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Comprehensive Military Power: World's Top 10 Militaries of 2015

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Luke 14:31-32

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?

32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.*

It is in some ways remarkable that there is still no commonly agreed method on quantifying and ranking national military power.

There is one such for economics, for instance. It is called the GDP. You can make somewhat different arguments on relative economic size or living standards based on various ways of measuring GDP – e.g., the eternal debates over whether nominal or PPP is best – but it does make these discussions factually “grounded” in a way that military discussions (at least as they are carried out in the popular press and comments sections) are not. This may even extend to some extent to the US military itself. For instance, here is a short quote from an article by Adrian Bonenberger, who spent 7 years as an infantry officer in the US Army:

This is the greatest risk we face for World War III. Not that Russia defeats Ukraine and moves toward Poland and Estonia, but that Ukraine wipes out the Russians currently in Ukraine, and Putin is forced to take some drastic action to prevent further losses. After all, why should Ukraine not feel entitled to take some of Russia’s territory in return for their lost Crimea? And who will be there to stop them, save demoralized and confused Russian conscripts?

russia-vs-ukraine-military-power The chances of that happening in the foreseeable future are precisely zero, so awesome is the current size of the military gap between Russia and Ukraine (it approximately doubled from a factor of 4.5 in 1992 at the time of the Soviet collapse, to a peak of 9 by 2013). Even cursory examinations of force structure would confirm it; just the Russian Southern Military District by itself is considerably more powerful than the entire Ukrainian military. Tall tales of Donetsk airport “cyborgs” mowing down thousands of elite Pskov paratroopers to the contrary, on the one occasion in the Donbass War that the Ukrainian military engaged directly with the Russian military resulted in a resounding defeat for the Ukraiians at Ilovaysk – and that despite the Russian military having to maintain plausible deniability and thus forego the use of its fancier toys.

Nor will this situation change cardinally in the future, as the graph to the right shows (which incidentally is based on some very “optimistic” assumptions about Ukraine’s ability to remain solvent and maintain military spending at 5% of GDP). The idea that Ukraine will be able to militarily reconquer the LDNR so long as Russia provides it with support, to say nothing of actually seizing chunks of territory from Russia itself, is too absurd for further commentary.

This is just one limited example of flawed military commentary in the popular press. Literally hundreds of other examples can be thought of, from ‘Murica patriots who literally believe it is 1,000 times stronger than any other “military or combination of militaries,” to the Russia stronk! types and neocons who are in strange agreement that Russia is currently establishing a “hegemony” over the Middle East with its small-scale Syrian air intervention (which if Washington really wanted to could put to a forcible end within 24 hours).

Anyhow, I don’t claim to be any sort of military expert. If you asked me to compare the EW capabilities of the F/A-18A versus the Su-30MKI, I would draw up a total blank. That said, I have read a fair bit about military history and military theory, so I think I can contribute in a small way to uplifting the level of the popular discourse by introducing some rigor to it by way of the Comprehensive Military Power concept, a sort of military analogue of GDP that is both additive (so that alliances can be compared) and consistent across time (so that historical comparisons can be made and even what-if scenarios of the Modern Poland vs. Nazi Germany type).

But first, I would like to criticize or introduce caveats to some other popularly accepted ways of making sweeping large-scale military comparisons.

Existing Attempts to Quantify Military Power

military-budget-2014-sipri Military Budgets

This is by far the most common and intuitive method of making comparisons. It is objective and commonsensical: All other things equal, the more you spend on your military, the better it will be.

As historians like Paul Kennedy in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers pointed out, in the longterm, it is almost invariably the countries with the biggest economic potential who end coming out ahead in superpower struggles. With a bigger economy, you can have a bigger military budget with less overall strain (since once you go much about 5% of GDP military spending, your overall economy tends to start becoming distorted).

But military effectiveness depends a lot more than just the amount of dollars that are pumped into it. It also depends on domestic price levels (e.g., salaries for equivalent-quality Chinese soldiers will be much less than for American soldiers); the presence or absence of a domestic military-industrial complex (e.g., compare Saudi Arabia buying US equipment at international prices versus the ability of a country like Russia with its own MIC to produce its own advanced equipment at much lower costs); the aggregate of former spending, accounting for things such as what percentage of it “stayed on” in the form of military capital (which itself is continually adjusted for depreciation); and what US military theorist Trevor Dupuy called “combat effectiveness value,” that is, the relative effectiveness with which a military can use its existing manpower and capital stocks to win engagements and wrack up good K/D ratios, and which itself depends on a myriad of factors beyond just money such as generalship, esprit de corps, etc.

As we shall soon see, while consideration of the above factors does not (for now) change the fundamental fact of US military dominance, but it does move the focus away from overly simplistic rhetoric of the type that “the US spends as much on its military as the next 10 countries/20 countries/rest of the world combined” with the unspoken assumption being that actual military power is a mere extension of dollar spending on it.

global-firepower-2015 Global Firepower and other Popular Indices

This is the best known popular online index of military power available. Unfortunately, its methodology is secret so far as I’m aware, and its scaling is strange and obviously non-additive. Nor is it very intuitive. For instance, the gap between the US and Russia seems to be similar to that between the UK and France. This is almost flat out impossible. French and British military power, much like economies and demography, are remarkably similar. There is no way that even the proportional gap between them is as big as that between the US and Russia, which does have a very formidable military but is currently in the midst of rebuilding it from the post-Soviet stagnation.

Likewise for this recent ranking from Credit Suisse.

There is the Composite Index of National Capability, which uses military expenditure, military personnel, energy consumption, iron and steel production, urban population, and total population as inputs to develop an index of “national capability.” This was developed in the US during the 1960s, a time when the use of such inputs would have been logical due to memories of the World Wars, which were won by mass conscript armies and steel foundries that produced the means to churn out thousands of guns, tanks, and artillery pieces.

cinc-history-1800-2007

But is it still relevant to today’s world? Suffice to say that it is a pretty sure thing that iron and steel production will not be a limiting factor in any plausible Great Power war either now, nor would it have been even by the 1970s. The fact that China now produces almost ten times as much steel as the US will have vastly less significance than Germany producing 17.6 million tons of steel in 1913 to 4.8 million tons by Russia in 1913. Indeed, the very fact that China overtook the US on the CINC around 2000 discredits it as a viable index of modern military power or even national capability.

The blogger and political scientist Phil Arena has a better version of the CINC which he calls “M” that is a much better proxy of military power. It is still flawed but has the major advantage of being very simple and possessing face validity.

comprehensive-national-power-2015 Chinese geopolitical think tanks have developed the concept of Comprehensive National Power, which attempts to measure all facets of national power (2015 rankings to the right).

The Chinese are obsessed with not repeating what they see as the mistakes of the Soviet Union – e.g., distorting its economy through massive military overspending – so they actually tend to deemphasize the military aspect from such comparisons in favor of financial and soft power influence.

This is, of course, perfectly valid – so long as an American CVBG doesn’t show up on your coast, at any rate – but this is going beyond the scope of what this post is about, i.e. strictly military comparisons.

Technical Discussions

On the Internet, most of the more informed military discussions tend to be about the superiority of one or another weaponsd platform over another. Who would win in a Leopard 2A7 vs. M1A2 Abrams vs. T-14 Armata slugfest? (I have no idea) Does the fact that Indian fighter pilots in Su-30MKI’s beat British Typhoons in a recent exercise mean that Russia is stronk and the RAF sucks? (No, because dogfighting isn’t the same thing as BVR combat) Will the F-35 program reinforce US air dominance or does it constitute the most spectacular military boondoggle thus far? (Somewhere in between most likely)

I don’t put much stock in these discussions. First off, a lot of the real details are classified, so real life performance can often differ from theory (and war games). Argentinian Mirages were supposed to outperform British Harriers in 1982, whereas the final “score” ended up about 10:0. These discussions frequently discount cost considerations. This is the classic Tiger vs. T-34 phenonenon: Crudely speaking, the former might be a match for 5 of the latter, but that isn’t so useful when you can have ten T-34s for the price of one Tiger (which will in any case break down due to its overengineering and have to be abandoned for lack of spare parts). But the crucial question of cost rarely enters these fanboyish arguments. Third, good militaries are supposed to act as tightly coordinated wholes, so the impact of any one platform – be it substantially above or below performance expectations – isn’t that relevant in the overall scheme of things. The French had substantially more and BETTER tanks in 1940, but that didn’t end up doing them much good, because their tanks had far less coordination due to a paucity of radios (which all Panzers were equipped with) and they were spread out all over the place, making it impossible to use them as the armored spearheads they were supposed to be. If you don’t have the appropriate doctrine for them, your fancy toys aren’t very useful.

This can apply even to really old, well-established tech. For instance, Liveleak and YouTube are full of videos in which Syrian Arab Army tanks in dense urban areas trundle about in the open without infantry support, making them easy targets for jihadist RPGs. You would think they’d have learned to stop doing it after four years and counting of defeats, but apparently not. They are lucky in the sense that while their jihadist opponents might be much more enthusiastic, they are also at least just as incompetent. Those videos are likewise full of Allah Akbaring in the middle of firefights and firing without aiming.

Professional Military Ratings

They are hard to dig up, but I have found a few examples of these.

For instance, from Ian Morris’ The Measure of Civilization – companion book to his more famous Why the West Rules – he cites war games designer James Dunnigan, who gave the following scores for land and sea power:

james-dunnigan-military-power

While the naval scores look feasible enough, the land scores are clearly incredible. Suffice to say that if that was true then Russian land power would not only be significantly lower than India’s (which sources a lot of its tech from Russia) and Israel’s (which is a respectable Power but nowhere near the very top leagues), it would also be less as a percentage of US land power than its naval power is as a percentage of US naval power. Considering the US relative focus on sea power, which Russia as a primarily land power does not share, this is just logically impossible.

In 2010, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released the following estimates of military power for 2010. Especially considering that Chinese analysts are not particularly given to nationalistic bombast, this looks to be about credible.

cass-military-power-rating

It shows that China and Russia are each at about a third of US military power, while France and the UK in return are a third of that of China and Russia. This tallies well with my CMP estimates.

Finally, it is also worth pointing out that according to one discussion I’ve had with a professional British military analyst – who must for obvious reasons remain anonymous – these figures all substantially understate Russian military power. In particular, he argues that “Russian ground capabilities would be a very close second to US ones,” which if so implies that Russia’s aggregate score – that is, including the naval component – on any such comparison would be closer to half that of the US than a third (although he strongly questions the utility of such quantification in general). He also has a very dim opinion of Chinese military power. I find it difficult to agree with many of his points, especially since even just the US Army is substantially bigger than Russia’s Ground Forces, and surely has a significantly higher combat effectiveness value on average. This would make it hard to square with his (80%-90%?) evaluation of Russia’s ground capabilities relative to the US. But as a professional, this opinion is worth mentioning at least as a FWIW.

A lot of great work has been done on detailed, startlingly accurate modeling of military engagements – starting all the way back from the war games of the Prussian General Staff in the mid-19th century, and culminating in complex computer models that query huge databases of past military engagements to find optimal strategies that are used by modern militaries today.

However, apart from the small detail that they tend to be classified, they are all focused on the tactical or operational level, not the strategic one. I.e., they don’t measure comprehensive military power.

Comprehensive Military Power

To compile my rating, it has to satisfy several prerequisites:

  • It has to make sense at a fundamental level (face validity)
  • It has to be both additive and historically consistent, so that cross-country comparisons across time and space can be made
  • It has to be fairly simple conceptually and use openly available data

Nuclear war power is a totally different kettle of fish and is entirely excluded. This is an index exclusively of conventional military power.

The solution I settled down is a “translation” of the GDP concept from economics into the military sphere.

cmp-formula

Where:

  • CMP is comprehensive (national) military power;
  • L is “labor” aka military manpower, or Army personnel numbers;
  • K is “capital” aka military capital, aka the stock of equipment a military possesses i.e. tanks, guns, bulletproof vests, fortifications, etc.
  • CE is the “total factor productivity,” or how effectively L and K are used, and is a proxy for combat effectiveness value. This is a multiple of the technology level (T); of Troop Quality (Q); and of a cultural factor (C). Explanations below.
  • alpha is set = 0.5. This implies that a force with twice as many troops should be about equivalent to a force with twice as much military capital, everything else being equal. Is this a good assumption? Perhaps I underestimate labor slightly in terms of ground forces. But it would also massively overestimate labor in terms of its contributions to naval power. Clearly, having twice as many warships is preferable to having twice as many sailors (all else equal). I think 0.5 is a good compromise, but if you have good arguments for other figures, I would be happy to hear them.

