Thursday, February 11, 2021

What If?

The US Navy and Marine Corps has grandiose plans for future combat based on sterile, clean, carefully orchestrated concepts of networks, sensors, and data all seamlessly and flawlessly linked to every unit and individual on the battlefield.  Our forces will have perfect situational awareness, perfect synchronicity, and a degree of omniscience almost unimaginable, all carefully controlled by massive artificial intelligence-aided command and control software. 


Let’s set aside the fantasy aspects of the preceding vision and just ask ourselves one simple question:  what if we find ourselves in a position where our assumptions are not valid?  What if?  … What then?


Here’s a highly relevant quote from retired Marine Gen. Charles Krulak,


“Where were we weak? We were weak in any kind of close terrain. If we got into urban environments, if we got into woods, if we got into any place where our systems, our overhead systems, couldn’t see, if they were able to get us dispersed, if we weren’t able to bring together our combat power, if we were dumb enough to continue to drive down the same roads, to walk like we did in Vietnam or drive like we did in Iraq, they would blow us up.” (1)


There it is;  the key assumption and key weakness in today’s vision of battlefield omniscience:  if we get into a situation where our systems can’t see.  If we get into a situation where our sensors can’t see or, seeing, can’t communicate their data or the data can’t be disseminated over the network.  If that happens, our entire concept of battlefield dominance breaks down and we lose.


Why might our systems not be able to ‘see’?  The list of possible reasons is long and, in the aggregate, quite likely:


Weather – Bad weather is still a reality and still negatively impacts sensor performance.  Clouds obscure and degrade lasers and satellites.  Rain impacts radar, infra-red (IR), lasers, and electro-optical (EO).  Fog impacts electro-optical, laser, and IR.  Waves degrade radar.  Wave clutter obscures targets.


Attrition – The enemy is going to do everything they can to destroy our sensors and platforms like the P-8 Poseidon, MQ-9 Reaper and similar large, slow, non-stealthy UAVs, MQ-8 Fire Scouts, etc. are going to have battlefield lifetimes measured in minutes, at best.


Obscurants – Multi-spectral chemical obscurant clouds hinder all forms of surveillance. 


Cyber – China, NKorea, Russia, and Iran have repeatedly proven their competence at conducting cyber warfare right now, during supposed peacetime, so one can only assume that the degree of cyber attacks will increase dramatically in a real war.  Those attacks will degrade and negate our communications, command and control, sensor nets, unmanned control systems, and many other aspects that we haven’t even thought of yet.  Won’t we be surprised when our F-35s are cyber attacked through their vaunted APG-81 AESA radar (if it can receive signals, it can be cyber attacked) and we lose control of various aircraft functions?  Also, if we go to war with any one of those enemies, you can be sure that the rest will drastically ramp up their cyber attacks against us in support of whoever we’re fighting.  We’ll be fighting a 4-front cyber war.


Jamming – Old fashioned and highly effective.  Jamming has evolved to become a computer controlled, frequency hopping weapon and, of course, there’s always good old, reliable, broad spectrum, high power jamming.  We’ll find our communications and signal links degraded or eliminated.


Fog of War – Since time immemorial, combatants have understood that nothing ever goes as planned and confusion reigns supreme on the battlefield.  To this day, despite all our vaunted technology, we constantly suffer confusion, often with fatal results, during our daily, peacetime operations.  We suffer friendly fire, ship collisions, uncertainty about whether we were actually attacked by anti-ship missiles (the Yemen affair), and so on.  In war, our UAVs will be shot down, our comm links will be disrupted, our networks will fail, and we’ll be completely confused.  Confusion is the normal state of affairs on the battlefield and all of our technology can do nothing to change that.


Cover – Buildings, foliage, caves, tunnels, camouflage netting, etc. all provide cover, to a greater or lesser extent, from radar, IR, EO, lasers, and satellites. 


Decoys – Decoys don’t hide anything but they degrade sensor performance by presenting false targets, adding to the previously discussed confusion.



