Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Europe has a larger Islamic problem than it thinks

The below has been making its way around this week, and I wanted to give a little context to it.

Some have stated that these are low-ball numbers. Perhaps - but we have what we have, let's run with it. Ponder and note that the USA number is 100? Not that bad for a nation of 313.9 million souls. What about the other, smaller nations with larger numbers?

They have a problem.

To truly understand the blowback that is coming to Western Europe, I've converted these numbers in to American relative terms, i.e. as a percentage of the population, what would that look like if America had the same numbers?

Ireland: 2,049
Britain: 2,449
Belgium: 8,408
Germany: 1,557
France: 3,328
The Netherlands: 2,803
Spain: 1,151
Denmark: 5,591
Norway: 3,087
Sweden: 3,272
Finland: 1,731

I think we can deal with our 100. Over 5,000? That would be a different challenge.

The wages of mass Muslim immigration dropped in to a non-assimilation, multi-cultural context. There you go.

Multi-culturalism is national suicide. Assimilation is the only way to success.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Searching for the military Laffer Curve

I love think pieces, the ones you read that make you stop, read again, and then parse.

Find the chaff, define the wheat, and then shuffle again - breaking in to bits.

Fresh off his civilian clothes shopping spree now that the uniform is in the back of the closet, our friend Jerry Hendrix, CAPT USN (Ret.) is stretching out his PhD on his new desk at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in a bit at The National Interest that is well worth you stopping by to read in full; A Conservative Defense Policy for 2014: Look to Eisenhower.

In my first run at Jerry's bit, I was a bit drawn off what I think are some unnecessary distractions. I think they are there because this probably should have been broken in to a few articles. Valid topics worthy of discussion, but perhaps best in a separate article. 

The first distraction was the opening partisanship vibe it gave off - right away it puts up walls to half your readers if they imply what follows is another (R)-bad (D)-not bad bit;
Recent discussions amongst Republicans regarding U.S. Defense force structure have revealed an ongoing disagreement between two camps within the party. Military Hawks, citing the recent disturbances in Ukraine and Iraq, have begun to beat the drum for more resources to be allocated for the Department of Defense to address threats that never really subsided. Fiscal Hawks, focused on budget deficits that stretch as far as the eye can see, continue to argue for DoD to continue to be part of a basket of cuts in entitlements and discretionary programs.
That is a good argument to have, but why limit a two-sided debate to one party? No reason to make this seem partisan to some readers, you have to draw in the inside argument for the other party - there is one if you look for it. In any event, Republicans only have one-half of Congress - they aren't even a majority decision maker. The Democrats hold most of the power levers, especially holding the Commander in Chief billet, that are the key in making any significant decisions in defense.

Maybe it is just me and my ongoing theme of the need to find and nurture a bi-partisan defense consensus. There is one, but we keep missing opportunities to feed it - I'm a little sensitive to the topic. 

Sure, there are extremes on defense in both parties that will never learn good sandbox skills for the benefit of all - but there is a large group from both sides of the aisle whose interests well overlap and are the key to finding the right answer to a very real challenge.

In his article, Jerry only brings up the Democrats directly in this context;
The Democrats need to come to the table to address the looming crises in Social Security and healthcare.
Yes, they do - but so do Republicans. By not at least addressing the internal debate in both parties on defense and entitlement spending, an opportunity is missed by putting Republican interest in defense and Democrat interest in domestic issues - the actual situation is much more nuanced. Lost opportunity and a distraction, but let's move on.

I would offer that this one aspect of the article should be set to the side whether you enjoy it or not, because Jerry is bringing up some reference points that are spot on and should be the part of all efforts to find the right solution;
It has not been so long since the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pronounced that our debt posed a grave threat to our national security at home and around the world.
we should not give way to election-year desires to spend more, ignoring the long-term implications of our debt.
In the end, a major inflationary pressure remains our addiction to exquisite platforms.
There he hits it. Regulars here and at Midrats know this is a topic that is absolutely critical. "Exquisite," "Tiffany," "Perfect vs. Good," "Transformational!," - the Biblical plagues we have suffered over the last couple of decades. Regardless of how we got here or who is at fault, it needs to be fixed now.

