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  • Well, no mentioning of tranny recruiters and all that CRT, DIE, woke nonsense.

    Future Casting, Predictions & Some Context on the Age of Transformation

    the first person view from Bob Work

    SEP 18, 2023


    Share Today is a treat for the Front Porch. As I’ve often said; I don’t have the right answer, but neither does anyone else. Only through well meaning people of good will having a vigorous discussion on a specific issue can both get closer to the correct answer. You’ll never get there, but you get close.

    As a byproduct of an exchange with the former Undersecretary of the Navy and Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work on a topic of mutual interest last week, I asked if he’d be interested to rolling up to the front porch, have a seat on the cedar glider, and telling us what for.

    No better way to start the week off right than with a guest post by Bob.

    Colonel, over to you!

    Heaven help me. I have been stewing since Lipton’s article came out, followed by Sal’s excellent, blistering response. I thought both left out important context.

    I finally told myself to get off my ass and into the fight. So, for better or for worse...

    My former boss, Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig, once told me that anytime an important decision came to him, it represented the sum total of many previous decisions. It was often important to try to understand them to put the decision at hand in context. He likened it to driving a core into an alluvial plain (don’t let your brain explode, Sal!) to look for breaks in the sedimentary layers—the times where the most consequential decisions led to sharp breaks with the past and led to new directions for evolution.

    This is one of those times.

    The story begins with fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The end of the Cold War was, for our purposes, the Chicxulub impactor that wiped away the previous evolutionary eras. It came as a strategic surprise and led to massive strategic disorientation. The reflexive political decision was to take a “peace dividend” and reduce the overall size of our military as a more “peaceful world” seemed inevitable. Navalists fell to their knees and prayed the US would adopt a maritime grand strategy that would help preserve the peace and sustain a large battle force around the size of the 600-ship Navy, if not larger.

    But the only “grand strategy” they got was: get smaller…and the sooner the better. The 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act triggered the longest post WWII defense drawdown; it didn’t end until 1998. And around 1990, year over year (real) cuts to federal and defense spending were in full swing.

    To wit: the high point of the 600-ship Navy was 594 active ships on 30 Sep 1987. 115 of these ships were frigates. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the need to escort convoys across the pond evaporated in an instant. As a result, these were among the first ships the Navy jettisoned—and by the bushel full. All frigates except the Knox and OHP classes were quickly decommissioned. By 30 Sep 1993, the battle force stood at 454 ships, only 59 of them frigates. That’s right. 56 frigates out the door (and SecNav Jim Webb with them) in 6 years, almost ten a year.

    Nearly contemporaneously with the end of the Cold War was Desert Storm, another sediment shattering event, that ushered in a revolution in war. Guided munitions-battle network warfare rendered subordinate combined arms operations with unguided weapons. Everyone was trying to figure out how the “revolution in military affairs” would change warfare and the forces that fought them.

    While all this was happening, the Navy was frantically trying to establish a “floor” for the post-Cold War fleet. The next big change on our post-Cold War alluvial plain, the 1993 Bottom-Up Review, provided the basis. It called for a Joint Force large enough to defeat two regional powers (in two major theater wars, or MTWs) in overlapping time frames.

    This force sizing and planning construct did not call for a sea control Navy. By 1993, the old Soviet fleet was rusting at its piers and China did not yet have a Navy to speak of. Even if North Korea, Iran and Iraq created a naval coalition and combined all their naval power, they would be crushed like cockroaches. So the Navy needed to make a big strategic adjustment.

    The BUR assumed regional competitors would mount armored invasions of one of our allies. The role of the Joint Force would be to conduct a “rapid halt” of any invasion by RMA-like guided munitions bombardment, followed by a joint campaign to eject the bad guys and reestablish the status quo ante.

    The Navy was competing with the Air Force for the rapid halt mission. The Air Force argued regionally and CONUS-based bombers were best suited for the mission. The Navy argued forward deployed Naval forces were a much better option (“virtual presence is actual absence.”)

    While the Navy didn’t win the debate outright, it did lead to a major change in Navy force planning with a turn away from sea control toward power projection. At this point a sizable minority of Naval officers began to argue that a Navy built for presence would make more sense than one designed for power projection and would lead to a larger battle force, to boot. However, that dog was never going to hunt at OSD, which will always focus on the warfighting force planning and sizing construct.

    As they well should have, then, the Navy adopted a power projection force planning construct. It published associated visions in …From the Sea and Forward…From the Sea. Just as importantly, from a force design perspective, it assumed sea-based power projection operations would be mounted from virtual sanctuaries in close in littoral waters, a debatable but reasonable assumption given the seeming absence of any credible naval competitors on the horizon.

    Subsequent consequential force design decisions followed from this new strategic direction. The Navy would replace Nimitz-class carriers with a new carrier (CVNX) designed for high generation of tacair sorties in uncontested sanctuaries approximately 200 miles from shore. It would pause SSN production to redesign a boat better optimized for operations in the littorals. It would continue to build Cold War Arleigh Burke-DDGs, with 90 or 96 VLS cells each. This made perfect sense. These were the finest surface combatants in the world coming off a hot production line. And the vast VLS magazine they carried was perfectly suited for the rapid halt mission.

    At the same time, however, the Navy began conceiving of the future family of 21st century surface combatants (SC-21s). The Navy and OSD conducted a Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analysis (COEA) for SC-21s with the DDG-51 Flight IIA as the cost and analytical baseline. The first SC-21 would be a “multi-mission” destroyer (DD-21) optimized for land attack. It would ultimately be followed by a “full capability” guided missile cruiser (CG-21) to replace the Ticonderoga-class CGs sometime around 2020, when those ships would start to retire.

    In my view, the force planning decisions made in this timeframe were mainly an urgent attempt to deal with a looming block retirement problem. Cold War surface combatants were washing out of the battle force throughout the 1990s at a rapid clip. 23 Adams and 10 Farragut-class DDGs were all gone by year end, 1992. The problem would only get worse in the early 2000s. The 31 Spruance-class and 11 Forrest Sherman-class DDs in commission were due for retirement starting in 2005, if not before. The Knox and OHP frigates (46 and 51 ships, respectively) would begin leaving the fleet alongside them. The Navy also had another 31 ships (18 mine warfare and 13 patrol) that would follow soon thereafter. For anyone counting, that’s 170 total ships that were headed to the breakers just after the turn of the century, or 57% of the 300-ship inventory target. This problem had to be addressed if the Navy was to achieve and maintain its desired inventory target.

    This was a daunting force planning problem that few remember and recognize today, and that would tax any force planner. I am therefore inclined to give the Navy force planners in the late 1990s a bit of slack. But that slack doesn’t extend to the Navy’s ship requirements and design processes. The first of the SC-21 family of ships would be a 16,000-ton stealth “destroyer” (first DD-21; then DD(X); then DDG-1000) with two “machine gun” 6-inch cannon (a nod to the 6”/47 cal guns that lit up the Tokyo Express in the Slot) and 80 large VLS cells. It was to have “submarine-like survivability” and have an average construction cost of $750 million. YGBSM. Even this dumb Marine knows that set of requirements didn’t match the projected construction cost.

    As I have written before, I therefore don’t put the DDG-1000 in the transformation bucket. There was no Office of Force Transformation at the time and minimal OSD fingerprints on the design. Those were generally all Navy, which with light OSD oversight over-specced the ship to a fair thee well, planting the seeds for its eventual demise as a viable ship program.

