2018/05/19

Summary: Modern air defences for Europe

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I do sometimes still encounter some nostalgia regarding the long-gone 70's technology Gepard and Roland air defences of the German Heer and Stormer HVM vehicles of the British Army. The U.S.Army even brings some Avenger vehicles back into active service. Those are expressions of confidence in the SPAAG or the ManPADS approach to battlefield air defences.

I want to tell you that these are obsolete approaches. None of them address the service ceiling issue satisfactorily, which is disqualifying in light of the PGM threat: Strike fighters are now very effective above the effective ceiling of such air defences (unless there's a cloud cover).

Such approaches don't come close to exploit the state of the art and aren't adapted to changed threat munitions (fire and forget missiles of attack helicopters and cheap glide bombs).

A rebuilt, modern battlefield air defence should be an area air defence network that protects spearhead forces from 'behind'* rather than with very short ranged air defences organic to the spearhead forces. Such battlefield air defences shouldn't even differ much from rear area air defences.

Before you read on I'd like to point out that battlefield air defences do not necessarily have the job to reduce hostile air power by attrition. Their primary job is to lessen the effect of hostile air power on friendly land forces and operations. This includes not only damage, killing and destruction, but also reconnaissance, observation and jamming. Air defences may also support land operations by informing ground forces about clear skies, and some battlefield air defences happen to have a secondary ground combat (usually self-defence) capability. Launchers  for air defence missiles may very well be capable of launching drones or artillery rockets instead, air defence guns may very well be suitable as artillery or direct fire ground combat and radars have become amazingly multi-functional. Some radars with agile radio 'beams' can search for and track air targets, search for and track hostile artillery and mortar munitions, track friendly artillery munitions (giving info for correction of aim) and track meteorological balloons all at the same time within their field of view.
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Here's a summary of my opinions on battlefield air defence for Europeans. It's finally all together after having written about details of the subject many times. I'll point out the hardware, as most of air defence is very dominated by the technology in use.

Saab Giraffe 4A as brigade radar; capable of detecting aircraft, missiles, careless helicopters, drones well above treetop height and firing positions of 60+ mm mortars, howitzers and multiple rocket launchers all within reasonable ranges. This would be the universal "brigade" radar, located in support groups rather than battalion battlegroups of (forces of manoeuvre).
The west is lacking a battlefield radar in L band or other long wavelength radar bands for low observable aircraft detection.


HAMMR as battlegroup radar; capable of the same jobs as Giraffe 4A, but at shorter ranges. Advantages: True 360° and on-the-move capability. Giraffe 1X could be a substitute if and only if it can function on the move as a matter of routine. It should also get a rotation symmetric antenna cover to be less striking visually.
This would be the organic radar of battalion battlegroups (forces of manoeuvre), so it has to be more mobile, capable of on-the-move operation, provide 360° service and be less conspicuous than the brigade radar.


AMRAAM-ER as anti-platform area defence missile (could also be ESSM Blk II later on. CAMM-ER could substitute, but it almost certainly lacks the kinematics to help with the air superiority fight at 50,000-65,000 ft, and battlefield air defences should do so occasionally).
This is what one would classically think of as air defence missile; a missile so expensive and capable that it's really meant to shoot down strike fighters and occasionally attack helicopters.



IRIS-T SLM or VL MICA IR as redundancy backup (IR guidance just in case radar guidance fails due to countermeasures).
This is a necessary redundancy (risk management measure) in light of the already extreme dependency on the tiny active radars of AMRAAM, MICA and Meteor (systemic technological risk). IR guidance has issues with the window heating up at high speed flight through dense atmospheres, so IRIS-T SLM has  an ejectable protective nose cone to protect the window from friction until the missile needs to lock on.


Tamir (Iron Dome's interceptor missile, costs less than 100,000 USD) to deal with guided munitions (cruise missiles, glide bombs, loitering anti-radar missiles) and medium to large drones.
The other missiles cost way too much even for the intercept of cruise missiles (which could be cheaper decoys, after all). Tamir may have troublesome requirements for quality of fire control information, but I suppose Giraffe 4A could pull it off.


ALAS-A for non-line of sight engagement against terrain-hugging attack helicopters (if need be based on Helispot triangulation) with additional capacity as artillery counterfire munition. (The other anti-platform missiles could engage helicopters as well if only look down radar targeting info is available).
Fibre-optic guidance has issues especially over long distances, but it provides a man-in-the-loop capability even in most adverse electronic warfare environments. ALAS-A could be used to search for an attack helicopter whose approximate location was triangulated by infrasound only. It could even find and engage a helicopter that's static on the ground.


Any command post vehicle for battlefield air defence would need to be able to integrate such launchers, datalinks and preferably its emitting radio antennas hundreds of metres away. It would be great if a software-defined approach enabled to use some common land forces' battalion-level command post cabins for battlefield air defence after changing the software and adding the keys. Any attempt to realise such a versatile software-defined command post would bog down into a 20-year development program ruined by bureaucrats and lawyers, though.

Calibre .338 to 20 mm RCWS on many military motor vehicles with a 360°x90° passive near-24/7 search sensor, thermal sensor good enough for confirmation/identification and laser for rangefinding and IFF interrogation (response by IR strobe) - semi-automatic engagement mode for protection against small drones ranging from crawling/driving on the ground to about 1,500 m altitude.
20 mm is preferable because 20 mm HE shells can be self-destructing and thus there wouldn't thousands of lethal bullets rain down on the landscape after a couple RCWS opened fire on some low cost drone. The Nexter M621 is a reasonable gun for the purpose.

There are 20 mm RCWS, but none so far are true anti-drone RCWS as far as I know.
Early warning for everyone. Every single soldier can be aware of his or her position with satisfactory accuracy. This doesn't even require permanent GPS or Galileo services; an occasional calibration of a digital inertial navigation system would suffice. Radio technology has become so lightweight, compact and cheap that everyone could carry a personal radio with such an INS (infantry and scouts should have the most useful intra-squad personal radios anyway). Such a position-aware software-defined radio could issue an alert when artillery strikes are incoming and alerts about NBC threats or air attack (or observation) threats.
This awareness about relevant threats that are known to friendly forces could greatly enhance the survivability of the ground forces. They could hide temporarily, take cover, cease emissions, use NBC equipment, and even prepare for hard kill defence (against low level drones).
This benefit depends a lot on effective radio comm, which would be available most of the time, and especially so for 'rear area' support troops.

This should be the mix for battlefield air defences as of today.

Yes, it would be damn expensive. Some of those missiles cost almost € 2 million per piece. But even the most expensive fighter fleets could not fully substitute for such battlefield air defences.
A reminder: Even back in the 70's a single SPAAG did cost roughly three times as much as a MBT. Quality air defences were never cheap. You need to structure the land forces to your needs; perfect battlefield air defences would be too expensive, but too few could lead to horrific avoidable losses and setbacks of the land (and air!) forces.

