The U.S. Should Show It Can Win a Nuclear War

Not exactly PG’s normal choice of topic, but certainly relevant to the concerns of many around the world at present.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Russia conducted its first test of the Sarmat, an intercontinental ballistic missile that carries a heavy nuclear payload, on April 20. Vladimir Putin and his advisers have issued nuclear warnings throughout the war in Ukraine, threatening the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with attack if they escalate their involvement. Moscow recently threatened Sweden and Finland with a pre-emptive strike if they join NATO.

The reality is that unless the U.S. prepares to win a nuclear war, it risks losing one. Robert C. O’Brien, a former White House national security adviser, proposed a series of conventional responses, which are necessary but not sufficient to deter Russian nuclear escalation. Developing a coherent American strategy requires understanding why Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons and how the U.S. can recalibrate its strategic logic for a nuclear environment.

Russia’s war is being fought on two levels. At the military level, the battlefields have been restricted to Ukrainian and, in a handful of instances, Russian territory. But the conflict is also a war against NATO, given Ukraine’s position as an applicant, NATO’s military support for Ukraine, and NATO’s willingness to embargo Russian products and cut off Russian energy.

Mr. Putin had two objectives in going to war. First, he hoped to destroy Ukraine as an independent state. Russia planned to drive into Kyiv within hours, install a quisling government, and months later stage referendums throughout the country that would give the Kremlin direct control of its east and south. Aleksandr Lukashenko’s Belarus, and perhaps the Central Asian despots, would fall in line. Mr. Putin would therefore reconstitute an empire stretching to the Polish border.

Ukrainians thwarted that plan. Much depends on the next few weeks, as Russia stages a major offensive in the east designed to destroy the Ukrainian military’s immediate combat capacity, tear off eastern provinces, and solidify a land corridor to Crimea. But there is a serious possibility that Ukraine wins this next round of fighting. Russia has no reserves beyond its mobilized forces; its units have dwindling morale; and those formations withdrawn from around Kyiv are trained to conduct armored, mechanized, and infantry operations and poorly suited for combat. Meantime, the Ukrainians are receiving heavier weapons from the West and have begun a counteroffensive around Kharkiv, which, if successful, will spoil Russia’s attack.

If Russia’s military situation appears dire, Mr. Putin has a dual incentive to use nuclear weapons. This is consistent with publicly stated Russian military doctrine. A nuclear attack would present Ukraine with the same choice Japan faced in 1945: surrender or be annihilated. Ukraine may not break. The haunting images from Bucha, Irpin and elsewhere demonstrate Russia’s true intentions. A Russian victory would lead to mass killings, deportation, rape and other atrocities. The Ukrainian choice won’t be between death and survival, but rather armed resistance and unarmed extermination.

Nuclear use would require NATO to respond. But a nuclear response could trigger retaliation, dragging Russia and NATO up the escalation ladder to a wider nuclear confrontation.

Perhaps a conventional response to a Russian nuclear attack would be sufficient. What if the U.S. and its allies destroyed Russian military units deployed to the Black Sea, Syria and Libya; cut all oil pipelines to Russia, and used their economic clout to threaten China, and other states conducting business with Russia, with an embargo?

Each of these steps is necessary. But Russia’s goal in going nuclear is to knock NATO out of the war. The Kremlin believes its resolve outstrips that of the U.S. A conventional American response would confirm this—and create incentives for additional Russian nuclear use.

The Kremlin is resurrecting the arcane art of nuclear war fighting. These weapons have a military purpose. They also have a political one. The U.S. should reframe its thinking in kind.

This isn’t to say the U.S. should use nuclear weapons—again, a nuclear response would make global nuclear war more likely. But America and its allies can take steps against Russia’s nuclear arsenal that undermine the Russian position at higher escalation levels. The U.S. Navy’s surface ships, for example, could be re-equipped with nuclear weapons, as they were during the Cold War.

Most critically, if Russia used a nuclear weapon, the U.S. could use its naval power to hunt down and destroy a Russian nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine, the backbone of Russian second-strike capability. Late in the Cold War the U.S. Navy threatened to do exactly that, pressuring the Soviet Union’s nuclear bastions, the protected littoral areas from which Soviet subs aimed to operate with safety. In a series of naval exercises during the Reagan administration, the U.S. and its allies simulated assaulting the Sea of Okhotsk and Barents Sea bastions, while U.S. submarines probed and shadowed Soviet boats in both areas. Post-Cold War evidence reveals that American naval pressure had a major impact on Soviet policy making: Despite Moscow’s priority of armaments over all other state needs, the U.S. showed it would still be able to fight and win a nuclear war.