What if any, many, or all of these mitigating conditions exist on a battlefield (and they will ! )?  Our omniscient sensing will be suddenly rendered suspect or useless.  What then?  Our entire foundation of future battle is based on a concept whose failings and vulnerabilities are readily anticipatable.  What then? 


What if our sensors, networks, communications, and artificial intelligence command and control systems are degraded or rendered useless?  What do we actually have to fall back on?  Frighteningly, the answer is … nothing.  We have no fall back mode of operation.  No alternatives.  No safety net.


What should be the ‘what if’ solution?  What do you fall back on when everything else falls apart?  Why, firepower, of course … broad area, high explosive, non-precision, erase entire grid squares, raw firepower.  Firepower makes up for a whole lot of mistakes, capability gaps, sensor failures, and intelligence shortcomings.  Not sure exactly where the enemy is?  No problem … blanket any suspect areas with high explosives and you’ve solved the problem.  You can figure out later which area they were actually in … if you can find any pieces of them large enough to identify.


The problem is that we’ve been eliminating firepower.  The Marines have shed all their tanks and much of their artillery.  We’ve allowed our anti-ship missile, the Harpoon, to become obsolete with only the possibility of the LRASM to replace it and budget constraints make that a dubious proposition.  We’re dropping thousands of VLS cells as we begin retiring Ticonderogas and Burkes and replacing them with small, weak, unmanned vessels.  We’re dropping the already weak 5” gun in favor of the 57mm overgrown machine gun.  We’ve got a looming submarine shortfall.  We’ve significantly cut back our SSBN deterrence in terms of both numbers of subs and numbers of missile tubes.  The Marines have eliminated their large 120 mm mortars.  Our offensive mine inventory is almost non-existent.  The SSGN is being retired without replacement.  The Perry class frigates were replaced by the non-combat LCS.  And the list goes on.


Any good battle operation planner routinely plans for failure scenarios, for the the things that can go wrong.  Contingency plans are drawn up to account  for and compensate for the unexpected and for the things that go wrong because … things always go wrong.  This is just good, solid, battle planning and yet, we have no such contingency plan for when our entire future combat model falls apart – and it will.  The only question is to what extent it will fail and considering the sheer number of failure modes, the extent of failure is likely to be significant.  The contingency plan should be pure, raw firepower and yet we’re divesting ourselves of firepower.  We need to reverse this trend and begin emphasizing firepower as we always have in the past. 


What’s the downside to building our firepower back up?  There isn’t one!  Worst case – meaning if it turns out that our networks work flawlessly – we’re left with excess firepower that didn’t get used.  Nothing wrong with that.







(1)Defense One website, “Want to Understand the Future of War? Talk to Chuck Krulak”, Tobias Naegele, 3-Feb-2018,


  1. As the saying goes, no plan survives contact with the enemy.
    Furthermore, US network-centric vision is very well known, so China and other developed "system destruction warfare" to counter it.

    America won't always fight primitive third world heathens.

  2. "We were weak in any kind of close terrain" is a pretty damning admission.

  3. I still can't believe (despite having read it multiple times) that the US no longer has tanks stationed in Europe. Note that we have ~8,000 of them in inventory, mostly in CONUS. So even when we do have firepower, it's in the wrong place. And yet the Navy almost never talks about convoy escort...

    1. "I still can't believe (despite having read it multiple times) that the US no longer has tanks stationed in Europe."

      I don't have a problem with that since I don't believe we should be stationed in Europe, at all. The combined forces of Europe have more than enough to defeat any Russian incursion. It is long past time for Europe to stand on its own.

      In the immediate aftermath of WWII, there was good reason for us to be in Europe but that reason has long since expired.

    2. As I understand it, the Soviets did not plan on intercepting REFORGER convoys as they considered that a good way to loose their SSNs; the doctrine for their SSNs was to hole up and defend the SSBN bastios and keep American carriers away from shore.

      Depending on what these hypothetical convoys are carrying and where they're going, I'm not entirely sure the Chinese would try to go for commerce raiding. For instance, blockading Guam: that'd take them outside their backyard of the First Island Chain, where all their defenses are. Much easier instead to just fire IRBMs at Guam and call it a day, or fire ASBMs into said convoy's ships as they're all docked pierside unloading.

