Monday, 29 September 2014

Private Armies, not all bad?

Is there place in the world for private armies?

Yes, a small niche, filled most ably by Executive Outcomes.
Those of you who dont know who they are, have a good read.

There is an understandable reluctance to commit ground forces to fight ISIS
There is a wide acceptance that the war cannot be won without ground forces.

PMCs cant seriously be expected to fight and win the war.
Could the Kurdistan Government Peshmerga, and Yazidi Governments Militia, armed at US/UN/Someones expense, backed up by PMC Trainers, Officers, NCOs, paid at the above benefactors expense, carve out viable states able to keep out ISIS and the like.

If the Arabs want to end Sykes Pycott, fine, lets end it.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Falklands best be on alert

sober look
Argentina is on its last legs.
It's threats of legal action are all just bluster, it can't borrow because no ones mad enough to lend, not because a judge in the US has slapped its wrist.

Forex reserves are sitting shitty at 28bn dollars.
Its time to roll the dice

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sometimes, work just sucks

TrT has, in a rare moment of good sense, taken a positive career step.
Normally I spend most of my time systematically destroying my own career.
But, I took a position with a lot of potential at a major oil and gas producer.

Or so was the plan....

By value, half the debt book has corresponding credit notes.
By volume, a third of the line items are those corresponding credit notes.
No one seems remotely concerned by this.

Indeed, when I said, "what the fuck* do you expect me to do with data this shit*" to a head office board member and two local board members, people took it poorly.

Its just madness, if your data is junk, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

I might as well do my reporting in paint!

As the above graph shows, I cant draw a straight line in paint, but something good happened, at some point, or at least the wavy line goes up and theres an arrow labeled good.

*Career Sabotage 101

Sunday, 21 September 2014

As predicted, Ukraine has been struck a mortal blow

H/t Sober look
Ukraine may have won the ground war, it may not have, which side is talking the talk and which is walking the walk is pretty unclear at the moment, but its lost the survival war.
It could have lost Sevestapol, it could have lost Crimea, it could have lost the East, but at every stage, it has raised the stakes hoping the next roll of the dice would deliver the king (read WoT you heathens)
Now it'll be lucky to maintain order in Kiev.

Exports down 19%
GDP down 5%*
Retail sales down 20%
Industrial production down 20%
Currency down 33%*
Inflation at 14%
Foreign Exchange Reserves down 25%

If the GDP is down 5% in dollars thats bad
If its down 5% in Hyrvnia, thats a 35% drop in GDP

And this no doubt assumes that Ukraine WINS the war and retakes the tax payers of the Crimea and the East
If the East is lost, it loses 30% of GDP before we account for the volunteers who died and wont be returning to their jobs in the west, not to mention those who come back injured and need caring for, bleeding money from productive investment, and the destroyed equipment that needs to replaced, with the same reduction in investment.

Western EUrope might be able to survive a cold winter by importing Qatari LNG, but Ukraine cant.  It doesnt have the money to buy it, it doesnt have the infrastructure to land it, and, are Gas Pipes one way?  Can it be pumped from Wales, through France, Germany, Poland, Romania and in to Ukraine?

Make no mistake this war is hurting Russia, but not at a fatal rate, they can afford this long enough to force Ukraine to a state of warlordism outside Kiev.

Friday, 12 September 2014

3:1 rule

I ****ing hate this "rule"

At most, it applies to a company being required to assault a dug in platoon, but thats probably pushing it further than it needed, its three fire teams needed to assault one.

According to this rule, the UK lost the Falklands War.
Deploying about 10,000 ground troops, against about 10,000 ground troops.

But not only did we lose the Falklands War,
We lost the Battle of Goose Green, Argentina had a 3:2 advantage
We lost Top Malo House, with only a 3:2 advantage
We lost Mt Harriet, with only a 3:2 advantage
We lost Two Sisters, with only a 3:2 advantage
We lost Mount Longdon, with only a 3:2 advantage
We lost Wireless Ridge, with only a 6:5 advantage.
We lost Mount Tumbledown, with a less than 2:1 advantage

Obviously, all of those battles were defeats for Argentina, not the UK.

But its not to say that the aggressor can get by with less than 3:1
The Battle of Wizna, 1939
Somewhere between 360 and 720 Polish Soldiers, armed with 6 72mm guns that had been developed before 1903, 42 various machine guns, and two anti material rifles.
Somewhere around 42,200 German soldiers, 350 tanks, 350 pieces of artillery, 300 mortars and 950 machine guns.
Despite having a numerical advantage of somewhere between 40:1 and 120:1, it took Germany three days to force the Poles to surrender.
With a 3:1 advantage the Germans would probably still be laying siege to the bunkers today.

But the amount of times its trotted out as fact is just mind numbing

UKIP have made a serious error

They should have very loudly backed neither side.
Saying something like they fully understand why Scotland is unhappy.
That UKIP and a localised federalised UK free of the EU was the right answer.
That they held no rancor over the freedom bid, and would hold no grudge whichever way the situation went.

Now, dont get me wrong, FUCK SCOTLAND, but, whichever way Scotland votes, UKIP win.

Come 2015, they can open up with both barrels on the LibLabCon in England and Wales, over the amount of English and Welsh money the big three were prepared to (or have) thrown at Scotland to keep them in the Union.
Within Scotland, theres going to Independence, in which case who cares, or bitterness, that UKIP would have been in place to capitalise on.

Instead, failure to differentiate, wasted opportunity

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The limits of airpower, they exist, but they are beyond the supposed

This started as a comment here but went all ranty

"It failed in WWII against Germany. It failed in WWII against Japan (Russia entering the conflict as a belligerent cut off Japans last remaining diplomatic avenue, which is why they didn't surrender after the first bomb but did after they had no diplomatic options)."

