Author Archives: Michael Clemmesen

On NATO Burden Sharing to an old Estonian Friend

He suggested that it was understandable that Americans such as Trump were critical of the defence spending of nearly all European Allies. I agree, but also underlined both that the situation had a background in recent history of the Alliance and that a rise it defence spending east of the Atlantic because of that history would not necessarily help in the real requirement, namely of creating capable militaries out of the present inert, over-staffed Potemkin Villages:

From the start of NATO during the Korean War, the U.S. paid the most. The Continental European partners did something else: they committed their full manpower as conscripts and prepared their economies for defence support within the framework of “total defence”. They also took the risk of making their countries available as the main East-West battlefield and thus faced the total destruction.

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The U.S. also paid more because as now it was a global power that also had the Pacific theatre to worry about.

In NATO the U.S. was “paid” by having the near total power to decide what happened, and it earned money on producing nearly all hardware of the Allies.

When the Cold War ended, the U.S. (and UK) used that dominating influence to declare that history had ended and the maintenance of conscription was both anachronistic and waste of money. T Keeping conscription was incompatible with membership of the Alliance. Total defence preparations were therefore unnecessary and improper in the globalised liberal economies of the future.

Of the new Central and Eastern European NATO Member States only Estonia kept conscription. The background was the Finnish example that influenced the main architect of the defence forces, former Soviet tank Polkovnik, later Estonian General, Ants Laaneots. This strong character professional convinced his friend Andrus Ansip and the rest of Reformerakond, the Liberal Party, that he was right, because history might not have ended after all.

Most European Allies were happy to comply, advised by shallow-thinking civil servants convinced that history was irrelevant in this Post-Modern Era. The Ministries of Finance applauded. Now the important part of Alliance solidarity was a willingness and to send your soldiers into harm’s way on American Campaigns.

This both your and my country did, and in Afghanistan both Estonia and Denmark had a higher percentage of their contingents killed than the rest, because we served in the Helmand Province where the U.S. avoided striking the Taliban bases in the Quetta area not to offend Pakistan.

We both showed the required solidarity in campaigns devoid of sound and realistic U.S. strategies for success. The result of the loss of conscription and the adoption of U.S.-type grotesquely over-officered peace time staffs meant the loss of balance between number of cadre and number of units with practical service experience opportunities, the loss of combined-arm balance as well as capable logistic units and the disappearance of reserve structures. All European members concentrated on learning and applying the latest NATO (ex-U.S.) buzzwords in the running of their forces. They forgot that in military organisations what counts is the output in capable and sustainable war structure forces, not the defence budget percent of GDP.

If you have unsound structures such as the Continental NATO members now, a budget increase does not necessarily lead to more military effect.

Now we realised and are told that history did not end, that Article 5 is relevant after all, and that the U.S. expect us to have the initial defence forces that the U.S. and Brits told us to abolish in the 1990s. Suddenly solidarity is no longer a matter of symbolic presence in American campaigns, it is about a budget contributions. This Burden-Sharing balancing that amateurs in and without uniforms ask for will not give defence or deterrence without a fundamental re-booting of structures developed since the end of the former Cold War.

“When the wealth and our future was allowed to emigrate” – my 15 October 2011 article republished with a tentative conclusion

Five years ago I published the article below on the blog. It was followed by two more articles discussing the possible implications and politico-economic effects of the described development.

These implications and effects in the West are now all too clear: the loss of mass welfare and a popular belief in the future and in the effectiveness of liberal democracy; a rejection and withdrawal of binding commitments to international co-operation; a withering of the ability and will to domestic political dialogue and compromise and the rise of “brown” opportunistic political movements as a popular reaction to loss of the good, remembered world and the fascination with and yearning for a former great and simple past. All very similar to the reactions in nearly all states in the 1930s.

The only difference between the 1930s and now is the nobody understands how terribly it can end.

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The brutally clear-thinking Israeli meta-historian Azar Gat has underlined that there is no real and certain link between liberal democracy and capitalism. A capitalist economy will not necessarily generate a democratic system and democracy is not automatically the ideal and most effective framework for capitalism. The latest twenty years have all too clearly demonstrated that he is correct.

As ahistorical media and nervous politicians are incapable or unwilling to see anything but the closest ‘trees’, they have missed the total character of the ‘forest’ of the current economic crisis. The Western economies North America, Europe, Australia and Eastern Asia do not only lack money because of problems created by short-sighted stupidity of irresponsible bankers investing in the real estate bubble of the previous ten years. We are not only looking at the risk of a ‘second dip’ or even an international depression as the one that started in 1929. The steps taken to contain the actual phase of the collapse equals wetting you pants for warmth in a Siberian blizzard.

Drugged by the ideology of Globalism – capitalism ‘in absurdum’ – where the bankers’ greedy and irresponsible gaming was a comparatively innocent aspect, the West has allowed its wealth to emigrate to breed faster, thereby undermining its own position and future, including the future of the fruits of its culture and civilization.

Religion is the opium of the masses; however the ideologies of the West during the last two centuries have been far more dangerous because they always stopped the critical application of experience, moderation and common sense by the elites. As lemmings intellectuals launch the human race into dangerous experiments guided by repeated buzzwords. No small boy around to remark on the flimsiness of the substance.

Here the ideology has led to a fixed belief that the free movement of capital is automatically to the common benefit of all, ignoring that the purpose is basically to increase the immediate income of the capital owners (that are thereafter beyond the effective reach af the national tax-man). They seem to have forgotten that it was the Western states’ successful efforts to contain the negative workings of capitalism that made it more attractive than socialism in the end. The unbridled capitalism of the pre-WWI era was like an uncontrolled petrol fire. The post-WWII versions had harnessed the energy like different types of petrol engines. Capitalism, necessary for economic innovation, dynamism, rational organisation and motivation, had been harnessed so that it nourished and supported the society rather than destroying its cohesion. The unbridled globalisation of capitalism is as destructive to positive and controlled development the human project as is unharnessed nuclear energy.

