DON’T PANIC

June 1, 2017

From https://www.britaindecides.co.uk/poll-tracker

The short answer is that the Conservatives are still on course for an excellent victory BUT the interesting answer is where the support for both leading parties appears to be coming from:
The Conservatives are gaining from UKIP, while Labour are pressing the Greens and the Liberals (especially the former) for support. Both the Left and Right are coalescing.

Date Conservative Labour UKIP Liberal Democrat Green
17/04/2017 42.8 25.5 11 10.7 4
18/04/2017 43.3 25.5 10.5 10.7 4
19/04/2017 44.3 25.3 9.8 10.8 3.8
20/04/2017 46.5 25.7 8.3 10.7 2.5
21/04/2017 46.5 26 8 10.7 2.5
22/04/2017 45.8 26.7 8.3 10.5 2.3
23/04/2017 45.8 27 8.3 10.5 2.3
24/04/2017 46.5 26.3 7.3 11.2 3
25/04/2017 46.7 26.5 7.2 10.8 2.7
26/04/2017 46.2 27 7 10.8 2.7
27/04/2017 46.5 27.7 6.5 10.7 2.3
28/04/2017 45.7 29.2 6.7 9.7 2.2
29/04/2017 45.7 29 6.7 9.7 2.2
30/04/2017 45.7 29 6.7 9.7 2.2
01/05/2017 45.7 29 6.7 9.7 2.2
02/05/2017 46.7 28.5 6.8 9.5 3.2
03/05/2017 46.5 28.5 6.3 9.8 2.7
04/05/2017 46.8 28.7 6.7 9.5 2.5
05/05/2017 46.5 29.3 6.5 9.8 2
06/05/2017 46.5 29.3 6.3 9.3 2.2
07/05/2017 46.8 29 6.5 9.2 2.3
08/05/2017 46.5 28.7 6.7 9.5 2.8
09/05/2017 46.8 28.7 6.2 9.3 3.2
10/05/2017 46.8 29 5.7 9.5 2.8
11/05/2017 46.7 29.7 5.8 9 2.8
12/05/2017 47.3 31 5 9 1.8
13/05/2017 47.3 30.8 4.8 9 1.8
14/05/2017 48 29.8 4.7 8.7 2.5
15/05/2017 47.8 29.8 4.8 8.2 2.8
16/05/2017 47.8 30 4.8 8.2 2.8
17/05/2017 47 31.5 5 8 2.8
18/05/2017 46.7 32.5 5.2 7.5 2.3
19/05/2017 46.2 33.5 4.7 7.7 2
20/05/2017 45 33.7 4.7 8 1.5
21/05/2017 45.3 33.8 4.3 8.2 1.5
22/05/2017 44.7 34 4.2 8.3 1.8
23/05/2017 45 33.8 3.7 8.3 2.2
24/05/2017 44.8 34.2 3.8 8.3 2.2
25/05/2017 44 35.3 4.3 8.3 1.8
26/05/2017 44.5 35.5 4.7 8.2 1.3
27/05/2017 44.2 35.8 4.5 8.3 1.2
28/05/2017 44.2 36 4.5 8.3 1.2
29/05/2017 44.2 35 4.5 8.3 1.5
30/05/2017 42.8 35.8 4.2 9 1.7
31/05/2017 42.7 36.3 4.2 8.7 1.5
Average 45.8 30.3 6.1 9.3 2.3
Current compared with start of campaign. 3.0 4.8 -4.9 -1.4 -1.7
Percentage (above) 7% 19% -45% -13% -41%

A Different Kind of War

December 25, 2016

A DIFFERENT KIND OF WAR

What it was really like.

MUSCLE TO MOTOR
Mechanisation of the British regular army was complete by 1939, with the remaining horsed cavalry converting to armour and being combined with the Royal Tank Regiment in the Royal Armoured Corps, but 8 yeomanry regiments were sent with their own riding horses to Palestine and fought against theu Vichy French in Syria in 1941 before converting to tanks. One major motive for abolishing horse draught was that civilian agriculture and transport had changed to a point where the army could not buy suitable horses in the numbers required. The ex-cavalry tank regiments were accused of “galloping at everything”, but it was also said that most generals (who had been junior infantry officers in WW1) were “3 mph thinkers, not 30mph thinkers”; and I found when I took up cross country riding that the view from a horse’s back was very similar to that I had had from a tank hatch and the speed and obstacle crossing much the same.. The US army had also been motorised and their cavalry division converted to infantry. In other armies, motorisation was restricted to armoured divisions during the whole of the period, with horse draft and foot marching elsewhere. Most also retained some horsed cavalry fighting mainly on foot; and the Russians used complete cavalry divisions to advantage in forested and swampy areas. Even in British armoured divisions, only the single motor battalion had its own ¾ ton trucks, the battalions of the division’s infantry brigade using externally provided 3-tonners. US armoured divisions were organised into 3 combat commands, each of a tank battalion, an infantry battalion in armoured ½ track Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) and an artillery battalion.
This became unofficially imitated by some British armoured divisions during the Normandy campaign, with the 3 tank regiments and the armoured recce regiment (actually in fast Cromwell medium tanks) each pairing with the motor battalion or 1 of the 3 lorried infantry battalions, with 1 company of the motor battalion in ½ track APC. German panzer divisions usually had only 1 of their panzer grenadier infantry battalions carried in ½ track APC, the rest in unarmoured wheeled vehicles, Russian tank formations had no APC, but had “tank rider battalions” of infantry progressively re-armed with SMG who rode on top of the tanks. In late 1944 and 1945, this was copied in the west, with American and British paras riding on British Churchills.
Except for the ¾ man Bren/ Universal carriers (the only tracked vehicle that could do a stomach-crunching 90 degree pivot turn at 30mph) used by the carrier platoon of each British infantry battalion and its support company, the only full-track APC used before the introduction of the US M.75 in 1953 was the Canadian (and later) British Kangaroo, converted first from US M.7 SP and then from Canadian Ram tanks with turret removed. These were a Corps reserve asset allocated to infantry divisions for specific operations.

