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Offline MarkOttawa

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US military's vulnerabilities vs. China, Russia
« on: March 08, 2019, 14:28:26 »
Not a pretty picture (e.g. carrier vulnerabilities,120795.msg1563946.html#msg1563946 ), fixes suggested:

US ‘Gets Its *** Handed To It’ In Wargames: Here’s A $24 Billion Fix
Warships sink. Bases burn. F-35s die on the runway. Can $24 billion a year -- 3.3 % of the Pentagon budget -- fix the problem?

The US keeps losing, hard, in simulated wars with Russia and China. Bases burn. Warships sink. But we could fix the problem for about $24 billion a year, one well-connected expert said, less than four percent of the Pentagon budget.

“In our games, when we fight Russia and China,” RAND analyst David Ochmanek said this afternoon, “blue gets its *** handed to it.” In other words, in RAND’s wargames, which are often sponsored by the Pentagon, the US forces — colored blue on wargame maps — suffer heavy losses in one scenario after another and still can’t stop Russia or China — red — from achieving their objectives, like overrunning US allies.

No, it’s not a Red Dawn nightmare scenario where the Commies conquer Colorado. But losing the Baltics or Taiwan would shatter American alliances, shock the global economy, and topple the world order the US has led since World War II.

Body Blows & Head Hits

How could this happen, when we spend over $700 billion a year on everything from thousand-foot-long nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to supersonic stealth fighters? Well, it turns out US superweapons have a little too much Achilles in their heels.

“In every case I know of,” said Robert Work, a former deputy secretary of defense with decades of wargaming experience, “the F-35 rules the sky when it’s in the sky, but it gets killed on the ground in large numbers.”

Even the hottest jet has to land somewhere. But big airbases on land and big aircraft carriers on the water turn out to be big targets for long-range precision-guided missiles. Once an American monopoly, such smart weapons are now a rapidly growing part of Russian and Chinese arsenals — as are the long-range sensors, communications networks, and command systems required to aim them
[emphasis added].

So, as potential adversaries improve their technology, “things that rely on sophisticated base infrastructure like runways and fuel tanks are going to have a hard time,” Ochmanek said. “Things that sail on the surface of the sea are going to have a hard time.”

(That’s why the 2020 budget coming out next week retires the carrier USS Truman decades early and cuts two amphibious landing ships, as we’ve reported. It’s also why the Marine Corps is buying the jump-jet version of the F-35, which can take off and land from tiny, ad hoc airstrips, but how well they can maintain a high-tech aircraft in low-tech surroundings is an open question).

While the Air Force and Navy took most of the flak today at this afternoon’s Center for a New American Security panel on the need for “A New American Way of War.” the Army doesn’t look too great, either. Its huge supply bases go up in smoke as well, Work and Ochmanek said. Its tank brigades get shot up by cruise missiles, drones, and helicopters because the Army largely got rid of its mobile anti-aircraft troops, a shortfall it’s now hastening to correct. And its missile defense units get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of incoming fire [emphasis added].

“If we went to war in Europe, there would be one Patriot battery moving, and it would go to Ramstein. And that’s it,” Work growled. “We have 58 Brigade Combat Teams, but we don’t have anything to protect our bases. so what different does it make?”

Worst of all, Work and Ochmanek said, the US doesn’t just take body blows, it takes a hard hit to the head as well. Its communications satellites, wireless networks, and other command-and-control systems suffer such heavy hacking and jamming that they are, in Ochmanek’s words, “suppressed, if not shattered.”

The US has wargamed cyber and electronic warfare in field exercises, Work said, but the simulated enemy forces tend to shut down US networks so effectively that nothing works and nobody else gets any training done. “Whenever we have an exercise and the red force really destroys our command and control, we stop the exercise,” [emphasis added] Work said, instead of trying to figure out how to keep fighting when your command post gives you nothing but blank screens and radio static.

The Chinese call this “system destruction warfare,” Work said: They plan to “attack the American battle network at all levels, relentlessly, and they practice it all the time.”

The $24 Billion Fix — And Cuts

So how do you fix such glaring problems? The Air Force asked RAND to come up with a plan two years ago, and, surprisingly, Ochmanek said, “we found it impossible to spend more than $8 billion a year.”

That’s $8 billion for the Air Force. Triple that to cover for the Army and the Navy Department (which includes the US Marines), Ochmanek said, and you get $24 billion. Yes, these are very broad strokes, but that’s only 3.3 percent of the $750 billion defense budget President Trump will propose for the 2020 fiscal year.

Work was less worried about the near-term risk — he thinks China and Russia aren’t eager to try anything right now — and more about what happens 10 to 20 years from now. But, he said, “sure, $24 billion a year for the next five years would be a good expenditure.

So what does that $24 billion buy?

