Defense Issues

Military and general security

Notes on War

Posted by Picard578 on January 15, 2015

War is not a question of mathematics

While mathematic considerations such as numbers, range, firepower and armor are important, they are not the decisive factor. War in itself tends to be confusing, and especially in maneuver warfare, side that acts faster and more appropriately is more likely to win. For this reason, personal factors such as training, personal initiative, communications and situational awareness outweight arithmetical factors such as weapons quality (as commonly understood in numerical terms) and quantity by a large degree.

Training is by far the most important factor since it allows troops to quickly adapt and outmaneuver the enemy. Again, amount of training does not tell much if we don’t know how it is done. Advantage in training can easily neutralize disadvantages in technical and personal areas such as situational awareness or deficient weapons.

Personal initiative is important for several reasons. More responsibility deflected on upper echelons of military results in increased stress and propensity for mistakes in officers tasked with making a decision – and any single mistake (or incompetence of any single officer) has potential to have greater consequences. Greater centralization also slows down decision-making process, increasing OODA loop and thus making military vulnerable to fast action by a decisive opponent. Longer decision chain is also more vulnerable to being broken and command lost. Slow and cumbersome decision making process can easily neutralize and make irrelevant numerical and/or technological advantage (as clearly shown by performance of Allied forces in 1940).

Communications enable coordination, and a well coordinated group – of aircraft, tanks etc. – has fighting power that is far greater than sum of its parts. Uncoordinated group can be broken apart and destroyed piece at a time. This means that presence and quality of communications equipment is a more important factor in effectiveness of military units than typical firepower/speed/protection trio that most people focus on (even I am guilty of that since said triade is easier to evaluate).

Situational awareness is a must, as one cannot fight without knowing where the enemy is. Having advantage in situational awareness allows one to more or less dictate terms of the fight. That being said, if training and personal initiative are insufficient, then even a perfect situational awareness is worthless.

Some M1 Abrams tanks were knocked out by T-72 and Lion of Babel tanks during the Desert Storm, but number was not large since Iraqis used T-72 and LB tanks exclusively as a static artillery. T-72s and Lion of Babels found themselves knocked out by Bradleys firing 25 mm guns at the rear armor. In fact, they could have well been taken out by Panzer IIIs with 5 cm cannon (armor is 60 mm thick on side and is 45 mm thick on the rear – side has some inclination but rear has none; Panzer III could penetrate between 53 and 130 mm of RHA at 100 meters), had any been present.

Between tanks of WWII, Panthers routinely prevailed against ISIIs, despite latter being capable of penetrating Panther’s frontal armor at significantly greater range than Panthers could penetrate their. Heinz Guderian considered late Panzer IV and Panther models (especially the former) as being significantly superior to Tiger variants.

In 1940, German military crushed French military and BEF in three weeks, despite being outnumbered in most significant categories. They won because of superior training, organization, morale and personal initiative.

And on the air power side of things, after 1973 80-1 victory by Israelis flying F-4s and Mirages, general Mordecai Hod has stated that the outcome would have been same had both sides switched weapons. That statement was echoed in 1991 by the General Shwartzkopf, who said that the outcome of the Gulf War would have been the same if the US and Iraqi armies had exchanged weapons.

[Importance of training is, ironically enough, one of reasons why many people believe that “better” (as in: more expensive) weapons can be decisive: in most cases, a side that has enough money to waste on expensive weapons is also one that can provide people using said weapons with better training. As a result, side with more expensive weapons also tended to often perform better. This is irrelevant if huge maintenance requirements of more complex weapons prevent sufficient training to take place, but until recently that was not so much of an issue.]

 

Cost does not equal capability

Related to the above, most important factors in weapons design are usability, reliability and supportability. Designers have to consider not only weapon’s technical characteristics but also (and more importantly) its impact on user.

Easy-to-use weapon will cut the training time required to achieve a certain level of proficiency. It will also make it far easier to use under stress of combat. Functional design will be more intuitive, and will also typically be simpler, more reliable and easier to maintain since it will have only things required for the job and nothing more.

Reliability is important because weapon that has broken down is useless regardless of its paper characteristics. More reliable weapon will also make user more confident and thus more agressive, and also increases force presence.

Supportability includes logistical considerations. Complex weapon will need more maintenance, greater amount of spare parts, more complex maintenance equipment and typically greater and more vulnerable logistical tail. When it comes to vehicles, larger vehicles require more fuel and are typically harder to maintain.

Another important characteristic is survivability. More survivable vehicles will suffer less losses. However, survivability has to be considered against effectiveness – perfectly survivable tank or aircraft that is also perfectly useless makes no sense. Also, both strategic and tactical survivability has to be considered, as well as survivability in various situations.

[To give a few examples: While stealth aircraft are very survivable against X-band radar SAMs and AAA as well as radar-guided AAMs, they are not any more (and are typically less) survivable against VHF radar cued IR SAMs, IR MANPADS, optically aimed AAA and IRST-guided IR AAMs than non-stealth aircraft are. Since IR and optical weapons are far greater danger to modern aircraft than radar-guided weapons, as well as being more common and cheaper, radar stealth does not offer a noteworthy improvement in survivability (as proven by the F-117 suffering a greater per-sortie loss rate than either F-16 or the A-10 over its service life). Stealth aircraft also require easily-neutralized large air bases to function. Because of these considerations, JAS-39, Rafale and Su-27 are both far better fighter aircraft than the F-22, F-35 or maybe PAK FA, despite being far cheaper – they are easier to operate and maintain, more reliable, more supportable and more survivable on the ground. Any theoretical or actual advantages of the stealth aircraft pale in comparision to their disadvantages.].

Since both large size and complexity are (as seen above) negative characteristics in war, and since increases in both lead to increased cost, most expensive weapons are never the best ones – either individually (one or one) or collectively (in context of combined effect of all weapons systems deployed against the enemy). However, some minimum characteristics are always required for a weapon, and thus while best weapons tend to be on the lower side of the cost scale, they are rarely or never the cheapest ones. This applies equally to individual weapons (tactical effectiveness) and to their effect on large scale (strategic effectiveness).

 

Technological advantage does not necessarily translate into combat advantage (even if system is more capable in terms of what it can do)

Even if more complex and expensive weapons are more capable (an assumption that, despite regularly being taken for granted, is often not correct), that does not automatically translate into an advantage in combat. Training and organization trump individual weapons’ effectiveness, and hard-to-use weapon may never be utilized to its full effect (ref. Su-27, MiG-29). While 9 mm or 11 mm rifle might have far greater ballistic range than 5,56 or 7,62 mm assault rifle, far greater recoil makes these calibres useless in burst or automatic fire mode; between assault rifles, a four-fold reduction in recoil makes 5,56 mm a better choice for general infantry usage. It is easier to train pilots to operate a simpler weapon – as shown in the AIMVAL/ACEVAL tests between F-5s and F-15s, pilots replaced in the F-5s were up to full proficiency in 2-3 weeks, while the F-15 pilots were still learning after 3 months, and low operating costs and easy maintenance mean that pilots can fly more often; since training is more important than technological factors, cheaper aircraft are typically a better choice. Even if that factor is ignored, purpose-built single-role weapons will typically be both cheaper and more effective at their designed mission than their “multirole” counterparts – F-35, no matter how many sensors it carries, cannot replace the rugged, simple A-10 in latter’s designed mission. Widely diverging requirements for multirole aircraft can also end up in them becoming effectively single-role (F-111 which became a bomber, F-35 which is a stealth strike aircraft). A-10s are the only CAS-capable aircraft in the NATO inventory, and are supremely effective: in one case, a 30-man US-Afghan team (4 US Spec Ops soldiers and 36 Afghan National Army troops) prevailed against an 800-strong Taliban force with help of two A-10s; no other US aircraft could achieve that (earlier, a single B-1 tried to help, completely unsuccessfully). A-10s 30 mm cannon was proven to be the only weapon usable in such circumstances, and during later 2003 Iraqi War, A-10 was the only US aircraft that regularly performed gun strafing passes.