TANKS
Even at the end of WW2, tanks were very different from modern vehicles. Only the mighty King Tiger was the same size as a current main battle tank (MBT) and it had a much smaller gun. The fastest tanks (such as Cromwell, Comet, Chafee and Panther) had about the same power/weight ratio, speed and acceleration as a modern MBT, moving tactically at about 12 mph and could do 30mph on a road on the rare occasions this was safe and desirable.
There was no composite or reactive armour and what spaced armour existed was mainly useful only against infantry shaped-charge weapons. Steel armour was sometimes face-hardened, but the introduction of capped shot cancelled this out. The effect of sloping armour is often exaggerated by commentators. A 45 degree sloped plate weighs the same as vertical and horizontal plates protecting the same area. Slope offers real advantages only if 60 degrees or more. Shot rarely hits at 0 degrees and all but American ballistic tests assumed a strike at 30 degrees. Small differences in vehicle heading, terrain inclines, weapon barrel wear and external attachments or weak spots produced a chance factor. A knocked-out tank lost 1 1/2 crewmen on average; and about half the tanks that did not catch fire were repaired. I trained on Churchill AVRE with patches welded over holes… Petrol-fuelled tanks were no more likely to catch fire than diesels, but American use of hydraulics instead of electrics was less blameless. Shermans had a bad reputation, but their fires were usually due to excess ammunition being kept in the crew compartment.
There were no practical gun-stabilisers (that in the Sherman was useless) so shooting on the move or from short halt was useful only to spray with machine guns. There were no range finders or modern high velocity shot, greatly reducing practical maximum range. Only the British 6pdr (from June 1944) and 17pdr (from August 1944) had APDS and this was too unstable and inaccurate to be used at beyond 800 yards. Only Centurion 3 from 1950 had modern stable APDS for its 20pdr. The hard core APCR shot used by some other nations was even more range limited.
Only the platoon commander was issued with binoculars for use head out; though other tank commanders often acquired them through unofficial means, German x10 Zeiss being highly prized. There were no night vision devices other than drivers’ visible light headlamp until 1950, when commander-controlled searchlights started to be fitted. Gunner’s sights were low magnification (about 1/5 of today’s) telescopes and other crew members when closed-down had only a single unity power periscope of vision block 9 or sometimes in later models a ring of them if the commander.
When not head-out, tank crew were largely blind and deaf, with a large dead zone close to the tank, headphones and engine noise. The only practical way for infantry to communicate with a tank commander was to climb on top and hammer on the hatch. Tank and infantry radios were never on the same net and external telephones and buzzers usually did not work.
Not all tanks had a modern turret crew of commander, gunner and loader/radioman. Having the commander also act as loader (as in Valentine, French tanks and early T.34 distracted him from his vital task of watching out. I have a vivid memory from 1952 of a WW2 veteran sergeant who equated paranoia with survival pointing out to me on our route across the tank training area all the innocent bits of cover where an ATG or bazooka team COULD be; and his satisfaction on spotting the faint cloud of blue exhaust smoke over the bushes where a 3DG M.10 seeking to ambush us was hiding.

INFANTRY
An infantry platoon consisted of an HQ group headed by a junior officer and 3 sections (or American “squads”), usually divided into an MG group of 2 or 3 and a “rifle” group of 4 to 7.
Only the officer had access to a radio, which was carried and operated for him by a specialist who was rarely well-trained. The first light weight radio was the short-range and often eccentric“walky-talky” or 88 set Body armour other than a steel helmet was not worn. Thick serge uniforms were water absorbent, not resistant.
Weapons included a machine gun firing bursts of full-power rifle ammunition on a bipod mount, carried and fired by 1 man with another assisting him and carrying extra ammunition. It could be a magazine-fed LMG like the Bren, BAR, Nambu or DP; or a belt-fed GPMG such as the MG.34 or MG.42 firing faster and with a larger ammunition supply.
Most men were armed with a rifle firing single shots of full-power ammunition held in a small 8-10 round magazine. These were usually bolt-operated, but a few such as the M1 Garand were self-loading. This offered no substantial advantages until larger 20 round magazines were introduced after the end of this period.
Some men instead carried an SMG firing bursts of lower- power pistol ammunition. The German MP.43/44 introduced in 1943 used a shorter range intermediate power cartridge and could fire controlled bursts impractical with full-power ammunition, so was the first Assault Rifle (AR) of the class forming today’s standard infantry personal weapons. The US M.1/2 carbine introduced in 1944 also used an intermediate power cartridge and some variants could fire bursts. It was replaced after ammunition wastage problems in Korea by the older M.1 rifle firing full-power ammunition.
All sights were iron peep or vee sights, no optical sights being available for any weapon except telescopic sighted sniper rifles used by specialists.
Only officers were issued with binoculars. There was no night vision equipment.
All rifles carried bayonets, often now shorter, the most important function of which was signalling the intention to close.
Hand grenades were very important in close combat and in Korea some Chinese had nothing else. German stick grenades could be thrown further but were less powerful. Rifle grenades had fallen out of favour, but were to be reintroduced later.