Further characteristics for an ideal battlefield air defence:
  • Common missile launcher with rocket artillery (the latter is in Europe mostly reduced to launching PGMs anyway) mostly as a quick change pallet on a standard 15 ton 8x8 flat bed or MULTI/EPLS lorry.
  • Common radar with artillery (artillery needs no separate radar except maybe for ground and impact observation purposes**).
  • Integration in air war LINK-16 datalink.
  • No battery organisation, but a corps-wide air defence network (radio and fibreglass landline datalinks).
  • Encryption by one-time pads if possible, alternatively 256 bit keys.
I do not consider SRBMs (short range ballistic missiles) with cluster munitions to be a threat that requires extra countermeasures on the battlefield. The low end of ballistic threats could be countered by the Tamir munition (if not even SPGs in C-RAM mode) if they enter the defence footprint and the high end SRBMs are rather too expensive for mere cluster munitions delivery unless our forces stupidly and unnecessarily expose themselves as high density area targets.***

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Rear area (not "battlefield") air defences should have some BMD component (dedicated upward-looking radar with suitable wavelengths, Patriot PAC-3 or other dedicated interceptor missile against Iskander-ish threat missiles) instead of the anti-attack helicopter component.****

Rear area air defences would protect corps HQ, road bridges, airbases, logistical hubs (kinda railheads, but I expect roads to be the dominating supply route infrastructure instead of rails) and capitals in the theatre of war (Warsaw, for example) in wartime. There's little reason to count on them as defence against strategic surprise attacks, though.

Quite the contrary: The battlefield and rear area air defences themselves would offer many high value targets (radars, missiles, command posts) that would be promising targets for a strategic surprise attack with ballistic and cruise missiles. Their exact peacetime location must thus be a well-kept secret (which means near-daily change of garages used by the vehicles) or they must be in really, really well-fortified bunkers that de facto cannot have all their exits blocked.


There are two battlefield air defence exceptions:
 
(1) Very "far forward" forces such as company-sized raiding elements or armoured recce platoons would have to leave such an air defence support umbrella and they couldn't have much air defence themselves. They could thus limit themselves to having organic passive early warning capacity (passive IR air search sensor such as Rheinmetall FIRST, infrasound-based helicopter detector Helispot) to survive hostile air power by hiding in time. The backup plan would be very short ranged air defences (high elevation guns up to 76 mm calibre, ManPADS). Their defence against drones would be the same RCWS tech as mentioned before. The larger raiding forces might also add a few missiles (such as IRIS-T SLM) so they can harass hostile air power (combat aviation close to airbases, transport and utility helicopters) but this would be a luxury.
 
(2) "Low budget" land forces and very small size land forces couldn't afford the whole battlefield air defence umbrella. They could still afford a minimum of robust ManPADS (such as RBS 70 NG with Bolide missile) for below-clouds defences, but this would not be a necessity as such "low budget" brigades and battlegroups should operate under the area air defence 'umbrella' of an allied and  more lavishly funded armed service.
Anti-drone RCWS are still a necessity. At least some very survivable passive sensors (Rheinmetall FIRST, Helispot) and datalink connectivity are a necessity if the allied air defences cannot rely on target data from allied air power (AEW, fighters). A partial radar equipment (battlegroup radar) could make sense, but would be quite expensive (thus rather not HAMMR or Giraffe 4A).

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Now let's talk about vulnerabilities: The need to reach high with hard kill air defences requires large missiles that then happen to have long ranges at least at lower altitudes. For manoeuvre forces to dispense with the burden of organic air defences requires the use of area air defences (again, large missiles) to still keep the manoeuvre elements covered. All this leads to what's fashionably called "network centric" air defence. It's no more about one AFV carrying a search radar, a fire control radar and armament to independently sense and destroy an air threat (the concept of the Gepard SPAAG). The dispersion of the air defence network's parts to many different vehicles leads to a demand for decentralised electrical power supply (no more central generators as in SPAAGs or old school SAM batteries) and a dependence on communication (data) links. These data links would overwhelmingly be radio links, and they could be disrupted at least temporarily and locally. Some jamming-proof means of data transmission can be used (such as fibre optic cables, and potentially laser communication), and redundancy (HF AND SatCom  instead of but one) could help alleviate the rest of the problem. Radio datalink reliability is a general problem of high tech armed forces.
Another vulnerability is in the stationary operation of the Giraffe 4A radar, albeit this is utterly commonplace. Airborne radar support may furthermore be pushed back by hostile fighter threats, which reduces such air force support just as air force fighter cover to a likely intermittent support.

There's one more thing to mention, but it's more about theatre operations and air superiority than about battlefield air defence or rear area object defences: SM-6 missiles could be used to intervene in the  air superiority fight or push hostile tanker and AEW aircraft far back, also deny access to hostile transport aircraft in hundreds of km radius. Such SM-6 launchers would not really need to be integrated with the battlefield air defences; they would rather be a rare asset that's posing a latent threat and headache to the opposing air forces' leadership ('fleet-in-being' effect). 100 such missiles on 25 datalink-equipped semi-trailers under central air war command & control could suffice to achieve this effect in Eastern Europe.

related:

So now you can nail me down on this if any of these items or underlying methods prove to be a failure or dead end in the future.

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: This isn't literally "behind". I'm thinking of support elements with self-defence capability (support groups) providing support to manoeuvre elements (battalion battlegroups). The greater the radius of the 'umbrella of support', the more lean, agile and freely manoeuvring the manoeuvre combat forces may be. So this is far from a linear front line doctrine's idea of "behind".
**: And I think those should be operating on the move, using the Hovermast approach. 
***: Such as the classic traffic jams ahead of a crossroad or bottleneck, or a too compact bivouac. 
****: A defence against longer-ranged ballistic missiles isn't necessary; those would likely be nuclear-tipped anyway, and to undermine such strategic nuclear deterrence is expensive, but not wise. Our protection agaisnt such missiles are our (British and French) equivalent missiles.
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2018/05/14

Link drop 5/2018

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Some men get bones broken in their feet when their exhausted muscles cannot sufficiently support the bones any more.


I show this because I mentioned the principle a couple times, without backing that up. The BROACH warhead combines a shaped charge with an explosive warhead that follows through the hole or at least penetrated the badly weakened cover. This can be done with anything from big bombs to man-portable munitions (Bunkerfaust, for example). The consequence of this technology is huge, for it devalues hardened aircraft shelters. Those really only protect against blast, fragmentation and the tiniest of munitions (autocannon shells, 70 mm rockets). A Small Diameter Bomb (250 lbs class) can penetrate the weak roof of a hardened aircraft shelter even without a shaped charge. A single cruise missile that dispenses submunitions could penetrate three hardened aircraft shelters if those submunitions use shaped charges to assist the penetrator.