    3. "As I understand it, the Soviets did not plan on intercepting REFORGER convoys "

      I've not seen anything along those lines. What I have seen is that the Soviets would have protected their SSBNs in their bastions but that does not preclude attacking convoys.

      In addition to SSNs, the Soviets had vast armadas of long range bomber regiments which would be suitable for attacking carriers or convoys.

      If you have any links to specific reports about Soviet plans I'd love to see them. It's a fascinating topic.

    4. I think I dropped a few words there, I meant "intercepting REFORGER convoys with their SSNs". The Backfire regiments were indeed the preferred option.

      This came up in a discussion elsewhere, I'll go digging for more details.

  4. Who is supposed to deliver the combat supplies to support this massive firepower ? Our huge merchant marine?, protected by ???? crickets?

    Krulak may want to read up ye old infantry, line infantry
    wants to be in close terrain, the days of receiving cavalry charge in squares is long gone.

  5. I think it was in Jane's Weekly just read that USMC got rid of their mortars and now wondering what to replace them with....TA,DA!!: some kind of suicide drone!

    I highly doubt those suicide drones are going to be as cheap or plentiful as just regular 120mmm mortar round....not sure you can "fire for effect" with 1 or 2 drones. Plus, any doubt that the bad guys will show up with ECM gear and just jam our suicide drones?!? You can't jam a plain dumb 120mmm mortar or 155mm artillery round!

    Why are we making it easier for the bad guys to stick around?!? Is it just so LMT, RTN or NG can make their quarter look good?!?

    Plus,anybody worry that even if all our fancy stuff works, enemy is going to get a few shots in and destroy some of our gear, what do you want to replace and rebuild fast? A drone (90% that come from China!) or a cheap mortar? Thats just one example, im sure there's plenty more where we are replacing OK quantity for extreme exquisite fragile quality....

    1. Those drones are something unreal like 85k a pop.

    2. Loitering munitions make a certain amount of sense depending on your paradigm and CONOPS - note Azerbaijan and Armenia, for example. It all depends on what you want them to do.

      In Hypernotes Scorch of Black Powder Red Earth, Crisis Troop Scorch, a company-sized formation, uses loitering munitions for cross-border raids into the nation of Qasran. Predator and tactical fighters are off the table because Qasran has a sophisticated early warning net and IADS supplied by their patron China, so what Scorch does is that they drive across the border, then deploy the Scoria RS drones just before they hit the target. The Scorias have 8K HD cameras and IIR, and the techs accompanying the assault squads use the drones to provide ISR overwatch and service calls for fire.

      A Scoria RS is small enough to fit a Common Launch Tube, 6 of which can fit the Kalahari UTVs Scorch uses. 2 Kalaharis to a squad, 3 squads to a platoon, 3 platoons to a full company, means 18 Kalaharis and up to 108 tubes for Scoria. Ofc the small size means that range and loiter is extremely limited, 20 minutes at best, but this is an acceptable compromise for a unit that plans to spend no more than 24 hours on the objective.

      Anyway my point is that it all comes down to execution.

    3. "Anyway my point is that it all comes down to execution."

      This covers two of my overarching themes:

      1. This kind of mini-story (to be fair, I haven't read it and am going only off of your description) illustrates the concept/use but also assumes a totally hapless, inept enemy who can't see units crossing their border, have no patrols out, have no aerial surveillance of their border, and have no defenses. In other words, it makes for a nice story but a poor force structure plan. So, if all those factors come to pass, then this technology would work. Of course, if an enemy is that hapless, a Boy Scout troop with slingshots would be sufficient to beat them. As long as we understand that the story is for illustrative purposes only and is not meant to be the basis for establishing realistic force structures then that's fine. However, disturbingly, the US military is using such descriptions as justifications for force structure.

