Monday, May 28, 2018

Open Post

Farragut at Mobile Bay

I've had a few requests for an open post so I thought I'd give it a try.  SNAFU blog does it and it seems to work.  This is your chance to bring up any topic you'd like.  So, what's on your mind?

Got an idea for a post subject that you'd like me to address?

Do you have some pet peeve you want to get off your chest?

Want to tell me what you like or don't like about the blog?

Is there a bit of news that I've missed and you'd like to share it with us?

Should I start a military fiction story page for readers?

Am I way off base about something?  Hmm, ... seems unlikely but it's theoretically possible.

Are there subjects you feel I should be paying more attention to?

This is your chance if there's something you've been wanting to say!


  1. With all this Pacific Pivot and all , i wondered why does the US not construct amphibious planes ?

    1. What use do you envision for a large, non-stealthy, fairly slow aircraft? It's big, but nowhere big enough to satisfy serious logistics demands. It could do recon but wouldn't survive five minutes anywhere near a combat zone so the recon would be limited to non-combat areas, which don't need recon. It could do search and rescue but, again, only in non-combat areas.

      It's one of those ideas that sounds good until you start to get specific about its uses.

      A few of them might be handy for non-critical transport but establishing a dedicated pilot, maintenance, parts, logistics, pipeline for a few mildly useful aircraft seems illogical.

      So, what do you see a seaplane doing?

    2. A sea plane could be very useful in the pacific theater, especially when you runways are destroyed, besides you have a lot of islands where a C-130 can not land but a sea plane has excess to virtually every landmass there.

    3. Well, you kind of made my point with your example. If you have a base that's big enough that it has a runway, meaning a full fledged airbase, you're not going to resupply it with seaplanes. They simply can't carry enough to even come close unless you have a literal non-stop stream with one landing every 60 seconds - and that's just ridiculous. A seaplane could carry enough supplies to keep a squad of infantry going for one day, perhaps. Aircraft, and seaplanes in particular, just can't carry enough to be effective as a significant logistics mechanism.

      Consider the Berlin air lift operation. That required a literal non-stop stream of aircraft 24/7 and was barely adequate. Yes, that's kind of the extreme example but it illustrates just how inefficient aircraft are.

      There's just no getting around the fact that significant logistics can only be accomplished via ships.

      Consider your example of an isolated island, presumably occupied by a squad/platoon, maybe operating a missile launcher of some sort. You would need a seaplane resupply for food, water, ammo, parts, fuel, etc. on a daily basis, at least. That activity would pinpoint the base for the enemy.

      Just out of curiosity, how do unload a seaplane at an island that has no pier facilities?

      I'm sorry. It's an appealing concept but it has no practical use other than as a "gopher" type aerial taxicab.

    4. Well that's why Russia, China and Japan are all developing or have active seaplanes.

    5. Might be kind of useful as a USCG mass casualty rescue A/C for at-sea rescue far away from helicopter support.

      Happened in ww2 often enough.

    6. "Might be kind of useful as a USCG mass casualty rescue A/C for at-sea rescue "

      Yep. Nothing wrong with having a handful for odds and ends jobs.

    7. You know, another way to look at the potential usefulness of a seaplane (or any cargo plane, for that matter) is TEU's which are the standard measure of cargo capacity. One TEU is equivalent to a standard 20' containter. A ship, depending on size, can transport on the order of 8,000 TEUs. A seaplane can transport, what, maybe one? That's why I say that a seaplane is useless for general logistics.


  3. A handful of seaplanes can force an adversary to take measures against them and allocate resources, for example for avoiding low flight infiltration. Just being a Cheap nuissance can be worth It. As well as the possibility of working as antisub assets with just a seaplane tender from any atoll.

  4. In a war with China is a distant blockade a viable long term strategy?

    1. Here's a post on that exact subject!

      China War Strategy - Blockade

      Check it out and let me know what you think.

    2. If they try to grab Tawain and fail, then the blockade would be a good way to apply pressure. If they grab Tawain we have less than a year before the world accepts it as a fait accompli and it just won't work fast enough. Either way, need the forces available to stop them invading. Taking it back would be a pretty tall order.

    3. Preventing an invasion of Taiwan would be even more difficult than retaking it because of the surprise aspect. The US isn't going to initiate a war, therefore, China will get to decide when it starts and that's a huge advantage. They've been rehearsing the invasion. We have not been rehearsing a defense. I can't see us Taiwan stopping China without help and I can't us being able to offer significant help in time.

      I'm afraid Taiwan is already a fait accompli.

  5. Atlantic would be an interesting area and the north sea, how to keep convoys safe in case of a land war non nuclear in Europe. And how to keep the sovjet...err Russian nuclear subs from entering the Atlantic ocean from there northern bases.

    Maybe an analyze of the now old exercise with the Swedish sub that "sunk" the carrier? what can the ASW crew use or was it a unrealistic one.

    Analyzes of non US ships would also be interesting since the conclusion you have shared of the new US ships got bad grades.

    1. "how to keep convoys safe in case of a land war non nuclear in Europe"

      Good suggestion. We've lost the Perry class frigate that was designed to do exactly that. Will the new frigate be capable of filling that role? We've lost some/all of our SOSUS capability. On the other hand, the Russian sub threat is not nearly what the Soviet sub threat was. I'll look into this.

    2. "Analyzes of non US ships would also be interesting since the conclusion you have shared of the new US ships got bad grades."

      I'd love to do this and I've tried to some extent, in the past. The problem is that we, in the US, have access to fairly detailed reports about the actual capabilities of our ships. There is no equivalent access to data on foreign ships that I'm aware of. I'm sure the foreign designs have all the same problems, or more, but there is no documentation. So, I'm left with manufacturer's and foreign navy's claims which are ridiculously overstated, just as they are here. In short, lacking some inside, detailed data it's impossible to analyze a foreign design. I'll continue to look for opportunities but the data is very limited.

    3. "Maybe an analyze of the now old exercise with the Swedish sub that "sunk" the carrier? what can the ASW crew use or was it a unrealistic one."

      I've discussed this several times in comments but never in a post. While the "sinking" of a carrier is big news, what you don't hear are the 28 other times that the sub was sunk. These exercises are highly scripted and tightly constrainted. The purpose, after all, is to either (or both) give the sub a scripted chance to sink a ship or give the ships a scripted chance to sink a sub. It's like Top Gun - the instructors are supposed to lose in order to teach the students. The subs are supposed to win sometimes and the escorts are supposed to win sometimes. Further, the exercises are very constrained. The operating areas are very restricted (no one wants to wait days while a sub tries to find a carrier or vice versa), starting positions are often "known", the movements of the various subs/ships are quite constrained (otherwise, a carrier would simply turn and sprint away at 30+ kts at the start of the exercise and the sub would never get a shot), numbers of escorts and helos are often limited, P-8 type assets are rarely used, etc.

      In short, these exercises are designed to have predetermined outcomes for teaching purposes. A periscope photo of a carrier is sensational news but not a realistic indicator of actual combat effectiveness of either the sub or the ships.

    4. Thank you for the response, I would also like to say thanks for a good and for me as a army “grunt” enlightening blog.

    5. "Army"

      Army??? And you're reading this blog? I didn't know you guys could read!

      Okay, enough jokes about the Army. Seriously, thank you and I hope you do find the blog entertaining and informative.

      I'm far more impressed with the Army's recent resurgence of interest in high end combat than any of the other branches. I wish the Navy would follow the Army's lead!

      You should offer some thoughts about how the Army could complement the Navy capabilities (and vice versa) in a peer war with China or Russia.

    6. I have an AF person reading the text to me and then typing what I'm saying :)

      I have to confess that I'm not US army, just army.