I don't think it's very important for land attack because they would need their Su-34 high end strike fighters and MiG-31 interceptors for different tasks.

It would be interesting to see what's the practical visible range (important for rear area troops who lack night vision and make use of illumination munitions) and how well it works with night vision goggles (likely fine, especially when the luminescent coating is thin).
The cone angle in which this is visible is interesting as well, for tracers also have a communication function. A team or squad leader may use a different tracer colour to point at where to shoot at, controlling the fires of his small unit by visuals.




I would love to have a current Bundeswehr infantryman's gear list in that format, to compare with what ultralight gear is on the market and see what's the difference.
I made a rather comprehensive excel table to see how low you can go in regard to weight with an extremist ultralight approach, but I arrived at about 24.4 kg for a rifleman and 26 kg for a light machinegunner in non-urban summertime missions. That's what the marching load (not fighting load) of a fit 90 kg man should weigh. One might reduce this to about 24 kg for both with even more extreme measures, but I don't see how one could reasonably go lower without polymer cartridge cases (up to 2.1 kg savings for light machinegunner and 0.9 kg for rifleman at 600 and 250 rds respectively).



S O
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2018/05/10

Iran and aggression

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The Iran deal had three objectives as far as I can tell:

1) keep Iran from getting nukes, as nuclear proliferation is considered to be bad regardless of how friendly or unfriendly the aspiring power is

2) keep Israel, the U.S. (and possibly the Arabian peninsula kleptocracies as well) from attacking Iran with air strikes

3) lessening or ending the economic sanctions that did hurt Western economic activity as well

The negotiated deal was such a Western success that I was astonished. I had not expected such a thorough success, hadn't really considered it possible. The West got practically everything it could reasonably ask for. All warmonger/idiot trash talk aside, it was likely the biggest diplomatic success of the U.S. during all eight Obama administration years.

The warmongers fumed. They hadn't meant the sanctions to force Iran into concessions regardless of how much they had pretended it. They meant the sanctions as a tool in setting a narrative of Iran supposedly having violated rules* and being the bad guy.

Now we're back at a point where aggression against Iran by Western or supposedly Western nuclear powers is not unlikely.

Diplomats, think tankers and politicians of Europe wonder how to deal with this - the original three intents still appear to apply.

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There's a very, very simply way how Europe (or Russia) could decisively act and ensure that there's no such aggression: The old school way. Issue a guarantee of sovereignty (promising to answer to an aggression with violence against the aggressor) or enter an alliance with Iran outright.
I have wondered for a long time why Russia and Iran didn't do this years ago, but I suppose the relationship is complicated. The Russians probably don't want to be drawn into the Mid East mess
beyond their control and the Iranians may fear that such a big brother would become too dominant in the relationship.

Anyway, it's almost certainly not going to happen. The current crop of European politicians isn't capable of such actions. They are much more focused on being mere administrators, not used to bold moves and major changes. They're also struggling with how to keep U.S.-European relations intact despite the moron in chief and with keeping Turkey more or less in the Western camp. They're not going to do anything bold or daring.

But Europe certainly could do resources-wise. Israel could not dare to attack a treaty ally of Europe's major powers, as it could be strangled to unconditional surrender by a blockade within a year. The U.S. would lose way too much by turning on Europe, especially considering that there's practically nothing to be gained by attacking Iran and most Americans appear to understand this.

S O

P.S.: For readers who understand German: Here is a (as far as I can tell 95% accurate) summary of the Iran-U.S./Israel/Saudi-Arabia conflict.


*: There's still no evidence that Iran actually violated the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty - the official nuclear cannot claim such a thing because of its article VI. Iran didn't attack any country in well over a hundred years either (it's unclear whether there are Iranian advisors in Yemen in Syria are there with or without toleration by the Syrian regime - that's the one borderline exception).
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2018/05/06

Direct fire observers

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A 1950's book about the campaign in Russia 1941-1945 mentioned a specific tank tactic of Russian T-34s that was most annoying, and most difficult to counter: A single tank would appear, shoot, disappear, rinse and repeat using different shooting positions. 
I don't consider it  a widespread tactic because it takes skill, a good gearbox condition and I would have read about it in much more sources if it was widespread.

Quite the same tactic was also mentioned in an American publication a couple months ago; apparently a MBT crew appeared, shot, disappeared, rinse and repeat during an exercise while never using any firing position a second time. The American author was flabbergasted - he had never before seen such a feat.

So I suppose it's safe to say that this is still far from a common skill, but a most desirable and very effective one. The Leo2 and indeed many Western MBTs were actually designed with this in mind; that's why they have good backward acceleration and speed: They can quickly leave a firing position to seek the next one - ideal for ambush and delaying actions. Russian/Soviet tanks lack this (though I'm not sure about the T-14), their backwards speed is walking pace. This (not their poor maximum gun elevation) is the basis for the claim that they are tanks for attack, not defence.
 


Some popular computer games that more or less simulate tank combat use an interesting feature in the least realistic mode (or just in general): A target is visible as an icon or outline if only an allied player within a certain radius can see said target. This is super-unrealistic so far, and hugely beneficial. You can literally shoot armour-piercing shots through dense foliage without being seen, or appear at a corner with the gun already aimed at the target, shoot and disappear.

- - - - - 

Now let's connect the dots: Is such a marker of a target's position with distance info really unrealistic or is it merely a so far not implemented feature?*
Couldn't one vehicle raise a tiny sensor on a mast, detect a target, determine its coordinates, transmit the target info to other vehicles by radio and one other vehicle could be a tank that loads the correct round, orients main gun correctly, drives just around a corner and shoots before it withdraws to cover before the dust settles? Couldn't said tank even shoot one APFSDS round through concealment such as 20 m of bushes instead of ever leaving concealment?

We're used to the idea that forward observers help indirect fires. Maybe we should think of forward observers as helpful to flat trajectory (quasi-direct) fires, too?

A software update for such a feature could be worth more than an active protection system that stops both APFSDS and diving top attack missiles. The value would be greater on the defence or in slow offensive actions than in rapid or brutish offensive manoeuvres, of course.
Such an innovation would strengthen the case for a light tank with very capable gun and great "situational awareness" at least for the purpose of defensive actions.


S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: I know about blue force tracker and similar systems (and their slow update process). That's not what I mean. I'm really thinking of markers shown in (digital) thermal weapon sights and on the soon-to-be-standard all-round vision monitors.
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2018/05/02

Individual visible spectrum camouflage

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Here's a summary of what I think I understood about individual (and exclusively regarding the human visible spectrum) camouflage so far:

Personal observation:
  • I suck at spotting camouflaged persons at any reasonable distance. I really, really do.
  • Maybe that's why I respect the effect of camouflage as much as I do.
 