      2. This kind of description (setting aside the problems noted in the previous point) is NOT a war-effective military solution. At best (assuming all the utterly unrealistic assumptions in the previous point hold true), the result is a minor raid that has no impact on an actual war. Now, if all you're looking for is cross-border nuisance actions and your enemy is inept, then this might be a great capability. On the other hand, if you're looking to build a war-winning military force, this is the next best thing to useless.

      Again, to be fair, I didn't read it and I don't know what the authors were trying to convey. I'm using your description of their work to make a point(s) of my own.

    4. A related point is the question of how much effort, money, and resources do you/we want to put into 'peacetime', non-peer war capabilities? The US military has, over the last couple decades, built a force that is far too focused on and equipped for peacetime work and is now scrambling to regain peer war capabilities. We were so focused on minor terrorist threats and middle east quagmires that we lost sight of our real military purpose which is to wage and win peer war. We built and entire LCS class that has no peer war use. We built an entire aviation fleet of F-35s that are only marginally suited for peer war. We built a class of Zumwalt that … well … no one really knows why we built them. We've downsized from tanks to all-terrain vehicles. And so on.

    5. (1)
      "Again, to be fair, I didn't read it and I don't know what the authors were trying to convey. I'm using your description of their work to make a point(s) of my own."

      I feel you might have a better appreciation of what is being conveyed if you read the work.

      Assuming you don't want to wait another 5 years for the Netflix animated series (which will cover events after the Hypernotes), you could always just drop 5 USD on the patreon and get digital copies of Hypernotes Scorch, Hypernotes Ember, and the previous three graphic novel series (of which physical copies are now going for hundreds of dollars!), and then immediately unsubscribe and never need to pay anything else. ;) I could, I suppose, try to email them to you, but I think that would be a nonstarter, given how private you are with your email (and anyhow, I think it's well worth the expense).

      To elaborate a bit more: East Qasran, on the porous border with Awbari, has been ceeded to the Aayari Network as a special autonomous region, with the understanding that the Network is going to stay there and leave the rest of Qasran alone, allowing Qasran a measure of deniability as it uses the Aayari Network its proxy in destabilising Awbari and smuggling out rare earth materials (all for the sake of Hongbin Alloy, a proxy of the PRC's Ministry of State Security. Proxies of Proxies...) The Aayari Network is happy, confident and complacent, believing that basing in Qasran means it's untouchable, that Awbari wouldn't dare regularly invade a neighbouring nation to retaliate.

      This state of mind lasts right up until Scorch repeatedly crosses the border, attacking the border clades the Network operates from, intercepting and wiping out their smuggling operations, hunting their leadership in their home villages and destroying their infrastructure, and even totally destroying border clades to deny them to the Network. Caught off-guard, the Network and Hongbin are forced to play catch up in an attempt to stem the bleeding. The Network goes on a massive recruiting drive, while Hongbin arranges for the border surveillance net, which was aimed at detecting _aerial_ intrusion, to be beefed up with more ground surveilance measures, and starts embedding its personnel as advisors with the Network's fighters.

      Scorch's doctrine with the Scoria drones is that each platoon is carrying its own drones in their vehicles, so that they can have some ISR and CAS support inside non-permissive battlespace. It should be noted that these are an additional asset to augment artillery delivered from the Awbari side of the border: precision attack to complement area bombardment.

    6. (2)To sum up, Scorch is exploiting a very specific set of circumstances:

      - A relatively short timeframe of operations (13 months) in which it had strategic surprise.
      - The porous Qasran/Awbari border that neither nation is able to strongly control;
      - The Aayari Network's doctrine to have its forces in the border clades, with nearby QRF and UAV IEDs on-call, not out patrolling.
      - Complacency on part of the opposition - the Aayari Network was not expecting retaliatory attacks.
      - Hongbin Alloy's blindspot: they were expecting any cross-border retaliation to come from helimobile forces, not overland infantry raids, hence they had early warning radars, IADS, and the Qasran Air Force on standby to intercept aerial intruders. After the Scorch raids begin, Hongbin starts stepping up their game, beefing up border surveillance measures, supplying the border clades with 7G jammers, embedding advisors with Network fighters. They don't get results immediately: they spend the rest of the year playing catch up, not helped by their revenue stream being distrupted by Scorch intercepting smuggled REM shipments intended for Hongbin (which is supposed to make a _profit_ for the PRC).

