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Preamble: We have taken a sabbatical from writing articles for the last 18 months in response to the venom that is out there in the media. However, the US response to the Iranian attacks seems to indicate a completely new US approach to global stability. Therefore I felt duty bound to spell out my thoughts and respond to those who can only see their hate of this administration.
The recent Iranian attacks on the Saudi oil facilities in north eastern Saudi Arabia indicate an escalation by the Iranians. Why? Do the Iranians perceive that the US is powerless because of the Democratic calls for impeachment? Are the sanctions and limits on Iranian oil exports taking such a toll that the Iranians feel that the world will react to Saudi oil output short falls and try to force the US to relax its containment of Iran?
The lack of an American kinetic response has the world wondering what has changed in the US approach to the world. By listening to the president’s speech at the UN yesterday it is now very clear that the President does not see the US as the world’s policeman. In the name of regional stability the US is deploying defensive capabilities to Saudi Arabia.
The recent attacks show the deficiencies of the Saudi military. In spite of extensive expenditures their missile defense capabilities are still inadequate in the face of Iranian cruise missiles. Reports indicate that the problems are both the training of the force and the needs of a modern missile defense.
Missile defense requires the ability to intercept multiple types of missiles through a complex spectrum of missile types. Most missile defense systems can be overcome by a volume of missiles. The Israeli “Iron Dome” system attempts to discriminate based on a calculation of impact points. Will incoming missiles hit critical assets? The Saudi system has not reached the degree of sophistication required to make such a discrimination automatically.
The lack of a kinetic attack illustrates the new Trump Doctrine—allies must protect themselves and respond to attacks using their own capabilities. The US will assist where necessary to maintain stability until the allies have developed their own capabilities. This approach means that the Saudis and the Gulf Cooperative Council members should respond to threats. The US may provide technical assistance in such a response, but one should not expect US forces attacking Iran unless US forces have been directly engaged by Iranians.
The military situation in the Gulf is truly asymmetric, but in a different way than the discussion of conventional forces versus terrorists or unconventional forces. The Iranians have devoted a significant part of their defense development to offensive missiles and small attack boats, while the Gulf States have focused on air power and defensive forces. As noted above the Iranian missile assets can most likely overpower the defenses of the Gulf States. However, a series of preemptive attacks might go a long way in leveling the battle field. One could even envision the Apache attack helicopters that the Saudis have being able to go in under the Iranian radar and doing extensive damage.
Will the Saudis/Gulf States respond? The answer to this question is probably in the Iranian hands. If they push the opportunity that they may perceive exists because of the political situation in the US they may in fact cause a reaction with extensive US support. On the other hand if the new status quo continues nothing may happen. The status quo favors the Saudis and the Gulf States as the political situation in Iran may continue to deteriorate and they can enhance their defensive and offensive capabilities.
In recent posts I have presented:
- Description of Operation Husky
- Colonel Gavin’s description of the airborne operations in Sicily
- My remarks at Ponte Dirillo on 10 July
The latest is that some citizens in Bellevue Ohio working with the mayor have decided to seek the Medal of Honor for my father LTC Arthur F. Gorham.
We will be following this story.
The Russians and Chinese have been giving us glimpses into their future weapon’s systems and their utilization. In considering these weapons utilization one can begin to see the ways that these two potential opponents envision fighting in future conflicts. One should also note that present conflicts are being used as testing grounds for these futuristic weapon systems.
The Russians have used Syria as a proving ground for their cyber and robotic capabilities. According to multiple Russian language blogs the Syrian Arab Army recently deployed ten Russian combat robots in a battle leading to about 70 rebel fighters and no Syrian casualties. Allegedly these robots were controlled from a Russian command post. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f5iWM5rLTY)
The Russians have demonstrated these robots and touted them in press videos as those noted above. Why? Most likely because the Russians are actually behind the American and Chinese in the development of robotic devices.
What is the motivation for robotic devices? There are many. In most cases robotic/remote controlled combat systems are cheaper to build and deploy since they are smaller and do not include the crew survival / protection measures and the associated weight and size that accompany crews. Such machines of war require fewer human warriors on the battlefield and thus reduce the entire human support costs.