Camouflage patterns. Evidence A in the case that
one should not trust the authority/judgment of armed bureaucracies.


About camouflage patterns (excluding snow camo):
  • micropatterns matter only at short distances
  • macropatterns are important for breaking up recognisable silhouettes at longer distances (30+ m)
  • digital camo was a 2000's fashion and is a way of combining a micropattern with a macropattern. That was done in Flecktarn earlier and without the digital style, though
  • the longer the distances and the poorer the light, the less do the colours matter and the more do brightness contrasts matter to keep up contrast in the pattern (there's a limit, though)
  • that's why black makes sense in camouflage patterns even though there's not much black in nature. Another reason for black in patterns is that it's quite the same as shadows, and those are plenty in nature.
  • white or very light yellow or very light brown colours may serve to maximise the contrast by adding a light colour instead of black
  • colours get washed out over time and much contrast is then lost
  • soaked wet clothes are darker and lose contrast compared to dry ones (though impregnation should keep good clothes from becoming that wet)
  • all camo patterns can be turned into the irregular "mud camo" pattern in almost no time 
  • the former point applies especially to pattern-camouflaged boots
  • at very long ranges almost everything that matters is whether you have approximately the same brightness as your background (example Yehudi lights) (this issue is the aforementioned limit)
  • any coloured clothes - even pink ones - can be turned much less conspicuous by adding a dense black net
  • camouflage patterns get disrupted a lot by gear, and often times the gear destroys the macro pattern effect or even creates easily recognisable new outlines (especially when the gear such as a chest rig uses a different camouflage pattern or is unicolour). Such extra gear may also create shadows (especially next to pouches) that greatly alter the appearance
  • good camouflage patterns discourage the use of additional camouflage measures on the pattern-covered areas
  • all camo patterns appear to be realised as tiles, though in theory one could use fractal algorithms etc to create boundless patterns that are functional on very large areas without repeating tiles
  • camouflage patterns were used as means of identifying friend or foe in infantry battles when most camouflage clothing was still unicolour; it's often claimed that this inhibited the adoption of camo patterns by the Western Allies in Europe
  • old Warsaw Pact-style stripe camo patterns (which can be created easily with household utensils) appear to have fallen out of use
  • plants in nature often have a vertical structure (though branches are often horizontal) - this makes horizontally-dominated pattern such as the well-known tiger stripe pattern questionable
  • the earliest land warfare camouflage pattern was probably the fairly standardised style (or fashion) of painting Stahlhelme, guns and motor vehicles in WW1
  • the first mass-produced camouflage pattern was afaik Heeres-Splittermuster 31, but it was used for tent tarps (Zeltbahn 31) rather than clothing. The triangle tarp was also used as a kind of poncho and for much else, though
  • military camouflage is abstract, while civilian hunting camouflage may be photorealistic (example Realtree patterns)
  • for reasons utterly unknown to me I don't know of a single serious attempt to mimic the evolution-optimised camouflage of stalking predators of the relevant geographic region (such as lynx, wild cat) in military camouflage tests or even mass-produced products
  • sometimes new camo patterns were created and introduced into armed services simply because the bureaucracy didn't want to pay the license fee for an existing (usually extremely similar) pattern (see OCP)
  • there are fun camo patterns  
  • some camo patterns got excused for their ineffectiveness at camouflaging anyone by pointing out how well they hide stains  instead of their wearer (this applies especially to proprietary air force and navy patterns)
  • camo patterns are often selected for utterly nonsensical reasons (see the Chinese marines' "smurf" camo or UCP) instead of effectiveness. Sometimes camo patterns are introduced to break uniformity; different armed services insist on different patterns  for different branding/identity, or "special forces" get their own camo to feel better than regular army

About non-pattern individual camouflage:
  • face paint draws most of its effect from messing with face detection; Europeans expect darkness above or around eyes, and lips darker than the skin. Hence we should have the normally light-coloured skin areas darker than the ordinarily darker face areas after the application of camo paint
  • helmets have an easily recognisable shape, thus it has to be changed by scrims, foliage or Mitznefet-like camo
  • leaf camouflage may have much camouflage effect at short ranges akin to micropatterns
  • face masks/balaclavas are incredibly effective if they have a decent pattern, but maintaining a full field of view is more important than face camouflage maximisation (for general infantry - it's debatable for snipers)
  • partial concealment greatly enhances almost any camouflage because it breaks up the silhouette
  • ghillie suits are a fire hazard if not treated chemically, may be quite hot (insulation by boundary layer effect), may obstruct access to carried equipment and are quite impractical in general use - ghillies can be fascinatingly effective camo when the featured colours were tailored to the area, though
  • often times unicolour (black, brown or light brown) boots, weapons, gloves or knee protectors ruin the effect of camouflage patterns
  • externally carried large munitions (such as anti-tank rounds) may have a disastrous effect on camouflage quality as well
  • the oldest camo clothes in Europe were unicolour (often greyish or greenish), and the Bundeswehr kept using such an approach into the 90's. Unicolour is still in much use for non-clothes infantry gear (chest rigs, pouches, gun slings, guns, large munitions, night vision goggles mounts on helmets). Coyote brown appears to be a fashionable choice for this, though matte black and dark green tones are also in very widespread use.

This may be debatable:

My personal favourite from a purely aesthetic point of view is Realtree xtra. This one looks perfectly compatible with civilian life in Germany (on a t-shirt), year round. It was seemingly designed to have a camouflage effect up close (the similar Realtree Edge pattern is supposed to have a macro pattern effect).
the Realtree xtra tile
As a personal insight I came to the conclusion that a brownish pattern should work best as an all-seasons pattern in Central and NE Europe. Brown is not out of place anywhere where one might reasonably try to remain undetected by camouflage (that is, not in the midst of green grass, for example). It's even very inconspicuous in many urban areas. Brown works even where most background is green because it's still not terribly unrealistic/out of place and works especially fine with partial concealment. Green by contrast is quite out of place in many urban, suburban and rural environments for at least half of the year (except again on the rather irrelevant grass areas). Brown isn't very good at providing contrast, though. An addition of a little sand-like yellow and some black (dark brown might lose too much when washed out) may be necessary. A little - actually very little as in xtra- green could be added as well.
Interestingly, this comes close to some brown-dominated hunting camos as the one shown above.

I consider the velcro patch areas way too generously large on many current field jackets, especially on those meant for civilian buyers. Patches and stuff should be worn on office clothes or ceremonial clothes, not on camouflage/field clothing. Medics are exempted, of course.