      "the result is a minor raid that has no impact on an actual war."

      To be fair, the Awbari setting (which is essentially Libya with the serial numbers filed off) is a proxy war that's being fought between proxies of proxies of proxies, with both sides regularly raiding each other (and when you're intercepting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of REM shipments and destruction of a lot of Chinese proxies, minor can be a relative term). Neither side is willing to escalate into an actual war; Awbari is still recovering from a civil war several years prior, Qasran risks losing its stability and gains in a hot war, and Hongbin needs REM shipmets to continue, which won't happen in a shooting war.

      But we're getting a fair bit off-track.

      My point to NICO is that a sweeping statement of "suicide drone bad" is too broad, because loitering munitions are tools, not end-all be-alls. The Azerbaijan-Armenian War is a good example of how a military can use loitering munitions in a peer conflict, against an adversary with SHORAD assets of its own. It's all tools and how you use them.

    7. "I could, I suppose, try to email them to you, "

      Please don't. While this sounds mildly interesting, I have a reading backlog of many books and dozens of articles!

    8. For a real world example of endless raids and counter-raids, I look at Israel and Palestine/Hezbollah/Iran. Lessons include:

      1. The utter futility and, in the long run, increased death toll (and monetary, development, etc. tolls) of allowing an enemy to exist on your border. This leads to truly endless conflict and death as opposed to a decisive military solution.

      2. The pointlessness of raids that, in the big picture, accomplish nothing but engendering more raids.

      3. The ignoring of fundamental concepts of war such as identifying and striking centers of gravity.

      4. The uselessness of a policy of restraint or measured response. No amount of restraint has prevented either side from lessening their attacks over any significant period of time.

      5. The opportunity cost of endless conflict. How much development could both sides (or just one side, in the case of a total victory) have achieved if the conflict had been ended decades ago?

      6. The forced focusing of Israel's military on border skirmishes as opposed to developing higher level war capabilities. The Merkava tank is an example of a machine developed for a niche task of restrained urban semi-conflict instead of a being designed for major war.

      And the lessons continue.

      The overwhelming lesson is: end it and move on.

      The US made the same mistake, for quite some time with ISIS. Being unwilling to achieve total victory, we allowed ISIS to continue to exist and, as a result, many thousands more civilians died while we attempted to avoid collateral damage.

    9. The point I wanted to make to NICO is that loitering munitions is all a matter of how you use them. The Azerbaijanis have used them to good effect, afterall...

      With the Scoria drones, essentially the question the author is trying to answer is "How do you operate like the US, when you do not have access to SOCOM's budget and resources, where you do not have the USAF to force the airspace into being permissive airspace for ISR and CAS?"

      I think it's not invonceivable that in the future, we're going to see loitering munitions pushed down to the battalion level, if not company. There are already UAVs of varying sizes for the squad, platoon, and company. In a world where air superiority is contested, where enemy IADS is forcing conventional fixed wing ISR like Predator away (like Kosovo), it may well become necessary for the ground force to bring their own expendable drones along to provide organic ISR and precision attack.

      Right now, the US doesn't need loitering munitions because you've got Predator loitering all day long overhead, you've got CAS and BAI on call from the Air Force. But if the Air Force cannot contest the sky, if the airspace is not permissive for ISR and CAS, then the Army needs to pick up the slack with its own assets. That's where loitering munitions like the IAI Harop, like the fictional Scoria, come into play.

    10. "if the airspace is not permissive for ISR and CAS, then the Army needs to pick up the slack with its own assets."

      This was a really good comment. You're captured the essence of what I see as the correct use of UAVs: large numbers, small vehicles (land or air), cheap, expendable, and used at lower organizational levels. I've done many posts on various aspects of this including UAV carriers, UAW surveillance swarms from cruisers, and so on.

      You summed it up really well and you appear to have a solid handle on the concept. Really nice comment.