      In my grunt view of the navy is in that we have a saying, "in peace we have a cab, in war we have the navy"....
      So i cant say I'm qualified to give any statements but my thoughts on the subject is that the army and navy is fighting in two different spheres, with only a small overlap when close to the coast, exception to this would be the cruise missiles that could be used for striking high value targets if target data could be transmitted fast so the information would still be valid. Earlier the heavy guns of the ships would be a good support when in range but that option is no more. In a war with Russia the navy mission would be to keep the Russian navy out of the Atlantic so supplies and troops could be moved. With china i would need to some time to formulate a response with any value.

    7. Fair enough!

      For a war with Russia, the role of the Army is clear enough and you've certainly identified a major role for the Navy.

      For China, the role of the Army is much less clear given the lack of land in the Pacific and what I assume is our wise refusal to invade mainland China. Base defense (such as Guam) would be an obvious role for the Army but we have so few bases. Would we attempt to seize bases on islands that are already owned by someone else and are likely to remain neutral? Would we build and operate bases on some of the protectorate islands? I don't know but I hope planners in the military are giving this some serious thought!

    8. Any assault or retaking of island would be done by the Marines.
      I would think that the navy would have two missions in any war, the first would be to stop PLAN from operation outside the cover of main land of China, in essences keeping the PLAN away from the blue water, either by destroying the fighting capability or keeping the ships at port. The next mission would depend upon the object of war.

      This is the big question that must be addressed before we can start to look at the task of the army and ground forces. Without a clear picture of the objectives any deployment of ground forces would be a misuse of resources and probably placing a big force in the wrong place.

      If I speculate and say the conflict would be for territory the only units that could do any good would be the heavy mechanized or armord units supported with a massive amount of indirect fire. Any other force deployed anywhere would not be able to achieve anything. Jungle fighting would require lighter units but the idea is still the same.

      So if we assume the conflict is for territory it could be Taiwan or South Korea, even French Indochina. In this case the army would need to move large number of heavy forces by sea. And here would be the second mission for the navy.

      The navy would be required to protect all the transports that is required to move the army from main land US to the area of operations, it would also be called upon to safeguard all the resupply ships that would be required. The amount of ammunition that would be expended in a peer to peer war would be massive.

      Although its fun to speculate, without a given scenario that would require the army to deploy its heavy units, if its only light forces the air force can move the light inf like Rangers and SOF, there would be no need for cooperation between the army and navy.

      In any given scenario the option for the grunts to call in cruise missiles would be a good thing. It is not in all situation the normal artillery or air force would be able to assist.

      This is of course just my humble opinion.

    9. That's a decent analysis and you've identified the key which is the need for a strategic objective on our part. What do we want? What constitutes victory?

      Setting that aside ...

      Let's look at the issue of land. I think you've got it fairly correct. Looking at a map, China has two semi-exposed flanks: to the east is N/SKorea and to the south is Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar with Thailand and Cambodia further on. In the paranoid Chinese world view (where everyone is potentially out to get them) these flanks must be secured. Further, seizing Indochina solidifies their hold on vast sections of ocean and major shipping lanes.

      Taiwan is, of course, a foregone conclusion on day one of any war.

      The only other possibility is Pakistan with whom China seems to have a constant state of low level conflict. Why they would want to seize Pakistan, though, I have no idea but it's a possibility.

      So, what would America fight for?

      Taiwan is a near hopeless affair until the very end of a Chinese war.

      Korea (South, at least) is defensible because Korea has significant armed forces of their own that could make a successful defense feasible.

      Indochina is questionable. Would we care enough to commit to another Indochina war? I don't know.

      One final point. I used the term "semi-exposed flanks". By this, I meant that the flanks are not under Chinese control but neither are they active threats - king of like Mexico and Canada are semi-exposed flanks of the US - not controlled but not a threat. For the US, this means that we happily leave them alone. For China, being paranoid and having a global domination desire, semi-exposed flanks are unacceptable.

      Now, what do you think constitutes victory? Bomb China back to the Stone Age? Drive them back to pre-war borders? Allow them to keep some conquered territories in exchange for peace? Something else?

      Good comment and discussion.

    10. We in the British Army have an extremely high regard for the Navy.No comment about the blue jobs.

    11. I think the conflict would be about resources, natural like oil and minerals and maybe even about fresh water or similar. There is allot of good stuff in south china sea so I think this would be the focal point of the conflict.

      Side conflicts are with India/Nepal. They are an Allied of Pakistan against India. India is the only country that could invade china, (I don't believe Russia has the manpower to do it). I think we can leave this out of this discussion.

      Considering the tension in the sea the likely targets would be Vietnam and Philippines, namely Palawan and Luzon. Controlling these areas would give access to all minerals in the sea in-between. Singapore could be a interesting price to be able to control the sea lanes going to Europe but that I think would result in over stretch. Likewise I don't think Korea would be of interest. Nothing to gain fighting a war there. And to many troops and it would be instant war with US.

      Considering the shape if Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia would also be affected by the fighting. Myanmar is leaning towards China and would probably join there side if the conflict escalate to include everyone.

      If an action would be taken I would bet they would like to complete the objectives before the dust settles so when it clears its fait accompli and everything can go back to normal...

      Taiwan would fall quickly and can only be retaken when the PLA is depleted, this I agree on. Vietnam have a history of wars with china from 1979 to 1990 and would fight. Here the goal would be for the US to help Vietnam to keep the pre-war borders. Same would be said for the fighting in the Philippines. The objectives of the war would be to keep status quo and sign an agreement between all parties to fix the borders in south china sea. Secondary objectives would be to get china to end the occupation of Tibet (not likely).
      Any notion of changing the rule from communists to democracy would be foolish without a open and large rebellion from the people. So that can be ruled out from the start.

      At this time I do not think and I would like you to correct me if i'm wrong here, but a war with china would deplete the US resources (ships/aircraft) to fast and the replacements would take to long to build. Therefore China could aim for a war of attrition. Would the US public be ready so make all the sacrifices that is required to end the war with a good outcome? The economy would crash and so on.......

      Side note, when US is occupied with war in the Pacific it is likley other contries will see a possibiity to score some points somewhere else.

    12. "The only other possibility is Pakistan with whom China seems to have a constant state of low level conflict." Did you mean India ?

    13. Re Laos. My wife is from Laos, I spent two weeks living there with her family. My Lao is passable. China has special access economic zones in the north. Laos is also communist. There is some lingering anti-American sentiment from the Vietnam war. We sided with the Hmong, they are viewed as a seperate ethnic group. Laos would be firmly be in the Chinese camp.

    14. "Did you mean India ?"

      I'm sorry, I did indeed. I was referring to the constant border skirmishes. Good catch.

  6. USS Ford still hasn't got EMALS to work, but brags that over 700 launches and recoveries have been conducted, but doesn't note that nearly all were helicopters.

    And the Ford is back in the yards earlier than planned, and will stay for a year to fix many serious problems.

    Meanwhile, the Navy is pressing Congress to start construction of the forth Ford carrier earlier than planned. The deployment of the Ford has been moved right, once again, and is now 2022. Keep in mind the Ford is fully crewed, who will stand easy for a year at Newport News.

    1. This article is a somewhat old one. The problem they're referring to occurred some time ago. The article is almost a verbatim repeat of one I read some months back. That's irrelevant, however. The problems are the issue, not the timing of the article.

      The problems illustrate the fix the Navy is in as regards paying for the correction. The Navy insists on building ships without warranties, as hard as that is to believe! Legally, the manufacturer probably has no responsibility for repair costs. In fact, there is a perverse, reverse incentive for the manufacturer to have poor quality since that will allow them to do portions of work twice and get paid twice!

      This is also highlighting the fact that the true cost of the Ford is well above what is claimed. Because Ford has been "delivered", the Navy has a "final" cost of construction which they claim is $12.9B or whatever the exact Congressionally mandated cost cap is. However, we see that the Ford is not completed. There is lots of work to do on the EMALS, AAG, elevators, propulsion system, etc. The final true cost will be something on the order of $15B+ but you won't see that cost quoted. This borders on fraudulent accounting.

