Thursday, April 30, 2015

Gallipoli

A hundred years ago World War I stalled on the Western Front by 1915 and the Allied Powers were debating going on the offensive in another region of the conflict, rather than continuing with attacks in Belgium and France.

Early that year, Russia’s Grand Duke Nicholas appealed to Britain for aid in confronting a Turkish invasion in the Caucasus. (The Ottoman Empire had entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary, by November 1914.) In response, the Allies decided to launch a naval expedition to seize the Dardanelles Straits, a narrow passage connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara in northwestern Turkey. If successful, capture of the straits would allow the Allies to link up with the Russians in the Black Sea, where they could work together to knock Turkey out of the war.

Spearheaded by the first lord of the British Admiralty, Winston Churchill (over the strong opposition of the First Sea Lord Admiral John Fisher, head of the British Navy), the naval attack on the Dardanelles began with a long-range bombardment by British and French battleships on February 19, 1915. Turkish forces abandoned their outer forts but met the approaching Allied minesweepers with heavy fire, stalling the advance. Under tremendous pressure to renew the attack, Admiral Sackville Carden, the British naval commander in the region, suffered a nervous collapse and was replaced by Vice-Admiral Sir John de Robeck. On March 18, 18 Allied battleships entered the straits; Turkish fire, including undetected mines, sank three of the ships and severely damaged three others.

In the wake of the failed naval attack, preparations began for largescale troop landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula. British War Secretary Lord Kitchener appointed General Ian Hamilton as commander of British forces for the operation; under his command, troops from Australia, New Zealand and the French colonies assembled with British forces on the Greek island of Lemnos. Meanwhile, the Turks boosted their defenses under the command of the German general Liman von Sanders, who began positioning Ottoman troops along the shore where he expected the landings would take place. On April 25, 1915, the Allies launched their invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula. Despite suffering heavy casualties, they managed to establish two beachheads: at Helles on the peninsula’s southern tip, and at Gaba Tepe on the Aegean coast. (The latter site was later dubbed Anzac Cove, in honor of the Australian and New Zealand troops who fought so valiantly against determined Turkish defenders to establish the beachhead there.)

After the initial landing, the Allies were able to make little progress from their initial landing sites, even as the Turks gathered more and more troops on the peninsula from both the Palestine and Caucasus fronts. In an attempt to break the stalemate, the Allies made another major troop landing on August 6 at Sulva Bay, combined with a northwards advance from Anzac Cove towards the heights at Sari Bair and a diversionary action at Helles. The surprise landings at Sulva Bay proceeded against little opposition, but Allied indecision and delay stalled their progress in all three locations, allowing Ottoman reinforcements to arrive and shore up their defenses.

With Allied casualties in the Gallipoli Campaign mounting, Hamilton (with Churchill’s support) petitioned Kitchener for 95,000 reinforcements; the war secretary offered barely a quarter of that number. In mid-October, Hamilton argued that a proposed evacuation of the peninsula would cost up to 50 percent casualties; British authorities subsequently recalled him and installed Sir Charles Monro in his place. By early November, Kitchener had visited the region himself and agreed with Monro’s recommendation that the remaining 105,000 Allied troops should be evacuated.

The British government authorized the evacuation to begin from Sulva Bay on December 7; the last troops left Helles on January 9, 1916.

 In all, some 480,000 Allied forces took part in the Gallipoli Campaign, at a cost of more than 250,000 casualties, including some 46,000 dead. On the Turkish side, the campaign also cost an estimated 250,000 casualties, with 65,000 killed.

Pic - “It should be remembered that it is no longer possible to force the Dardanelles, and nobody would expose a modern fleet to such peril.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The New Nippon Alliance

Shinshin!!

The land of
backward comics, Harijuku Girls, and cool robots - Japan is HOT! Instead of scary missiles and secret police - Japan built a fun, rich democratic tech saavy, tolerant, egalitarian society with a free, uncensored press, transparent, periodic elections, and independent judiciary that hasn't bothered anyone in over six decades.

A literacy rate of over 99%, Nippon is a wonderful example of the human spirit unbound.Japan has been a long time ally of Great Satan for eons -- and has the world's second (or third, based on purchasing power parity) largest economy, 2nd biggest contributer to UN, yet Nippon remains dependent on America for its security, a minor military player despite having global economic and political interests.

The new U.S.-Japan defense guidelines will fundamentally change the way Japan and the United States cooperate on defense matters

Under the reinterpretation, Japan will be able to defend other countries that may come under attack. -the exercise of collective self-defense

The new guidelines allow for increased regional and global cooperation in the U.S.-Japanese alliance. This will be most noticeable in peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, international intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, missile defense and a variety of other areas

There will also be an increase in U.S.-Japan alliance cooperation in new domains like cyber and space, the official said, adding that this means increased cooperation in space situational awareness, bolstering the resiliency of space systems and cooperative early warning.

The new guidelines mean Japan can now -

 Defend U.S. ships engaged in missile defense activities in the vicinity of Japan.

Japan can also respond to attacks on third countries if they are in close association with Japan and if those attacks directly affect Japanese security.

 Japan and the United States will coordinate and share information more closely in missile defense,

Japan will be able to shoot down missiles headed for U.S. territory.

It’s a real change and improvement in the ability of the alliance to operate together, not only in defense of Japan, but throughout the region and globally.

Pic - "There’s a downside to a more equal partnership, though."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

World War O


Ach du lieber!

44 pledged in his 2013 inaugural address that “a decade of war is now ending,” but the numbers suggest otherwise. His dream of extricating the U.S. from messy foreign conflicts remains just that.