This is where my review of Jerry's article turns. He sets out an argument that is incomplete but central, and a valid starting point;
... the United States needs to maintain a military strong enough to deter the rise of competitors and preserve its ability to respond to crises around the world, the question that remains is: how large and how capable does our military have to be to accomplish these twin goals?
I don't think a strong military will deter the rise of competitors, just as Rome did not deter the Germanic tribes or the British Empire deterred Imperial Germany - but a military does need to be strong enough to decisively meet any challenge at war while being effective and affordable in peace, or at least a warm peace. (NB the word "strong" does not necessarily mean "big" - more on that in a bit).
Objective analysis suggests that a path exists that would allow cuts to the DoD budget and marginal growth in the force. Such a path is predicated on recognizing that our national fascination with high-tech weapons systems has led to a defense culture where the exquisite has become the enemy of the “good enough.”
There it is. That is the core; that is the question - that is the sexy bit.

Is that a path, or a destination - or both? How do you visualize the quandary that less can give you more, and that to meet a nation's national security requirements - more might actually be less?

Is it as simple as quality vs quantity? Platforms vs. payloads? Size vs nimbleness? Yes and no.

How do we boil that down? For me, I go back to my other calling; economics.

Economics is the perfect meeting place between the hard and soft sciences - the STEM and the philosopher. Yes, self-serving observation, but it is my blog, so roll with me a bit.

I will make an assumption - you all know what the Laffer Curve it. If not, read up and come back.

If you are looking for my takeaway visual for most of what Jerry is looking for and trying to explain - here you go. Let's call it the Salamander Curve. Ahem ... OK, the Salamander-Hendrix Curve ... ehhhh, alright then; Hendrix-Salamander Curve, whatever ...

Executive Summary: for every national security military requirement (X), there is a place where the maximum benefit is gained between cost, complexity, and utility. The challenge is to find that maximum benefit. On either side of that point, you are operating at a suboptimal level; either you are spending too much on too much complexity and producing a diminishing level of capability to the nation, or you are spending too little on obsolete or sub-optimal platforms to achieve what is required. Depending on where you are, you can spend more on more complex systems and personnel and gain additional national security benefit, or you can spend more and get less.

Jerry put it, perhaps, a bit more eloquently.
It is unwise to accept the false premise that we can only arrive at a larger force by spending more on the same types of platforms that we are already building. A conservative approach to the future must find the right balance between high-priced silver bullets that can only be purchased in small numbers and low technology assets that can be purchased in large quantities at low costs. ... The turning point on defense will occur when we recognize that spending less money does not have to equate to a smaller force. Wise leaders have a credible alternative in defense-force structure and should pursue it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster, USA Lays Down a Marker

I am sure everyone on the front porch is familiar with McMaster, so there is no need to review the source.

Before I put out the pull quotes to encourage you to read it all, you need to fully ponder where this was published:

What does that mean? Everything and nothing perhaps, but one thing it tells you is that McMaster is not being ignored. The Army wants you to read what he has to say.

I have my theories about what McMaster is doing here - I'll let you figure it out for your own. 
Americans and their leaders all too often wear rose-tinted glasses when it comes to assessing future warfare,
Too often, people think battles can be won through engineering and technological advances: cyber, advanced weapons systems, robotics and so on, ...
The truth is that while overmatch is important, people win wars,
Another myth about future conflicts, he said, is that America can choose whether or not to "RSVP." The U.S. can simply "opt out by saying 'thanks for your kind invitation, but we cannot attend your war.'"

The opt-out was used before Pearl Harbor, as well as before 9/11. "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you," McMaster said, citing Leon Trotsky.
As a side note - I have always loved that Trotsky quote. It should be carved in to every politician's office wall.
A final myth is that the U.S. can just advise and assist other armies and let them do the fighting. The problem with that myth, he said, is the other army might have a different agenda that's incongruent with U.S. interests. Besides that, the other military and government might be corrupt and not inspire loyalty from its people and soldiers. Furthermore, the military capabilities may be lacking.

All of these myths are attractive, but they are no substitute for boots on the ground, ...
The cynic might say he is just trying to justify protecting the Army in budgetary battles - but that is insulting to McMaster and small minded. His comments are firmly rooted in the historical record. There is something more substantial going on with his comments - and the below is as subtle as McMaster's dome.
The "zero dark-thirty" myth is another, he said. This idea uses systems theory to explain warfare as a series of linked nodes. The idea is to selectively take out nodes that are critical to the enemy's network.

In systems theory, the U.S. would simply conduct air strikes or a special operations raid of limited duration to disrupt the network, he said. The systems theory goes back to the Spanish-American War in 1898, when sea power was supposed to win the war, but it took boots on the ground, he said.

