Earlier this year Stephen Trimble stopped by the Patterson School and gave an excellent talk on the F-22 and F-35. He spoke quite a bit about this:
The F-35 reportedly has similar issues, although it’s still in the test flight phase and has some characteristics that may make it easier to find and resolve the issue. Nevertheless, there might well be something to the idea floating around the Navy to simply skip the F-35, buy more Super Hornets, and wait for the next generation of manned fighter. Then again, there might well not be a next generation of manned fighter after the F-35.
Category: Robert Farley
Earlier this year Stephen Trimble stopped by the Patterson School and gave an excellent talk on the F-22 and F-35. He spoke quite a bit about this:
Matt Duss and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross talk about the Richard Grenell finding:
Romney washes that gay right out of his foreign policy team:
In a statement obtained by Right Turn, Grenell says:
I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Grenell made the decision after being kept under wraps during a time at which national security issues, including the president’s ad concerning Osama bin Laden, had emerged front and center in the campaign.
Pieces in two conservative publications, the National Review and Daily Caller, reflected the uproar by some social conservatives over the appointment.
In the National Review, Mathew Frank wrote late last week: “Suppose Barack Obama comes out — as Grenell wishes he would — in favor of same-sex marriage in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. How fast and how publicly will Richard Grenell decamp from Romney to Obama?”
In fairness, difficult to think seriously about foreign policy when you’ve got all those gay thoughts floating around your noggin. It’s a well known fact that gay men are incapable of weighing the relative merits of different policy commitments. No word yet on whether ordering the mission that killed bin Laden was “too gay.” Looking forward to lots of tolerant young conservatives denouncing the Christian Right for blah blah “Look over there! Dan Savage!!!”
I don’t have too much to add to Greg Sargent’s take on the “Jimmy Carter would have given the order” Romney claim, but just to summarize:
1. The mission that killed bin Laden was risky in operational terms, in international political terms, and probably in domestic political terms. It’s not quite right to say that the failure of Eagle Claw cost Carter the 1980 election, but it surely didn’t help. Moreover, Obama could opted for the less risky, more destructive, less certain bombing attack.
2. There is no guarantee whatsoever that Republicans would have given Obama a pass on the failure of the mission to net bin Laden, or if it had resulted in substantial U.S. casualties. 2011 ain’t 1980; indeed, I’d have been extremely surprised if the failure of a bin Laden mission didn’t become central to alterna-Romney’s national security pitch.
3. Romney accepted this risk in 2007 when he implied that getting bin Laden wasn’t a priority. Romney may have even been right (although killing or capturing bin Laden was clearly worth some risk), but in saying so he clearly put himself in foreseeable political jeopardy. As it turned out, the mission could be accomplished at substantially less cost than Romney suggested, which is also a problem.
4. This is what it looks like when Democrats go for the jugular. It’s hardly barbaric for the campaign to trumpet the President’s role in killing a man suspected of the mass murder of Americans.
The Daily Caller, the site he launched with a promise to offer a new model for conservative journalism, is primarily a catalog of sleazy traffic-baiting aggregated Web garbage (“Top 10: Most beautiful ‘most beautiful’ women [SLIDESHOW]“), ancient relics of online commentary with nowhere else left to publish (Ann Coulter, Mickey Kaus), and overblown scandal-mongering headlines that promise much more than they can deliver. In other words it is like a mean-spirited parody of a conservative version of the pre-AOL Huffington Post, with a healthy dose, recently, of attention-grabbing race baiting. This is not the sort of thing Carlson used to be known for.
The title (“The Downward Spiral of Tucker Carlson”) isn’t quite right, though; the issue isn’t so much that Carlson has spiraled as it is that the incentives for conservative punditry have shifted. There is very limited (not completely absent, but very limited) space for the smartish conservative pundit who occasionally tries to speak truth to (movement conservative) power. Carlson occupied part of that space a decade ago, but the ground shifted and he was left in an untenable position. A graceful slide into irrelevance wasn’t in Tucker’s plans, and so the Daily Caller makes every effort to outfox Fox, out-breitbart Breitbart, etc.
I know what will solve this problem: Airpower!