The ideology also seems to have blinded the West to ignore that migration of capital linked to production is bound to weaken its banking sector.

During the two decades following the end of the Cold War, an accelerating amount of industrial production left the West. It was not the fault of the Chinese and other developing economies, but of the Western economist and politicians, who ignored that the production and money not only moved to places where the salaries were more competitive. It moved to places where the political leaders deliberately ignored and still deliberately ignore patent rights and copy everything freely.

It moved to places where the rights of labour to organize to improve its salaries and working conditions beyond sweat-shop slavery is blocked by the autocratic police state, places where the environmental conditions is ignored as badly as in the Soviet Union. What was allowed to happen within the framework of Globalisation of industrial production amounted to what would previously have been termed unfair and destructive dumping. However, the economic gurus ignored the certain medium and long time effects. They emphasised the benefits to Western consumers and Western welfare level of the cheap Chinese and other low cost products and started to consider and develop the happy ‘Post-Industrial’ society of increased leisure and service rather than production economies.

The capital thereby freed from common sense and human experience to move by the ideology of Globalisation. It followed the initial cheap production to earn some of the money generated by the unfair dumping of China and to get access to the expanding marked of the world’s largest population. Soon all large Western companies including Japanese and South Korean moved an increasing part of their production there.

The Chinese got legitimate access to the latest patents and technology, and as less and less was produced in the West more and more capital was accumulated and thereafter used to buy the remaining brand and technologies as the Swedish Volvo and Saab. The Western states and local communities were happy to sell the increasingly unprofitable factories unrealistically hoping to keep the workplaces.

However, China will be hit by the recoil when the Western markeds collapse and default on its debt. The present accelerating slow-down is already being felt.

Western Universities – forced by another shallow, brainstopping ideology to substitute academic norms and ideals about quality with business principles demanding quantity – were and are happy to accommodate the armies of paying Chinese students that sap into the ideas and technological innovation that might otherwise have generated some resurgence of Western production. A Chinese recently bragged that he had gained access to iPhone5 technologies plus software and was already producing a pirate copy before the original. In a country as ridden with corruption as China his claim could be true.

The result of the fiction of a Post-Industrial economy is that the West is now without both capital and an acceptable future. Political leaders underline to their people that they are not going to compete with the salaries in lower income areas in Mexico or Eastern Europe – not to mention those of developing Asia. Banks now fail not just because of irresponsible speculation, but because the only robust part of their income should come from interests of loans given to sound and competitive production and from loans to individuals involved in that production. States have similar problems because the only solid taxation is from competitive production and related external and internal services.

Western politicians hope and conjure up that their borrowed welfare will be safeguarded by new Green technology, opportunistically ignoring that there is absolutely no chance that such production cannot be done much cheaper in China, both because it is more profitable for Western companies and because the ideas are transferred as they co-developed by the Chinese students.

They hope against all evidence that China will go the way of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea and become more normal and democratic and allow its now established advantage to slip. This is where Azar Gat’s analysis is so awkward. In the meantime they muzzle their concerns about the status of human rights in the country.

They pretend that the main problem of their economies is their aging population, ignoring that there will neither be productive jobs nor the previously hoped for paid leisure for those who will get ever older – at least for as long as there is money to sustain the full health system. They are happy to notice that China is facing the same problem of an aging population, ignoring the still vast labour supplus in the interior as well as the very limited social support spent on old Chinese people.

No state can maintain its wealth if it cannot produce at a combination of competitive price and superior quality that make the products attractive. Even well engineered and rationally produced German products of well-established brands are now coming under pressure due to the far too high cost of any production in Europe, and even if a significant part of the parts come from China or other low cost countries. Our remaining industries stand on quicksand.

Within the fiction of a still rich West, they have adopted the ideas of ‘New Public Management’ that have added a massive non-productive, Soviet type ‘nomenklatura’ to the already large public sectors without any evidence that the resulting control and centralisation add any benefits.

In an attempt to prepare for the ‘Post-Industrial’ fictional future, they have increased the number of university students far beyond the requirement and available talent. It has been done by lowering the student quality and academic staff morale within the irrelevant business ideas of the management fad.

Anyone with a minimum of historical sense knows that the unhappy result of academic overproduction is the creation of a large group of frustrated unemployed academic youth that will nourish and drive revolutionary protests – as we now see illustrated on both sides of the Mediterranean. They are not going to make easier the necessary dramatic downwards adjustment of welfare in the probably vain attempt to regain competiveness.

The reaction is now starting. Argentina tries to counter the development by legislation aimed at stopping capital flight and ensuring some taxation of multinational companies.

The Americans experience the fast collapse and proletarisation of a middle class. It could not be sustained without a basis of industrial production. They ask from their bankrupt position that China revalues its currency to make completion fairer. The Chinese threaten trade war. Due to the emigration of capital from the West the Chinese hand is the far stronger, but in self-defence of its future the American democracy will accept the challenge and initiate protectionist measures.

For Europe the situation is far worse. Heavily endebted, with some very inefficient economies, with fast falling income from exports, lack of labour mobility, inability to act quickly in crisis due to its decentralised and democratic decision making organisation and with a tradition to break rank and appease under pressure – hoping for miracles around the corner. Without drastic and painful adjustment we now stand at the end of some often nice 400 years.

Some may argue that the West has always been able to get out of economic depression after some years. My reply is that it was never in a situation where there general collapse of relative competiveness was in relation to asymmetric outsiders with significant reserves of both capital and well educated labour.