  7. Ok as any one has read my comments and post here can see I am no fan of LCS (I don't think many are) so with that in mind the upcoming FFGX competition has my full attention I would appreciate your thoughts on that competition and maybe everyone's predictions for the winner I will tell what ship I want and the reason I chose the ship that's 8n the middle and it's more or Less suited to ASW warfare at least more than the others it also would be made in Wisconsin by the same company that makes the Freedom class it's more than likely a middle of the road in price but has been in production for a while has reasonable but not outstanding capability and capacity again this my choice which probably doesn't mean squat but the FREMM looks to be the winner at least in paper to me now everyone please share your thoughts on which design you all think will win and Thank You

    1. As you know, I'm really ambivalent about a frigate but, that aside, I predict that the winner of the competition will be the same "winner" the Navy already had and that is the LCS. Recall that the Navy already went through a "frigate" competition study and selected the LCS as the new frigate. They've been forced by Congress to conduct this new competition but you'll note that they made the main requirement that the ship had to be in production. That was a clear favor to the LCS. My prediction is the LCS will, again, be the new frigate. It was before so what would change in the Navy's mind?

    2. I'm afraid your right but 8m really hoping you aren't the LCS based designs are the worst possible choice for many reasons right now the main one is they really love staying in port awaiting maintenance and repairs

  8. As to 5he pricing I'm basing that on the FREMM offered to Canada of a fixed price of 600 million it lost because the bid came to late from what my Canadian friends told me if that helps

    1. As noted in a Naval Today website article,

      "“With respect to suggestions that significant savings could be realized through this alternative process, this is far from evident. It is important to note that a warship project budget must cover more than just delivering the ships,” the government announcement read.

      “It must also include the costs associated with design and definition work, infrastructure, spare parts, training, ammunition, contingencies and project management. Typically, the acquisition of the ships themselves only represents about 50-60% of the project’s overall budget. As well, any prices cited without the context of applicable terms and conditions as indicated in the RFP (such as scope of work, divisions of responsibilities, intellectual property rights, warranties, limitations of liability, indemnities, etc.) are effectively meaningless.”

      That FREMM price, without knowing the details of the weapon/sensor fit and many other details is meaningless, as the article noted. The US Navy tried to do this with the LCS for quite awhile. They cited the cost of the LCS as around $350M without noting that cost was for the seaframe only and did not include weapons, sensors, electronics, radar, module, etc. It was, literally, for the empty shell of the hull but the Navy tried to pass it off as the "cost" of the ship.

    2. Agreed I did look at the pricing on Wikipedia (as if that's correct) and was in the 600-700 million ballpark but that was in Euros I don't know the exchange rate also another question wouldn't there be some savings related to cost of scale on the FREMM I mean if chosen that would shoot the number of total design hulls up into the 40 number in total counting the European ones

  9. In case someone did not heard, Israel used the F-35 in combat missions, i call this a gift to Russian ELINT in Syria.

    1. "i call this a gift to Russian ELINT in Syria."

      A gift to Russia? Haven't you heard, the F-35 is invisible and can't be seen or sensed! Well, that's the official story at any rate.

      Seriously, there is an element of truth to what you say. Russia is getting a look at the F-35 and gaining some knowledge. On the other hand, Israel is finding out what the F-35 can and cannot actually do and is finding out what the Russian systems can and cannot do as far as "seeing" the F-35. So, both sides can learn something.

      I'd rather know what my asset can and cannot do for real. Sure, the enemy gains some knowledge but I'd gain more. You don't want to find fatal flaws in your first peer combat missions. You want to find them now while you can still fix them or compensate for them.

  10. Inside a giant: Russian typhoon-class submarine TK-17 Arkhangelsk

    1. That's some interesting photos! They're a fascinating mix of high end luxury for a ship and some pretty crude and basic construction quality. Typical Russian approach to design and construction, I guess.

    2. They were taken after the boat was decommissioned, when it was brand new in the 80ties imagine telling a US submariner that you would have a sauna and a pool on you boat.

  11. Why does Congress not hold the Admirals feet to the fire re. your recent blog on Navy Fails McCain Collision Accountability. Why is there no group of Senators or Congressmen/women strong enough to fight the pork barrel members re. Ford, LCS and Zumwalt. May be hope in that the SASC at the moment resisting the call by HASC for an additional three ships over and above Navy FY2019 request, two LCS and one Ford.

    A few examples

    Ford technical
    EMALS an old problem April 2014, the Navy discovered EMALS was imposing unacceptable stress/load levels within the wings of F-18s when carrying external fuel tanks/stores during testing. Navy Cmdr. Thurraya Kent Navy spokesperson said the necessary software modifications EMALS will be finished  in 2017. The fix will only involve a software change, no additional hardware or hardware changes to equipment already installed onboard Ford required.  Bill Couch spokesman for Naval Sea System said "Software fixes are slated to fix issues with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system already in the works to significantly reduce excessive stress put on airframes in the original EMAL’s operating software that will be fixed in a 2019 upgrade." 5 + years to fix.

    Recent May 19 Ford went to sea to conduct extended operational testing of ship's systems, the ship was forced back into port May 22. Colleen O’Rourke, spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington issued vague statement in explanation “The ship experienced a propulsion system issue associated with a recent design change, requiring a return to homeport for adjustments before resuming at sea testing”. It has since been revealed that the " propulsion plant" problem was the re-designed Northrop Grumman Main Turbine Generators, MTGs, following original MTG 'causalities' dating back to June 2016 when two of the voltage regulators exploded. (Navy Secretary Ray Mabuss at time noted that "the nation's leading experts on shipboard power generation systems are working resolution of these issues with a priority on safe, reliable system performance while balancing cost and schedule considerations.") The modified MTGs were not fully tested on land before going to sea.

    Ford cost
    EMALS is a NAVAIR program and R&D funded out of their budget, not included in Ford R&D spend of $5.7B, another sleight of hand by Admirals to hide true cost of Ford.


    Rollcall write up on - "Zombie Zumwalt: The Ship Program That Never Dies", and how the Admirals keep extolling how great it is.


  12. CNO, I've posted just a couple of times in the past. I tend not to, because I have no military and particularly no naval background or education. I've followed the USN since I was a child, and I have to say that I've never seen a better, more challenging source for analysis of naval issues. Thanks for such a great site.
    I guess the topic I'd like to see more on is related to philosophical views. I know you've touched on this in many a post, but the navy of today seems so much less capable in many ways then the navy of the war years and post war period. So much seems to have been set aside with regard to range, durability, protection and utility. I imagine there are still naval officers who possess the vision and integrity to stand for the fleet the believe in, so is this it? Is this force really what the majority think we need to protect our interests, or is there really no one guiding the "vision" of the navy as it evolves. I remember reading about Adm. Rickover, and his tyrannical power, but also his vision and ability to push it. Is there no one like that now? Or is this force what they've built? I suspect we will see confrontation with China in the near future, and a short, sharp deadly conflict that kicks us out of the region. Will we learn from that, or continue the decline?

    1. That's a great comment/question and a very weighty one! I'll take a shot at answering.

      When we came out of WWII we had a crop of naval leaders who had experienced combat. Every new ship/weapon design and naval thinking from then on was passed through their filter of war. Would the proposed design or policy support high end combat? If it would, it was adopted and if it wouldn't, it wasn't. Eventually, however, those people retired and we were left with leaders who had never experienced high end combat. What filter did they have to pass designs and ideas through? The only filter they knew was the pressing demands of bureaucracy and budget. Thus, designs and policies became less about combat and more about bureaucracy/budget - and here we are today.

      Now, that explains but does not excuse naval leadership. For example, I have never experienced high end combat but I have been wise enough to read extensively about it, study it, and learn the lessons from those who did experience it. Our naval leadership today could have done the same thing I have and made better decisions but they have not. This goes to average humanity.

      Most people (average humanity) goes along without deep thought. They do their jobs, usually competently, respond to the immediate demands and needs, and function adequately. If your job is making pretzels, that's fine. If your job is safeguarding America, that's entirely inadequate.