I never really figured out what's the idea behind the Kryptek style of camo patterns. It's supposedly micro/macro with a (warped) net effect, but I simply don't see enough contrast for real macro camouflage effect in most of the patterns ("altitude" is an exception).

Infantrymen and scouts should be kept dissatisfied with their camo pattern, to keep them motivated to adapt to the terrain with improvised (additional) camouflage.

There are too many pseudo-tacticool fake camo patterns in civilian clothing fashion in my opinion.


Last but not least; an obligatory video on the camouflage topic:


related:


S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

P.S.: Just to be super-accurate: The first (famous) photo may be a bit untrue to the real situation. The UCP camo looks too blueish. UCP was a disaster nevertheless, and just about everybody was able to see it for what it was from the beginning.

edit few days later: I'd like to add that we need a different approach regarding macropatterns with arms, worn accessories, AT munitions and guns than in the pattern tiles for  torso, legs, tarps and rucksacks. Those are large areas, but the often narrow and long guns, light AT munitions and even arms cannot really make use of the tile macropatterns - darker or lighter becomes random on those. We should thus have a separate pattern with identical colour palette for such items - and it should provide a dark-light-dark-light-dark-light sequence along the narrow item to break its silhouette up.So any camouflage pattern should actually have two tiles - one for large surfaces and one for narrow surfaces (the latter would need to be used with an approximately correct orientation).


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2018/04/30

Narratives as sustainers of excessive military spending

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Humans are lazy - physically and mentally. It used to be an evolutionary advantage, but it's not exactly helpful in today's complex societies which provide us with more than enough calorie supply.

One particular kind of mental laziness is that we don't question what we got used to - and humans can get used to almost anything.

There's a particular narrative about the USN that people got used to, and almost never question: The concept of forward deployment, of a rotation between repair in port/shipyard, transit, patrol in distant waters, transit, rinse and repeat.*
You can often read that such a cycle is normal - but it's a historical anomaly. Even the Royal Navy at its zenith from late 18th century till the 1930's had no such emphasis on patrol in distant waters (even disregarding that to the British Empire hardly any waters were distant). Frigates and later preferably old cruisers patrolled the empire's maritime lanes and their sailors doubled as auxiliary marines (even siege or field artillerymen) when the need arose on land. Their battlefleet was mostly and typically at home in peacetime (and during the age of sail usually not manned in peacetime). 

By contrast, the USN insists that the only way to operate for itself is to patrol in lots of very distant waters with carrier battlegroups and marine expeditionary groups. 
This weird modus operandi is of great consequence, for it drives the "need" for fleet size. One third in port, one third in transit, one third on station - that's the rule of thumb and of course there are somewhat more complicated calculations as well. What matters is that such a way to calculate the "needed" fleet size has no systemic link to what fleet size is actually needed to "win" a war at sea or to deter war. The PR China is not going to be deterred by one or two carriers cruising in range of its land-based assets; those would be sunk by a surprise strike as was the Force Z. To have those one or two carriers deployed that distant, close to Chinese forces, means less deterrence than to have them mothballed on the East Coast. So the rotation rule of thumb isn't even of use for determining the fleet size needed for deterrence.

Carrier air power is ridiculously expensive,
and easily substituted for by land-based air power within 1,500 km of friendly land bases
So the USN has an arbitrary modus operandi that drives its "requirements" for ship hull quantities (at least carriers, amphibious warfare ships and fleet escorts). This has become a dominant narrative that almost everyone is too lazy put into question.
This narrative has a built-in lever of factor three, which greatly helps those who want an ever bigger fleet. You want a single additional destroyer for a carrier group off China? That means you need 3 more active destroyers.

This isn't exclusive to the USN or the United States. Some people think that Germany needs mountain infantry because we have some mountains (more like a good view at mountains, really) - well, we don't need them (= regular infantry battalions instead would be better). Switzerland doesn't need to be deterred and there's little mountainous terrain in Eastern Europe (the Romanians can provide mountain infantry for the Carpathians themselves - they can afford it much more easily than mechanised forces). The Turks have mountains, but I'm not so sure they're still real allies and they have plenty infantry of their own.

Germany had a navy since its unification in 1871 with a short 10-year break after WW2. Everyone seems to be used to the narrative that a navy belongs to armed forces if a country isn't tiny and has ports. Well, no. A navy belongs into the armed forces only if it serves a purpose that's of greater value than its costs. No German navy has ever done so.

There are also highly positive exceptions: New Zealand -thousands of nautical miles away from the next country that could turn into a threat within a generation- disbanded its marginal combat aircraft fleet years ago. This badly hurt those New Zealanders who go by their guts in military affairs, but guess what? Nobody blockaded, bombed or invaded New Zealand so far, and there's no change to this in sight.

gone without replacement, nothing bad happened = evidence they were unnecessary

Narratives play a huge role in fortifying high military spending. Military spending-supportive narratives are very often found to be wrong once tested, though.
The U.S.Army got busy in Iraq and degraded in its conventional warfare capabilities by a focus on COIN - and not a single war broke out. Evidently, the U.S.Army of 2002 was much larger than necessary to keep peace in the 2000s.
New Zealand got rid of its combat aircraft and was neither blockaded nor bombed nor invaded - those combat aircraft were unnecessary for keeping the peace.
Greece largely crashed its military budget despite its stupid little Cold War with Turkey - and nothing happened.
Likewise, great increases in military spending such as under the GWB administration failed to make the world more peaceful or safer.

Our societies could advance much if we would muster the mental effort and diligence to question narratives that support a high allocation of resources. This goes beyond military spending, but I focused on it because of the theme of this blog.
The more we question narratives the more we will discover and exploit potentials for savings, the more resources become available for reallocation. This would make our societies 'vital' like societies with fast-growing economies; we could address unsolved challenges (energy, health issues) or prepare for the future by restructuring (such as by a reduction of public debt) or investing in more research, education or infrastructure.

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: Here's a possible alternative modus operandi or the surface fleet: Battle fleets based in Pearl Harbor, San Diego and Norfolk and prepared to cruise to anywhere at 18-23 kts on short notice with fast replenishment ship support. Training ships do annual voyages around the world (this helps recruitment drive). One ad hoc group doing exercises with European allies and another one with Asian/Australian ones. Occasionally one ship gets detached and sent off to participate in some peaceful maritime event of some friendly or neutral country.
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2018/04/28

Patterns of propaganda for higher military spending

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A recent post deconstructed a propaganda article that argued for a larger U.S.Navy.
This time I will stay more general and more abstract and present the general patterns of propaganda for higher military spending.

Appeal to (tainted) authority
It's a general pattern, but most obvious in the United States where calls for more naval and air power are often supported by the claim that combatant commanders have called for more forces. 
You should never ask a child about what's the right amount of toys when you're in a toy store, so why would one ask the combatant commander about how many ships and fighters he should have?