    The next observable break in the alluvial plain came with the 1997 QDR. The Navy finally got OSD to agree on a “floor” of about 300 battle force ships, including 12 CVNs (11 active, 1 reserve), 116 surface combatants, 50 SSNs and 12 Amphibious Readiness Groups. The Navy wanted a bigger battle force, but decided to take what they could get until they could convince OSD the number needed to be bigger. It was therefore time to get busy and determine the exact makeup of the ships in a 300-ship Navy After Next, which led to the next set of consequential decisions.

    So, what did they decide? The CVNX decision was in the can. As was the decision to restart SSN production, trading the Seawolf ($2.8 billion/boat) for the Virginia. ($1.8 billion/boat). The immediate focus was thus on the 116 surface combatants.

    With a ceiling of 116 combatants, Navy leadership decided to get out of the frigate business entirely. It desired a big high-end large combatant force, optimized for guided missile salvo battles. But these large combatants were ill-suited for the many low-end missions that the Navy performed. So, the Navy wanted to complement the large DD-21s and CG-21s with a low-end small combatant force consisting of a single multi-role modular combatant that would replace all the frigates, mine warfare ships and patrol ships in one fell swoop. This sip would later be known as the LCS. A multi-role ship would help minimize the number of small combatants and maximize the number of large combatants in the 116 -ship surface combatant force.

    It was not yet apparent the DD-21/DDG-1000 was too expensive to build and the Navy would never see the 32 ships that were projected to replace the Spru-cans and Shermans. The design for the Seawolf-class SSN also proved too expensive to build, so it was truncated to three boats and would be replaced by the Virginia class, the first of which was laid down in 1999.

    Not to beat a dead horse, Sal, but these failures had less to do with the transformation problem and more to do with a failure in cost-informed ship design and inability to contain operating costs. That’s the original sin, and one the Navy continues to commit.

    From a force design perspective, however, you probably have a valid point. Perhaps the most momentous decision of the 1997 QDR was the move to a single multi-role small combatant. This decision trailed the DDG-1000, and I admit that transformational thinking played a part in it. Still, perhaps naively, I see it primarily as a failed force design play. In this regard, I am reminded of the SAS motto, “Who Dares, Wins.” But sometimes, “Who Dares, Loses.” In hindsight, it’s clear the Navy grossly underestimated the challenges of this force design decision. So, as we now know, the Navy’s dare ended in a loss.

    Soon after the 1997 QDR, Admiral Vern Clark became the CNO. This caused another perturbation in the alluvial plain. He published a new vision called Sea Power 21 which described a distributed and networked battle force and its associated 375-ship Global ConOps Navy. The Navy’s desire for a battle force bigger than 300-ships remained strong.

    Consistent with the SC-21 COEA, the Global ConOps Navy included the newly named DD(X) family of ships, with a DD(X) land attack destroyer (later renamed the DDG-1000), the LCS, and a CG(X) next generation guided missile cruiser to be named and designed later. It also had new innovative force packages such as the Expeditionary Strike Group.

    This vision soon evaporated because the Navy evidently lost any ability to design ships that were economical to procure or build ships that were economical to operate. DDG-1000 program costs exploded, with the 32 planned ship run being truncated to just three ships. The LCS program suffered its well documented self-immolation. The CG(X) was ultimately down-scoped to the DDG 51 Flight III. The cost for the CVNX equaled the GDP of a small country. We finally got to two Virginias per year, but it was a mighty struggle—one necessitated by the decision to pause SSN production in the 1990s. And let’s just pray to all that’s holy that the Columbia-class SSBN’s radioactive mushroom cost cloud hanging over the Navy’s entire shipbuilding program doesn’t irradiate and kill the Navy’s plans for its future conventional fleet.

    Here is where we pause while Sal rightly cries, “What the f%&k,” and drinks himself into oblivion on his front porch. With good reason. I honestly don’t know if transformationalism is mainly to blame, or faulty force development. Likely a bit of each. But it hardly matters. Drinking is the only way to cope with the wreckage.

    The implosion of the Navy’s shipbuilding program was accompanied by a resurgence of the presence school. Their cries reached a crescendo with the 2007 Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (CS21), which implied that naval presence was the key to preventing war, and “preventing war is as important as winning war.”

    I mark this as another major disruption to the alluvial plain. In fact, I’d argue it was nearly as consequential to Navy thinking as the end of the Cold War. In my view, NOTHING is as important as winning our nation’s wars and being always ready to do so. I think CS21 is where the Navy stopped thinking like warfighters and started thinking like diplomats. I know that to my friends Bryan McGrath and Jerry Hendrix and all card-carrying members of the presence school, these are fighting words. I have written elsewhere about what I see as the Navy’s misguided emphasis on presence rather than warfighting but can’t bring myself to expound on it here. So, all I’ll say is post CS21, all you must do is look at the alarming subsequent collapse of battle force material readiness, the ship handling disasters in the 7th Fleet AoA, and the dithering on the pier among senior leaders about who was in charge while the steel of Boney Dick burned and melted next to them. Are these the actions of a battle force that is spending the majority of its time thinking about how to win modern naval wars and send the PLAN to the bottom? I think not.

    The next important shift in the Navy’s post-Cold War sediment occurred in 2016, when the Navy published Force Structure Assessment with a battle force inventory target of 355 ships. There was one big problem with this assessment…and it was a big one. The FSA was neither vetted nor approved by OSD. This pissed off the powers to be in the Pentagon. So much so that OSD ultimately took away the responsibility and authority to perform force structure assessments from the Department of the Navy.

    So, here we stand, seven years later, with no approved force design or battle force inventory target. And, As Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, wrote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” (this is now commonly believed to be a misattribution, but if the shoe fits….)

    So, Sal, we wind up in a common place of despair, but take a different path to get there. You despair of the Navy’s antiquated procurement system, Goldwater Nichols, and the COCOM/Joint construct. I despair of the Navy’s failure(s) in cost-informed ship designs and inability to contain operating costs; its focus on presence rather than warfighting; and its failure to convince either OSD or Congress on its future force design and inventory target. In all honesty, I’d say our views are actually pretty sympatico. So let’s break out the tequila and cry together!

    But it’s important we acknowledge all is not lost. The U.S. Navy is still the finest Navy in the world. It may have lost a step, but it’s hard to think they’ve lost their lead. For goodness sake, we plan to maintain 10-12 CVNs with the most capable and lethal airwings in the world (although this is an opportunity cost we should think hard about). We are going to have 80+ Burke-class DDGs, with nearly 8,000 VLS cells among them. We have over 50 SSNs and SSGNs, including three Seawolfs and 21 Virginias (6 more building and still more planned). And they are all crewed by the finest sailors anywhere.

    So yes, the Navy is comfortable with…and perhaps even a bit arrogant… about these ships. Mainly, Mr. Lipton, because they are the best in the world and form the basis for a world-class sea control battle force. And guess what? The PLAN is intent on challenging us for command of the seas once the Taiwan question is settled. We’d be happy to have this Navy when and if they do.

    But it’s clear the battle force can be improved. In this regard, an unmanned asteroid has recently hit the alluvial plain and has caused a new sediment layer to form. It’s safe to say the future Navy will inevitably have a hybrid battle force with both crewed and uncrewed vessels. Even though I am an advocate for unmanned systems, it is not yet clear what that hybrid battle force should or will look like, and what type of unmanned vessels will prove to be the most operationally relevant and cost effective. We should be unafraid to explore and push toward this hybrid fleet. But before we throw our current force design with the bath water, we better be damn sure we don’t screw it up.

    In this regard, I think the most important lesson since the end of the Cold War is OSD and the Department of the Navy have been terrible at future casting and making predictions about the future. We need to be extremely humble when we make a prediction and include numerous hedges whenever we do, since we are as likely to be wrong as right.