Manpower

armed-forces-personnel-1989-2013 The only comprehensive data I could find that goes back to 1989 is the World Bank’s figures for total armed forces personnel. This includes paramilitary forces, which rarely match up to the quality of the conventional forces, but in the absence of figures just for active duty personnel I had to go with those figures.

I made adjustments only for two countries, India and North Korea. India because it has a huge paramilitary component that virtually trebled the size of its military, so I specifically used the figures for its active duty personnel. North Korea because its paramilitary component is likewise unreasonably huge, plus actual academic demographic estimates of its military size indicate that it is at 700,000 troops and has long ceased to be a million man army.

As we can see on the graph to the right, the number of military personnel in all the Great Powers has been steadily going down since the end of the Cold War. Partly this has been to a general trend of military downsizing – most pronounced in Russia/USSR – but also due to the continuing devaluation of raw manpower in favor of more automated systems.

Military Capital

rand-military-capital-1950-1990 Military capital is the tools – tanks, artillery, airframes, etc. – that militaries use to deal out damage.

I found some historical figures for the 1950-1990 period (the 2000 and 2010 numbers are future projections, and as such useless) from a 1989 RAND report, Long-Term Economic and Military Trends, 1950-2010.

I got additional rough figures for East Germany and the Koreas from other sources. In addition, I recall reading that Israel’s total military capital in the 1980s was approximately equal to that of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, which enabled me to make a rough estimate of its military capital stock (unfortunately I can no longer locate this report).

I proxied other countries’ military capital stocks by reference to the averages of the respective groups they belonged to (e.g. Cold War NATO, Eastern European Socialist Bloc, Developing Nations, Asian Boomers, etc). This might seem like a very rough and imprecise way of going about things, but that is not actually the case – at least so far as estimates of military potential by, say, the 2010s, are concerned – because a big chunk of that initial military capital stock in 1990 would have depreciated by then.

This takes us to the precise way in which military capital stock figures were generated for the post-1990s period.

First off, I made the blanket assumption that 25% of military spending everywhere is devoted to procurement. This is pretty weak, but considering that there are major uncertainties over the size of military budgets in countries as big as China – to say nothing of individual components of that budget – trying to individually estimate the share of procurement spending across many countries would have been an extremely time-consuming and utterly pointless endevour. In any case, swings of 5% or even 10% points up or down would not have had absolutely cardinal effects, since the main factor here is total military spending, for which we have relatively reliable figures for the 1988-2014 period from SIPRI. This military spending data was adjusted to take into account yearly international price level differences.

anatoly-karlin-uss-midway Second, military capital depreciates. A tank built in 2005 will be worth considerably less today. Moreover, this depreciation rate varies across both historical time and particular militaries due to their different force structures, maintenance standards, etc. Over the course of twenty years, the majority of the then existing military capital would have depreciated. But some military capital can linger on for a very long time. The Tupolev Tu-95s were first built in the 1950s and continue to serve to this day. Is this because impoverished Russians can’t design or build anything newer and are forced to continue flying obsolete rustbuckets? Field this question to the USAF, which likewise built the first Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses in the 1950s and plans to keep them in service until 2045. The avionics get updated, of course, but an airframe can last a long time.

The picture to the right is of the author at the USS Midway (CV-41) aircraft carrier, commissioned in 1945 and serving the entire length of the Cold War to be decommissioned in 1992 and transformed into a museum.

How fast does military capital depreciate? There is a huge range of estimates, and for the above reasons, no exactitude can be hoped for in any case. Some estimates of yearly military capital depreciation I’ve encountered include: 6.3%; 3.5%-5%; 10%; 8%-10%; 3.5%-6%. I ended up using a simple 5% throughout.

Using 1990 as an anchor, the military capital calculations consisted of an addition of 25% of current military spending (inflation adjusted) and the subtraction of 5% of the existing accumulated military capital stock.

Combat Effectiveness

This crucial factor consists of a multiple of three components: Technology; Troop Quality; and Cultural Modifier.

Technology

Military technology is advancing at a continuous pace. Ian Morris in The Measure of Civilization cites an estimate that the weapons systems of 2000 have 50-100x as much mobility, resilience, and destructive potential as those of 1900, whereas those of 1900 are 5x as capable as those of 1800. This is an ongoing process that finds expression today in things such as drones, swarms, cyberwar, and even more exotic possibilities like railguns and DEWs. It will also accelerate or decelerate depending on the underlying rate of overall technological growth and the percentage of R&D that will be devoted to military competition in the years ahead. Furthermore, depending on their nation’s developmental level and international relations, some militaries will be systemically more technologically advanced than others.

annual-military-technological-growth To proxy this, I first compiled an estimate of the rate of technological military progress over the past century (see right). I didn’t try to be particularly detailed, since that is probably a futile endevour. Four broad historical periods can be made out, though:

  1. The 1900-1935 period saw a modest degree of both technological and doctrinal progress. In the former sphere, you had of course the appearance of the first rudimentary armor and air forces. You also had major matching doctrinal developments, such as the Hutier tactics that eventually broke the stalemate on the Western Front in World War 1, and would later wield great influence over the proper employment of armor. Outside Germany, however, these innovations were not readily accepted. Overall, yearly growth of perhaps 3%.
  2. The 1935-1975 period saw blisteringly fast progress. To get a sense of the scale of the change, consider that the mid-1930s began with aircraft like the Spitfire and Messerschmitt Bf 109 replacing old wood and fabric models, culminating in the F-15 and Su-27 by the 1970s – both planes that in their modernized versions continue to form the backbones of the US and Russian Air Forces. The later part of this period also saw the development of the Revolution in Military Affairs, spearheaded by Marshall Nikolay Ogarkov in the USSR in the 1970s and most intensively adapted by the US after the 1980s. Overall, yearly growth of perhaps 7%.
  3. The 1985-2015 saw a slowing down of military technological growth. To be sure, it still continues, predominantly in the fields of networking and IT, but you no longer have the major leaps every decade that you had in the previous period. Overall, yearly growth of perhaps 5% in 1975-1985, and 3% thereafter.
  4. The 2015-2050 period lies in the future, so any propositions are largely guesswork. But assuming no fundamentally new paradigms are developed, no computer superintelligences, no technological singularities, the yearly rate of growth might continue to be around 3%.

Using the year 2000 as an anchor, military technology of previous and future years is adjusted based on the above schema. It is further adjusted based on each individual military’s closeness to the military technology frontier, as represented by leading industrial countries such as the US.

  1. Technological frontier – The US, its closest allies (e.g. Israel and the Five Eyes), and NATO/allied countries that are economically well developed and possess substantial military-industrial complexes of their own (e.g. France, Germany, Japan). This does not necessarily mean that all their weapons systems are top notch. It just means that mere money is the only major obstacle in attaining such a state. If Germany right this moment decided to become stronk! and build itself a fifth generation fighter, and financed that project properly, there’s no real doubt over its theoretical capacity to do so. The extent to which countries do or do not do this is proxied by their accumulation of military capital.
  2. Lag of 5 years – Small NATO countries, close NATO clients, and the USSR and modern Russia as well as Russia’s closest allies and small rich countries like Singapore that devote a lot of attention to their militaries. Assigning a lag of a mere 5 years to Russia might be controversial, considering the poor reputation of Russian technology – largely a result of it being used by incompetent countries like Syria and Iraq against competent countries like Israel and the US – but all in all I do not think it unrealistic. There might indeed be a lag of 5 or even 10 years in individual spheres such as drones or fighter aircraft, but for every one of those there is a sphere where Russia is on the leading edge, such as tanks, anti-aircraft, and diesel subs.
  3. Lag of 10 years – China, India, most middle income countries and buyers of Western and Russian “monkey model” equipment – China is fast closing the gap and will soon reduce its lag to 5 years, but for now this is probably accurate. In particular, it continues to fail at building reliable high performance fighter jet engines that have long been mastered in the West and Russia.
  4. Lag of 15 years – So-called “rogue” regimes that have been heavily sanctioned by the West and are not in a position to innovate most of their own hi-tech equipment, such as Iran, as well as the more impoverished Third World tinpot countries.

Troop Quality

Spending more money per soldier will almost inevitably improve overall quality. Brighter, more motivated people will be incentivized to show up in the first place. More time can be devoted to training, using more bullets and flying time. Full time cooks and cleaners can be hired so that soldiers don’t have to waste time doing things irrelevant to their profession.

I made Troop Quality equal to per soldier spending times 4 in the last year, plus per soldier spending times 2 in the year before that, plus per soldier spending times 1 three years back. This loosely reflects the idea that it is the most recent spending that will have the most effect.

I then took the cube root of this figure to account for diminishing returns. After all, doubling spending on a soldier can hardly be expected to double his combat effectiveness. But a 25% increase is quite reasonable.

Cultural Factors

In both the World Wars, as Trevor Dupuy recounts in his books such as A Genius for War, the Germans consistently had a 25% combat effectiveness advantage over the Allies – the French, the British, and the Americans – and in individual engagements, they inflicted 50% more casualties adjusted for personnel numbers, equipment, local geography, and offensive/defensive status. Over the Russians, their combat effectiveness advantage was more along the lines of 100%+. (Incidentally, this, and not the Hollywood myth of “two soldiers per rifle,” is what accounted for the high Soviet:German casualty ratios. Even a cursory perusal of WW2 war production statistics, in which the USSR outproduced Germany in virtually all weapons categories, would confirm this. The Germans were just a lot better at fighting, while the Soviets were a lot worse – possibly because the 1940s USSR was still in many respects a Third World country).

As such, I gave Germany a 25% across the board advantage in combat effectiveness. (Is this still valid? Dupuy, after all, argues that the key factor that explained German overperformance was the quality of their General Staff, which they no longer really have. However, I don’t fully buy that argument. Many countries as early as the aftermath of the Prussian victories in the 1860s-70s adopted the General Staff structure, but failed to recreate German-style military efficiency. So I suspect this is more of a permanent cultural or even sociobiological factor).

I also gave a 25% across the board advantage to a few other countries that have displayed unusually impressive military “feats” in their history, such as Finland (Winter War), Israel (the Arab Wars), Mongolia (that Ghengis guy), Switzerland (Swiss pikemen), etc.

I took 25% off countries that I deemed to be “Southern” (the Latin, African, Arab, and Indian subcontinent peoples) to account for the traditional stereotype of them being generally inferior soldiers to “northerners.” However, I did not extend this to Turks, Greeks, and Armenians/Israelis, who have somewhat better military reputations. I also took another 25% off from countries that I perceived to have excessive levels of clannishness in their societies, since clannishness is – as I discussed at length previously – antithetical to being a good soldier as part of the army of a nation-state. The net effect of this is to reduce the default combat effectiveness of Arabs to 50%, which is in fact somewhat similar to the ratios they displayed in their wars with Israel. There is no such clannishness “hit” as concerns Arabs who fight for clan (e.g. the Syrian National Defense Forces) or for God (e.g. Al Nusra, Islamic State) but these types of military structures are not any good at conventionally fighting actually competent militaries who know how to wage combined arms warfare.

Putting it All Together

The result is the Comprehensive Military Power index. It is of course a largely theoretical figure, so further specific adjustments will be necessary to take into account aspects like geography, the land/sea division, etc. Nonetheless, at least in the sense that militaries aim to expend their resources in a way that maximizes their power – a sort of military version of the efficient markets hypothesis – Comprehensive Military Power should be at least a useful proxy of their results.

Here are the top 15 militaries of 2015 according to the Comprehensive Military Power index (you may find the full list at the bottom of this post).

In the default CMP, i.e. the second column, the US score in 2000 = 100. In the third column, the US score in 2015 has been normed to 100.

