Monday, May 24, 2010

An Arsenal We Can All Live With? NOT!

Gary Schaub Jr. and James Wood Forsyth Jr. miss the target: using ‘Nukes’.

“The Pentagon has now told the public, for the first time, precisely how many nuclear weapons the United States has in its arsenal: 5,113. That is exactly
4,802 more than we need.”
Maybe. Maybe not. But you sure couldn’t rationally arrive at such a conclusion based upon their OpEd (see link in header) or the original scholarship the OpEd is based upon. The OpEd is a necessarily light on facts due to column space. There is no excuse for the same of its source document, and to my thinking, it damns the OpEd's assertions on the face of it. I find much of the original paper... ahh.., let's just say 'problematic'. What follows are the most serious faults I find with the authors’ writings.

First problem: they carefully cherry-picked their sources. They cite some former military authorities without providing evidence that these source’s opinions are common much less in the majority. They cite “Alian [sic] Enthoven” of all people on this subject. Alain Enthoven played a critical role in the rise of modeling and simulation in defense policy development and is also a once-renowned economist, DoD budgeteer and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. Unfortunately for Dr. Enthoven, he is also a man who had his “Analytical A**” handed to him at least once on nuclear force structure issues by Glenn A Kent. One cannot discern with certainty if our subject scholars were aware of this, but one would think that if they were, they would also have known that the reason the Nuclear Triad survived to present day is based upon sound logic. Hint: It has nothing to do with their simplistic discounting of the Triad which was expressed as follows in the source paper:
“ The second criticism has to do with the future of the triad, which was the fulcrum of deterrence throughout the Cold War. Some might argue that the triad was effective and its redundancy and flexibility shored up international stability and helped keep the Cold War cold. It is, however, important to recall that the Soviets had no such operational concept. They relied heavily, almost exclusively, on missiles and still managed to deter the United States. If one accepts the basic idea that it is the political value of nuclear weapons that matters, the method of delivery is immaterial.”
Ahhh,,,the infamous 'some' who 'say'. It was on the very issue of a determining whether future defense would be based upon a Triad or a Diad (doing away with the manned bomber), that Kent’s analyses washed away Enthoven’s:
“In preference to Dr. Enthoven’s highly simplified approach, which was built entirely around [our] cost, I proposed a more-sophisticated approach. I proposed that we analyze how many targets of the 1,200 would be destroyed under different strategies on both sides, still assuming that SRAMs were 1.5 times as expensive as RVs and further assuming that the Soviets would have to pay the same cost in defenses to defend a target either against an RV or a SRAM.
However, the Soviet Union would have to decide whether to deploy interceptors designed to defeat RVs or interceptors to defeat SRAMs; the same interceptor could not do both jobs.
This more-sophisticated approach turned the tables on the analysis by Dr. Enthoven. He had introduced the concept of a nationwide Soviet defense, thinking it would make his argument more persuasive. But he had not reflected that the Soviets would have to build very different systems to defend against ballistic missiles (RVs) as opposed to rockets (SRAMs) delivered by bombers. Neither had he considered the effects of different strategic choices on both sides. In other words, he had opened the issue of Soviet defenses without thinking it through.”