The U.S. takes regular lethal action in at least five countries. U.S. troops are deployed in three conflict zones. And America is directly involved in a pair of Arab civil wars.

The roster of violence is sobering, and the president’s more cautious advisers fret about how much more military risk America should take on as global conflicts multiply.

In Ukraine, the administration is alarmed over fresh signs of another Russian military offensive that could shatter a February cease-fire agreement and turbocharge an internal debate about sending lethal weapons for Kiev.

In Yemen, Obama has lent logistical and intelligence support to a Saudi-led bombing campaign against Houthi rebels — despite concerns among senior advisers that the Saudi action is counterproductive and risks a confrontation with Iran.

In Iraq, as U.S. air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant continue, military planners are pushing for U.S. special forces to operate near the front lines when Baghdad’s troops mount a planned offensive against the ISIL stronghold of Mosul later this year.

In Afghanistan, 44 has been forced to slow the withdrawal of American troops and expanded their authority to conduct combat operations against the Taliban.

Pic - “It’s pretty clear we’re not going to do anything you can’t do from 30,000 feet and it’s not going to work."

 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Reigniting Arab Spring

Since alla cool kids know Great Satan's accidental on purpose gig in the World is to promote, protect and prefer democrazy, capitalistic desires are like totally hip and haunch with it.

See, in the minds of serious thinkers, there are both moral and strategic imperatives for spreading democracy.  Regardless of how satisfying it is to whack bad guys and rogue states we eventually have to export democracy.

Thus, fulfilling the promise of Arab Spring...

It’s easy now to forget that Arab proponents of democracy, market capitalism and rights for women were the instigators of the revolutions that swept Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and, ultimately, Syria after 2011. They did not come out of nowhere: For the previous decade, a movement had swelled in favor of ending what a famous 2002 report by Arab intellectuals called the region’s “freedom deficit.” In Egypt, its focal point, liberal newspapers and blogs sprouted like mushrooms and Facebook groups backing liberal causes attracted hundreds of thousands of followers.

Moreover, the liberals had a sensible agenda: To drag their countries away from the authoritarian nationalism of the 20th century — and the Islamism of the 7th — and adopt the successful development models of countries such as India and Indonesia, where hundreds of millions of Muslims prosper in 21st-century freedom.

That one country, Tunisia, has succeeded in establishing a working democracy, despite power struggles between secularists and Islamists, and terrorism by jihadists, shows that the goal of democratic transformation was neither a pipe dream nor a Western imposition unsuited for Arab lands. It remains the only workable long-term solution for a region that must balance the interests of multiple religious sects and ethnic groups and find means to compete in global markets beyond oil and gas.

Four years after the revolution, however, democracy is the one option not being discussed as a way of ending the subsequent turmoil — in large part because liberals have been excluded from the debate. Tens of thousands have been driven into exile, including the leaders of Libya’s first liberal government; many more are in prison, including most of those who organized the Jan. 25, 2011, march in Cairo that triggered the downfall of Egypt’s rotting autocracy.

44 envisions political solutions to the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen flowing from an “equilibrium” between Shiite Iran and the Sunni states. The United States would play the role of equalizer by moderating, through “engagement,” Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and by heaping new supplies of weapons on Saudi Arabia, Egypt and their allies.

44's scheme might be worth supporting if it had a chance of ending Syria’s horrific bloodshed or saving a united Iraq. That is the real pipe dream. Would Iran’s supreme leader, or Saudi Arabia’s king, really accept a new political order for Syria or Iraq not led by a client of their sect? Who will argue for the defense of minorities, women’s rights or democratic choice at a conference table where the U.S. role is limited to balancing competing totalitarians?

A realistic U.S. strategy would start with the right long-term goal, which is putting the rest of the Middle East on the path that Tunisia is following toward building liberal institutions. It would then invest in the Arabs and Iranians who share that goal, of whom there are millions, and defend them from the despots who are tossing them in prison, dropping barrel bombs on their homes and forcing them into exile. It’s not a policy that would pay off in the short run. But it would recognize that the best Mideast future lies with young people

Pic - "The Case For Democracy"

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Армата!



Autocratic Commonwealth has teasing cats 'bout her newest panzer - the Armata - fixing to get debut'd at Commonwealth VE Day Parade

Actually, "Armata" is also a Universal Combat Platform for Russia's advanced next generation heavy military tracked vehicle platform. The "Armata" platform is intended to be the basis for a main battle tank, a heavy infantry fighting vehicle, a combat engineering vehicle, an armoured recovery vehicle, a heavy armoured personnel carrier, a tank support combat vehicle and several types of self-propelled artillery under the same codename based on the same chassis. 

She will also serve as the basis for artillery, air defense, and NBC defense systems.

Crafted at the main battle tank craftworks at Uralvagonzavod in Nizhny Tagil, the panzer version has a few known specs:

Armor: classified
Main armament - A new version of 125mm smoothbore cannon with ATGM capability
Secondary armament - 30mm Anti-aircraft gun and a 7.62mm machine gun
Engine Gas-turbine -1500-1800 hp
Transmission 8-speed manual gearbox
Speed - unknown
Weight - 55 tonnes

The electronics and targeting systems will be the available as many of the components have their origin in T-50 5th generation fighter plane. The exact configuration is, of course, still confidential.

She features a crewless turret and a computerized fire-control system is fitted to enable stationary and moving targets to be engaged with a very high first round hit probability.

Commonwealth plans on deploying around 2300 Armatas.

Pic - "Sure. Remember the 'Black Eagle' panzer? 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Naval Engagement

Whale, tons of talk about Persian naval naughtiness sending two Alborz class missile-launching destroyers and the Larak logistics ship to the Gulf of Aden and Great Satan's "Big Stick" -  CVN 71 battle group hanging out to intercept or at least observe Preacher Command's attempt to resupply and reinforce Yemen's Houthilicious rebels.
 
