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Thursday, March 08, 2018

Tactical proliferation and the decline of US military supremacy

Quick, form a UN Task Force! Clearly we need a global Anti-Proliferation Treaty to stop the spread of advanced infantry tactics.
Is there evidence that the bad guys are getting better at basic tactics? Yes. Consider Boko Haram. Having only launched its military campaign in 2009, it has already mastered the use of coordinated fire and maneuver elements at the tactical level to execute complex raids, ambushes, assaults, and even withdrawing by echelon when on the defensive. It even staged an amphibious assault that overran a Nigerien Army garrison on an island in Lake Chad. Another example is from much closer to the U.S. homeland. Utilizing tactics diffused through U.S. military training, drug cartels such as the infamous “Zetas” and “Jalisco New Generation” have institutionalized combat training that allows them to regularly wreak havoc on Mexican security forces. In the wake of a recent downing of a Mexican military helicopter through the employment of rocket-propelled grenades, the disturbing discovery was made of tactical gear emblazoned with “CJNG – High Command Special Forces” (Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion).

Further evidence comes from the Iraqi campaign to defeat ISIL. Conventional forces struggled mightily to eject ISIL from Iraq’s territory, and only succeeded due to the heavy use of Iraqi special operations forces and liberal American airpower. The battle of Mosul, for example, lasted for nine months despite significant material U.S. support and a 20:1 force ratio against the ISIL defenders. Afghan conventional military forces are often defeated by an increasingly competent Taliban. On the other side of the world, Filipino forces had to destroy much of the town of Marawi to liberate it from jihadist insurgents during a five-month siege last year. Furthermore, these enemies seem to be gravitating towards operations in urban areas. These environments hinder the United States and its partners from utilizing their high-tech advantages, resulting in a playing field that could get ever more level. Finally, given the ease with which such groups can infiltrate poorly vetted partner forces, the U.S. military has probably provided tactical instruction to the enemy directly and indirectly for a long time. As one U.S. military advisor in Afghanistan told one of us: “Sometimes a trainee just doesn’t show up right before graduation, and then – sure enough – you are fighting him on the next objective.”

In summary, rather than celebrating the (shockingly slow) destruction of the ISIL caliphate, the U.S. military should realize that one of its enemies just learned a whole lot about combat: basic infantry tactics, urban operations, and the clever blending of emerging technologies. These lessons will spread globally, and faster than many expect.
This points out two more very good reasons not to engage in unnecessary foreign wars. First, you're implicitly training your enemy. The longer you fight him, the more he will learn. Second, if you compound your error by engaging in "nation-building", you will usually find yourself literally and explicitly training your enemy.

Over time, opposing forces tend to become more and more symmetrical. This is the process that we are beginning to see, both in terms of tactics and the demographics of the militaries themselves. US military supremacy was always bound to erode, because no military, not even the Roman legions have ever remained permanently superior. But this increasingly observed tactical symmetry is a clear indication that the erosion is picking up speed.

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77 Comments:

Blogger Unknown March 08, 2018 12:04 PM  

And all the while the various enemies we have engaged with have been training and improving, we have been weakening our own forces by allowing trans and gay people to stay, and allowing women in front line combat positions...

Blogger Jemison Thorsby March 08, 2018 12:06 PM  

"You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.
- Napoleon Bonaparte

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener March 08, 2018 12:07 PM  

Maybe the plan is to turn our enemies into trannies who can't throw grenades?

Blogger Josh (the sexiest thing here) March 08, 2018 12:09 PM  

Didn't this also happen with US troops in both world wars?

Blogger Azure Amaranthine March 08, 2018 12:13 PM  

"we have been weakening our own forces"

Also by staffing them with aliens.

Blogger Chris Mallory March 08, 2018 12:26 PM  

Unknown wrote:and allowing women in front line combat positions...

How many women are in Marine Corps front line combat positions, enlisted and officer?

Blogger Aquila Aquilonis March 08, 2018 12:33 PM  

How long until we are killing all the men and then salting the fields in order to win again?

Blogger dvdivx March 08, 2018 12:36 PM  

Actual aliens would probably not be on our side but would have a competent military unlike ours. Maybe we should entrust our forces to a central computer trusted yo run it all with a mechanical army that never quits. What can go wrong?

OpenID ar10308 March 08, 2018 12:38 PM  

This only serves to underline the fact that the only answer to 4th Gen warfare is 0th Gen Warfare.