Rank Country CMP 2015 CMP 2015 (US=100)
1 United States 197.35 100.00
2 China, P. R. 83.45 42.28
3 Russia 65.96 33.42
4 India 30.71 15.56
5 Germany 23.87 12.09
6 France 23.31 11.81
7 United Kingdom 19.38 9.82
8 Japan 18.65 9.45
9 Korea, South 16.50 8.36
10 Saudi Arabia 13.68 6.93
11 Turkey 12.44 6.30
12 Italy 11.95 6.06
13 Brazil 11.91 6.04
14 Iran 10.40 5.27
15 Israel 9.65 4.89

 

A Few Comments on How CMP Will Translate into Real Battle Results

lanchesters-laws Conventional modern combat follows the classic Lanchester model, in which the damage your army inflicts over time is a function of the size of your army (see graphic illustration right, via Wiki). Likewise for the enemy.

As such, assuming equal damage rates (as proxied by combat effectiveness), even a small initial advantage can soon translate into crushing victories and defeats – see the first diagram on the right. It is these considerations that underlie Clausewitzian concepts such as the principles of The Offensive, Maneuver, Mass, and Economy of Forces. These principles were intuited by the Great Captains of yore (Alexander, Napoleon, etc) and have been formalized in Military Theory 101 in modern days.

The method for quick but generally reliable predictions of failure or success in prospective military operations, which can be performed by the layman, is a consideration of the share of the national CMP and the gross size of that CMP that the respective combatants can realistically allocate to the sphere of combat operations.

Let us consider a few examples:

The Gulf War

According to my database, the US had a CMP of 92.2 versus 2.1 for the Iraq of Saddam Hussein in 1990. This includes the standard -50% adjustment for Muslim Arabs, which as per usual was justified for this war.

The US concentrated something like 25% of its global military power to this campaign. In tandem with its coalition allies, that made for a regional CMP concentration of up to 30, that is – for all his tanks – a multiple of almost 15:1 relative to Saddam’s forces.

Saddam wouldn’t have stood a chance, even had he been a talented military leader, which he was not. He failed to do anything to disrupt the US buildup, and exercised a rigid, paranoid style of control that quelled lower-level military initiative.

The Syrian Conflict

The Syrian state and the Islamic State both have around 1.7 points on the CMP. I suspect FSA/Al Nusra is a bit lower, maybe around 1. No wonder it’s been a long stalemate… until, perhaps, the Russian airstrikes.

Timely reminder of what I wrote about them:

This is where the Russian Air Force can hopefully make a big difference. Even the fighters already in place will allow the Syrians to effectively double their number of sorties, and Russian fighter pilots are much more skilled and have more modern armaments than their Syrian counterparts. Effectively, this translates to a tripling or quadrupling of Syrian air power that can be concentrated in support of SAA ground operations. Air power can seriously degrade the combat power of enemy formations that do not have adequate AA counters to it (that describes both the FSA/Al Nusra and ISIS). Whereas a front might have once been in equilibrium, due to roughly matching combat power on either side, a sustained air campaign could begin to systemically swing the advantage over to the SAA and eventually enable the reconquista of Syrian territorities currently under renegade Islamist control.

The War in Donbass

In 2014, the fledgling Novorossiyan state as of the August fighting had a CMP of about 0.9, relative to Ukraine’s 6.9. This is a difference of almost 8:1. Thus, when the Ukrainian Army began to fight seriously – for all its manifold problems logistics, morale, and generalship problems – it made progress and would have almost certainly ended up strangling Novorossiya in its cradle. But thanks to the “Northern Wind” and the limited Russian intervention at Ilovaysk, this was not to be.

Both sides have continued to build up their forces, and as of mid-2015, the CMP of Novorossiya was approximately 2.1 to Ukraine’s 8.1 – now a ratio of less than 4:1. Considering that Ukraine cannot realistically commit a huge percentage of its forces to attacking Novorossiya, a military solution to the conflict is for the time being out of the question, as even Poroshenko has been forced to belatedly acknowledge. While Ukraine might be able to make gains, Russia would be able to bolster Novorossiya just as fast. That said, under current spending plans, Ukraine’s CMP should almost double by 2020 – assuming it doesnt’t go bankrupt and is able to maintain military spending at 5% of GDP – which would give it an almost tenfold advantage if Novorossiya stands still in the meantime. (Which, with Russia apparently losing attention, might well happen).

Finally, it also gives the lie to Ukrainian claims which are uncritically repeated in the Western press that they faced down and defeated the Russian Army inflicting thousands of casualties on the Muscovite aggressor. There was in fact just a single intervention at Ilovaysk; Russian military KIA is almost certainly below a hundred for the entire conflict; and unlike the Ukrainians, they were forced to engage while using only a fraction of their capabilities so as to maintain plausible deniability. In effect, they had to forego their vast military capital advantage, and instead rely on superior combat effectiveness. The fact that that they easily trounced Kiev’s forces regardless is incidental testament to Russia’s complete military superiority over Ukraine.

A Confrontation with NATO in the Baltics

Assume the crazier neocons take over the reins and smash Russia’s Latakia airbase to pieces (there’s nothing Russia will be able to do to stop that).

Now Brzezinski might not formally be a neocon, but frankly neocon ideas so dominate US interventionist discourse that we might as well call them all neocons. Here is what the neocon Brzezinsky had to say on this:

“In these rapidly unfolding circumstances the U.S. has only one real option if it is to protect its wider stakes in the region: to convey to Moscow the demand that it cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets,” he said.

“The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland,” Brzezinski noted. “They could be ‘disarmed’ if they persist in provoking the US.”

Here is another, bona fide neocon, Noah Rothman, pretending to be in anguish over the threat of World War 3 while rationalizing and implicitly calling for the US to attack Russian forces in Syria who are there at the request of its legitimate government:

Washington is faced with a terrible choice: Withdraw unceremoniously and invite further Russian aggression or deter Moscow’s military activities abroad through the credible threat of force. The Pentagon is preparing for the latter course.

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the Pentagon was readying a set of options for the president should he choose to protect Washington-supported rebel groups on the ground in Syria from air attack by Russian forces. The details of such a plan remain a secret, but they would necessarily include putting U.S. air assets in close proximity to Russian forces, triggering an international incident with the expectation – or perhaps the hope – that Russia would climb down from the crisis it has ignited. “At worst, if Russia bombs rebels trained by the U.S. and American fighter jets intercede to protect the Syrians, the exchange could trigger an all-out confrontation with Russia — a potential disaster the administration would like to avoid,” Fox News reported.

Both suggestions if carried through would actually be straightforward acts of war.

Assume that Putin doesn’t back down and try to make amends with his “partners,” which is not entirely impossible, but instead decides to up the ante by confronting NATO in the Baltics. What happens?

I would imagine the conventional answer is that Putin gets smashed and the Russian hordes get sent back fleeing to Eurasia.

The CMP concept, however – not to mention Pentagon war games – suggest NATO wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Russia’s CMP is a third of that of the US, and a fifth of NATO’s. However, a great percentage of it is already concentrated at its western borders. The Balts themselves collectively have less than 1 in CMP, compared to Russia’s 66. There is no way that NATO will be able to mass in sufficient force to have any short at defending the Baltics. Should they attempt to do so anyway, they will merely be destroyed piecemeal with minimal damage on Russian forces. The only hope of reversal would be either fullscale mobilization across NATO (not going to happen no matter how shrill the neocons get), or draconian economic sanctions (which is what will happen).

However, I don’t expect any of the neocons to pay any particular attention to such matters, because they have an idee fixe – e.g., American triumphalism, Israel firstism, Russophobia – and have no interest, desire, or incentive to deviate an iota away from it.

The Future Global Military Balance

In tandem with various assumptions about future economic growth and the share of spending that will be devoted to the military, we can make rough projections of future military power.

But first…

Cold War History

cmp-usa-russia-china-1940-2015

In short, a CMP analysis shows:

  • US superiority in the 1950-1975 period, Soviet superiority thereafter until its collapse. (Yes, the US was roughly twice as powerful as the USSR in 1945. However, it went below the Soviet lower following postwar demobilization. During the Korean War it sprang back up again and the permanent military-industrial complex was there to stay).
  • NATO vs. Warsaw Pact approximate parity on land, and continuous NATO dominance on the high seas. Of course the Warsaw Pact did have a preponderate in forces stationed in Europe proper. This was why Cold War military strategy was mainly about keeping the Warsaw Pact at bay long enough for American reinforcements to make their way to West Germany.
  • A clear period of US military supremacy from 1992 until today. But China is gaining fast.

All this has face validity.

Future Superpower CMP

As concerns the Chinese-US military balance, the purely naval component is more important than the aggregate one, since the likeliest clash will be over some Pacific island or other.

Calculating separate CMPS for land and sea is unrealistic. However, one can make reasonable estimates of the share of national CMP that is land based vs naval based. In the US, for instance, I would estimate that the Navy and Marines (sea), and the Army and Air Force (land), each account for about half of its CMP. In the USSR, this split was more like 25%:75%. China during the Cold War was even more exclusively land-based, not possessing a blue water fleet at all. However, this is now changing fast. The Army is getting downsized, while as early as 2020 the PLAN will begin to resemble a smaller version of the USN.

Naval Power

Assuming that:

  • The Chinese naval share of CMP grows steadily from about 30% in 2010 to 50% by 2050.
  • The US naval share of CMP grows from 55% in 2010 and 2020, to 60% by 2020 and thereafter.
  • Chinese military spending increases by 10% during the rest of the 2010s (as before), by 7% in the 2020s, by 5% in the 2030s, and by 3% in the 2040s.
  • US military spending remains constant until 2020, then resumes growing at 3% a year.
  • China will move from a 10 year technological lag in 2010 to a 5 year technological lag by 2020, and remain there until 2050 (i.e. will not become technologically leading edge).

Here is what the US/China naval comparison will look like in the years ahead under these non too demanding assumptions, which involve China continuing to converge rapidly with developed world living standards (like South Korea with a lag period of 20 years) and maintaining military spending at about ~2-2.5% of GDP, while the US grows at around 3% and keeps military spending at around 3% of GDP.

naval-cmp-usa-china-2050

Under these conditions, China will overtake the US in overall military terms in land military power during the early 2020s, in overall military power in the early 2030s, and in naval military power by the early 2040s.

I view that as being historically plausible. Germany committed to major naval buildup at 1888, when its total GDP was still considerably smaller than Britain’s. Twenty five years later, the Imperial German Navy had emerged from obscurity to become half the strength of the Royal Navy. But Germany also had to maintain an Army capable of fighting a two front war, and its GDP never far outpaced Britain’s because their total populations were so close (65 million to 47 million in 1913). In contrast, China has a relatively secure rear with Russia, which it is slowly overshadowing in land military power anyway; its GDP is already bigger than the US in purchasing power parity adjusted terms; and its population is more than four times as large as America’s. Should it merely converge to Korea’s level of GDP per capita relative to the US, its aggregate economic size will be three time greater than America’s.

As such, China’s naval ascendancy by the mid-21st century is entirely plausible.

George Friedman of Stratfor claims that carrier operations are so complex that only Americans can really understand them (I am not even simplying his arguments all that much), but he also claims that China will break apart in the 2020s and Poland and Mexico will be superpowers this century, so take his forecasts with a grain of salt.

Comprehensive Military Power

In global terms, there will be four military powers, with Russia and a rising India coming in behind the American and Chinese behemoths.

future-superpowers-cmp

The article is becoming too long for stating the assumptions behind Russia’s and India’s trajectory in any great detail; perhaps I will leave that for a later post (more on that below).

There will also continue to be a number of middling powers, such as France, the UK, Germany, Japan, and South Korea, but none of them are likely to go far beyond 10% of the US CMP. This is, of course, all assuming no major wars, mobilizations, unexpectedly sharp increases in military spending, superintelligence takeoffs, etc.