Funnily enough - it's like the anniversary of Iranian Navy Annihilation Day - 18 April 1987 in the Iran Iraq war.
 
On that crazy day, the Sinbad's of Persia actually drew beads and fired on the Great Satan and her navy.

Big mistake. Sparking a naval brawl that raged for 12 hours, Great Satan annihilated over 1.2 billion bucks worth of offshore oil platforms (they were also dual functioning as Revo Guard seaborne missile silos in the Gulf oil tanker war) and pretty much made the term 'Iranian Navy' truly past tense for like a decade.

 Ken Pollack's "Persian Puzzle" reads like a movie
"The Iranian Navy came out to fight. Light attack, F 4 Phantoms, even Iran's
largest warships sortied from Bandar Abbas to take on the American Forces. The
Iranian missile boat Joshan started the battle by firing an antiship missile at
an American cruiser (it missed) and was immediately sunk in a hail of missiles
and gunfire.
Iranian small boats and a pair of F 4's also tried to strike various American ships in the Gulf, and several of the boats were sunk or damaged as were both F-4s. The Iranian frigate Sahand fired on planes from the USS Enterprise, which was providing air support. Enterprise's air wing immediately put two Harpoon missiles and four laser guided bombs into the Sahand, sinking her.   
Finally, in a remarkable act of stupidity, the Iranians also sent out the frigate Sabalan, sister ship to the Sahand, late in the day, and it two fired three missiles at a passing American A-6 Intruder. The Intruder promptly put a 500 pound laser guided bomb neatly down Sabalan's smokestack."
The 18 April 1987 Persian Navy Annihilation Day is in the Great Satan's textbooks at Annapolis - the Naval Academy - as one of the top greatest victories ever won at sea by the Americans.

Somewhere after Midway, Leyte Gulf and the Battle of the Atlantic.

18 April is actually an Iranian state secret, hidden from The Islamic Republic's own people to this very day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Syrian Death Knell


Suriya al Kubra!! 
The road connecting Homs and Damascus is critical for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's survival, but is likely to come under concurrent attack from the Islamic State AND Jabhat al-Nusra.

Crucially, Homs province connects Damascus province to the coastal mountains, which constitute the Alawite heartland. Maintaining that supply line open is critical for the ability of Assad's Alawite-dominated government to govern from Damascus. Moreover, the presence of a significant Alawite community in Homs is a further factor that would cause the Syrian government to give priority to relieving jihadist pressure around the city. Additionally, the prolonged closure of the Damascus-Homs road would likely destabilise Assad's hold on power for several reasons, even if, as is likely, the jihadists were unable to keep the road closed and Assad had to concentrate forces to keep it open at the expense of other sectors.

First, this would lead the Iranians to question the viability of Assad and his security forces as the best representatives of their interests in the Sunni-Shia war.

Second, it would lead the Alawites to question whether Assad is still the best option to protect their interests. That might well make the Assad's removal in a military coup more likely.

An offensive by Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State, probably working independently and aimed at severing communications between Homs and Damascus, is likely in the coming weeks. The Syrian government is likely to dedicate significant resources to defeating any such offensive. However, given how overstretched the Syrian forces are, this may well force it to pull back critical resources from other areas such as Aleppo. The Syrian government in Aleppo has already been significantly weakened, and a withdrawal of some forces from there to Homs may well pave the way for an insurgent takeover by the city, most likely by Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.

This kind of major defeat in either Aleppo or Homs would be likely to destabilise Assad's hold on power, as his domestic Alawite supporters and his Iranian sponsors might well decide that his removal is necessary to bring different elements of the Sunni population hostile to Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State to the negotiating table. Even Assad's removal would, however, be unlikely to end the war in Syria, as many militant groups would not accept a government which included any of Assad's current ruling elite. Moreover, even in the event of a peace agreement, the large numbers of militias in the country would take years to disarm, and infighting between them would also continue.

Pic - "A “core interest” after all “that children are not having barrel bombs dropped on them, that massive displacements aren’t taking place.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Doolittle Raid!

The catastrophe Imperial Nippon visited upon Great Satan in Hawaii on Infamy Day was catastrophic. Early analysis seemed to indicate PACCOM"s ability to make war was like totally derailed. Might be able to conscript and train to fever pitch infantry in  90 days - yet crafting a warfighting naval force takes eons to bling.

Philippines were conquered double quick time as the American Army suffered a frightening defeat capped with the ungodly Bataan Death March.

Some kinda payback had to be delivered and fast.

32 himself told the JCS Great Satan needed a desperate feel good high hooked up with a strike at the HQ of the Greater Far Eastern Co Prosperity Sphere, and Army Air Corps LtColonel Jimmy Doolittle agreed -  
"The Japanese people had been told they were invulnerable ... An attack on the Japanese homeland would cause confusion in the minds of the Japanese people and sow doubt about the reliability of their leaders. There was a second, and equally important, psychological reason for this attack ... Americans badly needed a morale boost"
The crazy assetted idosity of using B25 Mitchell bombers to fly off a CV were thought up by Navy Captain Francis Low, Assistant Chief of Staff for Anti-U Boat Warfare, and 16 craft and cats were sweetly voltiguer"d into service for the secret mission: Bomb Tokyo and select capital cities of the Empire of the Sun 

Bearing names like Bat Out of Hell, Fickle Finger of Fate, Whirling Dervish, Green Hornet, Ruptured Duck, The Avenger, The Hari Kari - er, TNT and Whiskey Pete - the Mitchells were like sexed up beyond repair: 
  • Installation of de-icers and anti-icers
  • Removal of the lower gun turret
  • Steel blast plates mounted on the fuselage around the upper turret
  • Removal of the liaison radio set (a weight impediment)
  • Installation of three additional fuel tanks and support mounts in the bomb bay, crawlway and lower turret area to increase fuel capacity from 646 to 1,141 gallons
  • Fake gun barrels installed in the tail cone
  • Replacement of their Norden bombsight with a makeshift aiming sight, devised by pilot Capt. C. Ross Greening and called the "Mark Twain" the materials for the bombsight cost only 20 cents.
Loaded up on CV-8 Hornet, the Doolittle Raiders and Task Force 18 launched at 8:20 A.M. on April 18th.  Despite the fact that nodobby, including Doolittle, had ever taken off from a carrier before, all 16 popped the B25 Army Bomber/Navy Carrier's cherry.