Nearly all of the battles listed would have been overwhelming one by the US if we stopped giving a shit about inflicting extra casualties. If instead of trying to take Mosul, it was decided to remove it from the map then this wouldn't be an issue.

Blogger Dire Badger March 08, 2018 12:40 PM  

That's why secret weapons must remain secret.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan March 08, 2018 12:41 PM  

I predicted this years ago when Doofus Bush and his merry band of idiot conservatives marched off into the same place Julian the Apostate met his fate. They would train the jihadis and we here in America would be left to the tender mercies of our real enemies the multi cult who would elect a Muslim symp.

Blogger Stephen Davenport March 08, 2018 12:49 PM  

I still do not see, how US military power is fading, you offer no proof other than some weird Russian fanboy talk and Libertarian goofy talk. No other military even comes close to us , not even every military pundits new fav the Chicoms. The last war they fought in the Vietnamese tapped that ass. So please excuse me as I yawn at your monthly US is fading shtick ( Coming from someone who is now an Italian and doesn't even live in the US).

OpenID vfm360 March 08, 2018 12:50 PM  

Ah, so that explains current US recruitment changes and lowering of standards. We want the enemy to duplicate our methods of making a fighting force maximally ineffective. Brilliant.

Blogger Zimri March 08, 2018 1:00 PM  

"Second, if you compound your error by engaging in "nation-building", you will usually find yourself literally and explicitly training your enemy."

As the Israelis learnt when they allowed the PLO to become the Palestinian Authority.

Blogger cheddarman March 08, 2018 1:07 PM  

since the primary tactic of the USA is to more or less bump into the enemy and attempt to pour tremendous volumes of firepower on them, refugee columns, hospitals and orphanages, who would have ever thought this day would come?

OpenID zhukovg March 08, 2018 1:08 PM  

Even when I was in the military during the Reagan era, I could see serious issues developing.

I was privileged to train with some of our British allies and the difference in discipline, professionalism and skill between them and us was frankly embarrassing.

The situation hasn't improved, in spite of what a few Pollyannas might think.

--ZhukovG

Blogger pyrrhus March 08, 2018 1:10 PM  

Yes. Sebastian Junger's 'War' notes the admiration that a top US infantry company had for the versatility and skills of the Taliban teenagers they were facing. The US has also discovered ISIS downloads of infantry manuals and theory books.
The Vietnam war was another example. The top NVA general carried a copy of T.E. Lawrence's 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' with him everywhere, and NVA forces definitely copied some US tactics..In consequence, when China invaded North Vietnam later on, after the war was over, it took a serious beating from the battle hardened and skilled NVA forces.

Blogger Damian March 08, 2018 1:11 PM  

Lazily dumping as much firepower as possible onto an intended target safe in the knowledge that you out-gun and out-spend your opponent was a strategy doomed to long term failure.

Blogger pyrrhus March 08, 2018 1:14 PM  

Of course, with the Marines now promoting unqualified female infantry officers, there probably will not be any US infantry that are top grade in the future.

Blogger pyrrhus March 08, 2018 1:16 PM  

@14 As I recall, the Hamas teenagers made the Israeli army look stupid in 2006, so Israel went back to bombing civilians and sniping people in wheelchairs...

Blogger Patrikbc March 08, 2018 1:21 PM  

This is what happens when you hold back. If you get a rat infestation, you gotta kill all the rats.

Blogger pyrrhus March 08, 2018 1:22 PM  

@12 The US hasn't won a war since 1945, and now it is losing to teenagers in Afghanistan, and faces Russian tactical superiority in many key areas, including SAMs, fighter planes, hypersonic cruise missiles, long range torpedoes, and unmanned submarines. With the US outspending Russia almost 10-1 on the military.
But everything is fine.....

Blogger Ceerilan March 08, 2018 1:24 PM  

But, wasn't Rome's fall from supremacy due more to internal problems like the pussification of it's citizens and elites who shifted the army's focus from the frontier to defend their own personal power base?

Blogger jimmy_the_freak March 08, 2018 1:27 PM  

With the drug cartels, I wonder how many members have US military training. Or are at least trained by people with such training.

Blogger dvdivx March 08, 2018 1:29 PM  

If you can't see the dry rot it doesn't mean your house is in good shape. Try actually looking at the problem instead of just a cursory glance.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener March 08, 2018 1:39 PM  

@12 For the last century, one of the most consistent harbingers of the imminent collapse of a military power has been a shortage of pilots. Guess what the US is now facing?