      So, with all that in mind, it leads to questions like how to apply the concept to ships instead of land combat? Where's the sweet spot that balances capability versus size/cost? How important is stealth for these kinds of UAVs? How do we tie individual, small unit UAV surveillance 'pictures' together to get a larger area/region wide picture and/or should we even try? If small UAVs can help small units operate, how do we address the wide area/region surveillance that we need if large UAVs are not survivable? How do we deal with the enemy tracking UAVs back to their source and revealing our ships/units? Should combat UAVs be one-way suiciders to avoid backtracking? And so on.

      Take a shot at addressing any of those questions. I'd love to hear some more well-considered views on these topics.

      Again, really good comment.

  6. Even assuming that all of these aforementioned factors is ignored, wouldn't the concept still don't work because we are humans? Wouldn't it take time for us to react to an order and decide what to do? This opportunity cost mentioned here is even more profound considering that we are mostly able to track enemy units in very limited time. Assuming that the decision came after the lost in tracking, wouldn't an general area weapon would just solve the issue?

    I assume here that you wanted to address the technical issue and that's why you didn't mention these aspects. However, a human role exploration in this concept may prove interesting. For instance, what would the role of a ship's captain be in these concepts? Would they be a middle-man in carrying out the admiral (or whoever is higher) orders? Would they have the ability to prioritize their own survival over the concept survival? Would they make decisions regarding their ship or let the PHD engineers decide it? I think the Navy is certainly going down the first road but I guess that would mean they need officers that absolutely believe in concept and not question the validity of it to make it truly work.

    That however couldn't be answered without answering if knowing more about the overall battleground is more combat effective than having local knowledge and the most up-to-date assessment of the battlefield. I hope someone is answering this before we jumping into this concept without thinking twice again.

    1. Based on my reading, they want to centralize control at theater or combatant level. They want to provide this level of command with "targeting" level data, as in the theater commander ashore in Norfolk would have direct access to the targeting data provided by tactical sensors. As in, the theater commander would have the real-time IRST or thermal/video image of the target on which to base their decisions.

      There is no way this would work in a high tempo combat environment, even assuming perfect technology and communication links. It's too much span for one commander and requires them to have the detailed tactical knowledge of ALL of the systems under their command since they are bypassing the front-line command level. The assumption is that AI will plug the gaps. For example the AI would decide whether to fire an IR or SARH AAM at the target aircraft on the theater commander's decision to fire.

      You can see how this wonderfully meshes with the enthusiasm for unmanned weapons. If the theater commander can pull the trigger from 2,000 mi away. then we don't really "need" any of the grunts on the sharp end. You can then cut your "headcount" and put the money into more new fancy weapon systems so as to ensure your post-service career in the defense industry. Just make sure you retire before a major high-intensity war starts...

    2. "Even assuming that all of these aforementioned factors is ignored, wouldn't the concept still don't work because we are humans? Wouldn't it take time for us to react to an order and decide what to do?"

      The end goal seems to be a system that operates without humans in the loop.
      Aegis already can do that.

    3. Except they do want a human in the loop, at the theater level. As I said in my note to CNO about DMO, data integration at a tactical level (ex. NTU and Aegis) are good and should be evolved. But the brass can't bear to limit it to a proper level of command (TF commander for example) and want to exercise control from thousands of miles away.

    4. Jay Kay,thank you for your response. I vaguely understand a similar concept but that confirms my suspicion. That worries me however, because that's another bigger issue at hand of the opportunity cost that we can't simply ignored. A TF commander is not familiar with eaxh ship equipment as he expected to be and will take some time getting use to a new situation. He may use an expert on the ship but there's still a huge penalty to this,the expert simply can not be familiar with the state of the all the ships in the theater at any time.

      On the otherhand, how does high-intensity combat will look like? Multiple threats combined with overloaded amount of information for example. Will the constant updates and micromanagement will simply overload the TF commander? Would they expect AI to take in charge of this? If we return the control back to the ship commanders, what's the point for this micromanagement? The TF commander in the DMO is that single point of failure that I worries the most. How do we expect to competently develop multiple TF commanders in case one is relieved for unsatisfactory reasons? That cost time and money that is better of spending back on the ship commanders.

