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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Abolishing the Air Force

Jerry Pournelle wants to get rid of the Air Force:
I also intend to do an essay on why we should abolish the Air Force and return to an Army Air Force which is not a separate service. The purpose of military forces is to win wars. The purpose of the Air Force is—well, they no longer know. When we had SAC we knew – “Our profession is peace” was not just a slogan – but that too is neglected in the Modern Air Force. Deterrence and maintenance of nuclear weapons, being ready to use weapons when your fondest wish is that they will never be used – that does require a different kind of military. We once had that in SAC but the end of the Cold War was the end of SAC, and the nuclear deterrence force is, well not what it once was. It is subject to the Iron Law now.

As to the rest of the Air Force, it is more interested in the Air Force than winning wars, and considers supporting the field army as beneath contempt. A slow old Warthog does a much better job, but there is no glory in that. Best to use fast jets… which of course are imprecise and cause a lot of collateral damage. Everyone knows that a force of propeller driven P-47 fighters of WWII would be more effective for supporting the field army than what we use. And the Army must be crippled, not allowed to have effective air power in taking territory. You must use modern jets at high speed.

Now the Air Force has a mission that the Army at present does not have: Air Supremacy. And that is a different mission from supporting the field army. It involves engagements with Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) as well as strikes against the enemy base of operations. The glory is in air to air combat, but that is not the effective way to air supremacy.

That is the main argument for an “Independent Air Force” and the bitter fights that ended with creation of USAF. It is true, ground army commanders tend to select the wrong targets to sortie against, and endanger air supremacy; thus the argument for independence, which USAAF eventually won (before SAC existed or any but a few knew would be needed.) Hiroshima ended the debate. But now the Cold War ended and USAF killed SAC as not glamorous – not career building any longer. As to the Warthogs, give them to the National Guard! Real pilots don’t need them!

Sure, I exaggerate but not much: the Air Force keeps trying to get rid of the Warthogs, but never by giving them (and the ground support mission) to the War Department. Better that GI’s die than USAF give up a mission even though it does not want it.

Drones will change all this, but why wait?
Actually, as Eric S. Raymond demonstrated in both "Sucker Punch" and "Battlefield Lasers", the Air Force is very close to obsolete anyhow. My expectation is that they'll try to survive by moving their mission upward, to space, in order to compensate for the vanishing ability of their planes to survive in the atmosphere.

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204 Comments:

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Blogger Brandon Francis January 27, 2015 9:07 AM  

Why don't we just replace the entire thing with Drones?

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 9:09 AM  

The USAF and USN have fought the most obvious evolution in air power - robotic planes (nomenclature may be off, but you get the idea).

Without pilots, planes can move much faster, bank far harder (no pilot black out) and can be sent to riskier situations, like CAS.

Heck, there's a good discussion to be made about needing carriers. They're huge, expensive, easily targeted, requires 4,500-5,000 personnel. We can launch drones from destroyers and frigates.

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 9:14 AM  

Why don't we just replace the entire thing with Drones?

That's likely the reason the Army has developed the drones. They want better CAS and less coordination needed to get bombs on target.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus January 27, 2015 9:18 AM  

We don't need to get rid of the Air Force.

We just need to staff it with more gay orcs.

Blogger Azimus January 27, 2015 9:19 AM  

Owen January 27, 2015 9:09 AM The USAF and USN have fought the most obvious evolution in air power - robotic planes (nomenclature may be off, but you get the idea).

The guys at Blizzard Entertainment had it right with The Zerg - fill the sky with cheap Kamikaze drones-as-cruise-missiles. You can use them to knock down a formation of bombers, take out a SAM site, or blow up leadership elements in their private residences. I suppose the instrumentation package would be expensive but that's a relative term - imagine an "air force" that could be launched on 500ft of country road from the back of a pickup truck. That's the future of air superiority - a disposable drone air force. Sorry fighter jocks.

Blogger Bob Ramar January 27, 2015 9:21 AM  

You can actually take this argument further. A P-51 Mustang fighter could carry six air to ground missiles which happen to be a similar size and weight to a Sidewinder air to air missile. How many P-51's could a country build for the cost of one F-16 fighter? If you are a country like Venezuela and you are worried about a possible air attack from a first world country, here is how you counter that. Built an air fleet of 100 P-51 equivalent fighters. Equip each fighter with six Sidewinder-type heat seeking air to air missiles. You put 'fishing' boats out in the Gulf in an arc, about 200 miles out with visual detection and sound detection systems (look up how the Viet Cong would listen for approaching American helicopters). When you see something suspicious approaching, you send your fighters up in squadrons of five or ten, stacked by altitude and heading to cover the approaches to your suspected targets. You have air traffic control tell the fighters what direction to point and when to salvo their missiles and fill the sky in front of an oncoming fighter or bomber with heat-seeking ordinance. Sooner or later you will drop an 'enemy' bomber and that will be that. Your fighters will be invisible to the heat-seekers. They are also too slow and maneuverable to be engaged by fourth generation fighters. You essentially flood the enemy's airspace with missiles that are a threat to them, but not to you. Our technology is not capable of defending against this tactic as far as I know.

Anonymous DrTorch January 27, 2015 9:23 AM  

I work w/ people in the Air Force who say they should be subsumed back into the Army.

Pournelle is a bit behind the times with this one.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 9:26 AM  

'Heck, there's a good discussion to be made about needing carriers. They're huge, expensive, easily targeted, requires 4,500-5,000 personnel. We can launch drones from destroyers and frigates."

Carriers were outdated 10 years ago.

but don't bother telling that to the military.

Anonymous Oswald January 27, 2015 9:32 AM  

What is the track record of the USAF?

Pretty piss poor in winning wars.

How many wars has the USAF actually won?
(compared to the army, marines and navy)

Anonymous VD January 27, 2015 9:32 AM  

Pournelle is a bit behind the times with this one.

Because you know someone who said something? How does that make him behind the times? The USAF still exists, regardless of what the people with whom you work say.

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 9:33 AM  

Carriers were outdated 10 years ago.

but don't bother telling that to the military.


They know. But like I said, there's a lot of money tied into those platforms. Also, it's actually a law that we have 11 carriers. To decommission one is illegal.

Because Congress is all about respecting the law.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis January 27, 2015 9:39 AM  

There's still use for massive super carriers much in the same way we found use for the battleships of old. But yeah, the Navy could be dozens of smaller drone carriers for the price of a single super carrier.

Anonymous trk January 27, 2015 9:41 AM  

They should give the marine corps the A-10. And figure out a way to launch them from aircraft carriers. A-10 is ground support. It would compliment the harrier and f-18s.

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 9:43 AM  

There's still use for massive super carriers much in the same way we found use for the battleships of old.

I disagree. If there is one role they can play that can't be easily played by other ships or cheaper means, it's parking off an area and running power from the nuclear power plants to help areas destroyed by natural or unnatural events.

The Navy's making the move to smaller platforms, but like the battleship, they just can't get over the idea of displacing 100,000 tons of water. Future admirals are supposed to be in charge of big ships, you know.

Anonymous smedley butler January 27, 2015 9:46 AM  

"Hey there Chairforce
what are you doing?

"Get out your chow halls
and follow me

"We are Marine Corps infantry"

Anonymous cheddarman January 27, 2015 9:50 AM  

These are all great ideas, I am sure the Dread Ilk could come up with many more. The problem is congress and the military industrial complex decide how we spend our defense dollars, so we get the hideously expensive F-35 Flying Piano instead of something that would actually provide good close air support, such as a fleet of P-47s or A-10s.

Blogger Salt January 27, 2015 9:58 AM  

SAC was outdated long ago, even before it was ever really established. Screw the nuke carrying bombers. Go with subs.

Anonymous Mike January 27, 2015 9:59 AM  

As Mr. Pournelle once predicted, the Air Force has mutated into just another self-serving bureaucracy.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis January 27, 2015 10:00 AM  

I disagree. If there is one role they can play that can't be easily played by other ships or cheaper means, it's parking off an area and running power from the nuclear power plants to help areas destroyed by natural or unnatural events. Heh, I guess there is that, though I wonder what the power output differential is between a supercarrier and an Ohio class submarine is.

I'm curious to see how the America-class carriers go, though even those are arguably too large and expensive to be used for a drone carrier.

Anonymous Rolf January 27, 2015 10:03 AM  

Convert the Air Force explicitly into Missile Command for the ICBM stuff, and an Air Superiority Command that does nothing but keep the enemy out of the skies (via drones, fighters, missiles, lasers or whatever), and turn all ground attack ops over to the Army Air Force.

Anonymous Tom January 27, 2015 10:07 AM  

Lasers can still shoot up into space.

Blogger Salt January 27, 2015 10:09 AM  

Ocean is to Space as ships are to... ships?

Go NAVY!

Blogger bob k. mando January 27, 2015 10:11 AM  

VD January 27, 2015 9:32 AM
Because you know someone who said something? How does that make him behind the times? The USAF still exists, regardless of what the people with whom you work say.



more importantly, just because Jerry published an article this week does NOT mean that he hasn't been thinking / saying this for ten years or more.

read 'The Strategy of Technology'. then look at the publication date. then get back too us on how far "behind the curve" Uncle Jerry is.



VD January 27, 2015 9:32 AM
My expectation is that they'll try to survive by moving their mission upward, to space, in order to compensate for the vanishing ability of their planes to survive in the atmosphere.



well, of course. that IS the next higher hill to climb.

and China has made a strategic point of endeavoring to climb it. Russia would undoubtedly love to occupy that high ground, but they haven't got the industrial base / surplus wealth that would enable them to make a serious push to space.

the question will be whether or not China puts sufficient assets up in orbit / on the moon before they decide to put the sword to our throat.

Blogger bob k. mando January 27, 2015 10:14 AM  

Tom January 27, 2015 10:07 AM
Lasers can still shoot up into space.



Lasers aren't all that effective in a lot of common atmospheric conditions ( any type of precip, fog, cloud or smoke ).

space-to-space engagements is where Lasers are most at home.

Anonymous Nah January 27, 2015 10:22 AM  

Without pilots, planes can move much faster, bank far harder (no pilot black out) and can be sent to riskier situations, like CAS.

Except the drones that are actually used are slow and can't pull gees worth shit. If you designed them to go fast and do high-gee maneuvers, they would stop being cheap and start being very expensive.

Anonymous Nah January 27, 2015 10:23 AM  

Also, as conducted now, CAS is not a risky mission.

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 10:28 AM  



I wasn't talking about drones in that sentence. I was talking about pilotless planes.

Drones have their utility, but I was talking about a pilotless plane pulling 20Gs going against Chinese (or someone's) piloted planes.

Anonymous Nah January 27, 2015 10:29 AM  

As to the rest of the Air Force, it is more interested in the Air Force than winning wars

The same argument applies to the Army and Navy, in spades.

In short, so what.

Best to use fast jets… which of course are imprecise and cause a lot of collateral damage.

Not if they drop PGMs. Or at least, they don't cause any more collateral damage than slow-movers or drones that use PGMs.

Everyone knows that a force of propeller driven P-47 fighters of WWII would be more effective for supporting the field army than what we use.

Not unless the P-47 could drop PGMs.

Now the Air Force has a mission that the Army at present does not have: Air Supremacy. And that is a different mission from supporting the field army.

It is a mission that the Army takes for granted. If we didn't have it, and the Army was under constant enemy air attack, you better believe they'd be howling for the Air Force to gain air supremacy.

the Air Force keeps trying to get rid of the Warthogs, but never by giving them (and the ground support mission) to the War Department.

Whatever they might say, the Army does not want the A-10 either. Not even in the NG. That would be a huge expense that would break their budget.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis January 27, 2015 10:32 AM  

the question will be whether or not China puts sufficient assets up in orbit / on the moon before they decide to put the sword to our throat. I'd say the US is probably ahead of the curve on that one. You have that the X-37, which is something we do know about, and then a bunch of technologies out there we don't. Whenever you hear about astronauts putting tape on a window to cover up a UFO smart money would be that it's some sort of US military tech floating around out there. Mr. Friedman over at Stratfor was betting that the US would develop some serious space based weaponry in the coming decades.