      What's needed are those few who rise above the average, see the bigger picture, learn the lessons, and are willing to step forward and lead - the Rickovers and the like. Unfortunately, modern bureaucracies actively suppress those people because they represent a threat to the status quo. This is where we are now. Potential naval leaders are ruthlessly suppressed and eventually leave the service out of frustration and so the Navy continues to muddle on, incompetently.

      There is only one thing that can change this and that is war. War is the Darwinian filter that will reveal what we've done right (not much) and what we've done wrong (most everything). Then, we'll repeat the cycle of WWII where we identify a new crop of combat leaders and they'll make good decisions - until they retire ... and the whole cycle will repeat again.

      How's that for some philosophy?

      Now, you've heard my thoughts. This is an open post so why don't you tell me your thoughts. You don't need to have military background - just interest and intelligence (which is really more common sense than IQ). Tell me what you think about this!

      Also, is there a specific aspect of naval philosophy you'd like to see me address that I haven't already?

    2. "When we came out of WWII we had a crop of naval leaders who had experienced combat. Every new ship/weapon design and naval thinking from then on was passed through their filter of war. Would the proposed design or policy support high end combat? If it would, it was adopted and if it wouldn't, it wasn't. Eventually, however, those people retired"

      That's a too rosy picture. The dangerously underarmed (unreliable missile systems that could not cope with saturation attacks) cruisers and destroyers of the 60's and 70's were hardly designed with WW2 experiences in mind.

    3. "The dangerously underarmed (unreliable missile systems that could not cope with saturation attacks) cruisers and destroyers of the 60's and 70's were hardly designed with WW2 experiences in mind."

      That's exactly my point. The early '60s is when we lost our WWII leaders. The 25-30 year old WWII officer was 45-50 years old by 1965 and beginning to retire. Our older WWII officers had already retired. We were still, however, designing ships with aspects of combat in mind. By the '70s combat had been all but forgotten as a design element.

    4. Rickover is arguably the reason that there isn't another Rickover.The military does not like individuals that are too powerful - Rickover and MacArthur being excellent examples.

    5. Sorry, but the warships of the 60's were designed while the veteran destroyer and cruiser captains of WW2 were admirals.

  13. The rotation regime between refit and patrols in waters very distant from CONUS appears to drive the "demand" for ships, especially regarding carriers, amphibious warships and their escorts (as opposed to strategic sealift or MCM).

    A more sensible way to determine the required strength could be to take into account allied fleets, think about a distant PRC blockade scenario, some air/subsea battles with PLAN and actual wartime defence of at least Pacific shipping lanes (Seattle-San Diego and Bay Area-Pearl).

    How about doing that math (and associated assumptions about what percentage would be unavailable in a defensive war)?

    1. You've clearly got something specific in mind but it didn't come across. Try again?

      As far as "demand" for ships, that comes from the regional Combatant Commanders. Satisfying the demand during peacetime requires a balance between deployment, maintenance, and training, hence the classic three ships to enable one deployed (one deployed, one in maintenance, and one in training/workups). But, I don't think that's what you were talking about, was it?

      I'm guessing you're asking for an analysis of required war time fleet strength? Maybe? Maybe you're asking for an analytically based fleet size as opposed to the arbitraty 355 ship fleet? Yes, no?

      I'm not sure what you're referring to about "unavailable in a defensive way"? Try again?

      I think you might be on to something interesting but I'm not sure. Explain it again.

    2. Yes, the stupid concept of asking combatant commanders how many patrolling CVBGs and MEUs they want was my target. A peacetime rotation scheme does not lead to the optimal wartime strength. To define a fleet size for peacetime needs is such an idiotic move that everyone else involved should be put under tutelage.

      On top of that, it's idiotic to ask the child how many toys it wants. It always wants more than it has. I can write a 10-line computer code that's as intellectual as the foundation for the Combatant commander's wishes for more.

      The United States uses no sensible method to determine how much of a navy or what kind of navy it needs.

      And "unavailable in defensive war" is any ship that's in long refit or tied up in another theatre.

    3. "The United States uses no sensible method to determine how much of a navy or what kind of navy it needs."

      I've said this many times, our military structure/size should be based on our geopolitical strategy which, until Trump, we haven't had in any meaningful way. Trump's strategy, while lacking in specifics, at least laid out a bit of a strategy and could be used to build a military. Agree or disagree with the strategy is irrelevant. The point is that a strategy is necessary to have a rational military force.

      So, does our military support our national security strategy? Nope! China is identified as a major threat and our military is not composed or sized for anti-China operations either in war or peace.

      I had entertained a small hope that the military would begin to align its composition and size with our geopolitical strategy but I've seen no sign of it, yet. *sigh*

    4. "unavailable in defensive war" is any ship that's in long refit or tied up in another theatre."

      As you know, there are no deployments in war, there are only missions. Related to this, all ships are available - you operate when needed and refit when possible. The peacetime routine of scheduled overhauls goes out the window.

      So, as far as sizing a fleet for war, ALL ships are available. Of course, as the war goes on, some ships will be damaged and under repair but any functional ship is available. And, we'll have some duties that are not directly war related but still require some naval presence (such as monitoring Russia while fighting a Chinese war) but that will be cut to the bare minimum. In fact, in a Chinese war, I would assume we would simply tell Europe to deal with Russia themselves and we would all but abandon the Russian "theatre". We simply don't have a thousand ships, like in WWII, to be able to fight in both the Atlantic (Russia) and Pacific (China). We would have to commit everything to the Pacific and let Europe fend for themselves.

    5. An ERO takes about two years. No SSN that's undergoing such a refit would be available for war for many months. The same goes for CVNs.

      I disagree with the idea that Trump laid out any strategy on anything. He's voicing the gut feelings of an uninformed man. That's far from strategy.

    6. Have you actually read the document? If you haven't, don't comment on this until you do.

      You can disagree with his strategy but he laid out one. It lacked a bit in specifics but it clearly laid out a strategic approach.

    7. "An ERO takes about two years. No SSN that's undergoing such a refit would be available for war for many months. The same goes for CVNs."

      If you're talking about a surprise war then, certainly, some ships will be caught in overhauls that will take some time to recover from but that doesn't change the fact that overhauls are not planned events in war and that every ship that can function is available for missions.

      Even with repairs, work would be greatly accelerated during war. Witness the carrier turnaround of WWII. You seem to have an odd notion of the pace of war!

  14. China decides to invade Tawain. Does China preemptively attack U.S. forces? Satellites? Does China tell Japan et al if they allow U.S. use of bases does the mean China declares on them?
    I think China will not preempt. They will gamble that they can pressure our allies to disallow base usage, and count on the U.S. to determine that Tawain is a lost cause.
    Our response depends on whom ever is president more than any congent policy.

    1. There are two broad possibilities for the start of a war. One is a preemptive invasion of Taiwan. In such a case, you have it right. China would attempt to isolate Japan politically to keep them neutral. They would not declare war on the US but would scrupulously avoid confronting the US so as to place the onus on the US to "initiate" war.

      In fact, my favorite scenario is a quick invasion of Taiwan followed by an immediate "surrender" and offer to negotiate an end to hostilities. That would put the US in the position of having to spurn peace if we want to help Taiwan. Of course, all the while, China will have Taiwan and can drag out negotiations for decades - look at NKorea.

      No matter how you analyze it, Taiwan is going to be conquered by China. It's just a question of when.

  15. I'm a fan of your blog. Very interesting points of view.
    One area we disagree is in your analysis that a war with China is almost inevitable. I believe that there's a strong possibility of armed conflict, but that is less likely then a new Cold War between the US and China, where conflict is primarily economic, political and through proxy conflicts.

    With that in mind, I would like it if you conducted a thought experiment - can you imagine a scenario where China and the US are able to avoid open conflict in the next 20-30 years.
    What would that world look like in your mind?

    In other words, if you were given the task of mapping a way forward where open conflict never occurred, what would the US and China have to do to make that possible?

