on those weapons. If the Indians continue adopting American weapon systems, not only will they have to retrain and restructure their knowledge base, they also will get locked into American systems. And that locks them into dependence on the United States. If the United States were to cut the flow of weapons, parts and support, the Indians could be systematically weakened.
Buying the Gorshkov rather than the Kitty Hawk would give the Indians second-rank technology with fewer potential political strings. Since the Indians are not going to be challenging the American fleet, the Gorshkov might well suit their purposes and keep their non-American options open. This is where the Russian decision to renegotiate the Gorshkov’s price could hurt Moscow. The only reason to buy the Gorshkov instead of the Kitty Hawk is the perception of Russian reliability. But the Russians badly damaged this perception by renegotiating.
The Russians assumed that the Indians had no choice but to rework the deal. But the purpose of Gates’ visit could be to let India know that it does have a choice and that the Kitty Hawk is the safer option. If so, he will tell New Delhi that the Russians can’t be trusted. They have shown India how they will behave if they think it has no options. The United States isn’t going to be less trustworthy than that. And India doesn’t have to go with Russian carrier technology and aircraft; it can have U.S. carrier technology, an upgrade of the Kitty Hawk and F/A-18 battle-tested aircraft, trainers and advisers, rather than MiG-29s.
If Gates does make this case, the issue then will be whether the United States will permit some or all of the F/A-18s to be produced in India — something the Russians have permitted with other aircraft purchases. We suspect something could be worked out and U.S.-Indian relations will continue to develop if the Indian fear of being completely dependent on the United States can be overcome.
From Gertz GPS/military
Reply #75 on:
April 01, 2008, 07:13:55 PM »
Shut down GPS and the US military is stymied.
The Gertz File
March 28, 2008
Notes from the Pentagon
Denial and deception
China's military is using "denial" and "deception" to mislead the United States and other governments about its military strategy and buildup, according to Pentagon officials.
The topic is discussed in the latest Pentagon report on China's military power, which defines Chinese disinformation as "[luring] the other side into developing misperceptions ... and [establishing for oneself] a strategically advantageous position by producing various kinds of false phenomena in an organized and planned manner with the smallest cost in manpower and materials."
A Pentagon official, elaborating on the report, said "denial" by the Chinese is excessive secrecy "surrounding almost every part of the PLA," or People's Liberation Army, as the military is known.
Evidence of denial is difficult to pinpoint because, the official said, "we don't know what we don't know."
Deception often is discussed in Chinese military writings, including those based on ancient writings that discuss its use in helping weaker powers defeat stronger ones. The analogy is used by China to discuss how it would defeat the United States in a conflict.
Strategic deception is "producing or portraying something that is false as being true in an effort to confuse the adversary or set the conditions for surprise," the official said.
"Denial and secrecy is used to prevent outside observers from gaining real insights into investment priorities, capabilities and intentions which can serve to hide either weakness or strength," the official said.
China's tactical denial and deception include using electronic decoys, infrared decoys, false-target generators and angle reflectors during electronic warfare. They also include the use of traditional concealment, camouflage and deception by military forces.
Some senior U.S. intelligence officials dispute the Pentagon's assertion that China employs strategic and tactical denial and deception, arguing that Chinese communist-style disinformation is no different from what non-communist governments use. The issue is being debated internally.
U.S. military and intelligence officials say one reason China's anti-satellite missile test of January 2007 was so alarming is that it highlighted a major strategic vulnerability: the reliance of the U.S. military on Global Position System satellites.
If China used its ground-based mobile ASAT missiles to destroy GPS satellites, it would cripple the ability of the U.S. military to use some of its most important weapons, like satellite-guided precision missiles. Additionally, navigation of ground-, air- and sea-based forces would be almost completely halted.
"Shut down GPS and we're basically left with throwing rocks," said one U.S. military official.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, told reporters earlier this month that GPS also is vulnerable to electronic jamming.
"The Global Positioning System is literally ubiquitous," Gen. Hamel said. "I would argue that precise positioning and timing is the fundamental enabler of the information age. Being able to synchronize everything around the globe from timing and positioning is absolutely critical. Yet the only way that really functions is for user receivers to be able to collect the signal. Well, it is a very, very weak signal and it's very, it's relatively easy for commercial kind of devices and uses to be able to get disrupted."
Gen. Hamel said the military is considering how to protect GPS users. "We both want to improve the signals from the satellite, but you also have to improve the user equipment to be less susceptible and vulnerable," he said.
"Literally Radio Shack parts, together with a modicum of electrical engineering education, you can actually generate jamming and disruptive wave forms to particular types of GPS signals and user equipment," Gen. Hamel said.
Gen. Hamel said his command is building equipment for military users "that has greater protection and anti-jam capability to be able to deal with some of those kinds of threats," noting that it is not only satellites that need protection but user equipment as well.
A February 29 item entitled "Fight Over China" erroneously reported that Lonnie Henley, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for East Asia, indirectly supported the unauthorized disclosure of intelligence to China by writing a letter to the sentencing judge in the criminal case of former DIA analyst Ron Montaperto. Mr. Henley sent a letter to the court attesting to Mr. Montaperto's character during the sentencing phase of the proceeding, a common procedure in criminal cases that does not suggest support for the underlying crime. Additionally, Mr. Montaperto pleaded guilty to a charge of mishandling classified documents -- not espionage.
# Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202-636-3274, or at
Re: Military Science
Reply #76 on:
April 02, 2008, 08:52:34 AM »
If you haven't yet read "Unrestricted Warfare", shame on you. Every American needs to grasp the concept. That doctrine is being used against us around the globe.
Re: Military Science
Reply #77 on:
April 02, 2008, 10:16:08 AM »
CCP's posted piece is on a very important matter. If, as has been known to happen before, the Pentagon is asleep at the switch on this, a lot of what we have is a giant Maginot Line for them.
GM: Care to share the author, and give us a paragraph or two on what the book is about?
Reply #78 on:
April 02, 2008, 11:22:36 AM »
Continuing with this theme, , , ,
The new U.S. Air Force Cyber Command released its first statement of Strategic Vision on March 4. The document indicates the United States’ preparations for the challenges that lie ahead in cyberspace.
Now six months old, the provisional U.S. Air Force Cyber Command — which will stand up formally Oct. 1 — released its first Strategic Vision document March 4. It partially appears like something of a marketing document, but it offers important insights into the future structure of the new command.
Though the United States has been working under the radar to deal with cyber threats for more than a decade, and far longer in related fields such as signals intelligence and network warfare, the new Air Force command has been part of an increasingly public government and military acknowledgment of the challenges in this new arena. The Cyber Command is partially about consolidating the disparate specialties relevant to this field, which currently are spread across the Air Force.
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U.S. Air Force Cyber Command Strategic Vision Statement
Stratfor is not responsible for the content of other Web sites.
Highlighting the significance of this emerging issue, the U.S. intelligence community’s 2008 Annual Threat Assessment prominently featured cyber threats for the first time. The Pentagon’s 2008 Annual Report to Congress on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China also placed an increased emphasis on the threat posed by Beijing in this area in particular.
Fundamental to understanding this issue is grasping the cyber challenges ahead. The United States has a very impressive ability to function in and command cyberspace. But by no means does it enjoy the unquestioned military dominance it enjoys in so many other domains. The Pentagon’s systems come under attack on a daily basis. Furthermore, the United States is particularly reliant on the Internet (and thus vulnerable to cyber threats) for everything from personal banking to the functioning of the financial systems that manage the nation’s wealth.
The Cyber Command’s Strategic Vision statement shows the Air Force is making more than an overdue organizational shift. The statement is reflective of an intellectual and conceptual grasp of the challenges that lay ahead. Particularly relevant passages include:
“Controlling cyberspace is the prerequisite to effective operations across all strategic and operational domains -– securing freedom from attack and freedom to attack.”
“Successfully controlling cyberspace creates the potential to achieve victory before a kinetic shot is fired. Our cyberspace capabilities will dissuade and deter potential aggressors, but if deterrence fails, our mastery of it will help to ensure that we prevail.”
“Cyberspace favors offensive operations.”
Despite the Air Force’s preparations, challenges lie ahead. Cyber warfare inherently entails operations on both sides of the traditional boundaries that have separated military functions from police functions. Though much has been done in the legal realm to accommodate this new reality since 9/11, cyberspace will continue to be a very difficult arena for the military to fight in legally, especially since some of the operations involved in cyber warfare must inherently be directed against civilian targets to be effective. Furthermore, establishing dominance in cyberspace is not a simple measure of troops, computers and the latest technology.
The most exceptionally skilled personnel — hackers — exist primarily outside traditional demographics for government and military service, and more likely than not have a strong distaste for authority and a distrust of government. There have been — and will continue to be — instances where the hacker community has been rallied in the interest of a nation, but they mostly do so out of their own inclination and interests. Harnessing these personnel and achieving the legal space to function without undue hindrance will be just two of the problems that still await Cyber Command.
Editor’s note: Stratfor is currently developing a featured series of analyses on cyberspace as battlespace. Look for it soon.
Re: Military Science
Reply #79 on:
April 02, 2008, 01:21:36 PM »
China's stealth war on the U.S.
By Max Boot
| Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu of the Chinese People's Liberation Army caused quite a stir last week when he threatened to nuke "hundreds" of American cities if the U.S. dared to interfere with a Chinese attempt to conquer Taiwan.
This saber-rattling comes while China is building a lot of sabers. Although its defense budget, estimated to be as much as $90 billion, remains a fraction of the United States', it is enough to make China the world's third-biggest weapons buyer (behind Russia) and the biggest in Asia. Moreover, China's spending has been increasing rapidly, and it is investing in the kind of systems — especially missiles and submarines — needed to challenge U.S. naval power in the Pacific.
The Pentagon on Tuesday released a study of Chinese military capabilities. In a preview, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Singapore audience last month that China's arms buildup was an "area of concern." It should be. But we shouldn't get overly fixated on such traditional indices of military power as ships and bombs — not even atomic bombs. Chinese strategists, in the best tradition of Sun Tzu, are working on craftier schemes to topple the American hegemon.
In 1998, an official People's Liberation Army publishing house brought out a treatise called "Unrestricted Warfare," written by two senior army colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. This book, which is available in English translation, is well known to the U.S. national security establishment but remains practically unheard of among the general public.
"Unrestricted Warfare" recognizes that it is practically impossible to challenge the U.S. on its own terms. No one else can afford to build mega-expensive weapons systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which will cost more than $200 billion to develop. "The way to extricate oneself from this predicament," the authors write, "is to develop a different approach."
Their different approaches include financial warfare (subverting banking systems and stock markets), drug warfare (attacking the fabric of society by flooding it with illicit drugs), psychological and media warfare (manipulating perceptions to break down enemy will), international law warfare (blocking enemy actions using multinational organizations), resource warfare (seizing control of vital natural resources), even ecological warfare (creating man-made earthquakes or other natural disasters).
Cols. Qiao and Wang write approvingly of Al Qaeda, Colombian drug lords and computer hackers who operate outside the "bandwidths understood by the American military." They envision a scenario in which a "network attack against the enemy" — clearly a red, white and blue enemy — would be carried out "so that the civilian electricity network, traffic dispatching network, financial transaction network, telephone communications network and mass media network are completely paralyzed," leading to "social panic, street riots and a political crisis." Only then would conventional military force be deployed "until the enemy is forced to sign a dishonorable peace treaty."
This isn't just loose talk. There are signs of this strategy being implemented. The anti-Japanese riots that swept China in April? That would be psychological warfare against a major Asian rival. The stage-managed protests in 1999, after the U.S. accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, fall into the same category.
The bid by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Co., to acquire Unocal? Resource warfare. Attempts by China's spy apparatus to infiltrate U.S. high-tech firms and defense contractors? Technological warfare. China siding against the U.S. in the U.N. Security Council over the invasion of Iraq? International law warfare. Gen. Zhu's threat to nuke the U.S.? Media warfare.
And so on. Once you know what to look for, the pieces fall into place with disturbing ease. Of course, most of these events have alternative, more benign explanations: Maybe Gen. Zhu is an eccentric old coot who's seen "Dr. Strangelove" a few too many times.
The deliberate ambiguity makes it hard to craft a response to "unrestricted warfare." If Beijing sticks to building nuclear weapons, we know how to deal with that — use the deterrence doctrine that worked against the Soviets. But how do we respond to what may or may not be indirect aggression by a major trading partner? Battling terrorist groups like Al Qaeda seems like a cinch by comparison.
This is not a challenge the Pentagon is set up to address, but it's an urgent issue for the years ahead.
Re: Military Science
Reply #80 on:
April 02, 2008, 01:31:01 PM »
Re: Military Science
Reply #81 on:
April 04, 2008, 08:23:43 AM »
My understanding from a career military person is the US military sees China as our number *one enemy*. The remains of the former Soviet Union is no longer considered a serious threat.