    Okay. I’ve said my piece. Thanks, Sal, for your blog. It’s a great place to come and ramble on and rant like a crazy old uncle!

    Robert Work spent 27 years on active duty in the Marine Corps as an artillery officer. He was the undersecretary of the Navy in the first Obama administration and the deputy secretary of defense from 2014 to 2018, serving alongside three different secretaries across two administrations.


    • Maritime Executive-Two U.S. Navy Drone Boats Make Unannounced Appearance in Japan

      Ranger under way during the RIMPAC 2022 exercise (USN file image)

      Drone boats are proving their worth on the front lines of conflict, and the U.S. Navy is moving gradually to adopt unmanned technology into its own warfighting doctrine. In a sign of the increasing visibility of these efforts, two of the service's "Ghost Fleet Overlord" drone boats were recently spotted entering the harbor at Yokosuka, Japan, thousands of miles away from their last known port of call.

      The USVs Mariner and Ranger are test platforms for developing a concept of operations for unmanned vessels in the fleet. Mariner is a newly-built boat, constructed to a commercial crewboat design by Gulf Craft and prime contractor Leidos. Ranger is a conversion of a similar crewboat hull and was developed by the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) in coordination with the Navy.

      In a conversation with USNI last year, the program office's leaders said that they were interested in testing out long-distance transits with these unmanned hulls, and they have been working on ways to enable unmanned refueling while under way - a difficult proposition in a seaway.

      A civilian observer spotted Ranger and Mariner pulling into the Navy base in Yokosuka on Sunday. Both vessels appeared heavily laden with cargo containers on their back decks, and Mariner was fitted with what appeared to be a second mast and a second radar located at the stern. Ranger was visibly crewed at the time of arrival: a photographer captured at least three people visible on deck as it entered the harbor.

      Ranger and Mariner were last spotted off Hawaii in mid-August, under way and headed for Pearl Harbor. They are homeported in San Diego under the command of a special-purpose unmanned systems division.

      Another large USV, Vanguard, is under construction at Austal USA. It will be considerably bigger than Mariner and Ranger, with more range and a larger payload capacity.


      • Morphing hypersonic engine, "the fuck dat means"? can change they way we travel and murder people.

        Anyway it appears the old, slow, smart, subsonic missiles are working just fine. Ukraine's chickenshit home made Neptune's just took out one of Russia's vaunted S-400 systems, an AA system specifically made to take out shitass missiles like the Neptune. Then Ukraine took out an entire , major docking facility along with two major war ships using SCALP type Euro subsonic cruise missiles. And old one's to boot. Meanwhile Russia's vaunted Kinzal hypersonic hasn't done shit except terrorize civilians and calling that hypersonic is a stretch. Its nothing more then a Ballistic missile launched by an airplane. Big whoop.

        If I have a concern its anti-ship ones. And those are unproven where'as the subsonic ones ARE proven. Anyway America's program is advancing at a snails pace. Its as FUBAR as a Joe Biden speech.
        "One Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all".


        • Bryan McGrath from The Conservative Wahoo <[email protected]>

          Biden admin, bending over-do more with less. To hell with the consequences.​

          Denying Denial

          A Squabble Over Conventional Deterrence
          SEP 19
          I apologize again to those who subscribe to this site looking for social commentary and droll storytelling, as there is a matter of national security theory that needs immediate attention.

          I awoke this morning to an essay in the national security press that really got my juices flowing, and I feel that it ought to be addressed with dispatch. I therefore apologize in advance for whatever failures in spelling, usage, and grammar may follow. The article is entitled “Six Reasons the Pentagon Should Retire Deterrence By Denial” by Bryan Clark and Dan Patt. The headline alone (in a Tweet) got my attention, and so I clicked on it 1) because I support “denial” as a conventional deterrence approach and 2) and I really wanted to see who was writing in a manner so decidedly orthogonal to that holding. I do not know Mr. Patt, but I know the other author (Bryan Clark) very well, and I consider him a friend. To see that he not only is as wrong as he is in the logic he applies, but that he has had an ideological transformation from previously being a supporter of the role of denial (in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary) was surprising. I will move forward in my criticism of their article as is my custom, taking there statements in the order they are presented. Direct quotes of the essay are bold and italicized.
          The idea, which gained favor after the Cold War, still enjoys the loud support of defense officials, think-tank studies, and government strategies. But events of the past decade suggest their faith is misplaced.

          Not mentioned here is the “loud support” of a “think-tank study” led and co-authored by Bryan Clark (ably assisted by me as a co-author). This fleet architecture study—which appeared two weeks after the Trump Administration took office—has the adoption of deterrence by denial (as opposed to one relying on “punishment”) as one of its foundational ideas. I will not speak for Mr. Clark, but I was thrilled that the Trump national security team decided to feature denial in its national security strategy nine months later. The fleet architecture put forward in the study Clark and I worked on created an entire naval force posture dedicated to denying aggression against limited objectives in the near-abroad of opportunistic adversaries and with the continuing threat of punishment from over the horizon (see: China). Here are just a few quotes from the study that address what Clark and I believed then (and I continue to believe):
          Instead of responding to aggression after the fact, to deter increasingly revisionist great powers U.S. forces will need the capabilities and operational concepts to deny them the objectives of their aggression or to punish them until the aggression stops.

          To support deterrence by denial or punishment, American naval forces will need to operate and fight in proximity to an adversary.

          The overriding importance of deterring great power conflict in the coming two decades and the concomitant shift to a concept based upon denial and punishment will drive changes in U.S. maritime strategy.

          A deterrence concept of denial and punishment will require amphibious forces to be postured inside contested areas to interdict aggression; it will also require that they can safely conduct amphibious operations at longer ranges and over wider areas.

          I am perfectly happy to believe that Bryan Clark’s thinking has evolved on the effectiveness of denial as a tool for conventional deterrence. This is what smart people do in response to facts and information. My problem is that what he puts forward in this piece as evidence of the failure of denial is not persuasive.
          Russia was not deterred by risks of denial or punishment before invading Ukraine; China continues to reshape the security environment of the South and East China Seas through largely uncontested “gray-zone” activities; and the Pentagon’s own wargames suggest completely denying an invasion of Taiwan is likely infeasible.

          There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, Russia invaded Ukraine a year after the Biden Administration took over touting an approach to deterrence (“integrated deterrence”) that seriously downplayed denial. Suggesting that deterrence by denial (and punishment) failed in Ukraine presupposes it was tried. And it wasn’t. If what Mr. Clark means is that the existing US and NATO deterrence structures in Europe did not work, he needs to explain why Russia has not invaded any NATO countries. That Putin invaded a country without a security agreement with the West is hardly a repudiation of conventional deterrence writ large, especially when one considers the flaccid Western response to events as January and February 2022 played out.

          As for China, while Clark and I argued in 2017 for a naval force posture and structure designed to buttress denial, the suggestion that anything close to what was recommended was achieved is laughable. Deterrence by denial as we laid out then was never resourced, and the Navy that exists today is no better at denying Chinese aggression over Taiwan than it was then.

          Finally, SOMETHING is restraining China’s hand in Taiwan. It could be that China does not believe re-integrating Taiwan is worth the cost of the attempt. It could be that China is not ready. It could be that China has no INTENTION of invading Taiwan, but is enjoying watching the U.S. suboptimize its force globally chasing the possibility of an invasion. But to suggest that continuing gray zone activities by China is a broad failure of American conventional deterrence seems a bit much.
          At the same time, the proposed U.S. defense budget reduced spending in real terms, with each of the U.S. military services accepting troop cuts to pay for future high-tech weaponry. Far from a “ring of steel” around allies like Taiwan, these developments suggest the DOD is pursuing a more sophisticated strategy to convince China’s leaders that aggression is risky and could cost more than it gains.