The ability to win is the key. By arming surface ships with tactical nuclear weapons as well as attacking a nuclear-missile sub and thus reducing Russian second-strike ability, the U.S. undermines Russia’s ability to fight a nuclear war. The Soviets were deeply afraid of a pre-emptive strike by NATO. That fear has morphed, under Mr. Putin’s regime, into a fixation on the “color revolutions,” pro-democracy uprisings in former Soviet republics. Jeopardizing Russian second-strike capability would tangibly raise the military stakes. Mr. Putin could no longer unleash his nuclear arsenal with impunity. Instead, he would need to reckon with the possibility that NATO could decapitate the Kremlin—yes, suffering casualties in the process, but still decapitate it.

A nuclear war should never be fought. But the Kremlin seems willing to fight one, at least a limited one. If the U.S. demonstrates it is unwilling to do so, the chance that the Kremlin will use nuclear weapons becomes dangerously real.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

46 thoughts on “The U.S. Should Show It Can Win a Nuclear War”

  1. Dunno, but if those responses don’t follow a russian nuke immediately they would be useless.
    So the preparations need to be in place already. (And that is doubtful.) Otherwise russia will own the aftermath and most if not all the Nato members will back off.

    The only “alternative” tbat comes to mind is that the russians think tbe X37B is an orbital bomber. If it were, an instant counterstrike might get Putin to suicide with two shots to the back of the head. Highly doubtful, both.

    The primary lesson from the cold war is that the surest way to avoid war is to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice *and* letting tbe other guy know. Things like tbis don’t help:

    Putin is obsessed with tbe US. All his demands have been aimed at getting concessions from the US, like the rest of Europe doesn’t matter. Biden swearing off direct US involvement from the beginning wasn’t exactly a disincentive. In some ways US Strategy plays like daring Russia to do their worse.

    Finally, May 9th is coming up fast.

    This would be more interesting if it were fiction.

    • Putin is quite right to think that America matters while Europe is of no import. Since 1945, Europe has been little more than a collection of American vassal states, and any European leader who tries to change that runs into serious trouble, with Exhibit A being the CIA-sponsored proto-Color Revolution that ousted de Gaulle for having the temerity to think the French should have their own country, Exhibit B being the 35 thousand American troops still occupying Germany 77 years after the Second World War and 43 years after the Soviet Union went belly-up (not to mention the 12 thousand American troops in Italy and the 10 thousand in Airstrip One), and Exhibit C being the various terrorist false flags that we staged to keep Italy in the American orbit during the Cold War.

      • About troops in Germany: you did see the locals screaming bloody murder when the orange guy spoke of removing them, right?

        They were really happy to have them in 48-49, too.

        But that’s okay: the US has been going isolationist since 2009 and, while few have noticed yet, Bretton Woods is dead. The funeral is due any day now. Byebye globalization. It’s back to continental politics.

        Let’s see how the world gets by without US hegemony.
        For starters, it’s not clear they’ll like it when oil hits 75 in tbe US and 200 elsewhere.

        • I do indeed remember the Germans raising hell at the prospect of US troops leaving Germany. Odd that the Germans would be begging for their occupiers to stay. Maybe they are too dumb to know about Exhibit B.

          And anyone recall Trump telling European leaders that they had become dangerously dependent on Russian oil and gas? Recall Trump berating NATO countries for failing to live up to their treaty obligations regarding defense spending? Remember Trump saying Russia could squeeze Europe on energy and then make a military move on them? Anyone remember the howls from the sophisticated, credentialed, and very worldly experts about how Trump was out of touch and sliding down the wrong side of history?

          What can never be forgiven is the guy who was right when everyone else was wrong.

      • and Exhibit C being the various terrorist false flags that we staged to keep Italy in the American orbit during the Cold War.

        Sounds interesting. Specific details, please?

    • The feelings I get are more along the line of geriatrics going “Après moi, le déluge”.