My general undestanding is military electronic hardware is protected by three layers of defense. If one layer is penetrated without authorization the other two automatically change configuration. Assuming this is even remotely the case this still may not protect against a succesful intrusion by the patient, well placed spy who is on the "inside".
Who amongst us is our enemy pretending to be our friend? Apparantly many more than we think.
It is what my wife and I deal with on a daily basis with regards to her music lyrics that get stolen over and over again. There is simply no limit to who money can buy. This is a fact I have learned the hard way.
How about celebrities who keep having their medical records stolen right out of the hospital only to show up in the National Enquirer? As a doctor I could get fined or go to jail for such a breach. Yet nothing happens to the Enquirer. Why are not these people sent to jail for such an invasion to privacy. So should the hospital employees for such unistakably deliberate acts IMO. Not just lose their jobs. Anyway I digress.
Re: Military Science
Reply #82 on:
April 21, 2008, 03:57:53 PM »
The proliferation of a new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles is on the rise, and questions remain about the U.S. Navy’s capability to confront the threat.
The supersonic anti-ship missile was a product of the Soviet Union’s need to challenge the U.S. Navy at sea. That speed was a brute-force way to punch through more technologically sophisticated U.S. shipboard defenses. In the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a few of these missiles and their platforms — essentially holdouts from the Soviet days — have begun to turn up in China. But a new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles has begun appearing on the market, and their proliferation is on the rise.
Anti-ship missiles have repeatedly proven their value. The HMS Sheffield (D80) was hit by a French-built Argentine Exocet in 1982 during the Falkland Islands War and later sank. The USS Stark (FFG-31) was crippled by a pair of Iraqi Exocets in 1987. And in 2006, the Israeli INS Hanit was struck by a Chinese-built C-802 (a design similar to the Exocet) during the Israeli conflict with Hezbollah. Both the Stark and the Hanit survived, but the missiles achieved what is known as a “mission kill.” In each case, though the crew was able to keep the ship afloat and limp back to port, the ship’s ability to effectively execute its missions was lost.
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U.S. Military Dominance
Modern warships are no longer armored as they once were. In the cases above, the Exocet’s 360-pound warhead did not tear the ship apart. But it easily penetrated the steel hull and wreaked havoc on the ship’s internal spaces. Not all hits like this will be mission kills, but the odds of one are high — and increase if multiple missiles impact the hull.
This is where the new supersonics come in. Their capabilities vary, but they bring two things to this dynamic. First, by significantly reducing the reaction time for shipboard defenses, they increase the likelihood of a successful hit, especially in their sea-skimming variations. Second, their increased speed translates into increased kinetic destructiveness. Even if a missile is destroyed, its fragments can pepper the side of a ship.
The New Market
Three missiles in particular are poised to proliferate more widely:
The BrahMos: Taking its name from a combination of the names of India’s Brahmaputra River and Russia’s Moscow River, the BrahMos is the product of an Indian-Russian venture. Its design work can be traced to the Soviet Union’s fledgling SS-N-26. Begun in 1985, the design had already been through substantial testing by the time India joined the project. Probably neither the most technologically advanced nor the most maneuverable among the supersonic anti-ship missiles, the BrahMos is principally noteworthy for its availability. It is currently being inducted into service with the Indian military and could soon see a surge in proliferation, with Malaysia as the likely first export customer.
The AS-17 “Krypton”: A late-model air-launched missile with a number of air-to-air and air-to-surface roles, this ramjet-powered missile has already been copied by the Chinese, and the Kh-31A series is being used in an anti-ship role. Despite its significantly smaller warhead, the Krypton is noteworthy for its compact size. Su-30 “Flanker” fighter jets can carry four.
The SS-N-27 “Sizzler”: Another late Soviet design, the Sizzler family (known to the Russians as the “Club”) actually encompasses a series of anti-ship, ground attack and anti-submarine missiles. Occasionally known as the SS-N-27B, the anti-ship 3M54 version is of principal interest here, as it includes a sea-skimming supersonic terminal stage that travels at Mach 3 only some 20 feet above the ocean. It covers the last 10 miles of its flight in just over 20 seconds. The guidance systems of this particular missile may be more advanced, and it is thought to have considerable maneuverability in the terminal stage, making it harder to bring down. Its capability was highlighted by the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Timothy J. Keating, when he admitted in testimony before Congress on March 12 that this missile is “a very sophisticated piece of hardware and we are currently not as capable of defending against that missile as I would like.” Though it is not always clear that it is the supersonic variant being deployed, the Sizzler family of missiles has begun seeing significant levels of deployment aboard Russian-built Kilo-class submarines purchased by China and India and could be used on more of the Russian fleet as well. Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms-export monopoly, is increasingly marketing the missile as a package with these subs. Venezuela, Algeria and Libya could even find themselves in possession of this capability down the road.
Armoring against this threat has not been a design choice for decades. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviets began to field supersonic anti-ship missiles with 2,050-pound warheads. This was not a problem to be solved with armor; in addition to the dramatic increase in shipbuilding costs, power plant capability requirements and fuel consumption involved, there was no way to harden a ship — including the superstructure — against such kinetic and explosive destructiveness.
Thus, the United States has long relied upon technology to prevent anti-ship missiles from impacting in the first place. The vaunted Aegis battle management system was designed to coordinate these defenses, which by all measures are quite good. But defenses must continually be cultivated, tested and refined.
For more than five years, voices in the Pentagon have been clamoring that this is not being done. The problem is targets. After the Soviet Union fell, a variation of the Krypton known as the MA-31 was sold to the United States as a supersonic target. However, the MA-31 never went into mass production, and the small inventory — which is almost depleted — is generally used in a high-altitude powered-dive role, rather than a sea-skimming role.
The GQM-163A “Coyote” supersonic sea-skimming target vehicle is currently in production, and the U.S. Navy plans to purchase nearly 40 of them by 2009. While the Coyote might be a near-term acquisition solution, it does not entirely approximate the Sizzler’s subsonic approach and supersonic terminal profile (the Defense Department calls this profile “Threat-D”), and the Pentagon has not had a good supersonic target for some time. Keating’s candor before Congress seems to reinforce the apparent fact that shipboard defenses are not being refined as highly as they could be.
This is troubling on two fronts. First, the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding plan, which calls for a 313-ship fleet, remains in serious near-term question. Ship numbers are dropping, and the next-generation DDG-1000 guided-missile destroyer and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) are both over budget and behind schedule, while the number of attack submarines in the inventory continues to decline. This makes each individual hull more valuable.
But second, and more importantly, the U.S. Navy has long worked under the assumption that technologically advanced air defenses can provide sufficient protection from these threats. While it is clear that armor probably is not the solution for a navy already struggling to make ends meet in shipbuilding, the inability to prove upgraded shipboard defenses in representative live testing should be a matter of grave concern, especially since these threats may necessitate alterations to tracking software and engagement profiles.
The U.S. Navy retains its global maritime supremacy, and no other nation is in a position to even think about competing in the near term. But modern navies have repeatedly been stung by anti-ship missiles launched by lesser military powers. And this proliferation of a new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles promises that technologically advanced shipboard defenses have not been tested for the last time.
Demise of the Green Berets?
Reply #83 on:
April 24, 2008, 07:35:14 AM »
Demise of the Green Berets?
Soldier of Fortune | Maj. Gen. James Guest, USA | April 16, 2008
For a glimpse into the future of Special Forces, read the Capstone Concept for Special Operations on the USSOCOM web site. Read through it carefully. Can you find the words "Special Forces" anywhere? Or "Special Forces group?" Can you find "ODA" (operational detachment - alpha)? Or "ODB" (operational detachment - bravo)? Or "Special Forces battalion?"
You can't find these words. We can read that as a strong signal that you won't be able to find Special Forces anywhere before very long. Many other signals suggest that the senior leadership in both United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and Department of the Army (DA) are working to do away with the Green Berets. The generals at USSOCOM and in the Pentagon have been blurring the distinctions between Special Forces and special operations forces (SOF) units (Rangers, JSOC, SEALs, Delta, et al.) for some time. We now see references to "Air Force special forces," "Navy special forces," and "Marine special forces" but we rarely see the term "U. S. Army Special Forces." We do see "Army SOF," which only describes a grouping of forces, not a capability. We do see SF ODAs referred to as "special operations detachments," another sad precursor of the future.
The Capstone Concept for Special Operations being developed for USSOCOM includes the concept "global expeditionary forces," and all indications point to the intent to replace the SF groups with this new concept. The organizational charts are changing, too, and the plans are for these global expeditionary forces to work directly for USSOCOM worldwide in a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)-like configuration. Although the security assistance force (SAF) concept is a much more streamlined and effective mechanism for utilizing U. S. Army Special Forces-the SAF is regionally oriented and works directly for the combatant commander-it has been discarded. Is USA SF Being Eviscerated?
Is this a ploy to be able to take the ODAs and use them operationally without going through the group headquarters (HQ), including the group Special Forces operating bases (SFOB)? Since 1952, conventional force headquarters have attempted to neutralize Special Forces command and control by treating the group and battalion HQ as non-operational administrative units, the purpose of which is to maintain ODAs in order that conventional units, such as JSOC, can cherry-pick them to use as support for their own missions. Reportedly, SF troops are already under the operational control of JSOC. JSOC is using the Green Berets for JSOC's own ends, whether to gather intelligence for JSOC missions or to carry out "special missions" that, if successful, JSOC can take the credit for. You can imagine who will suck up the blame if such a "special mission" goes south.
How can Special Forces be neutralized in this way? If those who want to do away with the Green Berets are successful, they will need the full support of the senior leadership of the U. S. Army. Will they do away with the Special Forces officer branch? The Special Forces warrant officer branch? The Special Forces NCO career management fields (CMF)? To date, we merely have the unusual spectacle of a relatively small unit (USSOCOM)-however joint they may be-taking control of an entire United States Army branch.
The Army transferred control of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center (SWC) and School from Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) to the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) in 1990. USASOC has since taken the combat developments capability out of SWC and made it a staff section of USASOC HQ. Bear in mind that this office is the heartbeat (perhaps also the brain) of the force developments and requirements process, and therefore has a major, if not controlling voice in all future concept development, acquisitions, organization, and support doctrine for Special Forces. This, in turn, impacts recruitment, promotions, training, and equipping the force; doctrinal studies and publications; and concept developments to support Special Forces. This also impacts U. S. Army psychological operations and civil affairs concepts and developments. Since this power node was moved from SWC to USASOC, SWC is now a pygmy in the lineup of U.S. Army schools. A harbinger of the future is the recent cut of 13 million dollars from the SWC budget.
Marine Specops Intrude
Another indication that SWC's leadership position in the unconventional warfare (UW) arena is disappearing is that on 27 June 2007, the USMC formally activated the Marine Special Operations School. The stated intent of the USMC senior leadership is that it will become "the premier FID [foreign internal defense] and Unconventional Warfare University in the entire SOF community."
Approval from USSOCOM was required for this duplication of effort, as well as for the above-quoted statement. There can be no true duplication for many years, if ever. The culture of the USMC will be even less amenable to the necessities of working with, through, and by indigenous people than the culture of the conventional Army. The Marines are a world-class service and a superb fighting force, but they are new to FID and new to unconventional warfare. Many a harsh lesson awaits them if they are going to try to replace the Green Berets. U. S. Army Special Forces has been increasing in proficiency and experience in counterinsurgency (COIN), FID, UW, and international security assistance missions for more than a half century.
Are the Marines willing to take the slots out of their own hide and form up more than 300 Special Forces-type operational detachments? Why would USSOCOM leaders be willing for the USMC to start this effort from scratch, when time is of the essence? Is USSOCOM willing to hand over U. S. Army Special Forces personnel authorizations to the USMC so they can become the premier FID and UW warriors of the future? Is somebody selling wolf tickets?
Specops Tactics Turned Upside Down
In the USSOCOM Capstone Concept, the TTP for conducting Special Forces operations are turned on their heads. This developing concept speaks in terms of pulling everything back to the continental United States (CONUS) and of deploying JSOC units in the same way as carrier battle groups (CBG) and Marine expeditionary units (MEU), instead of doing what has worked so well for so long for Special Forces. Look on pages 9 and 10 of the Capstone Concept, under "Global Expeditionary Force." While this concept would work for raids and other direct actions (such as JSOC, Rangers, SEALs, and USAF Special Tactics Teams are trained to conduct), if USSOCOM attempts to steal the mission of Special Forces by using this model, they will merely create a "roving gnome," who will soon be calling for backup. In short, the USSOCOM Capstone Concept totally ignores the demonstrated and historically successful Special Forces operational concept of working by, with, and through those we are helping.
As a result of more than fifty years of fine tuning, each Special Forces group now operates in its assigned region. Group HQ deploy joint combined exchange training (JCET) teams to enhance bilateral relations and interoperability with regional nations through military-to-military contact. These U. S. Special Forces JCET teams establish long-term relationships with indigenous personnel. They work to improve regional unit combat skills and observance of humanitarian requirements. They develop trust between host nations and the USA, with a program tailored to meet specific needs as identified by Green Berets on the ground. This capability will disappear with the Green Berets, and no SOF "shock-and awe" can replace it.
