Russia And Greece

If you missed the story of Russia coming close to getting both Zelensky and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Prime Minister of Greece, I’m not surprised. Very little coverage (and downplayed) in corporate media. Little surprised at that given how many seem to want to escalate things, and killing the PM of Greece would surely do that.

Over on Twitter, I remarked that either Vladimir had become untethered from reality, or that the people under him did not have the sense God gave a gopher (embrace the healing power of ‘and’ I know). Someone immediately took me to task for failing to understand that Russia and Russian’s don’t think the way we do. No duh. Also, great way to tell me you’ve never read a word I’ve written about Russia since I’ve been jumping up and down on mores and how they don’t think like us since the early 80s.

However, I stand by what I said. Here’s why. For all that I’ve tried to point out that Vladimir and Russia made the decision to invade without consideration for or of world opinion, that it was strictly based on internal considerations, I also will admit that he did take a quick look at the world before committing. Fact is, Vladimir does not think much of Joe Biden or the Regency, nor much for most other Western leaders. His thought was that they would not really do anything other than talk. That once the offer of evac was rejected by Zelensky, they actually did support Ukraine and provide aid was a bit of a shock. Coupled with the results of rampant corruption in/of the military, things went badly. To be polite. Of course, using the same plan as ’68 down to many of the same units without updating wasn’t exactly optimal.

For all that Vladimir and most of the top people in Russia (including his opposition) are mostly focused on internal issues and perceptions, they also do have to have some consideration for world reaction. There are, after all, certain diplomatic niceties that have to be observed, including being fairly certain that if you off the leader of another nation, that nation and others are likely to be a tad bit upset.

Now, Vladimir doesn’t consider Greece to be a threat, as they are not a member of the nuclear club. Compared to the official numbers of Russian troops, ships, etc., the Greek military is not a threat. Problem for Vladimir is that those official numbers are crap, and they are only producing new weapons with massive help from Western companies who are cheerfully defying all blockades and sanctions to provide Russia with components and equipment. Previously posted my thoughts on that.

Fact is, Greece is in a geographic position to be a huge pain in Russia’s rump if things go hot between them. Russia depends heavily on a lot of “civilian” shipping that has to pass through the Aegean Sea to or from it’s way to the Black Sea. Vladimir it seems thinks that Greece will do nothing if their PM gets offed while in Ukraine. I think he’s very, very wrong.

If not a serious attempt to get Zelensky and Mitsotakis, it was very much a message. Vladimir has already made clear his thoughts about Greece supporting Ukraine, and on the visit. If he thought wacking the leader of another country like he would opposition at home was a good idea, he has become so focused on internal that he’s lost all contact with the outside world and how it operates. Hence, untethered.

Now, if this was “just” an attack on Odessa harbor by Russia’s military as claimed, that they launched it while the PM of another country was there visiting then they clearly don’t have the brains God gave a gopher.

Somehow I doubt that they did this without approval of higher, which pretty much means Vladimir. So, at best it was a message and at worst it was an attempt to eliminate two key opposition figures — which is how Vladimir sees it. Fact is, he doesn’t see Greece as a threat. Then again, he didn’t see Ukraine as a threat either. Have the feeling that this attack is going to have repercussions that somewhat (repeat, somewhat) echo the latter. Getting the strong impression that Mitsotakis was not cowed, but may even be pissed off. I don’t think that’s going to end up going well for Vladimir, who needs to start thinking past the end of his nose.

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Fictional Scenario Follow-Up

There are a LOT of good comments on the original Fictional Scenario post. Thank you all! Rather than try to address them and some other points that have been sent individually, allow me to respond with this post.

Why do it as a fictional story? Well, the basic reason is that it will get a lot wider audience as a fiction story, and it is more likely to make money than cost money. It’s a tactic that actually been done for quite a while now, and often because if you try to submit certain ideas up the chain, or to a peer-reviewed publication, you know it’s not going anywhere but the circular file. Oftentimes with your career.

In fact, there are several popular science fiction stories that were created because the author knew that to present the ideas other than in fiction would be a career killer for a scientist. Couple of thriller shorts were along the same line, as higher had made it clear it didn’t want to hear about anything involving X (country, weapon, etc.). Understand China fits that X a good bit these days…

So, a fiction story has a better chance of being read, discussed, and benefiting the author. It might actually get read by the policy makers that need to read it. It also has a nice bit of plausible deniability for said author.

Now, for the containers. The K-pods were a good add to the discussion, and I wonder how much the Iranians paid attention to them in designing the CONEX pod they just used for the demonstration missile launch? Using such a standard pod simplifies a lot of logistics, and it is amazing the possibilities for them (Bruce was well on the mark there).

Depending on the missile used, you can potentially load up to four in a standard container, along with all the necessary command and control equipment. Keep in mind that anyone likely to do this could pull from Chinese, Russian, and Iranian missiles. Not to mention North Korean contributions, though I don’t see that as realistic at this time. I went with one weapon per container for a number of reasons, including not wanting to have the basic concept dismissed out of hand by certain bureaucratic types that are best avoided. KISS, in other words.

