US ability to fight a war is in doubt

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US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 18, 2018 7:23 pm

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Matthew Ellard » Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:13 am

The USA is making some similar mistakes to wartime Germany. The Germans had developed the most expensive and technically proficient weapons, such as the Tiger tank and MG34.

The Germans built 2,000 Tigers and King Tigers. However the Russians built 48,000 T-34s. The Americans built 44,000 M4 Shermans. The Germans, in 1944 attempted to scrap all existing tank designs for its austere "Entwicklung" series to reduce cost and increase production. It was too late.

The Germans produced the MG-34 machine gun. It was beautifully engineered, deadly accurate, extremely expensive and very mobile. It also jammed if any dirt got near it. Soooo the Germans developed the MG 42 which was stamped metal and worked well in rough conditions. It was too late although the USA still use the MG 42 mechanism as the M60 MG

Today, the USA has the F35 aircraft. It costs USD$140 million per plane. It has the best technology. Currently they are all grounded for technical reasons and the UK and Australia reduced their orders to 20 each as the plane is too expensive. It cost the USA USD $406 billion to develop. In contrast the Russian Sukhoi Su-57 costs $40 million per plane and "is built like a Russian tank" and cost the Russians USD $10 billion to develop. The Russians have three different fighter bombers in development simultaneously.

In essence, it is not a good idea to have the best equipment in the world if it costs too much and breaks down all the time. It is better to have a variety of cheap & robust and expensive & complex systems running at the same time. For the USA this means also having lots of blokes with a rifles as well as some F-35s .

(In reality, as the USA, China and Russia all have ICBMs and cruise missiles with nukes, that the "MAD" doctrine applies and they should all start disarming slowly again. They only need a 100 nukes each to deal with each other.

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:41 am

Thanks guys. I hadn't given this much thought. I just assumed that the insane level of military spending by the US must at least have produced armed forces that nobody could challenge. I doubt that either China or Russia is in any position to fight a war with the US, so maybe there will be enough realistic people in all three places to keep this ultimate danger to the human race offstage for the foreseeable future.

I'm guessing that the real problem with the US is that it is simply spread too thin. This is a classic case of overreach. The Romans realized they had reached it under Hadrian, and they built The Wall that was supposed to keep the Picts and Scots out. But eventually, they just couldn't produce enough native-born Anglo-Saxon American Roman-born babies to defend the borders of their empire. They had to rely on an army of "barbarians" to protect them. But Trump will never recognize the limits of power. He thinks he can project power all over the world, so he's constantly sending more troops to places like the Mexican border Africa and Afghanistan in order to impose his will on the barbarians.
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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by ElectricMonk » Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:34 pm

The problem is more one of asymmetry: US power projection is still based on complete Air and Sea dominance, both of which can be nullified relatively cheaply with today's technology: China just has to spawn shoreline missile battery for a couple of millions to make it impossible for multi-billion dollar carrier groups to get comfortably close.
The other problem is that both Russia and China are better hardened against cyber-attacks than the US: the former, because it has few critical civilian systems, and the latter, because its government has already such a huge cyber-surveillance apparatus.
So for the cost of running a few data centers, either country can cost the US tens to hundreds of billions in internet disruption with more of less the flick of a switch.

A new battle doctrine should start at home, protecting the Internet, utilities, transportation etc. from cyberattacks.

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by landrew » Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:49 pm

These are all good analyses, but I think the main reason is that the military industrial complex has become so bloated, inefficient and corrupt that it can't compete with other powers in the world.
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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by ElectricMonk » Mon Nov 19, 2018 4:38 pm

no doubt that part of the Military-industrial-Complex is nothing but a device to transfer public wealth into private hands.
No doubt a lot of the budget is inflated to sustain noncompetitive factories in key states as a way to use the Defense budget to prop up failing local economies.

But military effectiveness isn't measured in dollars spent.
The US could doubtless do the same for less, or more with what it currently has.
But what it does is (most of the time) still the best the world over.

In particular, I believe that the US has a decisive edge in Drone Warfare, simply because US operators have clocked so many hours over Afghanistan, Iraq and places we are not supposed to ask questions about.

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Matthew Ellard » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:14 am

Upton_O_Goode wrote: I'm guessing that the real problem with the US is that it is simply spread too thin. This is a classic case of overreach. The Romans realized they had reached it under Hadrian, and they built The Wall that was supposed to keep the Picts and Scots out.
I agree. I'm thinking about NATO stretching into old Warsaw Pact countries. If Macron does start a new EU based military force, it would seem logical that this new EU force would replace NATO in those countries. That way if the USA and Russia or China have a fight, then those countries don't get nuked or invaded. They can remain neutral in the EU.

