Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Russian Bear Cometh!

Or not, as the case may be.

The recent events in Ukraine have caused a lot consternation in the west that Russia is on the rise again. The annexation of Crimea and the support for the rebels in the East is certainly a very worrying development, not least because all of this is taking place right on NATO's border. 

But I do wonder if people aren't getting just a little too excited by it. 

It seems the actions of Russia are being used by a lot of people as a rallying cry for massive defence spending. It depends on who you listen to, but I've seen calls for the UK to acquire additional aircraft carriers (beyond the two planned), additional armoured divisions, a doubling of the Typhoon fighter fleet, a doubling of the SSN fleet, and even calls to build or acquire something similar to the American B-2 Spirit as, and I quote, "a firm symbol of detterence[sic] against Russian aggression".

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The 8x8 vs tracked debate

So what have I been up to this week? Learning to drive a counter balance forklift as it happens, or as it's otherwise known "using people to cover things that they're not paid for in order to save on extra staffing costs"

And funnily enough this week I want to stick with the theme of wheels by touching on the 8x8 vs tracked debate. If you really want you can type that phrase into google and watch the next week of your life disappear before your eyes reading countless debates on the subject. 

I've already done this however, so to save time for those who don't fancy reading through it all, or don't have the time to do so, here's the conclusion I've come to; 8x8 wheeled armoured vehicles are probably one of the most pointless fads in the history of warfare.

The obsession over wheeled armour seems to have started with the intervention in Kosovo and the fabled rush to Pristina Airport, with the Russians getting their first in their wheeled vehicles. Where did it develop from there? Err, that's just the point, nobody seems to know for certain. Someone how that, along with an obsession over air transportable vehicles led to the spate of 8x8 wheeled armoured vehicles. You'll struggle to find a more concrete reason why.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Islamic State and Iraq

Right, back into action again then.

And a slight change of plan because I might as well cover the Iraq situation now that efforts to provide humanitarian assistance are being ramped up a little. The question on everybody's lips is whether the UK, the US or indeed anyone else should intervene and help the Iraqis out in their fight against ad-Dawlah al-ʾIslāmiyyah, or the Islamic State as we refer to them in the West. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The joys of the Internet

You'll have to forgive me for being quiet lately. I had hoped to write a post for the beginning of the week, but recently I've been inflicted by something called "being a Virgin Broadband customer", which means that every six months or so my Internet will cut out for no apparent reason and take anything from one to ten days to be restored to working order. 

The joys of the Internet.

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Solution in Gaza?

As the conflict in Gaza continues to drag on, with the latest ceasefire seemingly no more likely to produce a lasting result than the last, the question becomes what to do about Gaza? This of course has been a question that has plagued the leaders of both Palestine and Israel - as well as most of the world - for a very long time. Consensus is hard to come bye, and even harder is to find a solution that both Israel and the Palestinians are happy with.

It's an odd situation for the simple reason that normally the UN or NATO would have stepped in by now. If Israel didn't have the backing of the United States in the way that it does then you would have expected to have seen an enforced no-fly zone in place by now, similar to the one imposed on Libya back in 2011. Resolving such conflicts is precisely the sort of thing that the UN was set up for in the first place.

And maybe it may yet hold the soltuion?

The Israeli argument is fairly simple; they want rocket attacks and cross border terrorist attacks to stop. The Palestinians want to not be bombed in a somewhat indiscriminant manner as a result of the actions of Hamas. Neither side can really deliver on its end of the bargain for the simple reason that they will always feel compelled to respond to the other, sparking fresh hostilities as we've seen in the last few weeks.

Perhaps it is in to this breach that the UN could step, providing a force that would both endeavour to stop Hamas rocket attacks and cross border raids against Israel, while also shielding the Palestinian people from Israeli counter strikes.

Israel certainly can't have too many complaints about the potential results for their security situation. So far they've lost precisely 2 civilians to Hamas attacks, versus the estimated 1,500-2,000 civilian casualties they've inflicted in return. Frankly the Israelis could probably just sit back and do nothing except engage incoming rockets with its Iron Dome system and still see the same results. A UN peacekeeping force could in turn do much of the heavy lifting with regards to hunting out terrorists for them.

And I suspect the Palestinians would have few qualms either at the prospect of being protected from Israeli counter action, while efforts to suppress Hamas might give the ordinary citizen on the street the future possibility of a life other than that of a human shield. 

It really does beg the question of what the UN is for if it can't even agree to step in and resolve this crisis.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Mistral for the Royal Navy? Other Goodies?

Yesterday I saw a post over at Think Defence that got me thinking again about an old idea which I'd like to revisit today. 

Before I do though, a fresh article on TD today brought to light the plight of a former soldier who had hit hard times and died, with part of the blame being thrown on the benefits system for cutting his jobseekers allowance, an act which appears to have put him in financially hard straights and might be a contributory factor in his death.

With the end of operations in Afghanistan this year, the UK armed forces are shifting to what is hoped will be a wind down phase, where the immediate pressure on resources is slackened, at least until the end of the decade. That of course presumes that no other problems crop up, but presuming they don't, then what will be the great challenge for the armed forces between 2015-2020?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Great Internet Calibre debate, part 1,651,198....

If you want to kick off a lively discussion on a military based website then you have several choices. Aircraft carriers are one. Inter-service rivalries are another. Probably the grand daddy of them all though is to talk about gun calibres with respect to service rifles. It can get very heated at times.

The problem with such discussions is that it's very easy to make an unsupported assertion based on "common knowledge", but it takes a long time to systematically refute such arguments in the sort of detail that is required to satisfy even casual observers who have no dog in the fight. It's almost impossible to turn a "believer" against their chosen opinion, even with large quantities of what is practically irrefutable data.

One of the reasons I started this blog was so I could essentially write such responses in one place and then in future just drop a link to save myself much typing. Today I'm going to do just that for the infantry calibre debate, something that if you include underlying research I've been working on now for many years.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Nearly done

I'm currently closing in on the end of my next post. Perhaps another day to finish it? It's been a labour of love.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The F-35 in the "Dogfight"

So the other day I was watching a video which appears (cant be verified) to be a lecture about the performance of the Indian SU-30MKI at a previous Red Flag exercise in the US. The lecturer makes some interesting points and ends the session by refusing to be drawn into a debate about the F-35, presumably for time considerations.

I'll stick a link to the videos at the end, but suffice it to say that it doesn't seem to bode well for what is probably history's most maligned (and most talked about) defence project. 

Now I've been a sort of fence sitter with regards to the F-35. I think the concept behind it was deeply flawed (due to the VTOL requirement) and the procurement program has been an utter mess. But ultimately I'm not as down as most on what should come out the other end. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Further thoughts on the A-10/Close Air Support issue

Every now and again I like to check the traffic sources for the blog to see who's out there and who's linking to the site. I noticed one link from Canada and followed it back to find a Canadian Army forum where people were discussing the issue of the A-10, who should own them and the general nature of Close Air Support (CAS).

Looking at it they seem to be having quite an interesting back and forth, and it occurred to me there were some points in there worth exploring a little further as they tend to crop up commonly in similar discussions elsewhere.

Now I don't want to jump into a forum where I'm unknown (and probably unwanted) to unexpectedly start handing out my opinions on a single topic before disappearing again, and I think the discussion has a wide appeal being that it effects most militaries (the subject of CAS that is), so I'm just going to lay those thoughts down here. If someone on the forum in question wants to link back to this - or to simply copy and paste sections they believe are germane to their discussion - then by all means do so.