In the Bible, Jesus gave us an example in Luke Chapter 10 about a man who was beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. Leaders passed by and saw that the man desperately needed help. But they continued on their journey, looking the other way. Then a Samaritan came along and had compassion. He bandaged the man’s wounds, put the man on his own animal and took the man to an inn to care for him. America historically has been that good Samaritan: defending the weak, standing up against the strong and providing liberty and justice for all.
Now I am asking him and his administration to do something that may sound unusual for a preacher of the Gospel. I am asking him to use our Air Force to destroy Mr. Bashir’s airstrips – the airstrips his military uses to launch bombers that carry out daily attacks in the Nuba Mountains. The Nuba people don’t want American soldiers – they can fight for themselves. They just want to be free. But they have no defense against bombs dropping from the sky on their villages, schools and hospitals.
As a pilot with 40 years of experience, I can assure you that an airplane doesn’t do well with holes in the runway. I certainly am not asking the president to kill anyone, just to break up some concrete to prevent the bombers from taking off. I think that by destroying those runways, we can force Mr. Bashir to the negotiating table.
Overrate the importance of aerial bombing to state repression: Check
Praise the antiseptic nature of aerial bombing: Check
Underestimate the ability of the enemy to resist or change tactics: Check
Underestimate the ancillary demands of an air campaign: Check
Ignore the broader political implications of the use of force: Check
Implicitly analogize the Good Samaritan to the F-15E Strike Eagle: Double Plus Check
Seems to me that Ivan Rodriguez deserves at least a thread here at LGM:
Ivan Rodriguez made one last throw from behind home plate to second base at Rangers Ballpark.
The 14-time All-Star catcher announced his retirement Monday, ending a 21-season playing career spent mostly in Texas. The Rangers then honored him with a pregame ceremony that ended with a unique first pitch.
Rodriguez initially went to the mound while Michael Young, the team’s longest-tenured player, set up to receive the pitch. But that didn’t seem right, so Young ran out to second base and Rodriguez, already wearing a catcher’s mitt, went behind the plate to a huge cheer and made a familiar throw across the diamond.
Earlier in the day, his eyes glistened and Rodriguez spoke slowly at first when he said he wouldn’t play again. It came nearly 21 years after the fan favorite known as Pudge made his major league debut as a 19-year-old with the Rangers and later played for five other teams.
Obvious HoFer. Let the debates regarding the value of catcher defense ensue…
And for such a long time I suspected that Israel would squash the sale of F-16 to Iraq. Looks like some other people are also nervous:
Massud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan, said he opposes the sale of F-16 warplanes to Iraq while Nuri al-Maliki is premier, as he fears they would be used against the region.
The United States has agreed to sell 36 F-16 jets to Baghdad in a multi-billion-dollar deal aimed at increasing the capabilities of Iraq’s fledgling air force, a weak point in its national defences.
“The F-16 must not reach the hand of this man,” Barzani told reporters at his residence near the Kurdistan region’s capital Arbil on Sunday, referring to Maliki. “We must either prevent him from having these weapons, or if he has them, he should not stay in his position,” Barzani said. Barzani alleged that Maliki had discussed using F-16s against Kurdistan during a meeting with military officers.
There are some obvious comparisons to post-war Germany and Japan. Iraq was a military power in the region, and now it’s not; the idea of a reconstructed Iraqi military is popular with just about no one, especially because no one has a firm grip on Iraq’s future political orientation. I think it’ll be hard to kill the F-16 deal, but if it does die I suspect the French will step in fairly quickly with an offer of their own.
In last week’s Airpower class, someone wondered why conventionally armed ballistic missiles weren’t used by the United States in the Vietnam War. The answers seem obvious, but then explaining why stupid things don’t happen is easy; it’s harder to explain why some stupid things happen and others do not. I don’t recall ever seeing a proposal to use ballistic missiles against North Vietnam, and I’m curious as to why not.
Briefly, a case for ballistic missiles use:
1. Ballistic missiles require neither pilots nor escorts, limiting the cost differential between the huge strike packages deployed against North Vietnam during the war.
2. Available missiles (primarily the Redstone, but also early Pershings) could carry conventional payloads sufficient to give some confidence in destruction of “precise” targets. The Redstone had a CEP of 300 meters and could carry a very big warhead, making the destruction of large-but-specific North Vietnamese targets plausible.