Blogger CarpeOro January 27, 2015 10:32 AM  

Mr Mando beat me to it. This is not a new theme for Dr. Pournelle. Or military sci-fi in general. The reason there is a need to bring it up again and again is that the Air Force still exists. Sort of like mentioning the boulder perched on the brink of a cliff over a road. There are plenty that don't think moving it is worth the effort, but the savvy types disagree and the smarter ones don't just give in to the lack of will to correct the problem.

Regarding alternatives to all the fast jets, check out a book from a few decades back named "David's Sling". Unmanned kinetic weapon platforms and ground effect drones. Not perfect but interesting premise.

Anonymous Nah January 27, 2015 10:34 AM  

I was talking about a pilotless plane pulling 20Gs going against Chinese (or someone's) piloted planes.

There is no need to pull such huge Gs. If you want an air combat drone, what you want is a large, stealthy aircraft that can carry large numbers of air-to-air missiles. Basically, a stealthy AMRAAM barge.

Anonymous DrTorch January 27, 2015 10:40 AM  

How does that make him behind the times?

Because people in that service have been saying the same thing for several years. That's the definition of behind the times.

I personally think that w/ the USAF scandals (USAFA, nuclear arms officers cheating, sleeping, etc, and other dismissals of high level officers) that the course has already been set. But that's opinion, because this is an old story.

Blogger ManiaC Provost January 27, 2015 10:43 AM  

All the branches are obsolete. It's called Combined arms doctrine. We need separate corps under unified command at the brigade or division level.

Anonymous Nah January 27, 2015 10:43 AM  

I personally think that w/ the USAF scandals (USAFA, nuclear arms officers cheating, sleeping, etc, and other dismissals of high level officers) that the course has already been set.

The Army and Navy have been having corruption, incompetence, and sex scandals, too, and a lot of their senior officers have been relieved. Will they also be abolished?

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 10:45 AM  

There is no need to pull such huge Gs. If you want an air combat drone, what you want is a large, stealthy aircraft that can carry large numbers of air-to-air missiles. Basically, a stealthy AMRAAM barge.

...with perfect countermeasures. They're not completely invisible, just a very low RCS. The Serbs did knock a stealth from the sky (interestingly, they danced on the flaming wreckage, probably inhaling the paint and shortening their lives considerably).

A pilotless air superiority fighter can have the life support and other components pulled and redesigned for higher tolerances to better evade AAMs, SAMs, etc.

I guess what I'm saying is that building in all the components needed to keep a pilot alive and safe (like ejection) takes a lot of potential from what the airframe could do.

I'm not saying your idea is bad or not ideal or whatever. Just saying the USAF and USN have deliberately stopped the natural evolution because they want jobs for officers and aircraft builders make powerful cases in Congressional districts.

Anonymous Nah January 27, 2015 10:46 AM  

All the branches are obsolete. It's called Combined arms doctrine. We need separate corps under unified command at the brigade or division level.

Because getting rid of the Services has worked so well for Canada...

/sarc

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 10:50 AM  

The Navy's mission is far from obsolete (speaking as a vet of USAF and US Army) and doesn't lend itself well to combined arms concept.

They need to modernize, sure. However, sea power is a completely different style of warfare that can't be generalized. You need specialists in sea warfare. It makes sense to keep them separate.

The rest of the branches? I only worry that the USMC would be weakened further if they had to accommodate the concessions the USAF and USA already made.

Anonymous Nah January 27, 2015 10:51 AM  

...with perfect countermeasures. They're not completely invisible, just a very low RCS. The Serbs did knock a stealth from the sky (interestingly, they danced on the flaming wreckage, probably inhaling the paint and shortening their lives considerably).

Non-stealthy planes get shot down, too, chief. And even more often.

The main reason the F-117 got shot down was not because the Serbs detected it but because it was used stupidly. Fly the same route often enough, the enemy will catch on.

A pilotless air superiority fighter can have the life support and other components pulled and redesigned for higher tolerances to better evade AAMs, SAMs, etc.

Nah. If you build an aircraft optimized to evade SAMs, it won't be able to do much of anything else.

Remember that a SAM interceptor is *also* a pilotless aircraft - and it has only one job... so it can always be optimized to outmaneuver aircraft that have to do other jobs...

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 10:53 AM  

Non-stealthy planes get shot down, too, chief. And even more often.

Yeah, because they're built to accommodate human pilots. They necessarily fly slower and are less maneuverable.

Anonymous cheddarman January 27, 2015 10:55 AM  

"Not if they drop PGMs. Or at least, they don't cause any more collateral damage than slow-movers or drones that use PGMs."

One key to excellent close air support is the pilot being able to see and understand what is going on on the ground and coordinate with ground units. Pilots in "fast" moving jets cant see the situation like a slow moving aircraft


"Whatever they might say, the Army does not want the A-10 either. Not even in the NG. That would be a huge expense that would break their budget."

And the F-35 is the solution to this? The A-10 is already paid for, reliable and cheap compared to the F-35. Even better would be a prop or turboprop close air support aircraft. Easy to maintain and keep up in the air, minimal logistics tail, rapid turn around and relatively few man hours needed per mission

Blogger Chris Mallory January 27, 2015 10:56 AM  

Give the Air Force the mission of sinking ships within the range of the CONUS in addition to their air superiority mission. Gut the Army and replace it with a Swiss style citizen's militia forbidden from any operations outside the borders of the United States. Tell Poland, Japan, South Korea, etc. that their defense is now their business. Fortress America, it's time has come.

Blogger Subversive Saint January 27, 2015 10:58 AM  

The AF is going to be the technology drivers for cyber warfare. They've staked their claim to that space over the last decade, even going as far as to create a number Air Force (the 24th AF) out of San Antonio, TX to manage the cyber battlefield.

In the future, the Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions (in the Air, and in Cyber) will stay largely an AF mission. The tactical weapons used in the AF cyber mission are young, but the nerds they employ are staggeringly intelligent and the support from agile industry partners is a fantastic augmentation to their mission.

I've supported the AF for almost 20 years in the development of their networks (defensive and offensive) and can state that there has never been a dull moment. The last several years have been more exciting than ever.

Blogger bob k. mando January 27, 2015 11:05 AM  

Nah January 27, 2015 10:22 AM
If you designed them to go fast and do high-gee maneuvers, they would stop being cheap and start being very expensive.



and yet, still cheaper, lighter and more maneuverable than an airframe which must fit life support, display and control systems. hell, just think how much weight you'd save simply by cutting out the ejection seat.

and we're not even talking about the ~200lbs of mission useless ( heh ) biomass and flight suit yet.




Nah January 27, 2015 10:23 AM
Also, as conducted now, CAS is not a risky mission.



uh, yeah. because the US is beating up on the gimps of the world.



Nah January 27, 2015 10:29 AM
Not unless the P-47 could drop PGMs.



and why would it not?



Cogitans Iuvenis January 27, 2015 10:32 AM
You have that the X-37, which is something we do know about, and then a bunch of technologies out there we don't.



granted.

the question being, what do the Chinks have ( in development ) that WE don't know about.

we've been the tech super power for a very long time. we may be for a very long time yet. the hazard is that talentless bureaucrats will tend to assume that BECAUSE we 'always were' tech superior that therefore we 'always will be' be tech superior.

that's not how tech works.

and i sincerely doubt that anyone here has clearance to discuss the relevant merits of bleeding edge US tech vs Chink tech.

one thing that is public knowledge is the relevant economic health and manufacturing capability of the countries. it's clear that China is far better off in this regard.

the question will be when the funding delta gets actualized by the refusal of others to accept US script and debt instruments as 'legal tender'.


Nah January 27, 2015 10:34 AM
Basically, a stealthy AMRAAM barge.



which would only be useful for high-alt interdiction.

otherwise, widely dispersed SA emplacements would be cheaper and harder to take out.

Anonymous Stilicho January 27, 2015 11:13 AM  

Remember that a SAM interceptor is *also* a pilotless aircraft - and it has only one job... so it can always be optimized to outmaneuver aircraft that have to do other jobs...

Ding! We have a winner!

Guided and programmable missiles are one-use drones in that sense. Of course, any guidance program is susceptible to being hacked, jammed or having communication relays or satellites taken out. Pre-programmed cruise missiles are one solution, but it's tough to abort the mission once they're fired. The problem comes down to the fact that missiles cannot exercise sufficient judgement to replace piloted aircraft. Drones can do this by separating the pilot from the airframe, but have an inherent weakness in the need for two-way communication that enemies can exploit. AlQaeda isn't likely to be able to exploit this weakness, but you can bet your last dollar that the Russians and Chinese will find a way to do so.

As for close air support, yes, a turboprop plane is a viable low-cost option, but we mostly use helicopters in the roles that turboprop planes would fill.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis January 27, 2015 11:22 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Chris Gerrib January 27, 2015 11:22 AM  

Yeah, somebody wrote a book about abolishing the Air Force.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis January 27, 2015 11:23 AM  

one thing that is public knowledge is the relevant economic health and manufacturing capability of the countries. it's clear that China is far better off in this regard.

I have to disagree with this, the majority of China's recent growth has come from excessive malinvestment in items like real estate and white elephant infrastructure which yield little long term economic benefit. I expect that China will be trying to stave off fracturing before the time line of 2030 that Vox had given for the US.

That's not to underplay the capabilities of China, because as you said, they have items they are working on as well specifically designed to counter the US.

Blogger Old Harry January 27, 2015 11:30 AM  

That plane was built in the mid to late eighties and they tried to sell it as a ground support aircraft. It was basically a P51 (same wing design)with a turboprop instead of a Merlin. The small countries that were the intended customers did not buy it - like the Tigershark, the thinking was if it was worth a damn the USAF would use it.
Regarding sidewinders, I would think the range would be too limited. Something more like an AIM series missle would be more effective, but then you would need a bigger plane to support the additional avionics.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 11:36 AM  

It's really not that simple.

Drones: To the extent they're effective, the enemy - who has independent will, mind, and physical means - will concentrate on ways to make them less effective. That's just in the nature of war. EMP can be shielded against, but the ground to drone link is a non-trivial vulnerability. And they're not going to be THAT cheap (except in comparison to some of USAF's existing drug addled fantasies...by which I mean BOTH F22 and F35).

CAS must be protected, near and far. CAS fixed wing in the Army and Air Superiority in the Air Force will rely on the same assets - airfields - and will need coordination at a level so nearly that of command they may as well be command.

USAF is replete with officers much more bureaucratically ept than the Army's typically are, or ought to be. Joinder just means that the air mission will cream the ground mission in the bureaucratic budgetarty stakes. That Army aviators will probably close ranks with the Air Force only makes this worse. In other words, not only might you not get CAS out of this, you may lose ground capability nearly completely.

It is possible to live and train harshly in the Army as a matter of routine, because the troops' perceptions are sheltered from the comparatively soft living in the Air Force. It is not clear to me that the Army can morally survive joinder.

For reasons already discussed at length, Space - once ships get to the point they needs crews much larger than a B-52's - will belong to the Navy or to an Air Force that morphs (I don't think they can) into a Navy.

Blogger njartist January 27, 2015 11:42 AM  

@bob k. mando January 27, 2015 10:14 AM
Lasers aren't all that effective in a lot of common atmospheric conditions ( any type of precip, fog, cloud or smoke ).

That is going to change soon...

Anonymous Eric Ashley January 27, 2015 11:45 AM  

Does a 'Flight of the Old Dog' flying battleship make sense?

Blogger MidKnight January 27, 2015 12:01 PM  

@Nah

Without pilots, planes can move much faster, bank far harder (no pilot black out) and can be sent to riskier situations, like CAS.

Except the drones that are actually used are slow and can't pull gees worth shit. If you designed them to go fast and do high-gee maneuvers, they would stop being cheap and start being very expensive


You also get into latency issues. And comms interference.

There are reasons why modern "e games" all run on local wired LANs - because the latency differential for wireless, or internet-based access, can throw off shots and movement.

A pilotless plane can theoretically pull higher gees - but dogfighting is still something that requires something intelligent at very local controls.

