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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

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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.

To Protect the Baltic States against Russia

I agree with those who have noted that the Baltic States can by defended against both an overt or covert invasion by present Russian forces, but I disagree that the present local and NATO posture can achieve this.

The first key issue is sea control of the Baltic Sea from the island of Bornholm to the Aland Islands. As when the Baltic littoral was defended the last time against a Russian offensive – by Nazi Germany during the last year of the Second World War – everything depends on the ability to defend and use the chosen sea-lines-of communication.

During the Cold War the NATO mission was limited to the far less demanding task of denying the Warsaw Treaty Organisation navies free use of the sea routes in the southern part of the Baltic Sea for the support the offensive operations of the Coastal Front and Soviet Red Flag Baltic Navy. In the hope to defeat the threat, to succeed in this limited mission, the involved NATO states developed large, modern and capable specialised naval and naval air units. They were thereafter scrapped in the later focus on Blue Water capabilities.

The ability to defend sea routes cannot be decided by a simple comparison of available NATO and Russian local naval forces. Both are rather weak. We have to analyse whether NATO can protect the shipping generally or at least high priority convoys. The transport shipping has to be effectively protected from mines, submarine, air and missile attack. The task has always been difficult in the Baltic Sea due to the temperature and salt layered character of the sea, and the development of mine and torpedo technology since 1945 has made task ever more difficult. In 1944-45 the Germans could count on the cover of winter darkness and cloudy weather as well as on the indifferent quality of Soviet Naval Aviation to shield the transports from effective air attack. Now long-range detection systems coupled with full all-weather attack capability by both aircraft and long-range air and surface launched anti-shipping missiles will make the protection of shipping extremely difficult and demanding. The task becomes even more difficult during a crisis period before and the first phases of hostilities where strikes against the potential source of attacks will be ruled-out to avert escalation.

The Baltic States have four capable terminal ports at relatively safe distance from Russian territory: Liepaja, Ventspils, Riga and the port facilities in and east of Tallinn. However, all have approaches vulnerable to the most discreet “hybrid” warfare anti-shipping weapon: the mine. The main Lithuanian port of Klaipeda lies too close to Russian territory to be considered available. As the mine-warfare expertise and capability of the NATO-navies have withered together with the anti-submarine and air-defence capabilities and the general coastal warfare capabilities, it is doubtful whether NATO can muster a credible sea control MCM posture for the Baltic Sea. Any fishing or merchant ship now has the ability to carry out accurate covert mining operations in support of hybrid warfare.

The missile threat is also serious and even if probably only urgent after the start of hostilities. The reduced Russian Baltic Navy light surface units and naval aviation presently in the Baltic area mean that there exists a very significant latent missile threat against shipping everywhere in the Baltic. Nothing can prevent Russia from reinforcing their forces from the other fleets prior to and during a crisis and to start employing harassment of Western shipping and naval units as sometimes during the Cold War.

If NATO tries to establish protected sea lines, the effort will be heavily dependent on general and specialist naval air power. It should be employed in the protection of convoys that use the less directly exposed sea routes (away from the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast) across the central Baltic Sea from Swedish the territorial waters of Gotland to the four safest Baltic harbours listed above. In order to have maximum time in the area the aircraft should operate from East-German, Polish or – far best – central Swedish bases. The credibility of the whole sea control operation to support the defence of the Baltic States may depend on the availability of the Swedish bases that the country secretly planned to make available to the USAF during the Cold War.

The lesser capable alternatives to sea transport are air transport and over-land transport via the narrow Polish-Lithuanian land corridor between the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast and Belorussia. These options will be sufficient for any initial limited deterrent deployment of light reaction forces, but will not have the capability to support the larger NATO-forces of army formations and logistics needed for a minimum defensive deployment.