To start with, missiles. Lots and lots of missiles. The US and its allies notoriously keep underestimating how many smart weapons they’ll need for a shooting war, then start to run out against enemies as weak as the Serbs or Libyans. Against a Russia or China, which can match not only our technology but our mass, you run out of munitions fast.

Specifically, you want lots of long-range offensive missiles. Ochmanek mentioned Army artillery brigades, which use MLRS missile launchers, and the Air Force’s JAGM-ER smart bomb, while Work touted the Navy’s LRASM ship-killer. You also want lots of defensive missiles to shoot down the enemy‘s offensive missiles, aircraft, and drones. One short-term fix there is the Army’s new Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (MSHORAD) batteries, Stinger missiles mounted on 8×8 Stryker armored vehicles. In the longer term, lasers, railguns, and high-powered microwaves could shoot down incoming missiles much less expensively.

The other big fix: toughening up our command, control, and communications networks. That includes everything from jam-proof datalinks to electronic warfare gear on combat aircraft and warships. The services are fond of cutting corners on electronics to get as many planes in the air and hulls in the water as possible, Ochmanek said, but a multi-billion dollar ship that dies for lack of a million-dollar decoy is a lousy return on investment.

In the longer run, Work added, you want to invest heavily in artificial intelligence: not killer robots, he said, but “loyal wingmen” drones to support manned aircraft and big-data crunchers to help humans analyze intelligence and plan.

Of course, you have to find the money for new stuff somewhere, which means either raising the defense budget even further — unlikely — or cutting existing programs. Ochmanek was unsurprisingly shy about specifics, saying only that the services could certainly squeeze out $8 billion each for new technologies.

Work was a little harder-edged. He said cutting a carrier and two amphibious ships over the forthcoming 2020-2024 budget “seems right to me.” He argued the US Army has way too many brigade combat teams — tanks and infantry — and way too little missile defense to protect them. And he bemoaned reports the US Air Force will retire the B-1 bomber, one of its few long-range strike aircraft: If the Air Force doesn’t want them, he said, give them to the Navy, revive the old VPB “Patrol Bomber” squadrons, and load them with Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles to sink the Chinese navy [emphasis added].

Pentagon leaders should challenge the armed services to solve very hard, very specific problems, Work said: Sink 350 Chinese navy and coast guard vessels in the first 72 hours of a war, or destroy 2,400 Russian armored vehicles. Whoever has the best solution gets the most money. Those are hardly easy goals, Work said, but they’re also doable with technology now in development.

The immediate problems could be fixed with technology already in production, Ochmanek said. For $24 billion, “I can buy the whole kit,” he said. “It’s all mature technologies and it would scare the crap out of adversaries, in a good way.”***-handed-to-it-in-wargames-heres-a-24-billion-fix/

Relevant posts from 2015 and 2016:

Making the Case For the Eagle’s Carriers vs the Dragon: NOT
(links at start no longer work--copy and paste in search box upper right)

USAF “Officers Give New Details for F-35 in War With China”
The Pentagon would spread its fighter jets around the Pacific in small numbers to military and civilian airfields, some as far as 1,000 miles from the battlefield [...those planes would need quite a bit of tanker support to get there and back, 2,000 miles round-trip], to prevent enemy ballistic and cruise missiles from delivering a devastating knock-out blow to a base...

Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline Rifleman62


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Re: US military's vulnerabilities vs. China, Russia
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2019, 10:43:29 »
Good novels on the war with China from thread:,32288.1450.html

Re: What book are you reading now?
« Reply #1474 on: December 13, 2018, 12:10:18 »
Currently reading this series of the modern US Navy. Have read all his Dan Lenson books. Just starting ONSLAUGHT. Poyer does a fair bit of research for his books as detailed in the Acknowledgments.

Author: David Poyer’s active (Annapolis 1971) and reserve naval service included sea duty in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Arctic, Caribbean, and Pacific, and shore duty at the Pentagon, Surface Warfare Development Group, Joint Forces Command, and in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  He retired from the Joint Forces Command as a captain, with the Defense Superior Service Medal as his highest award.

Modern Navy Series

Just promoted to Captain, Dan Lenson's first glimpse of his new command is of a ship literally high and dry. USS Savo Island, which carries a classified, never-before-deployed missile defense system, has run aground off Naples, Italy. Captain Lenson has to relieve the ship's disgraced skipper and deploy on a secret mission—Operation Stellar Shield—which will take his ship and crew into the dangerous waters bordering the Middle East. As a climate of war builds, with threats of nuclear and chemical weapons, Dan has to rally Savo Island’s demoralized crew and confront a mysterious death on board, while learning to operate a complex missile system that has not been battle tested. But when the conflict reaches a climax, Dan is forced to make a decision that may cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives—or save them, but at the cost of his ship and his career.