History Repeated to Threaten Our Future …. Again

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Franco and Hitler, formerly the preferred Allies of populist nationalists in both Europe and America (such as Charles Lindberg) against the perceived main threat. As with Putin now, they could underline that Franco acted in support of the Church and Christian values.

During the Interwar Period, Western liberal democracies were threatened by totalitarian/authoritarian forces from both left and right, but very few were willing confront the double challenge (with the core parts of the Nordic and German Social-Democratic Parties as the notable exceptions).

One example: During the mid-1930s the Danish Social-Democratic led Government asked the State Security Police to report on the threats to the Denmark from both the totalitarian Right (Nazi Germany) and from the International Communist Movement and the Danish Communist Party. The report underlined the different character of the two threats, but saw both as extremely serious.

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The Social-Democratic Party parliamentary election poster from 1935, the year of the State Security Police two parallel threats report, showing the Prime Minister, Thorvald Stauning. The text reads “Stauning or Chaos. Vote for the Social-Democratic Party”.

Large parts of the Centre-Right forces allied themselves with the totalitarian Right. Communists, and democratic Socialists were grouped together as enemies. In the same way Centre-Left forces allied themselves with the Communists and Popular Front movements against both democratic Conservative and Fascist Forces.

Now we see the same destructive hunt for dangerous simplicity. In their hatred and fear of the destruction of their way of life by Muslims and other Migrants, Centre-Right political forces (both fundamentalist economic Liberals and Conservatives) want to ally themselves with Putin’s Russia, incapable of realising that she is as hostile to their safe future as the Islamists. Actually the Russian view of individual liberty is a mirror of that of the Islamic forces. The urge for simplicity that formerly meant that Communist and democratic Socialists (and Jews) were grouped together means that all Muslims and other migrants and other foreigners are seen and treated as enemies, thereby threatening to make this an unmanageable reality.

Unfortunately the populist Danish People’s Party spokesmen and supporters have now joined Front National, UKIP and the White Power part of Trump’s supporters.

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A later use of the same motive from a “Dansk Folkeparti” election poster, the populist Centre-Right Party that now have joined their fellows in “understanding” and support for Putin.

On other side we see the Left being incapable of seeing and treating Radical Immigrants as a problem and challenge to their future. Thereby they mirror the self-destructive naïvity of the former Popular Fronts.

The only positive sign is that some Social Democrats seem to realise once more that two evils have to be confronted at the same time. However, the Social Democratic movements are far less powerful than 80-90 years back, and the media’s Facebook-reinforced hunt for Red/Left-Blue/Right simplicity undermine the move towards what is now desperately needed.

The End of Our West and the American Democracy As We Know It

Our West lasted more than 77 years. It was quietly born when Roosevelt started to give support to France and the British Empire after the start of the Second World War.

It ended with the election of Donald Trump by the angry white masses outside post-modern, hip enclaves of the major American cities: all those who lost from liberalisation of capital movement and the free world market from the 1990s onwards.

Hillary was now harvesting the long-time effects of Bill Clinton’s naïve and ideology-driven policies in this field.

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Trump speaking in June 2016 (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

Let me just start by underlining that:
1) When you have conducted a campaign as that of Trump, driven by lies and hatred, a campaign that nourished both the completely unrealistic expectations and the anger and willingness to use force among the supporters, you cannot get that evil spirit back into the bottle: No matter if you want to look open-minded and reasonable after the victory, the monster remains at loose.
2) When you have signalled a willingness for more than 15 years to make Russia happy by undermining both NATO as an alliance and the cooperation of your European allies of the EU and by formally accepting her aggressive behaviour within her former empire, that beast also remains out.

The frustrations and sick time spirit that brought Trump’s election were roughly similar to those that brought fascists, Nazis and petty dictators to power in the Interwar Period and that has infected most European countries now as recently demonstrated by Brexit. We saw and see a collective regression into the perception of a far better, simpler past, before the proud nation had been polluted by international commitments, liberal attitudes … and the U.S. by a black president.

This time the parliament building does not have to be burned as it was in Berlin. No matter what the composition of a Congress – and the next two years both Senate and House remain Republican dominated – the congressmen and -women can do little to block the President’s power. If necessary tacit and open pressure using the supporters of the Trump movement (likely to be formally organised now) can be used to discipline the Congress and encourage it to endorse the initiatives the new administration in the domestic and economic policy fields.

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Trump’s part of the deeply divided 2016 USA (New York Times, 16.11.2016)

The movement that has now taken over the Republican Party is fearful of the future and it not necessarily prepared hand power back again in a fair way after having seen the effects of a dirty campaign. It adopted the fundamental intolerance of the Tea Party supporters and the movement is now reinforced in its arrogance by representing the overwhelming majority of white voters, a majority that is bound to be undermined by demography in the future. Many persons considered for Trump cabinet posts have little experience with the flexibility, patience and tact required by the constitutional checks and balances of the American political system.

There will be a break with the free international trading system and a move towards semi-autarky. When this takes place, it is most likely to trigger a slide to a new phase of world-wide depression as the Chinese have warned after the elections.

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Clinton’s part of the deeply divided 2016 USA (New York Times, 16.11.2016)

The rising racial tension that we have seen during the last year is likely to be met by violent force by police … possibly supported by self-organising militias of movement members. It is likely to be ugly and will escalate because the Afro-American activists have lost patience and are becoming ever more willing to meet violence with violence.

In the foreign policy field we are told to expect a new form of nationalist isolationism where the U.S. will limit foreign military involvement to unilateral punishment operations. Here the use of force could take the classical form of what Russia is now doing in Syria, that means unlimited by international law concerns. The different forms of moral “high ground”-motivation for military action that has characterised both Democratic and Republican administrations’ policies in the era of Our West will be abandoned. A combination of an updated Monroe Doctrine and a Yalta 2.0 will be the logical frameworks of the developing Trump foreign action. Ukraine will be sold right away proving to Putin that aggression pays.