Of the main airfields, Vilnius Airport and the Palanga Airfield are too close to Belorussia and Kaliningrad Oblast to be safely usable, and support of Lithuania will have to use Karmeleva at Kaunas and the large military airfield Zokniai near Siauliai. Air transport to Latvia depends on the use of Riga Airport with the military airfield at Lielvarde as a reserve, in Estonia Tallinn Airport has Ämari military airfield and the local airfields at Tartu and Pärnu as reserves – the latter a former Soviet air base west of the city centre and harbour. All Baltic airfields are difficult and demanding in troops to guard against Special Forces due to built-up or wooded areas in close proximity. To work effectively as air bases in a hybrid warfare phase they need the deployment of a full set of local defence and security forces and logistics elements. If considered for later defence operation in spite of operating within the range of Russian long-range air defence missile systems, the bases need area and close air defence systems as well as EOD and rapid runway repair elements. None of these capabilities can be supplied by the Baltic Host Nations, and the lack of this operational requirement during the last two decades, few, if any, remains in the European NATO forces.

The main problem, however, is that none of the Baltic States have the forces available to create a minimum cohesive, initial forward territorial defence of their territory, and because of this a symbolic employment of U.S. subunits to the capitals as a “trip-wire” as suggested recently by Zbigniew Brzezinski signal weakness by offering hostages rather than a step that ensures later timely deployment of robust deterrent forces. Such follow-on forces that were previously available no longer exist, as they were irrelevant after “history had ended”.

No exposed forward state was ever capable of creating an effective initial territorial defence and deterrent force posture without the use of conscription, and fortunately the last decades of communications and individual or pair served weapon system development have created equipment far easier to handle than those 40-50 years ago. Only some complex crew served weapons such as tanks and command cadre functions still benefit from a long service regulars’ routine. However, fashion, ideology and lack of personal experience with training and use of national servicemen still seems to block Western peace-time realization of the essential benefits of access to the draft to supplement regulars. It is the only way to generate quantity without real loss of flexibility and quality. Historical cases indicate that local initial defence capabilities are not only essential for gaining time and keeping space for receiving assistance, the demonstrated will to defend themselves and handle hybrid challenges without having to resort to serious suppression eases the political decision among allies to fight for another country.

It was been the a-historical NATO policy to pretend – recently under the “smart defence” buzz-heading – that there exists an immediate and pre-programmed political willingness in all member states to contribute forces to fight for an ally no matter what situation and what the host state contributes. Of course it is dim-witted nonsense. It is time to realize that the bluff has been called and act accordingly.

To protect the Baltic States, NATO needs protected airfields for initial deployment, a local cohesive territorial defence of borders and capitals as well as safe sea-lines-of communication. To meet and deter the Russian challenge takes the development of credible and sizable national defence forces – standing and reserves. Flimsy make-believe diplomatic constructions pretending solidarity by all to all hypothetical but undefined challenges is making Putin’s project simple.

End to the chase for silver bullets

In 1914 the best European military professionalism had failed catastrophically. Staffs knew how their countries could win a major war through centrally planned and controlled movements of field armies and battleship fleets.

Superior scientific management of mobilization and rail transport by own General Staff should ensure superiority on land. One would crush the opponent’s army in a huge meeting battle and get his government to throw in the towel.

At sea the British Grand Fleet would cut-off and defeat the German High Seas Fleet by centralized scientific monitoring and management by radio telegraphy from Admiralty Situation Room. While waiting, the limited economic warfare might bring a weakening and collapse of the German globalized finance and economy, forcing an end to the conflict.

None of this happened. After constant experiments with alternatives through 1915-1918 that cost millions killed and Russia’s collapse, the exhausted Entente powers won the war with American capital and fresh and therefore optimistically aggressive American soldiers.

During the inter-war years new professional models for how to prevail in war were developed. Several thought that the only possible solution was to attack the opponent’s cities with terror bombardments from the air, They would quickly cause rebellion and revolution. Others thought that scientifically designed precision bombardment of enemy industry key functions could get his fragile economy and social structure to collapse – in a way similar to what naïve commentators today think that cyber war will achieve. Again others like the Frenchman Charles de Gaulle and the British Frederick Fuller believed that small elite forces equipped with tanks could manoeuvre their way to victory. In combination all these ideas influenced World War II. However victory in 1945 was due neither to smart weapon nor to simple concepts. It came as a result of mass production, deployment, support and the combined use of “good enough” tanks, trucks, all types of aircraft, landing craft and aircraft carriers, etc. Economic strength and mass gave the Allies made much of everything available so that they could replace the huge losses of material that will always be the result of war against a great power adversary.