Further Applications of CMP

I spent quite a bit of time developing the CMP and intend to milk it for all it’s worth in future blog posts. So please feel free to suggest:

  • Further “grand strategic” future scenarios with differing assumptions about military spending as share of GDP and GDP growth for different countries and potential alliances.
  • Individual conflict analysis based on the CMP (e.g. India vs. Pakistan, the two Koreas, Azerbaijan vs. Armenia), as well as CMP based analyses of regional military balances e.g. Europe, Middle East, etc.
  • Historical what-if and sci-fi scenarios, such as, Could the Warsaw Pact have conquered Western Europe? Could 1940 Nazi Germany take on 2015 Poland? Would a global UN military of 2015 be able to defeat the Wolfenstein: New World Order of 1960, or would Wilhem Strasse’s Panzerhunds rip us all apart with Teutonic ease??? Feel free to make them as wacky as you like!

Make these suggestions here and/or at my ask.fm account.

Comprehensive Military Power 2015

In the default CMP, i.e. the second column, the US score in 2000 = 100. In the third column, the US score in 2015 has been normed to 100.

Rank Country CMP 2015 CMP 2015 (US=100)
1 United States 197.35 100.00
2 China, P. R. 83.45 42.28
3 Russia 65.96 33.42
4 India 30.71 15.56
5 Germany 23.87 12.09
6 France 23.31 11.81
7 United Kingdom 19.38 9.82
8 Japan 18.65 9.45
9 Korea, South 16.50 8.36
10 Saudi Arabia 13.68 6.93
11 Turkey 12.44 6.30
12 Italy 11.95 6.06
13 Brazil 11.91 6.04
14 Iran 10.40 5.27
15 Israel 9.65 4.89
16 Ukraine 8.10 4.10
17 Taiwan 7.36 3.73
18 Pakistan 6.76 3.43
19 Australia 6.74 3.42
20 Canada 6.68 3.38
21 Poland 6.37 3.23
22 Colombia 4.86 2.46
23 Spain 4.81 2.44
24 Indonesia 4.69 2.38
25 Singapore 4.41 2.23
26 Vietnam 4.28 2.17
27 Korea, North 4.18 2.12
28 Thailand 3.75 1.90
29 Egypt 3.73 1.89
30 Greece 3.69 1.87
31 Netherlands 3.51 1.78
32 Myanmar 3.16 1.60
33 United Arab Emirates 3.11 1.58
34 Algeria 2.98 1.51
35 Mexico 2.72 1.38
36 Romania 2.45 1.24
37 Azerbaijan 2.42 1.23
38 Malaysia 2.36 1.20
39 Iraq 2.27 1.15
40 South Africa 2.26 1.15
41 Kazakhstan 2.25 1.14
42 Novorossiya 2.08 1.06
43 Belarus 2.05 1.04
44 Oman 2.02 1.02
45 Belgium 2.02 1.02
46 Argentina 1.98 1.00
47 Philippines 1.88 0.95
48 Czech Rep. 1.83 0.93
49 Switzerland 1.78 0.90
50 Portugal 1.74 0.88
51 Sweden 1.72 0.87
52 Chile 1.72 0.87
53 Syria 1.69 0.86
54 Islamic State 1.67 0.84
55 Norway 1.62 0.82
56 Venezuela 1.57 0.79
57 Angola 1.56 0.79
58 Kuwait 1.54 0.78
59 Sri Lanka 1.48 0.75
60 Austria 1.42 0.72
61 Lebanon 1.32 0.67
62 Uzbekistan 1.32 0.67
63 Hungary 1.31 0.66
64 Finland 1.28 0.65
65 Nigeria 1.25 0.64
66 Denmark 1.17 0.59
67 Morocco 1.17 0.59
68 Bulgaria 1.16 0.59
69 Serbia 1.08 0.55
70 Peru 1.03 0.52
71 Bangladesh 1.03 0.52
72 Croatia 0.89 0.45
73 Ecuador 0.86 0.43
74 Armenia 0.81 0.41
75 New Zealand 0.80 0.40
76 Sudan 0.80 0.40
77 Yemen 0.79 0.40
78 Eritrea 0.78 0.39
79 Slovak Rep. 0.71 0.36
80 Georgia 0.64 0.32
81 Jordan 0.56 0.29
82 Afghanistan 0.53 0.27
83 Qatar 0.48 0.24
84 Libya 0.42 0.21
85 Ireland 0.41 0.21
86 Kenya 0.39 0.20
87 Lithuania 0.38 0.19
88 Kyrgyzstan 0.38 0.19
89 Ethiopia 0.36 0.18
90 Turkmenistan 0.36 0.18
91 Nepal 0.35 0.18
92 Bosnia-Herzegovina 0.33 0.16
93 Slovenia 0.31 0.16
94 Tunisia 0.29 0.15
95 Uruguay 0.29 0.14
96 Chad 0.28 0.14
97 Bahrain 0.27 0.14
98 Cyprus 0.27 0.14
99 Bolivia 0.26 0.13
100 Estonia 0.22 0.11
101 Latvia 0.21 0.11
102 Dominican Rep. 0.20 0.10
103 Uganda 0.19 0.10
104 Tanzania 0.19 0.10
105 Cambodia 0.19 0.10
106 Zambia 0.19 0.10
107 Côte d’Ivoire 0.19 0.09
108 Zimbabwe 0.18 0.09
109 Botswana 0.18 0.09
110 Namibia 0.17 0.09
111 Cameroon 0.17 0.09
112 Guatemala 0.17 0.09
113 Paraguay 0.17 0.09
114 El Salvador 0.17 0.09
115 Albania 0.17 0.08
116 Mongolia 0.16 0.08
117 Macedonia, FYR 0.16 0.08
118 Congo, Dem. Rep. 0.16 0.08
119 Congo 0.15 0.08
120 Brunei 0.15 0.08
121 Tajikistan 0.14 0.07
122 Cuba 0.13 0.07
123 Ghana 0.11 0.06
124 Senegal 0.11 0.05
125 Laos 0.10 0.05
126 Honduras 0.10 0.05
127 Moldova 0.09 0.05
128 Gabon 0.09 0.04
129 Rwanda 0.09 0.04
130 Luxembourg 0.08 0.04
131 Montenegro 0.08 0.04
132 Mali 0.08 0.04
133 Guinea 0.08 0.04
134 Somalia 0.08 0.04
135 Madagascar 0.08 0.04
136 Burkina Faso 0.07 0.04
137 Panama 0.07 0.04
138 Burundi 0.07 0.03
139 Mozambique 0.06 0.03
140 Equatorial Guinea 0.06 0.03
141 Nicaragua 0.06 0.03
142 Jamaica 0.05 0.03
143 Trinidad & Tobago 0.05 0.02
144 Benin 0.04 0.02
145 Togo 0.04 0.02
146 Niger 0.04 0.02
147 Swaziland 0.04 0.02
148 Malawi 0.04 0.02
149 Djibouti 0.03 0.01
150 Lesotho 0.03 0.01
151 Malta 0.03 0.01
152 Papua New Guinea 0.03 0.01
153 Fiji 0.02 0.01
154 Sierra Leone 0.02 0.01
155 Central African Rep. 0.02 0.01
156 Guyana 0.01 0.01
157 Guinea-Bissau 0.01 0.01
158 Mauritius 0.01 0.01
159 Liberia 0.01 0.00
160 Gambia 0.01 0.00
161 Iceland 0.01 0.00
162 Belize 0.01 0.00
163 Seychelles 0.01 0.00
164 Cape Verde 0.00 0.00
165 Haiti 0.00 0.00

* h/t James Gregory Boom for the quote suggestion.

 

281 Comments to "Comprehensive Military Power: World's Top 10 Militaries of 2015"

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  1. [which if Washington really wanted to could put to a forcible end within 24 hours]

    The USS Theodore Roosevelt says hi! (or would, if it wasn’t too busy running away)

    This post is a pretty extravagant attempt to combine incompatible forms of data into a single index. One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them! It’s like the new school of baseball statistics exponentiated.

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  2. Saudi Arabia still at no. 10? Really? Really?
    Certainly that whole state would collapse into a Syria-like mess if even a minimally competent/battle-hardened Arab army gave it a poke. Those people make Egyptians (who at least have their planning of the Yom Kippur war to their credit) or Jordanians look like Germans. Saudi sans oil would be even worse than Yemen, considering that region at least has some history of pre-European civilisation. There are things no amount of money can buy.

    [for Ron Unz]: Does this site honestly need an “agree/disagree” feature? All it will do will cause readers to pre-judge comments and colour opinion prior and after to reading them. This site should be above encouraging the herd-mentality found on “social media”.

    • Agree: Escher
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  3. Military power is tied to geography. I don’t know how you’d factor this into a chart, but it’s crucial. The French and British armies both performed badly against the German army in 1940. The outcome was fatal for France but not for Britain, because of the English Channel. Russia’s geography is not as providential as either Britain’s or America’s, but the country’s sheer size means it can’t really be encircled the way Germany and Poland have both been in the past.

    Israel is powerful within its own region, especially when defending its own territory. It would probably prevail against any regional Arab or Muslim army trying to invade it directly. On the other hand, it was forced out of Lebanon.

    I’m not sure how much the rise of India really matters in terms of, say, a future US-China contest. It feels as if India’s geography effectively quarantines the country off from the decisive areas of conflict.

    Also, remember wars are often won by diplomacy, above all by having the right allies. Japan’s war aims in WW2 were hopelessly confused, but the alliance with Germany didn’t solve any of the country’s crucial natural resource problems, and Germany was simply too far away to be able to offer direct military help. I don’t know if a Stalin-Hirohito pact would have been politically possible, but strategically it would have made a lot more sense.

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  4. Ukraine will Conquer Russia! – Patrick Armstrong | Timber Exec
    says:
    • Website     Show CommentNext New Comment

    […] was struck by this quotation in a piece by Anatoly Karlin; it is by one Adrian Bonenburger writing in Forbes in July. I am certainly not going to waste my […]

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  5. As always, anything by AK is worth serious thought. One comment for your further consideration.
    You have to figure out a way to account for what a country is trying to do with its military. The US, for example is very interventionist — arguably more so than any other country. Russia, for example is more defensive.
    So if the US/NATO decided to attack Russia, I think I would put my money on Russia. I think I would too if it decided to seize the Baltics. On the other hand, I wouldn’t bet on Russia taking Western Europe and holding a victory parade in Paris. And certainly not invading Mexico and attacking the USA.

    When you take this into account, a tiny missile boat in the Caspian suddenly has an effect on a mighty carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf. But I don’t think I’d bet much on the Russian Navy’s chances against the USN in the South Pacific.

    • Agree: Bill
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  6. I think disregarding nukes is a mistake. But I want to make a couple points on the conventional side of things. Russia has significantly more tanks than the US, and significantly more artillery pieces (both self-propelled howitzers and MLRS.) These systems, with competent infantry and logistical support, represent by far the most threatening and effective conventional forces on the planet. Naval and air systems don’t come remotely close. The volume of ordinance, and the accuracy with which it can be delivered, is incomparable – the survivability is even less comparable. In terms of artillery, Russian systems make American systems look frankly laughable. Things are less clear-cut when it comes to tanks, but autoloading Russian tanks can clearly provide much greater volume of fire, and Russian tanks are far more mobile and fuel-efficient than their American counterparts.

    Another important issue in modern times is long range missile (cruise or ballistic) capabilities, and defensive ability against those threats. They represent an astounding ability to get a large volume of ordinance wherever you want it, at lightning speed. In both areas Russia fields systems that have no Western analogues, and in great numbers. In addition Russia’s emphasis on land forces puts it on the best ground when it comes to these threats – the air and the ocean’s surface present much more friendly environments for such systems.

    I understand the objection to raising such considerations, but I think an analysis devoid of attention to technical detail is basically worthless. From 2000 to 2015 American military power doubled? What? What justification is there for this assertion? Militaries are, at the end of the day, tools for getting ordinance from point a to point b, and preventing the enemy’s military getting to their ‘point b.’ It is true that the side with more firepower does not always win, but it’s what you’re working with. It’s analogous to weight class in boxing, or ‘army supply’ in Starcraft. The best rough measure of how powerful a military is, is how much ordinance they can hurl at enemy positions. The second most important factor is how much ordinance they can absorb without collapsing. Neither area has undergone any sort of revolution in the past 15 years, on either side.