TIPPING POINT: The War with China: The First Salvo
Dan Lenson’s under fire both at sea and in Washington. His command of the first antiballistic-missile-capable cruiser in the Fleet, USS Savo Island, is threatened when he's called home to testify before Congress. In the Indian Ocean, Savo cruises off East Africa, protecting shipping lanes from pirates. But this routine patrol turns ominous when an unknown assailant begins assaulting female crew members. At the same time, a showdown starts between India and Pakistan.  Savo Island, with her unique but not yet fully battle-ready ability to intercept ballistic missiles, is all that stands between two nations on the brink of nuclear war.  Dan will have to cope with a deadly tsunami, incoming weapons, and a quickly tilting balance of power, as China finally makes her bid to humiliate and displace America in the Pacific, beginning a deadly war.

ONSLAUGHT: The War with China: The Opening Battle chronicles
Dan Lenson’s latest challenge as the U.S. Navy struggles to hold Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. As Allied computer, satellite, and financial networks are ravaged by cyberattacks, China and its Associated Powers begin to roll up American allies, launching invasions of India, Taiwan, South Korea, and Okinawa. USS Savo Island is one of the few forces left to stop them. But with a crew under attack from an unknown assailant, and rapidly running out of ordnance against waves of enemy missiles and torpedoes, can Dan and his scratch-team task force hold the line? Or will the U.S. lose the Pacific—and perhaps much more—to an aggressive and expansionist new People’s Empire? The most explosive novel yet in the long-running Dan Lenson series, Onslaught presents an utterly convincing scenario of how a global war with China could unfold. 

HUNTER KILLER: The War with China deepens
The United States stands nearly alone in its determination to fight, rather than give into the expansionist demands of the aggressive new “People’s Empire.” The naval and air forces of the Associated Powers – China, Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea – have used advanced technology and tactical nuclear weapons to devastate America's fleet in the Pacific, while its massive army forced humiliating surrenders on Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and other crucial allies. Admiral Dan Lenson, commanding a combined US–South Korean naval force, and Commander Cheryl Staurulakis of USS Savo Island fight to turn the tide and prepare for an Allied counteroffensive. Meanwhile, SEAL operator Teddy Oberg escapes from a hellish POW camp and heads west through desolate mountains toward what he hopes will be freedom. And in Washington, DC, Dan’s wife Blair Titus helps formulate America's political response to overwhelming setbacks in the Pacific and at on the home front.

DEEP WAR (Dec 18): The war with China and North Korea goes nuclear
The war against China turns dire as the United States struggles to survive in this gripping thriller featuring Navy commander Dan Lenson. After America suffers a devastating nuclear attack, and facing food shortages, power outages, cyber and AI assaults, and a wrecked economy, Admiral Dan Lenson leads an allied force assigned to turn the tide of war in the Pacific, using precisely targeted missiles and high-tech weapons systems. But as the campaign begins, the entire Allied military and defense network is compromised—even controlled—by Jade Emperor, a powerful Chinese artificial intelligence system that seems to anticipate and counter every move. While Dan strives to salvage the battle plan, his wife Blair helps coordinate strategy in Washington, DC, Marine sergeant Hector Ramos fights in an invasion of Taiwan, and Navy SEAL master chief Teddy Oberg begins a desperate journey into central China on a mission that may be the only way to save the United States from destruction and defeat.
Dan Lenson Series
Never Congratulate Yourself In Victory, Nor Blame Your Horses In Defeat - Old Cossack Expression

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: US military's vulnerabilities vs. China, Russia
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2019, 10:26:21 »
Excerpts from a very thoughtful article by a serving USAF officer (chokepoints and blockade, as vs Japan in WW II):

Shapes, Part II: The Shape of Strategy

This is the second in a two-part series, called “Shapes,” which examines the assumptions behind how the Air Force designs its combat aviation at the enterprise level, rather than at the aircraft level. Culturally, airpower advocates are often captured by the possibilities inherent in a specific piece of hardware, rather than the possibilities inherent in a range of airpower capabilities. In reality, what makes airpower useful is not limited to the shape of a specific aircraft – it includes the shape of the whole. What does airpower need to accomplish, in what portion of the world, and against what adversaries? Part I was titled “The Shape of Airpower [ ].”..

No military strategy occurs in a vacuum, and no strategist can afford to rely on an assumption that conditions will remain static. Indeed, the Defense Department has been resting on its post-Gulf War laurels for entirely too long, suffering from an undiagnosed (but severe) case of victory disease. The symptoms are clear — an unwavering commitment to stealth, an inability to recognize failure in Afghanistan, or an unreasonable faith in technology as the key to victory — just to name a few. It’s almost as if Americans believe that they have a right to victory on the battlefield as long as they spend enough money on fancy hardware. Not only is that untrue, but it’s dangerously myopic — adversaries can and do change strategies and adapt to changing conditions, regardless of whether we care to recognize that. A defense strategy has to remain flexible, because threats to that strategy certainly do.