Use of faux legal reasons for more military spending
The most widespread one is the "2% GDP military spending in NATO obligation" myth. There's no such obligation, just a memo that has no force as it was written by politicians lacking the authority to dictate the budget policies of their countries.
Proponents of higher military spending love such faux legal reasons, and it appears that they are the driving force behind the creation of such faux legal arguments. Such faux legal reasons have an air of inevitability, of obligation and duty - and you don't need any more reasons once you have an obligation. Except there's never any such obligation.
 
Inflationary use of the world "ally"
This is a close relative to the faux legal reason deception. Lots of more or less politically friendly countries get called allies that need be defended - often including countries such as Taiwan and Israel, which definitely are NOT allies of the United States. Neither would come to aid the U.S. if it was under attack. Military spending hawks pretend that there's an obligation to provide security assistance and reassurance (by presence) to such countries even if and though there's no such obligation.

Never mention allies as a factor that reduces the need for national military strength
Unless their think tank's sponsors want to sell weapons to said allies and the article is all about pressuring them to increase their military spending.

Alliances don't reduce the need for high military spending: Alliance obligations justify high military spending!
This is a close relative to the former and the faux legal reasons thing. In reality, to have an ally means that you need less national military strength.

Threat inflation
The description of the Russian as emerging and generally as scary as in the deconstructed article is quite typical. Sometimes such military spending hawks even pretended that Venezuela is a threat.

Not a single word about cost efficiency
What they want is never cost-efficient, thus they don't talk about cost efficiency.

Avoiding to irritate anyone
Those are smart influencers and lobbyists. They do not draw the ire of any political interest group needlessly. You'll hardly ever hear or read them going on an attack against wasteful spending*, wrong hawkish doctrines or them singling out an armed service for its failures (unless they get funded by interest groups with no interest in that particular armed service).
They do not criticise troops or question the quality of training, either. The reason is that troops and those who sympathise with them are compliant and free opinion multipliers to the military budget hawks.

Guaranteed careers
No matter how often their advice was disastrous to the nation, their careers are secured. The only career-ending move would be to become less hawkish or politically ineffective.

Appeal to primitive instincts
There's no complicated reasoning in their propaganda. It's more on the level of "Ugh! My clan is stronger! Ugh!"

Newspeak
To bomb some huts on a distant continent is "defense".

Never mentioning civilian alternatives to spending
The opportunity costs of military spending are never mentioned.

Never promote the purchase of all-foreign hardware
That is, unless the foreign company sponsors their think tank or a domestic arms industry giant is the sales partner.

Unlimited extremism
There's never enough. The ability to force one's way deep into the airspace of huge countries on a different continent or to force one's way into the coastal waters on a distant ocean is "defense" to them. There's no such thing as a "2 power standard" or any other kind-of-moderate idea in their arsenal. Nothing short of the ability to conquer the world would be sufficient military strength to them. And then they would want to conquer space next. Scratch that. They would want a military to conquer space in parallel to conquering the planet.

The rule of the Friedman unit
Military spending hawks are always proponents of the Friedman unit in times of war: Always give the military six more months to turn around the war. Six months later, give them six more months. Rinse and repeat. Making peace is acceptable only if maximalist objectives are met. Then the success would be used to promote the next war(s).

Fixation on platforms
This is a bit weird; military contractors sure make much profit with spare parts, munitions, maintenance and other services, but military spending hawks are obsessed about platforms and other nominal and quantitative measurements of military power. The rationale appears to be that the other expenditures follow the acquisition and operation of the platforms.

They do rarely discuss personnel increases compared to big ticket hardware buys
...because the economic interests behind them are about procurement, not employment. This is a variation of the fixation on platforms, of course.
 
They are utterly silent about veteran's care
This is a close relative to the fixation on platforms. Hospitals aren't among the sponsors of military-focused think tanks.
 
Movement within an established mainstream narrative
You won't read much original stuff from military spending hawks. They use an established mainstream narrative and enjoy its support. Most commonly, they make lots of assertions that are accepted by the mainstream regardless of how badly their thread to reality is severed.

They're pro-war on first opportunity
They know but one tool; a hammer. The world is covered with nails.

They haven't served in a major war.
Almost all military spending hawks are chickenhawks. A few of them served in the military, but I'm not aware of a single one of them having been in the midst of a mess that a war usually is.

They know but one answer: "more"
Sometimes they set goals for military strength. All such goals are but preliminary, though: Once reached, they want more. Always more. They don't know optimisation - they're all about maximisation.


Military spending hawks have almost never a good case for their recommendations. There's rarely a good case that more spending will reduce the risk of war, and it's outright impossible with the state of the economic sciences to make up a legitimate projection that an increase in military spending will be cost-efficient. The input variables are simply unknown.
Military budget hawks thus have to use logical fallacies, lies, nonsensical narratives and deception instead of rational arguments for their recommendations.
Many military spending hawks in the United States (where military spending is insanely high) are professional propagandists with a guaranteed career. Those with economic interests in higher military spending do sponsor such propagandists more or less directly. Other military spending hawks are politicians who represent a region with much arms industry. That's why the U.S. senator was listed as one author of the deconstructed piece, and that's why additional useless corvettes for the German navy were proposed recently. Such politicians raise special (regional) interests over national interests; they fail one decisive litmus test for patriotism.

It should be disqualifying, a career-ending event if one is revealed as such a military spending hawk. Such one trick ponies are utterly useless and indeed terribly damaging to their society.
Sadly, they make careers of such worthless commentary and the press & TV stations treat them as very serious people.

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: A few pundit-for-hire types do deviate: They build a faux "balanced" reputation by criticizing certain military programs. Those criticised programs are invariably from competitors of their sponsors.
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2018/04/22

A deconstruction of MICC propaganda

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I will deconstruct an article about the U.S.Nayy as the military-industrial-congressional complex propaganda that it is, to show how badly it's removed from reality. That article is not really outside the mainstream, or original - it's really nothing extraordinary. Extraordinary would be an article that's firmly rooted in the real world, as opposed to fantasyland.

I do not provide many links to support my assertions here, though I did write about most things here before. Feel encouraged to do your own research on a topic if you disagree with anything I present here as fact.

"How to Make the U.S. Navy Great Again"
By Roger Wicker & Jerry Hendrix


Roger Wicker is a U.S. senator and chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower. Dr. Jerry Hendrix is the director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security.

So one of them is an influential politician from Mississippi (home of Ingalls shipbuilding) with some focus on military affairs and the other is a professional military spending promoter.

(1) "It is imperative that America’s fleet reach 355 ships within the next ten years."