-text in brackets[] mine.
In the same manner as Dr. Enthoven, the authors of the paper and OpEd have opened an issue ‘without thinking it through’.
The above anecdote is also an excellent vehicle for illustrating my next point: Nowhere in the paper do the authors deal with the ‘and then the enemy does what?‘ question. They talk superficially of force, counter-force, etc in economic terms. But I see no evidence they have addressed the possible overt and clandestine moves potential adversaries could make to defeat a piddling 300 or so warheads. As Gen. Kent described Dr Enthoven’s analysis:
"While, in general, I preach that simplicity in analysis is preferred over complexity, in this case, my more-complex approach won. The lesson here is that one must not pursue simple approaches to the point that violence is done to the phenomena under examination. In particular, it is important not to treat the adversary as static. In military affairs, as in most fields of human endeavor, opponents react to each other’s moves. Although this seems obvious, it is surprisingly common for advocates of certain policies or programs to assume that the adversary does not react to our initiative. In the case of Dr. Enthoven’s comparison of Polaris and SRAM, this assumption was a fatal flaw."
I see no cold calculations in the author’s analysis where a country with a lot of empty space could attempt to shepherd, grow and move their forces or defenses ‘out of sight and out of mind’. I get no indication of estimations as to how opponents (or allies) will calculate how social constructs might survive or how fast they could be reconstituted, or how such a calculation might encourage a foe to believe they could ride out a ‘minimal’ nuclear exchange. There is no allusion to any analysis as how future potential enemies forming nuclear alliances might have to be be dealt with. So it appears the authors also have rather naively committed Dr. Enthoven’s fatal flaw.
Finally, I really take issue with this most happily-conveyed conclusion of the authors’:
"So long as war remains a finite possibility, we have to be concerned with outcomes, and while some would be bad, others would be worse. In the age of minimum deterrence, the world will have to stand for a few more nuclear states; the majority of them will not pursue nuclear weapons."
IMHO, there are many serious problems with this worldview. It strikes me that in their willingness to live in a world with more nuclear powers they are in reality more willing to live with the idea that nuclear strikes or exchanges will become more likely. They would probably be ‘little’ exchanges on the “Acme Armageddon Scale”, but how do you prepare and account for the effect of even one ‘little’ exchange? How do you contain them? Think of nuclear weapons like ‘secrets’: the fewer entities that have them the less likely they will ‘get out’.
The conclusion clearly demonstrates the authors have a skewed view of risk, the definition of which is: probability times the consequences. If we reduce the nuclear arsenals with so little care as that which has been used in the author’s analyses, we potentially increase the as yet unknown probability of a nuclear exchange to result in a nuclear war of some indeterminable (but hopefully less than “world-killer”) scope. How do the authors know that they are not increasing the net risk in their approach? Answer: We can’t find it in the writings so we don’t know. I am particularly wondering if the authors have considered the results if after a 'small' exchange, some not-yet-post-modern society's 'leaders' conclude: "Hey, that wasn't so bad".

It is because of thinking such as that expressed by Doctors Schaub and Forsyth that I say the following prayer almost every day:

"Lord, please protect us from Academics and all other ‘Hybris’-ridden 'Annointed', Amen."

I kid you not.

Note: In the original paper there was another co-author. One presumes that as an Air Force Officer and an honest-to-gosh Strategic Planner (vs, a schoolyard one), he had the good sense and experience to distance himself from the political ho-hah in the OpEd. People shouldn’t read too much into the authors’ teaching at AF institutions. You will find broader ranges of viewpoints and backgrounds in the halls of the Air University than you will ever find in so-called ‘name’ universities.

Updated 5/25 to clarify points and improve readability.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ann Althouse Debunks Media Wailing on Texas Curriculum

So I don't have to. (Hat tip: Althouse via Instapundit)

Prof. Ann Althouse picks apart another breathless (and deceitful) report from the mainstream media on how Texas is somehow subverting the education of Texas youth.
Thanks Professor! (And my closing statement at the bottom of this post still rings true.)

Updated and Bumped from and earlier post titled:
Leftard Reporter April Castro Shocked! Shocked!
...that the Texas Board of Education moves to De-Leftardize School curriculum.

My Original Post:
In an AP article just published and titled Texas ed board vote reflects far-right influences, 'writer' April Castro breathlessly reveals her bottomless ignorance of all things American.

A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade.
'Far right faction... injecting conservative ideals' - Got it.
I'd have to review the litany of changes that the Texas Board of Education is making in the 'original' before I would pass judgement of them, but Little Ms. April helpfully provides a few (with obligatory leftist bias I'm sure) examples of the 'radical' moves being made in Texas Ed. My favorite is one of the first ones:

Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic," rather than "democratic,"...
Gee. ah... April honey? The United States IS a frickin' "constitutional republic". See here, here, and here.
I suppose just about everything looks like it is 'far right' to someone if they can be habitually found grazing in the deep left field.