3. Some evidence from World War II indicated that ballistic missiles had a morale effect distinct from conventional strategic bombing. The utter inability of the target to predict or resist the strikes increased the sense of helplessness at both elite and popular levels. To be sure, this evidence may be regarded as reasonably twitchy, but not much less so than the evidence used to justify the broader Rolling Thunder campaign.
4. The Army had plausible institutional reasons for arguing for MRBM strikes against North Vietnam, given that it controlled the missiles and the Air Force did not.
5. Escalation concerns were manageable. Simple notification of the Soviets or Chinese immediately prior to launches, combined with a specific geographic zone of operation, probably would have been sufficient to prevent a crisis, if not very loud complaints.
6. The number of available missiles was limited (120 Redstones, 750 Pershing Is), but it was still possible to envision a Schelling-approved coercion campaign; a dozen missiles hit Hanoi to demonstrate resolve and capability, saving a sufficient number in reserve for a larger series of strikes, etc. Recall that the purpose of Rolling Thunder wasn’t so much to grind Hanoi to dust as to convince the DRV to give up the campaign in the South.
And here are the arguments against. When we’re evaluating these, recall that we’re talking about people who could be convinced a) that defending South Vietnam was a crucial US strategic interest, b) that the deployment of ground forces to South Vietnam represented an acceptable cost in defense of that interest, and c) that a strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam was both an appropriate and potentially decisive policy tool. The point isn’t to say that hitting Hanoi with ballistic missiles was stupid, but rather to determine why the people who thought all of the above things didn’t cotton to the idea of Pershing Is raining down on Ho Chi Minh’s head.
1. The politics were all wrong. Ballistic missiles were, the V-2 notwithstanding, associated with nuclear weapons at the time. The political atmospherics of hitting Hanoi with SRBMs seemed politically more risky that hitting it with B-52s, even though the latter had also been initially designed to deliver nuclear warheads. Perhaps also the V-2 example was problematic because it associated the use of ballistic missiles with the Nazi regime. Finally, the recent example of the Cuban Missile Crisis (even though it involved nuclear armed missiles) would make anyone leery about deploying SRBMs to a US client state.
2. Escalation concerns were genuine, and intertwined with political concerns. The Chinese and Russians probably wouldn’t have believed that SRBMs launched from South Vietnam were really nukes in disguise, but the stakes were extremely high. Moreover, Moscow and Beijing could point to the deployment and use of SRBMs to paint Kennedy/Johnson as mad men, which would (for some reason) sound more compelling than a similar argument referencing nuclear capable strategic bombers.
3. The expected military benefit was simply too small, given the cost of launching and maintaining the missiles. The Redstone could deliver a huge payload and the Pershing a respectable one, but nothing along the lines of what a B-52 (or even an A-6) could deliver in a single sortie. Moreover, even a 300 meter CEP means that a very large warhead could hit right in the middle of a civilian area; although bombers dropped more ordnance, the individual weapons were much smaller, presumably reducing the potential for civilian damage.
4. The plan was unworkable for technical reasons. Redstones, for example, required an immense amount of infrastructure, and while much of this probably could be imported to South Vietnam, the cost would be prohibitive. Moreover, some of the details don’t work out; the Redstone could carry an enormous (6000#!) payload, but its range was only 210 miles, and it was 280 miles from the closest plausible launch sites to Hanoi. Maybe the range couldn’t be extended by reducing payload, or maybe accuracy would suffer, or maybe no “sweet spot” could be found that would deliver a payload of sufficient size to destroy targets in the Redstone’s accuracy spread. And maybe the Pershing simply delivered a warhead (600#) too small to do sufficient damage given its CEP (400m). The Jupiter had the distance, but had a CEP of 1500 meters, which makes it pretty much useless for delivering anything but a nuclear weapon.
5. The organizational incentives are all wrong. The Air Force would fight against the use of ballistic missiles because they love their bombers and think that the planes can do the job. The Army (which actually operates the SRBMs) tends not to think in such strategic terms, preferring to concentrate on the tactical and operational details of fighting the war in the South. Any serious proposal would have pit serious USAF opposition against an Army that felt very “meh” about the whole idea.