Combat effectiveness must be derived from combat evidence. Bolt-action sniper rifles might, based on statistics alone, be considered far more effective than assault rifles as they can kill a person with single shot at 500-2.000 meters, while assault rifles have an effective range of 200-500 meters. But real infantry combat typically occurs at less than 100 meters, and never involves single shots or single shooters.

In aerial combat, radar-guided BVR missiles have aerodynamic ranges of between 100 and 400 kilometers at high altitude. They are rendered useless, however, by the fact that even modern IRST can only identify targets at up to 40 kilometers. NCTR has lower ID range than the IRST, and visual identification is only possible at 400-800 meters. Further, if target turns away, effective range drops to 1/4 of stated range, and to 1/5 at the low altitude, and it is further halved if target is maneuvering (so BVR missile range against a retreating target equipped with MAWS is 2,5-10 km at low and 12,5-50 km at high altitude). This by itself means that theoretical advantage of heavy and expensive “stealth” aircraft is nonexistent in practice, since IRST detection range is between 50 and 150 km.

 

Weapons’ importance is unrelated to their cost

Most important weapons for winning the wars are assault rifles, even though they don’t attract anywhere as much attention as multi-million or multi-billion USD tanks, aircraft and ships. This has shown itself in World War I, where US troops utilized semi-automatic M1 Garand to gain advantage over the German infantry predominantly equipped with bolt-action Kar98 (neither the semi-automatic Gew43 or the MP44 assault rifle were produced in sufficient numbers), despite latter having large numbers of probably world’s best machine guns in form of the MG34 and MG42.

Early during Vietnam war, Viet Cong and NVA infantry equipped with AK-47 had a significant exchange ratio advantage over the M14-equipped US infantry despite huge US advantages in radios, vehicles, artillery and air power. As a result, General Westmoreland demanded that the far more effective, and far cheaper, AR-15 (then used to great effect by US Special Operations units) replaces the M14. US Army bureocracy objected, and turned the AR-15 into the heavier, more complex and less effective M16 – which they then proceeded to deliberately furnish with powder that made it jam in combat, and also made sure that no cleaning kits were issued along with the rifles.

250 USD walkie-talkies are far more important for success of infantry operations – especially in modern urban enviroments – than 15 billion USD JTRS do-it-all-do-it-nothing command and control radio network. Technological development in that area also creates a tendency towards greater centralization in a decision-making process. This automatically, and no matter how “capable” system is, reduces combat effectiveness of military in question. Similarly, being capable of collecting huge amounts of data through satellite surveillance, SIGINT, reconnaissance aircraft etc. is useless if that data cannot be processed and sent to end users in short enough time. Small hand-launched 35.000 USD recon UAVs are far more important in war than the 130 million USD Global Hawk, despite latter receiving a far greater share of media attention.

During World Wars I and II, cheap submarines produced by Germany have rendered expensive battleships and fleet carriers of the Royal Navy useless. They were countered by just as cheap escort destroyers and comparably cheap escort carriers. In World War I, 28 submarines was enough to deny control of the sea to the Royal Navy’s 47 battleships, 195 cruisers and 200 destroyers. In the Gulf War, obsession with 3 billion USD carriers and 1 billion USD destroyers caused lack of sufficient numbers of 175 million USD minesweepers – which then prevented General Shwartzkopf from launching a planned amphibious assault.

200 million USD F-35, 270 million USD F-22 and 2 billion USD B-2 are all supremely useless in kinds of wars that US currently fight – but due to USAF bureocratic infatuation with high-cost systems, there simply aren’t enough 20 million USD A-10s to go around.

 

Test results are useless for judging weapon’s capability

As much as testers try, they can never simulate real conditions on the battlefield, and their impact on both weapon itself and the user. Wartime maintenance is also far harder than peacetime one, and will affect reliability of both aircraft and missiles. Further, today’s Western militaries are more concerned with keeping the money flowing than with how effective their weapons are – as shown in tests between the F-22 and F-15 which falsely assumed radar-guided BVR missile Pk of 0,65, and the Anatolian Flag exercises which assumed radar-guided BVR missile Pk of 0,9; all of it despite the fact that such Pk values were never achieved in the war (Pk achieved was 0,34 in the Desert Storm and 0,46 in Balkans, against nonmaneuvering targets with no countermeasures, and typically from visual range).

Research and development tests are similarly useless – they are controlled by the development agency which has a vested interest in showing its weapons as being far more effective than they really are. AIM-7 R&D tests were done exclusively against non-maneuvering drones with artificially strenghtened radar returns, and achieved 80% to 90% kill rates. Operational tests were against standard drones (no RCS strenghtening) that also typically didn’t maneuver, and resulted in 50% to 60% kill rate. In combat, successive AIM-7 models never achieved more than 8 to 10% kill rate. Today’s tests are no better, and they’ve grown worse since Joint Chiefs of Staff have become more strongy involved. Even if they were, they would not be representative – while in tests, pilot may well take his sweet time to achieve a perfect firing position in regards to weapon’s employment envelope, and there will be few to no distractions or adverse conditions (air-to-air missiles are for example typically tested in desert under clear-sky conditions), in war weapons will often be used under less than ideal conditions with pilot being under considerable stress. During Gulf War, Patriot missile defense system proved nearly useless against Iraqi Scud rocket (a low-quality copy of World War II V2 rocket), destroying between 0 and 4 of the 158 incoming Scuds, despite 3 Patriots being (on average) fired against a single rocket (a Pk of between 0% and 0,84%; compare to 0,36% Pk of Serb SAMs against US aircraft during Kosovo war).

 

Knowing military history is the only way to understand war

Details change, essence stays the same. Same principles that have held true in times of Caesar, Diocletian, Belisarius, Basil II, Napoleon or Clausewitz still hold true today. Of course, application of these principles differs due to different socioeconomic circumstances and technology, but technology has never – despite numerous declarations to the contrary – managed to change basic principles of war. And as limited as it may be, impact of new technologies on conduct of war should be understood – which can only be done by comparing it to impact of corresponding older technologies (such as WWII era and later tanks combining movement speed and shock effect of cavalry with destructive effect of direct-fire artillery – a fact that Guderian was quick to recognize and exploit over the objections of entire OKH – Army High Command – and OKW – Wehrmacht High Command – who saw tanks just like everyone else did at the time: fire support for infantry, while continuing to see cavalry as the most important military branch, despite same proving nearly useless in World War II).
For this reason, military history has to be studied and understood. Timescale for study of it differs – if one is interested in aerial warfare then there is no need to go beyond World War II, or World War I at most; for ground and naval warfare, latest point to start study at would be Napoleonic Wars, with earliest point being Greco-Persian wars.

If one does not understand way infantry rifles have been used in World War II and later wars, he will be at loss to explain reduction in said rifles’ effective range at expense of increased rate of fire. But in reality, infantry combat typically occurs at ranges of less than 100 meters, and never involves single shooters. Most ammunition is spent not on killing enemy troops, but on supressing them to enable decisive maneuver, which requires ability to get off a large number of shots nearly instantly.