Also, no crew is needed in the pods. Such as system, as recently demonstrated by the Iranians, can easily be controlled from a laptop or console aboard the ship carrying the containers. It would not be too hard to even arrange for hydraulic jacks to lift one end up for an angled launch.

As for use of hypersonic, that was deliberate as certain buzzwords do hit the bingo card in DC. If you want people to pay attention (that need to), sadly you do seem to have to play buzzword bingo.

Reality is, the best choice for something like the first strike scenario described is a mixed load. Even non-hypersonic cruise missiles fired at that range are capable of hitting key targets in five or so minutes. Use faster (but accurate) weapons for longer distances, go for precision on the short range, and you get a devastating attack that takes out key targets before most even know they are under attack. There are even some inventive ways (including cross targeting from other ships involved) to take out some target areas with multiple warheads without worry of nuclear fratricide.

As for some of the target choices I made, while a number of bases are now reduced or officially offline, a number of our potential enemies have studied our history and know exactly how fast we could turn things around and make use of them. The lessons of WWII may be lost to much of our leadership, but I fear not to others. If you take out certain bases and/or areas, you eliminate our ability to build and sustain operations in opposition to other hostile activities. Activities that are the root cause of the fictional first strike.

Before I forget, it is worth noting that in the real world Russia has been taking a large number of high-precision cruise missiles out of strategic service, mating them with conventional warheads, and using them against Ukraine without replacements in the pipe. As Arte used to say, “Very Interesting!” and is something I am not sure is getting the attention it should. In turn, they are also buying a number of high-precision weapons from Iran for use for the same purpose. If I do decide to go back and finish this story, may have to make the load a mix of Chinese and Iranian missiles, with only some from Russia.

As for the countries involved, think about this a moment. Russia wants Russkiy Mir, and Ukraine is but the first step towards that. Iran has its own regional ambitions. China is not just focused on Taiwan, but has plans for the South China Sea and south even unto Australia. Remove the U.S. as a threat, and all three have the opening they need to act.

Ability is a different matter, as China is tottering more than most realize; Russia is not in good shape; and, Iran is one good match from seeing a new revolution. Just keep in mind that desperate people do desperate things, and the current leadership of all three fit that mold. So, don’t see this as likely but it is still something that needs to be considered.

More soon, I hope.

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Fictional Scenario

Wednesday, I mentioned a bit of fiction that Iran may have sidelined. It got some good comments, so I thought I would share some of the background that led to the story on which I was working.

Short version is that most of our detection capability is focused offshore, and not from the shoreline inwards. Large shipping containers can make quite nice missile launchers that could be heavily shielded to prevent detection. China owns/controls several hundred large container ships, ships that could potentially have fifty or so such launchers in the top layer. Even if you dropped that to twenty or so, still plenty but 50 strikes me as a realistic number for this exercise.

If you go with hypersonic cruise missiles, horizontal or elevated launch is doable. There is also a way to do vertical launch, but for purposes of the scenario I elected to keep with the horizontal/elevated launch as you could avoid putting the missiles up high enough for rapid detection.

Now, if you have ships sailing into/towards Baltimore, Philadelphia, Savannah, San Diego, Long Beach, San Francisco Bay, Seattle, Houston, Hawai’i, and Anchorage, you’ve got excellent coverage. It might even be possible to get one into the Great Lakes, which would be icing on top. In pretty much every case, you are effectively launching from inside the country.

In the case of Baltimore, you would be talking five minutes or less to the targets in or near DC. That includes the White House and Pentagon, Langley, Andrews, etc. From there, bit longer gets you the bases stretching east, including Newport News, Quantico, and a few others. Now, expand that out and you are also taking out Beale and surrounding bases near SF, all of the bases around San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and all the facilities in Alaska. The ship at Savanah could not only take out Kings Bay, but Robbins, Mayport, Jacksonville, Canaveral, McDill, and others (like Barksdale). Even with hypersonics, you are talking longer to hit St. Louis, Omaha, the missile fields, etc.; but, still far short of ICBM time. The San Diego and Houston ships could also send some love towards the Mountain and Peterson, Ft. Hood, Dyess, Little Rock, etc. Great Lakes ship could not only send love towards the missile fields, but hit Wright-Pat, Grissom, Crane, and other inland targets. That’s not all the targets, but it gives you an idea.

In some respects, it is very similar to the targeting the AF chose in that little Rand video they did that had sub-launched missiles taking out our ability to hit the Soviets. The one who’s footage got used in The Day After. Largest difference is that you could have enough launchers to go for the secondary targets (state capitals, industry, etc.) even as you take out C&C and primary response.

May still try to finish it, but that’s the gist. Since there was interest, thought I would share.

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Intelligence, OST, Thoughts

This is still going to be shorter than I would like, but things are afoot. I will say that the whole “Intelligence” issue that was supposed to be such a major security threat to the US seems much more a lack-of-intelligence/too-much-politics issue though it does raise some interesting possibilities.

Going back to my original post, FM made some very good comments I urge you to read. Nukes in space don’t do like they do on the ground. Take a look at what happened with Starfish Prime for an example. Not too long after, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which happened to ban such activity well before the Outer Space Treaty (OST). While Vladimir has pulled Russia out of most treaties of late, officially no one has set anything off in near-Earth orbit or deeper space since then.