No wonder that the Balts are unhappy, at least until Trumps confirms that the deployment of U.S. Army units to Eastern Europe stands as decided. Whether China and Russia will test the borders of the new world order openly with military means now or a little later is an open question … as is American response to any such move.

The U.S. will leave any international agreements on climate management that limits its freedom of action. Members of the creative and liberal classes will migrate to Canada and Australia as Russian have been fleeing their motherland for the Baltics and Germany.

What first peaked with the Brexit vote and now culminated with Trump’s election will continue elsewhere in this cycle phase of marching lemmings.

Welcome to the New-Old World

Military Balance Guide for Dummies

To conclude on the basis of numbers only is easy, and the result is equally easy to present convincingly with the support of graphs. However, anybody who bothers to include just a fraction of the relevant strategic and military history soon realise that purely quantitative analysis is meaningless and dangerous as a basis for political decisions on security policy. In order to establish a more solid basis for policy and strategy, one has to use and apply the knowledge and insight of relevant professionals, even if this calls for both hard work learning new stuff and for rare humility.

The current West European view of present Russian revisionist military resurgence still has a relaxed and facile head-in-the-clouds-or-sand character. It is dangerously anachronistic in its views of Russian backwardness and remains based on the amateurish view that comparisons of official budget input and status in the form of basic bean counting of equipment numbers are both relevant and sufficient in the estimate of military power and related options. It seems to be considered an unchallengeable reality and is constantly promoted by shallow political scientists, busy journalists, empty heads on uniforms and parroting politicians.

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Their amateur comments and advice quickly worsen an already dangerous situation by reinforcing decision-maker and popular trust in what in reality is a Potemkin Village that is fully transparent to even semi-professional observers from the outside. They will be tempted to test what they rightly see as our intellectually unchallenged combination of self-delusion and bluff.

The guide is for those who are willing to face the complex and unpleasant reality. This small guide will not and cannot present any exact result. It can just offer an approach to gain the essential deeper insight.

The first step is to define the geographical focus (such as the Baltic-Nordic Region within the general European “theatre” of potential conflict) and to accept that military power unfortunately has very little to do with the amount of money spent.

Large amounts of money as well as sorely needed intellectual energy is wasted on:
1) running small and large base complexes for reasons rather unrelated to military power
2) paying salaries for a large number of officers without any relevant knowledge of or interest in their profession or even their branch speciality
3) paying salaries to a large number of other ranks as well as civilians with no operational or relevant operational support role, many too old to contribute anything, people with no wish to learn or subordinate themselves to the military profession
4) paying salaries to underemployed full-time personnel in positions where a contract or even drafted reservist would be the better choice
5) supporting education systems that actually undermine military professionalism
6) supporting expensive employment and working hour contract systems that are incompatible with maintaining effective forces
7) implementing New Public Management and similar civilian fads that undermine the essential clear link between authority and responsibility for advice and implementation
8) living up to the agreed environmental standards of the state that add nothing to military effectiveness
9) maintaining elements of force structures only or mainly relevant for national prestige, anti-terrorism, ceremony or peace time work (such as fishery inspection, gendarme work, etc.)
10) covering pensions for retired military personnel
11) covering the cost of the veteran support system
12) cost of outsourcing driven by liberal ideology that create dependence on support structures without any military potential
13) deliberate derailing of professional focus to chase such fringe mirages as application of “lawfare” to contain destruction and human suffering in remaining conflicts, gender framework for the application of fire and manoeuvre and the pursuit of “green warfare” … those responsible arrogantly assuming eternal peace from large scale war

There may be perfectly good political reasons for all these budgeting choices, but most are irrelevant in a military balance analysis and some even detract from the military effect of the money spent.

On the other side some states such as Russia and China fund large and capable para-military forces with war-time combat or security roles outside the defence budget.

Basically the budgets should be ignored in the analysis of relative power, because the total input necessary to produce the same military effect may be several times larger in one state than in another.

The second step is to accept that simple “bean counting” of the two sides’ number of combat aircraft, tanks, submarines, artillery weapons, etc. is nearly as irrelevant, because it ignores:
1) the availability (with fully trained operating crews, available and trained support crews, spare parts, ample stocks of key weapons such as precision munition, etc.)
2) whether fully modernised/updated (if not, it has very limited general use and cannot be counted in a comparison)

The third step is to understand whether all forces of a country would be available in the potential theatre of confrontation/war (U.S. forces meant for the Pacific and in East Asia cannot be counted as NATO forces for European operations)

Numbers are not irrelevant if all things are equal: the equipment similar, crew standards were comparable, leadership and doctrine at same quality level and the situation symmetrical, however that is hardly ever the case, especially before extended fighting enhances harmonisation.

The initial part of the fourth and decisive step is to identify the number and availability of the force elements that should be counted as the main building stones of military power:
1) On land the relevant output to be counted is the number of basic army formations (brigades)
2) At sea the relevant output is the exercised potential for creating mixed naval task groups that are clearly balanced in composition for the analysed deployment area (with robust command-and-control systems, long range surveillance and warning, mine counter-measures, anti-submarine, long range anti-ship as well as appropriate air and missile defence systems)
3) The relevant air power element to be counted is the number of fully capable composite air combat wings that can be organised from the national air forces (with command-and-control, long range air-to-air, effective electronic and other means for suppressing enemy air defences and a mix of precision and area weapons against ground targets)

Your have to accept that the key to any sound analysis is to concentrate on the comparison of output in the form of fundamentally similar force elements available in the relevant potential theatre of conflict.