R&D test results or weapons technology sagas do not tell how weapons are used; only combat histories do that.

 

Wars are fought for money

Regardless of the casus belli, all wars in history started because someone was posed to profit from them. War on Terror helped US armaments industry avoid major spending cuts. Everyone involved in Crusades amassed enormous profits – except Crusaders themselves (exception to this were some nobles which carved out de-facto kingdoms in the Holy Land). Ottoman expansion was fuelled by the fact that the Empire was based around conquest economy – once it stopped expanding, it collapsed from within.

 

War cannot be truly won

Entering the war means a failure of policy. While sometimes unavoidable, it is never a good thing. Regardless of the outcome of the war, both sides will have experienced human, financial and moral losses and will be worse off than when they started it. Question is thus not which side wins in a war, but which one loses less.

While armaments industry always reaps huge profit from war, that by itself is damaging to its parent society, which becomes more vulnerable to manipulation by the military-industrial-entertainment complex (case in point: United States).

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52 Responses to “Notes on War”

  1. Duviel Rodriguez said

    Great job!

    I think I like your philosophy better than your tactical X and O’s. Although both are good.

    I dont disagree that training and experience (at all levels) is above all else. I would caution that better (that many times means high tech) weapons are important. And, sometimes it takes added funding to develop said weapons.

    Thats just playing devils advocate. I really have a hard time disagreeing with your thesis.

    This would be good reading at our (speaking as an American) military academies.

    • picard578 said

      “that many times means high tech”

      Yeah, but even “higher tech” does not necessarily mean “more complex” or “more expensive”, though it is often the case. For example, modern IRSTs are cheaper than even some early air-to-air radars, and same goes for IR vs RF BVR missiles.

      • Chris said

        It’s complicated.

        The transition from piston to jet based fighter aircraft for example, invariably made the costs of air superiority fighters much higher. I suppose though that a case could be made that a turboprop CAS aircraft could be built – and arguably a strong one even.

        On the other hand, advancements in manufacturing often lead to incrementally cheaper and more reliable equipment as well.

        • picard578 said

          True. In fact, I have noticed that new technology very rarely replaces the old technology. It does supplement it, it might even supplant it, but old technology still retains some use in its own niche, even if it is limited (for example, an assault rifle + bayonett = short spear, and bayonett charges can be hugely effective; even though WVR IR missiles are the main weapon of modern fighter aircraft, and IR BVR missiles might become that in a future, gun will always remain useful for air policing duties and ground attack, as well as an emergency fallback option).

        • Duviel Rodriguez said

          I think the problem is not if high-tech is useful or not. The problem is defense companies are focused on technologies that will make them bundles of $$ and not so much on tech that is most militarily effective.

          Complex is key word becuase, even if it is a good weapon/tool, if it is too complex it makes it unusable by the troops and harder to maintain in use during tough times.

          Problem is with procurement people in the Pentagon and Congress (American perspective) getting bought by industry and supporting weapons that are the most expensive not necessarily the best.

          There will be times when the best is crazy expensive and having unlimited funds is useful (militarily not economically/domestically).

          technologies that solve military problems and give new much needed capabilities will always win wars it just has to be done right.

          As I said, the problem is with procurement people in the Pentagon and Congress.

        • picard578 said

          “Complex is key word becuase, even if it is a good weapon/tool, if it is too complex it makes it unusable by the troops and harder to maintain in use during tough times. ”

          That is true. Plus, many people believe that more complex weapon is necessarily “better” than a less complex one. But that is not really so. For example, laser rangefinders on tanks would be useless in Europe since combat in European terrain would be at less than 1.000 meters and winner would be the one which shot first, which would lead to everyone using optical targeting. On the other hand, in Iraqi desert a good laser rangefinder can be a decisive advantage. Similarly, ATGMs have longer engagement range and are somewhat better against tanks than recoilless rifles, but recoilless rifles are far more versatile than ATGMs, require less people per weapon, and do not expose operaters anywhere as much during use.

          “As I said, the problem is with procurement people in the Pentagon and Congress.”

          Problem is the system that encourages wasteful spending. When US were preparing for the WWII, procurement waste was frightening, and it was never really stamped out despite all efforts. And once imperative of winning the world war went away… well.

      • Andrei said


        The transition from piston to jet based fighter aircraft for example, invariably made the costs of air superiority fighters much higher. I suppose though that a case could be made that a turboprop CAS aircraft could be built – and arguably a strong one even.

        Actually this is a very good case study for how higher tech dose not equal higher complexity. Early jet engines were far less complex then piston engines consequently early jet-fighters like F-86 and MiG-15 were far less complex then P-51 and Yak-9. The higher cost of the engines came from the higher cost of materials needed.

        “I think the problem is not if high-tech is useful or not. The problem is defense companies are focused on technologies that will make them bundles of $$ and not so much on tech that is most militarily effective. ”

        I think the problem is not with companies focusing on technologies but on the size and number of those companies. During WWII and the Cold War there were dozens of small companies competing for DoD money. This had two effects: first of all the companies being smaller meant that they required less money for upkeep and thus could handle cheaper projects. Second of all the number of competitors being high forced companies to develop more higher-tech, to impress DoD, for less money, because they were not sure if they won the project and thus needed to save money.
        Now, post Cold-War there are about half dozen Defense Contractors remaining in the US. All of them are huge companies.Thus they require huge projects just to pay the utilities bills. Thus Pentagon can not request small cheap projects because nobody in the US will bid. Second of all these companies most of the time aren’t even in competition, they are basically monopolies. Lockheed Martin has a monopoly on fighters, Boeing has a monopoly now on carrier planes and drones, General Dynamics pulled out of the aerospace sector and has monopoly on naval and land systems. Northrop-Grumman has smaller monopolies across all branches etc. Thus because they are monopolies they can ask no matter how much money and stil get paid, there is not other alternative for the product they offer unless the US gets past it’s NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome.

        • Duviel Rodriguez said

          I mostly agree Andrei. But, you are mostly saying what I said but in a different way.

          The defense industry and defense aquisition in the pentagon are broken systems costing the tax payers way too much.

          The U.S. has 6x the defense budget of France and Great Britain combined.

          We don’t need that large a budget to defend ourselves. And even if you think we do, we are not getting our money’s worth.

          Larger Military Expenditures = More desire to use the expensive toys= more war= More young man walking along (if they can walk) without limbs, and children without dad’s and also more costs to tax payers.

          No war since WWII has been fought for benefit of mass society. Every war since has benefited large corporations and investors in Defense, Oil, etc. Not the regular citizen.

          One of the few things a like about Obama (not to say I like the GOP’s any better) is that he has tried to keep us out of wars.

      • altandmain said

        Chris here, typing on my phone so I hope that this is not full of typos.

        The distinct problem I think is that the defense industry has become an end into itself. Enriching the industry has become it’s goal. I think that the reason why many Americans proudly support (and I will argue blindly) is because they remember the end of WWII. Unlike Europe, which was devastated by war, thr US emerged prosperous. Perhaps many Americans attribute that to the military spending that got them out of the Depression rather than everything else.

        There also seems to be this blind militarism that has affected American society. This is quite curious considering America’s Founding Fathers were often distrustful of excessive militarism. It has become a matter of patriotism to support the weapons and the wars, no matter how contradictory. To that end, the public in the US has become the gullible victims of the defense industry.