Blogger S1AL March 08, 2018 1:43 PM  

"But, wasn't Rome's fall from supremacy due more to internal problems like the pussification of it's citizens and elites who shifted the army's focus from the frontier to defend their own personal power base?"

Rome's fall from power toto a thousand years. You could blame almost anything and you'd have been correct at some point. But the proliferation of Roman tech and tactics did occur at many points - as did the inverse. Roman cavalry became much better because of Hannibal's mercenaries.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd March 08, 2018 1:48 PM  

Ceerilan wrote:... internal problems like the pussification of it's citizens and elites who shifted the army's focus from the frontier to defend their own personal power base?

Thank Judeo-Christ that could never happen to US!

Blogger Hammerli280 March 08, 2018 1:56 PM  

This is why it's critical to fight YOUR way, not your opponent's. For Americans, that means airpower and seapower...and stay the hell out of a light infantry fight.

We have a national tendency to treat warfare as a game, and try to fight "fair". NO! Never fight fair! Fight to win! Just about any country can field competent light infantry. Armor, artillery...harder. Aviation and seapower? Much, much harder (and capital-intensive).

Back in the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army developed a doctrine of "grab the Americans by the belt buckle and hold on"...to get close in and minimize the effectiveness of our air and artillery assets.

Frankly, counterinsurgency campaigns are something best restricted to support of local allies. Don't let the Army send serious forces, they'll insist on fighting the whole war themselves...and lose.

Blogger August March 08, 2018 2:07 PM  

Recently I heard, among other things, that the military has given up on teaching soldier to use a compass and a map.

SHR # 2156 :: MFR: US Army Drops Grenade Throwing as New Recruits Are Too Weak to Throw Far Enough + More Shocking Info ::

The over-reliance on tech is going to really hurt as the Kessler Syndrome kicks in. And a state or non-state actor could easily figure out a payload or two of ball bearings would help that along.

Blogger Bob Loblaw March 08, 2018 2:09 PM  

The battle of Mosul, for example, lasted for nine months despite significant material U.S. support and a 20:1 force ratio against the ISIL defenders.

That point doesn't support the thesis. We could have smashed them much, much more quickly using US ground troops and not worrying about civilians or the condition of the city. It's not that the defenders were somehow competent; it's that there were political considerations and little strategic advantage to a quick victory.

OpenID Dave March 08, 2018 2:18 PM  

The good news is, this plus mass gun ownership makes it unlikely that white people will ever be dislodged from America's rural backwaters by force. Carpet-bombing requires flyable aircraft, which affirmative-action militaries tend not to have (see South Africa).

So the elites would best stick with the plan of killing us off with cheap opiates.

Blogger dienw March 08, 2018 2:23 PM  

The portion of the article provided does not state that we - or some part of "we" - or some other state actor trained those various forces at one time.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer March 08, 2018 2:30 PM  

Gang members join the US Military to learn tactics and get weapons training.

Blogger gunner451 March 08, 2018 2:57 PM  

Tactics are nice but you need the training and discipline to implement them. It takes 4-6 months to train a US combat solider and a significant amount of money for things like bullets and equipment. But you need a lot more than that in order to win, you need logistics to supply your troops at a minimum as there are a lot of consumables in a war. ISIS and other "rebels" in Syria, for example, get a lot of their stuff from friendly nations like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and the US.

The US will dominate so long as they have air superiority over the battle field, access to artillery and do not have to try to control too much land area.

Blogger Bobiojimbo March 08, 2018 3:08 PM  

Damn. Compounding this issue is the fact that some marxists are joining these fights, and when they return, will spread these tactics to groups like AntiFa.

Blogger horsewithnonick March 08, 2018 3:09 PM  

Sounds great! Tireless soldiers that never feel pity, or remorse, or fear...

...wait, this sounds kind of familiar...

Blogger Ominous Cowherd March 08, 2018 3:20 PM  

gunner451 wrote:The US will dominate so long as they have air superiority over the battle field, access to artillery and do not have to try to control too much land area.

So, that means as long as we aren't actually relying on having superior troops, we don't need to have superior troops. That's very comforting.

Air superiority is becoming less certain as anti-aircraft weapons and enemy air forces become more sophisticated. The last time we went up against a major power, we won because we were able to out-produce them. The US lost something like 50,000 planes during WWII. Lockheed produced 65 F35s last year. How fast can we make them, and at $85 million per F35, how long can we afford to maintain air superiority?