    1. Jon, I've got two thoughts for you.

      1. We're already in a Cold War. China is engaged in financial, political, cyber, trade deficit, currency manipulation, and demographic warfare, among other forms.

      2. If you believe that we will not have a war with China, then you have to account for their expansionism which shows no signs of abating. Thus far, the US has chosen appeasement as our response. At some point, presumably, China will expand one step too far and war will occur.

      Consider ... China has simply annexed (illegally and in defiance of the UNCLOS treaty and tribunal that they are signatories to!) the entire East and South China Seas and first island chain. They are now making claims on Japanese sovereign territories and discussing their claims on the second island chain, laying the groundwork for their next wave of expansion. If they don't stop, war is inevitable, at some point. If you don't think war is inevitable, then you either believe that the US will continue to pursue appeasement endlessly and allow China to swallow up country after country or you believe that China will, at some point, simply cease their expansion - a belief for which there is no supporting evidence and lots of historical, cultural, and empirical evidence to the contrary.

      So, as far as mapping a way forward without conflict, that's easy - continue to appease China and allow them to annex every territory they want. I'm not sure what else you're asking beyond that. China has shown no willingness to honor treaties so negotiations won't work. They're engaged in blatant cyberespionage so there's no basis for trust or honor. They've engaged in military intimidation of Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, etc. so there seems little chance of peaceful cooperation. They are continually making ridiculous, unsupported territorial claims so there seems no chance for reason and logic.

      Finally, they've now converted from a "representative communism" (to coin a phrase) to an out and out dictatorship. That doesn't bode well for peace.

      Honestly, there is just no basis for believing there is any path to long term peace with China.

      You know, much of the world wanted to believe that war with Germany couldn't occur and appeasement was the policy of the time. You know how that turned out. The parallels are disturbing.

    2. Many also beleived that open war with the Soviet Union was inevitable.
      The Soviets were far more unpredictable, militaristic global actors then the current Chinese regime.

      Yet two generations of Soviet and Western leaderd managed to navigate a path that didn't involve open warfare.

      I guess what I'm asking is for you to challenge your position with a thought experiment. What is the minimum that the West could accept from China without recourse to War.
      What's the fewest number of things China would have to do to allow a relatively peaceful great power competition between the US and China to occur.
      It's inevitable that China will rise.
      The US isn't going anywhere.
      You can't think of a single way they can accomodate each other without warfare?

    3. It's all about expansion/conquest. If China were to stop right where they are now, the chances for peace would improve dramatically. However, as I said, China shows no signs of halting their expansion and are currently laying the groundwork for the second island chain. They've begun the demographic takeover of the Philippines. They're currently engaged in squeezing out Vietnam. They're claiming Japanese territory. They've flat out stated the the entire South/East China Seas belong to them without a shred of international law to support their position. Stop me when I've made my point.

      So, no, I see no chance for peace unless China stops their campaign of global conquest.

      Let me turn the discussion around. Can you see no clear and obvious path to war given China's behavior?

    4. CNO, pardon my intrusion. But, what constitute 'expansion/conquest' in your definition? Capability or actual physical possession? If it is the former, China's only sure bet is Taiwan with the rest (Japan, SK, the PH) doubtful, especially in light of US MDTs. If it is the latter, China has none at the 1st island chain except for few islands in SCS. When you move on to 2nd island chain, that's beyond China's A2AD capability and PLAN is far too fledgling to constitute credible threat.

      Frankly, based on your main observation that 1. US won't preempt a China war 2. Taiwan is fait accompli if China invades, and my observation that 1. China has no territorial design except recovery of Taiwan if Taiwan declares de jure independence 2. China has no desire to war on its largest trade partner, and 3: China's ambition is B&R (a westward expansion into EuroAsia, not the Pacific). I just don't see head-on collision of 'must-haves' between the two.

      Lastly, given what's transpiring between Trump's administration (the most China-hawkish one, before and probably after) and China indicate a relationship of hard-but-flexible competition, but not militant confrontation.

      Btw, all China's realpolitik behaviors are God D**ns, but not war provoking in American sensibility.

    5. "China has no territorial design except recovery of Taiwan"

      Now you're just making stuff up. China has seized several islands in violation on international law. China has infringed on Philippine and Vietnam territories, among others. China has declared the entire South China Sea as their sovereign territory. China is ... You know what? I'm going to stop there because you know the litany as well as I do.

      I get that you're a China apologist. If you want to view China as a warm, caring, loving world neighbor that's your privilege. What I'm going to do is start deleting your comments when you make statements that are factually untrue such as "China has no territorial design". That's not fact, that's propaganda. You've been warned. Keep it factual or keep it to yourself.

    6. You're focusing on the narrow immediacy; I'm looking at the long term. SCS can be viewed with the following Chinese lens in the order of importance: geopolitical high ground, security, economic, and last territorial.

      Geopolitical highground: SCS is bar none economic choke point for major US allies (i.e. Japan, SK, Taiwan). By having gradual material control of SCS 'sphere of influence', these nations have to have 2nd thoughts on joining China containment alliance, especially if they detect 'retrenching' of US influence in peacetime.

      Security: door guard for Hainan sub base, and long distance 'listening post/obeservation post' in the even of conflict. This is 2nd priority only because there is no development of US-China armed conflict (if there is, then this will be the first priority.)

      Economic: potential oil/gas field underneath. As they say, potential is only potential. Besides, everyone is catering to China as major resource consumer soon with RMB denominated transactions.

      Territorial: China is forming new islands for above purposes without kicking anyone out. Beside if they want, they can boot off all VN occupied islands and no one will lift a finger on VN's behave. Beside, China's design for itself is 'borderless global' economically and influentially, not myopic narrow on few bits of islands (and water) within its planned sphere of influence.

      I believe the above is the calculation of Chinese SCS design; nothing warm, fuzzy, or apologetic about.

    7. China's rationale for their actions are obvious. They are not, however, justification for illegal seizures of territory.

      The US just conducted Freedom of Navigation exercises around the Paracel Islands. China's response proves their illegal, expansionist actions. Here's a quote from a USNI News website article.

      "According to Wu, two U.S. warships, the guided missile cruiser Antietam and the destroyer Higgins, arbitrarily entered on May 27 China’s territorial waters around the Xisha Islands without permission of the Chinese government.

      Chinese military took immediate actions by dispatching naval ships and aircrafts to conduct legal identification and verification of the U.S. warships and warn them off, Wu said.

      Wu said that the Xisha islands in the South China Sea are China’s inherent territory, and according to the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Chinese government promulgated the baseline of the territorial sea off the Xisha Islands in 1996."

      The Paracels are claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, in addition to China. China does not own the islands and yet they have invaded the islands and established illegal military bases in contradiction to their own promises not to militarize the island bases. They then attempted to declare territorial waters around islands they don't own.

      Even if they did own them, foreign warships are legally entitled to pass through another country's territorial waters in a procedure called Innocent Passage, as described in the UNCLOS treaty which China is a signatory to. So, China's "requirement" that the US Navy ships must have permission is legally incorrect. The requirement that they leave is legally incorrect.

      China has repeatedly stated that the entire E/S China Seas are their territorial waters which is patently absurd and legally incorrect. This is Hitler-like expansion and conquest in action.

      Explain all that if China is a friendly, peaceful, law abiding country.

    8. "Let me turn the discussion around. Can you see no clear and obvious path to war given China's behavior?"

      I can see several potential flash points that could lead to war. None particularly revelatory.

      Obviously Taiwan is one.
      The artificial islands in the South China Sea are another.
      The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are a threat.
      There's always the danger that some regional confrontation (e.g. Vietnamese patrol boats coming into conflict with Chinese equivalents, or Filipino marines opening fire on a Chinese coast guard vessel or something of that nature).
      If North Korea goes wrong, China could conceivably intervene on the side of Kim Jong-Un (though this seems unlikely unless the US does something to threaten Chinese interests, like sinking Chinese trade vessels or lining up lots of troops on the Yalu).
      Further afield there's even the possibility, though fairly remote, that China could enter conflict with India over the disputed Himalayan territories.