I liked the Roman frontier model you used. The soldiers were local barbarians with Roman command. Here we are 1600 years later still speaking the common military language of French, Spanish, Romanian, Potuguese and Italian. :D

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Matthew Ellard » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:25 am

ElectricMonk wrote: The US could doubtless do the same for less, or more with what it currently has.
I think what happened is that the USA had an economic advantage since WWII. Now that other countries are catching up, the USA simply cannot maintain that economic edge.

I think it is ironic, that Reagan said the USA bankrupted the USSR, which could not keep up economically and make weapons, and yet the USA didn't reign in weapons development cost, after that date. Nowadays Russia and China have started whole new weapons platforms that the USA has to counter, while still maintaining their existing, really expensive, weapons platforms.

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Gord » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:28 am

Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:41 am
...But Trump will never recognize the limits of power. He thinks he can project power all over the world, so he's constantly sending more troops to places like the Mexican border Africa and Afghanistan in order to impose his will on the barbarians.
No, but others might: https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/15/politics ... index.html
US to reduce number of troops in Africa
By Ryan Browne, CNN
Updated 6:31 PM ET, Thu November 15, 2018


..One defense official told CNN that the planned reductions would reduce the number of US counterterrorism troops and their enablers who support operations by approximately 25%.
Officials say the projected plan will reduce the total number of US forces assigned to US Africa Command by "less than 10%."...

...Defense officials said the reduction would have little to no impact on US troops conducting missions in Somalia, Djibouti and Libya....
The Trump plan is to reduce help given to the little people and instead focus more on the bigger fish. Seems pretty stupid to me, since the bigger fish aren't the ones conducting all the little attacks, like 9/11 or whatever cutesie name someone wants to assign to this one: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mide ... SKBN1KF0DG
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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:42 am

Grammar, please!

WE ability to fight a war is in doubt
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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by ElectricMonk » Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:53 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:25 am
ElectricMonk wrote: The US could doubtless do the same for less, or more with what it currently has.
I think what happened is that the USA had an economic advantage since WWII. Now that other countries are catching up, the USA simply cannot maintain that economic edge.

I think this is a common misconception, born out of the mistake of judging the power of an economy by GDP growth, instead of more interesting parameters like per capita productivity.
Yes, China has been growing at an unprecedented pace, but is has so much catching up to do.

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:02 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:34 pm
The problem is more one of asymmetry: US power projection is still based on complete Air and Sea dominance, both of which can be nullified relatively cheaply with today's technology: China just has to spawn shoreline missile battery for a couple of millions to make it impossible for multi-billion dollar carrier groups to get comfortably close.
The other problem is that both Russia and China are better hardened against cyber-attacks than the US: the former, because it has few critical civilian systems, and the latter, because its government has already such a huge cyber-surveillance apparatus.
So for the cost of running a few data centers, either country can cost the US tens to hundreds of billions in internet disruption with more of less the flick of a switch.

A new battle doctrine should start at home, protecting the Internet, utilities, transportation etc. from cyberattacks.
Indeed yes! Here in tiny Burlington Vermont, the electric department was hacked a few years ago, probably from Russia. The fact that we know about it and publicized it probably turned it into an even better training exercise for the Russians. They probably found both a vulnerability and a tripwire to beware of when hacking.

And you are absolutely right about software wars. With the extensive use of the Internet now in business and industry and military affairs, an effective attack in cyberspace could cripple airports, financial institutions, and even basic purchases, once Sears, Penney, and their friends are all out of business. Where will people go to get the necessities of life? And, worst of all....think of all the Living Dead wobbling down the streets of our cities if Facebook and Snapchat go down.... Still, on the whole, a software war is even better than a neutron bomb as far as military strategy goes. It is not nearly so bloody, cripples the enemy, and leaves the environment undamaged. (Some reservations needed about that last claim, I realize. Fire departments also depend on the Internet to some extent.)
Last edited by Upton_O_Goode on Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:07 pm

Gord wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:28 am
Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:41 am
...But Trump will never recognize the limits of power. He thinks he can project power all over the world, so he's constantly sending more troops to places like the Mexican border Africa and Afghanistan in order to impose his will on the barbarians.
No, but others might: https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/15/politics ... index.html
US to reduce number of troops in Africa
By Ryan Browne, CNN
Updated 6:31 PM ET, Thu November 15, 2018


..One defense official told CNN that the planned reductions would reduce the number of US counterterrorism troops and their enablers who support operations by approximately 25%.
Officials say the projected plan will reduce the total number of US forces assigned to US Africa Command by "less than 10%."...