Define victory, air power has limits, but its a powerful tool.

Considering the allies were demanding nothing less than the total surrender of Japan, the execution of its military and political leadership, (see the DEF/DEP mass killings in Germany) the possible extermination of huge numbers of its male population and ( Sacking of Berlin and Frau Bait) the sexual abuse of its female populace, what possible reason did Japan have to surrender?

If you give a man a choice between fighting on and being executed, most will fight on, and the ones who choose execution will be mocked on here.

Vietnam is a complex issue.
For a decade, "air power" was muzzled and allowed to do little more than fire warning shots, followed by more warning shots.  Followed by a pause, and then some more warning shots.
The USAF could have leveled Hanoi and destroyed its populace and economy in days, if not day.
It did not.
The only time the USAF was even half way unleashed in Linebacker 2, the North buckled in a week

People, are for the most part rational, or at least, they believe themselves to be rational.
Sadam went to war against Iran, for perfectly rational reasons, and he invaded Kuwait, for perfectly rational reasons.
Some members of ISIS are no doubt swivel eyed loons, but the Sunnis of Iraq have already already turned on them, as the "Awakening Councils" turned on Al-Queda.
The Argentine Junta invaded the Falklands, for reasonably well thought out reasons.

Sadam invaded Kuwait, because he wanted them to forgive his debts, and he wanted their oil.  Fundamentally, it was about money, and it was about power.
He had internal rebellions to put down, and a war weary but aggressive neighbour in Iran.
Rather than a vast (and costly) land campaign to break his occupation force, would it not have been cheaper to offer a carrot and a stick, privately.  Withdraw, and the Emir will forgive your interest payments, but until you withdraw, the economic livelihoods of your supporters will be considered military targets.
Bomb irrigation dams that water the crops his supporters grow and eat, bomb power stations that keep their lights on, bomb the road networks that they travel on.  Dont target Sadam, target the Sadamites.

The Sunnis supported ISIS, because Malaki was a violent racist mass murdering madman, they were sane, it wasnt airpower, but getting rid of Malaki, got rid of much of the support Isis had enjoyed,

The Argentine Junta was on its last legs, broke, unpopular, the Falklands was the last throw of the dice.
they wouldnt surrender without a total defeat, they were looking at being strung up with anything short of a win.  Rather than attacking them on the islands, we could have hammered them at home and hurried up the coup that eventually toppled them.

Assad is a dick.
He's fighting for his life, but he's holding his own, for now.
A Carrier taking pot shots at his forces would collapse his lines and his head would be on a stake by the end of the year.
By the same measure, a Carrier (and maybe a few dozen FACs) providing close air support would allow him to stabilise his lines and begin the process of rolling back ISIS.
The US can charge a pretty high price and impose a pretty burden for that support, not any price and any burden, but he can pull Assad out of Russia and Irans orbit, fairly easily.
FACs wouldnt even have to be US forces, they could quickly train Syrian forces, or Kurdish....

Mentoring and Training, what do we get, what do they get, and is it worth the costs?

Navy Matters has a piece on the "Hi-Lo" navy.

On a broader perspective, whats the point of mentoring and training, what do we get, what do they get, and is it worth the cost.

It can cover everything from providing basic training, like, this is how to make camp, clean rifle and feed self, to a multinational all arms exercise involving thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen.

That really boils down to two scenarios, training our allies to operate on their own, and training our allies to operate with us.

Fighting on their own
Training a low end "border protection" army how to safely do things like put up a check point and stop and search vehicles.  Or how to do the same at sea.  Possibly even more basic, how to set up a secure camp, set watch ect.
It can also cover training smaller groups, be that weapons specialists, normally as part of a sales package, heres this new weapon, heres how to use it sort of thing.
The UK has a small market for training foreign officers, the US has (or pre Afghan had) a vast aparatus set up to train foreign special forces.
Any nation with unusual weather or terrain will by necessity have a fairly specialised force around it, and can and will sell that expertise.  Cold weather training in Norway and Canada, Jungle Warfare in Belize, Desert Warfare in Oman.

Goals vary from somewhat humanitarian, if the Sierra Leon Army can be trained to fight the rebels and not spend their nights raping and murdering the towns people with rebels, the rest of the world, meaning the UK in my case, arent required to deploy peace keepers to stop them.
To entirely pragmatic, if Belgium can be trusted to hold its borders, France only needs to worry about defending Metz to Mulhouse

Fighting with us
NATO is a shadow of its former self, interoperability is the buzz word now, which basically means our radios can all speak to each other and we use some of the same ammunition and fuel.
But at its heyday, NATO was an army.  Entire nations armed forces were suborned to its authority, existing with almost zero independent capability or relevance, providing direct units for other nations formations.
The same goes more so for the Warsaw Pact nations, who forces were unable to operate without Russian support.
The weaker powers lose the ability to act outside the alliance, but gains a much greater level of security within the bounds of that alliance.
The stronger powers gain fodder for a war they would probably have to fight either way.

There are of course shades of grey between those.

Basic training, on even a fairly large scale, is pretty cheap.
A full light infantry battalion can reasonably be spared indefinitely

Which in no way leads to a "Global Corvette"
But thats where we are going.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Scots vote

Reading, of all things, the Wiki page on the Scottish vote, and I dont know if the seppos have played a blinder, or the unionists are just that fucking stupid, but its BADLY mishandled.

On the one hand, you have the Seppo campaign, led by a Scottish TV Journalist, and on the other, you have the Union campaign, led by a Westminster MP....

Vote yes, kick a Tory!

I'm not allowed to vote, but I'd vote yes
If you hate Tories, vote yes too.
Camerons even telling you not to to vote yes because you hate Tories