Eight primary and five secondary targets were struck. In Tokyo, the targets included an oil tank farm, a steel mill, and several power plants. In Yokosuka, at least one bomb from the B-25 piloted by Lt. Edgar E. McElroy struck the nearly completed IJN aircraft carrier Ryūhō, delaying her launch until November. Six schools and an army hospital were also hit. Japanese officials reported that the two aircraft whose crews were captured had struck their targets.

The plan was to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on the Hornet was impossible.

Didn't exactly work out that way - See, all the aircraft involved in the bombing were lost and 11 crewmen were either killed or captured—with three of the captured men executed by the Japanese Army in China. One of the B-25s landed in the Soviet Union at Vladivostok, where it was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. 

Thirteen entire crews, and all but one crewman of a 14th, returned either to Great Satan or to American forces.

Compared with the future devastating fire bombing napalming B-29 Superfortress attacks against Japan, the Doolittle raid was kinda weak, did little material damage, and all of that readily repaired.

And
The raid also had a strategic impact, though it was not known at the time: It caused the Japanese to recall some fighting IJN units to the Japanese Home Islands for defense. Its main aircraft carrier task force, spearheaded by five large, fast carriers—with its best naval aircraft and aircrews—under the command of Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, had inflicted serious losses on the Royal Navy and merchant shipping during the Indian Ocean Raid, steaming as far west as Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for air raids on British shipping and Royal Air Force airfields there. Following the Doolittle Raid, Nagumo's force was recalled to Japan, removing all pressure from the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean.
The Imperial Japanese Navy also bore a special responsibility for allowing an American aircraft carrier force to approach the Japanese Home Islands in a manner similar to that of the IJN fleet to Hawaii in 1941, and likewise it escaped undamaged. The fact that rather large twin-engine land-based bombers carried out the attack served to confuse the IJN's high command about the source of the attack. This confusion and the conclusion that Japan itself was vulnerable to air attack strengthened Yamamoto's resolve to capture Midway Island, with the attempt to do so resulting in the decisive IJN loss at the Battle of Midway

Pic -  "It was hoped that the damage done would be both material and psychological. Material damage was to be the destruction of specific targets with ensuing confusion and retardation of production. The psychological results, it was hoped, would be the recalling of combat equipment from other theaters for home defense thus effecting relief in those theaters, the development of a fear complex in Japan, improved relationships with our Allies, and a favorable reaction on the American people."

Sunday, April 19, 2015

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

Thus, sans further adieu (or a don't)

Council Winners


Non-Council Winners



See you next week!

Friday, April 17, 2015

4 Reasons China Can Fight a Modern War

Shashoujian!!

According to China, there are four reasons why her military can win a modern war:

1)      Equipment. 
China knows it plays second fiddle to the United States in military technology, but in the Asia-Pacific region, PLA hardware is quickly matching that of Japan, China’s biggest military opposition. “Although some might claim that Japan now has an edge over China, very soon China’s PLA will surpass Japan’s SDF [Self-Defense Forces] in terms of hardware given China’s economic size and greater military spending," the military report says. "So, in 10 years’ time, the PLA will have superb military hardware that is only second to the United States.”

2)      Training.
The report points to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anticorruption drive and military overhaul, which led to a reshuffle of the PLA’s top brass. The military was plagued by corruption in the past, with training standards not uniform and leadership lacking focus. “President Xi Jinping is determined to eliminate corruption within the PLA. When he is finished, there is good reason to believe that the PLA’s fighting ability will increase significantly."

3)      Military experience is “overvalued.”
 While China’s wartime experience is limited, so is that of its biggest regional rivals. “People have overestimated the value of experience. Yes, it is true that the U.S. military has ample experience, but many other militaries do not, including Japan’s. So China’s lack of war experience might hurt its chances of winning against the U.S., but not necessarily against other rivals.” 

4)      “Morale.”
China says it has no interest in “conquering” new territories, claiming that a war that involves China would be a defensive one. While those who lay claim to various disputed territories and maritime borders would likely disagree with the notion that China is merely defending its sovereignty, Chinese authorities insist military action would be taken only if Chinese sovereignty is under fire.

“This is about defending China’s sovereignty and territories and this is fundamentally different from conquering others’ territories. Thus morale will be high. If history is any indication, the Korean War tells us that the weaker Chinese army could repel and defeat a stronger U.S. army. The fact that China then was fighting for its sovereign integrity is a key factor in explaining the defeat of the United States"

Thursday, April 16, 2015

R.A.F. - R.I.P.?

 

The U.K. Ministry of Defense has released an accounting of all the aircraft in Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and British Army service — and the overall tally is tiny … and getting tinier.

As of March this year, the air forces of the United Kingdom possess no more than 362 combat-ready warplanes and drones plus 249 helicopters — a mere 611 military aircraft.
Britain’s air force, navy and army together have another 93 planes and copters that are in deep maintenance or rework plus 18 that are in storage. None of these 111 aircraft are immediately available for combat.
 
