"NATO in Europe needs 'military Schengen' to rival Russian mobility"


When Hodges, on the other hand, wants to move tanks or other heavy vehicles and weaponry across Europe, he needs to stop at every national - sometimes regional - border and deal with unique controls.
"I think most people would be astounded to find out what we have to do," he said, "to submit a list of all the vehicles, the drivers, what's in every truck - which they don't do with gigantic commercial trucks moving back and forth across borders."
He says in many European countries, it takes weeks to get the permission to move through. In Germany every state requires its own procedure.

I think I wrote this myself (and had someone else mocking me because he thought that there's no such red tape), but I don't know when or where.



Overlapping territorial sovereignty

There are two secession referendums almost at the same time, a good opportunity to finally write about an old idea of mine.

The core problem with a secession is in my opinion the instinct of the central government that loses power. It loses power over its supposedly own people, which makes its insistence unsympathetic.

It would be most desirable to find a way how poorly-devised borders could be redrawn peacefully and how to govern areas with very much fractured population effectively, peacefully and well.

example: Bosnia ethnic map in 1991. There was no obvious right way of drawing a border.
(c) Milan1237

another example: linguistic map of Iran
One way how people in a fractured region can live together is that one group or a coalition of groups dominates the region, with undesirable oppression of one or several other groups. That's a powder keg if the oppressed minorities are large enough, as can be seen in former Yugoslavia, in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another way is proportionate representation. One group always gets the head of state office, another group always gets the head of government office, another group always gets the head of parliament office and so on. Minorities could also have political privileges, such as the Danish minority in Germany close to the Danish border.

I'd like propose a different way, one that might ease it for the central government to give up (some) control:

The classic idea of a state includes the concept of well-determined borders. These may be in dispute or poorly marked, but there's always the claim of unlimited sovereignty over a certain area on this planet. It's sometimes simply not possible to draw "correct" borders on a map without previous ethnic cleansing. So we need to give up this exclusive sovereignty concept if we want sustainable political order without oppression and without ethnic cleansing in the very ethnically fragmented areas of this world.

Think about a simple model: There are the countries A, B and C with corresponding ethnicities a, b and c. The ethnicity c lives in state C, but the states A and B have a dispute about a region where a and b live intermingled.

Now my proposal is to create a shared sovereignty over this area of intermingled ethnicities. The a people pay taxes to A and have an A passport, b do the same with B. Affairs between a and a would be settled by A (civil and criminal) law, affairs between b and b would be settled by B law. Affairs between a and b, a and c or b and c in the intermingled area would be settled by AB consensus law (devised by the political system of the population in the intermingled AB area with veto right for both A and B).
An attack of C against A would lead to A defending itself with a resources. An attack of C on B would lead to B defending itself with b resources. An attack of C on the intermingled AB territory would lead to A and B fighting back with a and b resources respectively.

Additionally, there should be an effort to emphasise programmatic politics in the AB area; the people should be divided in politics by left/right or other ideologies, not by ethnic divisions.
This model can be applied in regard to a secession as well. A secession  of a region would only happen if the regional majority ethnicity isn't the same as the ethnicity that dominates the central government. Thus there would be no veto necessary to protect that regional majority ethnicity, while the region's minority ethnicity would still enjoy minority protection through the former central government's veto right.

This is far from the traditional idea of how states work, but that traditional idea serves poorly in areas with intermingled populations. So mankind should keep looking for better ways of governance.



The Kurdish referendum


There's a problem with the referendum, and as usual much of the media did a terrible job at shining light on it*:

The wording of the referendum question appears to be (translated):
"Do you want the Kurdistan region and the Kurdistani areas outside the region’s administration to become an independent state?"