Electronic warfare has been used on the battlefield since World War II. The commander of US forces in Syria recently reported that US AC130 gun ships were being jammed during support operations for the Syrian “rebels.” The electronic jamming signals affecting AC-130 gunships over Syria may have crews checking and cross-checking their data, including target information, before they lock on with their cannons, according to air commanders in Syria.
“Whether that’s being man-made, or maybe it’s a mistake inside the airplane, it’s hard to say sometimes, but the process is, as you see those things pop up, the safety for the people on the ground is the primary concern,” said Col. Tom Palenske, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing…He continued: ““When you’re going to put lethal fires down on either enemy position or to protect friendlies, you’re concerned about the innocents around both our guys in uniform and civilians,” he said. “And when there’s some glitch being put out there by trons that threatens the accuracy of that, then the [AC-130 crews] have got to make sure they do no harm.”…Palenske did not say what kind of electronic warfare equipment adversaries are using, nor who the adversaries are, even though Islamic State fighters, Iranian-backed militia and Russian troops are in country.
Cyber warfare is coming and this is one of the first battlefield indications—the ability to take over a friendly fire control system. Hacking has become common place across military and civil society.
What is not being reported is the ability to work through or counter such spoofing and other types of cyber activities. There is also no public discussion of friendly use of similar capabilities.
Finally, The Chinese are reported to be using weapons grade lasers to engage US planes over Djibouti where there is a Chinese military installation. Currently the lasers are reported to be eye damaging. However the ability to target and engage a military aircraft with a laser portends a capability to do more than create eye damage with lasers. Future air defense weapons will most probably include radar directed lasers to destroy electronics and avionics in military aircraft. Presently, the lasers are likely denying US access to selected regions
The Chinese are also reported to have deployed air defense, electronic warfare and surface to surface missiles on three of their man made islands in the area claimed by the Philippines. These weapons threaten a significant amount of civilian naval traffic which could disrupt the economies of many of the nations in the area.
These new weapon deployments highlight the changing nature of warfare where new weapons can be used to achieve regional superiority for the accomplishment of a mission. This is the essence of the emerging US doctrine of cross domain operations.. (https://brucebgclarke.com/2017/07/12/multi-domain-warfare/)
Many of my progressive friends have been castigating me recently for my conservative views. As a strategist I recently reread Paul Harvey’s remarks from 1965. I am posting them so that my progressive friends can give careful thought as to where we might be headed in their vision.
In 1965, Paul Harvey broadcasted “If I Were the Devil.” It is really amazing to realize over 53 years ago how accurately he “prophesied” the future spiritual condition of the United States. Many of his statements were considered ridiculously outlandish at that time in history. Yet, we find ourselves today…
.Paul Harvey’s “If I Were the Devil” Transcript from 1965
by Paul Harvey
If I were the devil … If I were the Prince of Darkness, I’d want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I’d have a third of its real estate, and four-fifths of its population, but I wouldn’t be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — Thee. So I’d set about however necessary to take over the United States. I’d subvert the churches first — I’d begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’
“To the young, I would whisper that ‘The Bible is a myth.’ I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what’s bad is good, and what’s good is ‘square.’ And the old, I would teach to pray, after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington…’
“And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice versa. I’d pedal narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
“If I were the devil I’d soon have families that war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames. If I were the devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions — just let those run wild, until before you knew it, you’d have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.
“Within a decade I’d have prisons overflowing, I’d have judges promoting pornography — soon I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of Congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls, and church money. If I were the devil I’d make the symbols of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.
“If I were the devil I’d take from those who have, and give to those who want until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.
And what do you bet I could get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich? I would caution against extremes and hard work in Patriotism, in moral conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun, that what you see on the TV is the way to be. And thus, I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure. In other words, if I were the devil I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.
Paul Harvey, good day.”
On January 21 2018 we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Battle for Khe Sanh Village and the beginning of the 77 day siege of the Khe Sanh Combat Base. In coming weeks I will be writing more about this battle that was the turning point in the Vietnam War—in spite of what Burns and crew said in their not so accurate 7 volume minisery about the War in Vietnam.