          This is the bet the Biden team is making—that it can spend less on defense, rely more heavily on the network of friends and allies, build up other instruments of national power (other than military), and spend more on its domestic agenda. It is a strategic approach, and if one were to track defense budget submissions (not what the Congress eventually passed) in the first two years of the Biden Administration, you would see a tightly coupled relationship between strategy and resources. “Integrated Deterrence” (what is alluded to here as “…a more sophisticated strategy…”) has always been envisioned as a means to control Pentagon spending, and by relying on technology and advanced concepts, we can do so AND be more effective in deterring China. Bound up closely in this approach is the suggestion that “whole of government” approaches national security were invented by the Biden team, and that mass and capacity are meaningless because we have chosen to make them so.

          Clark and Patt move on to there six reasons:
          It is vague. On its face, “denial” implies U.S. and allied forces will stop or reverse the efforts of aggressors, as they did against Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.


          advocates often argue that “denial” means creating uncertainty for the aggressor, which is opposite of the certainty a denial strategy should convey.

          No, on its face, denial implies that an effort is made to create doubt in the minds of Chinese leadership that their aggression—invasion of Taiwan, seizure of disputed islands, etc.—will succeed, or that it will succeed along a desirable timeline. The concept of sowing doubt was not disputed in the 2017 work Clark authored which states “A delay could be complemented by the threat of trans-regional operations to deny an adversary’s access to resources and lines of production to further sow doubt about the adversary’s ability to achieve its objectives.”
          It is aimed at the wrong audience. If its goal is actually to shake the potential aggressor’s confidence and reshape its risk calculus, the DoD should pursue capabilities, tactics, and posture that maximize uncertainty based on assessments from the U.S. intelligence community about opponents’ concerns.

          And if DoD took Clark’s (and my) advice put forward in the 2017 Fleet Architecture, it would be doing this. Again—Clark and Patt are aiming at a straw man. The Department of Defense from 2017-2021 had denial by deterrence and punishment as its stated approach, but it did not resource or implement this approach. It was then replaced by an administration that repudiated the approach in favor of one of its own that it IS resourcing. To say that denial failed is wrong. It was not implemented. I can hear titters from some of you, thinking about the whole lament of the dedicated leftist that “real Communism has never been tried” when you read the previous two sentences. But nothing even approaching deterrence by denial has been implemented by the United States.
          It distorts U.S. force design.

          Please, Bryan Clark. I’m begging you on my knees. What did we get wrong in 2017? The force design that we created was a masterpiece of capability, capacity, readiness, operations, and posture. If it had been implemented, if the “Deterrence Force” and the “Maneuver Force” were realities today, would you still believe that deterrence by denial had distorted the force design? Here’s how we put things then:
          In place of the single presence force of Figure 18 (the current force posture) that is organized into broad CCDR AORs, this study proposes dividing the deployed fleet into two main groups: “Deterrence Forces” that are organized into discrete regions rather than CCDR AORs and a “Maneuver Force” that is assigned broadly to the Indo–Asia–Pacific theater. Separating the deployed fleet into these two main forces enables Deterrence Forces to be tailored to their region, since they will not “swing” to another theater in a conflict. And because Deterrence Forces will remain in their region, the Maneuver Force is able to respond to tensions and conflict in any part of the Indo–Asia–Pacific, including the Middle East, without leaving an opening for opportunistic aggression by an adversary seeking to exploit the shift in U.S. focus to the area of conflict

          We recognized that the fleet required to do the job we laid out above was larger. That it would cost more money. This continuing dream of more for less makes us decidedly less ready.
          It may not be feasible against new forms of aggression…In China’s case, this will likely require the U.S. military to engage in gray-zone confrontations and take actions that influence leaders in Beijing to steer away from escalation.

          Denial encompasses these things.
          It undermines U.S. credibility. Denial demands the infliction of rapid, massive losses that could lead to catastrophic escalation against a nuclear-armed opponent. Based on the U.S. government’s reticence to provoke Russia through more robust support to Ukraine, U.S. leaders could be expected to avoid implementing a denial campaign, which weakens deterrence.

          No, denial does not demand the infliction of rapid, massive losses. It demands the force posture and architecture necessary to inflict rapid, massive losses, and the will to impose them. By again pointing at US reaction to the invasion of Ukraine—a country with whom we have and had no treaty alliance—as an exemplar of how we will act in a region where there are several treaty allies and the Taiwan relations act in force—is incorrect. And if the actions of US leaders in the run-up to Ukraine ARE to be mined for indications of what kind of deterrence posture would be supportable elsewhere, we might as well pack up and bring the troops and ships home.
          It imposes disproportionate costs on the U.S. military. Sustaining the overseas posture needed for short-notice strikes against hundreds of ships or thousands of vehicles is expensive and challenging for a military already at the breaking point. Exacerbating this problem, it is cheaper for an opponent like China to field targets than it is for the current U.S. military to field effective shots on target.

          The word “disproportionate” is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence, as spending on national defense is low compared to post WWII averages (as a function of GDP). That “function of GDP” phrase is a tough one for some to swallow, because if you look closely, you see that we have more than ever worth protecting, and we are spending less on protecting it. Secondly, YES. SUSTAINING THE OVERSEAS POSTURE NEEDED FOR SHORT-NOTICE STRIKES AGAINST HUNDREDS OF SHIPS OR THOUSANDS OF VEHICLES IS EXPENSIVE AND CHALLENGING FOR A MILITARY ALREADY AT THE BREAKING POINT. So spend more. Recognize that we have a generational threat to contend with, one that deserves as much attention, focus, and resources as the Soviet Union did. Stop lulling yourself into thinking that if we just had the right capability, or we just had the right concept of operation, we could do the job. The job is gigantic, it is all-encompassing, and it will not be cheaply completed.
          The time has come to retire deterrence by denial. It had a good run when the U.S. was dominant…

          Six years ago, Mr. Clark and I extolled the virtues of denial in no small measure BECAUSE we were no longer dominant, because we could not in good conscience support a posture of punishment that was no longer credible in the changed power dynamic.
          In denial’s place, DoD leaders should more fully embrace the approach implied by their 2022 National Defense Strategy. Its lines of effort for Integrated Deterrence, Campaigning, and Building Enduring Advantages are focused more on targeting adversaries’ vulnerabilities and undermining their confidence than perpetuating denial as a basis for defense planning.

          The basis for denial as a means to deter is the creation of doubt by undermining confidence, which is what the authors believe a deterrence strategy should do.
          The Pentagon’s recent successes in the Indo-Pacific reflect Integrated Deterrence in action.

          I’m sorry. If the recent “successes” in the Indo-Pacific reflect Integrated Deterrence in action, why was the invasion of Ukraine by Russia not considered a failure of Integrated Deterrence? I do not believe that the invasion of Ukraine was a failure of deterrence, integrated, or otherwise. Because I do not believe the United States demonstrated either the will or the capacity to deter. It issued statements. It moved troops into the region.

          Deterrence is a tricky thing. It is not always obvious why things do not happen. Deterrence by punishment (the pre-denial modality) assumes overwhelming force can be applied, but then only after the objective of aggression has been attained. Deterrence by denial seeks to keep the aggression from occurring by diminishing the likelihood of its success.

          Deterrence by denial as a concept is limited in its pretentions. It applies only to the application of hard power by conventional forces. That it is not the Brand Name anymore for our approach to deterrence does not mean that it is a failure. Spend enough time with a Biden national security type talking about integrated deterrence, and you will find that its pretentions are grand. But contained within it, is the space for conventional deterrence by denial when applied to the hard power slice of integrated deterrence. What is missing are the resources to implement it.