Obviously, they don't even come close to properly support this with arguments. It takes a reading of the whole thing to see this absence, of course.

(2) "American maritime interests have evolved beyond simply protecting freedom of navigation."

The last time the U.S. focused on freedom of navigation as maritime interest was in 1917, and the attempt to enforce it by violence led to much bloodshed and expense, while (counter to supposed intent) further degrading the  safety at sea till war's end.
"Freedom of navigation" has been nothing but a pretence to bully small powers (Libya) and provoking China. Never has the USN enforced freedom of navigation neutrally. It has violently disrespected the freedom of navigation of Iranian ships even and especially while Iran was under attack by a tyrannical Iraqi government.

The current USN structure is a force that's focused on strategic nuclear deterrent and land attack-optimised carrier strike groups. There's practically no capacity for securing coastal U.S. or transoceanic civilian traffic (convoys) without neglecting the security of the land-attack carriers.
The assertion that U.S. maritime interests were focused on freedom of navigation until recently is utter bollocks; a symptom of delusion or a lie.

(3) "The United States faces not one, but two emerging naval powers—Russia and China—challenging its maritime dominance."

Well, there's not much of an operational Russian navy, it certainly is worth less than the sum of the navies allied to the U.S.. "emerging naval power" doesn't exactly describe Russia accurately, either. The authors are inflating a threat for a fake justification of their later promotion of more naval spending.

(4) "Though our sailors and Marines remain second to none (...)"

This was published a few months after the USN published its accounts of why two destroyers were badly damaged in collisions due to utter incompetence and negligence of their bridge crews.

(5) "(...)the condition of the fleet has deteriorated as the need for naval power has far outstripped the supply of available ships."

No. The condition of the fleet has deteriorated as the size and activity of the fleet has far outstripped the available operations & maintenance budget (hollow force syndrome). That's something the U.S. senator might have been able to do more about.
A correct diagnosis would have led to the obvious option of reducing the active fleet or its activity (mission) to match the operations and maintenance budget. That's not what the authors want; they want a bigger fleet, so they provide an incorrect cause for the deterioration.
Besides, I doubt these authors have the slightest idea what the true "need for naval power" really is.

(6) "(...)the United States must engage in a long-term, aggressive campaign to build a larger and more capable battle fleet in order to deter rising competitors, head off a potential arms race and prevent a destabilizing of the international environment."

The shipyard industry situation (the U.S. has almost no shipbuilding capacity compared to China, South Korea and Japan) reveals this as a hollow phrase. No matter how many warships the U.S. builds, the Chinese can simply build more. To call for more warship-building is thus the most primitive, most wasteful and outright most stupid option.
Moreover, Mr. U.S. Senator should probably work to revise the war powers act and curb cruise missile diplomacy as well as work to prevent wars of aggression like OIF if he's truly interested in "prevent[ing] a destabilization of the international environment".

(7) "It is U.S. law that the Navy achieve its stated minimum force-structure requirement of 355 ships."

Maybe, but budget laws are more specific regarding shipbuilding, and the more specific law beats the more general law. Military spending mongers just love such faux legal reasons for more military spending. See the legal nonsense about "2% GDP" spending in NATO.

(8) "Yet it is important to remember the significance of the oceans and inland freshwater Great Lakes for America’s economic prosperity. (...) Nearly 80 percent of U.S. export trade by tonnage moves over water, and 90 percent of general cargo moves via container ships."

See what they did here? "export trade by tonnage" - that's an unusual way to measure export or import. They cherrypicked this because a look at trade by currency units reveals that air freight and digital communications make up a fascinatingly large share of trade, particularly for countries as weak in export industries as the United States. About 35% of global trade (by value) was by air freight in 2015 (and I've seen even higher stats than this). One third of U.S. exports in 2017 were services. These figures show how badly the authors have cherrypicked with manipulative intent, in order to inflate the importance of the navy.
Maritime trade is very important, but they were not satisfied with its true relevance; they meant to inflate its relevance.

(9) "Protecting freedom of navigation is thus a paramount U.S. interest. This core interest—manifested in unimpeded transit in international waters and access to foreign ports for commercial trade (...)"

That's not really what the USN is structured for, or what these authors want it to be structured for. They want a forward-deployed air/sea battle and land attack navy, not a maritime trade defence navy. That's the attitude that led to the massacre off the East Coast in 1942 when the USN wasn't interested in diverting destroyers from the Pacific to secure maritime trade in the Atlantic Ocean.
The USN's utter disinterest in minehunting further shows how little it's interested in this supposed "paramount U.S. interest". Notably, the authors did not criticise the MCM weakness.

(10) "(...) our maritime interests have evolved beyond simply securing the seas for commercial transportation."

Yeah, as "we totally lost interest in it, and really only pay lip service to it as if we were serious people".

(11) "Perhaps the most obvious, yet least appreciated, national interest at sea is the United States’ duty to uphold its obligations to allies."

Such as article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty? Oh, right, that's the obligation they prefer to ignore. Treaty obligations are for others, at home they're but relevant if they can be used as a legal excuse for more military spending.

(12) "While the United States will not start buying frigates until the 2020s, China is building a new frigate every six weeks. Vast numbers of these low-end ships will increasingly patrol China’s expanding front lines in the western Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. Backed by a growing arsenal of longer-range and more sophisticated air and missile weapons, the Chinese navy will have a highly capable and numerically larger maritime force by the middle of the next decade. If this situation comes to fruition, it could make the projection of U.S. naval power cost prohibitive in the western Pacific, undermining the credibility of our alliance commitments."

Wait, what? There is no real alliance commitment towards Taiwan. Sea lanes to Japan and South Korea can be secured by land-based air power against air and surface threats. This leaves mostly submarines as threats to these lanes that need be handled by ships (again, the USN doesn't really do convoys for cargo ships) and a little MRBM threat at least regarding South Korea. Their concern is a dud, for once again they do not really push for a ASW convoying capability.

(13) "(...) Vladimir Putin’s Russia is making a different strategic bet. Faced with a shrinking population (...)

That's a myth. Russian population growth figures for 2017 range from -0.08%  (CIA World Factbook) to  +0.05% (Russian figures). Their population is stagnant, not shrinking.

(14) "Extremely quiet, difficult to detect, and carrying a heavy load of torpedoes and antiship cruise missiles, one or two Yasens undetected in the Atlantic could effectively halt American efforts to provide relief to NATO allies."

Well, if that's so, then disband the USN for its utter incompetence and worthlessness. A navy of that size and with that budget ought to be able to defend against two submarines and their few dozen munitions in an ocean. That's not their conclusion, of course. And I doubt that they really believe what they claimed there.

(15) "Our adversaries and potential opponents are racing forward to develop A2/AD capabilities to create maritime “keep-out zones.”"