      For all we now Putin might be terminal.
      Russia probably is. Some analysts thought of the late phase Soviet Empire as “Upper Volta with nukes”. Right now they are.

      Lost in all the coverage is that, technically and legalistically, the US is since 1994 a guarantor of Ukraine’s territorial integrity (thanks to slick willie).


      “On December 5, 1994 the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the United States signed a memorandum to provide Ukraine with security assurances in connection with its accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. The four parties signed the memorandum, containing a preamble and six paragraphs. The memorandum reads as follows: n

      The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,

      Welcoming the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as non-nuclear-weapon State,

      Taking into account the commitment of Ukraine to eliminate all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time,

      Noting the changes in the world-wide security situation, including the end of the Cold War, which have brought about conditions for deep reductions in nuclear forces.

      Confirm the following:

      1. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.

      2. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

      3. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.

      4. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.

      5. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm, in the case of Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State.

      6. Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.

      — Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. ”

      Exhibit B (After Gaddafi’s Libya, Exhibit A) of why any country with any kind of nuclear expertise should develop and stockpile nukes. Or buy the tech from Pakistan before it implodes. (Turkey and Saudi Arabia for sure. Japan and South Korea likely. Vietnam and indonesia less so…for now.)

      This would great technothriller fodder except it’s no mere speculation anymore.

      And we thought 2020 was bad.

  2. And again the tail wags the dog. After the debacle in August 2021 in Afganistan, imagine ATPP (all the “president’s” people) casting about for something, ANYthing, to shore up flagging support and return a modicum of pride to our nation.

    Bam! Ukraine! Of course!

    I mean, yeah, Russia chose to “invade” Ukraine in February 2022 (a very short five months after, ahem, the ridiculous public display of—um, to be nice let’s just say non-resolve—in Afganistan).

    But the Ukraine/Russia war has been ongoing since February 2014. Eight years. Without the slightest hint of the current posturing and hoopla.

    Hmm. Smells like someone’s growing mushrooms somewhere.

  3. I’ve said this before.

    I was born in 1956, and was ready since the Cuban Missile Crisis for atomics to be falling on American cities. The movie Fail-Safe is always present in my mind, along with Damnation Alley, A Boy and His Dog, The Lathe of Heaven, etc…, a never ending “etc…” of movies where idiots thought that an Atomic war was “winnable.”

    I walk around the neighborhood and hear the dogs barking and the birds singing. I always see beneath that layer of life to a rubble strewn neighborhood with radioactive dogs hunting the sad survivors.

    Wait. They have caught my scent.

    Listen to them howl.

    They are coming.

    No. That’s just my imagination. It’s actually a nice day for a walk. Wait, what are those contrails I see…..

    Miracle Mile – Nuclear Attack (Ending Scene)

    Now then, that’s all imagination. The big wind we had a few days ago blew down a section of my cedar fence. It’s lasted for 30 years. The fence guy showed up this morning to look at what needs doing and will give me a quote to replace the North fence. That should last me another 30 years.

    “Look mummy, there’s an aeroplane up in the sky.”

    Goodbye Blue Sky – PINK FLOYD (HD Quality) From “The Wall”

    – There are so many stories I have that start or end with those words.

    I can’t watch the mainstream media News because of the “War Porn”, and the Local anchor dripping with sympathy, “Friends, we have another shooting.” Glug.

    I have music playing all day long and try to watch interesting podcasts when I’m not writing my latest WIP, about what appears to be a Jones Town style mass suicide.

    Strangely, that actually makes me feel better.

        • I did a double take on your comment.

          When I’m at a restaurant, they often have “VG” on the item. I always thought that meant “Very Good” when it means “Vegan”.

          For cooking, humans are considered as “Long Pig”, we taste like pork, so I would use a grey poupon mustard with a nice honey glaze.

          And as mentioned in Lucifer’s Hammer, it is best to double cook humans to avoid catching infections from the meat. Based on the barbecue places I’ve been to, The Whole Hog, long term smoking the meat should work well.

          This of course is merely a simple reminder for if we do end up in an Atomic war on how to cook “Long Pig” safely. (Be prepared on how To Serve Man[1]. Remember, don’t eat underprepared human meat.)