I do seem to recall someone proposing to use nukes to clean up debris in Earth orbit, but that may have been during some informal discussions. Regardless, the idea and the originator were figuratively beaten about the head and shoulders. Just going to say look to Starfish Prime for reasons why.

Russia does have ASAT weapons and they do work. One was “tested” not too long ago and the ISS and other objects are still having to maneuver to avoid the debris created by the destruction of an old (Soviet?) Russian satellite. That is about all I can say on the topic of ASATs and SDI.

I will note that, in my personal opinion, a lot of marxist/communist fellow-travelers in the U.S. have long used the OST to hamstring both civilian and military space activities to the benefit of the Soviets and now Russians. According to them, any effort ground or space to develop SDI was a violation of treaty and some of them worked very hard to kill our efforts.

A good bit of focus of such efforts now is not just military, but commercial. Under the OST, most commercial is effectively banned if not formally banned. This, along with the ridiculous pious hand waving and screaming about how doing orbital extraction and processing would be an environmental disaster (yep, that’s a real thing), as would any human habitation on any celestial body be it the Moon or an asteroid. And, yes, there are real efforts underway to enact treaties and laws to ban such. Pay attention, as they really do want you and humanity as a whole trapped.

Personal opinion is that the OST has been twisted beyond pretzel status from the start, and is a treaty from which we should (must) formally withdraw. The non-binding Artemis Accords are somewhat better, but we need clear support for commerical, private property in space, and the use and exploitation of resources. Without such, any business will be taking a huge risk to pursue such.

There have been rumors for a while, that while a signatory to the OST, China was looking to violate it by claiming if not the entire lunar surface, good and important chunks of it. Including use of military force to defend such claim. Is such possible? Yes. Is it probable? Not at this time, not with the economic and other crises facing China and the CCP. That said, China is pushing hard to not only move into orbit, but have footholds elsewhere as well. It will be interesting to see where that goes.

Before I forget, again, the banning of WMD (nukes) from space not only was to protect Earth and the magnetic fields, but to keep things simple in regards attack detection. FM may have brought this up, but having nukes in orbit greatly complicates attack detection. Is that a nuke or a data/sample return mission (keep in mind that many spy satellites physically returned film and other media to the ground for quite a while)? When weapons can come from any direction, including straight up, it does indeed make it difficult for the defenders. See also yesterday’s post.

So, winding up. Could Russia use nukes in orbit to take out satellites, including via use of undeclared weapons put up as part of other payloads? Yep. Are they likely to? Different question, and I hope not. I will simply say I don’t think that would work out they way some seem to think it would. Should we leave the OST and any other binding or non-binding agreement that limits commercial activities? Yes. A thousand times yes.

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About That Intel Issue

That is so serious it is requiring multiple meetings, lots of SCIF briefings, and is apparently being leaked madly in the name of saving the Republic (cough, choke, wheeze). Oh, and is also being linked to crucial, crucial I say funding for Ukraine and is so important no money can be wasted on our borders… Sigh.

For now, color me skeptical, unimpressed, and needing jusssssst a touch more info (/end Harry Doyle/Bob Uecker voice) to be convinced. Right now, the bookmakers are putting good odds on it being the Russians, in the library with a candlestick, er, in space with nukes.

Okay, I’ll bite. One, nukes are about the only credible threat Russia has right now, and even it is a bit wobbly in my opinion. I still subscribe to my ‘tyranny of the 20 percent’ concept in which I think they (or us) will be lucky to get 20 percent of the weapons and/or weapons systems to work. Just look at how well Nikita’s, er, Vladimir’s demo launch worked during Biden’s visit to Ukraine.

For as much as I am NOT a fan of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, and would like to see us either re-negotiate the majority in light of commercial operations or withdraw from them, there are some interesting and needed weapons provisions that I think are good things even though I’m also more than a little suspicious that China (1983 signatory I think) is well on its way to scrapping some key lunar and orbital points. For that matter, I’m pretty sure Russia has already violated it a time or two (but that’s true for pretty much every treaty they have signed).

Until there is more information, there’s not a lot that can be said — which is not going to stop the grifters and pundits from putting forth thousands of empty words. I’m going to wait and see what comes out other than leaks, then offer some analysis and thoughts. Until then, just consider my cynicism as a given.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

A Different Type Of Irrational Actor

In several of the posts in my category on nuclear use and/or war, I talk about the “actors” involved. No, not the Hollyweird types but the (so-called) leaders of various nuclear powers.

Back when such was primarily the U.S. and Soviet Union, the basic feeling was that both parties were rational actors. That is, they were of reasonably sound mind, had rational interests in protecting the lives and livelihoods of their respective countries, and were not bent on destroying the world. Even as the club grew, this remained the basic framework for evaluation and consideration of the actions of those people.

There was always at least some (lip) service given to the potential for madmen to get control of a weapon or even a missile or plane. Or, that some form of technological failure would set things off. The presumptions behind Fail Safe (book and movie) was about the former, while the satire Dr. Strangelove presented the latter. That said, both dealt with larger-scale events and both led to efforts to prevent or mitigate same. Twilight’s Last Gleaming looked at someone gaining control of a nuclear missile command post/silo. The ridiculous The Manhattan Project looked at a student building an atomic bomb. Dawn’s Early Light examined rogue Soviet agents firing a missile from Turkey to provoke an exchange.