In 1940, there was an article in "Look" magazine touting the role of long-range bombers like the B-29s, which could win World War II, should America get into the fight, he said. Same thing happened in the early years of Vietnam, but the North couldn't be bombed into submission.
While the air, space, maritime and cyber domains are important, warfare is essentially a "contest of wills," ...
Hat tip SWJ.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Carrier as Capital Ship, with RADM Thomas Moore, USN, PEO CVN - on Midrats

In a time of budgetary pressure, a shrinking fleet, and an ongoing discussion of their relevance, how are we keeping out legacy Aircraft Carrier's in shape for the regular demands for extended deployments while at the same time bringing the new FORD Class CVN online?

What are some of the lessons we have learned in our decades of operating nuclear powered aircraft carriers that we are bring forward to serve the Fleet in the coming decades so we always have an answer to the question, "Where are the aircraft carriers?"

To discuss this and more, our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Rear Admiral Thomas J. Moore, USN, Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers and is responsible for life cycle management for In-Service Carriers as well as the design and construction of the Future Class Carriers.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fullbore Friday

On the day after 911 - there can be but one FbF. Again;
He was at his post on the 44th floor of World Trade Center Tower 1 on September 11, 2001, when a psychotic madman flew a passenger airliner into the building. When the Port Authority came over the loudspeaker in the building and ordered everyone inside to stay put, Rescorla muttered "Bugger that Blimy Poppycock" (or something equally British) under his breath, and flipped his brain right back into Commanding Officer mode. It wasn't his first time dealing with a terrorist attack on his place of employment – in 1993, when a truck bomb went off in the basement of the Tower, Rescorla had evacuated his offices, helping everyone out until he was the last man to leave the building – and he wasn't taking any chances this time either. He grabbed a bullhorn and personally ran up and down the 22 floors that encompassed Morgan Stanley Dean Witter headquarters, quickly and calmly getting everyone out of their cubes and down the stairs. Rushing up and down the building despite the fact that he was 62 years old and dying from terminal bone marrow cancer, Rescorla didn't even consider slowing down until all 2,700 of his co-workers were safely out of the burning building. When he saw how terrified the men and women he worked with were, he went back to his old standby of singing British folk songs to try and cheer them up.

He was last seen on the tenth floor of the World Trade Center, headed up. Of the 2,700 people he had been charged with protecting, all but 6 survived the terrorist attack.
That is only a sliver of the story of a man.

Why you may wonder, do I have as the image the cover of We Were Soldiers Once...and Young? Well ... take a few minutes to read the full story.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The quandary of history's natural vice ideal timeline

We often try to wish on ourselves the things we desire the most, as to imagine the opposite to be a possibility is simply too terrible to think of.

War is that way more often than not. We think that our technology and thinking is so much better than that of previous generations, that this time it will be different. We can prevent war, because no one really wants to go to war - but if we have to, it will be short and decisive - and riding on the wings of unicorns poop'n skittles, we will be victorious! 

History does not work that way. Everyone home for Christmas, indeed.

From a good example of the fruitful ponderings that are coming this year when thinking about WWI, over at the National Interest, Chris Dougherty sets out a marker that is both historically solid - and terrible to think of.
... (there is a) worrying similarity between 1914 and 2014: a failure to prepare for the possibility of protracted conflict based on the flawed belief that conventional war between great powers would be brief and decisive. In 1914, the failure to consider or prepare for a conflict that might last years rather than weeks made war more likely by creating the illusion that strategic goals could be achieved at minimal cost. Today, advances in technology have fostered a similar notion regarding conventional war between major powers. And yet militaries have a poor track record when it comes to predicting the character of future wars, particularly in times of rapid technological change. New military hardware may simply increase the destruction wrought by great-power war, much as it did in 1914, without making the conflict shorter or more decisive. Avoiding a similar catastrophe in the 21st century may therefore require deterring military adventurism by planning and preparing for protracted conflict.
Before World War I, military leaders and statesmen failed to comprehend how technological change had altered the conduct of war. A host of late 19th and early 20th century inventions, including smokeless powder, rapid-firing rifles, machine guns, breech-loading artillery with recoil compensation, reconnaissance aircraft, wireless communication, and barbed wire gave defenders an enormous advantage over attacking forces, yet every major power entered August 1914 with offensive strategies and military doctrines designed to achieve quick, decisive victories.