          BTW, in all those stories where the Congress retreats to closed bunkers, they never point out the obvious. That the military would extend their supplies by eating the politicians first, because at that point the breeders are more important than some “Fat Cat” politician. Hmmm, “Fat Cat”. Good eatin’.

          Believe it or not, this all goes into the Story folders, and I will use it.


          [1] The Twilight Zone (Classic): To Serve Man – It’s A Cook Book!

        • Either will do.
          (tsk, tsk)
          One thing Ellison got right: dogs are better people than humans.
          Clifford Simak also got it right with CITY.

      • You’re very kind, Harvey, but anything that I would have to say on a website is what you and Dean have been saying all of these years.

        Sadly, the great posts and discussions on Dean’s website are lost to him deleting everything. Maintaining a website with that much stuff is not possible. Luckily his old threads are still available from the Wayback Machine, with a little work.

        Start with this page and either work backward with the navigation bar, or use his Archives list. This page will get you access to the first five years of his website before he started deleting.

        Ghost Novel: The Day After

        I used to tell people to go to Dean’s first entry and work their way forward and they would get a Master class on many topics.

        – All the “meat” of the posts is in the comments.

        It’s amazing how much has changed since his first 2008 “Welcome” post.

        • I’m humbled. Thank you. But if you ever did start a blog, well, the more the merrier.

          Although I met him and Kris in the late 1990s (I was fortunate to be known for my formalist poetry back then), I didn’t start following his posts until early 2014. But yes, you’re right, a master’s class. And all a writer has to do to benefit is give Heinlein’s Rules and WITD an an honest try. Sadly, most never will.

          • For the curious:


            The book “Of World’s Beyond” is a bit more useful than DWS gives it credit for, for those interested in *Science Fiction*, anyway. I don’t recall where my copy is but I found the VanVogt and Heinlein essays particularly interesting and reflective of their writing. What stuck with me:

            VanVogt – “introduce a new concept/idea every 1000(?) words or so. Speaks to pacing, world builfing, and complexity.” Complexity was practically his calling card.”p

            Heinlein – ” There are four basic types of SF stories; if this goes on, if only…, what if…, and ‘the little tailor’. ” I’ve yet to see a good one that doesn’t fit.

            I found the book at ABEBOOKS for $7.50, FWIW.
            I may end up with two copies but it’s really time I re-read it anyway.

            • Agreed. But Heinlein’s seeming afterthought was the most valuable part of his essay IMHO. I bought Of Worlds Beyond several years ago, primarily so I could read the actual words Heinlein wrote. I’m an adherent to his “business habits.”

            • Part One:

              Van Vogt bedeviled me for decades as I chased after his elusive “system”.

              This is Van Vogt explaining as best he can:

              A.E. van Vogt: A Writer with a Winning Formula

              – If that answers your basic question, stop at this point. The rest is a “brief” highlight of what I found in my quest. It will drive you mad. I know, BTDT.

              You were warned.

              Instead of writing a 50k story he writes “story sentences”. Each “story sentence” is part of a chain of “story sentences”. When Van Vogt talks about his “story sentences” having a “hang-up” think of a:

              Chain drive

              The graphic says it all. The “story sentences” are links in the chain, with the gap where the gear fits. The Reader is the “gear”. He wants the Reader to be part of the story by fitting into the “story sentences” just like the “gear”, driving the Reader through the story.

              – You can’t skip or skim his stories anymore than you could skip links in the chain and have it turn the gear.

              BTW, That’s why Damon Knight hated Van Vogt. A reviewer is not paid to “read” a story, he is paid to “write” the review, so they learn how to cherry pick through the story and then fake that they read it. But I digress.

              Also, read any Dan Brown novel and you will see that he is using Van Vogt’s system, but on the “story scene” level, not the “story sentence” level. Each “link” in a Dan Brown book is the “story scene”, and each “story scene” has a “hang-up” that requires the Reader to fill in the gaps. If you skip any “story scene” you break the chain and lose the story.

              The key to remember, is that Van Vogt wrote “story sentences” that’s why he didn’t write big books, where Dan Brown writes “story scenes” which makes for a big book. This is that “Resolution” concept that I mentioned in another thread. If Van Vogt wrote “story scenes” like Dan Brown his books would have been as large. Van Vogt wrote at a different “Resolution” than Dan Brown.