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  7. Stephen Biddle used dyadic technological advantage calculations when calculating military technological advantage. No indexing will ever reflect the actual state of the affairs in the military field. Technological and economic dimensions of strategies are very important but social dimension–even more so. No index can reflect it. Napoleon tried, though, by producing his dictum on regiments fighting as divisions and vice-versa. And then comes this tricky issue of the national military school and operational art.

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  8. Militaries are, at the end of the day, tools for getting ordinance from point a to point b, and preventing the enemy’s military getting to their ‘point b.’ It is true that the side with more firepower does not always win, but it’s what you’re working with

    America is truly the indispensable nation if you want to get ordinance around the world. That is, if they want to stop you then they can with ease. No-one comes close. That is why I think it’s fair to say their military power has doubled.

    Also they can be more clinical in how they deliver ordinance, both in their target acquisition and destruction.

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  9. Germany seems to be ranked much too highly here. Currently, it is probably weaker than Turkey.

    An article about the state of Germany’s military:

    http://nationalinterest.org/feature/pulling-germanys-military-back-the-brink-13852

    Poland should be higher (it certainly isn’t lower than Ukraine). But, excellent article as usual.

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  10. That is, if they want to stop you then they can with ease.

    Not really, unless you’re talking about countries much weaker than Russia or China. A blockade is extremely difficult to enforce against peer competitors in the modern age – anti-ship missiles are effective and far cheaper than ships.

    That is why I think it’s fair to say their military power has doubled.

    The US navy has not become much more powerful since 2000.

    http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/interactive/2012/oct/23/size-us-navy-changed-1917

    Certainly it has not doubled in combat effectiveness. There’s an argument to be made that it has significantly declined.

    Also they can be more clinical in how they deliver ordinance

    The US does not have a monopoly on guided bombs, though it is true that their air power is far greater than any other nation’s. That’s not decisive, or even particularly relevant, against a country like Russia. Even during the Gulf War the decisive blows had to be struck with land forces, not from the sky. This with months of preparation and a much smaller and incompetent opponent, with antediluvian air defense systems.

    If we’re talking ground forces, Russian tanks are equipped with gun-launched laser guided missiles, which afford them with unmatched accuracy at long range. That compounds the aforementioned advantages in numbers, mobility, logistical requirements, and fire rate.

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  11. the US Army is substantially bigger than Russia’s Ground Forces, and surely has a significantly higher combat effectiveness value on average.

    American organizations and societal structures tend to be more hierarchical and to have a broader distribution of talent and effectiveness than those of most countries, including Russia. It’s my impression that at the purely human level (skills, motivation, fighting spirit) US special forces are extremely good, the Marines are good and regular Army units are underwhelming. It’s a pyramid. And because of American demographics and societal setup American pyramids of ability tend to be steeper than those of most countries.

    This is true in education, culture, business and lots of other areas. I suspect that many people overestimate how effective the US military would be in a large-scale war because all of America’s recent wars have been small-scale. The US has been able to use the top of its military ability pyramid disproportionately in them. You can’t do that in a large-scale war.

    Obama doesn’t like using US ground troops in neocon adventures, probably for the same reason that Colin Powell was against the second Iraq War behind closed doors: what’s in it for Blacks? And I agree with them – absolutely nothing.

    Whoever succeeds Obama – be it Hillary, Jeb or Rubio – will most likely increase the use of US ground troops in the Middle East. But the size of the bloody mess there has grown so much since 2004. Syria, Lybia and Yemen have been added to it. More countries may be added in the future.

    As the amount of territory to be held by US troops increases, the average quality of those troops will fall precipitously. Which will lead to much higher casualties than the ones seen during the second Iraq War.

    I hope I’m wrong in these predictions.

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  12. This is so important you need to give it a name and an acronym, a brand.

    Maybe the Military Power Index (MPI). Maybe the Karlin Military Power Index. Something as memorable as the other rankings (like the Failed States Index) floating about out there.

    Have you thought of measuring the military power to unconventional armies like Hezbollah, Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIS, and the like? I say this because state-to-state wars have become more and more infrequent, most wars being insurgencies.

    For example, the Nigerian Army is at a fairly respectable 65th on the Index, but seems to have been ineffective against Boko Haram until they hired some South African (and maybe Russian?) mercenaries.

    Maybe that could be a subject for a second Index.

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  13. Scuttlebut from Afghanistan has it that the Germans are useless.

    The Spanish and the French, on the other hand, are reported to be rough, tough and as competent as they come.

    It may be time to reconsider the hard northerner/soft latin trope, provided these rumors are true of course.

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  14. I’m not totally convinced the Israelis are that good at war. Their enemies so far have always been weak themselves, and even in wars where they were fighting several countries (e.g. 1948 war) the total number of troops of the combined Arab armies was still smaller than the entire Israeli army.

    Just curious, how efficient at war and fighting do you think the Chechens are? If hypothetically it were the Chechens that Zionism had territorial disputes with instead of Palestinians, what would be different? Would Israel be able to occupy Chechen territories like they can with Palestinian territories?

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  15. He also has a very dim opinion of Chinese military power.

    Did he explain why?

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  16. He’s probably right about the Germans. The French were always unfairly underrated by the Americans and Brits. Verdun was the Stalingrad of World War I.

    From what I’ve heard, NATO has only four real militaries: USA, UK, France, and Turkey. Poland is trying hard to catch up, and may approach Turkey in 5 years or so.

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  17. I would be really interested in an analysis of the tipping point, based on your CMP, at which you would project China as the clear winner in a war to conquer Taiwan against full fledged US opposition.

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  18. This was a long article. I can’t say that I read it all. But did Mr. Karly miss a very important and fundamental factor when judging military power by each individual country? The factor is this: alliances, formal and otherwise.

    This is why his assertion that Iran is more powerful than Israel is ludicrous. Not only is Israel a nuclear power, but Israel commands unrivaled access to Washington, Brussels, Paris, London and Frankfurt. Plus, there’s NATO, which can be a very handy tool of Washington when needed. Khadafy learned this lesson the hard way.

    Military power cannot be separated from diplomatic and cultural power. Isolated Iran knows this all too well.

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  19. Two points come to my mind.

    1. Economic power

    2. Corruption

    .

    1. Economic power is a component in most of your factors: number of troops (L), quantity and quality of equipment (K), technology level (T) and to an extent troop quality as well (education and IQ).

    2. Corruption, this is less obvious but absolutely critical imo.

    A. Political corruption by which i mean having a political elite who are bought by oligarchs and don’t care about the future of their country / nation. If the elite aren’t interested then the budget will be the bare minimum necessary and will allow B to happen.

    B. Procurement corruption, where large amounts of the budget go into big vastly over priced pork projects. (A) can be about this too but it can just as easily happen at the civil service level. Here large chunks of the military budget doesn’t effectively go to the military; it goes to the suppliers. (Combined with A, minimum budget, the seepage caused by B means the military will have a shortage of *every* small thing they need from spare parts down to and including ammunition.

    C. Troop level corruption, officers and men simply selling their equipment.

    .

    To my mind the corruption component is probably the second most important after economic power to the extent that my first stab at a CMI (comparative military index) would be

    (population size * economic power) / corruption

    and the big difference i’d have with your scores is i think the West’s economic power is going down and corruption up, both dramatically.

    .

    Some examples

    Washington’s full spectrum dominance policy includes their NATO allies and despite the spin the policy is to weaken them militarily as much as possible. Turkey has resisted this more than most because of the prominent role of the army.

    The EU political elite want to downgrade their national armies to make scrapping them a fait accompli so they can build an EU army at some point in the future.

    The US political elite is clearly bought but they are bought by people who want the US to have a strong military however that isn’t preventing procurement corruption on a massive scale.

    Procurement corruption in the western countries is now rife because the political elites aren’t interested.

    Troop corruption is still low.

    .

    What these add up to is a huge drop in western capacity relative to everyone else because most other countries have always been like this (but with massive troop level corruption as well).

    When Libya started people would say look at this huge list of planes, scary, scary but anyone who knew how it goes knew almost none of those planes would work beyond three days. Half of them would never fly in the first place because they’d had parts stripped to sell and there wouldn’t be spares for the other half because they would have been stolen so they’d only fly once and then need to be cannibalized.

    It’s like that almost everywhere.

    .

    So relatively speaking

    political elite vs political elite
    - I’d say Russia and China are significantly ahead

    procurement corruption
    - I can only guess at the level in Russia and China now but whatever it is the gap has been closing

    troop corruption
    - I can only guess but my guess would be Russia is better on this metric than it used to be and China is bad to very bad so as of now I’d guess the West still has the edge there but as the fish rots from the head it’s only a matter of time before western decline closes that gap too.

    .

    If the CMI was

    (population size * economic power) / corruption

    then if economic power was

    (population size * average IQ) / corruption

    maybe the whole equation really boils down to

    (population size * average IQ) / corruption (but with a time lag)

    i.e. a population of size x, average IQ y and corruption index z will develop an economic power of (x*y)/z in n1 years (if it’s not prevented in some way) and a comparative military power index of (x*y)/z in n2 years after that (if it’s not prevented in some way)

    as long as the corruption index includes the political elite’s loyalty to their own nation.

    The last part is critical imo as one nation might have a high corruption index and a loyal elite while another might have a low corruption index and a disloyal elite but I think both cases end up the same.

    .

    so say country A went from
    pop size 20
    average IQ 10
    corruption 10

    to

    pop size 20
    average IQ 10
    corruption 5

    then over time it’s CMI would go from 20 to 40

    whereas say country B went from

    pop size 20
    average IQ 10
    corruption 2

    to

    pop size 30
    average IQ 8
    corruption 4

    then over time it’s CMI would go from 100 to 60

    and the ratio of A:B would go from 5:1 to 3:2

    .

    TL;DR

    apols for long ramble but interesting topic

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  20. Good, well researched article. Learned a lot.

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  21. Not really, unless you’re talking about countries much weaker than Russia or China. A blockade is extremely difficult to enforce against peer competitors in the modern age – anti-ship missiles are effective and far cheaper than ships.

    Which is why America would just sink Russia’s ships…you don’t have to be there physically to deny an area, you just use your weapons systems and that way America can deny their enemies movement all around the globe.

    If we’re talking ground forces, Russian tanks are equipped with gun-launched laser guided missiles, which afford them with unmatched accuracy at long range. That compounds the aforementioned advantages in numbers, mobility, logistical requirements, and fire rate

    Yet Russia would not even be able to get those tanks to Syria if America were committed to stopping them, nevermind somewhere tricky like Australia or Mexico.

    To be honest, modern infantry anti-tank weapons like Javelin, attack helicopters like Apache, and other guided weapons systems mean that large armoured formations are easy targets even if Russia were somehow capable of deploying them anywhere but her own region.

    The simple truth is that no-one can project power globally except America. The last time anyone did was Britain in the Falklands and that was a stretch.

    That is why Russia and China are regional powers and America is the sole global power.

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  22. Your Combat Effectiveness scores are not backed up by data. I have a few suggestions for incorporating these datasets:

    1. Shanghai ranking of universities (technology level and potential military industrial complex)
    2. IQ and Global Inequality index (quality of troops)
    3. Gallup worldwide poll of civic participation (teamwork, motivation, and cohesion)
    4. Transparency Intl index of corruption perception (are funds used effectively? are competent men promoted to senior leadership?)

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  23. Scuttlebut from Afghanistan has it that the Germans are useless.

    As would anyone be under their originally very strict rules of engagement – it is very difficult to be effective when the only force you can use is for immediate self-defence.

    They could not even request an upgrade…essentially they had no more right to use lethal force than any civilian in pretty much any country.

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  24. From what I’ve heard, NATO has only four real militaries: USA, UK, France, and Turkey. Poland is trying hard to catch up, and may approach Turkey in 5 years or so.

    I think that this is true, but it is for political reasons. I’ve worked with French and German officers and the latter come across much more favourably.

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  25. GNP equates with “power projection” capability, while GDP-PPP equates with homeland-defence capability. Militaries with lots of ships & planes are good at power projection, while lots of soldiers is good for homeland defence. Then add the human factor – training, motivation, IQ etc.