          • When Russia attacked Georgia in 2008 and the west did nothing it set the stage for them to move onto Ukraine in 2014. In many ways Georgia is like Ukraine. It declared independence after the Union broke up but right away Russia inflamed separatists passions and had no intention of allowing Democracy to flourish there. The province of Abkhazia was ethnically cleansed of over 1/2 their ethnic Georgian's, at least 250,000, removing them as the majority in a move to further weaken the Georgian state. Abkhazia borders the Black Sea and has significant oil reserves within its reach as well as being strategically important.

            I wont go into detail about Putin's war in Georgia. It was much the same shit. False flag Op's by his face less soldiers, bombing civilians, bombing a Hospital, bullshit propaganda....ect. Georgia, and what happened there, is the reason I said from the beginning Putin really means to go farther into Ukraine and then beyond. One big difference tho is Ukraine fought and is fighting. Really fighting and is both tying down and humiliating Russia's army and Black Sea fleet.
            "One Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all".


            • Maritime Executive-Two Top Researchers From Chinese Naval Lab Placed Under Investigation

              Chinese laser target illuminator as seen from the deck of a Philippine Coast Guard cutter (PCG)

              The top two leaders of China's naval optoelectronics research institute are both under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Chinese Communist Party's anticorruption watchdog. The announcement of an inquiry by this powerful political body is often accompanied by removal from a post, and it often precedes an arrest.

              China State Shipbuilding Corp. has a constellation of research enterprises scattered throughout China, most focused on supporting CSSC's role as the largest defense shipbuilder in the world. The CSSC 717 Research Institute, located in Wuhan, is China's only research organization focused on naval optoelectronics and laser devices - that is, optical systems for astronomical navigation, countermeasures, reconnaissance, communications and fire control (targeting) aboard warships.

              These systems are essential technology for modern warfighting, and the institute's work has not escaped the attention of the U.S. government. The 717 Research Institute has been blacklisted by the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) for "acquiring and attempting to acquire U.S.-origin items in support of programs for the People's Liberation Army," for purposes "contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States."

              According to CCDI, the Chinese Communist Party is just as displeased with the institute's management as the United States. Chen Fusheng, the former director of the 717 Institute, was placed under investigation by the CCDI in March 2023. As is standard for a CCDI inquiry, the agency said that he is "suspected of serious violations of discipline and law."

              Cheng is vice chairman of China's National Optoelectronics Laboratory and the deputy chairman of the Chinese Night Vision Technology Society, according to Chinese media. He spent much of his career at the 717 Institute, rising from a division deputy director to the top post.

              Last week, the CCDI announced that it is also investigating Zhao Kun, the former party secretary and deputy director of the 717 Research Institute. CSSC's internal discipline inspection and supervision department is involved in the inquiry, as well as the local party organization's supervisory committee.

              Zhao Kun previously served as a senior executive at China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) before its merger with CSSC, and is now serving as director of the 707 Research Institute, which specializes in inertial navigation and maneuvering control. This institute is also blacklisted by the U.S. government.



                Diversity Thursday

                quick's the word and sharp's the action

                CDR SALAMANDER
                SEP 21, 2023


                When the wind is at your back and the game is afoot, put out all the sail you can.

                Advance, advance, advance;
                The conservative advocate who successfully challenged affirmative action in college admissions on Tuesday sued the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, arguing that race-conscious admissions policies at the military’s higher-education institutions violate the Constitution.

                The Supreme Court ruled in June that the use of race in university admissions violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection, eliminating a tool that selective schools had used for years to diversify their student bodies. The court’s decision explicitly reserved judgment about admissions practices at military academies such as West Point, leaving the issue for another day.

                Students for Fair Admissions, the group that won the Supreme Court decision, sued West Point in a New York federal court, arguing the same legal reasoning should apply.

                “Instead of admitting future cadets based on objective metrics and leadership potential, West Point focuses on race,” the group argued in the lawsuit. “In fact, it openly publishes its racial composition ‘goals,’ and its director of admissions brags that race is wholly determinative for hundreds if not thousands of applicants.”

                This focuses on West Point, but this will impact all service academies.
                “Over the years, courts have been mindful of the military’s unique role in our nation’s life and the distinctive considerations that come with it," Blum said. "However, no level of deference justifies these polarizing and disliked racial classifications and preferences in admissions to West Point or any of our service academies.”

                West Point produces about 17% of newly commissioned Army officers each year, according to the lawsuit.

                The lawsuit filed Tuesday also names the Department of Defense, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other officials.


                • I smell this attack coming.

                  Last edited by CPD39; 09-22-2023, 05:25 AM.
                  "One Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all".


                  • Maritime Executive-Facing Threat From China's Subs, U.S. Navy Upgrades Subsea Surveillance

                    The cable layer USNS Zeus, a key enabler for the IUSS hydrophone arrays (USN file image)
                    PUBLISHED SEP 21, 2023 10:38 PM BY THE MARITIME EXECUTIVE

                    As the rivalry between the U.S. and China heats up in the Pacific, both sides have begun investing heavily in subsea sensing networks for detecting submarines. China's deep-sea listening program - known as the "Underwater Great Wall" or "Good Wind Ears" - is focused on its near abroad, reaching from the South China Sea to the U.S. sub base at Guam. The U.S. Navy's program, according to Reuters, will revitalize a naval intelligence program from the Cold War - the top-secret Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS), now known as the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS).

                    After the end of World War II, the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research explored the potential of the deep sound channel - a layer in the deep ocean that can transmit sound over very long ranges. The Navy found that subsea hydrophones deployed in this layer can detect submarines from hundreds of miles away. Beginning in the early 1950s, hydrophone arrays and receiving stations were deployed up and down the U.S. eastern seaboard. The program was eventually extended out as far east as Iceland and as far west as the Aleutian Islands. Its best-known success was the detection of the sinking of Soviet ballistic missile sub K-129 in 1968, which led directly to the top-secret Glomar Explorer mission.

                    SOSUS was consolidated after the end of the Cold War, and computer automation and base closures reduced the program's footprint throughout the 1990s. Without a Soviet sub threat to monitor, listening stations became a less urgent need.

                    Today, the priorities are shifting back again. China is undertaking the largest military buildup since World War II, and it has become the largest naval power on earth. Its fleet includes six nuclear ballistic missile subs, which could threaten Guam, Alaska or Hawaii from near their home base on Hainan Island. This nuclear-armed fleet might expand to eight to 10 hulls by the end of the decade. These particular sub designs are believed to be noisy by modern standards - 25 decibels louder than the best U.S. attack subs, by one Chinese evaluation - which would make them good candidates for hydroacoustic tracking.

                    China also fields a growing fleet of attack subs, and it could have as many as 68 hulls by 2030. Its latest diesel-electric design is well-regarded for its stealth, and could pose a real threat to shipping in the event of a blockade of Taiwan, according to the Yorktown Institute.

                    Subs are dangerous because they are hard to find, defend against and destroy - but if they can be tracked, those tasks become much easier. The revival of the IUSS surveillance system could help offset China's numerical advantage in the South China Sea and the Strait of Taiwan.

                    Reuters first reported the revamp of IUSS, and the investments will go into several different priority areas. The U.S. Navy will modernize and upgrade the subsea cable arrays that make up the permanently-installed base of the system. It is also investing $3 billion for a fleet of seven new ocean surveillance ships, to be built by Austal USA and L3Harris. These ships will provide anti-submarine passive and active surveillance capability using towed-array sonar. Other components will include portable seabed-based sensors; unmanned drones; and AI technology to analyze the data from these elements, according to the report.