In hindsight this paradox seems obvious, but few contemporary military thinkers fully grasped how these new technologies would interact on the battlefield, largely because their use until 1914 was one-sided. During the wars German Unification, for example, early versions of some of these weapons were used by one belligerent or another, but not simultaneously by both sides.
That last part - let's bring that in to the now - even ignoring CBRN weapons so no one breaks in to a sweat or piddles themselves;

"A host of late 20th and early 21st century inventions, including long range cruise missiles, armed drones, electronic jamming, real-time ISR, precision weapons, body armor, man-portable anti-armor weapons, early versions of some of these weapons were used by one belligerent or another, but not simultaneously by both sides."

How comfortable are you with our war reserve - especially of ASW and ASUW weapons? Tell me if this hits a note;
U.S. defense spending is another telling indicator of this short-war mentality. Shortages of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) have slowed the pace of U.S. and allied operations in conflicts ranging from Kosovo in 1999 to Libya in 2011; yet PGM stocks remain insufficient to support high-intensity operations for any substantial length of time and there is virtually no slack capacity to increase production. Defense budgets are crafted through a complex bureaucratic and political process, so they do not always perfectly reflect strategic priorities. Nevertheless, the failure to address this persistent shortfall seemingly indicates a lack of planning and preparation for combat operations lasting longer than a few months. A similar situation occurred in 1914. All combatants, but particularly France and Great Britain, experienced shortages of artillery shells. This so-called “shell famine” occurred because military planners had not conceived of the possibility that the war would not be over by Christmas.
What happens when everyone has shot their bolt ... but the lines move nary an inch and national attitudes harden?
... trends suggest that protracted great-power war in the 21st century could be more probable than many strategists or policymakers presently believe. The current proliferation of PGMs and supporting capabilities such as unmanned aerial vehicles could create a firepower-dominant warfare regime similar to that of 1914. When used by both sides in a conflict, these may not enable rapid, decisive operations, but might instead create a massive no-man’s land where large numbers of aircraft, ships, and bases are damaged or destroyed to neither side’s lasting advantage. Even if this worst-case scenario does not come to pass, the qualitative and quantitative advantage the United States and its allies have enjoyed over their military rivals since the end of the Cold War is eroding. Given the narrowing of this gap and the possibility that current and emerging technologies may make operational stalemates more likely, planning and preparing for protracted conventional conflict would allow the United States to hedge against the unpredictability of war while also serving as a powerful deterrent against military adventurism.
Protracted war might also necessitate an ability to absorb attrition in personnel and major systems while maintaining combat effectiveness. This could, for example, push acquisition programs to place greater emphasis on quantity, as opposed to the present tendency to build small number of exquisite systems.
Solution? That is the opening to a "New Look" at how our defense should be postured.

To prevent war, one must prepare for war.
This shift would not be without costs or tradeoffs, but nor would it entail a massive military buildup or a fundamental reordering of American fiscal priorities. Stockpiling PGMs, for instance, would require an up-front investment, but their long-term operations and maintenance costs tend to be far lower than that of ships or aircraft. New technologies including additive manufacturing or “3-D printing” may enable industry to shift and scale production rapidly to meet wartime demand without maintaining inefficient unused capacity during peace. Investments in logistics capabilities such as Combat Logistics Force ships, while not “sexy” are typically quite cost-effective
While great-power war appears less likely in 2014 than it did in the years of perpetual crises that preceded World War I, it would be foolish to assume, as some do, that nuclear weapons or economic interconnectedness make such wars impossible. The United States appears to be entering an era in which its conventional military dominance may be increasingly challenged by a host of rivals such as China, Iran, and a resurgent Russia. Of these, China likely poses the greatest long-term threat, but even China’s stated preference is for short wars. None of these rivals, therefore, is likely to relish the prospect of a protracted conventional conflict with the United States and its allies. If the U.S. military, along with those of its allies and partners, could credibly demonstrate a willingness and ability to conduct protracted, high-intensity conventional combat operations, it would likely serve as a powerful deterrent against military adventurism. Rivals would be forced to weigh the potential gains of military aggression against the costs of a long, destructive conflict, with all its attendant risk of social, economic, and political upheaval. Ideally, this would convince potential adversaries to forego major acts of aggression or coercion. Should deterrence fail, however, the United States and its allies would be better prepared for the long and bloody struggle that might ensue.
Are we even thinking about how our Navy would fight a prolonged conflict? One of attrition on land and at sea? We don't have a mothball fleet anymore. Shipyards are scarce - more than that - do we have the intellectual capacity to think along the lines of those who came before? If so, how do we?

Along the vibe with the warning from FromRussiaWithBias;
... think the unthinkable.