      Just a random thought, if a war happened, I expect the Chinese to do all they can to sabotage the command in Norfolk by all means. Whatever it is I expect very few and limited directions from the higher up and most transmissions received will be interpreted by the commanders (mostly on their own). Then we all come back to Doctrine in the end.

  7. This is spot on!!! Firepower will always be king!! We have sacrificed so much in the pursuit of information and precision strike, that we cant saturate when needed. We've spent the budget on exquisite, and forgotten that the "dumber" weapons are not only necessary, but cheaper and easier to build/replace!! We will face a reckoning when our wonderful networks detect massive amounts of the enemy, and we dont have enough firepower to deal with it.

  8. Kurt Vonnegut predicted all this in his 1952 first novel, PLAYER PIANO. In it one of the characters was drafted and fighting in Korea when attacked by Chinese 1000-man patrols. His unit's weapons are all automated but the batteries have died so his unit is going to be overrun. He becomes a hero when he is able to generate a spark which causes all the weapons to fire and wipe out the enemy (and no telling what else).. Great Read on the joys of automation.

  9. "We’ve allowed our anti-ship missile, the Harpoon, to become obsolete"

    Indeed, Harpoon has fallen behind technologically. Navy had overlooked this for a long time as they thought that attack ship is F/A-18's job thus no need for new generation long range anti-ship missiles. As other nations advance on this area, Navy finally waken up. First, LASRAM is more advanced than Harpoon (but still not fully matured yet). LASRAM also has much stronger counter electronic warfare capability where Harpoon has nearly none.

    Wars between superpowers are different than US bully a regional power like Iraq. Electronic warfare (such as jamming enemies' radars) is a sure thing. Weapons' spec. data are not most important but how can they function under enemies' electronic warfare is more important.

    Marine needs to train wars under strong electromagnetic attack to make sure communications still intact, precision weapons still function, radars still can detect objects, ... etc.

    Although these are topics of Army but many also applies to marine:

    Modern artillery force can no longer concentrate together but need to distribute to different small groups. They fire from different locations toward same target. After fire a few rounds, each unit needs to withdraw in hurry (Army’s target is 90 seconds). Just 3 rounds, enemies with good anti-artillery radars will find your firing positions and can then fire back.

    Large number of tanks concentrate together become a danger thing. Enemies can send many weapons to attack and destroy (helicopters, rockets, missiles, ...). Tanks need to move in many small columns.

    Maintain field communications under strong electronic attack are very important. Prepare for unexpected communication cut off and form alternates to deal with them.

  10. At the turn of the 19th to 20th century, the Royal Navy operated based on a "two power" concept, meaning that they would maintain the ability to defeat the next two strongest navies in the world, combined. I think that should be our objective today. Further, we never waste any of it in a war that we are not trying to win, and win overwhelmingly. If it directly affects a significant interest of the USA, then we fight with everything we have. If it doesn't, then a military solution is not appropriate.

    Nobody dares pick on us, and we don't go around picking on them.

    I believe a Navy, and a military, structured in accordance with these principles would be very different from what we have.

  11. Warheads on foreheads. Everything else is a distraction.

    Yes, you need to know where the foreheads are (targeting), but that's still useless without the warhead part.

    How could we forget this?

  12. I have recently been watching military history videos by MonteMayor on the Battles of Coral Sea, Midway, and Savo Island.

    While I knew the names of Coral Sea and Midway, I'd never known the details.

    Now that I do, I now realise I'm a prime example of the Dunning Kruger Effect, where I believe I know far more than I actually do, and my over confidence leads me to make sweeping comments here.

    Truly, there is do much to learn from the past.

    And only know, do I begin to have a glimpse of many of the points CNO makes.

    I mean. For example....ww2 used spotter planes. We do the same today with AWACS.

    And just like then, weather influences detection.

    And now I see why cdrsalamander keeps posting about ww2 amongst current military events.