                    A spokesperson for Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet could not confirm specific details, but told Reuters that "the systems have and will experience growth and recapitalisation as subsea technologies are developed and as defense priorities are updated."


                    • SEWIP Block lll starting to make it into the fleet. Electronic warfare makes a huge leap forward.

                      The SEWIP Block III alters the Arleigh Burke destroyer's appearance fairly dramatically via huge new extensions onto its superstructure.

                      SEWIP Block III is much more than just a naval electronic warfare system. Northrop Grumman's Mike Meaney breaks down its real potential for us.
                      "One Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all".


                      • I'll admit this-putting nukes back on cruise missiles ain't a priority nor is it a prudent thing to do, considering how many conventional Tomahawks have malfunctioned in the last 33 years. Don't want one passing out over some patch of land or shallow water for bad guys to recover and exploit.

                        SLCM-N? Hard Pass

                        wrong idea at the wrong time.

                        CDR SALAMANDER
                        SEP 25, 2023



                        I don’t know if you noticed it, but for some reason the memo went out the last 90-days to bring out a half-decade old argument to the surface when we need the distraction the least.

                        We are just now getting a consensus that our Navy has a critical shortfall in everything from maintenance capacity to effective battle force ships to submarines to the shipyards that we need to prepare for the war the People’s Republic of China seems to be intent to brew west of the international dateline.

                        It appears that many believe that now is the time to <checks notes again> invest a large percentage of a static level of capital in a Sea Launched Cruise Missile- Nuclear (SLCM-N).

                        Really people? Now?

                        In summary: Salamander non-concurs.

                        So, I guess it is time to weigh in here in as short of a summary as possible.

                        I don’t do so lightly as there are people I greatly respect who support it. I’ve more than second guessed my thoughts on the topic as on this issue I find myself aligned with those who are usually on the other side of arguments I make - but that’s OK; I always try to take each issue on their own merits, not which tribe is flying it with their banner.

                        The Congressional Research Service report from DEC 2022 summarized the “why now?”;
                        SLCM-N was one of two systems that the 2018 NPR identified as a way to “strengthen deterrence of regional adversaries.” The Navy deployed a low-yield version (with less than 10 kilotons, rather than 100 kilotons, of explosive power) of the W76 warhead on its long-range submarine launched ballistic missile in 2019 (see CRS In Focus IF11143, A Low-Yield, Submarine-Launched Nuclear Warhead: Overview of the Expert Debate, by Amy F. Woolf). The Navy conducted an Analysis of Alternatives in support of the SLCM-N from 2019-2021, and expected to begin the development of the missile in 2022 and achieve operational capability late in the 2020s.

                        According to a 2019 paper prepared by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, SLCM-N would serve as a response to developments in Russian and Chinese nuclear forces and doctrine that could undermine regional deterrence. The paper argued that the SLCM-N would be “capable of proportional, discriminate response based on survivable, regionally present platforms, and with the necessary range, penetration capability, and effectiveness to hold critical adversary targets at risk.”

                        Doing a bit more reading on the topic (especially the Atlantic Council issue brief Harvey co-authored (we’ll bring out a few more comments from the full report below), I’ve only become more convinced that - though an attractive and sellable theory - they are incorrect and are not fully addressing countering arguments.

                        Mark you calendar; Sal sez the Biden Administration is correct.
                        Congress is now debating the administration’s decision to cancel plans for a modern nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N).

                        senior Biden defense policy officials conclude that current and planned nuclear capabilities, including a new air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) delivered by strategic bombers and modern B61-12 gravity bombs delivered by new, dual-capable F-35 fighter aircraft (DCA), are sufficient to augment deterrence of adversary limited nuclear first use.

                        If they aren’t - then … well … what the he11 people.
                        The chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, continue to see value in pursuing the SLCM-N “because of its distinct contribution” for deterring regional nuclear attack.

                        Nope. I don’t buy it.

                        In the broadest outline, here is where I stand in opposition.
                        • No Such Thing as Tactical Nuclear Weapons: from the dawn of the nuclear age there has been a theory that there could be “limited nuclear war.” Yes, we can wargame such things with all sorts of planning assumptions and careful crafting by judges etc … but any brief review of human nature and war shows that once a weapon is used once, the door rapidly opens to general use, more use, larger use. Once that seal is broken, all falls out. The first use of a small nuke to take out a military target will quickly force the opponent - if not cowed (humans don’t usually do that once the blood is up all that easily) - to respond in kind in a larger way. You can’t stop it. Indeed, the foundation of our desire to get SLCM-N is RUS and PRC “plans” to use “small nukes” first. This is a bad theory that, left unchallenged, will leave us flat footed and could even encourage a nuclear war to start.
                        • Tactical Theories v. Political Reality: in line with the above, any tactical use of nuclear weapons, except in very small out of the way corners of the world, will involve the use of nuclear weapons against tens to millions of civilians near by. The global political implications of would be unprecedented. Nations, allied and neutral, will want nothing to do with any of the belligerents in order to not be brought in to this. You can throw all your assumptions about access to facilities and equipment we have globally out the door.
                        • Conventional Cruise Missiles Lose Utility While SLCM-N Gains Their Shortfalls: though there is talk about a “new weapon” everything I’ve read hints that we are just bringing back sub launched TLAM-N. Have the decision makers been briefed on the failure to launch and fail to transition we have experienced the last few decades with conventional TLAM launches? Have they been briefed on the numbers of TLAM who have transitioned from boost only to never reach the target, indeed, never to be located? How about the number expected to be shot down? The numbers who impact the target but never explode (as we have not tested a nuclear warhead in decades, this unquestionably will a non-zero number). What do you do when a goat herder or retired enemy civilian paper mill operator finds a nuke warhead in their back yard? What if the people you just tried to nuke have the dud warhead sitting under their desk? In a global nuclear exchange, these are the least of your problems … but as one can get from the SLCM-N CONOPS, this is a “shoot-look” kind of attack. Your nuke is supposed to click off at 00:29. You reach 00:35 … do you launch the backup? Is your SSN still in the launch basket, or did they scoot? TLAM are slow little creatures … but if a few minutes after ITL <politics happens> and NCA decides to halt the attack? “Sorry sir, we expect to reach the target in 25-min…yes I know you have their Chief of Staff who just overthrew their President on the phone calling for a cease fire … but them’s the breaks, sir. Tell him to duck and cover as America’s finest is now 23-minutes out.” No. This is all just bad theory and questionable wargaming.
                        • Security, Training, Storage, Certification Time & Money Sponge: as an ENS and LTjg, I actually had to deal with all the extra overhead that came with in a unit certified to deliver “special weapons.” With all the shortfalls in personnel and funding we have right now to get ready for a conventional war in the western Pacific … we are going to throw billions of dollars here? Really?
                        • Opportunity Cost: all the money you are going to dump in this bottomless pit of bad theory is money that will not be spent buying spare parts, precision weapons, maintenance time and more that we are already short of.
                        • More Risk for Unwanted Ambiguity: The CONOPS seems to suggest that only a few SSN with carry SLCM-N in their Virginia Payload Module as <not quite SSBN>, being neither fish nor foul. At least the plan <for now> is not to have any on surface ships. Right now, if there is a TLAM in the air, everyone knows it is a conventional weapons. What does an unbalanced autocrat advised by a gaggle of insular, paranoid, sycophantic advisors if he’s briefed that the USS GLOWWORM (SSN-XXX) is in the waters off his coast and one of his maritime militia boats reports seeing cruise missiles coming out of the water … and he’s are not sure if it is firing SLCM-N where his “special weapons” are stored … or they are just conventional TLAM going after his power grid? “Use it or lose it?” You want to create that uncertainty? I don’t.
                        • What the Hell do We Have a Triad For: if we have to bring on this destabilizing weapon back from retirement because we lack confidence in the utility of our low-yield SLBM, fields of ICBM, or our tactical fighters and mind-numbingly expensive bombers from “servicing” these targets … then exactly what the he11 are they doing? Why do we even have them?