Throw in that the enemy doesn't have to crack the encryption on your command signal to simply jam it or wash it out (see Kratmans suggestions for playing with GPS....)


That said - I think drones are going to be the way of the future for the majority of air cover and recon. To the extent that air platforms are survivable, we're likely going for slow and stealthy, with a minimum of dogfighting, and mostly for intelligence gathering, and some ground cover.

Close in heavy air support, due to the nature of the flying involved, will likely still require people. Assuming it's survivable.

As to lasers and pilot vision - it's not as good visibility as clear canopy, but one possibility may be to black that out (LCD? Can be cleared if needed?), and use internal projection and or something like Oculus Rift, with a series of HD micro-cameras. LOTS of them. They cut out if hit with a laser, but enough overlapping ones you don't lose visibility quickly or easily, and permanently frying one will require enough energy to do other lasting damage.

Yes, it's expensive. So's a pilot. And a pilot can provide responsiveness for certain types of missions that drones cannot.

As to the A10. You have room to upgrade the avionics and add hardening for E(M)W. (see laser hardening above) As a platform for a big gun and bombs and missiles, it's about as good as it gets. It's armored, broven reliable and redundant. Keep improving the weight on the main gun and the thrust/efficiency on the engines, and explosive power on the bombs, and it will remain as optimal a delivery platform as you can get.

Anonymous paradox January 27, 2015 12:08 PM  

The fags hate the A10, it's not modern or techy enough. They've tried to scrap it on several occasions, but it keeps proving it's worth. A plane that supports ground forces, can be shot to shit, and still fly is perfection.

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 12:13 PM  

A plane that supports ground forces, can be shot to shit, and still fly is perfection.

Like the UH-1, in a way. You can shoot up that turbine and replace it in about an hour.

Heck, we're still flying B-52s and KC-135s. Some are closing on 75 years of service.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 27, 2015 12:23 PM  

Convert the Air Force explicitly into Missile Command for the ICBM stuff, and an Air Superiority Command that does nothing but keep the enemy out of the skies (via drones, fighters, missiles, lasers or whatever), and turn all ground attack ops over to the Army Air Force.

I'd agree with this. Also, demote anyone from any branch who starts a turf battle. That's an absolutely sure sign of bureaucratic kudzu when middle management starts having turf battles.

Give everyone a mission and let them focus on accomplishing it. Don't let a guy with Mission A tell the guy with Mission B he can't do something he thinks he needs to do because the guy with Mission A wants to do it instead. If that happens, find a new guy for Mission A immediately.

Anonymous Quartermaster January 27, 2015 12:24 PM  

"Pournelle is a bit behind the times with this one."

Pournelle has been talking that way since he was a Red Leg in Korea. He experienced first hand the USAF's lack of desire to support the Army in the USAF's first major conflict.

"Whatever they might say, the Army does not want the A-10 either. Not even in the NG. That would be a huge expense that would break their budget."

This has not always been the case. The USAF wanted to get rid of the Warthog many years ago and the Army said "We'll take 'em." USAF backed down quickly as they could not politically allow the Army to breach the fast mover barrier. In the end, that would have doomed the USAF.

At this point in time, Army would still like to own and control a fixed wing Tactical Air Force because of long experience with USAF. But, they are already losing in the budget wars and so can't afford them at the moment.

There would be a very large savings resulting in folding the USAF back into an Army Air Corps (an AAF would have much the same problems as the current USAF would) because you would do away with a redundant logistics command as well as other redundancies introduced by a separate service.

"As for close air support, yes, a turboprop plane is a viable low-cost option, but we mostly use helicopters in the roles that turboprop planes would fill."

This is certainly not the case. Attack helos have their place, but they do not come close to replacing fixed wing aviation in the TacAir mix. Comparing an Apache Longbow with an A-10, for example, places the Apache in the shade. An Apache simply can't carry the load, or mix of ordnance, a Warthog can. There is simply no comparison. Even a small turboprop, such as the Super Tucano, puts an Apache in the shade. The Apache has its place, but it is a poor substitute for fixed wing TacAir.

In my considered opinion, the best mix would be a re-established Army Air Corps as a coequal combat branch of the Army, with the strategic functions of USAF left in a separate service. These would be what used to SAC, Air Defense Command, and Space Command. ADC would be both for homeland defense as well as air superiority in a theater to which the Army is deployed acting much as the 8th AF Fighter Command did in the ETO in '44-'45.

Each field Army had in the ETO had a Tactical Air Command assigned to it and it worked very well. The combination of Patton and Weyland worked the problems out for such things and flexible commanders would have no trouble adapting the principles to changing conditions.

What we have now is inordinately expensive and inefficient. As an Air Force brat, I can vouch for the soft living the USAF. I chose Army Aviation myself and think the USAF is simply too soft for its own good. It wasn't always that way, but it has become so and the country is not well served by it.

Anonymous Anonymous January 27, 2015 12:25 PM  

RE: Titanic & Deck Chairs

Thank God that Dr. P appears to be recovering from his stroke. Great man. A genius on so many levels.

However our DOD has nothing to do with national defense. It is just a giant ATM at the service of a handful of elite families. It is also another form of secure life long welfare for an entrenched bureaucratic corps of fanatically loyal welfare recipients.

From a worldly point of view it is impossible to fix the DOD.

But then anything is possible with God.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Anonymous Stilicho January 27, 2015 12:26 PM  

Low and slow is always going to be more vulnerable to man-portable weapons, therefore close coordination with infantry is required so that the air and ground support each other. The Air Forces mostly SUCKS at this, in large part, because it is not a priority for them (on a personal note, their aim sucks too, so I'm still here to complain). The obvious solution is to give the CAS mission back to the Army, but this leads to Kratman's observation that fixed wing CAS elements end up sharing runways and other support assets with the Air Force's air superiority platforms. Now, a rotary wing aircraft that could effectively replace the A-10...

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 12:27 PM  

"It is possible to live and train harshly in the Army as a matter of routine, because the troops' perceptions are sheltered from the comparatively soft living in the Air Force. It is not clear to me that the Army can morally survive joinder."

how does this apply to life of helicopter jocks? Isn't their life cushy like the airforce? If not... why not? and if its not... why then must we assume that the future life of army pilots would be cushy?

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 12:28 PM  

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, Jack?

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 12:32 PM  

They're about half way between army and air force, Nate, but warrants, so expected to be somewhat different. It changes when the soft living is common all up and down (though in the Army, at least in combat arms, it's pretty hard and harsh for everybody). Part of the difference is inertia, and "you are what you were back then." And we can assume it because they're coming in in mass, with about equal numbers of officers, who are more skilled at bureaucratic infighting, and better connected politically.

Now, with yoiur vast military-bureaucratic experience to back you up, Nate, please explain in detail how the Army avoids this.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 12:34 PM  

Or, say, Stil, a cropduster that doesn't need hardened fields, is cheap to buy, use, repair, and train on, has range / endurance comparable to the front or AO of the unit supported...

The problem with rotary wings are that they're maintenance hogs. They're justified for some purposes, landing troops in formed units, say, but far from ideal for many others.

Blogger YIH January 27, 2015 12:35 PM  

I remember a few years ago hearing an interview with a retired Air Force General (I don't recall the names).
He said ''the best fighter pilots have already been born'', his point being that the performance of jet fighters have already exceeded the capabilities of the human body (such as G-forces).
That aside, what is the purpose of jet fighters anymore? ''Top Gun'' style dogfights? Outside of movies those have never happened since WWII and never will. Their only recent use was during the Gulf War to quickly strike and blind Iraqi radars - after that, nothing.
The Air Force is much like it's sibling NASA, a lot of fantasies, a lot of dreams, and a ton of PR but little of actual value.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 12:41 PM  

"Now, with yoiur vast military-bureaucratic experience to back you up, Nate, please explain in detail how the Army avoids this."

Fire 3/4ths of them?

The fact is the air force is way to big. The vast majority of the bureaucrats you're talking about would be redundant in the new joint force anyway.

anyway a better way to do this.. is over time. I would say you give the army an airwing like the Navy has to do the jobs the army needs to do that the air force is not doing. Then over time... you shrink the airforce and move more and more of the responsibility and resources to the army side.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 12:45 PM  

I'd say just start with troop support. Give the army a bunch of A-10s and let them hire and train their own pilots. If you do bring some guys from the air force in... they would be in training roles mostly since the goal is to build a program from scratch. They either get with the program or retire.

so it starts with just that one slice. Then its just incrementalism from there. Before you know it.. the air force is doing nothing.

Blogger Shibes Meadow January 27, 2015 12:46 PM  

I'm with Chris Mallory, with the addition of a Deep Space Bombardment Force of Orion space missile frigates. Get rid of all land-based ICBMs, bombers, and replace them with an invulnerable Mutual Assured Destruction force operating in cislunar space and most of the danger of war disappears.

Anonymous Stilicho January 27, 2015 12:47 PM  

This is certainly not the case. Attack helos have their place, but they do not come close to replacing fixed wing aviation in the TacAir mix. Comparing an Apache Longbow with an A-10, for example, places the Apache in the shade. An Apache simply can't carry the load, or mix of ordnance, a Warthog can. There is simply no comparison. Even a small turboprop, such as the Super Tucano, puts an Apache in the shade. The Apache has its place, but it is a poor substitute for fixed wing TacAir.

I didn't say they were a complete replacement, I said that we use helos in those roles that a cheap propeller driven platform would fill. As for the Super Tacano, it's primary advantages over the Apache are speed and range and time on target which the Apache compensates for with greater payload capacity and the fact that it can be deployed much closer to the front lines where it will be used. Neither compares with what an A-10 can do.

Blogger Outlaw X January 27, 2015 12:49 PM  

they'll try to survive by moving their mission upward, to space,

They already have. there space based weapons are a lot more deadly. The air weapons are limited in scope and are just for regional conflict air support.

Blogger Josh January 27, 2015 12:49 PM  

Why do we need a replacement for the A 10?

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 12:50 PM  

'I didn't say they were a complete replacement, I said that we use helos in those roles that a cheap propeller driven platform would fill."

we could.... if we could keep them flying. But a quick glance at the service records should show you that we can't do that.

Tom is not exaggerating when he says they are maintenance hogs. The things are a damned nightmare.

Anonymous Nah January 27, 2015 12:50 PM  

Non-stealthy planes get shot down, too, chief. And even more often.

Yeah, because they're built to accommodate human pilots. They necessarily fly slower and are less maneuverable.


Non-stealthy planes don't get shot down more often because they are slow and unmaneuverable. They get shot down because they are detected and tracked more easily.

Manned stealth planes don't get shot down very often, and it's not because of maneuverability.

The whole point of stealth is to reduce the number of engagements. This is a better approach than trying to build something that has a greater number of engagements that it tries to maneuver its way out of.

So forget this "20 G unmanned aircraft" thing. You're not going to outmaneuver a SAM interceptor that can pull 60 G if it has to. Better to have low maneuverability and stealth - because then the aircraft can also have a useful payload and range.

One key to excellent close air support is the pilot being able to see and understand what is going on on the ground and coordinate with ground units. Pilots in "fast" moving jets cant see the situation like a slow moving aircraft

That's not how we do CAS now. The guys on the ground send GPS coordinates of where they want the bomb, and the plane drops on those coordinates without even seeing the target (or even necessarily the ground). Only way to screw it up is if the ground guys mistakenly send *their own* coordinates instead of the enemy coordinates - which has happened, and is not the pilot's fault.

And the F-35 is the solution to this?

Didn't say that. The F-35 is a disaster.

and yet, still cheaper, lighter and more maneuverable than an airframe which must fit life support, display and control systems.

Not appreciably. The unmanned plane also has vehicle and mission management systems. What's really going to cost you in order to build your massive gee-puller is airframe structure and engines, not the weight of the pilot-related stuff.

uh, yeah. because the US is beating up on the gimps of the world.

No, because we can drop from altitude on GPS coordinates and not deal with pesky ground fire.

and why would it not?

Well for one thing the P-47 would need a bunch o' comms and other electronics in order to do so, but mainly because that was not stated.

which would only be useful for high-alt interdiction.

