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Is American dominance of the sea ending?

Kirk W

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Anybody that served from Korea on should shed a tear when reading this line.



Few things are scarier than a fallacy that commands an influential following—especially when that following resides within policy circles or, at times, the ivory tower.



Living in the past as many senior political and military folks do leads to deadly misunderstandings of what all of our services will be called on to do and what they will be facing in trying to do it. This impacts all the services but in different ways.


The navy is facing cruise missiles, if from China overwhelming waves of them once we are within 500 miles of their coast, less if we are outside the range of land based ones. Quiet but short ranged subs that are hard to find until they fire are also a coming threat as their numbers increase.


Missiles: http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/NewsArticleView/tabid/7849/Article/11240/jfq-75-a-potent-vector-assessing-chinese-cruise-missile-developments.aspx


Submarines: http://www.businessinsider.com/chinas-submarines-changing-balance-of-power-2014-10


The Air Force is facing ever smarter ground launched missiles but they aren't going to be the main threat in coming years, electromagnetic rail guns and lasers are progressing and at some point nothing without too much armor to fly will be able to survive within line-of-sight of one of these systems. Both do well with passive optical guidance which negates our advantages in anti-radiation missiles.


Railguns: http://www.gizmag.com/us-navy-electromagnetic-railgun-sea-trials/31551/ and http://www.ga.com/railgun-systems


Lasers: http://www.wired.com/2013/04/laser-warfare-system/



Some of the above cut both ways and we are likely to be ahead in quality but as the Soviets said of their sorry armor, "Quantity has a quality too." meaning if our tank was twice as good as theirs they still had a 5 to 1 advantage in numbers.



The Army and Marines aren't facing as ugly a technological threat and are likely to remain technically ahead of any enemy for the foreseeable future. Sadly that doesn't equate to victory as our opponents know this as well as we do and are developing and using tactics that work for them and negate our greatest strengths. They are and have changed the way they fight to offset our advantages and to take advantage of our stupidity and prejudice.


I mentioned this fellow in an earlier post today.


4th generation war: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/lind/the-changing-face-of-war-into-the-fourth-generation.html



If we look at the development of warfare in the modern era, we see three distinct generations. In the United States, the Army and the Marine Corps are now coming to grips with the change to the third generation. This transition is entirely for the good. However, third generation warfare was conceptually developed by the German offensive in the spring of 1918. It is now more than 70 years old. This suggests some interesting questions: Is it not about time for a fourth generation to appear? If so, what might it look like? These questions are of central importance. Whoever is first to recognize, understand, and implement a generational change can gain a decisive advantage. Conversely, a nation that is slow to adapt to generational change opens itself to catastrophic defeat.




In broad terms, fourth generation warfare seems likely to be widely dispersed and largely undefined; the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point. It will be nonlinear, possibly to the point of having no definable battlefields or fronts. The distinction between "civilian" and "military" may disappear. Actions will occur concurrently throughout all participants' depth, including their society as a cultural, not just a physical, entity. Major military facilities, such as airfields, fixed communications sites, and large headquarters will become rarities because of their vulnerability; the same may be true of civilian equivalents, such as seats of government, power plants, and industrial sites (including knowledge as well as manufacturing industries). Success will depend heavily on effectiveness in joint operations as lines between responsibility and mission become very blurred. Again, all these elements are present in third generation warfare; fourth generation will merely accentuate them.


The sections on "Potential Technology-Driven Fourth Generation" and "A Potential Idea-Driven Fourth Generation" are too long to quote but is really worth reading.


Scary reading, not so much because we don't have the potential to deal with it but because our leaders have failed to see the changes that have been coming since Korea and continued to plan to fight the wrong type of war, again, as we have been here before and not learned from it.


I have a couple of his books and the collection of his columns in my reading pile, need to get to them but other stuff is much more pleasant reading. Will we adapt before we kill off too many young folks, will we fail to control our enemies and the big question... Will the wheels come off our wagon before my funeral?

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Stan, hopefully the wheels do not dissolve before your and my lifetime, but it certainly is possible. Unfortunately, as our USA society decays, and evolves so will the military aspects. We are far behind some of the world in many areas of technology in general, and our society does not have the will to change that. As the welfare state expands (this is not political, it is factual) the willingness to change will as well. I'm not sure what the total answer is, but we are not in a good position at the moment.


RV lifestyle does put us in a better position if something really bad happens. But only marginally.

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Guys, this could go political very quickly... so I will make one observation and let it be.


Had a long conversation with a fine young man that has completed six+ years in the military... professional job... early promotions... and he has decided to get out after 8 years rather than complete his original 20 year goal. This decision is recent, and in response to the last few years of national events that impacts military preparedness.


He describes a senior enlisted leadership that is dedicated, loyal, and discouraged. Reduced staffing stress, reduced funding for major initiatives, and a general deprecation of the value of service would summarize his feelings. He also has great concerns about political correctness that has become prevalent in military life. He sees much difficulty down the road.


The military is nothing... if not an extension of the American people.


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