Compared to the lean organization of Special Forces, the USSOCOM model creates a bureaucracy with too many supervisors for too few workers, with the supervisors far away from the action. Money that would be better spent on the mission will be used for funding extra layers of chair-borne supervisors. Worse, an unwieldy organization will get in the way of accomplishing the mission. The men on the ground have a much better feel for what they need to do and how best to do it, while the top-down bureaucratic rigidity frustrates more than it facilitates.
Will these newly created bureaucratic slots be filled with Special Forces officers and NCOs? What do you think? The conventional officers who have risen to the highest ranks through their connections with JSOC, Delta, the Rangers, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the SEALs will be in charge. There is only one Special Forces officer (newly promoted) above the rank of major general, so, once again, Special Forces are being decapitated and will be under the ultimate command of those who have never gone through selection and assessment, never attended the SFOC, never served a tour on an ODA, and never served repeated assignments in a SFG(A).
The 2006 version of the USSOCOM Capstone Concept that we can access online does not show the new organizational charts that are presently proposed for the global expeditionary forces in the 2007 Capstone Concept. They are classified, but in the end there may be more than a dozen staff officers and NCOs for every soldier who will be assigned the mission on the ground. Reliable sources state that, even now, there are more than 130 (perhaps as many as 160) U. S. Army E-9s in Army special mission units assigned to JSOC. When that is compared with the 13 to15 E-9s in a Special Forces group, it does tend to raise eyebrows. What are they doing? According to the reports, thirteen of them are packing parachutes.
SOF DVD w/o SF
In April 2007, USSOCOM put out a 20-minute DVD celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Even though Special Forces personnel make up the greatest part of the USSOCOM forces, the U. S. Army Special Forces are never once mentioned in this DVD. Although Special Forces is the oldest force in USSOCOM and has been the USSOCOM workhorse since its inception, not one Green Beret is seen in the montage of photographs.
Colonel Banks is not mentioned in the historical overview, or General Yarborough, or General Healy. There is no reference to Colonel Bull Simons, to Colonel Charlie Beckwith, nor to General Joe Lutz. Yet without these men, the path to the present day in United States "special operations" would be difficult to imagine. Most amazingly, the DVD makes no reference to President John F. Kennedy, who supported the establishment of Special Forces in 1961.
Will Special Forces exist ten or twenty years down the road? What can we do to ensure the continuing existence and contribution of the Green Berets?
It is time to fight again, this time for the preservation of the force. If we do not protest the poor stewardship of the U. S. Army and USSOCOM leaders concerning U. S. Army Special Forces and its unique capability, we will certainly see this capability diminish.
WSJ: Air Combat by Remote Control
Reply #84 on:
May 12, 2008, 11:11:10 AM »
Air Combat by Remote Control
By BRIAN M. CARNEY
May 12, 2008; Page A13
Indian Springs, Nev.
The sniper never knew what hit him. The Marines patrolling the street below were taking fire, but did not have a clear shot at the third-story window that the sniper was shooting from. They were pinned down and called for reinforcements.
Help came from a Predator drone circling the skies 20 miles away. As the unmanned plane closed in, the infrared camera underneath its nose picked up the muzzle flashes from the window. The sniper was still firing when the Predator's 100-pound Hellfire missile came through the window and eliminated the threat.
The airman who fired that missile was 8,000 miles away, here at Creech Air Force Base, home of the 432nd air wing. The 432nd officially "stood up," in the jargon of the Air Force, on May 1, 2007. One year later, two dozen of its drones patrol the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan every hour of every day. And almost all of them are flown by two-man crews sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of a "ground control station" (GCS) in the Nevada desert.
Col. Chris Chambliss, 49, was an F-16 pilot for 20 years before being tapped as the 432nd's first wing commander. He can tell you -- to the day -- the last time he flew an F-16 (March 29, 2007), but he insists he has no regrets about giving up his cockpit for the earthbound GCS of the Predator and its big sibling, the Reaper. "It's much more fun," Col. Chambliss admits, "to climb up a ladder and strap on an airplane than it is to walk into a GCS and sit down." But the payoff comes, he contends, in far greater effectiveness "in the fight."
"In that F-16 squadron that I was in," he says, "you'd come into that squadron for three years, and you might deploy once or twice for 120 days into the theater," but after 120 days, normal military rotations would require you to come back, rest and retrain. So in a three-year tour, an airman might be deployed for eight months or a year.
Col. Chambliss's Predator and Reaper squadrons don't have that problem. Out of 250 aviators, they might deploy eight of them to Iraq or Afghanistan at any given time to take off and land the planes -- a task that still has to be done locally. The rest of the pilots and crew men work shifts at Creech, flying for eight hours before handing the plane off to the next shift. This means that at any given moment a squadron of drones is using 80% of its assets in combat, compared to perhaps 30% for an F-16 squadron.
It's this effectiveness multiplier that led Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently to call on the Air Force to put every available Predator into the air in Iraq. But how we got here is itself a story of innovation and creative thinking going back more than a decade. It's a story that shows how even the military can do more with less, starting with the modestly priced $4.2 million airframe originally designed as a reconnaissance vehicle.
Predators were first deployed in Bosnia in 1996. At the time, they were limited to the line of sight of their base stations. But in 2003, two things happened to expand the range of possibilities by an order of magnitude. For one, the Air Force routed the signal from the satellite downlink via fiber-optics. This allowed them to put the ground control stations -- the cockpits -- anywhere in the world that a fiber connection was available. Also that year, as the Iraq invasion was gearing up, the Air Force decided to try strapping a Hellfire missile on the Predator, transforming it from a reconnaissance role into a multipurpose weapon.
Today, the Reaper, which went into service in Afghanistan last September (a year ahead of schedule), can carry nearly the same payload as an F-16 -- typically two 500-pound laser-guided bombs and four Hellfires.
These are early days for unmanned aerial warfare. The 432nd is only one year old, and its mission continues to evolve. The 42nd Attack Squadron -- the Reaper squadron -- is still young, and still small, with only enough men and equipment to keep two planes at a time in the skies over Afghanistan.
Col. Chambliss compares the situation to the early decades of manned flight. "You know how fast things went from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second World War, how aviation, the capabilities vastly increased. That's where we're sitting right now. . . . I have no doubt when I'm sitting in my rocking chair, a retired old guy, I will be sitting there going, 'You've got to be kidding me.'"
Mr. Carney is a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board.
See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion
WSJ: Larger Army
Reply #85 on:
May 23, 2008, 09:27:39 AM »
We Still Need a Larger Army
By THOMAS DONNELLY and FREDERICK W. KAGAN
May 23, 2008
"That is the war we are in.
That is the war we must win."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is a plainspoken man, as befits his Texas roots. His words, quoted above, were about the war in Iraq. But as a remarkable series of recent speeches indicates, he intends to do what he can during the final months of his tenure to reorient the American military for the tasks of the "Long War."
This is long overdue. Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Gates' predecessor, famously lamented that you went to war with the force you had, not the one you'd like to have. Yet in the years since 9/11, the U.S. military still hasn't developed into the force that we need. To be sure, our soldiers have transformed themselves radically, painstakingly acquiring the arts of modern irregular warfare. But success in Baghdad and Kabul will be hard to sustain unless it is matched in Washington.
As Mr. Gates recognizes, the first order of business is to expand, restructure and modernize U.S. land forces. Unfortunately, the Bush administration's program – to grow the active Army and Marine Corps from the current 700,000 to about 750,000 in the next five years – is a Rumsfeld legacy and entirely inadequate. Regardless of the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will need a total active land force of something like one million soldiers and Marines.
The active duty portion of the U.S. Army needs to grow to about 800,000 soldiers. That's the size maintained during the 1980s and into the early 1990s, and it is a bare minimum for success in the many and varied missions that will be required in the future – missions that have ranged from "building partnership capacity" in West Africa to tracking down terrorists in Southeast Asia, as well as large-scale invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Those who believe that the need for such a force size will abate as troops are drawn down in Iraq should consider the larger pattern of American operations over the past generation. Since its creation in 1983, the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for operations in East Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, has demanded an ever-increasing American presence, a presence which has changed from being largely air and maritime to boots on the ground. That's the war we are in.
Repairing and reshaping the active Army is also key to restoring the Marine Corps to its traditional and still essential role as a sea-based contingency force. And it is critical in order to return the Army National Guard to a proper place as a national strategic reserve, and an operational force with state responsibilities. The Army is the keystone in the arch of America's land-force structure.
The Army brigade also needs to be reworked. Under a plan initiated in the late 1990s – and embraced by Mr. Rumsfeld as part of his program of defense transformation to "lighten" the Army by creating a larger number of smaller, "modularized" brigades – the personnel strength of an Army brigade was reduced to about 3,500. Yet in practice in Iraq and Afghanistan, as units scramble to secure additional mission-enabling capabilities, the total climbs to about 5,000 – roughly the strength of a premodularized unit. The current Bush expansion plan will not remedy the problem of having more but weaker units.
More important, the concept of the "tooth-to-tail ratio" needs to be revisited. For the past generation, military reformers looked at the support, headquarters and institutional base of the armed services, especially the Army, as overhead fat to be trimmed ruthlessly. But in an irregular warfare environment, the old tail – military police, engineers, civil affairs units, intelligence analysts, command-and-control nodes, military education and so on – is the new tooth.
Finally, the failure to modernize U.S. land-force equipment has stunted the ability of the Marines and Army to meet their new missions. The Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle provides a case in point. The Army also has not expanded its planned procurement of wheeled Stryker vehicles, nor accelerated the pace at which it is "networking" the force under the Future Combat Systems project.
There have been extraordinarily successful experiments suggesting that the effectiveness and survivability of dismounted infantry can be exponentially multiplied, even in a complex, urban environment. But the so-called Land Warrior program has been managed with peacetime lethargy rather than wartime urgency.
While there is a general bipartisan consensus that America's land forces are too small, there are big differences among the candidates about the size of the problem. Sen. John McCain, for example, has suggested that the active Army and Marine Corps should be increased to about 900,000. Sen. Barack Obama, by contrast, believes the Bush expansion plan is sufficient.
The limitations of America's land forces remain the most fundamental constraint on U.S. military strategy. Unless we begin now to restore and reshape the services to do what we have asked them to do, there will be tragic consequences: not that our Army and Marine Corps will be "broken," but that our nation will not win the war that it is in.
Messrs. Donnelly and Kagan are co-authors of "Ground Truth: The Future of U.S. Land Power," just published by AEI Press.
USAF and the Next War
Reply #86 on:
June 11, 2008, 05:53:38 PM »
GEOPOLITICAL WEEKLY: THE U.S. AIR FORCE AND THE NEXT WAR
By George Friedman
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has fired the secretary of the Air Force and
the Air Force chief of staff. The official reason given for the firings was the
mishandling of nuclear weapons and equipment related to nuclear weapons, which
included allowing an aircraft to fly within the United States with six armed nuclear
weapons on board and accidentally shipping nuclear triggers to Taiwan. An
investigation conducted by a Navy admiral concluded that Air Force expertise in
handling nuclear weapons had declined.
Focusing on Present Conflicts
While Gates insisted that this was the immediate reason for the firings, he has
sharply criticized the Air Force for failing to reorient itself to the types of
conflict in which the United States is currently engaged. Where the Air Force
leadership wanted to focus on deploying a new generation of fighter aircraft, Gates
wanted them deploying additional unmanned aircraft able to provide reconnaissance
and carry out airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These are not trivial issues, but they are the tip of the iceberg in a much more
fundamental strategic debate going on in the U.S. defense community. Gates put the
issue succinctly when he recently said that "I have noticed too much of a tendency
toward what might be called 'next-war-itis' -- the propensity of much of the defense
establishment to be in favor of what might be needed in a future conflict." This is
what the firings were about.
Naturally, as soon as the firings were announced, there were people who assumed they
occurred because these two were unwilling to go along with plans to bomb Iran. At
this point, the urban legend of an imminent war with Iran has permeated the culture.
But the Air Force is the one place where calls for an air attack would find little
resistance, particularly at the top, because it would give the Air Force the kind of
mission it really knows how to do and is good at. The whole issue in these firings
is whether what the Air Force is good at is what the United States needs.
There is a neat alignment of the issues involved in the firings. Nuclear arms were
the quintessential weapons of the Cold War, the last generation. Predators and
similar unmanned aircraft are part of this generation's warfare. The Air Force sees
F-22s and other conventional technology as the key weapons of the next generation.