As far as the public (and media of the day) were concerned, the real problems lay with rational actors and the chance for mistakes or other to lead to an exchange. The public sentiment seemed to be that rational actors would otherwise never consider a nuclear exchange. The chance of a madman/terrorist getting a bomb was not considered real in terms of public perceptions. For those actually involved with security and proliferation, it was a larger concern than was generally shared with the public. So, between the perceptions of the public outlined above via movies, and concerns for safety, as weapon design advanced so did the safety mechanisms. PIDs (which could be snap hooks or cheap padlocks) were replaced by PALs. At least for some weapons, which is why the loss of the Soviet arms depot just before the Soviet Union came apart was (and is) worrying to the pros. Odds of any such weapons still being viable, if they ever existed or were missing, is slim. That said, the materials and parts within them are potentially a different matter. If they were there, real, and missing that is.

So, what happens when a state with nuclear weapons is not a rational actor in accordance with the basic framework? What happens when it’s not one madman who gets in charge, but rather an entire government that has a very different take on the world and what is rational within it?

It’s a very interesting question, and one we may get to explore more than theoretically in the coming days. A certain degree of lip service, if that, has been given to the concept of a state that has a very different take on politics and religion, but the “experts” have tended to push that they would behave as rational actors. My thoughts on that have never been in full (or most other) agreement as the leaders of such a country would not think as we think, within a framework of thought crafted by Western civilization. Pretty much the “mores” argument on dealing with the Soviets/Russians, but with added mayhem.

So, in the last week we’ve had a country, that if it is not already a nuclear weapons power is extremely close to being such, attacking multiple countries not just by proxy but directly via ballistic missiles — including three that are believed to be nuclear powers. This on top of conducting “covert” operations on a wide scale, possibly into the Americas. A government hanging on in many ways by a thread with a population that is a powder keg looking for a spark. A government that is a theocracy that makes typical repression look tame. A government that advocates and works for their version of Armageddon as it will bring about the return of the hidden imam and the creation of a world-wide Islamic caliphate.

By no measure can Iran be considered a typical rational actor in terms of nuclear use/non-use scenarios. In fact, I consider them far more unstable than North Korea, and that’s saying something. Especially given a number of rather troubling developments with Kim and the North Korean government/military that don’t bode well for a peaceful 2024. That’s a nightmare that I will leave for others to explain. In regards Iran, you have a regime that has no regard for human life on any level. Such is a Western concept they reject completely and totally. They consider lives outside of themselves as even less than those they wantonly kill or maim to stay in power.

Aside from the U.S. and Israel, Iran has chosen to attack Pakistan, which is a nuclear power. Which has responded with attacks of its own that may be just the start of retaliation per various declarations. While some are saying they won’t really go at it as both are Islamic, the fact is they are two different “flavors” of Islam and they are not compatible. This has the potential to get very, very interesting on its own.

Now, let’s look at a known feature of Iranian activities: the use of proxies/catspaws. Something I’ve brought up from time to time is a concern that this would apply even to nuclear operations. To make it even more fun, I can think of several ways they could make such a use appear to be the result of others being careless, such as China or North Korea. There is growing evidence that both the latter have supplied weapons (and more) to Hamass, Hezbowlah, and the Houthi/Hootie. Or, despite their apparent closeness to Russia, suspect that they would be more than glad to set them up as well.

Given the reported involvement of China with Iran’s nuclear weapon and missile development, do you think it would be hard to get enough material to obfuscate the origins of a nuclear weapon? Or that others might share material (or help obtain such) to use for such a purpose from others? While analysis can often tell us where the nuclear materials in any device, dirty or otherwise, came from there has always been the possibility of spoofing that, or at least to providing enough to put the analysis into question. Remember that arms depot and that there is potentially a fair bit of nuclear materials available for use/reuse, from every major nuclear power. Just a thought to brighten your day.

Now, let’s kick things up a notch. Imagine if a nuclear weapon detonated within Yemen, or after being launched by the Houthi at a ship in the gap. On the former, I would expect to see Israel blamed and the large number of governments demand (or even execute) attacks on/destruction of Israel. The huge amount (and growing) of antisemitism is not an accident or otherwise unplanned. Even if it was clear the detonation came from a missile or drone launched from Yemen, expect a large and coordinated push to blame Israel. Now, to kick it up even further, consider what would happen if the Biden Regency, which is not terribly pro-Israel (and has a number of antisemites within it) has to react to American warships, or even a CBG, caught in such a blast.

Or, while less likely image if something were to happen in or near Venezuela where both China and Iran have been busy, busy, busy. Imagine it happened to a British ship or ships, or to the capital of the country they want to invade. Far fetched you say? Not as much as I would like.

Because it all comes back to Iran being a non-rational state actor. They are an Islamic theocracy driven by religious beliefs and more importantly goals. Their actions have to be analyzed and considered in that light. To continue, as some “experts” seem determined to do, to treat and analyze them as rational actors is ridiculous. Even absent nuclear intents, it is foolish in the extreme to consider them a rational actor and treat them accordingly.