It’s worth noting that the United Kingdom is the world’s fifth-biggest military spender — dropping no less than $50 billion a year on its armed forces. But that $50 billion doesn’t translate into a lot of war-ready hardware.

Drilling into the data, which the blog Think Defence first brought to our attention, the weakness of U.K. air power is even more evident. The 362 ready warplanes include just 59 Tornado and 89 Typhoon jet fighters. Another 28 Tornados and 38 Typhoons are in maintenance.

By comparison, the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps combined possess 2,800 fighters. Russia and Chine each boast around 1,500 combat jets.

And as bad as the situation is now, the trends point to an even smaller U.K. air arsenal in the near future. In 2006, the RAF operated around 220 war-ready fighters, dropping to 160 in 2009 and 148 this year.

But the Tornados will retire in 2019 and the Defense Ministry has announced it will also dispose of the 55 oldest Typhoons around the same time, leaving the RAF with just 105 or so total fighters five years from now, not all of which will be available for combat.

To be fair, the U.K. plans to acquire at least 48 new F-35 stealth fighters — and these could boost the RAF’s frontline combat strength back to around 150 jets by the early 2020s.
 
Again, that’s 150 jets including those in maintenance. Probably slightly more than half will actually be mission-ready at any given time. That amounts to just 75 or 80 fighters to defend the U.K. and the Falklands and fight overseas.
 
But that’s assuming London doesn’t further cut the military budget — hardly a safe assumption. At least one analyst expects the U.K. to slash defense spending by up to 10 percent from 2016, continuing the island nation’s decade of unilateral disarmament.
 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Joint Arab Sectarian Force


So Arab Joint Force is more like an intervening force for instability...

A few objectives can be excluded from the start. For example, post-conflict democratization cannot be the goal, given that Arab regimes lack the credentials or knowhow to craft democracies, and their militaries are neither willing nor able to assist in the process. Similarly, humanitarian intervention can be ruled out, owing not only to most Arab regimes’ lack of experience and inglorious human-rights records, but also because none of the official statements related to the founding of the joint force have remotely suggested that upholding human rights was ever a concern.

Stabilization might be an objective, but only if the relevant governments can agree on shared threats and how to address them. They could, for example, take the classic “balance of power/terror” approach, by intervening to undermine the more powerful actor in a conflict, force it to the negotiating table, and dictate the terms of any compromise, thereby ensuring that they benefit from the newly created status quo.

But the rise of Arab military coalitions raises serious concerns, not least because the history of Arab-led military interventions – unlike those carried out by the West in places like Bosnia, Kosovo, and even Libya – does not contain any promising precedent. Such interventions were usually aimed at empowering a proxy political force over its military and political rivals, instead of averting humanitarian disaster or institutionalizing a non-violent conflict-resolution mechanism following a war.

Many factors affect the outcome of a military intervention in a civil war, especially if it involves a ground offensive. In particular, Arab leaders should focus on revising the processes by which national-security policy is formulated, improving civil-military relations, providing the relevant training in peacekeeping and peace-building, reforming the political culture, and addressing socio-psychological complexes.

If Arab leaders fail to overcome these deficiencies, the latest Arab force could become the Middle East’s newest source of anti-democratic, sectarian-based instability, potentially intensifying the Sunni-Shia conflict.

That is the last thing the region needs.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Touchy Turkey


Gotta love the Ottomans!

Pope Francis on Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians by calling the massacre by Ottoman Turks “the first genocide of the 20th century” and urging the international community to recognize it as such. Turkey immediately responded by recalling its ambassador and accusing Francis of spreading hatred and “unfounded claims.”

Pic - "The Problem From Hell"

Sunday, April 12, 2015

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!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Iran's Attack Scenario


“America, with its strategic ignorance, does not have a full understanding of the power of the Islamic Republic” Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brig. Gen. Hossein "Skippy" Salami recently LOL'd.

So...

Looking at any map reveals a whole host of challenges. From Yemen, to Syria, to Lebanon and over the long term in Iraq, it is quite clear Washington and Tehran have too many areas of contention for their relationship to turn rosey.

While many in the Middle East and beyond fear Iran’s possible nuclear aspirations, such weapons are only a part of a much bigger geostrategic challenge.

Chinese style anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD). While nowhere near as advanced as China’s various sea mines, ballistic and cruise missiles, submarines, cyber weapons and C2 and C4ISR systems, Iranian A2/AD still packs quite a punch.

If Iran decided, for whatever reason, to strike first and strike decisively—the best way to utilize any A2/AD force. The best research to guide us in such a discussion is a 2011 report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) that looks at Iranian A2/AD capabilities and possible U.S. responses, titled: “Outside-In: Operating from Range to Defeat Iran’s Anti-Access/Area-Denial Threats.”

The scenario also assumes a U.S. force posture at roughly 2011-levels. While these qualifiers do detract slightly from the accuracy of the scenario, CSBA does show the reader quite effectively what Iran could do.

Using coastal radars, UAVs, and civilian vessels for initial targeting information, Iranian surface vessels could swarm U.S. surface combatants in narrow waters, firing a huge volume of rockets and missiles in an attempt to overwhelm the Navy’s AEGIS combat system and kinetic defenses like the Close-In Weapons System and Rolling Airframe Missile, and possibly drive U.S. vessels toward prelaid minefields. Shore-based ASCMs and Klub-K missiles launched from “civilian” vessels may augment these strikes.