The Air Force leadership, facing decades-long timelines in fielding new weapons
systems, feels it must focus on the next war now. Gates, responsible for fighting
this generation's war, sees the Air Force as neglecting current requirements. He
also views it as essentially having lost interest and expertise in the last
generation's weapons, which are still important -- not to mention extremely
Fighting the Last War
The classic charge against generals is that they always want to fight the last war
again. In charging the Air Force with wanting to fight the next war now, Gates is
saying the Air Force has replaced the old problem with a new one. The Air Force's
view of the situation is that if all resources are poured into fighting this war,
the United States will emerge from it unprepared to fight the next war. Underneath
this discussion of past and future wars is a more important and defining set of
questions. First, can the United States afford to fight this war while
simultaneously preparing for the next one? Second, what will the next war look like;
will it be different from this one?
There is a school of thought in the military that argues that we have now entered
the fourth generation of warfare. The first generation of war, according to this
theory, involved columns and lines of troops firing muzzle-loaded weapons in
volleys. The second generation consisted of warfare involving indirect fire
(artillery) and massed movement, as seen in World War I. Third-generation warfare
comprised mobile warfare, focused on outmaneuvering the enemy, penetrating enemy
lines and encircling them, as was done with armor during World War II. The first
three generations of warfare involved large numbers of troops, equipment and
logistics. Large territorial organizations -- namely, nation-states -- were required
to carry them out.
Fourth-generation warfare is warfare carried out by nonstate actors using small,
decentralized units and individuals to strike at enemy forces and, more important,
create political support among the population. The classic example of
fourth-generation warfare would be the intifadas carried out by Palestinians against
Israel. They involved everything from rioters throwing rocks to kidnappings to
suicide bombings. The Palestinians could not defeat the Israel Defense Forces (IDF),
a classic third-generation force, in any conventional sense -- but neither could the
IDF vanquish the intifadas, since the battlefield was the Palestinians themselves.
So long as the Palestinians were prepared to support their fourth-generation
warriors, they could extract an ongoing price against Israeli civilians and
soldiers. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict thus became one of morale rather than
materiel. This was the model, of course, the United States encountered in Iraq.
Fourth-generation warfare has always existed. Imperial Britain faced it in
Afghanistan. The United States faced it at the turn of the last century in the
Philippines. King David waged fourth-generation warfare in Galilee. It has been a
constant mode of warfare. The theorists of fourth-generational warfare are not
arguing that the United States will face this type of war along with others, but
that going forward, this type of warfare will dominate -- that the wars of the
future will be fourth-generation wars.
Nation-States and Fourth-Generation Warfare
Implicit in this argument is the view that the nation-state, which has dominated
warfare since the invention of firearms, is no longer the primary agent of wars.
Each of the previous three generations of warfare required manpower and resources on
a very large scale that only a nation-state could provide. Fidel Castro in the Cuban
mountains, for example, could not field an armored division, an infantry brigade or
a rifle regiment; it took a nation to fight the first three generations of warfare.
The argument now is that nations are not the agents of wars but its victims. Wars
will not be fought between nations, but between nations and subnational groups that
are decentralized, sparse, dispersed and primarily conducting war to attack their
target's morale. The very size of the forces dispersed by a nation-state makes them
vulnerable to subnational groups by providing a target-rich environment. Being
sparse and politically capable, the insurgent groups blend into the population and
are difficult to ferret out and defeat.
In such a war, the nation-state's primary mission is to identify the enemy, separate
him from the population and destroy him. It is critical to be surgical in attacking
the enemy, since the enemy wins whenever an attack by the nation-state hits the
noncombatant population, even if its own forces are destroyed -- this is political
warfare. Therefore, the key to success -- if success is possible -- is intelligence.
It is necessary to know the enemy's whereabouts, and strike him when he is not near
the noncombatant population.
The Air Force and UAVs
In fourth-generation warfare, therefore, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are one of
the keys to defeating the substate actor. They gather intelligence, wait until the
target is not surrounded by noncombatants and strike suddenly and without warning.
It is the quintessential warfare for a technologically advanced nation fighting a
subnational insurgent group embedded in the population. It is not surprising that
Gates, charged with prosecuting a fourth-generation war, is furious at the Air Force
for focusing on fighter planes when what it needs are more and better UAVs.
The Air Force, which was built around the concept of air superiority and strategic
bombing, has a visceral objection to unmanned aircraft. From its inception, the Air
Force (and the Army Air Corps before it) argued that modern warfare would be fought
between nation-states, and that the defining weapon in this kind of war would be the
manned bomber attacking targets with precision. When it became apparent that the
manned bomber was highly vulnerable to enemy fighters and anti-aircraft systems, the
doctrine was modified with the argument that the Air Force's task was to establish
air superiority using fighter aircraft to sweep the skies of the enemy and strike
aircraft to take out anti-aircraft systems -- clearing the way for bombers or,
later, the attack aircraft.
The response to the Air Force position is that the United States is no longer
fighting the first three types of war, and that the only wars the United States will
fight now will be fourth-generation wars where command of the air is both a given
and irrelevant. The Air Force's mission would thus be obsolete. Only nation-states
have the resources to resist U.S. airpower, and the United States isn't going to be
fighting one of them again.
This should be the key point of contention for the Air Force, which should argue
that there is no such thing as fourth-generation warfare. There have always been
guerrillas, assassins and other forms of politico-military operatives. With the
invention of explosives, they have been able to kill more people than before, but
there is nothing new in this. What is called fourth-generation warfare is simply a
type of war faced by everyone from Alexander to Hitler. It is just resistance. This
has not superseded third-generation warfare; it merely happens to be the type of
warfare the United States has faced recently.
Wars between nation-states, such as World War I and World War II, are rare in the
sense that the United States fought many more wars like the Huk rising in the
Philippines or the Vietnam War in its guerrilla phase than it did world wars.
Nevertheless, it was the two world wars that determined the future of the world and
threatened fundamental U.S. interests. The United States can lose a dozen Vietnams
or Iraqs and not have its interests harmed. But losing a war with a nation-state
could be catastrophic.
The Next War vs. the War That Matters
The response to Gates, therefore, is that the Air Force is not preparing for the
next war. It is preparing for the war that really matters rather than focusing on an
insurgency that ultimately cannot threaten fundamental U.S. interests. Gates, of
course, would answer that the Air Force is cavalier with the lives of troops who are
fighting the current war as it prepares to fight some notional war. The Air Force
would counter that the notional war it is preparing to fight could decide the
survival of the United States, while the war being fought by Gates won't. At this
point, the argument would deadlock, and the president and Congress would decide
where to place their bets.
But the argument is not quite over at this point. The Air Force's point about
preparing for the decisive wars is, in our mind, well-taken. It is hard for us to
accept the idea that the nation-state is helpless in front of determined subnational
groups. More important, it is hard for us to accept the idea that international
warfare is at an end. There have been long periods in the past of relative
tranquility between nation-states -- such as, for example, the period between the
fall of Napoleon and World War I. Wars between nations were sparse, and the European
powers focused on fourth-generational resistance in their colonies. But when war
came in 1914, it came with a vengeance.
Our question regards the weapons the Air Force wants to procure. It wants to build
the F-22 fighter at enormous cost, which is designed to penetrate enemy airspace,
defeat enemy fighter aircraft and deliver ordnance with precision to a particular
point on the map. Why would one use a manned aircraft for that mission? The
evolution of cruise missiles with greater range and speed permits the delivery of
the same ordnance to the same target without having a pilot in the cockpit. Indeed,
cruise missiles can engage in evasive maneuvers at g-forces that would kill a pilot.
And cruise missiles exist that could serve as unmanned aircraft, flying to the
target, releasing submunitions and returning home. The combination of space-based
reconnaissance and the unmanned cruise missile -- in particular, next-generation
systems able to move at hypersonic speeds (in excess of five times the speed of
sound) -- would appear a much more efficient and effective solution to the problem
of the next generation of warfare.
We could argue that both Gates and the Air Force are missing the point. Gates is
right that the Air Force should focus on unmanned aircraft; technology has simply
moved beyond the piloted aircraft as a model. But this does not mean the Air Force
should not be preparing for the next war. Just as the military should have been
preparing for the U.S.-jihadist war while also waging the Cold War, so too, the
military should be preparing for the next conflict while fighting this war. For a
country that spends as much time in wars as the United States (about 17 percent of
the 20th century in major wars, almost all of the 21st century), Gates' wish to
focus so narrowly on this war seems reckless.
At the same time, building a new and fiendishly expensive version of the last
generation's weapons does not necessarily constitute preparing for the next war. The
Air Force was built around the piloted combat aircraft. The Navy was built around
sailing ships. Those who flew and those who sailed were necessary and courageous.
But sailing ships don't fit into the modern fleet, and it is not clear to us that
manned aircraft will fit into high-intensity peer conflict in the future.
We do not agree that preparing for the next war is pathological. We should always be
fighting this war and preparing for the next. But we don't believe the Air Force is
preparing for the next war. There will be wars between nations, fought with all the
chips on the table. Gates is right that the Air Force should focus on unmanned
aircraft. But not because of this war alone.
This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to
US Aircraft Carriers
Reply #87 on:
July 06, 2008, 09:21:37 AM »
U.S.: To Kill a Carrier
Stratfor Today » July 2, 2008 | 1951 GMT
Patrick M. Bonafede/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
The Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)Summary
The Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is perhaps the greatest symbol of American military power. But this titan among ships possesses vulnerabilities.
Related Special Topic Pages
Tracking U.S. Naval Power
U.S. Military Dominance
United States: The Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile Threat
The Limitations and Necessity of Naval Power
U.S.: Naval Dominance and the SSN
BAMS’ Role in Furthering U.S. Naval Dominance
To download a PDF of this piece that was suggested by Stratfor Member Michael Kuzik, Click here.
If there is a single symbol of the military power of the United States and its global reach, it is the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Although capable of projecting immense striking power, these warships also possess inherent vulnerabilities.
The lead ship of the class, the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), was laid down in 1968. The 10th and last of its class, the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), will not be commissioned until 2009, more than four decades after the USS Nimitz. Built around a massive 4.5-acre flight deck and displacing more than 100,000 tons, the class represents the largest warships ever constructed.
This size allows the Nimitz-class to embark an air wing with more than 60 combat aircraft, comparable to the number of such aircraft in a small NATO member state’s entire air force. Even today, refinements in the composition of the carrier air wing and the maturation of precision-guided munitions now allow a single carrier air wing to hit the same target set that would have required more than six such wings at the end of the Cold War. In more than three decades of operational service, they have proven themselves again and again an invaluable tool of U.S. foreign policy and military operations.
Yet part and parcel of this immense size and impressive strike capacity is the inherent vulnerability of the modern U.S. aircraft carrier.
The much-vaunted battleship was eclipsed by carrier-based airpower during World War II. The battleship’s vulnerability was inextricably tied to its design, which incorporated immense armor and massive guns. Such battleship designs were excellent for tasks like sinking the HMS Hood, but were poorly tailored to the era of torpedo bombers.
It is not that the battleship was obsolete — the final Iowa-class battleships were only finally stricken from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register in 2006 — but rather, the apex and decline of one era crossing the emergence and rise of the next era. The proof of this transition was provided by the massive naval battles of World War II.
No similar opportunity to observe carriers taking on the latest anti-ship technologies has emerged, though one loomed for most of the latter half of the 20th century in the prospect of a massive naval competition for the North Atlantic if war broke out in Europe between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
Nevertheless, the rise of the latest generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles is unmistakably under way. Since the advent of the first anti-ship missiles, the United States has fought to defend its carriers. This was the proximate motivation for Aegis — the battle control system of Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers. Designed to coordinate the defenses of a carrier battle group and defeat dozens and dozens of incoming Soviet anti-ship missiles (a mission for which it has never been tested in combat), Aegis is the embodiment of the fundamental vulnerability of the aircraft carrier.
One of the great technological achievements of the Cold War, Aegis symbolized the cutting edge of naval technology. To this day, it stands as perhaps the essential link in the U.S. Navy’s competitive technological advantage in battle. Nevertheless, it took this revolutionary development to attempt to defend against the already-extant threat of Soviet anti-ship missiles. Such technology has been around for decades now, and will only continue to proliferate and improve.
More simply, the cost — both financial and technological — to defend the carrier from the threat is at least an order of magnitude more than the cost of threatening the carrier. This is particularly true in scenarios when numerous less-advanced anti-ship missiles are used in a bid to overwhelm qualitatively superior defenses.
The danger is not necessarily that enough missiles might get through to actually sink the carrier. Certainly, if just some of the 3,000 tons of aviation ordnance or the more than 2.5 million gallons of aviation fuel aboard a carrier were ignited, they might facilitate just that. Instead, the danger is that the missiles would achieve a “mission kill.” Sinking a warship and denying it the capacity to carry out its function — especially in wartime — is not the same thing. Good damage control may keep a crippled ship afloat, or even allow it to limp back to port. But this, by no means, suggests that the ship would be likely to stay in the fight. This is the mission kill.