That the Biden Regency/Obama II The Dementia Boogaloo will continue to do so, and work for them instead of against them, is a given. Once bought, they do tend to stay bought… Which is all the more likely to escalate the situation. It is also driving a wedge into a number of long-term and/or important alliances. This fracturing is very detrimental to the concepts of peace and stability, be it deliberate or otherwise. It also means anything done by another that might be effective will be resisted if not prevented by the Regency.

Meantime, Iran will continue it’s international game of chicken and work towards its own ends. While for many in the West the attacks on three nuclear powers makes no sense, it did and does make sense to the mad mullahs in Tehran. I strongly suspect we would be a lot better off if our experts would start trying to look at it from their viewpoint rather than continuing to try to shoehorn it into the rational actor box. They are not rational actors as we think of it, and failure to acknowledge that is going to have very bad results.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

SecDef Blues

I really thought about doing a long post on chain of command and the intricacies of same. It is a fascinating topic, and one a LOT of pundits and other political types get very, very wrong. I actually hope their take stays wrong, as what they view as how-it-is/proper is a great way to have very bad things happen. As in illegal orders is the least of the issues involved.

Thing is, I suspect many/most of you who are regular readers have served. You know how interesting things can get. For example, I watched a jackass LTC from the 10th try to intimidate a LT who was not in his chain of command into doing something against orders issued by said LTs chain of command. Don’t think things really went as well as the jackass (who also used physical intimidation) thought it did. If you’ve served odds are you seen it and had the joy of dealing with a Vindman-type. Such people are often worth their weight in plutonium — to the enemy.

For today, I’ve decided against getting into the weeds just to deal with the issue at hand. The President is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. Despite hollyweird and bad punditry takes, that doesn’t mean that POTUS can call up CPL. Snuffy and order an attack on the local chow hall. Though, given the state to which current military leadership has let things fall, CPL Snuffy and crew might cheerfully, even eagerly, illegally obey the order. When it comes to things nuclear, things are even tougher. That’s a topic discussed in the posts on nuclear war and operations.

Short version is that POTUS operates through (and with) the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF). The SECDEF relays orders and intentions through the Joint Chiefs and/or the civilian leaders of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. It starts the process of amplification and clarification that turns ‘Take X Out!’ into a real plan and ops orders to implement same. In nuclear terms, as noted previously, the SECDEF confirms the orders to the National Military Communications Center (which could be complex in the form of ‘target package Axis 7 plus X, Y, and Toledo because F them).

Which is why people are justifiably and understandably upset that the SECDEF was out of the loop for DAYS with no one knowing. Were the actions taken by the military during that time approved, and if so, how? Who had his f’ing biscuit and/or was duly delegated to act in his behalf in the event of a major event or nuclear alert? Wanna play a game of how many laws were broken by this apparently deliberate and willful disappearing/dereliction of duty act?

I was not a fan of Austin from the start. To be polite and diplomatic. His actions show a willful disregard for the law and the chain of command, among other things. Frankly, he should resign over this. Really, he should be impeached and tried over this, as if I or CPL Snuffy had done something like this we would rightfully be in a cell under Leavenworth. This isn’t a disgrace, it is a willful violation of law and oath.

It also raises a lot of questions about who knew what, and the operations of the DoD and military. Not to mention the operations and competence of the Biden Regency. I will settle for a resignation, but in reality a number of civilian and military heads need to roll over this.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Mores and More, Yet Again

Long time readers will know that I’ve been jumping up and down on the topic of mores (pronounced More-As) and the inability of many leaders in the West, particularly the U.S., to grasp that Russians aren’t just like us but speak funny since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. That they have a very different history, culture, and world view. That Russkiy Mir is a very real and defining document, and much like Hamass has been very clear on what they want to do in the world, Russkiy Mir defines what Russia wants to do. When your enemies tell you what they want to do and how, pay attention.

Then again, I’ve been jumping up and down on this topic since the late 1970s/early 1980s. Aside from the Reagan years, it has fallen largely on deaf ears. Boss got it, then again he knew it before he ever came into office. Would that others had done the same, or were doing it now.

One who gets it is Cdr. Salamander, who brings it up in a very good discussion on the Russia-Ukraine war. He makes very good points, and I agree with most if not all. I would note that a good case can be made that Vladimir is attempting to use two things against us: the lack of patience of the American public and economic warfare that mirrors what Reagan did to the USSR.

The American public is not known for patience, and since WWII has little interest in or patience with wars that aren’t over fast. Some of that is from cultural shift, some from Gramscian damage to our culture (see also modern higher ed), and some to political realities. Vladimir is counting on this, and is even stoking it (and trying to sway upcoming elections) by thanking Republicans for their efforts to defund Ukraine. His comments along these lines are pure malice and he loves the Pavlovian response of the progressives to them.

Also, America is in economic trouble and everyone knows it, even those saying otherwise. There is some very black humor in Russia doing all it can to push America into more economic trouble by military spending to support Ukraine. After all, Reagan forced Russia into military and other spending to help push the USSR under. If you think that is not a factor in Vladimir’s thinking, you are mistaken.