SNIPERS
Sniper were feared and detested, regarded by other infantry as assassins rather than soldiers; and a prisoner with a black ring around his eye left by the eyepiece of a telescopic sight was very lucky to survive unless an officer was present.
They were especially dangerous to head-out tank commanders. Most of the German “snipers” encountered in Normandy were not specialists but single ordinary riflemen with standard rifles, but being missed by one of these was just as alarming.

INFANTRY ANTI-TANK WEAPONS
Conventional Anti-Tank Guns on wheeled mounts (ATG) were not sited to shoot at maximum visible range like a modern Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM), but from concealment at a range at which a miss was unlikely and into the tank’s thinner flank armour.
The 75mm and larger guns introduced from late 1942 were more difficult to dig-in or conceal, so tended to be kept for specialist anti-tank units. Infantry platoon Anti-Tank Rifles (ATR) were discredited in most armies after 1940, but the Russians kept their 14.5mm ATR until the end and used them to shoot at the optics of heavy tanks, the sides of lighter tanks and at observation aircraft. The British Boyes ATR ‘s reputation suffered from its name and the unfortunate fact that when the Germans swept into France in 1940 most units only had practise ammunition instead of hard core. The weapon type has recently resurfaced in the form of Anti-Material Rifles (AMR) such as the Barrett.
ATR were replaced by anti-tank hand grenades and contact charges such as the British sticky bomb and Gammon bomb, German hand-placed Teller mines and Japanese satchel and pole charges; and then by shaped-charge projectors such as the weak US 2.36” bazooka from 1942 and 57mm Recoilless Rifle (RR) from 1945, the more powerful (but heavy and under-appreciated) British PIAT from 1943, the very short range German Panzerfaust and longer range Panzerschreck from 1943, the Russian RPG.2 from 1949 and the US 3.5” bazooka from 1950.
These made every hedgerow dangerous, were hated by tankers; and men who fired them were rarely allowed to surrender if caught.

MORTARS
Battalion-level medium mortars (of 3” to 82mm calibre) had much the same lethality as those of today (except for those of the Americans, who persisted in using steel bombs instead of cast iron with far better fragmentation) but much shorter range. Their bombs used only sensitive contact fuses which made them ineffective against solid top cover or armour but produced very dangerous overhead tree bursts in woods. They usually operated and fired in sections of 2, but sometimes as a whole platoon. A platoon of 4 or 6 mortars was commanded by an officer who could control them together, but a pair could be controlled from the fire position or by a single Mortar Fire Controller (MFC) team commanded by an NCO and positioned near the HQ being supported. Heavier mortars (such as British and US 4.2”, German 120mm and Russian 107mm mountain, 120mm infantry or 160mm artillery mortars) provided at higher level lacked modern rifled barrels and were not only shorter ranged but less accurate than today’s. German mortar men were very good, but Russian thought of as poor, even by Russian infantry.

ASSAULT GUNS AND TANK DESTROYERS

RECCE VEHICLES

ARTILLERY
Field artillery guns and howitzers (typically French 75mm, Russian 76mm, British 25pdr and German and US 105mm) were much smaller calibre and shorter ranged than today’s 155mm pieces. They mainly used contact fused shells which could damage field works but had little effect on armoured vehicles. These were not detonated by overhead branches, but the radar proximity (or VT for “variable time”) fuses producing airbursts very effective against men in the open now standard today were sometimes used by the US from 1944.
Field artillery was supplemented by medium artillery (typically British 5.5”, Russian 122mm, German 150mm and US 155mm howitzers) of similar calibre to today’s field guns, able to affect enemy armoured units, but usually of shorter maximum range and in much smaller numbers. There were no guided artillery shells. In most armies, the commander of each battery acted as a Forward Artillery Observer (FAO), usually positioned near the HQ being supported, but with considerable autonomy. He could call through artillery communications on other batteries to reinforce the fires of his own, and this was particularly well practised in the British army from 1943. It was also possible in theory for any member of a supported unit in communication to request and direct artillery fire through his own higher headquarters and we were taught the procedures, but it was much less common and effective than Hollywood would have you suppose.

AIR SUPPORT
There was no formal equivalent to today’s Forward Air Control (FAC) teams in any army. Air support from ground attack aircraft had to be requested through a higher command level and was confined to requesting an attack on a designated place in clear weather in daylight. Pilots could not be coached on to an individual target by a ground observer. The weapons used were aircraft guns, large unguided bombs dropped from a shallow or steep dive and from 1944 salvos of unguided rockets, accurate only when fired from dangerously close range.
Another form of support from 1944 available to US and British was prearranged preparatory daylight bombing by sometimes very large formations of medium or heavy bombers. This was very effective at stunning and causing heavy casualties to a formal defence, but even if accurate could slow your attack by cratering ground and blocking streets of built-up areas with wreckage and rubble, often until surviving defenders had recovered from the shock and dug-out their vehicles and guns. This could be reduced by using medium bombers and instant fuses. Often the combing was not accurate and fell upon attackers in their forming up areas. This led to caution in planning the “no-bomb” line, increasing delay in closing with the enemy.
There were no attack helicopters (or until 1950, any helicopters) [It seems that the Germans were using helicopters for various purposes – editor].