And so I’m interested in two types of response. First, is there any historical evidence that US military or civilian policymakers actively considered and rejected the use of ballistic missiles, and if so does that evidence give any clear indication as to what they believed the relevant objections? And second, if there is no such evidence (or even if there is; it’s irresponsible not to speculate) why was there no such active discussion; what made policymakers reject or ignore the notion without even giving it a hearing?
The Civilization series of games is in some sense ideal for depicting the influence of seapower on history. Civilization connects geography, technology, and economic power to military capability, requiring a player to formulate a coherent grand strategy based on factor endowment and international constraints. The system favors (even demands) the construction of empire, often across a series of unconnected landmasses. Every Civ player has his or her favorite edition, and favorite set of stories from that version. I haven’t yet acquired Civilization V, and so this analysis will concentrate on Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword, and will focus mainly on solitary play. Beyond the Sword is in many ways a deeply Mahanian game; building a proxy-governed extra-territorial empire is strongly supported, and in many cases even required for victory. Seapower is often key to acquiring (through conquest or colonization) and maintaining this empire. The questions relevant to this series are as follows:
1. To what extent are the depictions of seapower accurate in tactical and operational terms?
2. How does seapower fit into broader national grand strategy in social, economic, and military terms?
3. What could we learn about seapower from playing a few dozen 47 hour games of Civ IV on “Epic” timeframe at ”Prince” difficulty?
On the accuracy question…
The game abstracts the bulk of the history of naval technology, with ships progressing along two lines until the modern era. The troops ships run galleys to galleons to transports, while the warships run trireme to caravel (which does have some rump transport capacity) to frigate (and the mostly useless Ironclad and Ship of the Line units) to destroyer. In the earliest period ships are limited to coastal squares, leaving large portions of the map off limits, or at least difficult to find. Ships (like all other units) require no direct logisitical support. Although all military units produce a drain on national resources, individual units require no specific base of resupply. This means, in the early and middle game, that a galley or caravel can leave its home port and not return for millenia, at which point it is promptly converted into a frigate or galleon. Early game units are unaffected by weather or sea conditions; there are no trade winds or similar phenomena to drive commerce and naval action into particular maritime “highways.”
The naval aspects become more interesting as the game progresses. A good primer on late game naval tactics is available here. As that primer suggests, however, the principles that apply to naval combat in the real world (and to naval industrial policy) don’t always apply in Civ. Concentration, for example, has some value, but it’s generally very easy for a fleet to avoid direct conflict with an enemy stack of doom. Indeed, it might well be correct to suggest that Civ follows Mahan less than Corbett.
However, since Civilization II air and sea combat have not been well integrated with one another. The most obvious problem is that air units (apart from cruise missiles) cannot destroy sea units at sea, and cannot damage them in port. This can prove extremely frustrating when a fleet of transports show up near your coast, and can’t be destroyed despite heavy air superiority. Indeed, even having surface naval units available doesn’t always help, given the limit on numbers of attacks per turn. These limits are designed to preserve game balance (otherwise air units dominate the game), but they do detract from late game verisimilitude.
In Civ IV naval units have fewer ways of influencing shore events than in some previous editions. Shore bombardment doesn’t destroy improvements, limiting the utility of wandering an enemy coast and laying waste. Similarly, shore bombardment only destroys “cultural” fortification of cities, leaving the cities themselves (and their defending units) undamaged. Again, there are game balance reasons for this, but the decision limits the impact of naval superiority.
Nevertheless, in the late game stacks of amphibious doom can be truly devastating. Destroyers and battleships destroy the fortifications of coastal cities, cruise missiles and fighters wear down defending units, and marines destroy defending units. It is extremely difficult to defend coastal cities against such stacks, and even the temporary loss of a major city can have dreadful economic effects. Moreover, if the attacker doesn’t expect to hold but simply prefers to punish, even critical, millenia old cities can be burned to the ground.
And then there are the quibbles. Missile cruisers could (and should) have far greater air defense capabilities, and indeed air defense should be an allowable promotion. Something along the lines of an amphibious warship, with limited capabilities for carrying both air and land units, would be quite nice. Damaged vessels could move more slowly (as they did in Civ II), and a variety of other small tweaks could be introduced that would make the naval campaign more interesting without fundamentally unbalancing the game.