My own take remains that we do have an obligation to help Ukraine courtesy of Bill Clinton; that depleting our stockpiles and engaging in massive spending is not the best way to do it; that while the war is dangerous in that it could spread and/or nasty things could happen, better to do it now (though I do wish there were a good exit ramp); and, that if the war ends with a peace forced from outside, we will see a far worse and nastier conflict within two decades, more likely one. That one will involve NATO as Russkiy Mir calls for taking over Poland, the Baltics, and more. There is a reason those nations have a very different view of things than the rest of NATO. For all that I would love to see this war ended, I think how it is ended matters. I also still very much think that the only way we will get a true and long-term peace in the region is to have the Russian Federation come apart.

The Biden Regency is effectively Obama II. Obama I was committed to ending American military and other power. From the purge of the warfighters to gutting critical programs and planning, they did a good job of damaging our military. When you add the incompetence that is the hallmark of the Biden Regency to such an effort, I can make a case for using the term catastrophic as a descriptor.

My take on the intelligence and leadership failures that led to the invasion actually taking place is in the archives. Given that Obama I had shown we would not live up to the promises made by Clinton, Vladimir had no doubt the feckless incompetents of the Biden Regency would do nothing other than talk.

Then again, Vladimir was wrong on two counts. First, he thought that he had a short victorious war (never happens at scale), and that dusting off the 1968 Czech plan (down to using a number of the same Russian units) would work. After all, with his 2014 invasion all Vladimir got from Obama I was talk and a lot of important territory. Instead of the one- to three-day war he expected, however… Second, I think he was surprised that the U.S. and the West would respond at all, far less supply the massive amounts of ammunition, equipment, and other support required of a modern conflict. Then again, he trusted what he was told about his military, which has a long tradition of gundecking reports that predates the USSR…

If we had had competent leadership of any type in the White House, I don’t think the invasion would have taken place yet. If we had competent leadership, they would have worked to find ways to respond that don’t put us economically or militarily between a rock and a hard place. A competent administration would not be foot dragging replacement of critical supplies, replacement that they were forced to do by Congress. Then again, a competent administration would be working on some fundamental changes to our military planning processes as well. Topics for another day though.

Just some quick thoughts, and a link to a good and thought-provoking post. Sorry, just not up to more than that today.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Additional Thoughts On The Real Lesson From Ukraine

A while back, I did a post on the real lesson to be learned from Ukraine in year one. For all that people were jumping on drones, I pointed out that the real lesson was on data. Today, I would like to amend that to add flexibility in the form of innovation.

Don’t get me wrong, drones have reshaped operations on land and at sea. However, the real game changer has been the data and the flexibility to adapt and overcome. Right now, the usual bandits, beltway and otherwise, are out there with plans for specialized drones costing thousands (if we are lucky) and taking years to get into production. The procurement process in all its glory.

What really has made drones effective, and allowed Ukraine to prevent being overrun in the early days, however, was data and the ability to take that data and get inventive with responses. Data really comprises two interlinked facets.

First, there is the raw intelligence data: who is where, when, and what are they doing and saying? Thanks to Russian corruption, Ukraine and a host of others were literally listening in and getting massive amounts of data. Thanks to Starlink, wifi, cellular, and other data systems, they were able to not just collect data, but transmit information to troops and others and literally guide systems into place.

It still might not have saved them if not for the ability to be flexible, to innovate responses and tailor them to specific situations. The decisions to flood, blow select bridges and other infrastructure, blunted the major attack and gave Ukraine the ability to halt the advance against Kiev and go on the offensive. It gave them the opportunity to begin targeting not just Russian commanders at all levels, but to selectively engage effective commanders while leaving incompetent commanders in place. It also allowed them to engage in psyops and more.

That flexibility has carried over into drones, where innovation has come largely from the front, not the rear. Net result is observation drones turned into delivery platforms with good effect. Someone, somewhere, looked at all the anti-tank mines being collected after being helpfully left by the Russians, and got the idea of using about two feet of broomstick and a two-liter pop bottle to stabilize such, and then turn it into a grenade-detonated device with the punch of an artillery shell.

Inexpensive, effective, and developed and deployed within a very short time (hours/days). Devastating to Russian vehicles and positions thanks to data for intelligence and command and control. The same holds true for naval operations, and the Russian fleet has paid a price.

The key is, Ukraine appears to be allowing its forces to innovate, experiment, and modify on the front and down to unit level. This used to be a hallmark of U.S. forces.

Many years ago, I was part of some discussions on why American troops did so well in WWII, and how to shift that to modern battlefields. Two factors came out in our discussions in regards WWII. One was that rural, and even some urban, troops had extensive experiences with shooting and marksmanship. Thanks to the Great Depression, a lot of people got very good at hunting simply so they could eat. Guess who made good scouts, snipers, and general troops? The second was that American troops of all stripes were adept at improvised repair and adaptation. Truck or other vehicle break down? Rather than call for specialists, our troops quite often simply improvised a repair and kept going until a proper repair could be made. Something not working as it was supposed to? Adapt, improvise, and get creative.