In some ways, these considerations are especially critical in the case of an aircraft carrier. A carrier must be able to steer into the wind and maintain a steady course and speed to launch — and especially to recover — aircraft. A list to port or starboard that would be an annoyance to a surface combatant could quickly pose a much more significant problem for flight operations. The hangar deck and flight deck can be incredibly crowded with a full air wing embarked and flight operations under way. Taking any portion of the flight deck or even a single elevator out of commission could have a very real impact on the efficiency of those operations. Certain systems, such as the catapults and arresting gear, are absolute necessities. A strike that disables either of these systems makes the carrier a very expensive parking lot with a handful of helicopters able to enter the fight.
A fully alert carrier strike group (CSG) with airborne early warning, combat air patrols and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) surveillance under way has the highest situational awareness one could hope to achieve on the high seas today, possessing an immense defensive capability at its highest state of readiness. It would be extremely difficult for a flight of aircraft armed with anti-ship missiles to penetrate that air cover, and even surface formations should be monitored from a great distance. (Indeed, in the open ocean, a CSG is not necessarily even easy to find in the first place, given the maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of most nations in the world.)
And yet this is not a posture that can be sustained efficiently or indefinitely. U.S. CSGs rarely are surrounded by open water in operations in the 21st century. Transiting the world’s narrow shipping lanes — from the straits of Malacca and Hormuz to the Suez Canal — and supporting missions from the comparatively cramped waters of the Persian Gulf or off the coast of Pakistan, the CSG necessarily opens itself to challenges for which it was not designed.
There is little room for these ships to maneuver in some of these choke points, and exercises have reportedly shown that swarming by large numbers of small craft might prove an effective means of overwhelming and penetrating shipboard defenses. Mining also is a potential concern. Meanwhile, the clutter of air and littoral traffic along the shore vastly complicates the security the open ocean affords, opening up opportunities for the use of shore-based anti-ship missiles or aircraft operating — until the last moment — inside foreign airspace. But even more important, these choke points and the complexities of anti-submarine warfare in the littoral environment open up opportunities for conventional diesel-electric submarines.
Such submarines do not have the endurance to hunt down a CSG in the open ocean, nor the ability to keep up if the CSG moves at speed. But they can be exceptionally quiet at a few knots while running on battery power and can loiter around sea lanes and choke points. Methods of attack available to them range from traditional mines and torpedoes to some of the most advanced anti-ship missiles in the world, all capable of being launched from below the surface. In October 2006, just such a submarine — in this case a Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy Song class (Type 039) — surfaced within 5 miles of the USS Kitty Hawk, well within range of both anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.
The utility of the carrier as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platform was once meaningful, although defending the carrier itself necessitated most of the ASW assets it carried. But the S-3 Viking, the last carrier-based fixed-wing ASW platform, was then “upgraded” to the S-3B — from which mission-specific ASW equipment was stripped at the turn of the century — and is being withdrawn from service. The MH-60R Seahawk is slated to become the only ship-based airborne ASW asset in the fleet, and it will count ASW among half a dozen other primary missions.
The U.S. Navy’s ASW capability has deteriorated in the face of more pressing missions relevant to the U.S.-jihadist war. Today, a P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft crew can deploy to the 5th Fleet and conduct few if any ASW exercises or patrols, focusing instead on supporting operations ashore in Iraq. Whether that was the right choice or not is irrelevant to this discussion. The fact of the matter is that ASW is a particularly delicate art that requires careful drilling — drilling that is not happening anywhere close to the scale of that during the Cold War years.
Meanwhile, China is reportedly refining an anti-ship ballistic missile especially tailored to target carriers off its coast. This change of aspect could present new challenges for shipboard defenses.
The claim that because a military asset is at risk, it is therefore obsolete is obviously false, and is certainly not the claim we are making here. One cannot argue that because the world’s surface warships can be shot at, they are obsolete. The immense power projection capability that the aircraft carrier brings to bear is undeniable. As a tool of global military dominance, it is invaluable. Like the battleship, its utility will extend far into the future beyond the apex of its era. However, its offensive value must be weighed against defensive requirements. What we are asking, instead, is this: In the age of proliferating supersonic anti-ship missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and broad area maritime surveillance, has the long, slow decline of the age of the aircraft carrier already begun?
Qatar and the C-17
Reply #88 on:
July 22, 2008, 01:40:11 PM »
Qatar, U.S.: A Strategic Aircraft Purchase
Stratfor Today » July 22, 2008 | 1824 GMT
Photo by USAF
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIISummary
Qatar inked a deal with Boeing Corp. for an unspecified number of C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifters July 21 with deliveries expected to begin in 2009. This purchase of a tool of global reach is noteworthy, and likely reflects both Boeing’s intense effort to keep its C-17 production line open and Qatar’s strategic thinking.
Related Special Topic Page
U.S. Military Dominance
Boeing Corp. announced the sale of an unspecified number of C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifters to Qatar on July 21. Deliveries are reportedly expected in 2009. Though few details were given, the acquisition of such a platform — a tool of global reach — warrants closer examination.
The C-17 first became operational with the U.S. Air Force (USAF) in 1995, though its design heritage dates back to the 1980s and the Cold War. Though its development was troubled, delayed and over budget, the C-17 is now considered a very capable transport aircraft. (Its maximum payload weight is four times that of the venerable C-130 Hercules.) With only just over a decade in Air Force service, some airframes have already exceeded their initial service life, racking up in excess of 90,000 hours.
The increased strain of global operations since 9/11, including Iraq and especially Afghanistan, has thrown the metrics of the late 1990s in terms of expected military airlift requirements out the window (something further compounded by the expansion now under way of the U.S. Army and Marines by 90,000 members).
But though the Air Force has ordered some additional airframes, Boeing still faces the closure of its C-17 production line in Long Beach, Calif., in the next few years. Boeing thus has been pitching the C-17 not only to the U.S. Congress bypassing the Air Force), but to allies abroad.
Deliveries of a handful of C-17s already have taken place or are under way to the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and NATO (all not coincidentally feeling the strain of sustaining forces in Afghanistan). But Qatar — a country with fewer citizens than the United States has active duty military personnel — obviously represents a sale to a U.S. ally of a different caliber.
Yet strangely, the move makes a bit of sense. The sprawling Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is no stranger to U.S. C-17s. According to Boeing, Qatar also will sign a contractor logistics support agreement with the Air Force — meaning the Pentagon can place a fairly high degree of confidence in the state of maintenance of Qatar’s C-17s.
This is no small point. Compared to the other U.S. allies that have invested in the C-17, Qatar’s global military footprint is minuscule. Qatar is not about to become a global player militarily; its might beyond the Middle East is economic in nature.
Though Qatar Airways is making massive investments in civilian airliners (both passenger and freight models), the C-17 deal was signed with Doha directly and explained in terms of the Qatar Armed Forces. The C-17 is optimized for military considerations like landing at austere, basic airfields and for carrying heavy armored vehicles. Freight variants of civilian designs like the Boeing 777 are generally better suited for commercial air freight, especially palletized freight. Even so, it would not necessarily be surprising to see Qatar occasionally contract its C-17s for outsized custom air transport needs, perhaps even orchestrated through Qatar Airways.
But the real underlying attraction is geopolitical. By choosing to invest in the C-17, Qatar will hold a military capability that can be incredibly valuable to the Pentagon in a crisis. This gives Doha an additional card to play, and maybe a modicum of influence (just as allowing major U.S. basing from its territory does) in potential U.S. operations in which Qatar feels it has a national interest.
Re: Military Science
Reply #89 on:
September 10, 2008, 02:26:13 AM »
GEOPOLITICAL DIARY: U.S. TROOP ALLOCATIONS AND FUTURE PRIORITIES
U.S. President George W. Bush said on Monday that he will withdraw up to 8,000
troops from Iraq before he leaves office. At the same time, he intends to increase
the number of troops in Afghanistan. The reduction in forces will begin in November.
A Marine battalion will be withdrawn and its replacement will be sent to Afghanistan
instead. Then an Army brigade plus support troops will be withdrawn and not
replaced, bringing the total withdrawn to about 8,000 troops. That means that the
number of troops in Iraq when Bush leaves office will be slightly higher than when
the surge began.
There are two reasons for the withdrawal. First, there is clearly the need for
additional troops in Afghanistan. The situation there is deteriorating because the
Taliban have gained strength over recent years and because the number of troops
there is insufficient to defeat them or even to guarantee that at some point the
Taliban won't be able to inflict substantial regional defeats on U.S. and NATO
forces. Reinforcements have to be sent, and the primary pool of available forces is
either in Iraq or scheduled to go there.
Secondly -- and this is an objective and not partisan observation -- there is an
election going on in the United States, and the president wants John McCain to win.
That means that he must reinforce McCain's assertion that the surge has worked by
withdrawing at least some forces. The argument that the surge has succeeded is not
compatible with the argument that force levels can't be reduced. So between
Afghanistan and the election, some reduction was necessary.
What is interesting is that only an 8,000-troop reduction is being proposed. Bush
is following the recommendation of Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded U.S. forces in
Iraq and who, as U.S. Central Command chief, is now responsible for both Iraq and
Afghanistan. Petraeus is clearly uncomfortable with the state of things in Iraq. He
has said as much. The tensions within the Iraqi government are substantial, and if
they are not resolved, some of the factions may choose to resume the civil war.
Relations with Iran remain unclear, and in spite of some assurances that the
Iranians no longer have the kind of clout they used to with Iraqi Shiite militias,
that is a hypothesis that might be true but no one wants to see tested. Iraq remains
a priority over Afghanistan; its status is improved but uncertain, and the bulk of
U.S. forces remain committed to Iraq.
The problem the next president will face is that the U.S. military will be dealing
with more than reinforcing Afghanistan while maintaining stability in Iraq. U.S.
forces are also facing the much larger question, as we have discussed, of how to
deal with Russia after Georgia. This administration continues to discuss including
Georgia and Ukraine in NATO. We do not think this will happen, as European members
will block it, but NATO has already included the Baltic countries at a time when
NATO couldn't imagine an assertive Russia. Now, the United States and others have
made military guarantees to defend the Baltics but have not allocated the forces
needed to deter hypothetical Russian moves. We do not know that the Russians will do
anything there, but the point of deploying forces is to deter such an action. Put
simply, the United States cannot put the forces on the ground in the Baltics to act
as that deterrent.
There is a broader issue, however. The Russians and the Venezuelans are talking
about naval maneuvers in the Caribbean while U.S. warships are in the Black Sea.
The Russo-Venezuelan exercises cannot be taken seriously militarily, and it is
unlikely that the United States will try to get aggressive in the closed waters of
the Black Sea. That said, it is unclear what Russian capabilities and intentions
will be in five to 10 years, and it takes at least that long to enhance naval power
for the United States. If there is to be a competition with the Russians at sea,
Washington will need to budget more money for anti-submarine warfare systems,
enhanced anti-missile systems on more vessels and so on. These are systems that the
United States has and is funding, but not with a sense of urgency.
It will be for the next administration to determine how serious the Russians are
going to be in a decade. But the U.S. Navy is certainly going to try to lay claim to
a greater budget share, while NATO and U.S. troops in Europe may no longer appear to
be an anachronism. Keeping substantial forces in Iraq, building up forces in
Afghanistan, reinforcing NATO and funding faster and deeper naval development are
not possible within the current Defense Department budget. Something has to give,
and that is either some of these commitments or the budget. President Obama or
President McCain will have an interesting opening act.
Re: Military Science
Reply #90 on:
September 27, 2008, 05:03:38 PM »
Army to Test Air Burst Weapon for Joes
September 26, 2008
Military.com|by Christian Lowe
For once it seems the Army is actually turning fiction into science.
After nearly a decade in the shadows -- with billions spent on earlier versions long since abandoned -- the Army is moving quickly to field a revolutionary new weapon to Joes a lot sooner than anyone had ever imagined.
It's a weapon that can take out a bad guy behind a wall, beyond a hill or below a trench, and do it more accurately and with less collateral damage than anything on the battlefield today, officials say. It's called the XM25 Individual Air Burst Weapon, and by next month the service will have three prototypes of the precision-guided 25mm rifle ready for testing.
A 'leap ahead' in lethality
"We've done a lot of testing with this, and what we're seeing is the estimated increase in effectiveness is six times what we'd be getting with a 5.56mm carbine or a grenade launcher," said Rich Audette, Army Deputy Project Manager for Soldier weapons.
"What we're talking about is a true 'leap ahead' in lethality, here. This is a huge step," Audette added during a phone interview with Military.com from his office at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.
Born of the much-maligned and highly-controversial Objective Individual Combat Weapon -- a 1990s program that sought a "leap ahead" battle rifle that combined a counter-defilade weapon with a carbine -- the XM25 only recently gained new momentum after the Army formalized a requirement and released a contract in June for a series of test weapons.
Infantry weapons to date have permitted fighters to shoot at or through an obstacle concealing enemy threats, but the Army for years has been trying to come up with a weapon to engage targets behind barriers without resorting to mortars, rockets or grenades -- all of which risk collateral damage. After fits and starts using a 20mm rifle housed in a bulky, overweight, complicated shell, technology finally caught up to shave the XM25 from 21 pounds to a little more than 12 pounds.