    In terms of conventional forces, from what I’ve seen I’d guesstimate the USA is currently around four times more powerful than Russia – more in naval, about that in air, less in ground forces. The US is geared more to projection, Russia more to homeland defence, but both are relatively balanced compared to eg the UK (biased to projection) or China (biased to defence). US conventional forces are at just about the level where if nuclear weapons vanished the USA might just about be able to conquer Russia, but well within the margin of uncertainty. Conversely US conventional forces could not conquer China, with its strong bias to homeland defence, but could conquer any other single nation relatively easily. Conquest is different from successful occupation, of course. Neither Russia nor China could conquer the other.

    India has ‘human capital’ issues – though much stronger than Pakistan, she has a human capital deficit (real soldiers are few, high IQ types are few) and is not really comparable to high-latitude countries like Russia, China & USA where most of the male population can be trained to fight and the median IQs are 100+. While she is defence-biased and could obviously defend against a UK or French invasion, there is a large gap with China. It is quite likely that sans nukes China could conquer India if for some crazy reason she really wished to do so, while India could definitely not conquer China.

    • Agree: Deduction
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  26. ‘ This is the classic Tiger vs. T-34 phenonenon: Crudely speaking, the former might be a match for 5 of the latter, but that isn’t so useful when you can have ten T-34s for the price of one Tiger (which will in any case break down due to its overengineering and have to be abandoned for lack of spare parts)’

    If you say so! :

    http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.gr/2012/07/wwii-myths-t-34-best-tank-of-war.html

    http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.gr/2013/01/tank-strength-and-losses-eastern-front.html

    Things were a bit more complicated weren’t they?

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  27. Your numbers overall look very plausible. I suspect that errors in one area tend to be cancelled by errors in another, giving overall reasonable accuracy.

    On the face of it the idea that 2 Arab soldiers = 1 Western soldier (US/UK/France) or 0.75 elite Western (German, Israeli) soldier looks surprising to me. I’d have expected a much higher ration – I think of Lucullus’ Roman army defeating Mithradates of Pontus while outnumbered 20:1. But this is an ‘all else equal’ multiplier assuming equivalent equipment, tech, training etc. It seems plausible at least for Egypt, if not for the Gulf Arabs.
    I do think the personnel issue becomes major when you put Saudi Arabia ahead of Turkey(!) and Iran. None of these nations act as if SA is the superior power, and that really doesn’t pass the smell test. Turkey may well be ahead of Iran – similar personnel, superior tech – but there is a point at which tech & spending cannot compensate for personnel inferiority.

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  28. “China will overtake the US in overall military terms in land military power during the early 2020s, in overall military power in the early 2030s, and in naval military power by the early 2040s.”

    Awhile back I guesstimated a 50-year lag between overtaking on GDP-PPP and overtaking as global superpower, given that China is not dedicated to overtaking the USA, that the USA is dedicated to maintaining global superiority, and looking back at the similar US-UK experience 1890-1940. So I was thinking around 2060. 2030s-40s seems early to me, even if the capability is there. I’d expect Chinese military growth to slacken from the 2020s, once they feel fairly secure. If the USA becomes (even) more aggressive then your chart becomes plausible.

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  29. [Turkey may well be ahead of Iran – similar personnel, superior tech]

    I don’t know what “superior tech” means, but Iran has certainly made several scientific and engineering advances which Turkey has not, while if history means anything, the Turkish infantryman is better.

    [I think of Lucullus’ Roman army defeating Mithradates of Pontus while outnumbered 20:1.]

    The vast armies of antiquity existed only on paper.

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  30. I do think the personnel issue becomes major when you put Saudi Arabia ahead of Turkey(!) and Iran. None of these nations act as if SA is the superior power, and that really doesn’t pass the smell test. Turkey may well be ahead of Iran – similar personnel, superior tech – but there is a point at which tech & spending cannot compensate for personnel inferiority

    All of my historically derived prejudices say that you’re right but they also say that Saudis are a bunch of camel herders scattered across the desert. I suspect that the other regional powers also see them in this way but things can change and oil is a great lubricant.

    A really good ranking system illuminates areas that contradict common thought and predicts future surprises. Perhaps Saudi Arabia’s highly effective bombing campaign in Yemen is one of those surprises?

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  31. Interesting information, thanks.

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  32. [Perhaps Saudi Arabia’s highly effective bombing campaign in Yemen is one of those surprises?]

    Holy smoke, are you stupider than the beasts of the field?

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  33. Interesting read, though I’m a bit confused as to how this applies in reality.
    Take Israel versus Canada. The latter has several hundred times more area, about triple the population and is strategically located surrounded by ocean and ice. Excluding nukes, Israel attacking Canada would be a ridiculous attempt for obvious reasons. Canada could focus attacks on strategical resources like water, and starve out Israel within a year. So although I understand the logic behind ranking Israel higher than Canada – does it really mean Israel is “stronger” than Canada by any realistic measure?

    And how could a relatively isolated nation like Russia ever fully project its military might? Even a small-scale operation right outside its borders in Ukraine, ended up very costly because of other, non-military factors. That’s some sort of mix between economic, diplomatic and intelligence disadvantage out-weighing any conventional military advantage.

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  34. I think it is Sir Max Hastings who angers his American readers with his criticism of US infantry in WWII resulting in their reliance on Elite Units, even more than armies usually have to anyway.

    I think belief in the cause and fanaticism has a big effect on combat performance. Cromwell said “I HAD RATHER HAVE A PLAIN RUSSET-COATED CAPTAIN THAT KNOWS WHAT HE FIGHTS FOR, AND LOVES WHAT HE KNOWS, THAN THAT WHICH YOU CALL A GENTLEMAN AND IS NOTHING ELSE.” The New Model Army was, rightly, seen as the most terrifying army in Europe at the time, soldiers were actively encouraged to study Protestantism and political ideals. Similarly the Napoleonic Armies were man for man superior to every continental European army, fired by patriotism and revolutionary zeal.

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  35. Even the US can’t project power if they don’t have a friendly country to base in and for the logistics to run through, eg. the build up to the first Gulf War.

    I also think tech is becoming more important, you need the IQ level for the grunts to operate a lot of it.

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  36. China could seize Taiwan against US opposition today. Mostly because the US cannot effectively project its seapower that close to China. The days of a carrier task force sailing along the Taiwan straight are long gone.

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  37. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/19688-israelis-call-for-arms-for-assad-to-save-regime

    Iran is the target of neocons, (Senate Republicans were opposed to the deal) and the US getting heavily involved in Syria would make any future US attack on Iran unlikely. The war in Syria is basically a slow attrition of the Assad regime which neither Israel or Russia wants to fall. Russia has had to support Assad because he simply does not have the people. He is leading a regime that had an unrest that was met with the shooting of demonstrators by an army in which 80% of officers were Alawite- (they are 14 % of the population). Torturing people at the behest of Uncle Sam (US secret renditions were mainly to Syria) does not make Assad the legitimate government.

    “Brzezinski might not formally be a neocon” He is not any kind of neocon – RT: US won’t follow Israel ‘like a stupid mule’ – Brzezinski .

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  38. Before the Sauds intervened the Houthis were rapidly advancing throughout Yemen but since then they have been slowly retreating.

    It may be awful and inhumane but the Saudi air campaign looks pretty effective.

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  39. “Brzezinski might not formally be a neocon” He is not any kind of neocon – RT: US won’t follow Israel ‘like a stupid mule’ – Brzezinski

    Some people believe that anybody who for whatever reason is opposed to Russia must be a neocon.

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  40. I don’t doubt that the German army is pretty useless nowadays…but is the French army in general really that great? Wasn’t there a rather embarrassing incident in Afghanistan where quite a few French soldiers got killed in an ambush for which they were woefully unprepared and ill-equipped?

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  41. Some people for whatever reason think that the defining feature of a neocon is unwavering and unconditional support for Israel.

    Yet it need not be a feature, for example, Christopher Hitchens:

    ‘What Christopher meant, rather, was that Zionism was a “stupid, messianic, superstitious idea,” as well as a tragedy, in that it resulted in the displacement and ongoing travail of the Palestinians.’

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/despite-criticism-of-israel-hitchens-was-ardent-foe-of-anti-semitism-1.402015?v=5AD239D645CFC51BC2FDFB91A6D49C11

    The point is that neocons were the teeth arm of modern liberalism. If microaggressions are traumatic, gay parades are an inviolable right and liberal democracy is a panacea then the neocons were rigorous in taking those supposed truths to their logical conclusion.

    What this also means is that their failure in Iraq and Afghanistan means that their assumptions were wrong.

    So the two sides of mainstream discourse are both liberal. It’s just that the nominally liberal side can’t take their assumptions to the correct conclusion while the neocon side can’t work backwards from their mistakes in order to appropriately question their assumptions.

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  42. The French had an excellent operation in Mali, complete with parachute jumps. They have also had a lot of success in other North African countries although their involvement is somewhat shady, and their combat elements seem to have been limited to special forces and similar.

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  43. yawn…who cares? We need to severely cut the budget of the military and the spy agencies…bring the troops home and put them on the border…

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  44. anonymous
    says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Lists such as these make for interesting discussions but in reality there are so many imponderables involved that unless there’s an actual war it can’t be known in advance how things end up playing out. It’s a matter of who fights for what and where. China and Russia apparently can defend their near abroad, as China did in the Korean war. The US is a world-wide interventionist and tries to project it’s power everywhere it sees fit. Take a look at the US program of building the Ford class of super-carriers, which are generations ahead of the old ones, and the intentions of the US becomes very clear: the US plans to continue to intervene everywhere and to be dominant.
    Does the US deserve it’s #1 ranking? How has it fared in controlling Afghanistan? Much is made of it’s elite forces such as Seal Team 6 but who do they operate against except for third-world tribesmen? War movies aside the US has historically never fought wars against competent first worlders but rather against lesser armed third-worlders: Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. In the two world wars the US moved in at the last moment against the defeated and depleted Germans to scoop up what they could. They can throw a lot of bombs around though, that’s a certainty.
    Adding up weapons can be misleading. The South Vietnamese army had quite a lot of weaponry bequeathed to them yet folded up rather quickly without the Americans around. Iran’s military was in complete disarray when Iraq invaded. Hardly a year after the overthrow of the Shah the country was unsettled, the officer class pretty much gone and they were unable to obtain spare parts for their equipment, they still prevailed over the Iraqis and went on the offensive. This was the result of their sheer will. The Germans, Russians, French and British have all shown great capability in the past. But is the current young generation the same as their grandparents or have they wearied of war and want the good life, preferring to leave it to a small number of elite types who like that sort of thing? Probably.

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  45. There are ‘wars’ and there are ‘conflicts’. For example the 1982 ‘conflict’ between Britain and Argentina was short, sharp and educational but not strategically important as ‘homelands’ were not involved. OTOH, the 1973 Yom Kippur war was the last time nation states went to ‘all out’ war.

    It makes a big difference as to what is at stake. Israel, e.g., could destroy Hezbollah and or Hamas in pretty short order if it was a strategic necessity to do so. As a practical and tactical matter it refrains from doing it because the benefit is outweighed by the political and human price it would pay for doing so.

    Syria is a ‘conflict’ that may evolve into a ‘war’ even if today it doesn’t even rise to the level of Vietnam but it has a Vietnam war element to it. The US poured hundreds of thousands of troops into the effort and, if the US military could always prevail over North Vietnam in any particular battle, it couldn’t win the war because of the geographic and demographic reality of its position.
    Russia and Iran will probably face those same realities in Syria. They can keep Assad in power just like the US could keep Thieu in power only as long as it was prepared to prop his regime up. The moment that support waned Thieu was doomed as the internal politico-military balance was just not in favor of the Saigon regime. That applies today to Syria as it is an Arab Sunni state and nothing Iran or Russia can reasonably do will change that.

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  46. Which is why America would just sink Russia’s ships

    Simple enough. Only problem is, Russia would retaliate by ‘just’ sinking America’s ships. And America has a lot more invested in ships than Russia.

    you don’t have to be there physically to deny an area, you just use your weapons systems

    Both Russia and the US have long ranged strike capabilities. The difference is that US assets are hideously vulnerable to even a small scale usage of such capabilities, while Russian assets can hide behind a peerless multilayered air defense system.