AIR TRANSPORT
Transport aircraft such as the Ju52 and Dakota had much smaller loads than today’s Hercules, barely an infantry section or 2, rather than 18 tons. Vehicles and guns had to be delivered by gliders that could carry up to 3 tons for the Horsa or 8 tons for the few giant Hamilcar. Helicopters were used after 1950, but only for casualty evacuation or carrying Very Important generals.

Phil Barker


Monnet’s Myth: European post-war economic growth

June 13, 2016

One of the persistent founding stories about the EU concerns the Coal & Steel Community. The tale goes like this: The Coal & Steel Community and subsequently the European Economic Community were the cause of not only the western European economic recovery after the Second World War but are also the cause of the German economic rise to greatness.

The Brexit dissidents, as I like to call them and here I include myself, call this constant attribution of prosperity and peace “myopia”. This is because these analyses rarely look at the wider picture, or in some cases, simply associate the European project with universal benevolence.

The simplest approach but one in which we can see the various changes in prosperity is by a comparative measure of GDP. In 1946, the British economy was almost twice as large at the French economy and more than twice as large as what was left of the German economy in the British, French and US Army zones of occupation.

By 1955, the West German economy had grown by 283% compared to 1946. Indeed by 1950, when the Coal & Steel pact was agreed, the West German economy had grown by 55% compared with 1946. It was already larger than the French economy before the first steps of Europeanist integration had taken place, which it had overtaken in size by 1948. From then on, at no point was the French economy to ever exceed in size the West German economy.

This should alert us to an essential fact in considering the economics of Western Europe: the German economy contained huge potential for economic expansion and continued to expand on the back of political stability, the excellent German school system and the existing expertise of German engineering and manufacturing. Another factor related to myself a long time before at university was that after the war with the major industrial cities and plants in ruins and with industrial machinery confiscated as part of the post-war settlement, West Germany replanned both its cities and the industrial plants. Sites were cleared and rationally laid out – this had long term benefits in creating smooth access to and from manufacturing sites.

Another aspect to consider is the international dimension. The post-war drive to facilitate trade and reduce tariff barriers under GATT also made it possible for international trade to flourish in a way not seen since the British trade expansion of the 19th Century.

The really damaged economy from the Second World War was that of France. The French economy in 1944 was 46% of the size it had been in 1939. It was not until 1949 that France returned to pre-war levels of prosperity.

Again, we can see that the economic recovery was well and dramatically under way before even the first steps of Jean Monnet’s project were adopted.

As we can see above, the West German economy had grown by 283% compared to 1946 but it had also exceeded the size of the British economy. By 1962, the West German economy was 28% larger than that of Britain. By 1981, it had become 54% larger than the British economy. Thereafter the British economy steady grew in size and reduced the gap with West Germany to 1989 and with the unified Germany in the years after until by 2008, the gap was 18%.

The French economy today is about 80% of the size of the German economy. The ratio has varied from 60% to 75% until the 1990s. This matches the ratios from the first half of the 20th Century with the exception of wartime figures.

What about the United Kingdom?

According to the story told by Europeanists, Britain struggled because it was locked out of the EEC until 1973. But the figures tell a different story.

The British economy shrank noticeably from 1944-1946 by 4% per year. Today this would be considered a major depression but this was the point at which the British government was gearing down from wartime spending levels.

By 1948, the economy recovered 3% on 1947, when it shrank by 1%. Thereafter until 1972, the British economy grew by an average of 3% per year. This was mild growth compared with French or German growth rates in the period, which were 7% and 6% respectively.

However, we should bear in mind that the problems with the British economy were a great deal more self-inflicted than due to geopolitical relationships. For much of the period into the 1950s for instance, the British government was spending heavily on defence. There were problems with industrial policy, increasingly with industrial unrest and the problem that British industry was not replaced or rebuilt as was German industry.

Yet, even with all the trouble and disruption of the 1970s, the economy still grew by 2% on average per year until 1980, when the economy entered a serious recession with the start of the liberalisation of the British economy and the closing of state-subsided industries. 2% per year was average growth until 2000 – 2008 which was 3% per year.

Compared to French and German growth rates in the 1980s & 1990s, Britain matched both countries and exceed both in the 2000-2008 period, where France experienced 2% average growth and Germany 1% average growth.

We cannot see in the data series any noticeable effect of EEC entry for Britain but we can see that Britain went from 7% growth in 1973 to -1% in 1974 and 0% in 1975 before returning to 2% growth in 1976. We could associate the return to growth with the end of EEC transition except that we also know this was the point at which Labour Party economic policy began to change with an reduction in subsidies, heavy cuts in welfare spending and the IMF Crisis.

Together with the Thatcher government of 1979-90’s supply side reforms and closure of inefficient industries, we can see that membership of the EC, as it was, was neither a noticeable help or hindrance to British economic performance. What was critical in Britain was the reintroduction of market economics and the end of the post-war economic consensus. Indeed, we can argue that Germany’s success was due much more to its effective labour and industrial policies and the economic stability and growth these enabled.

The last major recession in the British economy was partly caused by an overheated housing market (the result of market-liberalisation) but above all by the monetary dislocation of the ERM debaclé. Once the British currency floated again, the economy retuned in 1993 to 2% growth. On a side note, what is remarkable about the ERM is that the Europeanists attempted to return to a form of 1920s economics with exchange rate controls.

What this demonstrates is that economies have a “natural” size to which they return and from which they grow with the right policy mix from governments. What the Europeanists claim is the result of the European experiment is actually this natural tendency reasserting itself amidst political stability.