No reason it couldn't do look-down shoot-down.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 12:50 PM  

"Why do we need a replacement for the A 10?"

we don't.

It does what we need it to do... and it does it in spectacular fashion.

But we don't need a replacement for the m9 either... yet here we are.

Anonymous Stilicho January 27, 2015 12:53 PM  

The problem with rotary wings are that they're maintenance hogs. They're justified for some purposes, landing troops in formed units, say, but far from ideal for many others.

I know. That doesn't stop me from wishing more research money was spent on developing a better, more durable one for CAS rather than boondoggles like the F-35.

Or, say, Stil, a cropduster that doesn't need hardened fields, is cheap to buy, use, repair, and train on, has range / endurance comparable to the front or AO of the unit supported...

Yep. The Corps even used their light recon planes (OV-10 Broncos) for CAS sometimes.

Anonymous Rolf January 27, 2015 12:55 PM  

Armadillos. We need a few hundred Armadillos.
The best parts of the A-10, the M1 Abrams, the C-130, the LST, the F-16, the M-109, the AAV, and a Blackhawk. It would replace a LOT of systems.... so the resulting turf war would be truly EPIC.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 12:55 PM  

I believe I mentioned, Nate, that we are talking about a group more highly skilled in bureaucratic infighting and better connected politically. Wanna bet on which 3/4ths of which gets fired? I read a couple of decades ago, I think it was, that Congress once legislated that all A-10s were to be given over to the Army, along with the CAS mission. I note that didn't happen. How's that for politcal clout, overriding congress?

Reminds me in a way of Ricks' idea that we need to relieve more officers and especially generals. Absolutely clueless about the nature of the armed forces as they are; the ones relieved would be the ones who should be kept, and the ones kept will be the ones who should be relieved.

Blogger Josh January 27, 2015 1:00 PM  

But we don't need a replacement for the m9 either... yet here we are.

Perhaps we should just fire the first person who starts agitating for replacing something that does a great job of completing the mission, whatever it happens to be.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 1:04 PM  

_That's_ not that simple, either, Josh. Any weapon eventually will become obsolete, even my beloved M1911. When that happens, and you need a new and better weapon, you can only get it if you have people who know how to design one. Pistols are pretty easy; the civilian market takes care of that well enough (though the civvies rarely sem to understand the value of loose tolerances for dirty environments; Kimber I am looking at you). But for other weapons, when you need new ones, you must have people who can design new ones. How do you get this? By keeping them - some of them, anyway - employed...designing new ones...even at considerable cost. And some of those must be produced, so you can tell which designers are idiots.

Anonymous WaterBoy January 27, 2015 1:04 PM  

Vox: "My expectation is that they'll try to survive by moving their mission upward, to space"

It's already up there in the form of MILSATCOM, and is another mission that would need to be reallocated if the USAF is dissolved (the resources are shared by all the services). It's also the next logical step in the area of Missile Defense, but the MDA has that mission already (though heavily supported by both the USAF and USN).

But until the US withdraws from the Outer Space Treaty, any expansion by either the USAF or the USN into space warfare would perforce be limited.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 1:05 PM  

Stil, I was thinking expressly of these: http://worldatwar.net/chandelle/v3/v3n3/articles/ayres.html

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 1:10 PM  

"I believe I mentioned, Nate, that we are talking about a group more highly skilled in bureaucratic infighting and better connected politically. Wanna bet on which 3/4ths of which gets fired?"

meh.

it doesn't matter. Even if the laziest most scumbag 25% stay... you have a temporary problem at best... as their influence is still going to be heavily watered down by the bureaucrats in the army that they have to deal with.

its rather like saying we can't invent refrigeration because the guys who deliver ice door to door have good lobbyists.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 1:12 PM  

"(though the civvies rarely sem to understand the value of loose tolerances for dirty environments; Kimber I am looking at you)"

preach brother. The 1911 needs a loose slide to frame fit. Which is why I favor my springfields.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 1:14 PM  

" Pistols are pretty easy; the civilian market takes care of that well enough "

hearing anything about the trials? Sig and FN and S&W all have strong contenders... and since the Army rejected the M9-A3 beretta is out of the game unless congress steps in for budgetary reasons (and that could happen).

Anonymous Stilicho January 27, 2015 1:16 PM  

Tom, I like it. Engineers could build a 400 yd grass/dirt runway damn near anywhere. Decent payload for small plane, great loiter time, and you could put a lot of them in the air cheaply and quickly. Same for the pilots.

Anonymous commenterX January 27, 2015 1:17 PM  

Why are people so in love with the a-10. It is best used for ground support in an anti-tank role, which is meaningless today, and will remain meaningless in the future thanks to PGMs, which are far more effective than strafing with a giant DU machine gun that can't sustain its fire for very long anyway.

The AC130 shines in a defensive role, meaning it orbits an outpost under attack, but isn't nearly as good at supporting operations away from base.

Ask any honest to god FAC which way he would go with a choice between a 'venerable' Warthog and BONE.

This is ten years old, and still valid:
http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG301.html

OpenID genericviews January 27, 2015 1:26 PM  

But we don't need a replacement for the m9 either... yet here we are.

Yes we do. The old ones are just worn out. The way the rules are, we spend more on refurbing old ones (at depots with Civil service manpower and high overhead)than it costs to buy new ones. And the new ones are still 30 year old designs. An even better/newer one can be bought at a cheaper price than the Army is already paying.

The fly in this ointment is the big caliber club at Ft Benning who think 9mm isn't big enough and real men use .40S&W. And silencers. And laser pointers. and Ambidextrous controls. And adjustable handgrips. And are easy to use by girls. And (fill in your favorite gun fetish). What the army needs is just another 9mm cheap, reliable, common pistol. Nothing special. What we are going to get is the special gold plated pet rock edition pistol with sights on the side for better ergonomic kill shots by our vibrant members.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 1:33 PM  

" An even better/newer one can be bought at a cheaper price than the Army is already paying. '

Yes. Beretta offered the m9-A3 to meet the remaining contract obligations at reduced cost and the army turned it down.

Which is stupid because the A3 is a huge upgrade and addresses almost all of the complaints the army had about the M9.

And of course... the manufacturing gliches are all worked on with the beretta at this point. That is not the case with the new weapon. There will be problems. There always are.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 1:34 PM  

". What the army needs is just another 9mm cheap, reliable, common pistol. Nothing special."

You mean an M9?

Anonymous Discard January 27, 2015 1:39 PM  

Tom Kratman said"…the ones relieved would be the ones who should be kept, and the ones kept will be the ones who should be relieved".
True. Were a law passed that all wicked men would be hanged, the wicked would immediately accuse all the honest men of being wicked and hang them. The wicked are single mission platforms, and will beat the honest at that one task.



Always been a P-47 fan, but the Navy's AD Skyraider was the ultimate prop driven CAS aircraft.

Blogger ajw308 January 27, 2015 1:50 PM  

Nate/Tom,
Didn't Beretta get the contract the first time around under the threat they'd close bases in Italy if they didn't?

Back on topic, though, lets just keep building SkyNet's army. There's a fair amount of DARPA proposals out there to increase the learning capacity and reliability of autonomous assets.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 2:01 PM  

"Didn't Beretta get the contract the first time around under the threat they'd close bases in Italy if they didn't?"

there are all kinds of stories about the politics behind the M9 decisions. Separating fact from fiction is impossible at this point. I honestly can't tell you what happened and what didn't. There are reliable sources that claim the M9 didn't even pass the minimums to meet consideration... and there are other reliable sources that claim the M9 did extremely well.

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 2:14 PM  

Out of curiosity how badly is the air superiority cost ratio skewed: ground based aa vs: interceptor planes? (best models in each scenario, that is not the f-35)

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 2:17 PM  

Nah, Nate, it's a case of rotten apples being put, en masse, in a barrel of also pretty rotten apples, when both ssytems are designed to select _for_ rotten apples. It's not really the same issue at all, even if the end result might be the same. We can re-invent refrigeration. We can't - I mean really can't - change the ethos of a large group of people with an entrenched interest in the status quo, unless we're willing to shoot a bunch of them. And even then, Stalin shot and starved many bunches, Mao shot or starved still more, Pol Pot practically depopulated his country, and nothing really changed except that grave space became more dear. Even when you think you're winning, people lie as a matter of course when they think it's in their interest to; you never even really know who to purge. Then, when you're gone, voila, back to the same old shit.

Blogger Josh January 27, 2015 2:22 PM  

We can't - I mean really can't - change the ethos of a large group of people with an entrenched interest in the status quo, unless we're willing to shoot a bunch of them.

Oh, it'll change when the money runs out...

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 2:22 PM  

No, I haven't been following the pistol wars. In the big scheme of things, no country ever went under over the quality or caliber of its officers' and MPs' sidearms. I think the average officer, or tanker, or grunt, if asked, is going to say ".45." I suspect the average military woman, if asked, is going to demand something even smaller than a 9mm. Why? Because the grip's too frigging big for their hands with a double stacked mag (and without the double stack, there's goes the justification for not having a .45). Left to me, though, again, the country won't stand or fall on it, I'd go to a product improved M1911, with tolerances deliberately made looser than any production 1911, in .45, but, meh; not gonna happen.

Blogger Rabbi B January 27, 2015 2:22 PM  

"I also intend to do an essay on why we should abolish the Air Force and return to an Army Air Force which is not a separate service."

I am certainly no constitutional scholar, but shouldn't the Arny be 'abolished' as well? IIRC the Constitution provided for a Navy, but not a standing Army. I seem to remember something about Militias and Minutemen in lieu of the Army. I don't see it happening, but I thought perhaps someone here could enlighten or correct me on the history of maintaining a standing Army and the justification thereof or direct me to some resources.

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 2:23 PM  

"Even when you think you're winning, people lie as a matter of course when they think it's in their interest to; you never even really know who to purge. Then, when you're gone, voila, back to the same old shit." This doesn't matter if you redefine an antifragile organizational structure. Game proves that enforcing things with a jackboot sometimes does work. You just have to go about it the right way.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 2:23 PM  

Half the time you souldn't even have to build it, Stil. Where wheat and corn grown, there shall be your run- and taxiways. Or, for that matter, where it's only dry sand. Or, with floats, water.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 2:24 PM  

'Nah, Nate, it's a case of rotten apples being put, en masse, in a barrel of also pretty rotten apples, when both ssytems are designed to select _for_ rotten apples."

well... largely that why I think incrementalism is the way to go.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 2:27 PM  

It's really hard, Porph, because even in the first steps, when you realize you can't oversee it all yourself, and you start selecting for "eyes and ears" to enforce change for you, people will lie even then or you will simply make mistakes in selection. You say it proves it. I ask to what scope, under what conditions, with what kind of organization or polity, to do what?

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 2:28 PM  

It could be, if only because revolutions (ours wasn't a revolution) almost always fail, but incrementalism fails too, because your life isn't long enough to see it through.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 2:28 PM  

' Left to me, though, again, the country won't stand or fall on it, I'd go to a product improved M1911, with tolerances deliberately made looser than any production 1911, in .45, but, meh; not gonna happen."

I don't disagree... I worry we're gonna end up with some striker fired abomination and a epidemic of Glock Leg from people shooting themselves while trying to draw with their finger on the trigger.

I know I'm in the distinct minority here... but an 8 shot 357 mag with a 5 inch barrel would answer a lot of questions wouldn't it? Which good rubber grips its a pussy cat. Plus no one ever claimed a 357 mag wasn't a decent way to settle a dispute.


Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 2:29 PM  

No way the army goes back to a wheel gun though. That's not what the cool kids use.

Blogger Bill Solomon January 27, 2015 2:34 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 2:35 PM  

@tom "I ask to what scope, under what conditions, with what kind of organization or polity, to do what?" the fact that you can take a girl, and with no contribution on her part and an understanding of her biopsychological makeup, tame the most rebellious creature in the universe through mere give and take proves that reconstruction through force, has its place. Admittedly the example's a little childish, but I think the point still stands, for human beings and really everything in general.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 2:36 PM  

reading over a survey about combat troops complaints about the M9 its kinda funny... most of them aren't actually complaining about the M9. For example a bunch complained about accuracy. Well the M9 is extremely accurate... so this is an ammo complaint... not an M9 complaint. There are mag complaints... but you'll find the army went cheap and didn't buy the mags from beretta and instead sourced them from third parties and has had trouble ever since. Another common complaint is that its hard to clean. This is just laughable. The M9 is even easier to break down than a glock. Outside of a wheel gun I have no idea what would be easier.