    To be honest, modern infantry anti-tank weapons like Javelin, attack helicopters like Apache, and other guided weapons systems mean that large armoured formations are easy targets

    Far from it. Even under ideal circumstances, armor isn’t easy to deal with, and the circumstances US infantry and aircraft would be under in a war with Russia are simply horrific.

    The simple truth is that no-one can project power globally except America.

    The simple truth is that that’s nonsense. The US has to work far afield in order to work in the places of interest. Eurasian powers do not, but would be perfectly capable of doing so if they had to, as long as they were unopposed by a major player. That caveat applies to anyone crossing an ocean in the nuclear age, including the mighty USN, whose surface assets would have a lifetime measured in hours if faced with a concerted Russian effort to destroy them.

    Non-submersible naval assets are struck with a dual strategic and technical weakness. They operate in a flat desert, easily located by many powerful modern surveillance tools. Even without nukes, it is quite impossible for them to survive advanced attack. On the strategic side, it is impossible to credibly threaten a nuclear exchange over non-nuclear non-domestic assets. “Oh, we lost a carrier battle group? Well, might as well throw in Los Angeles and Boston and New York and all the rest – no point living anymore..” <- not gonna happen, and not a credible threat.

    The

    real

    power projection, between real players, is done by submarines that can wipe out many cities with their nuclear payload, and land-based systems that can do the same. Note that the important stuff is hidden underwater, and if on land either heavily hardened or mobile. Not floating on the bloody ocean, trivially located by any number of tools and equally trivial to destroy.

    • Agree: Vendetta
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  47. Arguably, today Russia is actually in a stronger military position relative to the USA, than was the USSR from 1945 to the early 70s (or than China is today), due to having strategic nuclear parity.

    Even though China is a nuclear power with dozens of warheads capable of reaching the USA, it’s common for US politicians and military leaders to threaten military action against China to protect Taiwan, or even over some small artificial islands. During the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy was able to establish an illegal blockade and force Khrushchev into a humiliating public capitulation, because the USA at that time had overwhelming strategic nuclear superiority. Yet even the most lunatic neocon warhawks like McCain have completely ruled out any military intervention in Ukraine. Having a large conventional advantage over Russia doesn’t do the USA much good if fear of escalation to a nuclear conflict it can’t win, prevents the USA from using it.

    As counter-argument to this, there is the fact that several GOP presidential candidates (and Clinton on the Democratic side) have claimed they would establish a no-fly zone over at least part of Syria, even if that meant shooting down Russian planes. This could just be campaign bluster though, which they know they’d never have to follow through on, since as president they could always “reluctantly” defer to a congressuional refusal to grant authorization.

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  48. The Houthis were never advancing “throughout Yemen”. They were raiding into the west of the former PDRY, always unsympathetic territory for them, and retreated not because of bombing but because of a ground force inserted into those provinces by the invaders. Bombing of their own strongholds has had no discernible effect on their actions or capabilities.
    Educate yourself, my man, educate yourself.

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  49. - That is more than 10 percent of the Education Department’s annual budget of $29 … to waste, fraud and loan defaults in its higher education student-aid programs. … fly-by-night trade schools using Federal loans, get no useful training, … When the Government Student Loan Program was begun in 1968, …There’s $72 billion a month in social payments and with 10% waste/fraud the program gets bigger and you need a bigger enforcement agency to find missing trillions and with interest you need more loans and the prison complex needs to grow to keep corrections jobs secure. $500 million missing from Yemen aid programs and fly-by-night diplomats. Trillions spent and nothing to show for it.

    “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.” – Thomas Sowell

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  50. Good points. But Brzezinski is a Polish nobleman with (understandable) issues concerning Russia and the Soviets, rather than a neocon.

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  51. Anatoly,
    A very clever use of the Cobb-Douglass type of production function to model CMP. Aggregation and Indexation are always prone to over-simplification, yet I would say that this is as sensible and well-specified a model of military power as any I have seen. The only shortcoming (which you have actually pointed out), is that this model (its parameter and specification) is unstable to technological change. Which of course translates to the relative non-robustness of the long-term projections you offer.

    Great article overall.

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  52. The pool of young men is a factor. In 1940 Germany outnumbered France in the call up class of 19 year olds almost 2:1. The decisiveness of the political leadership is a very important factor in military effectiveness, and radical leadership is often the result of a youth bulge.

    http://mearsheimer.uchicago.edu/pdfs/America%20Unhinged.pdf ; in 2012, for example, the United States spent more on defense ($682 billion) than the next ten countries combined ($652 billion) That enormous defense budget accounts for roughly 20 percent of U.S. government spending,

    A conflict with the US would be global and Russia could not hope to win, and that is why they are moving very cautiously in Ukraine and Syria .

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  53. It’s not just a question of Russia and China going up; the US/West is going down.

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  54. You didn’t count the Vikings. What about the VIKINGS!?!?

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  55. Nice job trying to make military powers ojectively measurable!

    Field research from WW II has confirmed that battle win is the function of bullet firing rate/density. So on average, side with more ammo and higher rate of firing win. Objectively measurement is the core of scientific analysis.

    Suggestion
    1. Quite a few of the components in CMP is still subjective. Need to find way coverting them into something objectively measurable.
    2. Combat effectiveness should include g factor into equation. When every thing equal (number, firepower, tech ect), troop with higher IQ should win.

    If you understand Chinese (or have Chinese friend to interpret) at 25:00 of this documentary, Chinese sodiers considered to hold the line and willing to die as duty of sodiers with no excuse. Also a squat leader was able to take advantage combat terrain and create 200 kills on enemy with zero self casualty, which is g factor in combat.
    3. Personality factor:Obedience!. you wonder why African warlords prefer child soldiers over adult? In military, nothing is more important than obedient to commanders. Following orders is very important in military activitis. A military battle is not mob fight. That is why military training of new recruits is about breaking down individual ego first then building sodiers into absolute obedient order following fighting maching.

    Start at 8:00
    These German sodiers in training were example to become obedient order followers. In culture with emphasis on obedience like Japan, their soldiers are naturally superior in this regard, which likely to fight to until last man.

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  56. Numbers do seem to provide comfort and a sense of security that one “knows” something. And this is true in many areas. But is war a realm where this is true? Yes and no. For the quantitative things like logistics, firepower, etc., etc., etc. this is so. But war is also a realm of psychology and art and imagination and above all will, which are not quantifiable.

    The above list of CMP ratings show the US at 197.35 (love those fractions, such precision, such certainty). Afghanistan is 0.53 (is that the western installed government or the opposition?). The CMP would suggest that the Afghans/Taliban will lose. Yet the Taliban are still there and still show life, and I expect will eventually win the war. How is this possible when the ratio is 197.35 to .53?

    Remember Napoleon’s rough dictum: that in war “the moral is to the physical as three is to one”. The illusion of certainty can lead to folly.

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  57. I like the index so far. The methodology makes sense at a glance.

    Maybe we could look at different matchups because individual militaries have their own strengths and weaknesses, depending on their mission and orientation. For example, Russian air defence systems would strongly counter airpower, which Americans have heavily depended on.

    It’d probably be helpful if you could publicly post your estimates for the individual factors (troop quality, cultural factor, technology, etc.). In terms of military capital depreciation, that also could vary a lot–I’m sure many post-Soviet states experienced a much higher rate of depreciation during the 90s.

    I’m not sure that the alpha is a universal constant, either. American power has a much stronger emphasis on naval power, where personnel numbers are indeed much less useful than the capital involved, as you stated. Dynamically fiddling with this opens a whole new can of worms, though.

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  58. The 1973 Yom Kippur war was a conflict that stopped short of degenerating into an all out war as the Arab forces did not manage to advance deep into Israeli held territory (the Egyptians willingly chose not to advance beyond their bridgeheads that were only a few miles deep East of the canal, while the Syrians were stopped well within the Golan heights); the Israeli counter attack on both fronts was close to turn this conflict into an all out war when they threatened the Egyptian homeland following the crossing of the canal as well as the Syrian capital; A cease fire followed. Neither the Egyptians nor the Israelis had the capacity or will to invade each other’s homelands as their supply lines across the Sinai would have been overstretched and the armies were also probably too weak for all out war that far from their bases anyway; the Syrians must have thought otherwise but that must have stemmed from believing that the Egyptians were sharing the same goals; the SAA was too poorly motivated, trained and organised to carry out anything beyond a limited operation, also it isn’t sure whether the Israelis would have tried to occupy Damscus if the cease fire did not come into being, surely if they did, they wouldn’t have advanced much beyond it as Syria is too large and populous a land to be occupied by Israel; that would have led to a situation not unlike that of Beyrouth in 1982.
    If we consider Kuwait and Iraq as nation states (which is definitely a matter of opinion, not fact but for different reasons in the two cases), the August 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the ensuing Gulf war can be seen as a war; the latter involved the build-up of a massive force headed by the US against a relatively strong third world army (that had previously faught an eight year war with a three times larger and more populous neighbour, motivated by a form of revolutionary fundamentalism); in that war, massive air and land firepower was used by the US (and to a much lesser extent its allies) to destroy said third world army and make Iraq defenceless and open to an easy invasion that for some reason was prematurely stopped only to be easily completed twelve years later.
    Saigon’s fate was quite similar to that of the communist Afghan regime; when extricating themselves from the conflict, the Soviets made sure to provide ample weaponry to their allies (including hundreds of Scud missiles that the Najibullah’s regime did not shy from using, making the Afghan war the single biggest instance of ballistic missile use since the V2 offensive in WW2) as well as to try to arrange a national reconciliation. All that in vain as a regime that is propped cannot stand on its own after the departure of its patrons. Nevertheless, the situation in Syria might be different as both Afghan communists and South Vietnamese puppets were of the same ethnic (and religious) background as their opponents who were more numerous and determined than they as well as backed by neighbouring countries and the opposing superpower; in Syria, the Alawite regime is fighting the Sunni fundamentalists, the Alawites cannot surrender or blend into the population with only some at the top being punnished by the new victors, they fight for survival as they face a very real prospect of extermination if defeated; that makes their motivation much stronger than that of regimes promoting an alien form of ideology or the interests of some foreign power.

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  59. “Yet the Taliban are still there and still show life, and I expect will eventually win the war. How is this possible when the ratio is 197.35 to .53?”

    This is a case where a population’s cultural factor has two values: one for small scale conflict and one for large scale conflict.

    Clan-based combatants like the Taliban might have a cultural factor of 100 fighting at home in their own valley, maybe 10 fighting in the same way (small unit tactics) in similar terrain somewhere else and 1 fighting in a national army.

    (Personally I’d say corruption would cover this as their corruption index would vary with scale also being sky high when dealing with anyone outside their valley but practically zero among close kin.)

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  60. Anatoly,

    I like what you’ve tried to do here and you have taken things a step forward from Global Firepower by attempting to incorporate some factors they ignore like troop quality and technological differences. However, you made a lot of arbitrary decisions and assumptions that have ended up giving you some very flawed results. Work on fixing and improving your CMP model before you rush forward to apply it everywhere.

    Saudi Arabia higher than Turkey, Israel, Iran, and Pakistan? LOL!

    Sure, they bought a bunch of expensive aircraft. But there is a world of difference between a collection of aircraft and an Air Force. Israel has an Air Force, Pakistan has an Air Force, Iran had an Air Force and still has the institutional knowledge and skills, just not the materiel anymore. Saudi Arabia has a collection of aircraft that it relies entirely on foreign contractors to maintain, flown by amateurish, untested pilots.

    The Saudi ground forces are a joke as well. The officer corps is arrogant, ignorant, lazy, and undisciplined, the soldiers soft and unmotivated. Parade ground army at its finest. Turks, Israelis, Pakistanis, and Iranians would all make mincemeat of it in actual combat.

    Singapore higher than Vietnam, North Korea, and Egypt? LOL!

    Singapore spends a ton of money on its troops, has the best equipment, they’re highly disciplined, etc. Match one brigade of Singaporeans up against one brigade from any of these countries, or one naval squadron against another, and I have every confidence the Singaporeans would thrash them.

    I would have grave doubts about the one brigade from Singapore defeating ten brigades from any of the above. Singapore’s air force and navy would also have only a handful of ports and airfields in close proximity to one another to operate from, targets that even a low-tech enemy with no air superiority could still bombard with ballistic missiles or raid with special forces.

