Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fallujah’s Forever War

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, desperate for a victory, declared last week that Fallujah had been liberated. Iraqi commanders said they were just clearing remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters. But U.S. military officials said the battle for the iconic Islamic State stronghold is far from over, and that only roughly one-third of the city had been recaptured from the jihadist group.

Inside Fallujah, 

It’s clear the clashes are continuing. Black smoke rose from airstrikes in the north of the city over the weekend, and the rattle of heavy machine gun fire and the thud of mortars echoed from adjoining neighborhoods.

 Tens of thousands of civilians have managed to flee unharmed, but now face another struggle for survival in makeshift desert camps without enough water or even toilets and where health care workers say they are treating over 1,000 undernourished people per day.

 After the Iraqi government unexpectedly launched the Fallujah battle in May, it took five weeks to fight into the center of the city. Retaking the provincial capital of Ramadi this year took 18 months and left the city heavily damaged.

 In fact at least 80,000 people stayed in Fallujah, and almost all of them are now under suspicion by security forces of supporting the Islamic State. As the families have escaped the city, Iraqi security forces have separated the men and older boys from their families, taking them away for screening. They spend days in an overcrowded warehouse with little food or water, where security forces lack the computers necessary to verify their identities.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Naval Review in 2030

Vampire! Vampire! Vampire!

The most powerful navies in 2030 will be a reflection of the broader state of the world. Some countries are invested in preserving the current international order, and see naval power as a means to maintain it. Other emerging countries are building navies commensurate with their newfound sense of status, often with an eye towards challenging that order.

 
The United States, the dominant naval power worldwide in 1945, will continue to dominate the seas eighty-five years later. By 2030 the Navy will be halfway through its thirty-year shipbuilding plan and have built three Gerald R. Ford–class aircraft carriers to begin replacing existing Nimitz-class carriers. Amphibious ship numbers should be slightly higher than current numbers, and the first ship in class to replace the Ohio ballistic missile submarines should enter service in 2031.

In surface combatants, all three Zumwalt-class cruisers will be in service—assuming the program remains fully funded—and the Navy will have built thirty-three more Arleigh Burke–class destroyers. A next-generation version of the Littoral Combat Ship will enter production in 2030.

Under current plans the U.S. Navy should reach its three-hundred-ship goal between 2019 and 2034, but after that period the number of surface combatants begins to drop. These plans also assume a higher than average shipbuilding budget, while at the same time the service must compete with the budget demands of other services—particularly the Air Force—and domestic programs. While U.S. naval superiority isn’t ending any time soon, the period after 2030 will be a critical one.

 Great Britain
The Royal Navy of 2030 will be paradoxically the smallest and yet most powerful in the history of the United Kingdom. A combination of two new aircraft carriers, restoring fixed-wing flight to navy after a forty-year hiatus, and a fleet of ballistic-missile submarines will keep a numerically inferior Royal Navy in the top five.
The Royal Navy’s surface fleet, currently at nineteen destroyers and frigates, will shrink even further to six Type 45 guided-missile destroyers and eight Global Combat Ship frigates. The number of nuclear-powered attack submarines will remain constant at seven.

The Royal Navy is responsible for the UK’s nuclear deterrent and currently operates four Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines, each equipped with sixteen launch tubes for Trident D-5 missiles. The Vanguard class is expected to be replaced with the Successor class starting in 2028.


China
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of 2030 will continue to build on the ground broken by the PLAN of 2016. Currently, China has four major ship hulls it seems to be content with: the Type 052D guided-missile destroyer, Type 054A frigate, Type 056 corvette and Type 071 amphibious transport. All four are mature designs in large-scale production that will form the bulk of the fleet in 2030.
By one prediction, by 2030 the PLAN will have ninety-nine submarines, four aircraft carriers, 102 destroyers and frigates, twenty-six corvettes, seventy-three amphibious ships and 111 missile craft, a whopping 415 ships in total, to approximately 309 in the U.S. Navy of 2030. This would put China in a solid position as the world’s largest navy by number of ships—though not by total ship tonnage.


India
The Indian Navy will be the second (or third, if you count Russia) Asian navy on this list. India has recently begun pouring enormous resources into its naval service, and as a result by 2030 could have one of the top five navies on the planet.