Other complaints include bitching that it doesn't have an accessory rail... which beretta added on the A3... and the standard "its to big and heavy" along with "its not a 45".

By the time I was done reading the survey I was convinced a huge chunk of the US military is made up of fat women with no firearms experience.

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 2:37 PM  

I know I'm in the distinct minority here... but an 8 shot 357 mag with a 5 inch barrel would answer a lot of questions wouldn't it? Which good rubber grips its a pussy cat. Plus no one ever claimed a 357 mag wasn't a decent way to settle a dispute.

Not to mention the improvement in accuracy.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 2:38 PM  

"It could be, if only because revolutions (ours wasn't a revolution) almost always fail, but incrementalism fails too, because your life isn't long enough to see it through. "

Civilization thrives when old men plant trees whose shade they'll never enjoy.

Blogger Owen January 27, 2015 2:39 PM  

By the time I was done reading the survey I was convinced a huge chunk of the US military is made up of fat women with no firearms experience.

Well, I think you have to look at who (else) is assigned the 9mm as personal weapon.

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 2:39 PM  

@tom "It's really hard, Porph, because even in the first steps, when you realize you can't oversee it all yourself" In my opinion its just because you aren't selecting the people who are pliable, but also nerve centers. there are always intakes that can be restricted in any organization. For instance you would get a lot further by first bribing the lobbyists to do what you say and leaving threatening messages at their houses than you would by firing everybody.

Blogger Da_Truth_Hurts January 27, 2015 2:46 PM  

Sky Raiders were bad ass prop planes:

"During the Korean War, A-1 Skyraiders were flown only by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, and were normally painted in dark navy blue. It was called the "Blue Plane" by enemy troops.[13] A total of 128 Navy and Marine AD Skyraiders were lost in the Korean War - 101 in combat and 27 to operational causes. Most operational losses were due to the tremendous power of the AD. ADs that were "waved-off" during carrier recovery operations were prone to perform a fatal torque roll into the sea or the deck of the aircraft carrier if the pilot mistakenly gave the AD too much throttle. The torque of the engine was so great that it would cause the aircraft to rotate about the propeller and slam into the ground or the carrier."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_A-1_Skyraider

Anonymous Stilicho January 27, 2015 2:47 PM  

By the time I was done reading the survey I was convinced a huge chunk of the US military is made up of fat women with no firearms experience.

It's OK, they're going to Ranger school now. Because tabs.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 2:53 PM  

"It's OK, they're going to Ranger school now. Because tabs."

I was not an M9 fan 10 years ago... but today... I don't see how we're gonna improve on it without spending tons of money. Plus the army is now saying they are sticking with the 9mm... so there ya go... your biggest complaint about the M9 is still gonna be in play.

Anonymous . January 27, 2015 2:54 PM  

In Iraqi Freedom, the air forces dropped 19,948 precision weapons. Of these, 15,592 were used in direct support of ground forces.

78% of the bombs.

The plan, up front, was to dedicate 51% of the sorties to close air support and 14% to air superiority.

Yeah, those zoomies really don't care about close air support.

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 3:03 PM  

the thing that most screws with my brain about the air force is the Ender problem i.e. how to restrict huge amounts of 3D space with extremely limited resources (lift).

Blogger Brad Andrews January 27, 2015 3:04 PM  

and most of the danger of war disappears

Yeah, like that will ever happen.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 3:27 PM  

"Always been a P-47 fan, but the Navy's AD Skyraider was the ultimate prop driven CAS aircraft."

Discard: True story. For the very first version of ADCP, which was set here, I wanted to use Skyraiders. Could not find enough flyable ones for a long time. Finally tracked down 26 of them, in bad shape, with the dials and such taken out but available on the local black market, at Tan Son Nhut. (Why? Because I prefer to make up as little as possible. The odds are really good that if I say, in one of my books, X is available in Y quantity for Z price at W location, they are.) But 26 just wasn't enough. So I dropped it. However, before I dropped it I went to dinner with a couple of clients at a local Vietnamese restaurant. The client-wife mentioned that the guy who owned the joint, LTC "Nguyen" (I don't recall the name) used to fly for the RVNAF, which got many or most of the A1s we had. So I asked, "Did you fly A1s?" Answer: "No...I frew Skylaiders. Good prane. But kirr a rot of pirots." I gather that the torque on the engine could and often did flip the plane on takeoff, much to the pilot's dismay.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 3:29 PM  

No, Porph, you're misunderstanding the nature of organizations. They are not people, even though they're composed of people. The example doesn't scale up.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 3:30 PM  

"By the time I was done reading the survey I was convinced a huge chunk of the US military is made up of fat women with no firearms experience."

And the secret is out at last.

Anonymous Anonymous January 27, 2015 3:32 PM  

Mr. Nate:

You posted in part:

"I know I'm in the distinct minority here... but an 8 shot 357 mag with a 5 inch barrel would answer a lot of questions wouldn't it?"

Back in the Dark Ages I was an Army SF Diver. Several of us carried Rugger single action black Hawk revolvers with a 9 mm cylinder and a 357 cylinder.

Very, very reliable weapon. We could swim in with it, cross the beach, patrol with it and it just always went bang.

However we did a task with a SEAL Platoon and they had "Toasters"...Glocks. Much lighter than the Ruggers, just as reliable and of course with relatively lightning reloads and higher capacity.

Of course if I was riding around in something and did not have to carry it the 357 you described would be kinda cool.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 3:34 PM  

"Civilization thrives when old men plant trees whose shade they'll never enjoy."

Trees grow as trees no matter what you do short of poisoning them or cutting them down. Organizations don't work that way. Example: I am, shall we say, a fairly complete non-fan of decision cycle theory for collective ground combat. But the [former] Commandant of the Marines was a huge fan, and he forced it down every jarhead's throat.

He's been gone a while, but they began vomiting it back up as soon as his back was turned. Now it's literally little more than a footnote. Or you can go to everyjoe and find the piece on why I decided I wasn't interested in stars; short version: because the people of the organization hide what they think while they have to, and then as soon as you're gone everything you thought you did is undone and the old ways return, sometimes with interest.

Blogger grendel January 27, 2015 3:35 PM  

Marine aviation: because our Navy's army needs an air force.

/obligatory

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 3:36 PM  

"In my opinion its just because you aren't selecting the people who are pliable, but also nerve centers. there are always intakes that can be restricted in any organization. For instance you would get a lot further by first bribing the lobbyists to do what you say and leaving threatening messages at their houses than you would by firing everybody."

That presupposes a degree of both omniscience in the selector, and honesty in the selectees, that doesn't really happen on the required scale. Ever.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 3:38 PM  

"Trees grow as trees no matter what you do short of poisoning them or cutting them down. "

Its about incrementalism Tom. The notion that it failed because you died before it was complete is simply false.

You need to expand your time scales.

Plenty of old men died before the Russians pulled out of afghanistan.

They still considered it a win.

Plenty of feminists died before 1973.

It was still a win.

Anonymous Stilicho January 27, 2015 3:43 PM  

Plenty of feminists died before 1973.

Old feminists never die, they just go to New York and regroupthink.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 3:43 PM  

Okay, now explain how feminism and the military are close enough for the example to hold. Me, I can't see it. And what waging a guerilla war has to do with creating a regular army? When you are dealing with an established organization, you do not get incrementalism. You get the appearance of progress, immediately undone as the person driving it loses power.

OpenID luagha January 27, 2015 3:44 PM  

From my experience teaching women basic firearms, the .357 is too much, even with rubber grips. The .45 gives a slower 'push' in terms of recoil, while by comparison the .357 is a sharp, intense shock.

So, another point of evidence for the fat women hypothesis.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 3:44 PM  

Oh, one exception. Decay is incremental. Sometimes it masquerades as incremental progress, but it's still decay.

Anonymous Sam the Man January 27, 2015 3:54 PM  

Well I only used the M9 in the NY guard and in yearly TAG matches but I can point out a few defects with the M9A3 design after going to the Berretta site.

1) The polymer lanyard/hammer spring part is not such a good idea, as it is likely to crack over time in a harsh enviroment. No reason to replace the old metal one except the plastic one is cheaper. Not my comment, heard that from a unit armourer.

2) We already have better mags. The bad mags were made by Check-Mate in and the problem was not the shell, but the spring and how the magazines were parkarized/ interior surface finish. The talc powder sand would jam then up. That is all understood now, correctly made magazines, improved shells, springs with the correct surface treatment, etc work pretty well. Once again, not my observation, unit armourers comments. 17 round mags already exist, but they are not issued (I think the springs and or followers are a bit different than the standard 15 shot mags)

3) The polymer guide rod for the recoil spring is already in new pistols. Supposedly better than the old metal part and easy to replace, will not bend if pistol dropped when the slide locked back. So we already have this. Old pistols can be retrofitted for something like 90 cents, if this is such an important feature.

4) The Army already rejected the rail option. Now the reason is the pistol is held in the standard M12 holster and the rail will make it more difficult to put out the pistol, as it can snag on the fabric one the holster gets a little old and frayed, which a lot of our equipment is. This can be fixed by gong to one of the plastic ridged holsters. But what is the point of that?

5) The entire idea of a laser or light on the pistol is only applicable to MPs, regular REMFs are going to use the pistol in an emergency only, we are not going to be sniper-seal-recondo-ranger-airborne-types, slinking around with a laser sight/silencers to knock out republican guard folks like in movies. Same thing is true of the threaded barrel. The nut will get lost. For most soldiers the pistol, not being theirs, gets very little attention parts that can be lost will be.

6) The adjustable front sight is not such a good idea. The pistols I have used seem to be more or less centered with M882 ball. The windage adjustable sight looks weak. If you have an adjustable front sight it will get banged up with all of the fire and movement exercises. If the rational for the polymer recoil spring guide was that it would not get bend if you go to ground with the slide to the rear (which we do in one of the combat matches) than the same caveat applies to the front sight.

Lighter color might be nice for the troops out in the field, but the fact is you keep the holster closed most of the time so it is not subject to direct light if you are in a harsh environment, everyone wears gloves. Seems to me from reading the Berretta site they just threw a bunch of crap on the pistol to say they changed it. Nothing broke on it now. Only caveat to the above is this is from a pogue (42A20), never left stateside, never even handle M9s on regular basis except in TAG matches, but that above does reflect what I have heard from real vets and armourers.

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 3:56 PM  

@tom k p1:Some people have more "omniscience" and insight than others.
p2: some people built the military.
p3: you can modify the foundation without taking down the house (this might be the tricky one)
conclusion: you can build a better military from an existing one

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 4:00 PM  

although that shouldn't be confused with the argument of the possibility of building a self maintaining military, a living military if you will, (a much better bet for impossibility)

Anonymous Bird on a Wing January 27, 2015 4:06 PM  

Tom Kratman: There's no such thing as Hari Seldon. It was just a story.

Everyone else: Nuh-uh!!!!

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 4:10 PM  

Also a third consideration would be whether the government that the military is dependent on is the one restricting the military. (the two being essentially inseparable)

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 4:12 PM  

"There's no such thing as Hari Seldon" ---the opposite end of a circle is the center---

Anonymous A Visitor January 27, 2015 4:40 PM  

"The purpose of military forces is to win wars. The purpose of the Air Force is—well, they no longer know. When we had SAC we knew – “Our profession is peace” was not just a slogan – but that too is neglected in the Modern Air Force. Deterrence and maintenance of nuclear weapons, being ready to use weapons when your fondest wish is that they will never be used – that does require a different kind of military. We once had that in SAC but the end of the Cold War was the end of SAC, and the nuclear deterrence force is, well not what it once was. It is subject to the Iron Law now."