The reason to remember this part of world history today is not only that it is 100 years ago that the belligerents tried to get past the 1914 debacles by the employment of massive artillery at the fronts and Zeppelin bombardment of England. Neither is it because it is the 75th anniversary of the reformed German army’s manoeuvre victory over the traditional French in 1940. The reason is that it is now again clear that the West’s military science is once more at a dead end. This time it is not due to belief in scientific management of mass to the battle and superior will to take losses when engaged. This time arrogance has led to an a-historical dependence on extremely expensive high technologies to achieve low vulnerability that result in very small forces. The only good news compared to last time is that we do not have to learn after horrible failures in war.

The problem is not only that we in the West still often focus on types of weapons that brought victory in World War II, but that the specialists of these weapons in a loss of common professional sense have combined with the arms industry to refined the weapons to an absurd degree in an uncontrolled project “management”. This has led to crazy prices and therefore very small number. Focus has slipped from the ability to develop robust relevant units to an unprofessional hunt for technological perfection.

The value of the quantity and such robust structures seems forgotten, and NATO has thus lost the ability to deploy forces large enough to match actual defense missions. We now have new armoured vehicles, autonomous precision weapons and fabulous aircraft, but so few in number that it only makes sense against totally inferior opponents, not against other states. Not even the Americans have the money needed to replace more than a small fraction of the warships and aircraft they inherited from the Cold War – even if they forgot the current ideology and returned to the individual taxation of the Eisenhower Era. The micro high-quality units may be narrowly effective, but within the context of any larger conflict they are militarily as irrelevant as the dazzling battle cavalry of the major powers in 1913.

Most European countries’ defence priority seem to have become the continued employment of under-employed personnel, where few have the age, physique or relevant practical and leadership experience match operational requirements. They have simply made-up their mind – without thinking or asking – that the Americans will supply the appropriate quantity until the eternal peace soon comes. Their own forces have been reduced to the minimum required to send symbolic micro contributions to the various distant wars under public opinion back home forces a withdrawal. The loss of real military capabilities has removed the basis for realistic exercise activity and professional officer training. Cadres spend their time on self-management and hunt for pseudo-academic credits.

The absence of meaningful military capabilities was not necessarily critical if the military challenges would always be limited to missions where the few remaining aircraft could operate from secure bases and drop smart weapons with a minimal risk to the crew. Missions where the only hazards were the “expert” idealistic international lawyer assessments in the domestic media or local Jihadists’ discovery of the names of the deployed aircrew.

The loss of real land force capabilities would not be critical as long as missions where limited to the deployment of ad hoc composite micro army units or instructor teams in today’s parallel to former de-colonization operations. We can easily contribute as long as other, larger countries take responsibility for strategy and for eventual failure.

Some wars before World War I could have warned responsible military and political leaders that an easy victory would be difficult to achieve. The costs of offensive operations and difficulties were made evident in the American Civil War, the Boer War, the Russo-Japanese War, and the First Balkan War in 1912. But top officials are expected to provide the politically desired advice and options. and in 1914 that was options for quick and cheap victories. In 2003 the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki, learnt that essential lesson when he warned against a “light” invasion of Iraq.

The wars in recent years repeat the lesson of a hundred years back that if there is a will to resistance, even a clear qualitative superiority cannot bring a quick result. It became clear in the of Ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It has been confirmed during Israel’s punitive expeditions against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. We see it during the civil war in Syria and the present fighting in Eastern Ukraine. These wars are modern parallels to attrition battles during the First World War. As in the attrition battles during World War I the fighting is dominated by artillery weapons and most of both the artillery and other weapons are inherited from mass production of the Cold War.

The key difference from then is that a very significant part of the fighting on one or both sides is carried out by rough militias that do not see themselves constrained by international law. The wars take place in the midst of the civilian population, and as peacetime standards prevail in the Western world, the propaganda have become a central and integral part of the warfare.