Barring unforeseen naval developments in other countries, by 2030 India will have the second largest carrier fleet in the world, with three flattops. If all goes according to plan, India should have three aircraft carriers: Vikramaditya, Vikrant and Vishal, together fielding a total of about 110–120 aircraft.

India will also have at least nine destroyers, including two guided missiles of the Kolkata class, three of the Delhi class, and four of the in-construction Visakhapatnam class. This is one less than what India has at present, and the number of hulls will have to increase if India is serious about protecting three aircraft carriers. Roughly two-thirds of the Indian Navy’s frigate fleet is modern enough to make it to 2030, particularly the Shivalik and Talwar classes, but India will have to increase the number of frigates overall—especially if Pakistan is serious about putting nuclear weapons on submarines.

Commonwealth Russia

By 2030, Russia’s position on this list will be in large part due its ballistic missile submarine fleet. Eight Borei submarines, each carrying twenty Bulava missiles, will be in service, forming the second-largest ballistic-missile submarine fleet in the world.

The rest of the Russian Navy is slouching toward oblivion, with a dwindling number of large surface combatants, submarines and a single, decrepit aircraft carrier. Yet there’s still hope: before the money ran out Moscow had big plans for its navy, and if were to somehow find funding, a number of interesting projects could be pursued.

Project 23000E, or Shtorm, would be a nuclear-powered carrier 330 meters long and displacing one hundred thousand tons, making it the closest competitor to a Ford-class carrier. Nuclear-powered, the carrier will embark up to one hundred aircraft, including a navalized version of the PAK-FA fifth-generation fighter.

There’s also the gigantic Lider-class nuclear-powered destroyer. At 17,500 tons and two hundred meters long, the Lider class is more akin to a cruiser than a destroyer. Armament will consist of sixty antiship cruise missiles, 128 antiaircraft missiles, and sixteen antiship guided missiles. The first ship is scheduled to begin production in 2019, with twelve entering service by 2025—an ambitious shipbuilding schedule to say the least.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

WoW!!

WoW - the Watchers Council- it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.


Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t) 


Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week!

Friday, June 24, 2016

End of the EU?

Whoa - now this is undoing a party faster than that 2nd double shot of Jägermeister! 

Euro cats all over Europa are asking about their very own referendum and the End is Nigh in many ways for the European Union.

As best understood, EU was thought up to ensure Germany and France would become long life BFF's instead of fighting the Europa Hegemony Wars ever again.

In that sense, EU worked wonders.  

Yet, now in the New Millennium... 

What stands out is that heads of state and politicians in Europe have been surreptitiously building a much wider political entity. Voters are not asked for their consent. Absence of legitimacy is the EU’s main feature. Since there is no procedure for the democratic right to throw out the [expletive deleted], the EU has developed into something never seen before in the world, an oligarchy with soft totalitarian symptoms. 
 
Conflicting national interests and global economic factors lead inexorably to the hardening of these totalitarian symptoms. Germans are a most remarkable people and they have remade themselves since the Second World War, but successive chancellors have evidently been afraid that they might go ape again — in a phrase of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s — and they have made themselves responsible for steering the EU through its travails. It is not deficiency of character but just an accident of history that Germany is in the driving seat, turning weaker EU states into protectorates, profiting from the euro while others suffer from it, imposing movements of population that will have demographic consequences, confining free speech, and much besides that is unpopular, not to say alarming. 
 
There is only one way out of this predicament, and that is to amalgamate all the nation-states of the EU into a genuine federation, with political and fiscal unity that is even more unpopular and alarming. The British perceive that this empire must end in full-blown totalitarianism or catastrophic failure, and their vote shows that they want no part of either. Another accident of history underlies the British preference for independence and democracy, never mind if these come at a cost. 
 
However, about half a dozen EU countries already look likely to follow the British lead, and if they did so, then the whole mistaken experiment of the EU could fall apart. 
 
As long ago as 1805 William Pitt the Younger faced a similar crisis with famous words, “England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example.” Yes, yes, and yes again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Barbarossa!

"The entire World will hold it's breath!"

Unternehmen Barbarossa's 75th Anniversary.