 Iran’s offensive maritime exclusion platforms could exploit commercial maritime traffic and shore clutter to mask their movement and impede U.S. counter-targeting. While these attacks are underway, Iran could use its SRBMs and proxy forces to strike U.S. airfields, bases, and ports. Iran will likely seek to overwhelm U.S. and partner missile defenses with salvos of less accurate missiles before using more accurate SRBMs armed with submunitions to destroy unsheltered aircraft and other military systems. Proxy groups could attack forward bases using presighted guided mortars and rockets, and radiation-seeking munitions to destroy radars and C4 nodes."

And jam up the Straights of Hormuz

After initial attacks to attrite U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, Iran will likely use its maritime exclusion systems to control passage through the Strait of Hormuz. Mine warfare should feature prominently in Iranian attempts to close the Strait. As with many of its A2/AD systems, Iran could employ a combination of “smart” influence mines along with large quantities of less capable weapons such as surface contact mines. Iran may deploy many of its less sophisticated mines from a variety of surface vessels, while it reserves its submarine force to lay influence mines covertly.
 
Though Iran may wish to sink or incapacitate a U.S. warship with a mine, its primary goal is probably to deny passage and force the U.S. Navy to engage in prolonged mine countermeasure (MCM) operations while under threat from Iranian shore-based attacks. U.S. MCM ships, which typically lack the armor and self-defenses of larger warships, would be unlikely to survive in the Strait until these threats are suppressed.

Iran could deploy its land-based ASCMs from camouflaged and hardened sites to firing positions along its coastline and on Iranian-occupied islands in the Strait of Hormuz while placing decoys at false firing positions to complicate U.S. counterstrikes. Hundreds of ASCMs may cover the Strait, awaiting target cueing data from coastal radars, UAVs, surface vessels, and submarines. Salvo and multiple axis attacks could enable these ASCMs to saturate U.S. defenses. Similar to the way in which Iran structured its ballistic missile attacks, salvos of less capable ASCMs might be used to exhaust U.S. defenses, paving the way for attacks by more advanced missiles."
 
Also, according to CSBA, Iran would be rewarded by spreading the field of conflict:
"Undoubtedly aware that the United States’ ability to bring military power to bear is influenced by the demand for forces in other regions, Iran may seek to expand the geographical scope of a conflict in order to divert U.S. attention and resources elsewhere. Iran’s terrorist proxies, perhaps aided by Quds Force operatives, could be employed to threaten U.S. interests in other theaters. Iran could conceivably leverage its relationship with Hezbollah to attempt to draw Israel into the conflict or tap Hezbollah’s clandestine networks to carry out attacks in other regions."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

44's Doctrine


44's Doctrine is simple and universal: Warm relations with adversaries and cool them with friends.

Several assumptions underlie this approach: The U.S. government morally must compensate for its prior errors. Great Satan after all, the doctrine suggests, historically having exerted a malign influence on the outside world. Greedy corporations, an overly-powerful military-industrial complex, a yahoo nationalism, engrained racism, and cultural imperialism combined to render America, on balance, a force for evil.

Smiling at hostile states will inspire them to reciprocate. Using force creates more problems than it solves. Historic U.S. allies, partners, and helpers are morally inferior accessories. In the Middle East, this means reaching out to revisionists (Erdoğan, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Republic of Iran) and pushing away cooperative governments (Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia).

Of these actors, two stand out: Iran and Israel. Establishing good relations with Tehran appears to be 44’s great preoccupation. As Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute has shown, 44 during his entire presidency has worked toward rendering Iran what he calls “a very successful regional power … abiding by international norms and international rules.” Contrarily, his pre-presidential friendships with truculent anti-Zionists such as Ali Abunimah, Rashid Khalidi, and Edward Said point to the depth of his hostility toward the Jewish state.

44's Doctrine demystifies what is otherwise inscrutable. For example, it explains why the White House blithely ignored the Iranian supreme leader’s outrageous “Death to America” yelp in March, dismissing it as mere domestic pandering, even as 44 glommed onto the Israeli prime minister’s near simultaneous electoral campaign comment rejecting a two-state solution with the Palestinians during his term of office (“we take him at his word”).

The doctrine also offers guidelines to predict possible developments during 44’s remaining tenure, such as: Wretched P5+1 deals with Iran compelling Israel’s government to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Gentle policies toward Damascus clearing the way for the Assad regime to re-extend its power. Ankara choosing to provoke a crisis in the eastern Mediterranean over Cypriot gas and oil reserves.

The great question ahead is how, in their wisdom, the American people will judge 44's Doctrine when they next vote for president in 19 months. Will they repudiate his policy of shuffling and contrition, as they comparably did in 1980 when they elected 40 over 39? Or will they choose four more years of it, thereby turning 44's Doctrine into the new norm and Americans into European-style remorseful masochists?

Their verdict in 2016 has potentially world-historical implications.

Pic - "The strategic assumptions of 44's administration’s force planning have not become reality, including that Europe would remain at peace, that the US was overcommitted across the Middle East, and that a “pivot” to Asia could be achieved without a notable increase in forces."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Chaos And The New (Maybe) Order


"Out of chaos comes order"

Never in modern times has the Middle East been so chaotic. Many of us who have worked in the region have been comparing it — frighteningly — to Europe’s Thirty Years’ War (1618–48), during which many nations and groups battled each other over everything from territory to religion and commerce. When it was over, the European map had been completely redrawn and the rough outline of the state system we know today came into view.

A more modern analogy is the multidimensional complexity of solving a Rubik’s Cube. Or, perhaps, it’s most like a barroom brawl: it’s hard to be sure who started the fight, who is allied with whom, exactly what is at issue, who just changed sides, who is fighting vs. who is just observing, where your leverage is, and how to break it up.