...Defense officials said the reduction would have little to no impact on US troops conducting missions in Somalia, Djibouti and Libya....
The Trump plan is to reduce help given to the little people and instead focus more on the bigger fish. Seems pretty stupid to me, since the bigger fish aren't the ones conducting all the little attacks, like 9/11 or whatever cutesie name someone wants to assign to this one: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mide ... SKBN1KF0DG
Interesting, but this is the Pentagon talking, not Trump, who increased the US presence after the disaster in Niger a year ago. I don't think he has any plans to withdraw from anywhere.
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:12 pm

Matthew Ellard wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:25 am
I think it is ironic, that Reagan said the USA bankrupted the USSR, which could not keep up economically and make weapons, and yet the USA didn't reign in weapons development cost, after that date. Nowadays Russia and China have started whole new weapons platforms that the USA has to counter, while still maintaining their existing, really expensive, weapons platforms.
This is exactly the problem. Trump likes pretty toys, like very expensive aircraft carriers, which are easily overwhelmed by multiple missile attacks. In a real war, these wouldn't last long. The reason they don't get hit now is that blowing one out of the water would start World War III, and nobody is dumb enough to do that. But if WW III started for some other reason, there'd very soon be another trillion dollars of US taxpayer money at the bottom of various of the world's oceans. On the other hand, if WW III did get underway, finances and such would be the least of our worries. My plan would be to sit calmly in a chair, loosen clothing, bend over and put my head between my knees, and gently kiss my ass goodbye.

(Side issue: These things are now nuclear-powered. What happens to the environment in the long run if they are sunk? Oh well, it's only the ocean, and there are no golf courses there to worry about. So, never mind.)
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by ElectricMonk » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:03 pm

concerning the side issue:
probably nothing serious would happen.

Unless the reactor is hit by something like a railgun, other bit of the ship would give and sink long before the fissionable material containers are breached. And water is an excellent neutron absorber.

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by landrew » Sat Nov 24, 2018 3:40 am

Modern wars (except insurgency wars) are generally over very quickly. The Iraq wars, preceded by the Falklands war were each fought to a timely conclusion. Modern technology is simply too far advanced for both sides to be evenly matched. One side will always have a considerable advantage.
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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Sun Nov 25, 2018 11:40 am

landrew wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:49 pm
These are all good analyses, but I think the main reason is that the military industrial complex has become so bloated, inefficient and corrupt that it can't compete with other powers in the world.
Yes indeed. The point is that institutions, once they spring up, take on a life of their own. Reform becomes impossible because it conflicts with entrenched interests that no longer serve any useful purpose. Examples are multitudinous. One particularly striking one (Chancery Court) was described devastatingly by Dickens in Bleak House. Dozens of people were pinning their hopes on getting a legacy out of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce, wasting their lives in anticipation of the legacy, and the case eventually came to an end when all the funds were gone, having been expended on court costs and lawyer's fees. To drive the point home, Dickens brings in the solicitor Mr. Vholes, a fine, upright, family man, who DEPENDS on the system to feed his family. How can you take bread out of the mouths of those poor innocent children, whose father will be out of work if you reform the chancery system? The same thing in miniature happened at a university where I once taught. It was proposed that the requirement of a year of physical education for every student be abolished, given that humanities departments were being gutted to save money. That proposal came from a committee I chaired. One of the students on the committee, a PE major, came to the next meeting and arrogantly declared that that proposal wasn't going anywhere, since the PE requirement "puts food on the table" for a lot of coaches. Well, unfortunately, she was right. When the issue came before the Faculty Senate, the PE department packed the auditorium with its supporters and carried the day. So students no longer need to study a foreign language or any kind of science. But they do have to choose a sport and engage in it three times a week for a year.

That's the situation with the military-industrial complex, only it doesn't have to appeal to pity---or to anything else. It has so much political power that there is no way of reining it in, at least with Republicans in office.
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by OlegTheBatty » Sun Nov 25, 2018 2:45 pm

Any number of gruntworkers can be thrown out of a job by automation, but try to eliminate 1 politico job in the name of efficiency and . . .
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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by landrew » Sun Nov 25, 2018 4:49 pm

I'm not sure a conventional war exists anymore. I think most military strategies are now based on having a first-strike advantage. I think the days of waves of soldiers being cut down by the thousands are behind us. Other methods exist. The Soviet Union was defeated by crashing the price of oil. Sanctions on countries like Iran are trying to do the same thing. There are too many other ways for entities to make war against each other. Military action is simply the option of last resort.
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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Rob Lister » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:43 pm

Landrew, you're too cool. I like the cut of your jib ... mostly.

To this post:
landrew wrote:
Sun Nov 25, 2018 4:49 pm
I'm not sure a conventional war exists anymore. I think most military strategies are now based on having a first-strike advantage. I think the days of waves of soldiers being cut down by the thousands are behind us.
The term of art is cannon fodder. But they are really only behind us, and only relatively recently. Not really so with most others. We tend to specialize in having nice set-backs; drones being our most modern instantiation of such.

I think robotic boots-on-the-ground are certainly next. You can bet we'll have a nice little incursion or three to vet these. Yea, I cynical much.
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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by Gord » Thu Nov 29, 2018 1:00 am

Hi, Rob! :wave:
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Re: US ability to fight a war is in doubt

Post by landrew » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:55 pm

Gord wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 1:00 am
Hi, Rob! :wave:
Looks like Ron to me.
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