The problem with translating that to modern battle was two-fold. First, the crucible that was the Great Depression was long gone. The hardship that had shaped and prepared so much of the population no longer existed, and by comparison modern youth had/has never truly experienced hardship (topic for another day). That, in turn, shaped a very different mindset. While there were, as always, a few exceptions it was clear they were exceptions. Even the drive to do your best and test yourself against others was being eroded by societal factors and education. It’s still there, just buried and vilified. Second, it was felt by many that where we needed that ability to improvise and adapt had shifted from conventional equipment to specialized equipment like computers.

Worse, to my mind, were those who did not like the idea of innovation and adaptation at all. At the root of that was both a desire to micromanage (can’t make the “wrong” decision if you are not allowed to make a decision) and a desire not to rock the boat. Innovation could interfere with current modes of operation, procurement, and development after all. Never mind that it might lead to better equipment, operations, or such… Sadly, I have seen this mindset expand.

A few years ago, when I was in the Indiana Guard Reserve (State Guard, not National), I had the pleasure of taking part in Junior ROTC. In fact, I got to teach basic landnav to the participants. The different teams then got dropped off to navigate a course to see how well they did. Most did fairly well, though I was betting we might have to go find a few as I watched them head in without orienting their maps.

One team, however, did something of which I am still pleased and a bit proud. Once in the exercise area, they stopped, improvised camo/ghillie suits, and decided to essentially E&E their way to the endpoint, avoiding detection by other teams — and our monitors. They pulled it off brilliantly. To my horror, an officer in the command tent huffed up and wanted to reprimand them for their actions. Think he was surprised when several of us, of all ranks, dogpiled him and told him that was a stupid fucking idea and that we needed to be commending them as that type of innovation and creative thinking was exactly what troops (esp. combat troops) need. He backed down, somewhat reluctantly as I remember, and the rest of us went out to congratulate and commend that team.

That mindset now, however, appears to have grown and become the dominant mindset in far too many commanders. Troops that innovate might do something that attracts negative publicity from the media, rights groups, and others. It can upset plans in place, even though in many cases it might allow those plans to be improved, and that can’t be allowed.

A few weeks (?) ago, Cdr. Salamander did a good post on inexpensive drones and giving troops a chance to experiment with them. It is a good post, and I agree that if we did so we probably would be richer by several new concepts/adaptations for a very low price. I just don’t think our current leadership, at almost any level, is capable of doing something that smart and simple. Isolated cases, perhaps, but not in the whole.

In looking at the decision to flood and destroy infrastructure in Ukraine in those first days, I wonder if any of our current leadership would make that decision or implement it? If raised, I fully expect a chorus of ‘environmental damage, destruction of expensive property, impact to indigenous people’, and a host of other dreck to come out.

To my mind, if you want to win, data and flexibility are going to be the key. To borrow from John Ringo, he who thinks fastest will be the one to laugh last. Thinking fast, and taking decisive action, have always depended on data and innovation. In future conflict, that will be even more important.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Week Wrap Up

There is a lot happening on and in the world. I’ve not been saying a lot because in both cases it’s hard to know what is really happening.

First up, in tales of the improbable, I’m starting to like John Fetterman. He has been a staunch supporter of Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself. To the point of mocking protestors (even making fun/use of his own brain damage) and hanging the posters of the hostages at his office. He has also been mercilessly trolling Bob Menendez and pushing to have him expelled from Congress a la Santos. His hiring Santos to make a video on Cameo to use in said trolling was a master-level move. Whatever else may come, I can respect and even admire these actions.

Next up, the situation in Yemen and the incompetent response to same. In this case, it’s not just the Biden Regency, but the senior leadership of our military which has reportedly not even briefed Biden and others on options for dealing with the situation. That is coming from multiple sources, and for some reason said leadership seems to know nothing about the history of such attacks or other pertinent information long in the public domain. It is to the point that I wonder about both Intelligence failures and the failure of basic intelligence in senior military (and political) leadership. At least someone seems to be paying attention and taking proactive steps, though everyone is keeping quiet about it. Pretty much rules out DC as that feckless bunch would have been leaking the news and taking credit before the strike ever hit. Wish I could find the video I saw the other day, as the secondary explosions are spectacular.

There are rumbles that part of the reason senior leadership hasn’t briefed Biden or others is because of the Biden Regency’s unwavering support of Iran. The Houthi are Iranian-backed and full proxies for the Mad Mullahs. Again, multiple sources are discussing that behind the scenes the Biden Regency has been pushing Israel hard to not destroy Hamass. To the point an open rift between Israel and the U.S., or at least the Biden Regency, is a growing possibility. The dance has been diplomatic so far, but it appears Israeli leadership is increasingly fed up with the pressure and interference. So much so, there is no guarantee the dance will stay diplomatic and papered over. Israel is in a fight for survival, and I don’t care who is getting ten percent, the Biden Regency needs to pull its sense organ cluster out of its ventral orifice and back off.

They need to be looking a bit closer to home at a potential Monroe Doctrine violation. Iran’s good friend Maduro in Venezuela is making a move to “annex” a portion of neighboring Guyana. A portion that just happens to be a good chunk of Guyana, and that has recently discovered rich oil deposits. Right now, I’m skeptical that this is all part of some overarching plan by Iran against the U.S., but I also have no doubt they are encouraging this. I’ve read some who say that if we had only done more to help Ukraine Maduro would not be doing this. I don’t agreee: Maduro is stupid, venal, and desperate enough to do this even without any encouragement. His recent vote on doing this has blown up in his face not just internationally, but apparently internally as well. The U.S. has been making deals with him recently (once bought, they do tend to stay bought), so I don’t see the Biden Regency as being all that eager to stop him. I think Brazil may be the major player in such, at least for now. Hoping this may stay below a boil, but…

Also, keep an eye on Chad. Something’s going on there, possibly more than just the upcoming election. Odd data patterns.