Now that's bad if it's the correct translation. They asked a small portion of Kurds, but the referendum seems to support claims on Turkish, Iranian and Syrian territories (so far I have seen no claims that the referendum was held in Syria) as well. Even to someone who's supporting the right of peoples to self-determination over the survival of existing borders that's troublesome. No group or state should ever lay claims on another state's territory. The Turkish, Iranian and Syrian Kurds may gain the right to secede on their own, Iraqi Kurds cannot create such a claim for them.

Kurdish settlement areas (not a Kurdish majority in all marked areas)

It's regrettable that the question wasn't limited to the Kurdish region in Iraq, for now Turkey, Syria and Iran actually have a good case for opposing the Iraqi Kurds. Now they can paint them as aggressive.

It may remain without significance because the four countries oppose the Kurds anyway and just about everyone appears to have picked a side or seems unlikely to ever pick a side, of course.

- - - - -

The Catalan independence referendum on October 1 is going to be extremely interesting. Imagine they pull it off and a majority votes for independence with a high turnout. This would be extremely interesting for Europeans. On the one hand the governments in Europe would not want conflict with the Spanish government, on the other hand there was the Kosovo precedent and generally lots of good arguments for Catalan freedom (if and once they vote for independence).
Some of the top politicians - including Merkel - are not psychologically prepared for this. Merkel doesn't really shape things. She's an administrator of the status quo policies who does u-turns on certain policies when the pressure can be expected to reach a breaking point soon anyway. She has no idea of what way the EU should head in the question of secession movements that are firmly opposed by their central governments.


*: I'm not bashing the media in right wing "fake news!" style there. I'm disgusted by the huge difference between journalists' high opinion of themselves and the actual quality of their output.


Presentation on tanks by Hilmes

This is a presentation of Rolf Hilmes (German tank 'pope' - equivalent to Ogorkiewicz) on post-WW2 tank technology (all in German):

This reinforces my impression that I spent too much time soaking up military-related info. I could have held about 95% of this presentation ad hoc. The details on M-48 fire control and the T-14's X-engine were the most notable things that I wouldn't have remembered.



A quick take on tanks

I found an old comment of mine at TD and decided to recycle it:

The problem is the price [of main battle tanks]. The technology of a MBT is approaching the technology of an AH-64E attack helicopter, and partially going [beyond] it.
There’s a point where people simply need to re-learn that tanks are valuable and can be decisive in battle even while suffering atrocious losses. The attempt to keep tanks alive by making them ever more expensive is likely doomed. The art will be to determine which features belong into a MBT and which are excess luxury.
The existence of weapons and munitions that can penetrate any surface of a MBT doesn’t make that MBT obsolete in itself. German tanks of 1939-1941 were merely bulletproofed – every single anti-tank gun, field gun, howitzer and tank gun was able to penetrate them at useful distances. That was the time of [the German tanks'] greatest successes. Later on some of them became almost impervious – and successes were localised.
During the 1960’s Germany developed the Leopard, which was not built to high protection standards. Instead, mobility, maintenance, durability, ergonomics, command and good firepower were emphasised. [The (probably excessive)] emphasis on protection stems from the 70’s when Burlington/Chobham armour renewed hope for balanced tanks that were [impenetrable in their] frontal 60°.

I deem it worth repeating.


[Fun] Boys never change


(The upper picture is from '44 or '45, but yeah.)


Hard body armour: A possible compromise

I wrote enough about the folly of hard body armour in conventional warfare in a pre-powered-exoskeleton world. It's simply too heavy - the users are slowed down, exhausted and the necessary endurance, speed and agility is lost.

Radical positions are rarely correct, and also rarely followed. There's usually a majority preference for compromise, and even more so when intuition/feelings are biased against the radical proposal. Thus let's look at what might be a sensible compromise about body armour.

The current typical HE munitions still allow for a sensible role for about 2-3 kg heavy torso-protecting 'flak vests', which provide but the lowest level of fragmentation protection to stop the weakest about 80% or so fragments (more where the impact angle is a good one). Such vests are not "bulletproof" except against some weak pocket pistols with lead bullets.