Just to review the bidding, the Islamic State has established a nominal “caliphate” in large parts of Syria and Iraq, effectively erasing the border between the two countries established in WWI; Saudi Arabia and Iran both oppose the Islamic State, but other issues have them at each others’ throats via proxy wars in both Syria and Yemen. Wait, it continues: In Yemen, the Saudi-supported government has fallen to Iranian-backed rebels. On top of it all, Egypt is striking back militarily against extremists in Libya and has joined up with Saudi Arabia in Yemen against those Iranian rebels.

And that’s just the nation-states. Within the terrorist movement, nothing is certain; the complex offspring of al-Qaida are also jockeying for territory in both Syria and Yemen.

But it’s the entrée of Iran and Saudi Arabia — each of these two geopolitical behemoths facing off on opposing sides — that is the newest wrinkle. And when these countries, the leaders of the two religious factions — Shia and Sunni, respectively — are battling each other, the risk of escalation grows exponentially. All this is adding up to a conflict with five dimensions, at least: Arabs vs. Persians, terrorists vs. regimes, terrorists vs. each other, Sunnis vs. Shias, democracy vs. authoritarian. Not to mention Russia, the United States, China and Europe, often pursuing conflicting aims.

Anyone who confidently says they know where all of this ends is delusional. But here are a few tentative signposts:

Iraq will be — already is — broken. Haider al-Abadi’s government has tried valiantly to reunite Sunnis, Shias and Kurds, but to little avail, as Sunnis witness the growing influence of Shiite militia groups and Iran, as the Islamic State hangs on, and as the Kurds take on more of the fighting burden. It is very hard to imagine Iraq ever being whole again.

The U.S. will not be in control. The problem is now too large and complex to be resolved by some big negotiation that settles all the conflicts and brings the region into some new alignment. What we now see is what we can expect — shifting and odd alliances of convenience geared to specific interests. So get used to odd couplings like the U.S. having a shared goal with Iran — that of destroying the Islamic State; this shared interest stands alongside continued disagreements, as the U.S. will continue to oppose Iran in Yemen and Syria and, of course, persist in negotiating nuclear matters. These seeming contradictions are the realities of the “new normal.”

The nitty-gritty matters. Because the U.S. cannot exert broad control, we will need a strategy. A tentative list for such a plan should include: first and foremost, the destruction of the Islamic State, which almost certainly will require a greater commitment of U.S. “boots on the ground”; the security of Israel; the preservation of progressive monarchies such as Jordan; the stability of Saudi Arabia, still the region’s largest oil producer and home of Islam’s most holy sites; and a strong push for democracy as regimes shift.

We are not alone. Other major powers have strong Middle East interests, and we should be searching for common purpose with them. China gets 55 percent of its energy from the Middle East and has growing commercial interests; Russia has critical leverage with Syria, fears Islamic extremism, and has important trade relations with Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Algeria; Europe worries about extremist fighters returning home from the Islamic State, needs the region’s energy and has cultural ties dating to the colonial era. This may be the silver lining to the conflict’s complexity: a chance to leverage the many interests and voices at play.

Surely this diverse array of countries can agree on, at least, the need to discourage further escalation between the region’s major Shia power, Iran, and its major Sunni rival, Saudi Arabia. So far, their forces have not faced each other directly, but Saudi Arabia’s bombing in Yemen of facilities Iran uses to supply its Houthi clients is pushing the two nearer to such a confrontation.

Given the artificial nature of the Middle Eastern boundaries the British and French redrew in 1916, it was probably inevitable that pressures would build and eventually set off some conflagration. Greater order can, ironically, sometimes result exactly from such clashes between state and non-state actors, as it did in the Thirty Years’ War. That messy series of battles did produce a settlement bringing religious peace to Europe and establishing the principle of state sovereignty — the basis for today’s nation-state system.

But it did take 30 years.


Monday, April 6, 2015

The China Myth


Rise of China ain't all that...


Since World War II, the United States has been the most powerful state in world politics. Many analysts view a rising China as the most likely contender to end the American century. One recent book is even entitled “When China Rules the World.”

Most projections of Chinese power are based on the rapid growth rate of its GDP, and China may pass the United States in total economic size in the 2020s. But even then, it will be decades before it equals America in per capita income (a measure of the sophistication of an economy). China also has other significant power resources. In terms of basic resources, its territory is equal to that of the United States and its population is four times greater. It has the world’s largest army, more than 250 nuclear weapons, and modern capabilities in space and cyberspace. In soft power (the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than payment or coercion), China still lacks cultural industries able to compete with Hollywood; its universities are not top ranked; and it lacks the many non-governmental organizations that generate much of America’s soft or attractive power.

Recall Thucydides’ warning, that belief in the inevitability of conflict can become one of its main causes. Each side, believing it will end up at war with the other, makes reasonable military preparations which then are read by the other side as confirmation of its worst fears.

Fortunately, it is doubtful that China will have the military capability to make overly ambitious dreams possible in the next several decades. Costs matter. It is easier to indulge one’s wish list when a menu has no prices on it. Chinese leaders will have to contend with the reactions of other countries as well as the constraints created by their own objectives of economic growth and the need for external markets and resources. Too aggressive a Chinese military posture could produce a countervailing coalition among its neighbors in the region that would weaken both its hard and soft power.

The fact that China is not likely to become a peer competitor to the United States on a global basis does not mean that it could not challenge the United States in Asia. However, the rise of Chinese power in Asia is contested by India and Japan (as well as smaller neighbors such as Vietnam), and that provides a major power advantage to the United States. The US-Japan alliance, which the Clinton-Hashimoto declaration of 1996 reaffirmed as the basis for stability in post-Cold War East Asia, is an important impediment to Chinese ambitions, as is the improvement in US-Indian relations and Japan-India relations.