If the XM25 does what its developers hope, it will be able to fire an air-bursting round at a target from 16 meters away out to 600 meters with a highly accurate, 360-degree explosive radius.
"This should have the same impact as the incorporation of the machine gun" into infantry units, said Andy Cline, product director for the XM25.
The XM25 is about as long as a collapsed M4, weighs about as much as an M16 with an M203 grenade launcher attached and has about as much kick as a 12-gauge shotgun, said Barb Muldowney, Army deputy program manager for infantry combat weapons.
The semi-auto XM25 comes with a four-round magazine, though testers are looking at whether to increase the capacity to as much as 10 rounds.
A 'smart' weapon
Brains are what really makes this Buck Rogers gun work -- it has them. The weapon combines a thermal optic, day sight, laser range finder, compass and IR illuminator with a fire-control system that wirelessly transmits the exact range of the target into the 25mm round's fuse before firing.
A Soldier can aim the XM25 at a wall concealing a sniper, for example, but "dial in" or adjust the distance by an additional meter above the target. When fired, the Alliant Teksystems-built round will explode above the enemy's position, essentially going around the obstruction, Muldowney said.
"It's so accurate, that when I laze to that target I'm going to be able to explode that round close enough that I'm going to get it," Audette added.
The service hopes to field several other types of 25mm rounds for the XM25, including ones for breaching doors, piercing vehicle armor and non-lethal air-bursting and blunt-impact rounds.
Testers at Picatinny plan to put the XM25 through its paces over the next several months, certifying it as safe for a Soldier to operate and tinkering with the weapon's effectiveness and durability.
The weapon costs about $25,000 each, but experts were quick to point out that a fully-loaded M4 for optics and pointers costs pretty close to $30,000. Each ATK-made 25mm round costs about $25.
Testing next year
As Heckler and Koch, makers of the weapon itself, and L3 Communications -- which makes the fire control system -- crank out more weapons, the Army plans to push an initial batch of test weapons out to the field beginning in March 2009. That could include the first use of such a weapon in combat, Cline said.
If all goes according to plan, the first fully-equipped infantry units could have their first XM25s in hand by 2014, far sooner than the Army's small arms community had predicted even last year.
The program "came very close to ending," Audette explained. "But the Army took a look at all the work that was done -- and the testing that projected the kind of lethality increase that we could get -- and they said 'we've got to do this.' "
Wanna buy the Brooklyn Bridge?
Reply #91 on:
October 04, 2008, 08:54:48 PM »
A top national-security adviser to Barack Obama said he expects military spending during a Democratic administration wouldn't drop, a key concern for a defense industry that is accustomed to growing Pentagon budgets and anxious about potential cutbacks.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama arrives at a rally at Michigan State University in East Lansing on Thursday.
Richard Danzig, a U.S. Navy secretary during the Clinton administration and a leading contender to be the secretary of Defense in an Obama administration, said he doesn't "see defense spending declining in the first years of an Obama administration. There are a set of demands there that are very severe, very important to our national well-being." U.S. defense spending has risen at a steady clip throughout the Bush administration.
Regardless of whether Sen. Obama or his Republican rival, John McCain, is elected, the winner will have little time to tweak details in the fiscal 2010 budget between assuming office in late January and submitting the budget in February. A new administration normally takes months to get new appointees in key jobs, and the Pentagon budget is among the most complex and politically contentious in the federal government.
Mr. Danzig, speaking at a Defense Writers Group breakfast Thursday in Washington, said that Sen. Obama would make sure that the Pentagon doesn't become overly focused on fighting guerrillas and terrorists at the expense of traditional air and sea power. "I think the temptation is to invest in the issue du jour or the cause du jour and to overlook a lot of basics," Mr. Danzig said. At the same time, there will be a focus on "cyber warfare" and unmanned aerial vehicles, he said.
With the election just over a month away, defense-industry executives are hungry for information from either camp. "There is less detail and specifics than there has been in some past elections," said one defense-industry official. While Sen. McCain has a long track record of being tough on defense contractors' waste as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- which he highlighted in the debate Sept. 26 -- Sen. Obama hasn't dealt with those issues.
Randy Scheunemann, a top foreign-policy adviser to Sen. McCain, said in an email that "Sen. Obama has no credibility on defense, while Sen. McCain has firsthand familiarity with national-security issues for decades."
Generally, Mr. Danzig was critical of the weapons-buying process during the past eight years. "The record of this administration in the acquisition area in terms of overruns and the like has been quite poor," said Mr. Danzig. "You need to come to grips with affordability issues and the requirements process."
He also singled out the Army's $160 billion-plus Future Combat Systems modernization plan led by Boeing Co. and SAIC Inc., as well as a program to develop a missile-defense system that includes Boeing, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., as efforts that are worthy but in need of a "serious scrub."
Mr. Danzig said that controlling costs is crucial. One way to do that may be to shift the Pentagon's focus to buying greater numbers of less-sophisticated weapons systems. "I think industry can live with this, even embrace it," he said.
One of the thorniest weapons-buying issues awaiting either presidential nominee is the award of a more than $40 billion contract to replace the nation's fleet of aging aerial-refueling tankers. Last month, the Defense Department abandoned plans to award the work to either Northrop or Boeing after a political and legal fight. Mr. Danzig said the companies need a level playing field when dealing with the Air Force, as well as on issues such as a dispute between the U.S. and Europe over commercial-aircraft-development subsidies. As a candidate, Sen. Obama doesn't have a view about which company should win, Mr. Danzig said.
Re: Military Science
Reply #92 on:
October 30, 2008, 07:10:35 AM »
For years, the military has been roiled by a heated internal debate over what kind of wars it should prepare to fight.
One faction, led by a host of senior officers, favors buying state-of-the-art weapons systems that would be useful in a traditional conflict with a nation like Russia or China. The other side, which includes Defense Secretary Robert Gates, believes the military should prepare for grinding insurgencies that closely resemble the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
View Full Image
SFC Thomas Wright scans the hills for signs of Taliban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan.
The dispute has long been largely academic, since the soaring defense budgets in the years since the September 2001 terror attacks left plenty of money for each side's main priorities.
That is beginning to change, a casualty of the widening global financial crisis. With the economy slowing and the tab for the government's bailout of the private sector spiraling higher, Democratic lawmakers are signaling that Pentagon officials will soon have to choose which programs to keep and which to cut. In the long and unresolved debate about the military's future, a clearer vision of how best to defend America will emerge -- but not without one side ceding hard-fought ground.
"The services are used to the old approach, with everyone getting everything. But there's not enough money," says Rep. Neil Abercrombie, the Hawaii Democrat who heads the Air and Land Forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. "The due bill is finally coming in."
The two competing schools of thought each warn that making the wrong decisions now could imperil U.S. national security down the road. The military officials who favor buying advanced weapons believe that failing to invest in those systems today could leave U.S. forces ill-equipped to fight a modernized Russian or Chinese military in the future. Conversely, advocates of expanding the size of the ground forces argue that the military will be unable to meet the troop demands of the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to say nothing of conflicts elsewhere in the world, unless the Army and Marines recruit tens of thousands of additional troops.
The final decision will ultimately fall to the next administration, which will have to prioritize how to divvy up what may be a significantly smaller defense budget. Neither the Obama nor the McCain campaign has tipped its hand on whether to focus on asymmetric conflicts like Iraq or possible large-scale conventional wars.
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Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor during flight tests
In Congress, however, the wheels are already in motion. Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who controls the congressional purse strings for defense issues, startled Pentagon officials recently when he said that longstanding plans to recruit more soldiers and Marines would need to be scaled back or canceled.
Mr. Abercrombie, meanwhile, has fought to cut funding from the Army's flagship weapons program, the $160 billion Future Combat Systems initiative, and says he hopes to pare it back next year, even after the program recently received full funding.
"I think we should focus on the troops who are in the field today, not on some Star Wars technology that may never work," he says.
U.S. policy makers have generally preferred to buy advanced weapons, believing that the American technological edge contributed to the U.S. victory in the Cold War and to the speedy defeat of Saddam Hussein's military in the first and second Iraq wars. The approach continues to attract enthusiastic adherents, particularly within the ranks of the various armed services themselves.
Despite terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and insurgency warfare abroad, supporters argue that it is far too soon to conclude that U.S. forces will never fight a conventional war again. They note that China, which has been dramatically expanding its military, still could target Taiwan, a close U.S. ally, if the island declares independence. They also note that Russia's recent invasion of Georgia showed that the U.S. might one day have to fight Moscow on behalf of American allies like Poland and Ukraine.
"Should we simply wish away China's increasing muscle, or a resurgent Russia's plans for a fifth-generation fighter that would surpass our top-of-the-line jet, the F-22 stealth fighter?" Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap wrote in an op-ed piece this year.
The other side in the debate argues that the enthusiasm for advanced weapons systems is misplaced. This faction, which includes Mr. Gates and many lawmakers, argues that a battery of expensive weapons are useless in counterinsurgency conflicts like Iraq, which pit U.S. forces against lightly armed but dogged foes. They say history is replete with examples of powerful militaries that were ultimately defeated by guerrilla fighters.
"The Chinese, Vietnamese, Sandinistas, Hezbollah, Palestinians and Chechnyans all triumphed over forces with superior military power," retired Marine officer Thomas X. Hammes wrote in "The Sling and the Stone," a 2006 book widely read in military circles. "The superior technology of the losers did not prove to be a magic solution."
The two sides have traded muffled potshots at each other for months. In a speech in May, Mr. Gates accused some military officials of "next-war-itis," which shortchanges current needs in favor of advanced weapons that might never be needed. The comment prompted some in the defense community, especially in the Air Force, to quietly chide Mr. Gates for "this-war-itis," a short-sighted focus on the present that could leave the armed forces dangerously unprepared down the road.
For the most part, soaring defense budgets have long kept Pentagon officials from having to settle the debate. For 2009, the Pentagon's base budget is $512 billion, which is up almost 7% from 2008 and at a historic level. Last year, supplemental spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan added more than $100 billion to the Pentagon's coffers.
With lawmakers talking openly of cutting back the defense budget, however, policy makers may soon have to make some difficult trade-offs.
"A lot of the key problems and questions that were already there had been kicked down the road, and they can't be kicked down the road any further," said Peter Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution.
One of the thorniest issues is how many ground forces the U.S. military should have. Mr. Gates said last year that he wants to add 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines by 2012. President George W. Bush has endorsed the idea and regularly champions it in public remarks about the military.
But the idea is running into growing resistance on Capitol Hill. Mr. Murtha says the Pentagon won't be able to afford more soldiers and Marines, and needs to take better care of the troops it has.
"This is not academic anymore," he says. "This is the direction the budget is going to have to go."
Mr. Murtha believes that the military needs to focus instead on getting U.S. ground forces back in fighting shape for possible future operations against strategic threats like China and Russia.
"If you want to deter a war, you've got to be prepared," he says.
Replacing the weapons and vehicles that have been worn down after years of service in Iraq and Afghanistan will be expensive. Mr. Murtha, a supporter of some of the military's most advanced weapons, estimates the "reset" cost for the armed forces at $100 billion or more.
Mr. Gates, for his part, believes that curtailing the growth of the ground forces would be a "mistake," according to Pentagon spokesman Greg Morrell.
"Secretary Gates firmly believes that growing the Army and Marine Corps is essential to our national security," Mr. Morrell says. He adds that defense officials acknowledge that the Pentagon has "probably hit our high-water mark" in terms of defense spending, and that some cutbacks are inevitable.
One X-factor is the fate of Mr. Gates himself, who is being actively courted by advisers to both presidential candidates. Mr. Gates, who has a stopwatch in his suitcase ticking down to the end of the Bush administration's tenure, has said he is unlikely to stay on. But the defense chief is always careful to leave himself some wriggle room.
"Well, let me just say that I'm getting a lot more career advice and counseling than I might have anticipated," he told reporters earlier this month, laughing. "I think I'll leave it at that."
If Mr. Gates remains in his job for at least a year, that would leave him in a position to help settle, once and for all, the military's internal debate about its priorities.
Write to August Cole at
and Yochi J. Dreazen at
The NY Times?
Reply #93 on:
November 16, 2008, 10:19:08 AM »
Apart from kittying out on the missile defense in Poland and Czech, this is not what I would have expected from the NY Times , , ,
A Military for a Dangerous New World
Published: November 15, 2008
NY Times editorial
As president, Barack Obama will face the most daunting and complicated national security challenges in more than a generation — and he will inherit a military that is critically ill-equipped for the task.
Troops and equipment are so overtaxed by President Bush’s disastrous Iraq war that the Pentagon does not have enough of either for the fight in Afghanistan, the war on terror’s front line, let alone to confront the next threats.
This is intolerable, especially when the Pentagon’s budget, including spending on the two wars, reached $685 billion in 2008. That is an increase of 85 percent in real dollars since 2000 and nearly equal to all of the rest of the world’s defense budgets combined. It is also the highest level in real dollars since World War II.