Example distribution for an old HE shell (no preformed fragments, no internal serrations to control the fragmentation pattern):
0.1-1.0 g: 77% of fragments
1.0-10.0 g: 21% of fragments
10.0 -1 40.0 g: 1% of fragments.

To stop all but the heaviest 1% of fragments would require a NIJ level IIIa vest (the highest grade that's still soft body armour) that weigh several kilograms more, and even then it would only protect at a considerable distance to the explosion (way outside of the lethal blast radius).
Still, that's one possibility for a compromise between the lightest flak vests and the 15 kg nonsense. Such NIJ level II vests are actually quite common, especially with pouches for the heavy level IV plate inserts.

Another compromise could be the citadel armour principle. Citadel armour was introduce in battleship and battlecruiser design prior to the First World War. It was impossible to harden the whole ship, so the ship designers limited the shell-proofing to the citadel which usually reached from the forwardmost main artillery turret barbette to the rearmost one. This included protection for the boilers and steam machines/turbines as well as for the munition magazines. Everything else got at most thin armour plates meant to mitigate the effect of shell explosions inside, not to keep shells out.

Battleship Yamato armour layout - the citadel is visible
A benefit with citadel armour / all-or-nothing-armour was that armour piercing shells that could still penetrate this citadel armour at too short or too long distances (the 'immunity zone' was a few thousands metres wide) would do little damage in the non-hardened compartments because their explosives load was small compared to SAP or HE shells.

Let's look; where are our human equivalents to munition magazines?

I'm no medical doctor, but to my knowledge the only parts below the lungs and heard that lead to quick death if perforated are the main blood vessels; abdominal aorta, iliac, fermora. A hit in the lower spine would also be bad, for it almost guarantees paralysis of the legs and other discomfort.
Meanwhile, perforations of the lower torso's intestines can lead to death when perforated, but a 500 ml saline solution should in most cases buy enough time that CASEVAC/MEDEVAC and surgery would save the patient AFAIK. This is AFAIK different with the heart and aorta. Lung hits are really bad as well, and lungs are big. The upper spine is also useful.

So I suppose we could define the area above the diaphragm as the citadel area, and the front is much more relevant than the back. That's about half of the area of a 10" x 12" plate.

example of a 10" by 12" plate carrier
Neither is a good representation of relevant bullets, especially if one thinks of indoors combat (urban combat) where machineguns aren't that prominent, while assault rifles are. AP bullets are not as commonly used in assault rifles, but not terribly expensive steel cores are present in many Kalashnikov cartridges (7.62x39 and 5.45x39). I suppose the 7N22 bullet (5.45x39 mm, penetrates about 10 mm RHA at 100 m*) is about the most penetrating bullet that one should care about in regard to body armour until powered exoskeletons become practical and affordable. This threat is in between NIJ levels III and IV.

The "defense" industry has attempted to cover that gap with unofficial "level III+" and "level III++", but did not set its threshold there. Instead, they focused on common 5.56 mm bullets. Still existing III++ plates give an idea of the weight of a citadel armour plate; its weight would be in the 2-3 kg range including protection against excessive blunt trauma and with little multi-hit resistance.

Well, would such a little armour plate be worth its weight? I suppose there may be niches where that's a "yes" (mostly indoors), but even 2 kg can make a huge difference when you have to clear many buildings with many stairs. You'll only get the weight down and be agile if you muster the self-discipline to shave off weight on every opportunity.

There's probably but a weak case for combining both a flak vest and such a single chest plate. The only common fragments indoors are from AP mines, 30 and 40 mm grenade launcher HE/HEDP grenades**, HE/HEDP rifle grenades**, defensive hand grenades and offensive hand grenades with fragmentation sleeve added.
I don't have experiment test results on hand, but I suppose that blast, bullets and effects from large calibre hits from outdoors are the main problems indoors, not those fragments that a vest would stop at 2-4 m distance.