Major powers have artillery, too. ISIS or Iraq aren't going to win any artillery duels, but China might.

As for logistics, major powers can handle logistics, while the minor players almost don't need supplies. ISIS or Hamas can resupply from the countryside they infest, with the occasional truckload of ammunition from Iran. On their home turf, I suspect that Russia or China will have their own short logistics chains figured out, and will have plans to screw up our logistics chains which will stretch halfway around the world.

Everything you said is true, but somehow it's not very reassuring.

Blogger rumpole5 March 08, 2018 3:32 PM  

Well, we have the ability to land a rocket on a frigging boat! It seems that we must retain some degree of technical superiority. If that ability is matched by, say, a small space shuttle-like plane with targeting lasers, or even the ability to focus concentrated sunlight on our enemies (didn't Aristotle do that to an enemy navy?) then we could be quite persuasive. There must be some substantive persuasion the GE used to get the Koreas to sit down at the same table.

Blogger rumpole5 March 08, 2018 3:45 PM  

Unlike Mr. Davenport (who, extrapolating from his photo, must spend a considerable amount on time on that item of furniture) I do not presume to question VDs impeccable reasoning, but when I see tech videos showing an exoskeletoned weakling carrying 300 lbs for miles, and invisibility cloaks, and the like, I'm just not sure that we have all of the facts to judge our military situation.

Blogger HMS Defiant March 08, 2018 4:00 PM  

Dumbest thing I've read so far this year.
Don't you write/play wargames down to the squad level? Are they fairly congruent with reality in that SMEs are hired to help make them 'realistic'?

Blogger AlAd Gustum March 08, 2018 4:28 PM  

This is a 2500 year old truism.

Ancient Sparta’s biggest advantage was in training and experience. I believe one of the rules of Lycurgus the legendary lawgiver of Sparta was not to war continuously against the same opponent so they wouldn’t gain military experience on how to fight against the Spartans.

The western edge in personnel and training isn’t something to be taken for granted.

Blogger AlAd Gustum March 08, 2018 4:28 PM  

This is a 2500 year old truism.

Ancient Sparta’s biggest advantage was in training and experience. I believe one of the rules of Lycurgus the legendary lawgiver of Sparta was not to war continuously against the same opponent so they wouldn’t gain military experience on how to fight against the Spartans.

The western edge in personnel and training isn’t something to be taken for granted.

Blogger Bob Loblaw March 08, 2018 4:38 PM  

Air superiority is becoming less certain as anti-aircraft weapons and enemy air forces become more sophisticated.

Ground based missile systems are about tenth on the worries of a modern attack aircraft pilot. We're already flying F-22s over Syria, and the Russians can't even track us.

If anything, SAM systems are comparatively worse than they were in the '90s, particularly since with targeting pods and GPS or laser guided bombs you can attack targets from outside the engagement envelops of all but the most bulky and expensive systems - systems which are easy to destroy in the opening stages of conflict.

What's making air superiority less certain is the amount of resources the Chinese have thrown into developing a modern air force, complete with stealth aircraft and AWACS. They aren't there yet, but assuming current trends continue they will be in a decade or two. Even if we don't come into conflict with China directly, they will eventually be selling aircraft that rival or exceed ours.

Blogger tuberman March 08, 2018 4:39 PM  

Anyone who uses BHO's term ISIL is suspect. Who are these people writing this, and why use that term. What else is suspect in their writing? Some of their basic premise may be solid, but....??

Blogger Arthur Isaac March 08, 2018 5:24 PM  

Teaching every goat f#$@er in the world our tactics has a downside?

Blogger Arthur Isaac March 08, 2018 5:32 PM  

Also, saw a bit on the news today about the US Armies "winter games". Watching our "infantry" act like gimps on skis and snowshoes left me hoping we never get in a winter war where our people have to use their feet (unless I'm the one fighting them).

OpenID markstoval March 08, 2018 5:34 PM  

The US Empire has brought us nothing but grief. We have had continual war since the WW1 and what have we to show for it except Trillions in debt? (and the hatred of a lot of people)

The US military should defend the homeland and it is not here. It is overseas someplace blowing up villages. How about putting the military on the borders and killing anything that moves?

Even Mexico has a secure southern border for God's sake.