Update: I knew there would be more breathless and vapid criticisms of Texas Board of Education's making changes to the curriculum and I was right. Seems the Freakonomics twit has poor search engine skills that lead him to some poor conclusions (thanks for the info Volokh!) concerning F.A Hayek.

You couldn't write marketable fiction with characters as dumb as those found in the MSM.

Monday, May 17, 2010

AF Side of the KC-45 Story Disappears

At Leeham News And Comment, someone was asking me about a reference showing the AF's position on the lamented late "KC-X Competition of '08". I went looking for such documentation that I had referenced earlier in several places and found that all refernces to it appear to have disappeared on the web. Thus the dead are buried. But unlike John Kerry, I have proof it did exist.

Who knows? Someday it may come in handy.

Update: Ahhhh, cripes. I've let this now dead argument stay waaaay too far under my skin and it is getting to the point that I get 'mean' on it too quickly. I'm swearing off tilting at windmills in the past, at least over at Leeham.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

DADT: Some Milbloggers Miss Target

Obama & Co are subverting Western Society everywhere else, why not the military too? Obama does NOT need your help Milbloggers!

I really don't have time for this, but can't let it pass without comment (which I made at the site linked in the title of this post). I am usually in complete agreement with most of the Milbloggers listed, but today, for some reason that escapes me, they felt a need to speak out on the wrong side of an issue near and dear to my heart. I still might have let it pass, except the Fabulous (usually-right-but -unfortunately-blind-on-this-issue) Instapundit linked into the 'statement' which will gain it traffic and exposure far beyond its relevance. I expect it will be mentioned on the network news in ten, nine, eight......

I've covered all this before ad nauseum here, here, and here.

PS: I just wish people would drop these turds into the punchbowl before OR after I go to work so I can zap them early in the life-cycle.

Now, I've got three DAU module tests to do tonight -- so go away!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Armchair General: Sink the General Belgrano

I had wanted to submit a solution to Armchair General's current command challenge: You are in command of the HMS Conqueror and have been shadowing an Argentine task force consisting of the ARA General Belgrano and two Exocet-armed destroyers. The challenge is to decide the the best course of action (COA) from three provided or perhaps propose a fourth. The major variables are attack timing and weapon choice.

Because of demands on my time (see previous post) I never got around to submitting my solution for this engagement before the deadline yesterday.

For fun, here is my solution:

Attack using COA 2 is the best option. You are authorized to engage and you have the primary advantage of surprise to leverage your clear superiority in speed and stealth. If the enemy is lucky or changes their behaviors before you can
attack, the opportunity could be lost.

All COAs are feasible, but employing Mk 8s at relatively close range has the highest probability of success. Using proven Mk 8s as your primary attack weapon is the best choice: their large warheads were developed for dealing with armored ship designs of the WW2 era, and the Mk 8s close range and higher speed shortens attack time and the enemy’s response window. One Mk 8 hit might stop the Belgrano, but two would be better. To increase the probabilities of hitting Belgrano twice you add one more Mk 8 to the spread. Since it is always possible something could go wrong even with the Mk 8s, you load the other half of your tubes with Mk24 Tigerfish in reserve. After the first salvo, the Mk 24s are available for immediate use or to standoff and engage any of the known or unknown (submarines) enemy elements as becomes necessary.

I had a couple of points to add concerning the use of Mk 8s, like rough South Atlantic seas making torpedo trails difficult to spot, but there is a 200 word limit on the solution's submitted.

We'll see what the AG selected 'best' solutions come up with in a couple of months.

BTW: Armchair General as a magazine is kind of a mixed bag for me, but their website is not: it sucks big time (just try to navigate and find something related to the print issue).

No time for Blogging

For a while now, and for a while to come, there is no time for blogging (or much else) due to my making a change in jobs. Getting up to speed in my new position and completeing DAU courses for the immediate future is Job One.