It is debatable that the purpose of our military is to win wars any longer. One need only look at mandatory SHARP and introduction of women into frontline combat units to question whether winning wars is the foremost concern of our military anymore. On the subject of deterrence and maintenance of nuclear weapons, I am reading a great book that I'd highly recommend to all of the Ilk A Fighting Chance: The Moral Use of Nuclear Weapons by Joseph Martino. Though I took a 16 week Nuclear Deterrence and Coercion class in graduate school, I must say this book really does make a solid argument on the moral use of nuclear weapons.

"A slow old Warthog does a much better job, but there is no glory in that. Best to use fast jets… which of course are imprecise and cause a lot of collateral damage. Everyone knows that a force of propeller driven P-47 fighters of WWII would be more effective for supporting the field army than what we use. And the Army must be crippled, not allowed to have effective air power in taking territory. You must use modern jets at high speed.'

Ever since Giulio Douhet wrote Command of the Air it has been the dream of militaries (a dream which has never been and, per history, probably never will be realized) to win wars solely with air power. Look at the Persian Gulf War. We could find SCUD TELs in a desert maybe 3% of the time! Imagine what it'd be like with even more varied terrain.

"Now the Air Force has a mission that the Army at present does not have: Air Supremacy." If you do not have Air Supremacy, your ground forces suffer.

Anonymous A Visitor January 27, 2015 4:40 PM  

"Sure, I exaggerate but not much: the Air Force keeps trying to get rid of the Warthogs, but never by giving them (and the ground support mission) to the War Department."

They'd rather they stay in USAF possession than give them to the Army. Heh, heh, heh.

Btw, don't take this as me ragging on the USAF. I'm simply pointing out its deficiencies since we're on the subject.

"My expectation is that they'll try to survive by moving their mission upward, to space, in order to compensate for the vanishing ability of their planes to survive in the atmosphere."

Per USAJobs, the job of the Air Force is to win in the Air, Space, and Cyberspace! That's a direct quote.

"We can launch drones from destroyers and frigates." What about payload and range?

"If you are a country like Venezuela and you are worried about a possible air attack from a first world country, here is how you counter that. Built an air fleet of 100 P-51 equivalent fighters. Equip each fighter with six Sidewinder-type heat seeking air to air missiles."

F22 + AWACS = game, set, match USA.

"They know. But like I said, there's a lot of money tied into those platforms. Also, it's actually a law that we have 11 carriers. To decommission one is illegal.

Because Congress is all about respecting the law."

Bawhahahaa!

"SAC was outdated long ago, even before it was ever really established. Screw the nuke carrying bombers. Go with subs."

Yes, because the Chinese popped up amidst a carrier group in the mid-2000's and the Iranians can mine the Strait of Hormuz and the Russians have Akulas. Our Wolverines, Chicagos, and Ohios are not undetectable. Redundancy is key.

"Lasers can still shoot up into space."

It'll take time to operationalize them for that distance though considering how they've just now got it down int the past few years per what they did at White Sands.

"Except the drones that are actually used are slow and can't pull gees worth shit. If you designed them to go fast and do high-gee maneuvers, they would stop being cheap and start being very expensive."

Like Professor Farnsworth says, "It's science!"

"Also, as conducted now, CAS is not a risky mission."

Really? Manpads? Iskandiriyah in 2003? It's not as risky as going against the Russian Federation but it's still risky.

"Mr. Friedman over at Stratfor was betting that the US would develop some serious space based weaponry in the coming decades."

We probably already have.

"It's called Combined arms doctrine." Combined arms breach is how we win third generation wars and it requires ALL the branches.

Anonymous OddRob January 27, 2015 4:47 PM  

They know. But like I said, there's a lot of money tied into those platforms. Also, it's actually a law that we have 11 carriers. To decommission one is illegal.

Because Congress is all about respecting the law.


You do realize that the United States now only has 10 active carriers, right?

Anonymous Anubis January 27, 2015 4:54 PM  

"we've been the tech super power for a very long time. we may be for a very long time yet. the hazard is that talentless bureaucrats will tend to assume that BECAUSE we 'always were' tech superior that therefore we 'always will be' be tech superior."

Our tech superiority is a blow job or Chinese dual national tech away from foreign powers having full control. The advantage whites have over Asians is creativity, yet America keeps letting the advantage go away. Asians where competitive up till they invented gun powder but creativity got killed off during the imperial times when people would be killed for discovering things that didn't jive with the past, the nail that sticks out gets hammered.

"think 9mm isn't big enough and real men use .40S&W."
If given the choice between a real gun needed to win wars and a little pink vibrator to make women feel better about themselves which do you think the current admin will issue to all troops? I can see it now Army Power Ranger Girls holding pink vibrators over their heads when they cross water.

Anonymous FP January 27, 2015 4:56 PM  

P-47... The next version of that was the Douglas A1 Skyraider. Foldable wings and flew off carriers from Korea to Vietnam.

I got to see a Warthog do some flybys at an airshow back in '92. Impressed me more than the 117 they got to fly over the field.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 5:01 PM  

'Okay, now explain how feminism and the military are close enough for the example to hold. "

Tom... we've actually seen the results of this in our own life time. Feminists have used incrementalism on the military and its worked.

The trouble is.... you're just not letting yourself be devious enough.

The first step to absorbing the airforce into the army would be to add a tiny air wing to the army. Make no cuts to the air force and vigorously deny that it had anything to do with cutting the air force. If possible you piggy back some air force boondoggle project in with this to appease the zoomers.

Then... a few years later... you expand the army's little air wing... until eventually the army's little wing is handling CAS missions and it starts bumping into the air force. By now the idea of an army air wing is normal to many people. So you bump the airforce back for the first time. Because why should the army depend on the air force to do what it can already do itself? The navy doesn't call the air force to handle its stuff.

Slowly but surely you whittle away... and before long the airforce is just a shell of itself... and all the zoomers are wondering where it went.

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 5:03 PM  

"We probably already have." probably not. we've probably developed some space based weaponry that requires a nuclear power plant to be located in the vacuum of space. But the us has nowhere near the capacity to fight battles in space, else NASA wouldn't be in jeopardy of going away forever.

Anonymous T January 27, 2015 5:09 PM  

All the comments touting PGMs as if they are all that's needed for CAS seem to be missing the point.

When the enemy is within close range of friendly forces, all it takes is a tiny mistake to blow up your own friendlies.

Furthermore, a fast jet is going to have trouble performing any sort of reconnaissance while up there. The A-10 can make decisions on the fly, PGMs have to be coordinated far more carefully, often by a controller on the ground.

If I'm wrong about any of this, feel free to correct.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 5:14 PM  

"Well I only used the M9 in the NY guard and in yearly TAG matches but I can point out a few defects with the M9A3 design after going to the Berretta site."

You know they offered to provide the A3s for the same cost right?

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 5:24 PM  

@Vox The US government has been propping itself up by bleeding the space program for 20 years. We're 20 years away from getting back on track to were we were when we landed on the moon. And that's if the government magically fixes itself. The air force is not going into space anytime soon.

Anonymous Sam the Man January 27, 2015 5:32 PM  

My point is the new features don't seem practical. Seem more like gadgets added to make the pistol modern, but offering no real value.

Take the threaded muzzle. Regular troops are not going to be using silencers. The nut will get lost. Pointless……. The Special Forces guys are using whatever they want, they are not going issued a standard pistol.

Blogger Eric January 27, 2015 5:32 PM  

I've always believed we should organize things the way the Russians do, with a separate branch for the "strategic rocket forces" and then have fixed wing aircraft run by the army. I could see the need for a separate air force when the job was delivering as much cordite as possible to city-sized targets, but those days are gone and likely to never return.

That's likely the reason the Army has developed the drones. They want better CAS and less coordination needed to get bombs on target.

The AF is busily lobbying Congress to place a hard limit on the size of Army drones. Because of air traffic control.

Anonymous WaterBoy January 27, 2015 5:37 PM  

Rabbi B: "I am certainly no constitutional scholar, but shouldn't the Arny be 'abolished' as well? IIRC the Constitution provided for a Navy, but not a standing Army. I seem to remember something about Militias and Minutemen in lieu of the Army. I don't see it happening, but I thought perhaps someone here could enlighten or correct me on the history of maintaining a standing Army and the justification thereof or direct me to some resources. "

You may perhaps find this book enlightening.

From Chapter 5:

"The Question of a Peacetime Army

Congress subscribed to the prevailing view that the first line of national defense should be a "well-regulated and disciplined militia sufficiently armed and accoutered." Its reluctance to create a standing army was understandable; a permanent army would be a heavy expense, and it would complicate the struggle between those who wanted a strong national government and those who preferred the existing loose federation of states. Further, the recent threats of the Continental officers strengthened the popular fear that a standing army might be used to coerce the states or become an instrument of despotism. The English experience with General Oliver Cromwell and his military dictatorship in the mid-seventeenth century still exerted a powerful influence over the political ideas of the mother country and the former colonies.
General Washington, to whom Hamilton’s committee turned first for advice, echoed some of these fears. He pointed out that a large standing army in time of peace had always been considered "dangerous to the liberties of a country" and that the nation was "too poor to maintain a standing army adequate to our defense." The question might also be considered, he continued, whether any surplus funds that became available should not better be applied to "building and equipping a Navy without which, in case of War we could neither protect our Commerce, nor yield that assistance to each other which, on such an extent of seacoast, our mutual safety would require." He believed that America should rely ultimately on an improved version of the historic citizens’ militia, a force enrolling all males between eighteen and fifty liable for service to the nation in emergencies. He also recommended a volunteer militia, recruited in units, periodically trained, and subject to national rather than state control. At the same time Washington did suggest the creation of a small Regular Army "to awe the Indians, protect our Trade, prevent the encroachment of our Neighbors of Canada and the Floridas, and guard us at least from surprises; also for security of our magazines." He recommended a force of four regiments of infantry and one of artillery, totaling 2,630 officers and men.
"

[Emphasis mine.]

As near as I can tell, there has always been at least a small force of regular army employed since the Treaty of Paris.

As for whether or not it's Constitutional, the prohibition is only in the use of appropriations for raising and supporting an army to no more than two years. This doesn't mean that is how long the army can be standing; it means that Congress has to revalidate the need for it every two years (which is currently done every year in the appropriations bill).

You can find more on the constitutionality issue here.

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 5:37 PM  

"Because of air traffic control." lol

Blogger Eric January 27, 2015 5:40 PM  

Everyone knows that a force of propeller driven P-47 fighters of WWII would be more effective for supporting the field army than what we use.

I'm not convinced this is true. With SDB you can put a 250 pound bomb right where you want it, and with targeting pods you can do it from 40,000 ft. There are even smaller version.

Ammunition for guns is heavy, meaning you can engage fewer targets and less effectively. It's just not a weapon well suited for air power. I like the A-10 as much as anyone else, but it's obsolete - for the same tonnage you can be far more effective using bombs.

Anyway, a modern version of the P-47 already exists. It's called the Super Tucano, and you can buy one for $15m.

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 5:42 PM  

'strategic rocket forces" well the current aircraft technology is essentially super fancy rockets so that would make sense.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 5:59 PM  

Porph:
1.Some people have more omniscience and insight than other.
2. With regard to this, I have more than anyone I have ever even heard of.
3. I say it won't work to any good result.
Therefore it won't work.

You are, in any case, not talking about building an organization but reforming one, and more specifically, ours. It is a different class of problem. Could we shut down DoD and rebuild from scratch? Or build a different organization while incrementally (there ya go, Nate) shutting down the old one? Maybe, but an armed force tends to reflect the society from which it srpings and our society is rotten, so probably not.

Anonymous Ain January 27, 2015 6:03 PM  

Owen: "Heck, there's a good discussion to be made about needing carriers. They're huge, expensive, easily targeted, requires 4,500-5,000 personnel. We can launch drones from destroyers and frigates."

According to William Lind, the Navy's dirty secret about free play war games is that air craft carriers get sunk by submarines every time.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 6:06 PM  

Nate, I don't think you're getting it. A. Feminism is a philosophy, not a military organization. B. Feminism is decay. C. We are trying to avoid or reverse decay. Therefore, feminism is not a good exemplar.