      All these things are possible.
      However pretty much of all them have been potential conflicts for decades.
      None of the current territorial disputes are new. Even the artificial islands are being built in areas China has claimed for many years.

      The difference is that China is growing in power and influence, so in that sense they pose a more intimidating threat.

      All I would point out on the above is the following:

      1. War is not China's goal - it would be economically and politically devastating for China to go to war with the US and/or Japan/Australia/UK (all of whom would almost certainly enter the side of the US in a situation of open conflict - depending on the scenario China would likely face an even greater coalition of US allies). These are China's biggest trade partners.


    9. 2. The Chinese are very pragmatic. In general, they will push as far as you let them, then they stop when the cost is too high to continue. It's very Sun Tzu. Their preference would always be to bluff and bluster until they get what they want, without ever entering open conflict. They can actually be surprisingly malleable. When backed into a corner they frequently back down, change course or concede ground. The problem of course is that it's hard to back a country as wealthy and powerful as China into a corner. But the US does have several important levers they can pull to force the Chinese to make concessions.

      Overall, the Chinese are not completely responsible global players at all. They are bellicose, they see global relations in Bismarkian terms (which is dangerous, as any student of 20th Century European history can tell you), and they have a huge chip on their shoulder (they see themselves as not receiving their due respect and influence on the global stage). They are also under the thumb of what amounts to an oligarchic, military dictatorship which is dangerous because it makes conflict more likely.

      Having said all that, the Soviet Union was an even more belligerent, irresponsible global actor.
      The Chinese are much, much more integrated into the global economy and political community then the Soviets ever were.
      The Chinese are far from self sufficient (while the Soviets were largely so).
      The Chinese military is not nearly as intimidating as the Soviet military was throughout the Cold War.
      The Chinese are more socially, economically, politically and culturally open to the West. There's far more social integration between us and the Chinese (which won't prevent a war, but makes it a little less easy for the Chinese to start or maintain any kind of conflict without losing public support).
      The Chinese have less natural allies then the Soviets did. In fact they have few real allies at all.
      They are surrounded by states that are more aligned to or sympathetic towards the US in Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, India, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei.
      Even their relations with Russia, while in detente, are not amazing - there are many natural points of difference or areas of potential conflict between them. China and Russia have always had a strange relationship, characterized as much by conflict as cooperation. The Chinese claim huge swaths of Siberia as their natural territory, for example, and Mongolia has long been in a political tug of war between Russia and China (and also Japan).

      Long story short, China is not as militant, belligerent or unpredictable as the Soviets.
      They are weaker militarily.
      They are in a much more difficult strategic situation.

      And yet the US and Soviets managed to navigate the Cold War without recourse to open war.
      China and the US are much closer then people may realize. Certainly economically they inextricably linked.
      I don't see a President of either country willingly entering open warfare with the other.

      There's too much to lose, and little to gain.

    10. You almost stated the inevitability of war. China is bent on nothing less than global conquest. Yes, they'd prefer to achieve it without firing a shot if the rest of the world would obligingly allow them to do so. However, sooner or later, they'll push a step too far (as did WWII Germany) and then the rest of the world will have to act.

      You also listed almost every significant country in the world as being unfriendly towards China. That, too, suggests eventual war and China is currently hard at work making more and stronger enemies by thumbing their nose at international laws, treaties, and norms.

      I'm sure many of the same rationales were put forward for why Germany wouldn't start a war. Your analysis is based on logic and rationality (trade entanglements, resource sharing, etc.). Unfortunately, war is seldom logical and rational. There was nothing rational about tiny Japan starting a war with the US and yet they did. There was nothing rational about Germany starting a war with Russia while they had another war going and yet they did. There was nothing rational about Saddam Hussein starting a war with the US and coalition and yet he did. Rational people don't start wars. Therefore, almost by definition, wars are irrational so predicting that one won't start because it's not the rational thing to do is a flawed assumption right from the start.

      As far as China and the US being closer than people realize, I don't think that's even remotely true. The Chinese culture, morals (to the extent they have any), inherent respect for individual rights (to the extent they have any), cultural paranoia, cultural insecurities, utter lack of respect for human life, etc. are as far from US ideals as possible.

      As far as the cost of war in human life and general destruction, those are abhorrent to the people of the US but are of little concern to China's leaders. China's view of individuals is that they are fodder for the government to use to the benefit of the ruling class. They can always grown more people and rebuild anything that is destroyed. A country that has human wave attacks as part of their heritage is not afraid of the cost of war.

      War is inevitable and there is not reasonable path to peace unless China does a complete about face in their goals and behaviors and I don't see the slightest chance of that.

    11. CNO, basically you deemed the war inevitable because,

      China is bent on world conquest, by war if necessary.

      China has irreconcilable enemies all around (yet receiving red-carpet treatment, everywhere from Tel Aviv, to Tehran, to Riyadh, to Moscow, and to DC, etc.)

      Chinese are not rational (yes, throwing away all that natural advantage, such as world's largest producer/market/talent pool would be irrational indeed.)

      Chinese (or its culture) have no moral (??)

      Chinese leaders have no concern for loss of life & destruction (I guess all that poverty alleviation and infrastructure build, all for the purpose of rising its GDP, and btw, not spilling one drop of foreign blood in over a generation- means nothing,)

      I will believe you the day such China (& Chinese) emerges (& born).

    12. This is a complex discussion. A lot to unpack.

      Let's start with your first point:
      "You almost stated the inevitability of war. China is bent on nothing less than global conquest. Yes, they'd prefer to achieve it without firing a shot if the rest of the world would obligingly allow them to do so. However, sooner or later, they'll push a step too far (as did WWII Germany) and then the rest of the world will have to act."

      I disagree that China is bent on world domination. They have very specific territorial goals. These goals have been the same for 60-70 years. Granted these goals include the annexation of Taiwan, the Senkukus, most of the South China sea, parts of the Indian Himalayas and large swathes of Siberia. So it's not like I think they are being reasonable or that it couldn't trigger war, just that it's not world domination. Strategically they also want to militarily dominate their nautical approaches, create friendly bases to expand their blue water reach into the Indian and South Pacific, weapons platforms that can reach into the East Pacific and they want to alleviate their potentially crippling dependence on sea borne trade by creating what they've dubbed a new Silk Road through Central Asia and Russia.

      I think it's important to be clear on what the situation is. China wants Regional dominance, blue water reach into the Indian and South Pacific, the ability to project power into the East Pacific and the ability to trade across land as well as Sea.

      In terms of your Nazi Germany analogy - it is an apt example, but I draw different conclusions.
      Hitler was encouraged by the reluctance of France and the British Empire to challenge him as he annexed territory and forced his neighbors to make concessions to him. He was convinced even as he ordered the invasion of Poland that they would back down. He was genuinely shocked that they declared war.

      However, here's the crux of the matter - Hitler didn't want war with the West, particularly with Britain.
      He interpreted their concessions and negotiations as weakness.
      If France and the UK had marched into the Rhineland when he moved into the Saar, or if they had stood up to him at all, he may well have backed down.
      The Wehrmacht was poised to overthrow and assassinate Hitler in 1938. It was Western obsequiousness that disarmed them. They lost all power and influence when Hitler was proved right, and the West backed down.

      The lesson is not that you have to go to war. It's that you stand your ground when dealing with dictators and autocrats, especially militant ones.
      This is the lesson learned by the Allies after the war. It's how they approached the Cold War. By and large, it worked - the Soviets were kept in check from their original ambition of overrunning basically the entire Eurasian landmass.

    13. "As far as China and the US being closer than people realize, I don't think that's even remotely true. The Chinese culture, morals (to the extent they have any), inherent respect for individual rights (to the extent they have any), cultural paranoia, cultural insecurities, utter lack of respect for human life, etc. are as far from US ideals as possible."