This means that in the regional balance of power, China cannot easily expel the Americans. From that position of strength, the United States, Japan, India, Australia, and others can work to engage China and provide incentives for it to play a responsible role. Moreover, coping with important transnational issues such as climate change, pandemics, terrorism, organized crime, and cybercrime will require cooperation with China.

China aspires to play a larger role in East Asia, and the US has Asian allies to whose defense we are committed. Miscalculations are always possible, but conflict is far from inevitable. The legitimacy of the Chinese government depends on a high rate of economic growth and the top leaders realize that China will need many decades before it approaches the sophistication of the American economy. Where Germany was pressing hard on Britain’s heels (and passed it in industrial strength by 1900), the United States remains decades ahead of China in overall military, economic, and soft power resources at the global level.

In other words, the United States has more time to manage its relations with a rising power than Britain did a century ago, and China has incentives for restraint. Too much fear can be self-fulfilling. Whether the United States and China will manage their relationship well is another question. Human error and miscalculation are always possible. But with the right choices, war is not inevitable, and the impressive rise of China is a long process that is still far from signifying the end of the American century.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

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.

Without further adieu - (or a don't) here are this weeks winners


Council Winners


Non-Council Winners



See you next week!






 

Friday, April 3, 2015

2nd Battle of Tikrit



Whale, the 2nd Battle of Tikrit is over!

After a day of back-and-forth reporting on whether the Iraqi city of Tikrit had been recaptured from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters, the Pentagon confirmed late Tuesday that the city had been liberated.

For just the last week, U.S. and coalition aircraft have been supporting Iraqi Security Forces as they fought several hundred Islamic State fighters there. The entry of the U.S. came only after a lull in progress by Iraqi forces and the Shi'a militias who were supporting them.

The U.S. entered the air battle on the condition that Shi'a militias loyal to Iran remove themselves from the battlefield.
On 13 March, it was revealed that ISIS was still in control of around half of the city, while the ground offensive had stalled. Meanwhile, Shi'ite militia fighters and Iraqi government troops were conducting brutal torture and revenge killings of captured ISIS prisoners. Allegedly, captured militants were beaten, shot, beheaded, dismembered, and thrown from buildings by Iraqi forces, with the remains mutilated and photos posted online.

Among the pics posted on Pro-Shi'ite and Iraqi forums and on Instagram were images of beheaded ISIS fighters, while other photos showed militants shot and dragged behind trucks, and thrown from high buildings. According to reports, the killings were revenge for similar ISIS atrocities, especially the Camp Speicher massacre of June 2014. In response to the allegations, the Iraqi army promised an investigation.

On 27 March, the Shi'ite militias, with the exception of the Badr Organization, pulled out of the battle for Tikrit.

On 28 March, the US-led coalition conducted eight airstrikes in and near Tikrit, hitting two large ISIL units, one tactical unit, a vehicle, a vehicle-borne explosive device and 12 fighting positions.] Overall, the previous three days of coalition airstrikes had been described as “carpet bombing”. Ground fighting itself was inconclusive, with back-and-forth fighting occurring where the same territory was changing hands every half an hour. The regular government troops were in no rush to capture the center of Tikrit, especially since they felt disappointed and in need of changing their plans after the paramilitary forces withdrew from the battle.[115]

The final stage of the assault was conducted by some 4,000 ISF in conjunction with approximately 10,000 Shi'ite paramilitaries under nominal command of the ISF. At this time, it was also estimated that only 400 ISIL militants remained inside of the city.

Late on 1 April 2015, Iraqi security forces reported that they had nearly secured full control of Tikrit, with only a few ISIL militants left hiding inside of some houses, hoping to escape under the cover of night. They also stated that they expected the battle to end in the coming hours.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Operation Iceberg

 

Operation Iceberg was the code name for the Battle of Okinawa. Seventy years ago this week, the last major land battle of World War II unfolded. It would eventually lead to atomic bombs being used against Japan and the country’s surrender in August.

Okinawa's strategic importance was its proximity to Japan. The U.S. intended to capture the island so that it could be used as an airbase and a staging area for the planned invasion of Japan, code named Operation Downfall. The Battle of Okinawa was the bloodiest fighting in the Pacific Theater. Some 12,000 Americans lost their lives in the fighting; deaths for Japanese soldiers and civilians are estimated at 110,000.

Some of the fiercest fighting on the island included the island of Ie Shima, where war correspondent Ernie Pyle lost his life, Bloody Ridge, Sugar Loaf Hill and the assault of Shuri Castle. The Japanese dispatched the world's largest battleship, the Yamato, with the intention of beaching it on Okinawa for use as a gun emplacement. The Yamato was destroyed on her way to Okinawa when one of her magazines detonated during an attack from U.S. fighters and bombers. The ship's explosion could be seen over 160 miles away.

Kamikaze attacks peaked during the Battle of Okinawa. For the first time, kamikaze tactics became a primary fixture of the defense. Nearly 8,000 pilots committed suicide at Okinawa attempting kamikaze attacks.

The Okinawa Campaign lasted from April 1 to June 22, 1945. It was the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific Theater.

More than 280,000 soldiers battled 130,000 Japanese soldiers. In addition,the island had 430,000 civilians living within its towns and villages.

As the battle continued, news came that the German military had been shattered by Allied forces. Adolf Hitler was dead. The German surrender came on May 7, but it didn’t become official until May 8.

Although America celebrated V-E Day — Victory in Europe — the celebration was short-lived. There was still a war on with Japan, and U.S. military forces were gearing up to invade.

It wasn’t until Aug. 14, 1945, that fighting ceased with Japan and World War II was finally over.