To protect the nation, the Obama administration will have to rebuild and significantly reshape the military. We do not minimize the difficulty of this task. Even if money were limitless, planning is extraordinarily difficult in a world with no single enemy and many dangers.
The United States and its NATO allies must be able to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan — and keep pursuing Al Qaeda forces around the world. Pentagon planners must weigh the potential threats posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, an erratic North Korea, a rising China, an assertive Russia and a raft of unstable countries like Somalia and nuclear-armed Pakistan. And they must have sufficient troops, ships and planes to reassure allies in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
The goal is a military that is large enough and mobile enough to deter enemies. There must be no more ill-founded wars of choice like the one in Iraq. The next president must be far more willing to solve problems with creative and sustained diplomacy.
But this country must also be prepared to fight if needed. To build an effective military the next president must make some fundamental changes.
More ground forces: We believe the military needs the 65,000 additional Army troops and the 27,000 additional marines that Congress finally pushed President Bush into seeking. That buildup is projected to take at least two years; by the end the United States will have 759,000 active-duty ground troops.
That sounds like a lot, especially with the prospect of significant withdrawals from Iraq. But it would still be about 200,000 fewer ground forces than the United States had 20 years ago, during the final stages of the cold war. Less than a third of that expanded ground force would be available for deployment at any given moment.
Military experts agree that for every year active-duty troops spend in the field, they need two years at home recovering, retraining and reconnecting with their families, especially in an all-volunteer force. (The older, part-time soldiers of the National Guard and the Reserves need even more).
The Army has been so badly stretched, mainly by the Iraq war, that it has been unable to honor this one-year-out-of-three rule. Brigades have been rotated back in for second and even third combat tours with barely one year’s rest in between. Even then, the Pentagon has still had to rely far too heavily on National Guard and Reserve units to supplement the force. The long-term cost in morale, recruit quality and readiness will persist for years. Nearly one-fifth of the troops — some 300,000 men and women — have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan reporting post-traumatic stress disorders.
The most responsible prescription for overcoming these problems is a significantly larger ground force. If the country is lucky enough to need fewer troops in the field over the next few years, improving rotation ratios will still help create a higher quality military force.
New skills: America still may have to fight traditional wars against hostile regimes, but future conflicts are at least as likely to involve guerrilla insurgencies wielding terror tactics or possibly weapons of mass destruction. The Pentagon easily defeated Saddam Hussein’s army. It was clearly unprepared to handle the insurgency and then the fierce sectarian civil war that followed.
Page 2 of 2)
The Army has made strides in training troops for “irregular warfare.” Gen. David Petraeus has rewritten American counterinsurgency doctrine to make protecting the civilian population and legitimizing the indigenous government central tasks for American soldiers.
The new doctrine gives as much priority to dealing with civilians in conflict zones (shaping attitudes, restoring security, minimizing casualties, restoring basic services and engaging in other “stability operations”) as to combat operations.
Every soldier and marine who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan has had real world experience. But the Army’s structure and institutional bias are still weighted toward conventional war-fighting. Some experts fear that, as happened after Vietnam, the Army will in time reject the recent lessons and innovations.
For the foreseeable future, troops must be schooled in counterinsurgency and stability operations as well as more traditional fighting. And they must be prepared to sustain long-term operations.
The military also must field more specialized units, including more trainers to help friendly countries develop their own armies to supplement or replace American troops in conflict zones. It means hiring more linguists, training more special forces, and building expertise in civil affairs and cultural awareness.
Maintain mobility: In an unpredictable world with no clear battle lines, the country must ensure its ability — so-called lift capacity — to move enormous quantities of men and matériel quickly around the world and to supply them when necessary by sea.
Except in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has reduced its number of permanent overseas bases as a way to lower America’s profile. Between 2004 and 2014, American bases abroad are expected to decline from 850 to 550. The number of troops permanently based overseas will drop to 180,000, down from 450,000 in the 1980s.
Much of the transport equipment is old and wearing out. The Pentagon will need to invest more in unglamorous but essential aircraft like long-haul cargo planes and refueling tankers. The KC-X aerial tanker got caught up in a messy contracting controversy. The new administration must move forward on plans to buy 179 new planes in a fair and open competition.
China is expanding its deep-water navy, much to the anxiety of many of its neighbors. The United States should not try to block China’s re-emergence as a great power. Neither can it cede the seas. Nor can it allow any country to interfere with vital maritime lanes.
America should maintain its investment in sealift, including Maritime Prepositioning Force ships that carry everything marines need for initial military operations (helicopter landing decks, food, water pumping equipment). It must also restock ships’ supplies that have been depleted for use in Iraq. One 2006 study predicted replenishment would cost $12 billion plus $5 billion for every additional year the marines stayed in Iraq.
The Pentagon needs to spend more on capable, smaller coastal warcraft — the littoral combat ship deserves support — and less on blue-water fighting ships.
More rational spending: What we are calling for will be expensive. Adding 92,000 ground troops will cost more than $100 billion over the next six years, and maintaining lift capacity will cost billions more. Much of the savings from withdrawing troops from Iraq will have to be devoted to repairing and rebuilding the force.
Money must be spent more wisely. If the Pentagon continues buying expensive weapons systems more suited for the cold war, it will be impossible to invest in the armaments and talents needed to prevail in the future.
There are savings to be found — by slowing or eliminating production of hugely expensive aerial combat fighters (like the F-22, which has not been used in the two current wars) and mid-ocean fighting ships with no likely near-term use. The Pentagon plans to spend $10 billion next year on an untested missile defense system in Alaska and Europe. Mr. Obama should halt deployment and devote a fraction of that budget to continued research until there is a guarantee that the system will work.
The Pentagon’s procurement system must be fixed. Dozens of the most costly weapons program are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
Killing a weapons program, starting a new one or carrying out new doctrine — all this takes time and political leadership. President Obama will need to quickly lay out his vision of the military this country needs to keep safe and to prevail over 21st-century threats.
Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV-L): Concept & Hover Test
Reply #94 on:
December 15, 2008, 08:52:41 PM »
" The frightening, but fascinatingly cool hovering robot - MKV (Multiple Kill Vehicle), is designed to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles.
A video released by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) shows the MKV being tested at the National Hover Test Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, in California.
Inside a large steel cage, Lockheed's MKV lifts off the ground, moves left and right, rapidly firing as flames shoot out of its bottom and sides. This description doesn't do it any justice really, you have to see the video yourself.
During the test, the MKV is shown to lift off under its own propulsion, and remains stationary, using it’s on board retro-rockets. The potential of this drone is nothing short of science-fiction.
When watching the video, you can’t help but be reminded of post-apocalyptic killing machines, seen in such films as The Terminator and The Matrix.
Okay, people. Now is the time to start discussing the rules of war for autonomous robots. Now, when it's still theoretical."
Re: Military Science
Reply #95 on:
December 15, 2008, 09:59:35 PM »
"Terminator vs. haji"
I love it!
Patriot Post: Lost in Space
Reply #96 on:
January 30, 2009, 12:12:56 PM »
Department of Military Readiness: Barack Obama, space cadet
Ever since one man picked up a rock and hurled it in anger at another, the strategic value of controlling the high ground has been obvious. Well, obvious to those who think instead of feel. Yet we are less than two weeks into the Obama regime, and noises are already being made that U.S. access to and control of space, the ultimate high ground, are open to negotiation with our enemies. Just moments after Obama took the oath of office last week, the official White House Web site was updated with an "Ensure Freedom of Space" policy statement, which included a generic pledge to restore U.S. space leadership (when did we lose it?) while also seeking that leftist nirvana of a universal ban on space weapons. How, then, do we lead?
As U.S. military forces, and many civilians, are dependent upon U.S. space assets, the proposed ban on space weapons raises some critical questions. First and foremost, can we trust the word of our enemies without our critical space assets? History indicates that the answer is a resounding no. And what is a "space weapon," anyway? Is it only a satellite designed to attack another satellite? Or could weather satellites, used to plan military strikes, or GPS satellites, used to guide bombs to the target, be considered space weapons and, therefore, fall under a ban? Are we willing to leave that interpretation up to some anti-U.S. World Court? For the sake of national security, the Obama regime needs to get over its kumbaya view of the world and realize that, if it wants to "Ensure Freedom of Space," the only thing that has ever ensured freedom anywhere is superior weaponry in the right hands, at the right place, at the right time.
AA Laser; Army suspends Bio weapons lab
Reply #97 on:
February 10, 2009, 11:31:36 AM »
US military develops anti-aircraft laser
US military develops anti-aircraft laser
The latest weapon developed by US engineers is a Humvee jeep mounted with a giant laser capable of shooting down aircraft.
By Murray Wardrop
Last Updated: 1:41AM GMT 09 Feb 2009
The Laser Avenger successfully shot down a series of unmanned aerial vehicles during recent tests and is being hailed as a revolutionary weapon for future warfare.
The experiment was the first time that a ground vehicle has used a laser to destroy moving aircraft and marks a watershed moment in the development of lasers for battlefield use.
Invented by Boeing, the laser is fitted to a Humvee off-road vehicle, allowing it to be moved into the most remote locations to shoot down enemy planes.
It is hoped that the Laser Avenger will be used to help US forces tackle small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which often carry explosives or surveillance equipment. Such devices are difficult for conventional air defence systems to shoot down.
The complex testing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, required the laser to track three UAVs against a backdrop of mountains and desert. When the targets were sighted, the Laser Avenger successfully shot down three UAVs with its high-powered directed energy beam.
Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems, said: "Small UAVs armed with explosives or equipped with surveillance sensors are a growing threat on the battlefield. Laser Avenger, unlike a conventional weapon, can fire its laser beam without creating missile exhaust or gun flashes that would reveal its position. As a result, Laser Avenger can neutralize these UAV threats while keeping our troops safe."
The test firing was observed by representatives of the US Army's Cruise Missile Defense Systems project office.
The experiment follows a previous test in 2007 of a prototype Laser Avenger which obliterated improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance on the ground.
Lee Gutheinz, Boeing's program director for High-Energy Laser/Electro-Optical Systems, said: "We doubled the laser power; added sophisticated acquisition, tracking and pointing capability; and simplified the design. Boeing developed and integrated these upgrades in less than a year, underscoring our ability to rapidly respond to war-fighters' needs."
The Laser Avenger is an infrared laser with power levels in the range of tens of kilowatts. It is a modified version of an existing US Army air defence weapon that uses two Stinger missile launchers and a heavy machine gun, with one missile pod swapped for the laser and its target tracker.
Existing weapons struggle to shoot down small, light UAVs, which are often made of plastic rather than metal, because surface to air missiles designed to target normal-sized aircraft cannot lock onto them.
NYT so caveat lector:
WASHINGTON — Army officials have suspended most research involving dangerous germs at the biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., which the F.B.I. has linked to the anthrax attacks of 2001, after discovering that some pathogens stored there were not listed in a laboratory database.
The suspension, which began Friday and could last three months, is intended to allow a complete inventory of hazardous bacteria, viruses and toxins stored in refrigerators, freezers and cabinets in the facility, the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The inventory was ordered by the institute’s commander, Col. John P. Skvorak, after officials found that the database of specimens was incomplete. In a memorandum to employees last week, Colonel Skvorak said there was a high probability that some germs and toxins in storage were not in the database.
Rules for keeping track of pathogens were tightened after the 2001 anthrax letters, which killed five people. But pressure to improve recordkeeping and security at the Army institute intensified six months ago after the suicide of Bruce E. Ivins, a veteran anthrax researcher, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s announcement that prosecutors had been preparing to charge Dr. Ivins with making the deadly anthrax powder in his laboratory there.
A spokesman for the institute, Caree Vander Linden, said an earlier review had located all the germ samples listed in the database. But she said some “historical samples” in institute freezers were not in the database, and the new inventory was intended to identify them so they could be recorded and preserved, or destroyed if they no longer had scientific value.
One scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said samples from completed projects were not always destroyed, and departing scientists sometimes left behind vials whose contents were unknown to colleagues. He said the Army’s recordkeeping and security were imperfect but better than procedures at most universities, where research on biological pathogens has expanded rapidly since 2001.
The suspension will interrupt dozens of research projects at the institute, whose task is to develop vaccines, drugs and other measures to protect American troops from germ attacks and disease outbreaks. Ms. Vander Linden said some critical experiments involving animals — often used to test vaccines and drugs — would not be halted.
News of the suspension, first reported Monday by the Science magazine blog ScienceInsider, comes as the Justice Department has been interviewing scientists at the Army institute to prepare the government’s legal defense against a lawsuit filed by the family of Robert Stevens, the Florida tabloid photography editor who was the first to die in the 2001 letter attacks.
That lawsuit, filed in 2003 and delayed by the government’s unsuccessful efforts to have it dismissed, accuses officials of failing to assure that anthrax bacteria at Fort Detrick and other government laboratories were securely stored. Dr. Ivins was not suspected in the attacks at that time, but the F.B.I.’s conclusion last year added new weight to the lawsuit’s claims.