The cost of projecting power forward is very expensive. One expert said it was an exponential function. (of course most Americans don't know what that word means anyhow)

Blogger Dexter March 08, 2018 5:45 PM  

Where's Kratman? Haven't seen him comment for ages.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd March 08, 2018 5:59 PM  

Arthur Isaac wrote:Also, saw a bit on the news today about the US Armies "winter games". Watching our "infantry" act like gimps on skis and snowshoes left me hoping we never get in a winter war where our people have to use their feet (unless I'm the one fighting them).

The Army has built an indoor running track so soldiers don't have to run outside during an arctic winter. As long as the enemy attacks indoors, winter war is very doable for our soldiers.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd March 08, 2018 6:04 PM  

Bob Loblaw wrote:Ground based missile systems are about tenth on the worries of a modern attack aircraft pilot. We're already flying F-22s over Syria, and the Russians can't even track us.

How many SAMs does it take to bring down one aircraft, how many SAMs can the enemy afford to expend, and how many aircraft can we afford to lose? If we can make 65 fighters a year and they can shoot down 70 per year, we have a problem. SAMs don't have to be very good, they just have to be good enough.

Blogger Dirk Manly March 08, 2018 6:09 PM  

@50

"The Army has built an indoor running track so soldiers don't have to run outside during an arctic winter. As long as the enemy attacks indoors, winter war is very doable for our soldiers."


Fortunately, the National Guard (which is where 2/3 of the combat troops are) don't have such niceties. And half of those are in the north... so.. 1/3 of our combat power still understands the concept of operating in winter.

Blogger Arthur Isaac March 08, 2018 6:13 PM  

@ Ominous.

Most of the Ft. Wainwright people don't look like they know how to dress to go to Walmart let alone for a drive down the Highway. Between the driving and their choice of apparel I'd say the South is well represented in the rank and file.

Blogger Jack Sweater March 08, 2018 6:14 PM  

Can anyone tell me if Trump has done anything positive regarding the Military Industrial Complex?

My assumption has been, rightly or wrongly, that he has reduced drone strikes and toned down unnecessary imperialistic strategies.

Am I right or wrong for thinking this?

I think the US empire abroad is one of the biggest weaknesses of the nation, and I’m curious if Trump has done any better than Bush or Obama in this area.

I appreciate any comments of insight on this matter.

Blogger Rocklea Marina March 08, 2018 6:16 PM  

"God created Arrakis to train the faithful."

Blogger Lovekraft March 08, 2018 6:20 PM  

It's a race to get off this planet and colonize Mars.

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales March 08, 2018 6:30 PM  

@12

Vox isn't wrong on the subject of fading US military dominance, you know. Oh sure, he's wrong, and smugly so on laser defense systems completely making airforces obsolete rather than just reducing their effectiveness considerably and making it more expensive to field an effective airforce, but in a broad sense, he's right. Fuck, no army that FIELDS BROADS is gonna last too long if/when the night gets dark and that's just the consideration of personnel and standards and ideological infection.

Blogger dienw March 08, 2018 6:34 PM  

The Army has built an indoor running track so soldiers don't have to run outside during an arctic winter. As long as the enemy attacks indoors, winter war is very doable for our soldiers.

And, and we can disqualify the Russians for steroid abuse or homophobia: they will not be allowed to play their national anthem at their victory marches.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener March 08, 2018 6:42 PM  

"We're already flying F-22s over Syria, and the Russians can't even track us."

The fact that no F22's have been shot down does not signify that they're not being tracked. It was also widely believed that F117's couldn't be tracked until one was shot down over Serbia.

Blogger Avalanche March 08, 2018 6:43 PM  

@40 " I see tech videos showing an exoskeletoned weakling carrying 300 lbs for miles, and invisibility cloaks, and the like, I'm just not sure that we have all of the facts to judge our military situation."

When I read Dr Pournelle's essay (from a ways back in time) in one of the "Will Be War" books, he mentioned, almost in passing, that there was some work he had seen on "directed energy" weapons -- and then that program disappeared behind classified doors.

!! WHAT?!?! The 9/11 folks have thrown Dr. Judy Woods into darkness because she insists the towers were destroyed by directed energy weapons.

Now, I discarded her long ago, after watching some of her vids, because she made some truly deeply idiotic claims. The one that springs to mind her claiming -- and using a TV news story (!!) as her source (showing a woman running one of the charities asking for people to send steel-toed work boots for the workers, because 'they were melting'). Dr Woods very seriously states that the ground on The Pile was so very very hot, at some ridiculous level -- that it was "hot enough to MELT STEEL! Proven by the melting of the workers' steel-toed-boots!"