No, the problem is I know how military organizations work, how they change or don't, the heroic levels of duplicity they'll put forth to make a bad idea look good, decay look like progress, and stasis look like change.

Also, to assume you can do something to the air force without the air force seeing it and udnerstanding what they're seeing is just indefensibly arrogant. They are often wrong; they are not stupid. They will see it and shut you down quick. That, or they'll join in, force themselves over en masse, and take over the army and the army's budget.

Your enemy gets a vote, Nate.

Anonymous Sam the Man January 27, 2015 6:09 PM  

Nate

Something else I thought of. Right now on every M9 that comes into a unit, you know the pistol has been targeted and passed the acceptance test. Part of the targeting test is to ensure the group is centered at around 25 M (centered and groups about 2 inches high with M882). Now as that depends on the correct fit of the locking block to the barrel, locking block surfaces to the slide and slide face to the barrel face: all of these relationships have to be correct. Since these fits are maintained you can interchange them on pistols and it does not matter, they retain zero (more or less). Now if you add a front sight to the slide that can be adjusted for windage, a bit more wiggle room can be taken in the manufacture that can be adjusted for in the front sight when targeting the pistols. Nice for Berretta; but not for the Army. The idea that the pistol can be zeroed to the individual soldier is a fine idea, but not always practical, at least in garrison where there are insufficient pistols and they are drawn as needed.

This is not hypothetical, I was involved with a test to see if the accuracy of the M9 could be improved by reducing the headspace on the issue barrel (remove a few thousands of the barrel on a surface grinder until right at the limit, most barrels are from 3 to 7 thousandths long. Part of this involved welding up a bit more material on the front of the locking block, putting it in a jig and cutting it to shape and then lapping it to the slide to get an absolute tight fit. Worked but it was remarkable that the last step to zeroing the pistol was to stone the lug on the side that the group formed on. A very small difference in bearing pressure would move the group noticeably at 25 Meters in the direction of the locking lug with the most pressure on it. Stone it down and it would move back to center. Folks don’t realize after 30 years the bugs have been worked out and where tolerances need to be tight they are.

Anyway allowing the front sight to be moved is not a good idea on an issue pistol, at least with what little I saw of the issue , matches and talking to armourers.

Anonymous Rabbi B January 27, 2015 6:12 PM  

@WaterBoy

This is great . . . thank you.

Two of my boys are speaking on the constitution for a competition. They are asked to prepare on 8-10 speech on the Constitution generally, and then be prepared to speak 3-5 extemp on the 5th, 6th, 8th, or 19th amendment (one is chosen at random, so they must be prepared for all four). At the first round someone had mentioned the unconstitionality of standing army.

The book recommend looks great. Thanks again.

If anybody has some good material that argues against the 19th amendment, let me know. My son's position on this proved unpopular with the female judges and I want him to be able to articulate his position better if it comes up. again.

Blogger Rabbi B January 27, 2015 6:16 PM  

*unconstitutionality

* 8- 10 minutes

*3-5 minutes

can't spell today ... sheesh

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 6:29 PM  

"Anyway allowing the front sight to be moved is not a good idea on an issue pistol, at least with what little I saw of the issue , matches and talking to armourers."

I am not a big fan of that change either... never the less its a change the army asked for.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 6:29 PM  

of course... what army brass wants and what army armourers want... are not often the same.

Anonymous Salt January 27, 2015 6:29 PM  

My son's position on this proved unpopular with the female judges

Well, there ya go.

Anonymous Feh January 27, 2015 6:30 PM  

According to William Lind, the Navy's dirty secret about free play war games is that air craft carriers get sunk by submarines every time.

The dirty little secret about William Lind is he has never served in the Navy (or any branch of the military) and doesn't know shit about it.

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 6:31 PM  

'
Also, to assume you can do something to the air force without the air force seeing it and udnerstanding what they're seeing is just indefensibly arrogant. "

***chuckle***

I dont' think they are stupid. I think they are human. And their organization is no different than every other organization that has been taken over and destroyed in exactly the same way.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 27, 2015 6:31 PM  

No, the problem is I know how military organizations work, how they change or don't, the heroic levels of duplicity they'll put forth to make a bad idea look good, decay look like progress, and stasis look like change.

@ Tom Kratman

Tell me about it. I remember the blood letting when maneuver warfighting went into unofficial disgrace after Al Grey left. A guy I knew, Mike Mullins great guy, good to go Marine in every way. But a known and vocal advocate of the wrong school of thought. Mike was scheduled to take command of Third Battalion RTR at Paris Island. For those who don't know what this means, Mike was basically guaranteed his eagles and was probably a good bet for O-7

A month before he was due to leave the hell of II MEF G3, he was informed that he was in fact, now going to be the commanding officer Stone Bay Rifle Range which is usually reserved for a WO-3.

Dead and buried, they weren't even trying to be subtle.

Blogger roundeye January 27, 2015 6:33 PM  

A barrage of sidewinders would end up with a daisy chain of sidewinders chasing each other since their exhaust is much hotter than jet exhaust. Maybe put an upper bound on the heat acceptible to chase, but there is a reason you pop flares when low in enemy territory.

Or maybe not. The closest I ever got to the armed forces is porking a navy noncom gal when she was on leave in Wisconsin 25 years ago.

Blogger roundeye January 27, 2015 6:37 PM  

It is very hard to get a job driving A 10s. A friend was a F 15 e pilot, did not get promoted to coronel and so was out. Still had to do some ANG or some such as part of ready reserve. Could not get a job as A 10 pilot, they get 25 applicatuons for every opening. Everyone wants to fly one. I want to fly one but I am unqualified.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 27, 2015 6:51 PM  

Here is the thing that is really needed for CAS.

A strong, institutional bond between the Aviator and the ground pounder, (The Marine Corps manages it in my own humble opinion better than anyone, even without the vaunted A-10.

The Air Force as an institution doesn't want that bond.

No matter what they say in public, as an institution they still bone deep believe strategic bombing can win the war. Ridiculous but there it is.

But Tom Kratman is right, you can not defeat the Air Force in bureaucratic bun fighting. No one can. It's amazing to watch an Air Force base get built. First thing that goes in is the BX followed closely by the officer's club. Then barracks, warehouses, armories etc. After those things are built they go back to congress and ask for more additional funds to build hangers and maybe a runway,

Blogger Nate January 27, 2015 6:53 PM  

"The dirty little secret about William Lind is he has never served in the Navy (or any branch of the military) and doesn't know shit about it."

lulz...

Anonymous Epimetheus January 27, 2015 6:55 PM  

"Or you can go to everyjoe and find the piece on why I decided I wasn't interested in stars..."

Hey wow, cool. I didn't know you had a regular column. Bookmarked.

Anonymous Poli_Mis January 27, 2015 6:55 PM  

Long live the Cessna Dragonfly!

Anonymous Porphyry January 27, 2015 6:57 PM  

"Maybe, but an armed force tends to reflect the society from which it springs and our society is rotten, so probably not." I would agree with you here. I thought you were saying it's impossible to improve the military. But it sounds like your saying the military is not the real problem but that other problems are deeply effecting the military, which I would definitely agree with even more so since you would know.

Blogger Eric January 27, 2015 7:04 PM  

The Air Force as an institution doesn't want that bond.

What they really hate about the A-10 is you can't use it to shoot down enemy fighters or hit targets deep in enemy airspace at high altitude and speed. You can really only use it to support the army, which isn't all that important.

Anonymous Peter January 27, 2015 7:07 PM  

Vox: "My expectation is that they'll try to survive by moving their mission upward, to space, in order to compensate for the vanishing ability of their planes to survive in the atmosphere."

Which would be stupid, so they'll probably do that. I have no problem with (ex)flyboys running ground control, but the folks actually going into space should be wearing dolphins:

If your airplane breaks, you jump out and get another one. If your submarine breaks, you die.

Different mindset, different institutional tradition. And don't forget that the submariners have been operating in a hostile environment for well over a century.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper January 27, 2015 8:53 PM  

Mine is a civilian opinion b Inter-service rivalries aside, the general job is getting done and we've lost far more planes (though Marine aircraft here) to Afghan suicide commandos than in air to air combat or anti aircraft. That suggests if you can't prove its broken, don't fix it.
As for aircraft carriers, Ripper tactics aside aircraft carriers do serve a very useful purpose, show the flag, force projection an other things and thus far as far as I know no one other than nuclear powers has even threatened one. Now sure Russia and China can take them out. Either can also glass us at will also or just EMP our civilization into a cannibal holocaust as well and either might . If our nukes degrade or are limited and they have anti-missile defenses, its reasonable to assume they will especially China where loss of a few cities is just part of the calculus and environmental damage is ignored anyway

lastly re: the future, I think it should be software driven autonomy solutions. No need for pilots or a radio uplink on say a smart missile bus with stealth and long linger capability. We will have a heck of a time adapting to that though, if we can get past the political aspects of military funding (c.f the F-35) the 1st few iterations will suck. Once past the suck though, not having a pilot is a huge thing and if we can get costs down (fat chance) we can issue say tank killer drones at the platoon level or have dedicated interceptors at the limits of the airframe and fuel,

This kind of warfare will be novel in many ways and the Airforce should rightly lose much of its support role and instead move to air superiority. That will be resisted but if the Generals had their way, we'd just be moving to cap-lock muskets by now.

A last thought, its all predicated on fuel being there. It might not be in any protracted war in which case, its going to come down to the PBI as always and if the military is too political and too vibrant, well. We lose.

Anonymous VD January 27, 2015 9:05 PM  

The dirty little secret about William Lind is he has never served in the Navy (or any branch of the military) and doesn't know shit about it.

Mr. Lind has not. But the admirals of the US and other navies who value his insights, as well as the various Marine generals, know rather a lot. And do keep in mind that I am personally acquainted with some of those admirals and generals.

Lind knows a lot more about it than most people who have served in the military.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 27, 2015 9:32 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 27, 2015 9:35 PM  

The dirty little secret about William Lind is he has never served in the Navy (or any branch of the military) and doesn't know shit about it.

The first part is not a secret, dirty or otherwise.

As for the second. Congratulations Feh! It's not everyday, I read the stupidest thing I've ever seen in my life.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 10:20 PM  

"A month before he was due to leave the hell of II MEF G3, he was informed that he was in fact, now going to be the commanding officer Stone Bay Rifle Range which is usually reserved for a WO-3."

Enjoy your tour as assistant division vector control officer....

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 10:26 PM  

Porph: In the long run, although it may be possible to improve somebody's military, and maybe even ours, in practice what you get - at least with ours - is either a) the appearance of improvement or b) temporary and trivial improvement. As soon as you are gone, and everybody's gotta go sometime, it will change right back, as if you had never existed. It may even change for the worse.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 27, 2015 10:40 PM  

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, Jack?

Wise men of good moral character.

Or, failing that, men who will be hanged for screwing up.

Anonymous Discard January 27, 2015 10:40 PM  

Regarding aircraft carriers: If you have to suck up to D.C. by giving them names like the USS Carl Vinson, the USS John C. Stennis, and the USS George H. W. Bush, maybe there's no good reason to build them. The USS Bill Clinton will have to be next, unless in an unprecedented display of humility, he declines the honor.

Anonymous map January 27, 2015 11:10 PM  

What about the:

USS Monica Blewklinsky

Blogger Tom Kratman January 27, 2015 11:15 PM  

That's just adding another level of quis custodiet, Jack. The problem remains, as it has always remained.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 27, 2015 11:23 PM  

The problem remains, as it has always remained.

Of course. I'm just suggesting a metric for good men to use when judging others. Turf battles are a sign of rot.

Anonymous map January 27, 2015 11:28 PM  

I still have no idea why the military finds DA/SA guns like the Beretta and the Sig in 9mm so impressive. If the goal is to use a smaller caliber round to help women shoot better, then the above weapons are a poor choice. The heavy trigger pulls initially guarantee a lot of bad shooting in training.

Anonymous Feh January 27, 2015 11:44 PM  

One of the stupidest things I've read in my life is the quote attributed to Lind. No doubt he was misquoted, or quoted out of context.