However, such a counting and comparison of the number of such force packages is not sufficient. The follow-on analysis is at least as essential and includes e.g. answering the questions that requires the professional insight that is ignored for very good reasons by “experts” that can’t have it:
1) Is the force element well-balanced for the mission? Does it have the necessary combat elements, flexible and robust command and control elements, indirect, long range fire systems with integrated reconnaissance elements (if surface forces), robust area and point air defence systems, engineer support (if land or air units), full and flexible logistic systems, and with resilience and redundancy created by personnel and equipment replacement systems. If not balanced, the force is only a facade usable for bluff.
2) Has the command cadre and the full units been exposed to a realistic and demanding, free-play training and exercise regime and the cadre thereafter been trimmed deliberately on the basis of practical performance to enhance quality? This may be quantified by counting the frequency, length and peace-time limitations of exercises ranging from fully scripted, one type, generic scenario, command post, computer supported exercises at one end of the spectre to unscripted, free-play troop exercises within changing mission scenarios and with deliberate elements bringing disruption of plans to increase friction and realism. Only the latter type of exercises can add significantly to force combat readiness.
3) Does the command philosophy encourage flexibility in execution?
4) Are one side’s forces deliberately handicapped in relation to availability of means (such as cluster ammunition, anti-personnel mines, thermobaric weapons)?
5) Are one side’s forces handicapped in the level of integration and range of indirect fire weapons?
6) Are one side’s forces handicapped by inferiority in key technical fields such as cyber warfare or electronic warfare (e.g. in the air defence/offensive air operations field)?

Even forces such as mechanised brigades that are more or less similar in manning, equipment and technological level can be fundamentally different in de facto capabilities. If one brigade has been through a rigorous, realistic two-year exercise programme and have weeded out inefficient leaders and other cadre and the other brigade has just maintained a peace-time activity level, the second formation simply does not have a military capability. It is just another waste of state funds.

It is important to accept that some forces cannot be directly included in the force comparison for a specific part of the potential conflict theatre such as large oceanic surface and submarine naval warfare units in the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and East European operational context. The same applies to the general nuclear forces of Britain, France, Russia and the U.S.

In the force comparison it is essential to accept that multinational land forces with mix at brigade or lower levels are as militarily ineffective as they may be effective as a symbol of political solidarity. Due to language, equipment and training differences and diplomatic politeness they must be considered military Potemkin Villages if the bluff is called.

One final element: In relation to land forces it is essential to underline the fundamental operational handicap of the defender.

Normally we think that a defending unit can defeat an attacking force 2-3 times as large. This, however, assumes that the attacker must attack frontally, that no side has a clear artillery advantage, and that neighbouring units are in place to prevent the defender being bypassed. If the Russians had to assume that NATO would and could act offensively, they would have no advantage, but Western Alliance political cohesion requires a defensive posture.

Mobile (mechanised) land combat forces do not have the mobility of air and naval forces to concentrate and engage the enemy where and when he emerges. With a couple of thousand kilometres of threatened sectors on the European eastern border, the side with the freedom to choose the time and places of invasion needs far fewer forces than the defender that have to screen all possible sectors and therefore will have significant forces deployed in sectors that prove to be irrelevant. A brigade or battalion can only screen a limited sector of threatened border and defend even less.

A platoon to company detachment blocking a road will be destroyed by artillery in minutes and only the quality of any obstacles will create delay. A well-equipped and led battalion with engineer elements, robust air defence and long range artillery support can hold a frontage of around five kilometres with one major road for some hours. If no neighbours, it will thereafter be forced to withdraw or be bypassed and destroyed. A brigade can cover 2-3 times that frontage and two major roads.

Even a two to one superiority in land forces will not ensure success for the reactive side on the eastern border. When part of these forces can be freed and arrive at the actual invasion, the invader is most likely to have the tactical defence advantage, meaning that the late arriving force of the defender will need a three-to-one superiority to succeed.

Martin van Creveld: Pussycats. Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West—and What Can Be Done About It

Martin van Creveld is with good reasons deeply worried that the West has let its ability to defend itself against land aggression deteriorate into deep rot.

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In this new book he brings together arguments from his extended academic production. The main focus is on the U.S. armed forces and especially the U.S. Army. From the 1982 Fighting Power: German and US Army performance, 1939-1945’ observation that he the number of combat stress syndrome cases depends on both the organisational culture and training and personnel administration system of the service and the attitudes and norms of the surrounding society. He both repeats and add nuances to his 2001 conclusions in Men, Women, and War, that an uncritical, formalistic-fundamentalist and ideologically driven gender equality policy in the organisation and manning of land combat forces will undermine the units’ ability to fight. Creveld also describes the effects of modern Western societies’ pampering the youth and protecting them from gaining protecting young people from learning. The toughness and quality of military forces is undermined due to incomprehension and rejection of their special character, which will make them ever less attractive to the most suitable young men. Finally he notes that “European and American societies, each in its own way, have come to give rights near-absolute priority over duty”. The combined result of all these choices, trends and time spirit elements is to change what used to be teams of “Wildcats” into loose groups of “Pussycats” that were without claws because of lack of funds.

What worries the reviewer is that Creveld’s analysis matches and may reinforce that of the current Russian leadership that has deliberately taken steps to reverse any similar, liberal development in the Russian society and armed forces and the view that NATO’s forces are Potemkin Villages populated by undertrained Pussycats without claws creates a fundamentally unstable situation in Europe.

What Creveld describes was to be expected. It happens every time a country and its army can believe that it does not have to defend the existence of its state.

This may be the case when somebody else promises to do the job, as was the case during the first decades of the Cold War, when we were told that air power plus nuclear deterrence would do the job without armies having to fight seriously.

It may also be the case if the army is allowed to believe that it is obvious common sense that historical experience has become irrelevant because peace in our time has broken out in our part of the world. This has been the case since the 1990s and has created the freedom to let the rot spread freely.
We could not count on the professional leaders to contain the development. Human beings are opportunistic, arrogant, ambitions plus intellectually superficial and lazy. Organizations are self-serving and conservative by nature.