        Yet if you were to look at the statistics for things like quality of life, the US fares very poorly compared to the Western European nations, East Asia, Australia, or Canada where I live. Infrastructure too in the US seems to be aging and decaying. These problems affect everywhere of course, but compared to the rest of the Western nations, they seem to be more serious for the US.

        The rise of neoliberalism certainly deserves much of the blame. But I suspect that another part of it is the excessive military spending. The concept of opportunity costs surely come to play here. The War on Terror is for example estimated to cost over $4 trillion 2014 USD, ppossibly more with debt considered.

        Most ironically of all this has not bought better defense. In theory more money means many times more companies could survive… And statistically one would be able to develop a truly memorable innovation. The opposite has hhappened. Fewer companies, less capabilities.

        A total lose lose lose situation save for the industry itself.

      • Andrei said

        “We don’t need that large a budget to defend ourselves. And even if you think we do, we are not getting our money’s worth. ”

        I wasn’t defending the size of the defense budget, on the contrary. I was only saying that the broken defense acquisition in the Pentagon is the effect of a cause that goes back to the 1950s, when defense contractors were encouraged to consolidated and fuse to become huge corporations. This was to maintain the huge industrial base build for war during WWII in the relative peace of the Cold War. The only one who foresaw problems with this was Eisenhower who in his farewell speech tried to warn of the dangers of term Military-Industrial-Complex.
        In my opinion the industrial capacity to build complex and costly weapon systems should not be private it should be nationalized just like it was before WWII in most European countries and I think even in the US (when government was the only one that had the huge shipyards needed for capital ships, the most costly weapons systems of the day, private enterprises could build only cheap weapon systems like aircraft, vehicles, submarines and such). The design should be kept private by maintaining design offices which compete for projects but that’s all. The industrial capacity should be all in the hands of government. In this way government pays private entities only for intellectual rights not also for workers, factories etc. And also it dose not maintain 3 or 4 times the needed industrial capacity only to have 3 or 4 designers available the way it dose now. For example for aircraft design, to maintain the design offices of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman the government has to pay also for their associated factories and industrial capacity. The industrial capacity of only one of these three is enough for what the US needs in aircraft production but it has to maintain all 3 just for the design capacity.

        • Duviel Rodriguez said

          I am sorry I was writing generally not just responding to you Anrei. I mostly agree. It would have to be done carefully to ensure that it does not become a beuracracy. I like keeping the design (engineering ,scientific) aspect private as profit and personal gain drive innovation and quality. As well as attracts minds from all over the world.

          The problem with firms like Lockheed-Martin is not lack of best minds its the leadership that guides it.

  2. Henrik said

    A very interesting read. Cant disagree with anything here really. Cheers

  3. Chris said

    All of this is heavily dependent I suppose on one thing – a culture that really wants to improve itself. Perhaps its inevitable to an extent that bureaucracies will organize themselves in a way that discourages innovation.

    Perhaps the most dangerous thing of all is that many humans have abandoned the concept of a scientific method. Facts and logic no longer dictate policy. When one abandons reason, then chaos reigns and ideology can be used to justify anything.

    • picard578 said

      Most humans have never embraced the concept of a scientific method in the first place (including many scientists). And even when they do, one can’t know everything. Lack of data leads to assumptions, which leads to mistakes. But today policy makers don’t even try to think, they do what capitalists tell them to, and capitalists only care about profit.

      • Chris said

        Perhaps so.

        The issue is that most are in it for themselves. Politicians too try to rationalize it. I suspect they are good communicators, but that their ruthlessness has often allowed them to advance. That’s true at least for an alarmingly high number of political leaders.

  4. Chris said

    I think that the correct answer on testing is – it’s complicated.

    With realistic tests, I think that the Pk of the preferred weapons systems would approach that of wars. They would have to be:

    1. Against maneuvering targets
    2. Not always ideal weather
    3. Deliberately not ideal positions to shoot
    4. Weapon is subject to harsh treatment that it would be in war

    The end result would be much more realistic and it would also be the end of many weapons.

    The real question too is, is the capability relevant.

    – An example of something that is always relevant is the maintenance to usage ratio. No matter what weapon, that will be relevant.
    – In fact, all reliability is relevant. Guns for example can jam or malfunction – the probability of that happening is important, as is the ability of the gun to withstand harsh elements

    The big issue is a list of relevant capabilities I think.

  5. Duviel Rodriguez said

    When one abandons reason, then chaos reigns and ideology can be used to justify anything. well said Chris.

    I am happy to read this in a defense blog. There are others out there that beleive this but we need more.

    Like Picard said “only people without an opinion are those who are not thinking”.

    We need more thinkers.

  6. Some M1 Abrams tanks were knocked out by T-72 and Lion of Babel tanks during the Desert Storm.
    Only one. And it was subsequently returned to service.

    A-10s 30 mm cannon was proven to be the only weapon usable in such circumstances, and during later 2003 Iraqi War, A-10 was the only US aircraft that regularly performed gun strafing passes.
    How many Stingers/Strelas/Iglas (with trained operators) did the opposition field in either theatre?

    If on the other hand, we’re discussing low threat COIN scenarios, a more cost effective alternative to the A-10 is the MQ-9. An A-10 can get on scene faster, but with an endurance of 14 hours, the AF can have a MQ-9 on continuous patrol, it’ll provide over-watch to the troops on ground longer, and loaded with upto 14 Hellfires, bring more than enough firepower to the battle.

    NCTR has lower ID range than the IRST, and visual identification is only possible at 400-800 meters.
    Reference please.

    This by itself means that theoretical advantage of heavy and expensive “stealth” aircraft is nonexistent in practice, since IRST detection range is between 50 and 150 km.
    Skepticism is fine when you address issues of stealth, radar range, missile range. But why not hold claims by IRST manufacturers to the same high standard?

    • picard578 said

      “How many Stingers/Strelas/Iglas (with trained operators) did the opposition field in either theatre? ”

      Iraq had 3.000 short-range SAMs (MANPADS) during the Desert Storm. How many were deployed, I don’t know, but number was certainly significant.

      “If on the other hand, we’re discussing low threat COIN scenarios, a more cost effective alternative to the A-10 is the MQ-9”

      Yes, for blowing up funerals. But it blows up itself if the enemy as much as coughs in its direction, and ISIL for example does have air defense systems. High altitude aircraft are only good against static targets, or against large mobile targets in good weather.

      “Reference please. ”

      IRST ID range is some 40 km for PIRATE – you have a link with reference on my site (technology > PIRATE IRST). As for NCTR, take a look at how “good” is image of a Boeing 747 at mere 13,5 km:
      http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?rep=rep1&type=pdf&doi=10.1.1.214.8015

      If you combine that with dwell time and gradual aspect shift required, it means that the only militarily useful NCTR method is recognition via engine fan and turbine blade return, which is useless against majority of modern fighter aircraft since attacking aircraft will fly head-on, and most modern designs hide engine face rather well from that aspect.

      “But why not hold claims by IRST manufacturers to the same high standard?”

      And I do. Under “IRST” here I meant PIRATE IRST, which has stated range of 90 km against subsonic fighter-sized aircraft from frontal aspect and 145 km from rear aspect. This however is most likely at high altitude (where atmosphere is rare, there are almost no clouds and temperature is very low). At lower altitudes, it will be reduced, which is why I used 50 km as a lower limit.

      But IRST is not as unrealistically hyped as more profitable radar and radar stealth technologies, and you will notice that “high altitude” is precisely where modern fighter aircraft are meant to operate.