Because the claim that in "free play war games... aircraft carriers get sunk by submarines every time" is flatly wrong.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 28, 2015 12:12 AM  

I suspect misplaced safety concerns are at least partially at the root of the DA/SA thing, map. Positive safety or not, hand off the grip or not, the idea that people are running around with pistols with rounds in chambers, unsupervised, with the hammers cocked, gives the safety-fascisti and morons with stars bad cases of the vapors.

Anonymous zen0 January 28, 2015 12:51 AM  

@ Feh aircraft carriers get sunk by submarines every time" is flatly wrong

Let Google be your friend. It may not be 100% correct, and Lind may not have said it, but How to sink an Aircraft Carrier

But there are good reasons to assume the 7,000-ton Dallas did succeed in pretend-sinking Illustrious. In 2007 HMCS Corner Brook, a diesel-electric submarine of the Canadian navy, sneaked up on Illustrious during an exercise in the Atlantic.




HMS Illustrious in HMCS Corner Brooks’ sights. Canadian navy photo

To prove they could have sunk the carrier, Corner Brook’s crew snapped a photo through the periscope—and the Canadian navy helpfully published it.“The picture represents hard evidence that the submarine was well within attack parameters and would have been successful in an attack,” boasted Cmdr. Luc Cassivi, commander of the Canadian submarine division.


Blame Canada, blame Canada............

The point being, that subs are the biggest threat to carriers.

Blogger Steve Carr January 28, 2015 12:55 AM  

Some Victorian doctors notoriously prescribed certain mechanical treatments for the feminine vapors. Perhaps those morons with stars should try a course of treatment. It might even distract them from inflicting further damage for a little while.

Anonymous zen0 January 28, 2015 1:01 AM  

If air war is not decisive without boots, a carrier is just another delivery system for airwar, that precludes needing agreements with the countries that supply airports, nothing more.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 28, 2015 1:07 AM  

gives the safety-fascisti and morons with stars bad cases of the vapors.

Indeed, turf battles aren't the only sign of rot. Generals unwilling to trust soldiers with loaded weapons...

... funny. My grandfather had an old Springfield 1873 Trapdoor .45-70 rifle from the Spanish-American War. We came by it when he passed away, and it came with some Spanish-American War Army-issue ammo in cardboard boxes. I distinctly remember the printed instruction on the side of the boxes "Reload ONLY under the supervision of an Officer."

Anonymous rho January 28, 2015 2:02 AM  

I wonder if VD can track the most hotly commented threads. Evolution has to be in the top 3. Anything military must run a close race, if only from the ancillary gun talk.

Lind's hook is that he isn't career or ancillary military. As Kratman pointed out, career military carries baggage. You can always spot career military, they love to use jargon and slang incomprehensible to anybody who can't google Google on their interwebs.

Anonymous Feh January 28, 2015 8:00 AM  

Let Google be your friend. It may not be 100% correct, and Lind may not have said it, but How to sink an Aircraft Carrier

You moron, I did not say subs cannot sink carriers or do not threaten carriers. I said that Lind's ostensible statement about wargames is stupid and wrong, as it is.

Blogger Tom Kratman January 28, 2015 8:20 AM  

"As Kratman pointed out, career military carries baggage. You can always spot career military, they love to use jargon and slang incomprehensible to anybody who can't google Google on their interwebs."

Yes, and I have to watch _myself_ on that, too.

Anonymous Quartermaster January 28, 2015 8:49 AM  

"As for the Super Tacano, it's primary advantages over the Apache are speed and range and time on target which the Apache compensates for with greater payload capacity and the fact that it can be deployed much closer to the front lines where it will be used. "

The only advantage the Apache has over the Super Tucano is that it can be based closer to the front. Rotary wing aviation is expensive and harder to maintain than fixed wing aviation. The only reason the Army adopted gunships was the poor service it got from the Air Force.

"The dirty little secret about William Lind is he has never served in the Navy (or any branch of the military) and doesn't know shit about it."

It is widely known that Lind did not serve in any branch. It is also irrelevant to what he does. To say he doesn't know sh!t, however, merely shows you are an ignoramus on the matter.

Blogger Cataline Sergius January 28, 2015 10:07 AM  

I suspect in theory, the Air Force wouldn't mind off loading the A-10 on to the Army.

The problem for the Air Force is, that it won't stop with just the A-10. Once the Army has got a fixed wing bird, they will start pushing hard for their own transports to do refueling.

I don't know if it's even possible to retrofit the A-10 with a fuel probe but if you can do it, the Army now has an excellent argument to acquire it's own fleet of KC-130s.

Why yes, yes you can remove the in flight refueling tanks on a KC-130. Quite easily in fact.

At that point the Army starts flying it's own tactical transport missions, Airdrops etc. In fact there will suddenly be sensible questions raised in congress about why the Air Force is conducting so many overlapping missions with the Army. The horrifying specter of the the budget axe suddenly looms.

Nope. Better just to try and kill the Warthog and claim that the F-35 (which is basically a strategic asset) can do Close Air just fine.

Anonymous RatDog January 28, 2015 10:31 AM  

First, look at the Air Force mission: “… to fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace.” Obvious mission creep here. These people have no idea what they’re about. And why is the “fly” part in there? Is the AF for the pilots or the pilots for the AF? As soon as a new battlespace becomes recognized in the War College academia, the AF mission will be “… and win in air, space, cyberspace, and all the new battlespaces too.”

I’m not even so sure that the AF would be considered the most technical service. The AF seems to be contracting out most of the technology and the engineers working for the AF tend to be more of technical assistants to government contracting officers. The navy still seems to place a high priority on keeping technical expertise in house.

As for AF morphing into a navy or vice-versa depending on crew size, I note that the largest civilian ships have a full crew of 12 including officers. And not all of them are needed other than legal considerations of having a captain and watch officers. These boats can be driven by remote control—as can aircraft. 5000 crew and officers on a carrier? Sounds like govt waste. It’s possible that the navy could be more like the AF with the newer boats and far smaller crews—although Lind has noted that the capital ships of the future will be subs.

Keep in mind that the AF Space Command and working with satellites is considered the ass end of the AF. Multiple AF Academy grads told me that the bottom ranked people of the graduating classes were stuck with space / missile rather than the top ranked grads choosing it first.

Space and cyberspace are also not often paths to making four star rank. There are a few senior generals who aren’t pilots in the AF but not many. Look at the bios and almost all are wearing command pilot badges.

The early AF was more about strategic forces and bombers than air superiority / supremacy. The bomber mafia controlled the early AF. I read that in WW2, fighters (pursuit squadrons) were underfunded in favor of bomb squadrons. If you want a good sci-fi analogy of seeing how the services differed, read Heinlein’s Space Cadet. The way the patrol is described sounds eerily similar to the early USAF.

As for drones, those guys are battling both the fighter and bomber mafias in the AF for budgets. They won’t win budgetary battles without outside political interference. Interestingly enough, when I went through the Air Command & Staff College online course, they said that bandwidth was a limiting factor in drone capability rather than flight capability.

Anonymous Stilicho January 28, 2015 11:11 AM  

The only advantage the Apache has over the Super Tucano is that it can be based closer to the front. Rotary wing aviation is expensive and harder to maintain than fixed wing aviation. The only reason the Army adopted gunships was the poor service it got from the Air Force

And how does that change the fact that we use attack helicopters in the CAS roles that would be filled by turboprops? The Super Tacano also has less payload capacity, but I'm not sure how that works out firepower with various loads (missiles, rocket pods, gun pods, etc.). Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of turboprops for CAS, especially when you figure the costs. I expect you could field at least 2 and as many as 4 Super Tacanos for the cost of keeping a single Apache in the air (cost estimates I've seen vary greatly, but all favor the ST).

Anonymous Feh January 28, 2015 11:18 AM  

To say he doesn't know sh!t, however, merely shows you are an ignoramus on the matter.

Lind is known for:
1. Knowledge of air warfare as a hanger-on with Sprey and Boyd.

2. Knowledge of ground warfare in connection with his theories of 4GW.

He is not known for any special expertise in naval affairs, carrier aviation, undersea warfare, or ASW.

Also, fuck off.

Anonymous Eric Ashley January 28, 2015 11:59 AM  

William Gibson, supposedly, in his futures would have certain companies survive to the future because their product was excellent.

So in a near-future Mil SF....'being greener than my supply of neo-maryjane, I took a shot at an overflying Warthog with my 40 kill want rifle. Didn't even slow it down, then it spun about to come after me. I was lucky the digger drones had dug a real deep hole nearby...'

Blogger Akulkis January 28, 2015 4:43 PM  

"What we have now is inordinately expensive and inefficient. As an Air Force brat, I can vouch for the soft living the USAF. I chose Army Aviation myself and think the USAF is simply too soft for its own good. It wasn't always that way, but it has become so and the country is not well served by it."


And neither is the Air Force.

Of all the service branches, if you were deployed to Iraq, your greatest probability of getitng killed was if you were wearing a USAF uniform (this is DESPITE the fact that 1: VERY VERY VERY few aircraft were shot down, and the vast majority were Army helicopters, not Air Force aircraft) and 2: VERY VERY VERY few USAF personnel ever left their bases on foot or in ground vehicles.

Why, then, the disproportionate casualites among USAF personnel? Simple -- the USAF doesn't teach their people about ANY threats that aren't in the sky. When the USAF would send out ground convoys, they would get shot to shit, because nothing screams "EASY TARGET" like a convoy in which the .50 cal and .30 cal turret guns are pointing up in the air -- rather than level -- indicating that the turret gunners in those ground vehicles aren't doing their job, and are NOT ready for a fight.

My cousin was in the USAF. He had been shooting since he was 5. He told me about the ONE DAY in basic training when they went to the small arms range; his AR-15 had a malfunction, so he performed immediate action and resumed firing. His T.I. chewed him out for performing immediate action instead of handing the weapon to the T.I.

That, my friends, is all you need to know about why the Air Force can't defend themselves. The Fighter Mafia is just as corrosive to proper training of USAF personnel as the Bomber Mafia which preceded it. For all practical purposes, in a war zone, USAF personnel literally can't go off base by themselves -- they NEED to be escorted by Army or USMC personnel, (even if E-2 and E-3 privates) just to keep from getting killed, because the USAF doesn't other training any of ther personnel how to defend themselves against ground threats, with the sole exception being Pilots, Weapons OIfficers, and the Pararescue types who rescue downed pilots from enemy territory.

If the vast majority of USAF personnel in a unified Army with and Air Corps, they wouldn't spend their entire career in the military eqiuvalent of the Girl Scouts, and would actually get some exposure to NCOs and even officers who know what life is like to live in less than 3-star hotel accomodation -- to live in tents, or just plain live in the dirt, and therefore put a check on the sissified lifestyle among the fixed-wing aviatioin. An airforce full of sergeant majors who started out as ground pounder, artillery man, cav or armor would do WONDERS for a lost of fixed-wing units.

Blogger Akulkis January 28, 2015 4:49 PM  

I won't even go into how I, and my company commander, notified the Khobar Towers commandant's office in 1991 of the HUGE risk of a truck bombing in the northwest corner of that base. The same place...the same EXACT PLACE, where a truck bomb was parked in 1994, killing 14 USAF personnel, and wounding don't know how many.

This means that AT LEAST 2 new 1- or 2-star USAF generals had taken over that base, and not lifted a single finger to correct that problem -- a problem which I identified the FIRST TIME I walked in that section of the perimeter.

What kind of service promotes people to flag officer rank who don't even have the basic common sense to walk the perimeter of a base within a week of taking command of it?

And irresponsible one.

Anonymous WaterBoy January 28, 2015 5:44 PM  

Akulkis: "because the USAF doesn't other training any of ther personnel how to defend themselves against ground threats, with the sole exception being Pilots, Weapons OIfficers, and the Pararescue types who rescue downed pilots from enemy territory."

This is false, the Security Forces being the largest and most notable of those omitted from your list.

Others are those personnel of nearly every profession who are being deployed overseas (I received it as a computer programmer, for instance). Granted, it is not nearly as regular or as complete as it should be, but it is there nonetheless.

However, the rest of your analysis is mostly spot-on.

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