The F.B.I. has released evidence of Dr. Ivins’s mental problems and of a genetic link between the mailed anthrax and a supply of the bacteria in his laboratory. But many of Dr. Ivins’s former colleagues at the Army institute have said they are not convinced that he mailed the letters.
The F.B.I. has asked the National Academy of Sciences to convene a panel of experts to review its scientific work on the case, and the bureau and academy are completing a contract for the review, said an academy spokesman, William Kearney.
The anthrax case has underscored the threat of biological attack by biodefense insiders like Dr. Ivins, who have access to pathogens and the expertise to work with them.
The number of such researchers has grown rapidly since 2001, when the anthrax letters set off a spending boom on biodefense that led to a rapid addition of laboratories working on potential bioweapons, notably anthrax.
Before 2001, only a few dozen such facilities worked with anthrax. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has registered 219 laboratories to do so, said an agency spokesman, Von Roebuck. He said 10,474 people had been cleared to work with dangerous pathogens and toxins nationwide after background checks by the Justice Department.
Last Edit: February 10, 2009, 01:27:02 PM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Military Science
Reply #98 on:
April 08, 2009, 11:48:26 AM »
Short '06 Lebanon War Stokes Pentagon Debate
-Leaders Divided on Whether to Focus On Conventional or Irregular Combat
By Greg Jaffe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 6, 2009; Page A01
A war that ended three years ago and involved not a single U.S. soldier has become the subject of an increasingly heated debate inside the Pentagon, one that could alter how the U.S. military fights in the future.
When Israel and Hezbollah battled for more than a month in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the result was widely seen as a disaster for the Israeli military. Soon after the fighting ended, some military officers began to warn that the short, bloody and relatively conventional battle foreshadowed how future enemies of the United States might fight.
Since then, the Defense Department has dispatched as many as a dozen teams to interview Israeli officers who fought against Hezbollah. The Army and Marine Corps have sponsored a series of multimillion-dollar war games to test how U.S. forces might fare against a similar foe. "I've organized five major games in the last two years, and all of them have focused on Hezbollah," said Frank Hoffman, a research fellow at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico.
A big reason that the 34-day war is drawing such fevered attention is that it highlights a rift among military leaders: Some want to change the U.S. military so that it is better prepared for wars like the ones it is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others worry that such a shift would leave the United States vulnerable to a more conventional foe.
"The Lebanon war has become a bellwether," said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has advised Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command. "If you are opposed to transforming the military to fight low-intensity wars, it is your bloody sheet. It's discussed in almost coded communication to indicate which side of the argument you are on."
U.S. military experts were stunned by the destruction that Hezbollah forces, using sophisticated antitank guided missiles, were able to wreak on Israeli armor columns. Unlike the guerrilla forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, who employed mostly hit-and-run tactics, the Hezbollah fighters held their ground against Israeli forces in battles that stretched as long as 12 hours. They were able to eavesdrop on Israeli communications and even struck an Israeli ship with a cruise missile.
"From 2000 to 2006 Hezbollah embraced a new doctrine, transforming itself from a predominantly guerrilla force into a quasi-conventional fighting force," a study by the Army's Combat Studies Institute concluded last year. Another Pentagon report warned that Hezbollah forces were "extremely well trained, especially in the uses of antitank weapons and rockets" and added: "They well understood the vulnerabilities of Israeli armor."
Many top Army officials refer to the short battle almost as a morality play that illustrates the price of focusing too much on counterinsurgency wars at the expense of conventional combat. These officers note that, before the Lebanon war, Israeli forces had been heavily involved in occupation duty in the Palestinian territories.
"The real takeaway is that you have to find the time to train for major combat operations, even if you are fighting counterinsurgency wars," said one senior military analyst who studied the Lebanon war for the Center for Army Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Currently, the deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have prevented Army units from conducting such training.
Army generals have also latched on to the Lebanon war to build support for multibillion-dollar weapons programs that are largely irrelevant to low-intensity wars such as those fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. A 30-page internal Army briefing, prepared for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior Pentagon civilians, recently sought to highlight how the $159 billion Future Combat Systems, a network of ground vehicles and sensors, could have been used to dispatch Hezbollah's forces quickly and with few American casualties.
"Hezbollah relies on low visibility and prepared defenses," one slide in the briefing reads. "FCS counters with sensors and robotics to maneuver out of contact."
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is expected to stake out a firm position in this debate as soon as today, when he announces the 2010 defense budget. That document is expected to cut or sharply curtail weapons systems designed for conventional wars, and to bolster intelligence and surveillance programs designed to help track down shadowy insurgents.
"This budget moves the needle closer to irregular warfare and counterinsurgency," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. "It is not an abandonment of the need to prepare for conventional conflicts. But even moving that needle is a revolutionary thing in this building."
The changes reflect the growing prominence of the military's counterinsurgency camp -- the most prominent member of which is Petraeus -- in the Pentagon. President Obama, whose strategy in Afghanistan is focused on protecting the local population and denying the Islamist radicals a safe haven, has largely backed this group.
The question facing defense leaders is whether they can afford to build a force that can prevail in a counterinsurgency fight, where the focus is on protecting the civilian population and building indigenous army and police forces, as well as a more conventional battle.
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army's top officer in the Pentagon, has said it is essential that the military be able to do both simultaneously. New Army doctrine, meanwhile, calls for a "full spectrum" service that is as good at rebuilding countries as it is at destroying opposing armies.
But other experts remain skeptical. "The idea that you can do it all is just wrong," said Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations. Soldiers, who are home for as little as 12 months between deployments, do not have enough time to prepare adequately for both types of wars, he said.
Biddle and other counterinsurgency advocates argue that the military should focus on winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and only then worry about what the next war will look like. Some in this camp say that the threat posed by Hezbollah is being inflated by officers who are determined to return the Army to a more familiar past, built around preparing for conventional warfare.
Another question is whether the U.S. military is taking the proper lessons from the Israel-Hezbollah war. Its studies have focused almost exclusively on the battle in southern Lebanon and ignored Hezbollah's ongoing role in Lebanese society as a political party and humanitarian aid group. After the battle, Hezbollah forces moved in quickly with aid and reconstruction assistance.
"Even if the Israelis had done better operationally, I don't think they would have been victorious in the long run," said Andrew Exum, a former Army officer who has studied the battle from southern Lebanon. "For the Israelis, the war lasted for 34 days. We tend to forget that for Hezbollah, it is infinite."
Stratfor on the defense budget
Reply #99 on:
April 08, 2009, 12:00:07 PM »
Second post of the morning.
Part 2: The 2010 U.S. Defense Budget and BMD
Stratfor Today » April 8, 2009 | 1213 GMT
When U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates unveiled his department’s proposed 2010 defense budget on April 6, one of the changes — not unexpected — was a realignment of funding for ballistic missile defense (BMD). Gates wants to focus on more mature BMD technologies that can deal with missile launches from “rogue” countries like Iran and North Korea.
Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a four-part special report on the U.S. defense budget for 2010.
Among U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ proposed changes to the 2010 U.S. defense budget, announced on April 6, were a series of increases and cuts in ballistic missile defense (BMD) programs. Taken as a whole, these adjustments mark a significant shift in the nature of BMD deployment, including an overall cut of $1.4 billion from the Missile Defense Agency. These cuts are consistent with President Barack Obama’s platform of being committed to “proven, cost-effective” BMD, and are being touted as enabling the programs to focus on the threat of missile launches from “rogue” countries like Iran and North Korea.
BMD is essentially a defensive weapons system designed to intercept ballistic missiles. Ballistic missile interception can theoretically be done at three periods of the missile’s flight: in the terminal phase (as it descends towards the earth), in midcourse, and in the boost phase (right after launch). Current technology permits the interception at the midcourse and terminal phases, but boost-phase interception has proved to be much more difficult, mainly because of the extremely short period of time it allows to detect, acquire and track the missile and plot an intercept before it enters the later phases of flight (more about this below).
In laying out Gates’ funding priorities, the budget favors the more mature technologies of terminal-phase and midcourse interception, which are either already fielded or in the process of being fielded. But this comes at the cost of boost-phase and other more ambitious technological development programs — including space-based assets — which would require longer-term funding and support before tangible results could be achieved.
For Gates, these more long-range programs have been pushed forward too aggressively, before the technology could mature. They are more high-risk by nature and, for Gates, an inefficient and an inappropriate allocation of funds given the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While there are technical reasons for these choices, Gates has more in mind than just a sheet of specifications and test results.
(click image to enlarge)
There are four mature BMD systems that are operational or in the process of being made operational: Aegis/Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) and Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD).
The Aegis/SM-3 system is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles during parts of the ascent and descent phases. This system has already been deployed on 18 American guided-missile cruisers and destroyers, and two Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces warships and is operationally proven (though as an anti-satellite weapon rather than a BMD interceptor). The Aegis/SM-3 has been one of the most successful BMD programs in the U.S. inventory, and Gates’ proposal would increase funding for the SM-3 program and upgrade an additional six warships with the system (double the three announced earlier this year for the Atlantic fleet).
The THAAD system is mobile (designed to be deployed anywhere in the world) and is capable of intercepting a ballistic missile in its final midcourse descent and in its terminal phase, both inside and outside the atmosphere. The first THAAD battery — Alpha Battery of the 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Fort Bliss in Texas — was activated last year and is in the process of being fully equipped. Meanwhile, testing continues at the Pacific Missile Range in Hawaii (a test there in March marked the system’s latest success). After poor test performance in the 1990s, the program restarted testing in 2005 and has shown marked improvement. It is now considered technologically mature.
A THAAD launcherThe Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system is a terminal-phase intercept system that was operationally deployed and successfully used in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system is also currently operational at Fort Greely in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and is slated for deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic, although deployment of the system is encumbered by the requirement for fixed facilities, including concrete silos.
Gates curtailed funding for additional GMD interceptors in Alaska but made no comment on the much more politically complicated issue of deploying them to Europe. With his 2010 budget, of course, Gates has entered into a domestic battle with Congress over the future shape and orientation of the entire Department of Defense, not just BMD. Although part of that reorientation, the European GMD effort will be decided in the context of larger negotiations with Russia and policy choices made by the Obama Cabinet as a whole.
But taken as a whole (and even without a GMD deployment in Europe), this combination of technologies offers a tiered BMD capability in the later phases of ballistic flight. It is this sort of layered, overlapping combination of capabilities that is considered necessary to provide a truly reliable BMD shield. In addition, for the most part, these are the programs on which other countries like Japan and Israel have been cooperating with the United States.
The impetus for pursuing boost-phase intercept capability is by no means gone, however. Midcourse and terminal phase interceptions are fraught with their own challenges, including the possibility of having to deal with decoys in the latter part of the midcourse phase and multiple independently targetable or maneuverable re-entry vehicles. Additionally, debris from a successful intercept in the terminal phase may still hit the area being targeted by those who launched the missile.
Thus, it remains desirable for the Pentagon to seek technology that will push the intercept point closer to the time and place of launch, if not on the actual territory of the country launching the missile. The boost phase is when the missile is both at its slowest in the trajectory and the most visible, given the unmistakable infrared signature of the engine plume. Also, if the missile is intercepted in this phase, the debris falls far from the intended target.
As alluded to earlier, however, intercepting a missile during its boost phase is extremely difficult. At most, the boost phase lasts only a few minutes, and terrestrial-based interceptors also need time to boost to altitude as well (acceleration is a key design consideration). Additionally, interceptors and sensors must be based relatively close to the area from which the missile is launched, so their positioning is highly dependent on the accessibility of territory or waters nearby.
U.S. Air Force
An artist’s rendering of two Airborne LasersThe problem of reaction speed in the boost phase is so challenging that it has been one of the principal drivers for directed energy weapons — lasers — dating all the way back to the Reagan administration’s Strategic Defense Initiative. In its latest incarnation, the Airborne Laser (ABL) has only now — after a quarter century of experimentation — begun to show potential for operational utility. In Gates’ 2010 budget, however, funding for a second ABL airframe was cut and the program was reduced to more of a long-term research and development effort.
These technical challenges will still be explored, but if Gates has his way, operational fielding of a boost-phase interceptor will be delayed — perhaps significantly — and some programs previously under consideration may never see the light of day as a weapons system. After all, if the concern is the current “rogue” threat from North Korea and Iran, then the ballistic missiles targeted would be highly vulnerable to air strikes while still on the launch pad.
In a larger sense, Gates does not see the more advanced challenges of BMD as near-term problems. They are all desirable capabilities in the long run, but Gates has made his tenure about choices and priorities. His funding proposals for BMD reflect choices to field only mature programs while taking $1.4 billion from the Missile Defense Agency budget to put toward the current fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. And this is a fight that Gates considers not only the current one but also the kind in which American forces will be engaged in the foreseeable future.
Next: The 2010 defense budget and the fighter mix
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