      • Iraq had 3.000 short-range SAMs (MANPADS) during the Desert Storm. How many were deployed, I don’t know, but number was certainly significant.

        Link please. (SR-SAM is not the same as MANPAD.)
        ____________________

        Yes, for blowing up funerals. But it blows up itself if the enemy as much as coughs in its direction, and ISIL for example does have air defense systems. High altitude aircraft are only good against static targets, or against large mobile targets in good weather.

        – The MQ-9 can comfortably operate out of the range of every air defence system ISIL can scrounge up. Not that they’d be able to take a shot anyway since most of their air defences are likely visually cued. And a Reaper-sized aircraft remains a hard target to acquire both visually and in the IR spectrum.

        – And it can hit every target that an A-10 can.
        ____________________

        IRST ID range is some 40 km for PIRATE – you have a link with reference on my site (technology > PIRATE IRST). As for NCTR, take a look at how “good” is image of a Boeing 747 at mere 13,5 km:

        http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?rep=rep1&type=pdf&doi=10.1.1.214.8015

        – I was referring just to the NCTR, but for the record your article has only one reference and that links to an article on the website of an AF that does not operate the PIRATE system.

        – The NCTR chart is utterly and completely meaningless. Its says absolutely nothing about the nature and power of the radar involved or on the NCTR at range. It even says nothing about the max range at which an NCTR operation against a 747 can be successfully carried out
        ____________________.

        If you combine that with dwell time and gradual aspect shift required, it means that the only militarily useful NCTR method is recognition via engine fan and turbine blade return, which is useless against majority of modern fighter aircraft since attacking aircraft will fly head-on, and most modern designs hide engine face rather well from that aspect.

        – It doesn’t mean anything of the sort. Otherwise modern radars wouldn’t have been able to carry out high resolution SAR and ISAR mapping; modes that can be ‘focused’ for long range low volume operation.
        ____________________

        And I do. Under “IRST” here I meant PIRATE IRST, which has stated range of 90 km against subsonic fighter-sized aircraft from frontal aspect and 145 km from rear aspect. This however is most likely at high altitude (where atmosphere is rare, there are almost no clouds and temperature is very low). At lower altitudes, it will be reduced, which is why I used 50 km as a lower limit.

        – You’ve posted no reference yet for your claim about a 90 km detection range against subsonic head-on targets.

        – Lower limit will be weather influenced and therefore far lower than 50 km.
        ____________________

        But IRST is not as unrealistically hyped as more profitable radar and radar stealth technologies, and you will notice that “high altitude” is precisely where modern fighter aircraft are meant to operate.

        – You think Thales pulled a fast one on the French MoD by getting the OSF omitted from the F3 configuration with the French Air Force & Navy being none the wiser? Blaming it on unethical corporations is a cop-out. The producers of IRSTs have every incentive to try an sell their products to the customer for everything its worth.

        – The operators in turn don’t depend on publicly available brochures to know the operational worth of a sensor. If they see both as having value they’ll be aiming to buy both. If funding is an issue, the system with the greater operational utility will receive priority.

        – Also, IRST companies in the US (LM) & Russia (FSUE) don’t manufacture ‘competing’ radars. Nor does Thales UK for that matter (owns stake in PIRATE production). They have absolutely no incentive to downplay their products.

        • picard578 said

          “- The MQ-9 can comfortably operate out of the range of every air defence system ISIL can scrounge up. ”

          Which is irrelevant as it will have little military effect.

          “- And it can hit every target that an A-10 can.”

          Nope. It can hit buildings and MAYBE some vehicles, but it cannot provide close air support to troops engaged in combat with the enemy.

          “- The NCTR chart is utterly and completely meaningless. ”

          It shows that NCTR can not achieve same resolution, and thus same ID range, as IRST can.

          “Otherwise modern radars wouldn’t have been able to carry out high resolution SAR and ISAR mapping”

          For your information, buildings and hills do not maneuver at Mach 0,9-1,5 and do not have ECM.

          “You’ve posted no reference yet for your claim about a 90 km detection range against subsonic head-on targets. ”

          RAND study, I provided link in another reply.

          “Lower limit will be weather influenced and therefore far lower than 50 km. ”

          Weather influence at 30.000-60.000 ft is basically none.

          “You think Thales pulled a fast one on the French MoD by getting the OSF omitted from the F3 configuration with the French Air Force & Navy being none the wiser?”

          OSF was omitted due to technological obscolence, and will be deployed when new version is developed.

      • Xplane said

        “…getting the OSF omitted from the F3 configuration…”

        – Link please.

      • picard578 said

        “- The MQ-9 can comfortably operate out of the range of every air defence system ISIL can scrounge up. ”

        Which is irrelevant as it will have little military effect.

        “- And it can hit every target that an A-10 can.”

        Nope. It can hit buildings and MAYBE some vehicles, but it cannot provide close air support to troops engaged in combat with the enemy.

        “- The NCTR chart is utterly and completely meaningless. ”

        It shows that NCTR can not achieve same resolution, and thus same ID range, as IRST can.

        “Otherwise modern radars wouldn’t have been able to carry out high resolution SAR and ISAR mapping”

        For your information, buildings and hills do not maneuver at Mach 0,9-1,5 and do not have ECM.

        “You’ve posted no reference yet for your claim about a 90 km detection range against subsonic head-on targets. ”

        RAND study.
        http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/files/2008_RAND_Pacific_View_Air_Combat_Briefing.pdf

        “Lower limit will be weather influenced and therefore far lower than 50 km. ”

        Weather influence at 30.000-60.000 ft is basically none.

        “You think Thales pulled a fast one on the French MoD by getting the OSF omitted from the F3 configuration with the French Air Force & Navy being none the wiser?”

        OSF was omitted due to technological obscolence, and will be deployed when new version is developed.

      • Xplane said

        Ok, I feel there is a need of explaination here
        .
        OSF (Optronique Secteur Frontal) is the name for the whole module of passive sensors placed in front of the cockpit. Since the standard F3-O4T (2013) it is in version OSF-IT. The IR sensor is now replaced by a multispectral TV sensor which improves the range of detection while IRST (which has always been there since Rafale F2) is now provided by DDM NG and SPECTRA’s data fusion.

        The OSF is not and has never been ommitted, it did not disappear, it just changed. All Rafale will be gradually carried in the standard F3-O4T. There is a very good site her but it is in French.:
        http://rafalefan.e-monsite.com/pages/dossier-rafale-avionique/

      • Andrei said

        “The IR sensor is now replaced by a multispectral TV sensor which improves the range of detection while IRST (which has always been there since Rafale F2) is now provided by DDM NG and SPECTRA’s data fusion.”

        So what you are saying is that what they did was basically to extend the range of wavelengths of the IRST into the visual and probably the UV range, transforming it from an Infrared Search and Track into a Optical Search and Track (OST) and also give this OST an spherical coverage at least in the Infrared Range. This coupled with the RWR, EW and ESM measure more commonly found on dedicated EW-platform such as EF-18G, gives the Rafale spherical passive detection over most of the EM spectrum. Aren’t this Frenches smart. 😀 They did what Lockheed Martin brags of doing with the F-35s EOTS and DAS and RWR, only cheaper, sooner and better (more wavelengths covered).

      • Xplane said

        I have, obviously, no technical detail on the wavelengths of the various sensors.
        Now, it is especially necessary to retain that the DGA (head office of the Armament) and the various implied industrialists do not fall asleep on their experiences. Billions of euros are regularly invested in the improvement of this plane through pure research projects and application of succesfull ended studies. 2018 is the next big step (not so far), the available datas are: generalized use of gallium nitride for electronics, conformal (or skin, i don’t know the right translation) AESA antennas and extension of the compatibility with various international and French weapons. As regards F-35, being, as everybody incapable to reach precise values, I can make no comparison.