Links:
GDP Summary
Data Series as Analysed


Future Army Policy: A Personal Perspective

May 31, 2016

I have been thinking about the future direction of policy with regard to the Armed Forces and in particular the Army. I am not going touch more than lightly upon the Royal Navy and the Royal Airforce as I feel these fall too greatly outside my own areas of knowledge.

My starting point is a comparison of broad numbers. The Regular Army numbers 156,940  with 75,110 reserve personnel for a total of 232,050 at present. This number however conceals the very weak cutting edge of the Army.

In military parlance, the military strength of the Army, also known as “bayonet strength”, is carried in the fighting units. These would be primarily the infantry and armoured regiments, of which the Army has 18 infantry and 14 armoured regiments. Each “regiment” in the British Army is in fact a battalion, so I will be using “battalion” in place of regiment for simplicity.

Sounds reasonable? Well, partially. Normally a wartime division is organised around three brigades, each made up of three to four battalions. This would on the basis of thirty two combat battalions mean two divisions of nine or twelve battalions with a brigade or two to spare.

Sounds reasonable still? In the Cold War, Britain could field four divisions, three of which were armoured (meaning the division had a heavy allocation of main battle tanks) and one infantry division. So on a peacetime establishment, we can still field about half the same field force, though this assumes the whole Army is mobilised.

This is where the first weakness become apparent. The Army has just four tank battalions and a total Challenger 2 strength of 227 vehicles. Not all all of these would be concentrated in the armoured battalions. There are others based with the training battalion of the Armoured Corps. Oh yes, and there are NO replacements for Challenger 2. Each tank destroyed in action is lost permanently.

So, the Army could field two brigades with two armoured battalions each, making one partially armoured division. But doesn’t the Army have 14 armoured battalions?

Yes. But one is actually the training battalion at Bovington. The rest are a mixture of armoured cavalry and light recon battalions. Only the armoured cavalry actually have armoured fighting vehicles, the rest are equipped with Land Rovers, Jackals and the like are not intended for heavy combat.

So, the combat strength of the Army is infantry heavy. This is not such a problem if we only expect to conduct peace-keeping or counter-insurgency combat operations. However, we have seen a resurgence of Russian military aggression since 2014 together with threats to NATO allies in the Baltic states and the Russian Army, though not without its own problems remains a much more tank heavy force (2,562 with 12,000+ in reserve).

While the Russian Army is still largely a conscript force and retains much of the same cultural problems which plagued the Soviet Army (officer-dependent leadership as NCOs are largely non-professional) lowering the combat value of much of the Russian Army units, Russia has deep reserves to draw upon and as noted above much greater armoured strength of numbers.

Open war with Russia remains unlikely, however the danger of open war has been rapidly increasing with Russian aggression. We cannot afford to discount the possibility of a Russian invasion of the Baltic nations or even Poland. This would bring our NATO commitment into play. I’ll discuss possible scenarios later but suffice it here to say that a scenario which sees either Russian occupation of NATO territory or which requires heavy garrisons to deter Russian attacks, would stretch the Army to its limits.

With a battalion constituting 550-750 men, anyone familiar with military history of war between two technologically equivalent foes knows that combat strength rapidly leeches during intensive military operations. Assuming 18 x 750 men, the infantry strength of the Army is 13,500.

Now, engage in a thought experiment. Russia has invaded and occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Polish Army is mobilised and being reinforced by NATO battle-groups from the other member-states.

Do not imagine that NATO could negotiate an end to the war. The purpose of NATO is to deter aggression and the Russian Army would have to be expelled by force. A NATO counter-offensive would have to attack from a line Olsztyn – Cizycko – Suwalki north-eastwards to retake Riga, seal the eastern border as well as securing Narva to retake Tallinn. This would constitute an offensive-drive of 500 km, against at least equal Russian numbers.

Assume the operation is successful but incurs repeated heavy combat for British Army units. The British infantry force (assuming total mobilisation) could take 50-75% casualties from all causes by the time the Baltic states are retaken. This would mean infantry casualties in the order of 6,750 to 10,125 men. The latter figure would mean that the entire Army’s infantry strength, the core of the fighting capability of the entire Army would have been mauled. Entire battalions could be reduced from 6-700 men to less than 100.

Am I exaggerating? I don’t think so. Intensive combat operations in WW2, Korea and Vietnam all saw casualties in this order.

But remember the Russian preponderance in tank numbers? Let us first count the number of first-rate MBTs in NATO armies.

The British Army has 227 Challenger 2s. The German Army has a current MBT strength of 250 with plans to add another 100 or so Leopard 2 MBTs. The Dutch Army really doesn’t have any MBTs (having borrowed 18 from the German Army). The Belgian Army has none. The Danish Army has 57 Leopard 2. The French Army has 200 Le Clerc MBTs with another 200 in storage.The Italian Army has 200 Ariete MBTs. The Polish Army has 250 Leopard 2s with another 750 T-72 variants, which will not be counted here. We can also add the US Army’s 1,200 M1 Abrams (there are about 6-7,000 older models in storage), so assuming the US Army deploys the bulk of its armoured brigades to Europe, the NATO total field force would be 2,484 MBTs, assuming no stored tanks are mobilised.

But again, we have to make allowances. Not all the European MBT force would be deployed to Poland. Tanks would have to be brought up to operational readiness, which would be a major headache for the German Army, given its low current state of readiness and which may be an issue for all member-states with the possible exception of the USA.