      With this paragraph, the first thing I'd want to do is clarify that you are referring to the leadership? I'll continue with that assumption. I can't believe that you think that the average Chinese person is inherently immoral - that's obviously not the case.

      In terms of the leadership, it's not nearly as simple as all that.
      The Communist party is not a homogeneous whole.
      President Xi is not impregnable or universally popular.
      The rich guys hate him and they have a lot of sway.
      The reformers and moderates don't love him either.
      He could be overthrown or his political position made unutterable.
      A potential war with the US would be a scenario that may trigger his overthrow for example.

      In terms of closeness, I was referring mostly to the middle and upper class in China.
      I don't know if you've been to China, but the average middle class Chinese person isn't all that different to people in the West. They watch the same movies, they listen to the same music, they go to our universities, they buy Western brands, they are world travelers.
      More importantly though, the Chinese economy is essentially in lock-step with the Western economies. In fact the US is their greatest source of wealth - the US is their biggest trading partner by a large margin. The next biggest (excluding Hong Kong) are Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, Australia. In that order.
      A war with the US would more or less destroy their entire economy almost immediately.
      All of their trade would be shut down.
      That's what I mean by a lot closer to the West then the Soviets ever were.
      They aren't in any way isolated from the West.
      They have a lot more to lose economically then does the US. The US has a much more diversified trade relationship with the world, and enjoys astronomically greater global support from other countries.
      China is dependent on the US, in a way the US is not dependent on China.

      And that speaks to my wider point.
      The US is still streets ahead of China in terms of it's ability to influence and project power.
      They have many levers they can pull to force China to back down or make concessions.

    14. "The lesson is not that you have to go to war. It's that you stand your ground when dealing with dictators and autocrats, especially militant ones."

      Ooooh ... you are sooo close to the truth.

      The lesson is actually that if you don't oppose conquerors, war is inevitable. What have we done in response to China's annexation of the E/S China Seas? Nothing. Therefore, we're encouraging Hitler/China to take more and we're setting the stage for the inevitable war.

    15. "watch the same movies, ..."

      You're looking at the superficial level. I'm looking at the core values. The average Chinese person has gone along with dictatorships, suppression of individual liberties, systematic killing of babies, human rights violations, human wave attacks, etc. In short, their inherent value system is utterly foreign to us. Nothing in common.

    16. "I disagree that China is bent on world domination."

      You've stated the near term territorial goals correctly. The longer term goals are beginning to be revealed. China is setting up massive bases in Africa, making inroads in the Middle East, laying the groundwork for conquest/annexation of Philippines and Indochina, has issued a white paper regarding its claims to the Arctic, and beginning to invest in and exert influence and control in South and Latin America. No, these are not going to come to fruition in the next two years but the ultimate goal is clear. Their is hardly a point on the globe that China has concocted a claim for or is not laying the groundwork for ultimate control over.

      Historically, China has been invaded so many times that their cultural psyche now believes that the only way to be secure is to conquer everyone else first.

  16. War with the Soviet Union was inevitable, the The Great Patriot Nuclear War of 1964, and the Spasm War of 1972.
    The war with China will be triggered during the Xi Secession Crisis, when China nearly falls into Civil War only to be saved by Patriotic Seizure of the Lost Province, uniting China.

    {1950s Sci-fi mode off}
    Having spent the 1980s figuring how many days it would
    take Group Soviet Forces Germany to reach Paris, I've
    not too sure of my inevitables anymore.

  17. I enjoy the posts and comments of this blog, to the extent I check it daily. I do agree you should have a separate category for you fictional narratives, and it has been stated by many for a long time... you should write a book using the contents of this blog.

    Past that, My only suggestion for content would be a multi-part series on the evolution of US ship design from pre-WW1 to present.

    1. "multi-part series on the evolution of US ship design from pre-WW1 to present."

      You might be interested in the Norman Freidman book series of US ship design histories. He has one on carriers, one on battleships, one on cruisers, and I think one on amphibious ships. There may be others. The books are excellent and are packed with design sketches and data. I couldn't even come close to the depth of coverage he provides.

      If you're interested, take a look at one of them.

      Thanks for the comment!

  18. ComNavOps just posted in last few hours navy has chosen the NSM for its LCS OTH missile some surprise (Not) really seeing as it's the only one left bit still a welcome addition none the less

  19. Indeed. The history of the Third World War. Fulda gap and all. Riveting narrative.

    1. General Sir John Hackett. 1985 give or take.
      The Third World War: The Untold Story

  20. While we have an open post.

    Some very odd things happened over the last couple of days. One of your best buds just had punitive tariffs levied against them. They retaliated.

    I expect further escalation.

    For the group here:

    Please consider the strategic and tactical effects of Canada pulling out of NORAD and rescinding military airspace access and basing.

    It’s not so far fetched if this nonsense doesn’t stop.

    The G7 meeting next week is going to be G6 + 1.

    1. I assume you're referring to Canada. I don't begin to pretend to understand the complexities of trade but my very vague understanding is that the Administration is looking to address:

      1. Trade deficit - The US has around a $18B trade deficit with Canada and tariffs are one way to correct that.

      2. National security - the tariffs on steel are intended to significantly increase US steel production since steel is required for military construction.

      3. Unfair trade agreements (NAFTA) - The Administration considers the NAFTA agreement to be unfair and is looking to use tariffs to create leverage to renegotiate the agreement.

      Trade issues, especially among friends, are just temporary disputes and are easily and eventually resolved. If Canada wants to pull out of defense agreements they should consider that they can't defend themselves against an angry Boy Scout troop let alone any serious enemy.

      Posturing aside, I doubt there's any serious problems between the US and Canada.

  21. Trade issues, especially among friends, are just temporary disputes and are easily and eventually resolved. If Canada wants to pull out of defense agreements they should consider that they can't defend themselves against an angry Boy Scout troop let alone any serious enemy.

    Posturing aside, I doubt there's any serious problems between the US and Canada.“

    I was expecting about a 70% reply rate along these lines, however I expect more geo-political thinking from you.

    You are roughly 180* out from accurate on the trade issues, but this is not the forum.

    Who has Canada pissed off in recent times apart from their dubious adventures/partnerships with the US?

    I started my career in the Air Force in 1971 as an Air Defense tech. NORAD. ANd I worked closely with my American compatriots, as did my father before me. I’ve worked all over the world in close cooperation with my American colleagues in the oilfield. Hell, I lived in Florida for 4 years working for Citrix Systems and miss it to this day.

    What I’m seeing now is an aberration.

    The current administration has annoyed the Canadian government to the point they are taking a stand. This is unheard of in Canada-US relations. And it’s polling at 80% plus approval.

    So the question stands.

    What are the strategic and tactical considerations if Canada feels they have to pull out of NORAD?

    1. There is zero possibility of Canada pulling out of defense agreements so I have no analysis to offer. One could just as well ask what the implications are if Canada were to launch an invasion of America? It's too ridiculous to be worth devoting any thought to. So, that takes care of the geo-political aspect of defense agreements.

      Here's a few random thoughts regarding tariffs.

      -The US produces on around 5% of the world's steel. That is a strategic weakness for the US and that is what Trump is attempting to rectify. He is trying to shore up the US' steel industry.

      -Canada is engaged in its own steel industry protectionism with a host of duties (another word for tariffs) applied to steel imports from various countries and various protectionist laws and regulations. For Canada to claim shock and outrage over American tariffs is a bit disingenuous.

      -All countries try to manipulate tariffs and laws to favor their own industries and all countries complain when it is done to them, in turn. It's all part of the global jockeying for market share and advantage and is a continuous process.

      -China's steel dumping practices are the main culprit and are what both the US and Canada should be working on together.

      You're making far more out of this than there is. It will resolve itself in relatively short order.