                        And finally;
                        • Production. If we need a more modern, robust nuclear deterrence, then before we invest billions in a bespoke weapon of questionable utility in a few carefully crafted wargames - perhaps we should get our present nuclear house in order.

                        If my car is 4,000 miles past its time for an oil change, two of the tires are bald, and I need a jump start any time the temperature falls below 40F, perhaps I should not take what little extra money I have to rig up a subwoofer in the trunk and a bunch of LED lights around the undercarriage.

                        Senator Kennedy (R-LA) from this May:
                        Here’s where the United States finds itself today: The United States must now counter nuclear superpowers in both China and Russia while also deterring the itchy trigger fingers of unstable dictators like Kim Jong Un and the Ayatollah in Iran. We should be innovating and preparing our nuclear arsenal for this new global dynamic, but instead, our nuclear stockpile remains stuck in the Cold War.

                        Simply put: America’s nuclear stockpile is old and shrinking. And while modernizing our nuclear arsenal should be a top priority, our effort to restart nuclear weapon production has been riddled with delays and poor planning. And we don’t have time to waste.

                        . . .

                        Today, we are so far behind in our nuclear revitalization that we cannot even produce plutonium pits—an essential component of every nuclear weapon.

                        . . .

                        During the Cold War, Mr. President, the United States could produce more than 1,000 plutonium pits per year—and without plutonium pits you can’t have a nuclear weapon—but the United States has not regularly manufactured plutonium pits since 1989. In fact, the United States has not produced a single warhead-ready plutonium pit since 2012.

                        . . .

                        Our ability to deter unstable nuclear powers and maintain a peaceful world relies on our ability to continue innovating in ways only freedom-loving Americans can. But these vital projects rely on our plutonium pit production. And failing to produce pits at full capacity is just not acceptable.

                        If you are getting a whiff of the mindset that intentionally underfunds and under-prioritizes conventional maintenance, training, manpower, spare parts, and weapons inventory so they can spend money on vaporware and science fiction ideas unsupported by physics or law … you’re not alone.

                        Read this from Tara Copp from the end of last week;
                        The U.S. will spend more than $750 billion over the next 10 years replacing almost every component of its nuclear defenses, including new stealth bombers, submarines and ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles in the country’s most ambitious nuclear weapons effort since the Manhattan Project.

                        The key radioactive atom in the plutonium pit has a half life of 24,000 years, which is the amount of time it would take roughly half of the radioactive atoms present to decay. That would suggest the weapons should be viable for years to come. But the plutonium decay is still enough to cause concern that it could affect how a pit explodes.

                        President George H.W. Bush signed an order in the 1990s banning underground nuclear tests, and the U.S. has not detonated pits to update data on their degradation since. When the last tests were performed, they provided data on pits that were at most about two decades old. That generation of pits is now pushing past 50.

                        In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Jonathan Marrs, 21, left, and Senior Airman Jacob Deas, 23, right, work to dislodge the 110-ton cement and steel blast door covering the top of the Bravo-9 nuclear missile silo at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Aug. 24, 2023. When the first 225-pound aluminum tow, or "mule" could not pull the door open, Marrs dragged down a second tow to give them more power. (John Turner/U.S. Air Force via AP)

                        In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Jonathan Marrs, 21, left, and Senior Airman Jacob Deas, 23, right, work to dislodge the 110-ton cement and steel blast door covering the top of the Bravo-9 nuclear missile silo at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., Aug. 24, 2023. (John Turner/U.S. Air Force via AP)

                        Bob Webster, deputy director of weapons at Los Alamos, said scientists have relied on computer models to determine how well such old pits might work, but “everything we’re doing is extrapolating,” he said.

                        That uncertainty has pushed the department to restart pit production. The U.S. no longer produces man-made plutonium. Instead, old plutonium is essentially refurbished into new pits.

                        This task takes place inside PF-4, a highly classified building at Los Alamos that’s surrounded by layers of armed guards, heavy steel doors and radiation monitors. Inside, workers handle the plutonium inside steel glove boxes, which allow them to clean and process the plutonium without being exposed to deadly radiation.

                        Let’s go back to the Atlantic Council issue brief. The more I read it, the more it makes the case against SLCM-N and in many ways calls in to question what we’ve bought for our money already in our Triad.

                        Just a few examples;
                        …the war in Ukraine and China’s nuclear trajectory, their strategic breakout, demonstrates that we have a deterrence and assurance gap against the threat of limited nuclear employment.

                        Sorry, you have to show your work Admiral Richard. I don’t buy it, not one bit of it. The overall cost-benefit ratio just does not work.

                        Here is where we seem to be saying that … everything we have right now simply does not deter anyone despite what we’ve been saying for the better part of seven decades;
                        ...options available to the United States are not necessarily prompt, may lack survivability, and may be vulnerable to Russian and Chinese defenses.

                        …Bombers and fighter aircraft armed with nuclear gravity bombs or ALCMs would have to be generated from the US homeland; they cannot remain in the air for long periods as the crisis unfolds; and if they were forward-based in Asia, as they are in Europe with NATO, they would be vulnerable to enemy preemptive attack.

                        Interesting … then why do we still keep all those gravity bombs in Europe? Just decoration?
                        Depending on the scenario, the generation of the bomber could be delayed as a result of enemy conventional strikes on air bases.

                        So, everyone reads CDR Salamander, I see. Also, I guess the USAF admits now that CVN are more survivable then airbases in WESTPAC? Do the PRC or Russia have conventional ICBM that can hit Missouri? Really?
                        If allies perceive that plausible US response options were limited or unavailable, then they might choose to develop and field their own nuclear weapons, which is not a desirable outcome in light of long-standing US nuclear nonproliferation policy.

                        Why is it that American ICBM, SLBM, and worth their weight in Palladium B-2/B-21 bombers might be considered “limited or unavailable?” Again, show your math. Also, “trust us” does not work. I don’t.
                        Nuclear SLCMs provide a partial hedge to technical problems that might befall the Trident II D-5 SLBM, its warheads, or the new Columbia-class SSBNs. SLCM-N could offer some additional targeting flexibility if SSBNs, or the D-5 missile or their warheads, went down for a period to undergo repairs.

                        Hey, here’s a radical idea … how about we invest money in making sure our entire nuclear Triad does not go down for “repairs” instead? That statement in an incredible moment-of-truth that implies an almost criminal state of a lack of stewardship of the nuclear deterrence previous generations granted us.

                        What is the bottom line here…just the tip…of the money?
                        For a modern SLCM, the cost to field the weapon would be around $9 billion by 2028, far from the hundreds of billions of dollars required for other nuclear modernization programs.

                        How many DDG can you guy for $9 billion over the next five years?

                        How many precision strike weapons? How many production lines for 155mm artillery rounds? How many extra barrels for M-777? How many F-35A/B/C? F-15EX? How many strategic sealift ships?

                        How many?

                        Here is the foundation to everything: there is no such thing as tactical nuclear weapons. There can never be a limited nuclear war. There will not be a climb down once nukes start going off until one party or the other can no longer conduct war.

                        Any fool who thinks there is such a thing as tactical nuclear use, or limited nuclear war, will be tempted to start one. If started, it will - as all large wars to - answer to its own logic and will soon outstrip the ideas of those who started it. It will escalate in to a global nuclear exchange that in the end will eliminate 3,000 years of progress in much of the Northern Hemisphere and will hand the future over to whatever nations can make a run of it in the Southern Hemisphere.