During the Cold War army leaders quickly learnt the lingo from McNamara’s Whizz-boys that enhanced promotion chances, and in Vietnam success was measured in bodies. In our time we learnt the New Management Newspeak and removed professional substance from business plans.

Never happy with their profession because it is so unimpressively practical with little predictive theory, army leaders quickly change to any new fashion of the Emperor. This happened repeated in the always engineer, scientific-minded U.S. Army.

We only had three short period of intellectual dynamism in that service. Firstly then 1950s when the airborne generals James Gavin and Maxwell Taylor developed the air mobility and limited war options to become relevant under existential threat from the USAF. Gavin’s option was later revived by Robert Scales and Eric Shinseki in the 1990s when the USAF arrogance in the post-Gulf War decade a similar existential threat situation. Secondly around 1976-82 in the post-Vietnam War Revival when the army had to prepare for large scale intensive, non-nuclear battle for the first time since the Korean War. Finally under the threat of a humiliating defeat in 2005 in Iraq another airborne general, David Petraeus, developed Taylor’s late 1950s option.

Otherwise the U.S. Army has been opportunistic appeasement to fashions and buzzword-shitting. As Creveld notes, the USMC is always better. It is always under siege from the army.

With no risk of real land warfare, the service leadership become totally opportunistic, adopt the lingo of the time and of civilian academics, develop privileges, and let the army swim opportunistically in the fast shifting the domestic political fashion swamp, no matter the consequences for combat readiness.
In spite of the short time available, something similar even happened to the great Interwar Period French Army, and in 1939 the French and British Armies only had a few months to prepare for continental war, with the predictable results.

Creveld and the reviewer are military historians and therefore irrelevant until too late. The Western armies and their political masters will only learn in serious defeat that the armies should not be a disciplined testbeds for gender development of society, for lawyer power seeking, management fads or for political-science nonsense.

We can only be happy that this does not stop Martin van Creveld’s politically incorrect provocations.

With the Leukemia of Lies in the Blood

index

We are being exposed to classical campaign of misinformation and deliberate lies meant to undermine both national political effectiveness by radicalisation and the ability to cooperate in Europe and with the Americans. Classical in the sense that it mirrors what the Bolsheviks did in the 1920s, the Nazists did in the 1930s, the North Vietnamese did from the later 1960s and what Islamists have done to our Muslim minorities the last quarter century.

Accelerating with Russia’s Crimea coup invasion and her creation of a Ukrainian bleeding ulcer in the Donbass, the West and especially Europe became exposed to a both massive and flexible campaign that uses both the traditional media and the opportunities created by the internet and social media.

The campaign is both supplemented and supported by direct political and when possible economic support to radical nationalists and brother semi-Fascists such France’s Marine le Pen, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Greece’s “Golden Dawn“, opportunistic power-seekers as Donald Trump, normal separatists such as the Scottish National Party and anti-American old-leftists as Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn.

The point here is to argue why the campaign is so effective.

The first reason that the Post-Modern part of our academic elite that grew out of the radical left-wing intellectual movement of the 1970s rejected and successfully abolished the national and common Western narratives of The Second World War and the Cold War. The narratives had nourished the development of the EU and kept the Western Alliance together during the extreme stress of the early 1980s. What followed was a loss of a common moral history and an open-minded emphasis that all views and narratives had equal and legitimate value. There were no real fact, positions were academic constructions. There no longer existed a common framework of reference. Putin and Lavrov were probably as right as everybody else, and it is legitimate to agree with them without any seeking an irrelevant and elusive “truth“.

The second reason is derived from the first. History is no longer a warning of what might happen if we act stupidly. Global Warning is seen as certain if we do not act now, but progress and common sense is considered to mean that we have learnt that international war between will never happen again, at least not in Europe. Not only will war not happen, but our leaders agree the only problems we may meet are those of recent years: a temporary collapse of economic growth due to unrestricted greed, some terror that is not likely to hit you personally and masses of migrants. With the loss of history comes the loss of ability and will see and address awkward painful “hypothetical” developments such as the likelihood that the egoistic departure from cooperation in the EU would lead to the erosion of the the obvious benefits all have enjoyed.

As all will be OK no matter how stupidly and uninformed we act, there is no real reason not to keep our open-minded and liberal attitude to lies and misinformation. Aren’t lies and misinformation just words?

Even if the EU erodes, benefits must remain. Surely?

Even if Great Britain exits with Putin’s support, Scotland will remain to enjoy the more free rule from London. Right?

Even if Scotland leaves with Russian encouragement, Rump Britain will somehow remain as a military power, at least until Old Labour takes over with Russian blessing. Certainly?

By a miracle NATO must survive and Russia be prevented from exploiting the regression into the situation of the late 19th Century?

And there can be no regression into something as anachronistic as international war. Definitely?

My only problem is that logics and sense of history makes me unable to see how. So maybe its a good idea to return to a less relativistic concept of truth.

ostrich

Sorry that I have to worry you even more

Our main problem in Europe is now that some key member states of the alliance are already moving towards political profiles that match what Putin would like to see: de-democratized, countries ruled by ever more corrupt self-interested leaders that would hate “colour-revolutions” as much as he, leaders that rule by opportunistic manipulation of own populations, using regressive nationalistic propaganda.

This is quickly undermining the unity of purpose the drove the NATO and EU expansion of 2004.

Erdogan’s Turkey is quickly becoming an autocratic clone of Russia. The country’s foreign policy under him in relation to Russia is as unstable as it was in relation to the Middle East, where it has now suddenly returned to the traditional alliance with Israel after years of opportunistic confrontation. This development may be considered positive, but the shifts took place within a framework of autocratic-kleptocratic manoeuvring to stay in power like that of Milosovic.

Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are all on the way to follow the tracks of the 1930s away from democracy towards nationalistic “guided” democracies. Fortunately the Balts have not been infected so far.

Both France and Britain are on unpredictable trajections towards selfish isolationism intoxicated by delusions of former grandeur, and Germany is quickly losing the political stability and sense of purpose that has lasted six decades.

After Sander’s last victory we have a very clear impression of the fundamental character of the political crisis in the U.S. Even when Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, she will be tainted by having to move left in an opportunistic attempt attract Sander’s supporters as well as both left and right to address the challenge from Trump. We still lack good analyses of how the basically unfocused, anarchistic popular reaction against the political and economic elite will affect the post-elections’ Congress.

The military intellectual and physical weakness outlined in the previous blog article is mirroring a loss of purpose of the Western world. We are fast self-destructing before Putin’s (and Erdogan’s) eyes.

The West is experiencing a combination of the spring 1914 optimism that a great war would naturally be avoided and the fast collapse of popular and elite belief in modernity and international co-operation we saw in the mid-1930s.
The main problem avoiding an even worse rerun of what happened then is that both politicians and their civilian and uniformed advisors seem to have lost the ability and will to foresee the more likely outcomes of trends and decisions.

That ability used to be the core of strategic decision-making and crisis management preparations. Now all react to events as if they were natural disasters that could not be foreseen or averted. The military have lost the ability to make campaign planning that is not a one-sided procedure driven, linear logic activity, and the civilian advisors are theoretical political scientists, corporate lawyers or economists.

Those few who do react miss the disturbing over-all picture and focus on details such as countering trolls and developing fancy new technologies that may become an answer in a decade if the opposition does not act or react in the meantime.

So we are a-historical sleep-walkers, who have lost the ability to plan and act on the strategic level.

The Path to West-European Military Auto-Emasculation … and now what?

During the last months I participated in an international brain-storming network that was developed to find politically realistic ways of deterring the developing Russian threat to the Baltic States. The other active participants were mainly other Scandinavians and Americans.

After some months of otherwise highly constructive correspondence, I started to wonder why I did not provoke any reactions when I argued that the problem was not only a matter of very low West European defence budgets and new challenges as a result of Russian improved military technology and the aggressive body language of a psychologically unstable chained dog.

Why was it that I only met silence when I noted that far too many West European militaries needed not only “rebooting”, but a new operating system installation as much as a computer used constantly for a decade with an old version of Microsoft Windows?

I have realised that the unhappy situation is due to:
1) the grossly over-officered forces where only a very small fraction could get practical experience in units,
2) the unchallenged adaptation of New Public Management fads,
3) the military unionism that brought and consolidated privileges that undermined the professional ethos and behaviour,
4) the lack of realistic, unscripted exercise activities,
5) the loss of critical professional discourse, and finally
6) the de-professionalization of advanced officer education.

What happened in several places, and especially in Denmark and Sweden, was that civilian academics, and in Denmark especially theoretical political scientist (not of the British War Studies, Military History school) and New Public Managers won the high ground and key advisory positions by an unchallenged, deeply arrogant rejection of the relevance of “unscientific” military professionalism.

The supplementary contributions of civilian expertise can be sound and necessary. Since the 1950s civilian academics gained a key role in the Western political and strategic discourse about nuclear deterrence and the potential use of the weapons. This had been essential, because it added sophistication and risk awareness to the views of the USAF Strategic Command and some U.S. Army nuclear warriors.

However, with the end of the Cold War, the dams of balanced common sense broke; history was implicitly assumed to have ended in the sense that no great inter-state wars would ever happen again, at least and especially not in Europe. The core of military professionalism had previously been all the preparations necessary for intensive warfare, at least initially dominated by conventional weapons. The naval forces had to face a difficult contest in a sea-air environment before a workable level of sea control was established. The air forces would remain involved in a continuous struggle for air superiority.

The land forces prepared to become involved in a combination of attrition and manoeuvre, combine arms and air-land combat to gain or defend key geographical areas.

To prepare professionally required constant terrain reconnaissance and analysis of force requirements as technology, the political framework, own forces and the potential enemy forces developed. The operational defence planning was matched by force development, cadre education and realistic exercises from lowest to highest level. To be able to do so was at the centre of military professionalism, and few civilian defence academics felt qualified to challenge more than minor elements or assumptions of that combination of professional competencies.

All that changed in Europe with the end of the Cold War. When all future wars for the Europeans would be wars of choice, the traditional military profession would be irrelevant. Forces could be reduced to “tools” tailored for a specific mission and adjusted when initially ineffective. No comprehensive professional ability to identify military requirements, advice and develop the forces was necessary or encouraged. The professional world based on 250 years of discourse and practice from the Enlightenment via Clausewitz and Corbett to Michael Howard and John Warden had become irrelevant. The military lost their paradigm, and as a hermit crab losing its snails house, they were vulnerable to both predators and their own insecurity.

As invasive species the predators came immediately in the form of the carriers New Public Manager fads, theoretical political scientists and the heralds of waves of pseudo-strategic buzz-words. The suits and skirts than moved in to direct and be uncritically copied by the uniforms did not aspire to plan, command and take responsibility; they only sought power based on an unsupported feeling of superiority in the post-military-paradigm era of “New Wars”.

They did not consider giving practical advice, beyond not sending tanks to peace keeping missions because they would escalate violence, dropping conscription because it was obsolete, developing or accepting ideas like “smart defence” that was built on the unsupportable assumption of NATO being a supranational organisation.