(Oh fer cryin' out loud!) Did she not think to check with any hot-shop worker, who would point out the steel (toes) don't melt! The fake-rubber SOLES melt! There were a couple idiot-claims I can't remember - but just gaffes as wide as the Mississippi!! Which made her 'directed energy weapons' easy to discard too.

But, then, Jerry Pournelle said it's a thing?! Wow, maybe 'directed energy' weapons need more consideration?!

Blogger VD March 08, 2018 6:44 PM  

Where's Kratman? Haven't seen him comment for ages.

Thomas is no longer a friend of Narnia....

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener March 08, 2018 6:46 PM  

@57 Battlefield lasers could at least alter aircraft design, causing them to need some sort of aerogel-based armor. But I don't see them becoming obsolete any time soon.

OpenID zhukovg March 08, 2018 7:00 PM  

@VD: Sorry to hear that. I liked him, even if he was a bit hot tempered.

As to the Russian SAM threat to F-22 and F-35 type stealthy aircraft. We don't know, and hopefully never will.

--ZhukovG

Blogger tuberman March 08, 2018 7:07 PM  

This is funny, although Vox's perspective is correct, I haven't seen one person who has really looked deeply at the content of the material presented. Some of the perspective is correct, but what is the intent of the authors?

I'm not going to take apart some of the assumptions, and even less the vague timelines mentioned, but this article was written by very suspect people. I've learned a lot about enemy shill, info wars tactics lately, and this piece comes off as subtle enemy propaganda.

Having said that... from my perspective, much of the training of the enemy was done by the "enemy within," and it was done on purpose. One of our three letter agencies in particular is evil at it's very roots, and has been working against USA citizens interests for a long time (the others are a mixed bag). They created ISIL or ISIS, so of course, it's taken a long time to do something about them, as they were supplying them with cover. Knowing that, put this article in perspective. It's a joke, even if a major premise is valid, what intent?

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 08, 2018 7:47 PM  

Lovekraft wrote:It's a race to get off this planet and colonize Mars.
A Mars colony would be an incredibly expensive boondoggle. Until such a colony could be profitable as well as self-sustaining, there's no possible point.

Blogger Harry Spitz March 08, 2018 7:59 PM  

I thought that was a good plan, myself, at least for Trashcanistan.

Blogger Ken Prescott March 08, 2018 8:13 PM  

"When I read Dr Pournelle's essay (from a ways back in time) in one of the "Will Be War" books, he mentioned, almost in passing, that there was some work he had seen on "directed energy" weapons -- and then that program disappeared behind classified doors."

You can classify engineering details.

You can't really classify basic physics. And the basic physics of a directed energy weapon with enough OOMPH to knock down a building as big as one of the Towers is beyond "daunting" and all the way into YGBFSM.

And during that time, the Defense Department was actively engaged in disinformation against the Soviet Union as to what projects were being studied, what projects were in RDT&E, and what had been fielded. The side effect of that effort was that the American public ended up getting deceived long before Ivan did.

Blogger Lovekraft March 08, 2018 8:20 PM  

@65: history is stacked with attempts by the well-off to insulate/remove themselves from the rabble. Military technology isn't being developed to save the dolphins.

Blogger Lovekraft March 08, 2018 8:21 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash March 08, 2018 8:54 PM  

We have plenty of directed energy weapons. They are called Lasers (and to a lesser extent, MASERs) The limitations of lasers are pretty much the limitations of all directed energy weapons, mainly that transmission through atmosphere has a lot of propagation and energy scattering problems that are pretty intractable, all the way from particle beams to microwaves to lasers to long radio waves.
The most advanced US military lasers most advanced energy weapons on the planet. And no, the towers were not knocked down with directed energy weapons.

Blogger rumpole5 March 08, 2018 9:30 PM  

Well, lasers, masers, or whatever -- As one who personally remembers elevator operators and phones where the operator placed one's call by physically plugging the caller's line into a hole for the recipiant's phone, the pace of technology seems to be exploding on all fronts at an increasing rate. The effect of technology is to increase the abilities of the competent. Horses, war dogs, firearms, and inadvertant germ warfare made it possible for a few Spaniards to conquer much of North and South America, and most of Central America. These few brought down at least two great native American empires. Technology might bring the same sort of unanticipated conquest in our time. Either conquest by us or of us by others.