    • Chris said

      Well considering they have MANPAD-like weapons, we can safety say against ISIS:

      1. Drones will likely prove very vulnerable to being shot down
      2. Attack helicopters are out of the question

      A CAS aircraft, although not invulnerable to Stingers (I think a couple were shot down even with them) is far more likely to survive.

      • Duviel Rodriguez said

        I like the gun on the A-10 and the loiter time, and the pilot protection, and the ability to go low and slow to provide CAS. It is a simple straight forward design and It does have flares and chaff and the engines position is good for providing low IR signature from ground. But, realistically A-10 is only survivable against low capability apponents. Against a moderately capable oponent A-10 would get shot down at a high rate. Same goes for Gunships, AT-6, etc. These are COIN specific platforms (COIN like missions are likely to be most common missions in near future and probably long-term too) but they can not fill the role of a high speed, highly maneuverable strike fighter that can fire GPS guided munitions from high-up and at high speeds. Or can fly low and really fast.

        The next wave of drones will not all be slow moving unmaneuverable predators but instead probably very fast and with high-G capability.

        The debate is what is better, thousands of cheap low capability drones that can be built quickly or hundreds of high capability highly survivable drones but more expensive, complex and harder to build and maintain quickly.

        I beleive the answer is a little bit of both.

      • Well considering they have MANPAD-like weapons, we can safety say against ISIS:

        1. Drones will likely prove very vulnerable to being shot down
        2. Attack helicopters are out of the question

        A CAS aircraft, although not invulnerable to Stingers (I think a couple were shot down even with them) is far more likely to survive.

        – The MQ-9 has a flight ceiling of 50,000 ft. Unless ISIS gets its hands on a Buk system, the Reaper can operate safely even at cruising altitude.

        – Of nine A-10s in the Gulf War that were hit by IR-SAMs, six were lost and another cannibalized. Only two returned to service. (Links on ‘Comparing Stealth Fighters’ comment section/thread.)

        – MANPADs typically have smaller warheads but will knock out the aircraft for the duration of the campaign, with ‘good’ hits being potentially lethal.

  7. Chris said

    Perhaps what we need is a set of criteria, measurements for what makes a good weapon?

    – Reliability under war – war generally tends to be much harsher on weapons and systems than peacetime designers often anticipate
    – Easy to maintain – an example being a fighter with acceptable off road ability – that needs a logistics track that can support that, along with parts that can be interchanged by relatively untrained people
    – Good price:performance ratio – any weapons systems that cost more have to justify their costs

    Other national priorities may take over.

    I am of the belief that heavy tanks for example, although expensive, do at times have their uses on the field. What I do not believe is the mentality that all tanks should be heavy tanks, which seems to have happened.

    The bigger problem to weapons is not so much the weapons themselves, but the organizational culture that spawned them. There is a belief of “firepower is king” or “technology is king” and that tends to drive doctrine. In turn, that drives how the weapons are used.

    An example of misuse: Drones against civilians. I suspect that a very high proportion of the so called insurgents in places like Iraq are often either directly or indirectly the victims of indiscriminate use of firepower. Apparently they need to kill 28 civilians on average to get 1 confirmed kill of the intended target.
    http://www.reprieve.org/us-drone-strikes-kill-28-unknown-people-for-every-intended-target-new-reprieve-report-reveals.html

    But it’s not the drones themselves that are the problem – it’s the culture that led to the belief that drones should be used in this manner.

    • Duviel Rodriguez said

      Reliability under war and Easy to maintain are a good start.

      Considering the aerospace industries propencity for more complexity and higher cost this will prove difficult. The Whitehouse and Congress (at least majority) would have to make it a priority and not allow industry to “convince” them.

      The only good thing I do see about the investment in high-tech, high-complexity systems is their use as tools for development of transforming capabilities. It’s an investment in the future although, it leaves todays military at a disadvantage.

      This is a transformational time in technology and the weapons that will win the future wars are in their infancy period. We do need investment but not production of 2000+ airframes of a test system.

      The F-22 and F-35 are good test platforms and I do beleive that Low RCS and other stealth measures, High output jet engines, and use of the EMS (Radars, RWR, EA Jammers, etc.), combined with processing capabilities and sensor fusion will be of primordial importance in the future air battles. We will probably learn that EMS weapons alone will not be enough and use of optical and IR sensors will probably be just as important. Lasers, satelites, Etc. for tracking, guidance, situational awareness might also become useful.

      Good old fashion aerodynamic maneuvering capabilities (in the Fighter Mafia tradition) I beleive will always play a key role. Also, very few weapons (definately not warplanes) will be useful without high level of training and experience. Therefore training in all its forms and aspects will Always!! be key. Also un-manned truly might be the future. The human body might not be able to handle the speed and maneuvering capabilities of future aircraft.

    • An example of misuse: Drones against civilians. I suspect that a very high proportion of the so called insurgents in places like Iraq are often either directly or indirectly the victims of indiscriminate use of firepower. Apparently they need to kill 28 civilians on average to get 1 confirmed kill of the intended target.

      Terrorist targets typically travel with an entourage that very often includes non-combatants. Whatever one’s opinion on the moral aspect of collateral damage might be, fact is no other platform in the same situation would have been anywhere as effective, in terms of minimizing the body-count.

      The alternative is to send in special forces, for which you need a viable infil-exfil plan and safe surveillance zones, a fallback plan and backup forces for exigencies. And lady luck can still has the potential to render the whole op a fiasco.

      The final option is to let the bad guy ‘walk’ and hope the damage he subsequently inflicts is limited. Also, incentivizes others of his ilk to use non-combatants as human shields.

      Its a hard decision and I don’t envy those who have to make it.

      • Andrei said

        @Jerrick Kant

        Your comment is precisely what Picard was trying to criticize with this article. You have reduced the death of 28 civilian non-combatants for every 1 terrorist dead to a probability calculation. As a civilian I find calculations such as yours callous and completely missing the point. You justify the cost of an expensive complex weapons system which kills civilians indiscriminately with the fact that it keeps out of harms way men that have trained their whole adult lives precisely to be in harms way so that they can end with one bullet the life of a terrorist which otherwise would need to be killed by expensive drones and missiles and causes the death of another 28 innocents. Am I the only one that is baffled by this paradox, am I die only one that is baffled that America’s way of doing war seems to involve killing civilians so that lazy military personal don’t have to strain their brains coming up with “a viable infil-exfil plan and safe surveillance zones, a fallback plan and backup forces for exigencies.” or that the US Military seems to have take such a liking to Stalins favorite saying: “Better for 10 innocents to die then for a single guilty to escape.” that it upgraded it to “Better for 28 innocents to die then for a single guilty to escape.”
        You say that the worst option is and I quote: “he final option is to let the bad guy ‘walk’ and hope the damage he subsequently inflicts is limited. Also, incentivizes others of his ilk to use non-combatants as human shields.”. It seems that to you and the US military the notion that people aren’t alone in the world is alien. It seems that you don’t realize that each of those 28 dead civilians has at least one loved one that will become a terrorist to avenge their death, and that for each terrorist you kill in this fashion you create 28 more therefore exacerbating the problem.

      • Duviel Rodriguez said

        I feel you Andrei. Maybe strikes from the air should be looked at as a no-go option. But, it is not as easy as you make it sound.