    I'm just making an admission, not really making a point.Except maybe I've received a little enlightenment ��

    Have a good day y'all


    1. Good for you!

      I constantly refer to history because that's where lessons are offered to us, today, for free, if we'll only listen to what history is shouting at us. Of course, those lessons were paid for in blood, at the time, but they're free to us. For inexplicable reasons, the Navy refuses to learn from history.

      Enjoy your journey along the path of wisdom and enlightenment! … and make extensive use of the archives!

    2. Tough admission to make but bravo!! If you look at history, the details, like weapons, ranges, and sensors have changed, BUT, if you take a step back and generalize things, there are a ton of lessons to be discovered!! The winners and losers both provide lots of them, and sadly todays military leaders seem to dismiss history, instead creating their fantasy future with their rules. This leaves them with narrow veiws, unrealistic projections of what an enemy will do, and how battles and wars will be fought. The WWII Japanese naval leaders are a prime example of this...

    3. Fifty years ago, I didn't think that we young line officers got enough training in strategy and tactics (including naval history), Rules of the Road, and ship handling. I don't think that has gotten any better, if anything worse. At least we knew not to run into other ships or run aground.

  13. We've been too long without a real threat, a viable opponent.

    We (especially the navy) have been able to do anything we want with no consequences.

    We have been able to dabble in whatever boutique ideas are currently fashionable and never pay the price in blood.

    Now we have a serious challenge, what appears to be an existential threat, and the edifice we have constructed is not currently meeting the challenge.


  14. Is this for real?

    "From the U.S. Navy’s recent Task Force One Navy final report on diversity:

    "TF1N Pledge

    "As a key member of Task Force One Navy I will invest the time, attention and empathy required to analyze and evaluate Navywide issues related to racism, sexism, ableism and other structural and interpersonal biases.

    "I pledge to be actively inclusive in the public and private spheres where I live and work, and proactively encourage others to do the same.

    "I pledge to advocate for and acknowledge all lived experiences and intersectional identities of every Sailor in the Navy.I pledge to engage in ongoing self-reflection, education and knowledge sharing to better myself and my communities.

    "I pledge to be an example in establishing healthy, inclusive and team-oriented environments.

    "I pledge to constructively share all experiences and information gained from activities above to inform the development of Navywide reforms."

    1. I think it's parody, but hard to tell these days.

    2. I think its real. See page 10 at:

    3. If it's real, China can just relax and enjoy world domination being handed to her on a silver platter.

    4. "The 200 pages of the latest China Military Power Report, an annual document published by the Pentagon, makes it indisputably clear the US faces a strategic competitor in Asia the likes of which it has never confronted before."

      Apparently the solution to this is "abelism" and "intersectional identity" for sailors.

      Way to go.

  15. "What’s the downside to building our firepower back up? There isn’t one! Worst case – meaning if it turns out that our networks work flawlessly – we’re left with excess firepower that didn’t get used. Nothing wrong with that."

    Not only is nothing wrong with that, I'd say that is the desired state.

    1. That isn't going to happen. Never. If the balloon goes up, we're toast. We shouldn't rush the war before we prepare for things. Everyone's got a plan until someone punches you in the mouth.

    2. "we're toast."

      In this blog, I focus on the problems (and solutions!) that we have but it's important to remember that our enemies will have the same problems and, possibly, more. China, for example, has zero naval combat experience, their weapon systems are completely untried in combat, they have no institutional knowledge to draw on, their culture/govt discourages independent action and thought, etc. Compounding their problems is the fact that they're copying us which means they not only have their own problems but ours as well!

      So, as far as the 'we're toast' prediction, we may be less toast than China which is a backwards way of winning.

      With that said, China also has various things going for it (manpower, industrial capacity, geography, etc.) so we shouldn't be complacent based on 'we're less bad than they are'. We should be working to get better which is why I offer this blog.

  16. What if? They assume a permanent state of "Never happen", Skipper. It's been laid out here and at Carlton Meyers and others for years. They built not for what if, they built and man for 'Never happen". Then they go around the world inviting 'what if'. I'm gonna be really pissed if they get a bunch of boys and girls killed with their theories and platforms derived from the pie-in-the-sky.


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