Also, tanks will have to be left behind both to furnish a pool of replacements and to train replacement crews. So, assuming 10% of the European tank force is left out of battle, the NATO army group is left with 2,200+ first-rate MBTs, though it should be noted that approximately 100 of the Polish Leopard 2 fleet are the old A4 model.

We may also have to allow for deployments to other sectors of NATO territory. Removing another 10% leaves a field force of about 2,000 first-rate MBTs. Still good, given that much of the Russian tank force is older Soviet model MBTs, though again these would not be the poor quality rubbish fobbed off on the Iraqis. The late 1980s models of Soviet tanks were much better armed and armoured than NATO expected when the Cold War ended and the Russians have been quietly upgrading their tank fleet.

Remember that there are no Challenger 2 replacements. The British Army would have to either reopen production, if possible or seek foreign-built replacements. I do not know how many tanks Krass-Maffei, the German manufacturer of the Leopard 2 is capable of building per year, but my estimate based upon Leopard 2 deliveries in the 1980s is about 100 per year in peacetime conditions.

The scenario also assumes that either the Russian objective is occupation and a dug-in line of defence along the Polish border. It does not assume a continued Russian offensive into Poland proper. It also assumes that Russian intentions could be detected sufficiently in advance to mobilise and prepare NATO forces, not to defend the Baltic states but to reinforce Poland.

Air superiority is a questionable assumption, given NATO dependence upon the USAF. At best, I believe we would have limited air superiority and may have to conduct a counter-offensive under conditions of air-parity, which would place a great burden upon air-defence systems and units, while accepting the risk not just to combat units on march routes but the vital supply convoys of trucks rolling after the armoured spearheads.

Another question is that of ammunition supply. The British tank fleet has a finite supply of Challenger 2 main-gun rounds as the British factory which manufactured this ammunition has long been closed. Once the ammunition supply has been fired off, it’s gone.

The above assumptions may apply to a degree or in different ways to the Russians. We don’t know the state of Russian logistics, so both sides could be hampered by the absence of wartime economies.

The point is that the British Army with two divisions, one of which is armoured, would be able to give NATO a full-strength effort only once. After that, either the British government would have to consider peace-terms or full-mobilisation of the economy and the manpower-pool which would cause great disruption to the country.

The same is true of all NATO countries, except, perhaps the USA.

Given the Russian ability now to deploy in a matter of less than six weeks forces up to 100,000 men on a state-border, we have to give real thought to turning the Army from a neglected child to a real combat force capable of sustaining an initial period of hard-fighting of up to six months before reserve or new formations can be mobilised, trained and deployed.

The first priority is aim to double the combat strength of the Army. Infantry are relatively easy to train. The same is true of the logistical arm but the armoured force must be expanded from four battalions to sixteen, enough to give two armoured divisions a full-weight of 232 MBTs each in four battalions. All no more than one quarter of the combat battalions can be reserve units, given these will take time to train to efficiency and to recall once war is imminent.

The new armoured divisions will need to be supplemented by infantry-divisions. If war is to take place in the East, there will be a premium upon infantry in heavily forested areas as well as to hold lines of communication. Armoured units should not be tied up in this role.

If there are two regular armoured divisions with two reserve divisions, then there should be the same number of regular infantry divisions but with four reserve infantry divisions. This entails expanding the tank fleet from 204 in four battalions to 928 in sixteen battalions with another 100 for training and another 100 or so for replacement.

The infantry arm would expand from a theoretical 13,500 in 18 battalions to 24 armoured infantry battalions (two per armoured brigade) and a further 54 infantry battalions (three per infantry brigade). This would be an armoured infantry force of 18,000 and an infantry force of 40,500. The infantry arm would total 58,500 men, 22,500 in the regular Army, 36,000 in the Army Reserves.

This calls for a massively expanded budget, just for the Army. The defence budget would have to also accommodate similar expansions and re-equipments in the Navy and Airforce. It would also call for a reform of the MoD, which is long overdue, to return control to the Forces themselves and not the Civil Service.

It would also call, I believe, for the development of a pool of trained manpower in the population. This means we will have to reintroduce a form of national service to reduce the budget and manpower burden on the regular Army. I propose that of the four regular divisions, one armoured and one infantry division be largely manned by national servicemen, leaving two divisions available for immediate overseas deployment.

The Reserve Divisions would manned by those who have completed their national service. Assuming 30,000 young (mostly) young men pass through national service with the Army per year, if these are placed in the Reserves as a part of a national service legislative arrangement for approximately four years after completing a three year national service arrangement, the Army would be amply provided with manpower both active and reserve and in the prime of physical fitness.

If the national service element provides enough young men with a taste for army life, then the Regular Army can be sustained at two full divisions plus the core of the two divisions manned by national servicemen.

Industrial policy will have to subordinated to equipping the Army for war-preparation. This means that we need national defence industries to produce MBTs, AFVs of all types, weapons from rifles to artillery to guided munitions. Above all we need to ensure that we have enough munitions to sustain two divisions in an overseas deployment and a sufficient stock to equip and sustain two more. The Reserve divisions can be supplied out of stepped up war-time production.

NATO states will have to coordinate industrial and procurement policies. Years ago, I wrote about the mess of NATO organisation and defence procurement cooperation. NATO needs radical harmonisation of equipment. I fear for any NATO force in the field given the bewildering variety of spare parts needed for vehicles, the different radio systems and even the different field rations.