Blogger Banjo March 08, 2018 9:58 PM  

RE: Kratman
[monty-python_you-make-me-sad.gif]

Blogger Azure Amaranthine March 08, 2018 10:13 PM  

"when I see tech videos showing an exoskeletoned weakling carrying 300 lbs for miles, and invisibility cloaks, and the like, I'm just not sure that we have all of the facts to judge our military situation."

High tech, high cost, high maintenance toys, will never be ultimately effective in war. What always have and always will be effective are the "pinnacle" technologies. Too cheap to be unaffordable, too simple to break, too effective to fail.

Things like the rifle. Cheap, affordable, derivatives would even be primary weapons (alongside missiles) in hypothetical interplanetary or interstellar conflicts.

High tech toys are nice, but everything rides on the back of the individual combatant's discipline, capacity, and integrity. This is why 4GW is inevitable, and why it wins. High tech just blows ludicrous sums of money for easy victories, and as soon as the banksters decide you've become too successful and aware (a threat to them) or too pitiful (useless as their tool), you can't afford the toys anymore.

Get the economy, reliability, and logistics of those toys down to the level a 500-person community could easily procure and maintenance them and would want to, and suddenly it's not a toy anymore.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine March 08, 2018 10:27 PM  

"Wow, maybe 'directed energy' weapons need more consideration?!"

The closest things I've seen to being workable are anti-air emplacements and man-portable PIKLs.

I personally doubt either are going to be doing anything interesting anytime soon. They fail the economic/reliable/effective/simple criterion pretty hard on the simple/reliable/economic fronts, and sometimes on the effectiveness front as well.

There are also some microwave trucks that are already being used in certain places, but frankly they're clumsy, require a lot of power, and have much cheaper and more effective alternatives that can cover all of the same bases.

Unless there's an outright massive revolution in the ability to efficiently retain and accurately direct energy through atmosphere, even those things aren't going to become viable.

Blogger Harambe March 09, 2018 3:58 AM  

pyrrhus wrote:@12 The US hasn't won a war since 1945, and now it is losing to teenagers in Afghanistan, and faces Russian tactical superiority in many key areas, including SAMs, fighter planes, hypersonic cruise missiles, long range torpedoes, and unmanned submarines. With the US outspending Russia almost 10-1 on the military.

But everything is fine.....


I bet Russia doesn't spend literally thousands of dollars on the purchase of a single tungsten bolt. No seriously.

OpenID paulmurray March 09, 2018 8:57 AM  

I recall reading a comment by an IDF fighter: "the palestinians don't even aim!". It's belivable. It's natural to for people to think magically, to think that guns work like they work in hollywood movies, a 'bang!' and your opponent falls dead. Most of the world is pretty primitive.

It becomes a bit of a problem when enemies that for decades have relied on magic begin to learn to actually aim. A bit of a game-changer.

And it's also a bit of a problem when your own populace begins to think that 'Transformers' is real. The fetishization of ultra high-tech weaponry is our own version of magical thinking. Time and time again, we have discovered that that exoskeleton technology tends not to do so well in situations where - for instance - there is a lot of sand.

The main advantage the west has over the muslims is their fatalism. Bismillah. Israel won their wars in part because the muslims didn't maintain their tanks. If it is the will of God that the tanks will work, then they will work. The British won more than a few battles with the natives because the natives relied on their witch-doctors to make them impervious to bullets.

Losing that advantage is a big deal.

Blogger DonReynolds March 10, 2018 7:52 PM  

In 1973, after having saved tens of thousands of American battlefield deaths (and other casualties) in two world wars, Korea, and Vietnam, the flamethrower was banned by the Pentagon.

Yes, the modern breed of military officer considers the flamethrower to be "inhumane". Ever since then, I listen with only one ear when the military talk about how they want to improve the effectiveness of US infantry.

I watched the footage on the news coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan for many years, where American soldiers and Marines were operating under the most ridiculous rules of engagement (that the State Department could possibly divine) and with the lightest possible weapons, going room to room and building to building...how many Americans would have been saved if they had used flamethrowers instead of paintball and nerf guns to wipe out defensive positions?

We seem to be fighting multiple wars while pretending it is still a peacetime military and then wonder why the enemy is not impressed...or even frightened by the prospect of a firefight with American infantry.

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