        “a viable infil-exfil plan and safe surveillance zones, a fallback plan and backup forces for exigencies.”

        This takes a lot of boots on the ground and CAS (which is also at peril to be shot down) and a lot that can go wrong. It might turn into a full-out fight anyways killing just as many including many Americans this time.

        If we had good intel (hard to get most of the time) we can maybe get a sniper in there but most cases unlikely as targets move in and out of our view and must be targeted real-time.

        Yes U.S. has made enemies because of its actions. But what about all the good we do around the world? No one ever mentions that or shows any gratitude.

        It’s the chicken and the egg thing what came first terrorist attacks or American bombs?

        I wish we could negotiate this issue instead of fight but, we know that negotiation with religious extremists is nearly impossible. As long as we are not Muslim or subjegated to their religious law we are infidels and enemies to be fought with the sword. Its in their Koran. Not all Muslims follow the Koran litereally (as in Christianity) but for the many that do, negotiation is useless.

        I do value American lives more. Why? because most of these innocent civilians are harboring terrorists and do nothing to fight the growth of these in their circles. If you wanted drone strikes to stop go after the terrorists yourself in your territory we would love that.

        War is horrible but it exists and we must make realistic decisions based not on what we would like things to be like but based on what they really are.

        If I were a sniper I would be conflicted but, asking a sniper to choose is not good leadership. Most that I know (at least 2 SOC Snipers) would say send me in to avoid civilian deaths but a commander that sends a sniper to commit suicide with little chance of success should be Court Martialed.

        I so wish this was not an issue we had to discuss but it is unfurtunately.

      • Xplane said

        The value of a life is the same for everybody whatever is the country, the color or the religion.
        It is exactly because we do not respect this principle that the conflicts will never finish, either in Asia, in the Middle East, in Africa or everywhere else.
        Using such arguments that justify the death of 28 innocents to reach a single target, it is exactly the root of the problem. It is terrorism.

        • Duviel Rodriguez said

          @ Xplane

          3 Solutions to the problem

          1) Avoid the war:

          That one is too late the war (with Islamists) is here. We can argue about who shot first all day but reality is its here and we have to deal with it.

          2) Negotiate a solution that ends the fighting:

          When dealing with Religiously indoctrinated people who’s (god mandated) goal is to bring all of the lands once under muslim rule (that includes most of Africa, south and southeast Asia, parts of Russia, The Balkans, Spain) under Islamic rule again and ruled by strict Sharia law. That means how ISIS is ruling at worst and how Iran is ruled at its best. You can not succeed in negotiating without giving up more than you can accept. And, what if we give them that? Whats to say that they will not continue to do their gods will and illiminate the world of infidels.

          3) End the war by defeating your enemy:

          I don’t want this solution. If it were not for my two children, I would give my life to stop this whole crazy thing but I have to live in reality. This type of religious extremism is the greatest danger to humanity (worse than nuclear war becuase I would rather be incinerated than live in a world dominated by religious extremists) in my lifetime. Religion in general (when ruled by edicts and writings and not by personal choice, and when tollerance and respect for all ideas and beliefs is not central) is dangerous because it can make people (in mass) do things that otherwise their good sense would tell them not to.

          Nothing can stop religious extremism. You cannot compete with “god” and “religion” they will follow what they think their god wants without wavering. They are happy to die as martyrs because they are convinced heaven awaits them.

          They will kill every infidel (thats all of us) if given the chance!

          I have not fully given up on option 2 but I don’t think it can succeed against this extremist mentality.

          I grew up in a pretty extreme Christian Family and I am the only one who has changed out of the family. I have tried to use reason to convince my own family of the fallacy of their views but I have given up. Reason can’t compete with religion. Good thing their is nothing that they interpret in the bible to say you must kill anyone in your family that rebels against the religion to save them from damnation. Otherwise, I would probably be dead. Yeah thats how strong religion can be.

          That leaves option 3.

          And you know what we better win! or we will face consequences (maybe not today becuase they are still not strong enough but our children or grandchildren) I do not want to face.

          Facing this type of enemy its kill or be killed. We are stronger than them today we better win or one day they will be stronger and than what.

          I wish this were not the world I live in but it is. Maybe one day we will evolve to be a reasonable, peaceful people who sit and find common sense solutions to disputes without war but, if we allow these religious extremists to prosper we will never get there.

          No one values all life equally. You value your life and that of your family first. Stop the BS.

      • Andrei said

        “3) End the war by defeating your enemy:

        […] Facing this type of enemy its kill or be killed. We are stronger than them today we better win or one day they will be stronger and than what.”

        All you are saying there makes sense, if you apply it to a conventional war.
        But it makes absolutely no sense applied to Afghanistan, or Iraq or earlier in Vietnam (were you replace Religious extremism with ideological extremism.). The issue here is not extremism. There are realistically few religious extremist compared to the population of Afghanistan and Iraq, most people there just want to live their lives in peace. The problem is that US actions create a large mass of people vulnerable to be demagogically indoctrinated, not religiously. It doesn’t matter what good America did in the rest of the world, the people of Afghanistan and Iraq know little of it, they have little access to information, and when all they see from America is the dead following a drone strike, instead of the Marine or Ranger fighting at their side advertised by some 80s action flicks that they might have seen on bootleg VHS, they are gonna be less inclined to see America as a good guy and more inclined to see them as worst then the terrorists. Sacrificing 28 people on average to kill a leader might destabilize the terrorist network, for a while, but in strengthens it in the long term by giving them new recruits, not out of religious fanatics but out of people that are simply afraid and are choosing what is the lesser of two evils in their eyes.

        • Duviel said

          Yes you are probably right.

          The best way would be to strenghten the moderate sections of the society, establish good fair governments, provide a broad secular education for the masses, and enlist the locals in going after the radicals, etc.

          Problem is how?

          In places like Afghanistan and Syria we cant find any moderates to support. We try establishing good governments (Iraq, Afghanistan) and they fall apart and/or are unable to rule. We try establishing secular schools and they dont want them. When we try to enlist Arabs/Muslims to assist in fighting extremists we struggle getting any. Young jobless man will take the pay to enlist but will not actually fight the extremists. We try to get inside people (spies) into extremist groups/networks/mosques, but we cant find any (very few) Muslim that would volunteer, even with top pay.

          Why do islamists end up taking control (Iran, most of Iraq and Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt for a period) whenever we stay hands off? Is it because the extremists are the only ones with guns? Or is it because the extremists are the largest group and/or have the most support from the population?

          Most people in the Middle East (especially older adults and those with kids to take care off) will not actively join with extremists groups but, they will either support these groups or at very least not go against them.

          Yes most people want to live in peace. Nobody wants to live in a war zone. The problem is the ideology is still there and if we just let it be will it one day grow powerful enough that it can fulfill its religious mission without facing war in their home.

          If the shoe were on the other foot between the West and Islamic nations. They would have invaded us and forced us to convert or die. Its what their religion dictates.

          It was not so long ago (a few hundred years) that Christian nations invaded the western hemisphere and forced the “savages” living there to convert or die. Before that you had the Crusades.

          Bottom line, we cannot allow this type of religious extremist ideology to remain intact or we will one day be the Native Americans.

          The question of methods is valid but we cant just ignore the issue.

      • Xplane said

        “No one values all life equally”

        I do.

        “You value your life and that of your family first. Stop the BS.”