Addendum: the Royal Airforce uses the Brimstone air-to-surface missile. Each one costs an average of £135,000 (£100,000 – £175,000 depending if development costs etc are included), which means that a Leopard 2 MBT costing £4,000,000 would be the same as 29 Brimstone missiles. I think a tank is a complementary investment.

This will seem appalling to modern, educated minds but in statecraft, we must face appalling possibilities. The worst of these is war. The only remedy is preparation.

Si vis pacem, para bellum


William Hague is fully committed to Cameron’s Fraud

February 22, 2016

The opinion piece in the Telegraph can be found here.

Few if any European leaders can any longer be under the illusion that Britain can be dragooned into a more centralised Union.

Hague is either lying or completely unaware of the paper-thin nature of this claim. The Prime Minister knows full well that the statement by the European Council of Ministers is only a statement of intent with regards to possible inclusion in the next treaty change.

The problem is that there is no treaty on the horizon. The French and Germans have both poured cold water on this idea.

The fact is that this statement of exemption from “ever closer union” without being included in the treaties is worthless. Every step towards “ever closer union” will involve and affect this country because the legal basis in located in the treaties, which have not been altered, nor will be altered.

The first of these is my strong belief that if the UK leaves the EU, Scotland is much more likely to leave the UK.

This statement is completely misleading. Hague is alluding to the threat by the Scots Nationalist leader, Nichola Sturgeon to call a snap referendum in the event of a Brexit vote.

The Scots would have no legal right to call such a referendum, any result would not be legally binding or valid and the Scots Nationalists would be guilty of sedition. The only way that the Scots could hold another referendum would be if they were granted on by act of Parliament.

Second, we need some kind of European Union to exist whether we are in it or not. Otherwise, Europe’s seething nationalisms and tensions will break loose again, as they did in the Balkans in the 1990s.

What happened in the Balkans was nothing to do with the European Union and everything to do with the suppression of religious and ethnic hatreds going back hundreds of years. This claim by the EU’s supporters for the EU to have been instrumental in securing peace is palpable nonsense. It could only apply to the former Yugoslavia, most of which is not even within the EU.

This is akin to the ludicrous claim that Russia fears the EU and desires its breakup. How many divisions does the EU have?

What Hague is claiming is that power has to be taken away from the populace into the hands of the enlightened pseudo-aristocracy of the EU in order to prevent the populace’s vile instincts from coming to the fore. His claim may even be attempting to refer to the silly argument that the EU is the reason why there has not been a militaristic Germany since 1945. Obviously nothing to do with NATO, the thorough-going reform of German culture and its constitution or the experience of two terrible wars which brought nothing but ruin to Germany. Obviously not.

If we leave the single market, the effect on business confidence and investment would be very damaging. But if we seek to stay in the single market, then that would certainly mean we would have to keep the rules, regulations, payments and freedom of movement of that market. The key difference would be we would no longer have any say over those things.

Here he is echoing his lying master. This is going to be the great refrain of the Europhiles – “in or out but take the consequences”. This sounds frightening until one realises that we’ve heard these lies for years.

Leaving the Single Market could be very foolish, even suicidal. That is why the sensible Eurosceptics have not advocated this “WTO”/”bi-lateral” route. The risks would be great. But even then, Britain would regain its position on the international bodies which draw up the regulatory agreements on trade and so forth. We would actually regain not just sovereignty but influence, contrary to the nostrum of being in a club of 28, where we have been outvoted 72 out of 72 times in twenty years.

This is why Flexcit has been advocated now for more than two years – this as a completed body of thought. If anyone would like a shorter copy, please read the thoughts of Owen Patterson on UK2020.

What we should do is rejoin the European Free Trade Association, from which we can negotiate membership of the European Economic Area. An agreement similar to that of Norway (the so-called Norway Option) would leave us both with access to the Single Market in terms of tariff barriers and technical trade barriers and give a crucial voice in how internationally agreed regulations (on whose councils the UK will sit) shall be implemented throughout the EEA, which includes the Single Market. We would be on the true councils of influence alongside Norway, Iceland and Switzerland and the EU itself as represented by the European Commission.

Better yet – we would not be obliged to accept EU regulations. We would have a right to refuse without penalty. The EU would cease to have influence or authority over the UK. We would regain, even with the EEA freedom of movement agreements, the right to block or halt immigration from the EU in the event that such movement placed an undue strain on national resources.

In the EEA, the UK would be a true partner state instead of a servile, subject state.

William Hague, like his lying master would rather remain in hoc to an autocratic, sclerotic institution with dreams of becoming a full state.

Leave Europe to its fantasies of reunion. Britain has a separate destiny.


Disney is Problematic (more First-World Problems)

February 8, 2016

The Washington Post has published a new article on Researchers have found a major problem with ‘The Little Mermaid’ and other Disney movies. It follows the usual path of “girls are oppressed” and here is some feminist theory to demonstrate this.

Unfortunately, the central premise of social constructionism is deeply flawed. Scientific studies have shown that sex differences manifest “in the pre-socialization stage of their cognitive development”.