It would be possible to “win” with a massive military action by Israel in the Middle East and from Russia in Ukraine, as both countries differ from the West by having maintained large conventional forces. But as Israel Russia probably realize that cost would be high and the resistance is likely to continue as guerrilla or terrorist activity.

However in 2014 Russia’s Putin made clear in speech and action that the risk of international war between industrialized states do not only belong to the past. Hereafter military quantity and robustness becomes at least as relevant again as quality. Western air forces now have neither size or self-defence means to operate in areas covered by the Russian air defence, including the Baltics, because Russia combines updated, rugged cold war systems with new, long-range weapons.

The only real Western advantage in meeting the Soviet Union on land during the Cold War was a decisive technological superiority of its – mainly American – air forces. This superiority depended to on constant development of active and electronic counter measures against Soviet airborne and land based air defence weapons and constant updating of self-defence packets. All based on a constant and focused electronic intelligence effort. In the period since the Cold War the constant and now accelerated Russian updating and complementation of their various air defence systems have not been similarly monitored and countered, and we have not stopped technology transfer to the now assumed friendly partner. Then the scenario foreseen was general war that created freedom for use of offensive air power not only against the massive invading land forces, but also in interdiction campaigns against the enemy lines of communications and in offensive air campaigns against his home bases and command and control systems. No such permissive operational environment is likely to exist in the far less clear scenarios that we now foresee in NATO’s nearly undefended eastern borderland.

In its protection of that borderland against Russia, we have lost the previous advantage of air power by combination of
1) the likely political constrains on the use of air power,
2) the lack of land forces strong enough to contain an offensive,
3) the lack of the long range artillery necessary for the suppression of enemy front line air defence assets formerly assumed,
4) the lack of updated electronic warfare superiority,
5) the lack of quantity necessary to take attrition.

The only country on Russia’s western border that is militarily secure is Finland with its very large conscript-based and hence “obsolete” defense. To maintain the quantity needed to cover their large country the Finnish Defence Forces have maintained “good enough” standards rather than seek “perfect” ones, This applies to all fields except F-18 fighter jets needed for air policing. Moreover the Finnish balance between robustness and quality as well as their decentralization probably makes their forces less vulnerable to cyber-attacks than the centralized and therefore vulnerable command systems those of the West.

The innovation of weapons and tactic from 1915 onwards and during the inter-war period was recreated the possibility of operational victory. West’s post-Cold War focus on extremely expensive, small and therefore vulnerable, over-managed military forces must be seen as a mindless continuation of this trend toward the absurd.

The single-minded focus on quality gave the West the possibility of a virtually risk-free effort in their small wars of choice. But that focus has now become an evolutionary dead end as it rewards revisionist players like Vladimir Putin. It makes the West militarily powerless in international conflicts in which we must continue to take the existence of nuclear weapons into account.

None of the new existing or emerging civilian high technologies will be able to restore the possibility of easy and painless victories. On the contrary, they are likely in any new prolonged confrontation or war to increase threats to all conventional weapon systems, both older from the Cold War and the few precious new ones. It will take place through both targeted development efforts and improvisation, as remotely controlled roadside bombs did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wars are likely to be ever more attritional rather than decisive making mass rather of the “good enough” than quality more relevant.

We have to end the chase for silver bullets. Time to bite it.

After another Islamist Act of Terror: Paris 7-1-2015

I find it strange, very strange that we do not quietly but clearly ask:

From our Muslim fellow citizens that they prove by action what the leaders have claimed constantly, namely that these acts are contrary and unacceptable to their religion. They should immediate create formal organisation that isolated the radicals completely and reported constantly to our police and security services on any propaganda and behaviour and acts by clericals that was contrary to the laws and spirit of their chosen homelands.