  23. GAO reporting the V-22 Osprey tilt rotor makes it into the top five, fifth most expensive current weapon system.

    #1 F-35 $366 billion
    #2 Burkes $123 billion
    #3 Virginia SSNs $96 billion
    #4 MDA GBI $67 billion
    #5 V-22 Osprey $64 billion

  24. With the greatest respect, I believe you are completely wrong.

    If anything I am understating the issue, possibly by orders of magnitude.

    I guess you are unaware that Canadian participation in US supply chains (including military) is considered normal. Not something to be scared of.

    I’m going to sit back and watch this mess escalate.

    We can chat about our respective viewpoints once events unfold.

    1. "With the greatest respect, I believe you are completely wrong.

      If anything I am understating the issue, possibly by orders of magnitude. "

      Hey, I readily admit that international trade is not my area of expertise and I could be totally wrong!

      I guess I'm failing to grasp what aspect of this you see as being so ?harmful? to Canada. Every country has duties/tariffs applied to the goods it exports. It's a pretty normal occurrence.

      I'm missing the part that you think is so horrendous. Feel free to enlighten me and I mean that sincerely. This is an area I'm not terribly knowledgeable about and if you can educate me, I'll be appreciative!

    2. I suggest keeping a close eye on the G7 meeting in Canada this week.

      We may learn a lot about how this will play out.

    3. If you have a few minutes this is worth watching.

    4. Also:

  25. The US has a $12 billion trading surplus with Canada. Even Trump has admitted he’s lying now.

    Canada buys $2 billion dollars per year more steel from the US than we sell to the US.

    You buy cheap aluminum from us because we have cheap hydro power that you can’t match.

    Here are the really important points.

    1. This action violates NAFTA rules.

    2. This action violates WTO rules.

    3. Canada has moved from being a fully integrated trusted partner in the US military supply chain to being a national security risk in the space of a couple of days.

    This is obviously ridiculous, but it’s also deeply insulting and our public is more than annoyed.

    4. The worst result is that the US is no longer seen as a reliable partner. That is unfortunately going to resonate for years. Long beyond the life of this administration.

    There is absolutely no indication that anyone is prepared to back down. If they don’t, escalation is inevitable and as the acrimony grows, all kinds of previously unthinkable things will be on the table.

    If Trump succeeds in convincing the rest of the world that the US wants to be on their own, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. With the Chinese likely picking up the slack.

    Current policy is a long way from Bretton Woods. And Bretton Woods is deeply significant as the world commerce and trading structure was very largely designed and built to suit the US. And it’s arguably worked very well.

    And now some people want to blow it all up. Not cool.

    1. "The US has a $12 billion trading surplus with Canada."

      No. Here's what I'm seeing. If you don't believe this then produce some numbers and a source.

      "... data from Statistics Canada says the U.S. had a $14.6 billion trade deficit for goods and services with its neighbor to the north in 2016, according to Bloomberg."

    2. "Canada has moved from being a fully integrated trusted partner in the US military supply chain to being a national security risk in the space of a couple of days."

      Oh good grief. That's not even remotely correct. Canada is not a national security risk to the US. No one is saying that except you. The national security risk to the US is our lack of internal steel production. To remedy that, Trump has imposed steel tariffs on (everyone?). Don't be dramatic (and wrong!).

    3. "This action violates NAFTA rules."

      What rules? I don't know the details of NAFTA at all. Educate me on this.

      More generally, Trump believes that NAFTA was/is not a good deal for the US and is looking to renegotiate.

    4. "There is absolutely no indication that anyone is prepared to back down. If they don’t, escalation is inevitable and as the acrimony grows, all kinds of previously unthinkable things will be on the table."

      Again, good grief. This is just standard negotiating tactics. No one believes any catastrophe will ensue. Both sides posture and then eventually come to an agreement. This is just business 101.

    5. "And now some people want to blow it all up"

      Trump, and a slim majority of the American people, believe that we have entered into some very bad deals over the last decade or so. Trump is looking out for American interests - the same as Canadian leaders do for their country and people.

      Take a deep breath and relax. No one is looking to crush Canada. That would be foolish. Trump is just trying to adjust some of our trade relationships a bit.

      You understand that Canada applies duties (tariffs) and trade "adjustments" to imports from other countries, don't you? Where's the hysteria about that? Or is it okay when Canada does it for its own betterment but not when another country does it?

      Seriously, relax.

    6. "Canada buys $2 billion dollars per year more steel from the US than we sell to the US."

      You need to get your facts straight. Here's a Canadian source,

      Steel Trade

      "In 2016, over 10 million MT of steel, worth over $11.8 billion, was traded between our two countries, with Canada shipping $5.87 billion to the U.S (5.4MMT), and the U.S. shipping $5.96 billion (4.7MMT) to Canada."

      That's about as even and balanced as you can get!

      The document states flatly,

      "The Canada-US steel trade dynamic is fairly -traded
      and evenly balanced."

  26. Goods only the US has a deficit with Canada. Goods and services there is a 12B surplus.

    Steel trade is pretty much equal. There is a reason for the trade, it’s primarily specialty steels.

    There is little doubt that NAFTA is toast. Trump has clearly stated he wants bilateral deals.

    Canada has all kinds of tarrifs and restrictive practices. The most grating ones to the US regard our dairy industry. We tend not to be quite so arbitrary changing their structure however.

    We obviously aren’t going to agree. I see a not-so-slow-motion train wreck happening. You see not much beyond a minor squabble if I understand correctly.

    We can revisit after events unfold and you have another open post.

    As the ancient Chinese curse goes, may we live in interesting times.

    1. The more I look into this, the more I see that Canada has been engaging in unfair trade practices all along. From a Fox News opinion piece,

      "Macron and Trudeau will sanctimoniously decry the supposed death of free trade at the hand of Trump. In reality, they are defending a managed trade system that holds the U.S. at a disadvantage.

      All of the other G-7 countries have higher tariffs on the United States than we have on them.

      For example, France and other EU countries levy a 10 percent tariff on imported U.S. cars, but we only charge a 2.5 percent levy on European imports.

      Canada has tariffs of about 270 percent on U.S. dairy products, 70 percent on sausage, and 27 percent on beef, to name just a few.

      These counties also have non-tariff barriers to free trade, which include massive Canadian subsidization of its lumber industry that puts American companies at a disadvantage.

      It is not a surprise that Europe and Canada want to preserve a trading system that is stacked in their favor and has enabled them to build a huge trade surpluses with the United States."

      Trump is doing the right thing to try to put the US on fairer footing. If other countries get upset about that, so be it.

    2. This is from Brian Teeter. Explains the real situation quite well.

      Donald Trump is having a hissy fit over alleged Canadian dairy products. Below are some facts to consider:

      U.S. goods and services trade with Canada totaled an estimated $673.9 billion in 2017. Exports were $341.2 billion; imports were $332.8 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade SURPLUS with Canada was $8.4 billion in 2017. (Source: US Department of Commerce)

      Already, the U.S. charges high tariffs on Canada's products (outside quota):

      • Sour cream 187.8%

      • Peanuts, in shell 163%, shelled 131%

      • Peanut butter 131%

      • Modified whey 63.2%

      • Fresh blue cheese 49.8%

      • Blended syrup 36.9%

      • Cream 35.3%

      • Sugar 25%

      • Dehydrated yogurt 53.5%

      • Malted milk 54.1%

      • Butter substitute dairy spreads 46.8%

      • Margarine cheese 44.2%

      • Baby formula 27.2%-38.4%

      • Butter 22.1%

      • Cheddar cheese 18.9%

      Source: Improving transparency in international trade and market access”

      Please note there are quotas in both directions. High tariffs apply once you exceed quotas.

      As I forecast, this disagreement is escalating fast.

    3. Why was there fall out between Trump and Canada after the G7 summit in June 2018? by Jeremy Arnold

    4. I understand why you may not agree. However I feel these are better sources than opinion pieces on Fox News.

      If you think I’m kidding, please look up the unanimous support for our Prime Minister in parliament yesterday.

      How are all y’all doing with bipartisan agreements.

      We have three and a bit governing party and they all loathe Trump. Hmmm.


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