        Your reasoning is close to the one that you fight so strongly.
        Do you accept that there is another way of thinking that your? If yes, everything is still possible. To take care of others, it is to take care of one.
        I am not religious either but I consider life as what is moreover precious.

  8. Duviel Rodriguez said

    Chris the fact that drones kill civilians is a matter of intel not capability. It is an unavoidable fact that in wars fought in populated areas mass amounts of civilian casualties will occur.

    When the enemy hides among population if you want to or have to fight this enemy and win, you will have to live with civilian casualties.

    War was, is, and will always be a horrible, terrible thing.

    I wish there was a way to avoid them all.

    Maybe in the far future we will evolve to be able to find alternate ways to solve disputes.

    • altandmain said

      Actually it is both intelligence and capabilities.

      By nature, weapons like PGMs or drone missiles are area weapons, versus say, a sniper weapon. That means that civilian casualties are all but unavoidable, unless the target is frequently isolated.

      But that is not the issue. It is not morality that is the problem, although I suppose a solid case could be made that the strikes are morally bankrupt. The issue is that when you kill 28 people and wound many more, you get those people angry too. You have killed perhaps a couple of figures, but you have made many times as many angry enemies as you have killed. The end result is an endless task of elimination of leaders, which leads to even more angry people.

      It becomes a self defeating strategy. The reason why there is so much anti-American sentiment is not because of say jealousy (a factor but not the dominant one). It is because of what the US government has done to people. Worse, it becomes a rallying cry for Islamic jihadists’ propaganda. As far as the jealousy argument, if it were correct, we would see the levels of anti Americanism drop due to the recession, which is damaging the American middle class.

      Equally noteworthy is that strategic bombing has historically failed to break the will of the population being bombed. In thr UK, the Blitz for example is remembered as their ffinest moment.

      • By nature, weapons like PGMs or drone missiles are area weapons, versus say, a sniper weapon. That means that civilian casualties are all but unavoidable, unless the target is frequently isolated.

        Short of a sniper, a drone is about as focused a weapon as you’re likely to get. It can maintain constant overwatch over an area for hours at an end waiting for the target to be isolated. It doesn’t always work out well but there’s isn’t any real alternative to it. With the USAF integrating the SDB to the MQ-9, it should be able to employ the new SDB-FLM (Focused Lethality Munition) further reducing the collateral damage.

        Before the advent of the armed RPA, the job used to be done by high altitude bombing and cruise missiles. An apt example is the US response to the 1998 bombing of its embassies in Nairobi and Das es Salaam. The retaliation consisted of 75 Tomahawks launched against Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, the effect being practically negligible.

        But that is not the issue. It is not morality that is the problem, although I suppose a solid case could be made that the strikes are morally bankrupt. The issue is that when you kill 28 people and wound many more, you get those people angry too. You have killed perhaps a couple of figures, but you have made many times as many angry enemies as you have killed. The end result is an endless task of elimination of leaders, which leads to even more angry people.

        The vast majority of radicalized individuals who sign up for jihad do so as a result of religious indoctrination rather than as a response to personal loss. Which is not to say that drone strikes don’t cause public anger. They do but it needs to be weighed against the effect of leaving terrorists free to network, proselytize and rally the public to their cause.

        Also worth noting is that as the death toll from terrorist atrocities in places like Pakistan mounts (over 50,000 fatalities over the last decade), the public opposition to drone strikes has become more muted (civilian casualties caused by drone strikes is minuscule in comparison).
        ________________

        BTW most of those deaths in Pakistan were at the hands of a radical outfit called the Tehrik-e-Taliban. After group’s leader was killed in a US drone strike (his predecessor also dying the same way), the group splintered due to infighting and subsequently suffered heavy casualties in battle against the Pakistani military.

        How many civilian lives were been saved in the bargain? Likely hundreds. Possibly thousands.

      • Chris said

        I have nothing against recon drones.

        The problem is that when it comes to strike drones, strictly from a military standpoint (ignore the morals here), the problem is that drone strikes, missile strikes, and strategic bombing are counterproductive.

        When you wage a counterinsurgency war, there’s 2 types of people:

        1. The Fanatics
        2. The people who are simply angry at you because of how you have governed or what you have done to them and their friends/family

        There probably isn’t much you can do about the fanatics save taking them out (maybe psychological profiling of sorts), but you will create a lot of people in category 2, which can set up future problems down the line. A large proportion of the Iraqi insurgency were not jihadists but people who had been wronged in some way or another who wanted to fight back (fighting back meant both against the Americans and the various ethnic groups).

        If you have to kill 28 people to get 1 “bad guy”, you might have just created dozens more of people in category 2. That can make a bad situation worse. Most were not fanatics, but people who wanted to get back for revenge. It’s not restricted to drones too – Tomahawk missiles no doubt have a similar effect.

        The other consideration is, that you’ve brought up the Taliban – how many “number three, number four”, number x leaders have been killed? Yet the resistance against the US and Coalition remains fairly strong. If anything, over the past few years they’ve made relative gains despite a much vaunted “surge” (which accomplished little in retrospect).

        The other problem is that compared to a manned fighter, they will have a larger OODA loop – unless drones become advanced enough that they can seek targets on their own (which introduces new risks).

        • Duviel Rodriguez said

          @Chris

          You forget to mention the people who are following some very cunning and power hungry group who has convinced them to fight to remove government and put them in power.

          Most “revolutions” turn out to be harsh dictatorships once they gain power. Of course it does help that the government in power is making people angry. If the government is good revolutions usually don’t go far.

          Than you have those who fight based on religious ideology. Like Islamists. They will fight until their religious laws (sharia) are the laws of the land.

          As in Muslim scripture (more or less).

          “when faced with the infidel (anyone not muslim, or not their type of muslim) you must offer them only two choices submit (to islamic law) or face your sword”

      • altandmain said

        You seem to think that terrorist organisations are top down like gangs or like a second generation warfare military organisation which is very top down.

        Al Queda and similar religious extremists are more of an idea than anything else. That is why they tend to spring out of literally nowhere. They are fourth generation warfare organisations, and if they could be defeated by massive military forces and sacrificing of civil liberties, they would have been defeated years ago. If anything, they may have been strengthened. ISIS for example did not exist in 2001. The idea of controlling a region was just a fantasy in the eyes of crazy fundamentalists. The US has ironically by invading Iraq enabled what it sought to prevent.

        As for ISIS, it will not last. The reason is because it is a fundamentalist organisation in a relatively secular nation, Iraq. It will inevitably alienate its core base, the Sunni people who only supports them because they hate the corruption and brutality of the Iraqi government.

        Taking out the leading figures usually do not matter. Witness the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Militarily it made no difference. By contrast the killing of many civilians will increase anti Western sentiment.

        Likewise, actions that alienate allies is a very bad idea. The Iraq war has damaged America’s reputation more seriously than most Americans accept.

  9. Can you link me to all your A-10 articles? Debating someone, I need them.

  10. Duviel Rodriguez said

    I hope you don’t mean me.

    I don’t keep links to all the stuff I read online (maybe I should start trying). I do this for fun on my time-off. Or when clients don’t show -up, etc. I am a psychologist. I have read a lot of articles, magazines, blogs, etc. Google sholar is good and free. I used to have access to better research engines when I was in school. Those subscriptions are expensive for me to keep.

    Stanford, MIT, etc have some good doctoral research.

    military schools and academies if you can access their research papers (many are public) will have good stuff.

    I am not a professional in this field just an interested enthusiast.

  11. Duviel Rodriguez said

    JANES and RAND also have good stuff but expensive to subscribe.

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