                        We need to expend our energies in making sure our strategic nuclear stockpiles and Triad are ready for war and reliable for war. If we need a bespoke use of a handful of nukes, then let it come from a silo in the Midwest, a SSBN, or a bat shaped aircraft based out of Missouri…and let everyone know that is exactly what will happen.

                        I don’t want any American CINC be briefed on some “limited nuclear use” fever dream a SLCM-N could be used as a base of.


                        We have orders of magnitude more of a chance of having a straight-up large conventional war to fight in the future. That is a war we are not ready for.


                        • I'll admit this-putting nukes back on cruise missiles ain't a priority nor is it a prudent thing to do, considering how many conventional Tomahawks have malfunctioned in the last 33 years. Don't want one passing out over some patch of land or shallow water for bad guys to recover and exploit.
                          Should it ever come to that then there wont be any bad guys left to worry about anyways. The Tomahawk BLK lV-V are expected to have a success rate of over 90%, but thats actually taking out the target. They have 3 ways to navigate and its unlikely all 3 would fail, "terrain match, GPS, Inertial guidance". They also have much more hardened electronics and are basically a new missile. I dont see why we can't refurbish W-80 war heads and stick them on some T-V's ?

                          There may not be such a thing as limited nuclear war but there is such a thing as nuclear deterrence. And having the ability to stick a SLCM-N up the enemy's ass from 1,000 nm+ away is definitely "deterrence".
                          "One Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all".


                          • Originally posted by CPD39

                            Should it ever come to that then there wont be any bad guys left to worry about anyways. The Tomahawk BLK lV-V are expected to have a success rate of over 90%, but thats actually taking out the target. They have 3 ways to navigate and its unlikely all 3 would fail, "terrain match, GPS, Inertial guidance". They also have much more hardened electronics and are basically a new missile. I dont see why we can't refurbish W-80 war heads and stick them on some T-V's ?

                            There may not be such a thing as limited nuclear war but there is such a thing as nuclear deterrence. And having the ability to stick a SLCM-N up the enemy's ass from 1,000 nm+ away is definitely "deterrence".
                            Part of the deterrence is stated Navy policy for a long time-we neither confirm nor deny the presence of special weapons aboard ships. Even at 90% that means a potential for 10% of Tomahawks launched that will malfunction in some way. That's a lot more than a rounding error and even if the bubble goes up, plenty of people will survive in combat zones where nukes have been used.


                            • Since this post is evolving into Taiwan, here’s a good very recent video with talking about the topic. Basically, the CCP starts a war, we sever the weak links to their supply chain and they start devolving and dying. It’s pretty simple and they know it. HOWEVER, I wonder if they are forcing America to strike first. If WE strike them first, then many of the resource rich nations that are on the fence would look to actively supply and help the CCP as it’s now a defensive war, with the total annexation of Taiwan the only way to satisfactorily stop it. Look at Ukraine. America has not committed ANY personnel to the war effort and we already want to throw in the towel. Imagine if we lost an Aircraft Carrier? Taiwan would be calling the US and the US would answer the phone, “Sorry, new number… who dis?”



                                Another Cold War Revival

                                trying to make the oceans transparent - it's all math

                                CDR SALAMANDER
                                SEP 26, 2023



                                The new tech we’ve developed this century that none of us should be speculating about must be incredible … and we should assume the People’s Republic of China is close to or past it in some areas - but if you don’t find open ocean ASW exciting, then I don’t even know you.

                                Joe Brock over at Reuters;
                                On a windswept island 50 miles north of Seattle sits a U.S. Navy monitoring station. For years, it was kept busy tracking whale movements and measuring rising sea temperatures. Last October, the Navy gave the unit a new name that better reflects its current mission: Theater Undersea Surveillance Command.

                                The renaming of the spy station at the Whidbey Island facility is a nod to a much larger U.S. military project, according to three people with direct knowledge of the plans: conducting the biggest reconstruction of America’s anti-submarine spy program since the end of the Cold War.

                                First of all; point of order. There is a difference between “reconnaissance,” “surveillance” and “spy.” Words matter.

                                Yes, the first two are French words and hard to spell, but even though “spy” derives from Old French “espie” and has been properly anglicized, that does not mean we have to use it.

                                Words matter. Spies are executed on the spot. Captured reconnaissance and surveillance forces are taken POW.

                                OK, enough of my preferred pedantry, back to the substance;
                                The most innovative change in the Navy’s ocean reconnaissance system is an investment in new technologies to miniaturize and globalize traditional maritime surveillance tools. The original network of fixed spy cables, which lie in secret locations on the ocean floor, was designed to spy on Soviet submarines seven decades ago, the three people said.

                                The Navy’s plan includes deploying a fleet of unmanned sea drones to listen for enemy craft; placing portable “underwater satellite” sensors on the seafloor to scan for submarines; using satellites to locate ships by tracking their radio frequencies; and utilizing artificial intelligence software to analyze maritime spy data in a fraction of the time human analysts would usually take.

                                The “can’t take the seastate” tinker-toy surface drones are for show - the cool stuff is playing in between the seabed and the surface … and other things not mentioned nor should be mentioned.
                                The existence of the IUSS was only made public in 1991 at the end of the Cold War, and the details of its operations remain top secret, the three people said. The three spoke about the classified program on condition of anonymity.

                                Reuters was able to piece together details of the unit’s plans through interviews with more than a dozen people involved in the effort, including two current Navy staffers working on maritime surveillance, advisors to the Navy and defense contractors involved in the projects.

                                The news agency also reviewed hundreds of Navy contracts. That examination identified at least 30 deals linked to the surveillance program signed over the last three years with defense giants as well as a string of startups working on unmanned sea drones and AI processing. A Reuters review of ship-tracking data and satellite imagery also revealed new details about the Navy’s secretive underwater cable laying.

                                Anti-Submarine Warfare has always been a science game. A patient game. A game of keeping your secrets.

                                One thing you cannot contain however, is math and computing power … and the smart people writing the best code.

                                It isn’t so much what you collect - but how you are processing it.

                                The USN has rightfully been very proud of its technical and manufacturing edge in submarines - and in some circumstances a submarine is not the best way to locate, track, and attack a submarine.

                                Yes, the PRC may be behind in submarine construction - but not too behind if we are trying to get in front of the curve to re-boot our languishing IUSS cadre. One thing we all should know by now; they are not behind in math and increasingly computing.

                                You can’t keep math inside the SCIF. Keep that in mind.

                                You really should read it all to catch up with what developments are available open source. You can bet what is rightfully hidden is even more interesting - but that is for those who are fighting that fight to know.

                                I do want to end with this reminder of our national lack of seriousness in addressing the challenge from the PRC.

                                As anyone, like me, who has kids at top-notch STEM schools can tell you - in the hard sciences a large portion of our few spots in our best research institutions in the hard sciences and math are being taken up by PRC nationals.

                                They are not studying sociology of gender theory - they are studying math, physics, engineering, and computer science. They don’t have to steal anything. The most valuable thing they carry in in their brain that they learned while here.

                                American taxpayers and the citizens of friendly nations are not being trained at our best institutions because the slot they would fill are instead being taken by PRC citizens - because university administrators like the cash they bring with them. They are trading their nation’s security for money. There is a word for that.

                                That needs to stop, or at least be cut by 90%. We can let them study history, sociology, economics - heck even medicine (not involving gene therapy or epidemiology though) - but dual use hard sciences?


                                We can’t fix the past, but we can stop making it worse.