They could see theoretical problems, but remained unsuited to man Colin Gray’s “Strategy Bridge”. All knew theories, some gained relevant technological insight but outside a team that included relevant military expertise, they remained nice window dressing repeating their impressively sounding theories making finance ministers and uniformed copycats happy.
If the military professionals had had some backbone, very little harm had been done, but unsure of themselves most aped the superficial theories and buzz-words of the shallow challengers, quickly losing their professionalism in the process to gain empty prestige from irrelevant and unusable academic credits in management and strategic spidery-wordery.
Now nobody is around outside the U.S., Poland and maybe Britain and France that can identify and test a military requirement for a real war problem like the one we are now facing in the Baltics.

Advanced officer education was first considered irrelevant for the new era in Sweden and now in Denmark.

However, after the unwanted therefore warning of 2008, the happy era of the irrelevance of military professionalism ended in 2014. Now it is time to crash-train and educate some of the relative youngsters that fought for us without a strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan to replace the useless empty uniforms that in best cases can give mere technical-tactical advice only, dressed-up in the lingo-feathers that the Emperor with little clothes wore.

It is time that we all start to worry about how to return to a cadre-rank “pyramid” and retirement age, that mirrors that the military profession is a practical one, where even directly professionally relevant theoretical education actually is less relevant than proven leadership experience and ability in units with tough realistic training.

It is time that we all start to study and remember what it takes from basic training to general war gaming to create effective military forces. You will find little in political science theory, but much in the analytic military history works of persons such as Michael Howard, Martin van Creveld supplemented by Jörg Muth, early Ed Luttwak, Arden Bucholz and even S.L.A. Marshall.

It is time to address the balance between regular and reserve elements, especially from conscription and part time volunteers, to develop the necessary quantity.

It is time to address what working hour rules and privileges that are compatible with an effective military.

It is time to force the uniformed state employees to become military professionals again.

Artikel XXI: Om de ødelæggende virkninger af manglende forsvarsopgaver

Som læsere af denne blog vil have bemærket, har jeg gennem de seneste år søgt at identificere kilderne til (og virkningerne af) det forfald af Forsvarets professionelle fokus, som blev så klart på grund af de ti års fravær fra Danmark fra 1994 til 2004.

I de seneste dage er det blevet klart, at det næppe kunne være anderledes, for de seneste godt 20 år er det blevet en underforstået forudsætning, at det kun ville være i, hvad man kan benævne “valgkrige”, at danske styrker igen vil kunne komme i kamp. Krige lang væk fra Danmark, hvor de tre værn leverede solidaritetsbidrag til vores venners og allieredes interventionsprojekter, hvor de allierede hvor relevant sørgede for sø- og luftherredømme og besluttede, hvornår den altid halvhjertede intervention skulle afsluttes.

Disse tyve år var den første periode i dansk og europæisk militærhistorie, hvor man ikke gennemførte planlægning og andre forberedelser til at kunne forsvare eget land eller allierede mod invasion og andre fjendtlige militære handlinger. Man skulle opretholde militær professionalisme uden den krigsforberedelsesramme, der indtil det tidspunkt aldrig kunne ignoreres.

Indtil det tidspunkt havde hærofficerer en konkret krigsforsvarsopgave, der skulle løses bedst muligt med de altid for få styrker. For danske hærofficerer var det under Den Kolde Krig forsvaret af øerne og specielt Sjælland mod sø- og luftlandsætninger og forsvaret sammen med allierede af den Jyske Halvøs fod ved Den Indre Tyske Grænse til DDR. Både linje- og reserveofficerer arbejdede under en krigsplanlægning, der også omfattede rekognoscering i forsvarsterrænet, kadreinstruktionsøvelser og stabsøvelser med at forberede løsningen af disse opgaver.

Linjeofficerer, der arbejdede i rene fredstidsforvaltningsstillinger, blev inddraget i disse aktiviteter som forberedelse til deres krigsdesigneringsfunktion.

Under disse varierende krigsforberedelser vedligeholdtes en fælles forståelse for, hvorledes de vanskelige kampopgaver kunne løses bedst muligt i det aktuelle terræn med støtte af artilleri, luftværn, ingeniørenheder m.m. Man måtte have planer og forberedelser for løsningen af logistiske og totalforsvarsproblemer i området, herunder for samarbejdet med allierede enheder og de lokale civile myndigheder.

I dag er der ingen hærofficerer tilbage i Forsvarets ledelse, der er blevet professionelt udviklet i denne ramme. Professionelle udfordringer har været knyttet til forberedelse til fulgt af tjeneste i konkrete, begrænsede interventionsmissioner, hvor man altid forudsatte asymmetriske fordele til egen side. I de seneste godt ti år har målet officielt været begrænset til blot at forberede enheder som bidragsværktøj, hvor det ikke var en dansk opgave at tænke over realisme og muligheder over det tekniske og måske laveste taktiske niveau.

Det kan desværre ses på tjenstgørende generalers argumenter, at de ser effektivitet som frigjort fra løsning af konkrete militære opgaver i et konkret terræn i en krig. Der findes ikke længere en krævende ramme, der kan udvikle forståelse for, hvad hærstyrker kan og ikke kan indsat i forsvar af et landområde. Det betyder også, at de har tabt evnen til at rådgive de ansvarlige politikere med hensyn til dimensionering af danske hærstyrker til en konkret opgave.

For flyvevåben- og søofficerer betyder perioden, at man kun har bevaret evnen til at udnytte flyenheder og maritime enheder til at løse forskellige opgaver under fuldt luft- og søherredømme. Både materiel og procedurer forudsætter, at man ikke skal bidrage til en krævende og risikabel kamp for at tilkæmpe sig handlefrihed. Men på grund af disse værns karakter vurderes det mindre tidskrævende her igen at forberede dem til krævende krigsopgaver.

Det er ikke som for hærens vedkommende en hel professionel ramme og kultur, der skal genopbygges fra bunden.