In this we have to distinguish between three, not only two, types of Muslims. The first group is the majority that only seek freedom to practice their religion as others active religious citizens. Otherwise they simply want to be treated as other citizens of their Western country. The third group consist of the radical Islamist that are willing to use any type of violence against their enemies, namely both moderate Muslims and the Western supporters of the right to remain an unpolitical believer. The interesting group is the second. Here we find the different fractions believers in Political Islam. They hide behind the moderate, unpolitical Muslims, but they share the objectives of the Radicals, and they supply the “water” where the terrorist recruit and operate. Political Islam as Fascism and Communist reject liberal and democratic political systems like an invasive species. Political Islam is not just another religion, it is a threat and should be deprived of any public subsidies and rights, closely monitored and contained as any other political groups that work to undermine democracy. If we do not see a deliberately seperation between the moderate Muslims from the Islamists in the way that the Social-Democrats broke with the Communists a century ago to fight the radical leftist together with other Democratic forces, we will slide into tragedy.

Muslims should feel wellcome, Political Islam should not, because it is our enemy whether violent or not.

The Acute Worries of a 20th Century Historian

I fear that we have very limited time.

The Russians have clearly convinced themselves of the truth of their own “Stab-in-the-Back” myth with Gorbachev, Jeltsin, the Democrats and the Balts in the role that the German frustrated nationalists gave to the Jews and Socialists. We have passed the two decades that it took last time for the myth to drive action.

As then aggressive nationalism is married to a deep and arrogant conviction of the weakness of the opponents due to their decadence. As then the opponents of the West have hostility to its modernity common. In their mind we have proven by our actions that the Russians have a window of opportunity. They get open encouragement from like-minded forces among us such as the regressive and increasingly repressive Hungarian leadership that we have failed in reacting to, totally ignoring what we say we stand for. Putin’s view of our weak, liberal, humanistic, individualistic, tolerant, violence-rejecting societies mirrors that of the Islamic State – and that of Hitler and his henchmen.

As then success develops a momentum and expectations. You may consider Georgia: the Rhineland, Crimea: like Austria and Eastern Ukraine: the Sudetenland. We are now seeing the warm-up to the equivalents of the early 1939 events with the West giving guarantees unsupported by real power. Events accelerate now as they did then, driven by the domestic policy needs of Putin under economic pressure.

By mental and practical preparations Putin has gained escalation dominance. The West is now diverted to the Middle East as Britain was to the Far East then.

In his eyes the fact that London allowed the Scottish referendum to proceed proves his point. If “Yes” to independence next week it will undermine the main political bridge in the Atlantic Alliance and create another small internationally immature, neutralist, appeasing Nordic country in a key strategic position search of an alternative position in the world. The Scottish National Party has already promised that an independent Scotland will never do anything that might irritate its Muslim minority.

A key politician of another such small Nordic nation, the Faroe Islanders, has just used the fact the Islands is a part of Denmark outside the EU to bypass sanctions to increase their export to Russia. The islanders’ economy and welfare is heavily sponsored from Denmark, but the Ukraine is a large “country far away about which they know so little“. It is a long Nordic tradition to let others do what it takes to safeguard their independence and future while benefiting as much as possible economically from the suffering of others. Most Swedes deeply believe that this elevates them to a superior moral position. It is a widespread decease that nations feel unhappy without the ability to be superior to others in at least one field.

As then the West believes that regaining strength from the results of economic recession must be given first priority, because our history-deprived leaders, mostly political scientists or jurists. They believe that no political development not outlined in current (economic) theories can be predicted if not an extension of known, progressive trends. Therefore one must wait to act until the future has become an urgent “breaking news” present.

Putin is now digging into his country’s pension saving to sustain his populist and popular action. How long time can he do that? How long time could Japan of 1941 run on oil reserves.

The main difference now is nuclear weapons. But remembering the 1980s’ discourse: are they usable for us, the reacting side? Especially if we have to improvise as now with no visible forward deployment highlighting the risk?

Hope that somebody can convince me that I am wrong that I am just an old paranoiac and pessimist.

I know that history does not repeat itself, but I also see all too clearly that a combination of human frailties such as narrow-mindedness, opportunism, self-delusion, opportunism, egoism, bucket-passing and avoidance of responsibility etc. is a basic condition.