            • Part Two:

              Then there is Panshin with more pieces to the puzzle:

              Man Beyond Man

              Then, back home in Winnipeg, he took out of the library Thomas Uzzell’s Narrative Technique and two highly useful books by John Gallishaw, The Only Two Ways to Write a Story and Twenty Problems of the Short-Story Writer — precisely the manuals of instruction that a young Jack Williamson, newly dropped out of college to become a full-time writer, was choosing to study at about this same time. From Gallishaw, van Vogt learned the necessity of writing sentences that conveyed either emotion, imagery or suspense, and how to break a story down into a series of short scenes, each with its own distinct purpose. From Uzzell, he took the idea that a story should make a unified impact upon the reader.

              He would throw in every single idea that he had during the time he was writing a story, holding back nothing. And when he got stuck, van Vogt found that the necessary new turn he needed would arrive in a dream that night or in a flash sometime the following morning:

              Generally, either in a dream or about ten o’clock the next morning — bang! — an idea comes and it will be something in a sense non-sequitur, yet a growth from the story. I’ve gotten my most original stories that way; these ideas made the story different every ten pages. In other words, I wouldn’t have been able to reason them out, I feel.

              This next part gets into the weeds:

              – Van Vogt wrote 800 word scenes.

              – He made the story different every ten pages.

              – That is three scenes every ten pages. 800 x 3 = 2400 words or ten classic manuscript pages.

              Done at the “Resolution” that Van Vogt used, you can duplicate his “system”.

              – In the classic manuscript page, you have a half page drop to begin, that’s 120 words lost at the start. The 800 words easily completes on page four.

              – If you write three scenes like that you have 12 manuscript pages with half page drops at the start of every four pages.

              – If you remove two of the the half page drops, and flow the pages together they become ten pages at 2,400 words, with the half page drop at the start.

              BTW, That is the kind of stuff it took me decades to understand. But I digress.

              • My head hurts with all that thinking. I’ll just stick, happily, with letting the characters tell the story. After all, it is they, not I, who are living it. I’m fine with that.

                • Different strokes.
                  Just remember that writing and analyzing are two different things.
                  Whether it be Pulp Speed, Patterson chapters, act stru tures, or VanVogt/Brown narrative chains, methods like these aren’t straight jackets to keep in mind every single moment, just something internalized. (ERB had his own methods also worth study. Splitting the cast and sending them on parallel journeys, alternating chapters ending on cliffhangers, etc.)

                  Every writer builds their story differently, depending on their own mental processes. Which is why most prescriptive articles on “how” to write are more amusing than useful. They work…if your mind works like the article author’s.

                  Analyzing story building styles can be useful in building your own personal style if starting out (which is the effective use of the pieces, intentional or not) or getting through hiccups along tbe way. (Like the classic “third act” problems you see in many committee scripted movies.) Keeping readers’ interest through the full story is harder than getting it in tbe first place, as all the “three chapter wonders” of tradpub prove. Say what you will of Brown and Pattetson, their books have high completion rates. Whatever they do is useful, if you’re analytically inclined. Or just curious.

                  It’s no different than the planner–pantser spectrum: everybody does it their own way. And some of us like to know “how sausage is made” even if it isn’t always pretty.


                • Replying to Felix’ last comment here because there was no reply link below his latest: Yeah, of course different strokes, and of course learning is different than writing, or it should be. We engage the conscious, critical mind to learn. Then some of us are able to turn off that intrusive device and let the characters tell their own story. I feel fortunate that I can enjoy just recording my characters’ story rather than fretting and controlling my way through it. On the other hand, how others write doesn’t affect my royalties in the slightest, so what do I care? That’s why I wrote “my” and “I’ll” instead of using that silly control-freak standby: “you (or they) should“.

                • That’s all any rational person can do.
                  Do their best, their way.
                  And not just in writing; life is to short and complicated out of trying to control others.
                  (Unless you’re a politician making millions that way.) 🙂

              • The Panshin piece is a good read by itself. The added insight into VanVogt-the-pantser is just frosting.

                • There were actually four parts, but the blog ate my homework. We’ll see if anything poops out later. HA!

  4. A minor point: the OP is conflating “nucler exchange” with “nuclear war” it is possible to win a nuclear exchange (a missile or two to make a point) vs an all out nuclear war that nobody can win.