Just after 0300 hours local time this very day in 1941 - a 3 mile wide strip of territory stretching the length of eastern Europe from Baltic Sea to the Carpathian Mountains erupted in a torrent of fire and flying steel as Luftwaffe aircraft, Werhmacht artillerie und panzers blasted across the Soviet frontier. In the violence of her initial collision, the immensity and feriocity of her subsequent development, and her prolifigacy of destruction of human life and resources - Operation Barbarossa - the Deutschland - Russian conflict - transcended anything ever before - or since - in the human experience.

Flush with fast, relatively easy victories over Western Europa - NSDAP time Deutschland flung three ginourmous Armee Gruppen at Russia in a crazy scheme to knock out the Collectivist armies forcing Mockba to accept an uneven uneasy piece and destroy bolshvikism forever.

The 1st 6 months saw amazing feats of Teutonic arms, vast panzer pincers, desperate pockets of Soviets fought to annihilation or capture (often the same thing) and by Pearl Harbor Day the naughty Wehrmacht was fighting in Moscow's suburbs.

The Moscow Battle - Operation Typhoon was the literally chilling climax of Barbarossa's blitzkrieg portion. Ferocious defense of the the capitol city by freshly released Siberian Reserves (Russia learned Nippon wouldn't be attacking their far east anytime soon) ended any hap hap happy tho'ts of a 'lightning campaign' in Russia.

Operation Barbarossa ground on for three and a half years more the site of some of the largest battles, deadliest atrocities, highest casualties, and most horrific conditions for Soviets and Germans alike - massively complex military ops like Stalingrad, Zitadelle and Bagration - until 3rd Reich died in an orgy of blood and flame and shaped the modern world and lingers with us still: NATO, Russia's near paranoia with her Near Abroad and fear of an awakened, reunified, riled up Germany.

Pic - "Verlonne Siege"

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Strategic Amnesia

Uh, say what now?

The study of military history teaches us valuable lessons that are applicable to today’s most intractable strategic problems; yet, these lessons are underappreciated in current American strategy formulation. Throughout the history of American armed conflict, the United States has discerned, at great cost, four critical lessons applicable to containing and combating the Islamic State.

First, as war theorists Crispin Burke and Carl von Clausewitz noted, war is a continuation of politics by other means; but resorting to war rarely yields the ideal political solution envisioned at the start of hostilities.

Second, the use of proxy forces to pursue American geopolitical goals is rarely an investment worth making because proxies tend to have goals misaligned with those of their American sponsors. True control is an illusion. The corollary to this axiom is that supporting inept and corrupt leaders with American power only invites further dependency, does not solve political problems and usually prolongs an inevitable defeat.

Third, conflating the security of a foreign power with that of America leads to disproportionate resource allocation and an apparent inability at the political level to pursue policies of peace and successful war termination.

Fourth, alliance formation through lofty rhetorical positions imperils rational analysis of geopolitical and military realities. Publicly staking out inviable political end states invites a strategic mismatch between military capabilities and political wishes, endangering the current enterprise as well as future national credibility. America has paid for these lessons in blood; our leaders ought to heed them.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Conflicting Signals

No, Mr. President —we aren’t winning the war against the Islamic State.

The head of the CIA, John Brennan, testified on Thursday that, “Despite all our progress against [the Islamic State] on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capacity and global reach.”

In fact, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is actively recruiting, training, and deploying operatives for future attacks in the west.

According to his remarks, “[ISIS] has a large cadre of western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the west … the group is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the west, including refugee flows, smuggling routes, and legitimate methods of travel.”

So, ISIS has not been contained—or even deterred. This revelation really shouldn’t surprise us.

The administration has stubbornly maintained its position that we are actively containing and defeating ISIS despite all contrary evidence. Reality and hard facts appear irrelevant. Plus, the 44's  administration knows how to spin a narrative.

In the wake of Orlando, the U.S. needs to double down against ISIS both at home and abroad. Overseas, the U.S. should proactively double down and lead a multipronged global effort to deny ISIS territory, disrupt recruitment efforts, and uproot its destructive ideology.

At home, the U.S. should reform the counterterrorism enterprise by refocusing the Department of Homeland Security on intelligence capabilities and improving coordination between the DHS and other agencies.

For the sake of our safety and security, the administration needs to abandon its position that we are winning this war and take a good look at the hard facts.