And the grand strategy question…
Seapower is important to many games of Civ. As all players know, one of the most rewarding parts of the game is exploration of the full map. Different maps produce radically different constellations of military necessity; seapower is critical to some, but not all of these. I find that the most interesting naval contests happen with mediumish continents rather than archipelagos, mostly because archipelago cities rarely achieve the degree of industrial capacity necessary to the construction of massive fleets.
Nevertheless, Civ IV lacks a coherent economic theory of seapower. The role of trade in particular is abstracted, except in the case of a few critical resources. To be sure, the game does allow a certain degree of economic destruction from the sea; positioning a ship in a city’s resource zone prevents the utilization of those and surrounding tiles, and raiders can cause a lot of damage to maritime resource infrastructure. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to cause critical damage to an economy through maritime means because there’s little underlying theory of how maritime trade undergirds the international economy.
It’s also unclear how naval power affect reputation in Civ IV. In many games, I’ve never quite figured out how AI empires assess military power, but my best guess is that they aggregate, rather than divide between land, air and seapower. Similarly, it’s not clear that the AI can assess its own vulnerability to different kinds of military power. This may mean that you can build a world-beating fleet, yet not get taken seriously by the AI (or perhaps get taken too seriously) because of land power deficiencies. This would operate much differently in a multiplayer game, of course. Still, Civ models the reputational and social effects of naval power poorly, if at all. We know that a Chinese aircraft carrier (or, in an earlier era, a Brazilian dreadnought) has a social and symbolic import that goes beyond its strict military value; reputation is an important consideration for naval procurement.
Overall, the lack of a strong economic underpinning to the Civ maritime system remains problematic. A submarine oriented sea denial campaign can surely have some success, but it can only very, very rarely “starve” a nation in the sense of the Battle of the Atlantic or the Royal Navy blockade of Germany in World War I. Cutting off a critical resource such as iron or oil is sometimes possible, but requires a tremendous, long term effort. Perhaps most importantly, there is no such thing as an anti-commerce strategy. All ships, even transports, are state owned military assets; there are no tramp freighters to sink or whaling ships to seize. This cuts out a crucial component of naval warfare since the Age of Sail, and incidentally makes a “sea denial” or raiding strategy by an overmatched opponent considerably less rewarding.
And the lessons…
What applicable lessons could be learned from Civ IV? Very little in tactical or operational terms, obviously. That aircraft carriers do better when escorted by destroyers and missile cruisers doesn’t tell us very much, although I suppose it might serve as introduction to the concept “carrier battle group” for someone new to seapower theory. Similarly, the lack of basing or supply requirements completely abstracts most interesting operational concepts. Civ IV has great difficulty explaining why base proximity could allow Japan to accept a 10:10:6 ratio, or why the Russian Baltic Fleet was so ragged when it finally arrived at Tsushima.
Of strategic lessons I can think of two. The first is the reality of helplessness when, in fact, your empire faces a Turn Without Seapower. Ships take a while to build, and when an enemy fleet shows up on your door either to raid or to land, it can cause immense (often decisive) damage before you get a chance to do anything about it. Fortunately wars can last centuries, so if you survive first contact there’s often the opportunity to get revenge. The second, related, is the broader connection between industrial capacity and seapower. Cities have to be built or seized with an eye to how they fit into a broader national strategy, which of necessity includes seapower considerations. Decisions about improvements in particular coastal cities (whether to build a drydock, or how much to invest in finishing a factory) also work better when informed by a broad consideration of grand strategy.
What sort of introduction does Civ provide to seapower novices? The lack of a clear connection between maritime commerce and seapower is problematic. Ships exist primarily to destroy other ships, rather than to play a regulatory role. The lack of a good theory of logistics also produces misleading conclusions. While some navies can indeed operate effectively at extreme distance from their industrial bases, this is not true of all organizations. That said, a complex system of logistics would probably detract from enjoyment of the game. With regard to ship types, Civ isn’t particularly instructive in terms of the roles and capabilities of the real life counterparts of game units. All that said, the need for naval power on most maps (and the complexity of building and maintaining an advanced fleet) could serve as a foundation for an interest in naval affairs, or at least of an appreciation of the role that navies play in a grand strategic framework.