    For example a tradeoff of DC for Moscow would greatly benefit the US. 😉

    (If we’re going to delve into black humor…)

    Which brings up John Ringo’s MAPLE SYRUP WAR segment of LIVE FREE OR DIE.

    Aliens take over the Earth and have governments doing their bidding by threatening to destroy more cities. The protagonist gets in their faces and they threaten to destroy even more cities if they don’t find and kill him. His reply, as an irredent southern conservative: “go ahead. Be my guest. Those are my enemies, you’d be doing me a favor. ”

    A fun series. Great ideas on space habitat building techniques.
    Too bad he hasn’t finished it with the (optional) fourth volume.

    • That’s the one highly annoying thing about John. He tends to litter the landscape with unfinished series. Not just this one; there’s also the Legacy of the Aldenata, and the Council Wars.

      • He loses interest and runs after the next shiny thing.
        But while he’s at it he’s really amusing.

        I *would* like to see a fourth TROY RISING and a third WANDS BOOK (EMPRESS OF WANDS, maybe?). Neither would be hard given the groundwork already done.
        At some point BAEN ought totalk him into farming it out to a newcomer to their stable, like he did with PALADIN OF SHADOWS and DARK TIDE RISING, another series begging for a follow up. Like, who created the virus and what happens with the betas? Fan service if nothing else.

  5. “The primary lesson from the cold war is that the surest way to avoid war is to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice *and* letting tbe other guy know.”

    That didn’t work very well prior to the outbreak of WWI. The major Europeans were all well armed and primed for war, and war was the result. A catastrophic, pointless war that lasted foir years and destroyed much of European society and its beliefs.

    • It can be argued that neither side was actually ready to fight the war that developed. If anything, that (and Chamberlain) are the roots of the lesson.

      They had alliances and treaties but mostly they treated war as a scuffle between street gangs. Until they ran into machine guns, poison gas, planes, and trench warfare. They started with horseback cavalry in an age of trains and trucks.

      The matter is more complicated than a simple meme, but the gist is still true.
      !And regimes keep getting bit by it.

      There will be post-mortems on Ukraine and they will point out just how much of Putin’s decision making was influenced by the Afghanistan exit and by Germany’s blind dependence on russian pipelines. Neither showed much readiness or resolve. He got away clean with Crimea with little more than a tsk-tsk, after all.

      One hopes China at least learns something about how “weak” the “decadent west” really is.
      Because invading Taiwan won’t be an old fashioned ground war but rather an air and sea war of missiles, subs, and (as always) logistics. And China’s logistics all run through Malacca.

      A problem for another day. 2024 most likely.

      • Ukraine shows that war has evolved far beyond the traditional expectations. Javalins, Smart Laws, Swichblades, Phoenix, and little bitty recon drones have demonstrated just how profound that change has been.

        This war will be sliced, diced, and dissected, by every military in the world. I doubt anyone expected the extent of what is happening, including the US who is supplying the weapons. The days of tank battalions charging across the plains are gone. Now the artillery counter-battery battle is about to commence. Shoot off a few rounds, then take your howitzer and run like hell before the five rounds aimed directly at you hit. I suspect there are many more surprises to come. Will big artillery be as vulnerable as tanks? We”ll see.

        • Artillery has been vulnerable for a while now to shell-tracking radar that can quickly identify the source of fire for counterfire. Two recent innovations here are loitering munitions that reduce the time to counter attack a live emplacement and rocket- and ramjet-assisted artillery munitions which extend the range beyond the ability to counter as well as reduce the time to target.

          When it was announced the US was sending 155mm artillery to Ukraine, no mention was made of exactly what shells they were sending; older ones or Excalibur shells.

          Standard shells have a range of 12 miles, Excalibur variants run from 14 to 40 Miles. The latest scramjet shells range up to 80 miles. They are also working on a new, larger cannon that could use hypersonic shells originally meant for rail guns with a range in the hundreds of miles. But that is for the near future. (’24-’25, meant for dealing with China.)

          For now the duels will be about detection and avoidance. And the GHOST drones, whatever they do. (Rumor is multiple munitions per drone, separately targeted or clustered. Sounds about right for hitting artillery emplacements.)

          The whole thing would be cool if there weren’t humans dying with each hit.

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