This continues throughout childhood and is tied to the development of the brain.
There is also a simple problem with this theory. It’s all based on the simplistic idea that representation creates reality.
The basic thesis is this: Girls watch Disney. Girls learn how to behave.
Excuse me? You mean that their mothers and their friends have so little influence on their psychological development that little girls grow up passive, narcissistic and helpless?
There is a strong strain in Western culture of blaming representation (theatre, novels, comics, films, tv, video games) for what is perceived as aberrant behaviour in children, which has never been borne out.
This is the same strain of argument which argues that video games make for psychopathic killers (Jack Thompson) or woman-haters (Anita Saarkesian). It is a monomaniacal obsession with trivia, ignoring the far-more important effect of family and parenting.
This same argument has been tried with children’s toys (Sex-Specific Toy Preferences: Learned or Innate?). This does not hold up because it is an unscientific belief, rooted in a wish-fulfilment fantasy where the power of mind rules over the body and the human soul is plastic and subject to the will of the guardians of society.
These Disney films are very popular with young girls because the age group is already intensely gender-defined, which happens by the age of four. This process defies parenting wishes because it is a natural (yes, I’m using a signifier) outgrowth of normal development.
Did anyone else notice the choice of films studied? I notice that Wreck It Ralph was ignored, as was Toy Story (in any of the versions produced) or Big Hero 6 etc? No. Because those films are not princess-films. Disney produces more than just princess-films because it caters to a wide audience. Aladdin is the exception and Aladdin is a hero-tale aimed at all members of the family. The others are, broadly speaking, romance-tales and romance tales appeal to women and girls more than men and boys and is amply expressed in the market.
So why do the stories compliment girls on their looks?
Well, good looks attract attention. This is not just true for girls but for boys. A handsome boy has charisma amongst his friends and attracts female attention. It’s a simple part of sexual attraction and competition within our species. Good looks give pleasure to the viewer and praise for good looks gives pleasure to the possessor. This is well attested in the ancient sources, as we can see in the myth of Narcissus and the numerous beautiful girls pursued by amorous gods.
Conversely, ugliness repels. Again, this is attested in the ancients, such as the story of the Spartan princess, who born ugly, was taken to the shrine of Helen at Therapne. The divine Helen touched the girl-child’s head and prophesied that the girl would grow into a beauty (Herodotus). Women prize beauty because it is the quickest way to high value in the sexual market place – this is not just a pleasing appearance. Beauty indicates fertility and thus the probability of plentiful and healthy children. There is a great deal of truth, I believe, in the phrase “Built for the Stone Age”.
This sexual competition takes place primarily amongst women. One of the best measures against cruelty towards losers in this competition to counsel girls not to be cruel to girls who are not closest to the ideal. No one is crueller to girls than other girls.
So to return to my question: why do the stories compliment girls on their looks?
Because every girl wishes to be beautiful and noticed for her beauty. Yet the stories do not end with “what a pretty face”. The princess must also be kind, gentle and considerate of others. Again, from an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense. A woman who beautiful may bear healthy, good looking children but if she is cruel and selfish, not only is she likely to be unfaithful and endanger the family relationship, she will a bad mother to her children.
Note that this does not mean women who have strong characters are ipso facto bad mothers. Such would be a straw-man distortion of the argument. Strong characters in mothers are often desirable, the ancients again attesting to this. Coriolanus’ mother imploring her wronged son not to attack his own city. The famed strength of character of Aurellia, mother of the Gracchii. The biblical expression “the price of a good woman is above rubies”.
All these point toward the necessity of moral education of girls. We educate all children in Western society not to be cruel toward others because this is an altruistic end. The princess is not just beautiful but has a strong, well-balanced character, though the expression of this character changes with time. So, the ideal in the 1950s was the house-wife (an ideal is not an always expression of reality but often an aspiration). So the modern Disney films have princess-characters who are also invested with moral agency.
Belle chose to protect Beast, because she recognised his worth and saw through Gaston’s veneer of heroism. Gaston was a braggart and a bully, where as Beast had a noble heart hidden beneath his pride and suffering.
In the princess-tale, the beauty of the princess is an outward recognition of her noble character. It acts as a visual signifier yet does not complete the story. Often the princess has to overcome her own pride, usually because the hero is of a lower status than herself (see hypergamy). Other times, this dynamic is reversed, where female hypergamy is recognised in the heroine’s desire to marry the prince, who must overcome his pride because her character becomes essential to his completion as a hero and a man (as opposed to a boy).
The prince/hero in the tale is complimented for his achievements because men compete for status through ability. Yet still the hero must also demonstrate good character if he is to succeed. It is no good to compliment the hero on his looks – this would just inflate his self-regard and sabotage his abilities, thus his position within the group.
Why don’t we praise girls for achievements? Actually we do (Mulan is a great warrior; Anna in Frozen is brave and courageous to the point of recklessness). But in the sexual market place, achievements compliment the basics of the heroine. The vulnerability of women is child-bearing and rearing. Here the hero must act as the shield and this is implied in our requirement for the hero to achieve and show good character.
In all princess films, the father figure is weak. I note that this article did not pick up on this aspect of the tale. When the father is weak, the princess is placed in danger (sent to live with Beast, kidnapped, exiled or hunted) or has to leave the role of princess and behave as a hero, the key is the disruption of the family. In the latter sub-role (inversion of social role), the heroine discovers herself and self-reliance (she grows into a woman). In the former role, she is rescued by the hero (who has to become a man by doing so).
Where is her mother in these tales. Either ineffective, dead or acting as the voice of reason to a weak father. Again, here the parental influence on the princess is weak or at an end.
This points to a fundamental tenet of the princess-tale. The growth from child into adulthood. which is a symbolic act of rebirth, marked by the presence and danger of death (both physical and spiritual).
These tales appeal, not because they are instructional on how we should present ourselves but because they are moral tales, like Aesop, on how to be a good person.

I -The Market Solution: A soft landing

January 22, 2016

Nothing much to add here but I like the emphasis upon regaining our sovereignty and the exit as a process, not an event.