Going back to Iran and our incompetent leadership, rocket and other attacks against U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq continue. No effective response has been made yet to those attacks, which just encourages more. The lack of concern for our troops (and national interest) is beyond appalling.

Now to Iran’s fastest growing client, Russia. Lots going on beneath the surface. In fact, it sort of reminds me of one of those huge family get togethers where everyone is being super polite to each other openly because if not it will result in a fight where police from multiple jurisdictions have to be called in and the family gets invitations to be on whatever replaced the Maury Povich show.

Somebody on X joked that the sanctions were supposed to put pressure on Vladimir via his fellow oligarchs. The problem is, the oligarchs decided they preferred to be alive, if poorer and grouchy, than to experience defenestration. There’s a lot of truth to that. There is a lot going on beneath the quiet facade however.

Vladimir is having to allow (or create) at least some dissent on the war in order to legitimize upcoming elections. There are those who are pushing for a cease-fire (or more) in regards Ukraine. Just as his own re-election is a given, the results are going to show Russia wanting the war to continue. Allowing some token of opposition, despite the brutal and expanding crackdown on speech and more, can be used to put a flimsy veneer of legitimacy on the election. Russia now is not the Russia I visited or of 20 years ago. There is no free speech, no basic freedoms of any type left. It is toe the line or else.

Which apparently is a memo Kiva did not get. It’s easy to get on Vladimir’s bad side these days, as several of the turncoats are finding out. Yes, I do think it was Vladimir and not Ukraine.

This is something to keep an eye on as well. There continues to be a lot of shakeup/shakedown in regards Wagner and Africa in the wake of the death of Pringles. Interesting how some of the power and perks are shaking out.

Despite the repression and brutality, two things seem to be getting clearer. There are some who oppose the war with Ukraine and their numbers are growing. There also appears to be something of a resistance forming as well, as I’ve noted before. It seems to be mostly local and not some grand organized conspiracy, and is clearly separate from sabotage efforts by Ukraine. As to who is behind this I can’t say; but, there are a number of such incidents happening across Russia, far more than I think Ukraine is capable of doing on its own. Rail accidents, fires, and more that keep popping up. Given the restive nature of many of the non-Rus ethnic populations, as well as ongoing political conflicts, things could get really interesting.

Do I see this flaring up to severely damage or take down the Russian Federation? No. Not yet, and possibly never as it would take a fairly large event to rip the lid off. Could such happen? Yes. I can think of two or three scenarios right off the bat that would do it, but don’t see them likely at this time. For all that I think Vladimir’s control is slipping a bit, I don’t think – barring something off the wall – that he is in imminent danger of being deposed. Kadyrov still has his back for one thing, and he still controls a lot of power. Springtime? That may be different.

Now, if his health suddenly deteriorates much faster or more noticeably than it is now; or, if there is a major defeat (political or military), then we probably will see moves against him. If he makes a major political blunder (in Russian political terms), there are those who would move to take him out in a heartbeat (pun intended).

I will note that while I am sure Vladimir sees Russia as the senior partner in the Russia-Iran activities, I am not sure Iran sees it that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure they don’t which raises interesting possibilities.

Russia and Vladimir are presenting an image (illusion) of calm and unity to the world. It reminds me a lot of the USSR which did so even when literally bloody infighting was ongoing. Much was kept out of the public eye, at least until a new group stood in review along the Kremlin walls. That is happening right now I think, and while we could end up with a public meltdown I get the feeling a number of people/groups are trying to keep things out of the public eye.

Which is what makes Russia/Soviet watching so interesting. It’s trying to see past the illusions and find out what is going on beneath the surface. That there is a lot of movement underway right now is a given; but, the hard part is trying to see where the movements and currents from the movement lead. The big fish/strong man may not be what they seem, for the solid position they hold may be in whole or in part a Potemkin village. The person or persons who move against them often don’t seem to last long, as the next big fish/strong man was simply using them. Stalin and Khrushchev come to mind in that case.

Right now, Vladimir is standing tall and showcasing a mighty position of strength. How much of that position is real, and how much is illusion, is the key. There are people lined up and ready to take his place however they have to. Which, if any, of them survive to do it is the question. The ones to watch are those who profess loyalty and actively support Vladimir, and have privately and quietly indicated they would only consider stepping up at great need (and in the absence of Vladimir) for the good of Russia.

Sometime soon I need to do a post on the real lessons from Ukraine, focusing on data and flexibility. Quite a few are fixated on drones, and missing a key point.

That’s a run down of some of what is happening on the world. For more on what is going on inside the world, check out Volcaholic on X. There is a lot of volcanic activity underway beneath our feet, and his posts on strange and interesting weather and other phenomena are fun and interesting. Check it out.

More soon.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.