So there may be a case for a spare plate carrier with a single anti-7N22 chest plate (about 500 square cm) that could be worn instead of a nearly identical weight flak vest for indoors missions. This could be grabbed together with other equipment for combat in settlements (fighting in built-up areas / OHK) such as crowbars, collapsible lightweight ladders, demolition equipment for going through walls et cetera. This stuff would/should be stored in the infantry squad's transport vehicle (2 ton 4x4 or APC).


*: Afaik penetration may actually be less than that at very short distance because of vibration issues, but I'm not sure about this.
**: Shot into the building from outside, thus typically hitting the back. Nose-fused HE is then much more dangerous than base-fused HEDP.


When thousands of nukes are no deterrence any more...

I stated several times - including here - that I'm 100% positive that North Korea's little tyrant wouldn't use any nuke against the U.S., its troops or Seoul.
The reasoning is that the entire state of North Korea serves but one purpose at this point; to protect and please the little tyrant and his (direct) line of succession. His death would be guaranteed if he ever used a nuke in anger, even if he fled to the PRC and received asylum there. He'd be killed like UBL sooner or later.

Now there's one most irritating thought; what if Trump in his idiocy managed to shatter the one central and so far absolutely self-evident assumption that's central to the purpose of the nuclear triad? What if he convinced the little tyrant that he'll be killed anyway?

At that point no nukes or thousands of nukes would not make a difference. There would be no deterrence any more.

Idiocracy was not meant to be a instructional video.



Combat resupply

(see update at the end)

Combat tends to consume a lot of munitions, including munitions for direct fire - and those need be carried by either the infantryman or armoured fighting vehicle because let's face it, we collectively dismiss porters and those robodogs are nonsense.

A competent supply NCO in Vietnam was able to get a pallet loaded with all that's needed for utility helicopter airlift to the troops in contact. A very competent supply NCO would pack the stuff before it was asked for because he had the experience and paid attention to the radio chat.

I dismiss such helicopter logistics for European warfare and I dismiss this also for unmanned helicopters such as the K-MAX. Such helicopters are large and expensive enough to be high-enough-value targets for all those systems meant to defeat low-flying manned battlefield helicopters.

There is an alternative that might make sense for the especially weight-sensitive infantry, though:

The problem of resupplying infantry close to opposing forces or even in contact with munitions, medical supplies, hot food, fresh water and batteries might be solvable with rotary cargo drones. The small unit would need to have communicate a suitable landing zone's coordinates and a battalion supply team could send these drones en route (and recover them) with packages of 12-15 kg (it should suffice for the heaviest single relevant piece of equipment, such as an anti-tank guided missile).
The drones would navigate by inertial navigation sensor and could use a directional (downward focused) radio to interrogate another very low emission power radio beacon which would allow for a correction of a navigation error of about 20 m. I suppose (but did not succeed at checking it) that this error correction should suffice to land a drone on a flat roof after 20 km of flight.

The supply crew would recover the drones that landed in their varying supply point landing zones, switch in a charged battery pack, visually inspect for damage, check if the mission log shows any problems and ultimately load it for another delivery.

The drone could be equipped with the necessary sensors (such as LADAR) for flying close above the treetops of woodland to minimise the exposure to hostiles on the ground. Alternatively, they could fly below roof level through streets.

Any sensors but LADAR would necessitate an updating of maps with overland power lines and what maps generated by radar satellites in order to avoid crashes.

Here are some reviews of drones with up to 18 kg payload, that should be the relevant size and could also be used for a tethered sensor drone (almost no battery capacity needed due to cable power supply, no radio needed). Claims for rotary payload drones go up to more than 200 kg payload, but the next threshold after 15 kg should be at about 100 kg, since this would enable casualty and civilians evacuation (at night or complete with red-cross-on-white-cloth bags).

Now why am I not surprised that the big "defense" contractor companies didn't capture the market with this years ago?


edit: My bad, I overlooked this. They think of something like this, but bigger.