Recently, the Center for a New American Security released a report on the Chinese offset strategy. The article laid out a convincing and well-supported case that China has been engaged in a long-term effort to develop counters to the American warfighting capabilities first exhibited in the Gulf War. But while the paper makes a solid analysis of the problem, its solution is somewhat limited: the “Department of Defense … must develop the operational concepts, systems, and platforms to allow the Joint Force to prevail against concerted Chinese attempts to deconstruct and destroy U.S. operational battle networks.” In short, the report’s recommendations are more of the same “strategic atrophy” that the authors themselves reference. More technology, more money, and more concepts, with nary a thought given to a warfighting strategy (versus an acquisition strategy), training, or personnel. If the United States wants to develop a viable offset strategy, then it would be better to reduce the dependence on ephemeral weapons advantages and center a strategy on attributes that are difficult or impossible to change: geography, cultural attributes, and strategic realities...

C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre: c’est de la folie

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
-“Charge of the Light Brigade,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The fact that China has invested a great deal of time and money into countering a presumed U.S. strategy based on a direct attack upon the Chinese mainland is a bonus — because it’s the wrong strategy for the United States to execute. Any strategy focused on the Indo-Pacific theater is naturally an air and maritime strategy, and the United States has been overly focused on a high-tech, strategic attack strategy that has never been proven to work. It’s completely unrealistic to assume that the U.S. military can capitalize on an arsenal of short-range fighters based on four bases in Japan and Korea, plus a greatly diminished navy, to fight China in its own front yard. China has long since developed the mass and precision-missile capability to transform America’s four Asian foreign-soil airbases into smoking rubble, regardless of any defenses employed. Even if these bases were left unmolested, a country that survived the Cultural Revolution will not capitulate to the limited number of sorties that four fighter wings can generate [emphasis added--SLCMs noted in post at end].

The airfield density around China is simply not high enough to support a massive American air campaign, and the seas near China are increasingly lethal. In the same way that the Soviet Navy would not have been able to operate between Cuba and Florida in 1986, the United States is unlikely to be able to operate in the Chinese front yard in 2020. That’s fine. The United States does not have to close to knife-fight range to generate a successful warfighting strategy against China. The Chinese “keep out zone” that extends to 1,500 nautical miles or so is nothing more than the fence around the tiger exhibit at the zoo — keeping people out of a place they don’t want to go anyway. If the Chinese strategy is oriented around limiting U.S. strike capabilities up to a distance of 1,500 nautical miles from Chinese shores, then they are doing the United States a favor — making it clear that the approach taken by the Charge of the Light Brigade may be magnificent, but it’s not war. The United States tried this approach in Vietnam during the Rolling Thunder campaigns, throwing men and machines into the mouth of the cat to execute a poorly thought-out strategy that ultimately did not work. America should beware any appetite for a repeat.

China’s interests lie well beyond the 1,500-nautical-mile line. They have to. China is heavily dependent on imported raw materials, including the energy needed to keep its military functioning. It is vulnerable in the same way that Imperial Japan was — land routes notwithstanding. But the argument that the United States can fight China outside “knife-fight range” is ultimately peripheral to an offset strategy. U.S. strategists need to rethink what they mean by “offset” and focus less on hardware and more on people and ideas...

Geography Trumps Technology

Any offset strategy against China should take advantage of three fundamental asymmetries: The United States has a structural advantage in the way it trains its military, a cultural advantage in its approach to problems, and a geographical advantage in that it doesn’t have to go close to China to project power. The United States does need to go close to China to defend treaty partners, but in those cases it has the home-field advantage, which shifts precisely because of those partners. In general, Chinese forces need to come out much more than U.S. forces need to go in. It’s easy to point to technological asymmetries, but those asymmetries are generally short-lived. In order to develop a successful offset strategy, the U.S. military needs to deliberately avoid pitting its strengths against theirs, and look to pitting its strengths against their weaknesses. There are viable offset strategies and the United States should pursue them, but those offset strategies should not be overly focused on technology, or they will fail. America would be far better served by focusing on the “strategy” in “offset strategy,” and not placing faith in technological races.

Col. Mike “Starbaby” Pietrucha was an instructor electronic warfare officer in the F-4G Wild Weasel and the F-15E Strike Eagle, amassing 156 combat missions over 10 combat deployments. He is the last American aviator to reach 1000 hours operationally in the mighty Phantom II. As an irregular warfare operations officer, Pietrucha has two additional combat deployments in the company of US Army infantry, combat engineer, and military police units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently assigned to Air Combat Command. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force or the U.S. government.

Note last part here, don't see how conventional weapons only work vs China:

US Navy: Carriers or Subs, with the Dragon in Mind

Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.