Friday, November 28, 2014

Russia Looks to Revive Nuclear Missile Trains to Counter U.S. Attack Capability - The Moscow Times

Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces are considering bringing back iconic Soviet-era nuclear missile trains as Moscow pumps money into a complete overhaul its aging nuclear arsenal.
According to an unidentified source in the Russian military-industrial complex quoted by the TASS news agency on Thursday, the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology — makers of the Topol, Yars and Bulava missiles — is designing a next-generation missile launching train.
"While the decision to start manufacturing [missile trains] is still pending, the probability is high that it will happen," the source was quoted as saying, explaining that technical studies and cost estimates are still being conducted.
"In the best-case scenario, they will be deployed by the end of the decade, probably somewhere around 2019," he said....

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Time for a Hybrid War Against Russia? - World Affairs

...Butusov therefore suggests that Kyiv change its tactics—from playing defense to playing offense, but with “a scalpel.” Ukraine needs a “new concept of military activities.”
It is imperative that quick-response strike forces be created on the basis of existing formations and that systematic work be conducted toward liquidating the knots of resistance and the units of the adversary. Our defense should be proactive. The enemy should not remain in peace. We need a war of diversionary groups, howitzers and mortars, large armored units, and well-defended convoys.
In a word, Butusov is recommending that Ukraine adopt hit-and-run tactics against the Russian proxies, engage in surgical strikes against strategic targets, both on the front line and in the occupied Donbas, and thereby force the terrorists to dig in, anticipate, and lose the initiative. Ukraine’s offensive actions would therefore mirror Russia’s hybrid war. Ukrainian “little green men” and diversionary units would strike at vulnerable targets in the rear, while lightly armed commandoes enjoying the support of mobile artillery units would harass the Russians and their proxies along the whole length of the front.
Here are the two key elements of Butusov’s plan:
  1. We can drive out the Russian Federation from the Donbas, but for that we need to conduct a genuine war—without flags, without PR, without advertising. Without any large attacks or maneuvers. Instead, locally, surgically, and fatally.
  2. There should be one goal of the war: to inflict maximal casualties on the armies of the occupiers.
First, Kyiv would neither discuss what it is up to nor admit to having a Ukrainian military presence behind enemy lines. Like Moscow, Kyiv would adamantly insist that the attacks are being launched by local resistance to the proxies. Second, the goal of the offensive would not be to win back territory—at least not immediately—but to impose unacceptable casualties on Putin’s forces.
Would Butusov’s plan work? It’s obviously premised on the inability or unwillingness of Putin to launch a full-scale attack on Ukraine. If he does not or cannot, Ukraine’s hands are free. If he does, hit-and-run tactics may still be useful, but Ukraine’s primary task would then be to defend its territory. As I’ve written many times, we have no idea what Putin will or will not do. In that case, either you may agree with Butusov or you may not.
But there would be two ancillary advantages to Butusov’s strategy. First, localized strikes would not offer Russia the option of claiming that it must launch a full-scale attack in response to a Ukrainian offensive. Since Ukraine would purposely eschew “large attacks or maneuvers,” Russia would be placed in the same position Ukraine has been in for much of 2014: continually facing small-scale attacks that, individually, never quite merited a massive response.
Second, thanks to Kyiv’s cut-off of government subsidies, social unrest in the Donbas enclave has noticeably increased, with locals demanding that the proxies provide them with money and goods. The unrest is sure to intensify as the temperatures drop in the months ahead. Butusov’s plan would both build on and contribute to such unrest. Seen in this light, disrupting separatist rule behind the lines could turn out to be the best way of weakening separatist forces on the front lines.

 bth: I'd also add that NATO allies from the former Warsaw Pact need to dump their inventory of old weapons and give them quietly to Ukraine while the inventory of Poland and others is replenished with new NATO weaopons from the US and Germany.

-bth: I'd 

Hazy Shade Of Winter, Live From NYC 1967, Simon & Garfunkel

Map of Situation in Eastern Ukraine

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Islamic State toughens tactics in Iraq’s Anbar, targeting potential enemies - News & Observer

....Some analysts say the U.S. plans, and the recent government capture of Baiji in Salahuddin province, may be behind the Islamic State’s new strategy of cooperating less with local tribes and working to undercut possible new enemies.
“It seems ISIS is becoming increasingly desperate in Anbar,” said Sajad Jiyad, an Iraq analyst at the London-based research and consulting firm Integrity, referring to the Islamic State by an acronym. Jiyad said he saw the shift in tactics as “reactionary” rather than proactive.
A coalition security official based in Baghdad, who asked not to be identified so he could speak openly, said it was clear that the Islamic State was trying to consolidate its hold on Anbar at the same time it was working to eliminate potential Western allies.
“The Islamic State is basically launching a counterinsurgency operation,” the official said.
Tamimi said the Islamic State appeared to have determined that it was no longer useful to forgive local tribesmen who’d previously worked with the government. Allowing tribesmen to repent and be allowed to live had its “time and place.” But as the Islamic State sets a priority of consolidating territorial gains, such forgiveness won’t help it make further gains in Anbar, he said.
That’s likely to spell an increasingly brutal fight for Anbar. “Things are going through a dangerous phase,” said Hikmat Sulayman Ayada, the head of the Anbar provincial council’s security committee....

-bth: curious that IS can't get control of Ramadi and is now heavily focused on consolidating control of the Sunni tribes.

Read more here:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Earnings by college major

We took risks, we knew we took them

" We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last."

- Captain Robert Falcon Scott, British Antarctic Explorer