How dare they thinking they could legitimately seek the capability to defend themselves at home?!?
The supreme arrogance and extremism in the attitude of the authors is clearly on display here. It's a general problem in regard to U.S. military policy: The standard for what constituted enough "defense" for the U.S. is held so high (and budgets accordingly so wastefully high) that no other country on earth could possibly have a satisfactory defence for itself by the same standard.
There's something utterly corrupted in how Americans think about "defense".

(16) "By not maintaining a credible and persistent naval presence in the South China Sea, the United States invited China to create a “Great Wall of Sand”—a series of artificial islands that increasingly resemble military garrisons."

There's total absence of evidence for any causality between this. 

(17) "Russia has begun aggressive operations in the Baltic and Black Seas, seeking to intimidate U.S. Navy ships as well as those of allied and partner navies. The United States has offered no serious response to these provocations."

Flybys are a provocation and meant to intimidate only when the others do it. Whenever we do it we merely exercise our freedom of navigation in the air, of course. 
It should be noted that much of Baltic Sea freezes in wintertime due to low salinity. There's thus very little reason to believe in naval forces as a reliable contribution to deterrence and defence for the Baltics. These authors won't point that out, of course.

(18) "Lastly, despite a long-standing military requirement to maintain one carrier strike group continuously in the Arabian Gulf region, the ever-shrinking U.S. Navy has been forced to leave the region without a serious naval presence multiple times in recent years. Training and maintenance backlogs within the hollowed-out Navy have reduced the available carrier inventory to provide coverage to the Arabian Gulf. During these periods, Iran has ramped up its intimidation operations and actively sought to undermine the credibility of the United States and its partners in the region. In 2016, Iran’s Houthi allies in Yemen had the audacity to conduct an unsuccessful missile attack against a U.S. warship, USS Mason."

Yemen isn't even close to the Arabian Gulf, thus a CVBG in the gulf would have done nothing about what happened off Yemen. They seem to rest their argument on the world-famous American knowledge about foreign geography.
Besides, isn't a carrier strike group in the gulf an intimidation operation towards Iran? The USN actively helped the aggressor Iraq top sustain its war of aggression against Iran in the 80's, remember? Remember the mass killing of civilians in an Iranian airliner (which was merely intended to be a murder of two Iranian military pilots during peacetime) and the violations of Iranian territorial waters by the USN?
As usual, it's only bad when the others do it.

(19) "The United States currently has a navy too small for the requirements of a great naval power."

Maybe I should just leave this here as evidence for their utter delusion or lying.




(20) "The United States has critical national interests in eighteen maritime zones identified by warfighting commanders."

This is idiotic. The use of "critical" in this sentence doesn't match with "eighteen maritime zones" at all. To ask generals and admirals how many resources they need is utter idiocy. No admiral or general was ever truly content with his resources. They always want more.
Some not utterly tainted group of people with true national interests in mind need to determine the needs - not officers who first and foremost have the interests of their armed service in mind. (Egoistic self-interest can't be neutralised, but it helps to not ask those who get to play with toys about the right amount of toys.)
This is another popular trope of military budget mongers; ask the admirals and generals about what they need. They know that admirals and generals will always ask for more. Also, it's the logical fallacy of appeal to authority.

(21) "The Navy certified the 355-ship requirement in its 2016 Force Structure Assessment (FSA). According to the FSA, the true number of ships required by military commanders exceeds 650 ships."

Of course, they don't notice that the absence of war and disaster utterly proves that FSA wrong.

(22) "Additionally, there are some ships recently transferred to the inactive ready reserve force, also called the “ghost fleet,” that could be brought quickly back into our service rather than being transferred to the navies of foreign partners."

Explain to me how the interests of the U.S. are better served if the U.S. pays for the operation of those ships instead of allies paying for the operation of those ships. It sounds to me as if only the USN's interests get better served by the authors' proposal. Well, theirs and maybe Ingalls gets some bucks for refurbishing those warships if they are in active USN service.

(23) "(...) and accelerate the development of the Navy’s newest frigates, in order to bring these low-cost (...) ships (...)"

Well, that's not delusion - that's an outright lie. 

(24) "The Navy has already begun this process by looking at mature foreign and domestic models, such as the Italian-designed FREMM and American-produced National Security Cutter, which have already been built and could easily be produced in numbers by American workers. These strategic approaches could convince both China and Russia that the United States is prepared to defend its interests at sea."

Not really (numbers) and not likely (China convinced).

(25) "ALONE AMONG the services, the Navy is always deployed."

That's incorrect. Forces of the other services are routinely stationed abroad as well. 

(26) "America cannot retreat from the seas."

Well, aside from the fact that it can - that's a strawman. Even halving the USN would merely turn it into the 2nd largest navy among more than a hundred countries, and combined with allied forces it would still be capable of beating the largest one. Thus even  reducing the USN by half would be far from a "retreat from the seas".

(27) "China, Russia and Iran have invested heavily in ways to keep the U.S. Navy out of critical maritime regions."

Yeah, that's called "defence policy". They kind of believe they have the right to be concerned about their ability to make use of maritime trade, too (especially China).
You know what's not called "defence policy"? It's not "defence policy" if you aren't satisfied with your navy until it can force its way anywhere on the oceans, even within 20 nm of hostile land masses.
Such is the difference between "defence policy" and "defense policy".

(28) "China, Russia and Iran have invested heavily in ways to keep the U.S. Navy out of critical maritime regions. They are increasingly challenging American maritime interests and finding no response. The inability to respond is driven by a collapse in the size of U.S. naval forces over the past quarter century."

So again, the USN appears to be utterly incompetent and worthless, given its relative size and costs. Let's disband it then.
Or maybe - just maybe - a navy isn't the right tool, and not every challenge is a nail?

(29) "Our adversaries and potential opponents see all of this as an indicator of overall national decline (...)"

Trust me; in the age of Trump no-one is looking at the USN as a symptom of decline of the United States as a great power, Western country or civilised country. Everyone's too focused on the actually obvious symptoms of decline self-destruction.
_ _ _ _ _

They came nowhere close to making a real case for a larger navy. They did systematically neglect the relevance of allies and of geography. They did completely ignore land-based air power. They did completely ignore the sorry state of the shipbuilding industry in the United States. They did completely ignore diplomacy, possible naval limitation treaties and conflict moderation/mediation.
They did completely ignore the possibilities that auxiliary warships (cargo ships re-equipped for combat) offer. Nowhere did they respect that other countries might have legitimate security interests.

All they did was to repeat the orthodox mainstream views of the pro-military crowd and call for a bigger navy. It was an utterly disingenuous, worthless, uninspired and unimaginative piece of pro-naval spending propaganda.

S O
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