    Mexico higher than South Africa or Sweden? LOL!

    These countries have military-industrial complexes. South Africa makes a full range of armored fighting vehicles and artillery. Sweden builds cutting-edge fighters and naval vessels. Mexico makes small arms, jeeps, and coast guard boats. Mexican military has never had the professionalism of either, the combat experience of the South Africans, or the experience of planning for defense against Soviet Russia like Sweden.

    Ukraine above Taiwan, Pakistan, and Australia? LOL!

    Ukraine’s mechanized forces are woeful to a degree that would make even Saddam cringe. Ukrainian logistics are a joke on par with Nigeria’s. They have a ton of leftover Soviet equipment, they have leftover Soviet military industry, yet both have been so neglected and underfunded that the whole structure is rotten. Awful leadership from the high command on down to the units in the field, morale is terrible, nothing works as it’s supposed to.

    Azerbaijan above South Africa? LOL!

    Portugal above Syria? LOL!

    Uzbekistan above Finland? Gonna guess LOL!

    Eritrea ten places above Ethiopia? LOL!

    The Eritreans are tough bastards and fielded strong infantry against them, but the Ethiopian infantry are pretty tough themselves. Ethiopia has a population dozens of times larger and could just pummel them into submission with human wave attacks, they also have more tanks, artillery, and aircraft. Ethiopia should be ahead with a slight edge.

    Libya above Ethiopia? LOL!

    Libyan armed forces were a joke even when Gaddafi was running the show and Libya was a coherent state with a big stockpile of Soviet arms. They lost a war to Chad, got a whole expeditionary force with tanks, armored vehicles, and air support destroyed, actually destroyed in pitched battle, by Chadian irregulars with pickup truck technicals.

    Ethiopia on the other hand has been fielding 100,000-strong armies with guns since the days of Adowa. Ethiopians are fighters, Libyans are runners. Simple as that. Now that Gaddafi’s gone, the whole state has imploded, the arsenal’s been dispersed among the clans and half the continent, and Ethiopia could roll through and occupy the whole place were it geographically situated to. They’ve occupied Eritrea and Somalia in the past and those people are way tougher and better guerrillas than Libyans.

    Lithuania ahead of Ethiopia? LOL!!!

    Let’s see how long Lithuania’s toy army would last on deployment to Somalia.

    Cuba at #122 behind the likes of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Botswana, Cameroon, Zambia, and Congo? LOL!!!!!

    Sure, the funding’s dried up since the Soviet Union broke apart, the equipment has fallen apart, the conscription’s been scaled way back. But this is a military that received half a century of Russian training and advising and had decades of experience in expeditionary deployments in Africa and the Middle East.

    You’re comparing that against the likes of what? The first half of those are toy militaries, the second are militias in uniform, only good for harassing the citizens and useless against any serious and armed oppposition.

    Cuba should be about thirty spots higher.

    Clearly, you need to put a lot more thought into how you’re calculating for the institutional and cultural factors, it’s great that you’ve attempted to include them since no one else does, but the means by which you’ve attempted to account for them are totally inadequate and in some cases just bizarre.

    What relevance does the experience of Genghis Khan have to the modern Mongolian army? If you’re giving them a bonus for that, might as well give the Italians one for the Roman army then too, and the Dutch for their Golden Age navy, and the Spanish for the tercio and the Armada. Scrap that as well as the bonus you gave to the Germans. The Wehrmacht is gone. NATO and the Soviets drilled the Germans into their own schools of warfare.

    If you want to start using this metric for all these other projects, stop and take the thing a little more seriously. Address these problems first. Your assessment still puts way too much weight on equipment and spending and not enough on the institutional factors and quality of manpower – hence why you’ve overrated powers like Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Libya and underrated others like Cuba, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and South Africa.

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  61. I totally agree with you as it is known that in our day and age Carrier Strike Groups and Expeditionary Strike Groups are ultimate tools to project power and bring destruction upon…third world countries and other weak opponents that do not possess nuclear weapons and/or serious anti-ship capabilities (such as the Soviet/Russian missiles named after types of stones).
    Likewise, infantry antitank weapons and attack helicopters can successfully be fielded against opponents that for some reason do not have effective defence against them such as tanks on their own (Vukovar in 1991, storm of Grozny in 1994-1995 and often actions by the Syrian Arab Army today) or total lack of anti aircraft defence (Gulf war); excessive amount of lethality against tanks would have discontinued their design and production by major powers when in fact new, more efficient models are made together with support weapons and doctrines of use.

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  62. As to how I’d go about creating a chart like this, I really think military power needs to be separated into two different ratings – one for national defense and one for power projection.

    A national defense chart would be an indicator for how well the country could resist a foreign invasion. As a standard metric, you could ask how well it could withstand a full-scale invasion by American armed forces since they are the world’s most powerful for overseas invasions.

    Russia, China, and India would obviously top the list. And it would likely see Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Brazil, and North Korea ending up higher on the chart than Great Britain, France, and Germany, with their well-equipped but undersized defense forces.

    The European military powers would fare much better on the power projection rankings, on the other hand, and America would have an overwhelming advantage over China and Russia here that it would not have on the national defense chart. A power projection chart ought to measure more than just number of amphibious warships and transport aircraft, however.

    The Iranian Qods Force, for example, is a tool of power projection that gives Iran an asset many other nations in its weight class do not have. So too is a military-industrial complex like that of Sweden, Israel, Iran, or North Korea, or a stockpile of surplus weaponry like Ukraine or Libya once had, which offers the potential to influence a conflict that that country could never otherwise get its forces into. And so is the ability of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan or even Qatar to plague their foes with jihadis.

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  63. http://chrishernandezauthor.com/2013/07/09/working-with-the-french-army/

    French Army is the real deal. Canadian and Australian as well.

    Also makes note of the Italians being widely believed to have paid off the Taliban not to attack them, and the Germans having a reputation as being frustrated over the rules of engagement and their chain of command, which held them back from fighting properly.

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  64. The US could send planes to Guam as a staging point for support of Taiwan. I don’t see how the Chinese Air Force would be able to establish superiority in the sky against American F-22s.

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  65. Blast the runways with ballistic missiles, deny them airfields to operate from.

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  66. Hard to quantify these things, but the Chechens are much better at fighting than the Palestinians. The cost of the occupations would have run far higher.

    As to the Israelis, the analysis offered here of the errors that led to the Liberty attack are pretty damning of their military’s shoddy staff work.

    http://www.siliconinvestor.com/readmsgs.aspx?subjectid=53920&msgnum=173799&batchsize=10&batchtype=Next

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  67. Nuclear war power is a totally different kettle of fish and is entirely excluded. This is an index exclusively of conventional military power.

    So this is a predictor of outcomes of conventional conflicts, not general measure of a country’s ability to project power.

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  68. Ukraine above Taiwan, Pakistan, and Australia? LOL!

    Ukraine’s mechanized forces are woeful to a degree that would make even Saddam cringe. Ukrainian logistics are a joke on par with Nigeria’s. They have a ton of leftover Soviet equipment, they have leftover Soviet military industry, yet both have been so neglected and underfunded that the whole structure is rotten. Awful leadership from the high command on down to the units in the field, morale is terrible, nothing works as it’s supposed to.

    While I agree that Ukraine was overrated on that chart and said so, Ukrainian troops have shown that they do not run like Arabs do, and there has been substantial and ongoing improvement. Ukraine in 2014 was a special situation, like Russia in late 1917 and early 1918 (when a few 10,000 Czechoslaovak POWs, or Latvian riflemen, could shift the entire country’s balance of power). That is increasingly being ameliorated in Ukraine.

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  69. Military power and its utility depend heavily on what war where with what consequences. Washington has far greater military power than does North Korea, but the likelihood that bombing the North would result in a peninsular, and perhaps nuclear, war to which Washington could not quicklyget troops in numbers —the 28K already there aren’t going to stop the North—means that an all-out very long national effort would be necessary to win. Assuming that the North does not have nukes. Result: military superiority means nothing there.

    Similarly, whether Washington in some sense has superiority over Russia doesn’t mean mulch when Russia is right next to the Ukraine and could overrun it and have it heavily fortified before Washington could get there. Washington has huge naval superiority over China but if anti-ship ballistic missiles can take out carriers, that superiority doesn’t mean much close to China. Washington had immense superiority over Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Viet Nam, Laos, etc. but….

    Finally, don’t bet on the superiority of American troops over Russian etc. The US today is not the US that fought Japan or the Viet Cong. Softer psychologically, more obese, etc.

    • Agree: Vendetta
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  70. None of these measures seems to recognize that wars are almost always fought in coalitions and that some contests are for all practical purposes unthinkable. Israel will not directly engage North Korea in ground combat. Germany is not going to war with France.

    It is more useful to compare the U.S. or some other country in question, and its sure allies, against potential opponents of that country.

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  71. Probably true. If the state ever recovers enough to start funding its military properly, there could be a rebound much as there has been in Russia since the 1990s disaster.

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  72. He’s not a neocon, but he has something important in common with them – he says that he’s primarily motivated by America’s interests, yet this isn’t true. I would guess that a truly pro-American regime in Washington would at least consider an alliance with Russia against China.

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  73. The Ukraine is totally broke.
    It does not have much of an economy left.
    Ukraine has the neocons to thank for that.

    Deduction:
    “Some people for whatever reason think that the defining feature of a neocon is unwavering and unconditional support for Israel.”

    Huh?? That is bc IT IS. Neoconservatism is a zionist jewish political and intellectual movement with very, very close ties to the most extreme nationalist and religious fanatics in Israel.

    Even msm have basically admitted this.

    Noah’s review (in the NYTimes) of Jacob Heilbrunn’s ‘They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons” returns to the unapologetic practice of tying Jews to the rise of neoconservatism, noting, for instance how “neoconservatism’s priorities, which range from strong support for Israel to vehement opposition to affirmative action, are heavily influenced by the values, interests and collective historical memory of the Jewish people.” Heilbrunn even divides his book into sections with Old Testament names such as “Exodus,” “Wilderness,” “Redemption” and “Return to Exile.”

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  74. And even Brzezinski’s understanding of Polish interests is short-sighted. On its present course Poland will be inundated by third-worlders within the next 20 years. If the current wave of “refugees” doesn’t reach it, one of the next 20 waves will.

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  75. To be quite honest, I think this article is totally flawed in terms of methodology and understanding of war.
    As others, such as Vendetta have noted:
    “I like what you’ve tried to do here and you have taken things a step forward from Global Firepower by attempting to incorporate some factors they ignore like troop quality and technological differences. However, you made a lot of arbitrary decisions and assumptions that have ended up giving you some very flawed results.

    Exactly.
    To his credit, the author admits not being a military expert.
    He certainly does a much better job than the many who claim to be(in the West, generally), but in fact produce nothing more than crude propaganda.

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  76. Since we are dealing in hypotheticals . Would you please explain why Russia might consider an alliance with the U.S.A against the P.R.C? I realize that the Soviet Union was once the bogey-man that PRC propagandists wanted Chinese people to stay awake worrying about, and that there were some border spats back in the 70s. The 70s, however, were the 70s and Russia is not the Soviet Union.

    I do not understand why Russia would feel the need for allies against China. Especially since China is itself an ally.

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  77. unit472 wrote:
    “Israel, e.g., could destroy Hezbollah and or Hamas in pretty short order if it was a strategic necessity to do so. As a practical and tactical matter it refrains from doing it because the benefit is outweighed by the political and human price it would pay for doing so.”

    Pure wishful thinking on your end.
    Short of deploying nukes, israels cowardly conventional forces would likely be defeated again against Hezbollah in a mano-a-mano war, like the one in 06.
    This is why Israel has been doing is best to destroy Syria and why it works closely in support of various Waahabi terrorists in Syria and Lebanon.
    Even against Hamas and the other palestinian militants in Gaza, I’m not so sure they would win.
    Israel did not go deep into Gaza in 2014 for fear it would suffer thousands of casualties.

    Against Hezbollah they were totally defeated in 06.
    Even more painful was the fact the fighting was done by only some 3-5000 hezb, mostly second tier fighters, the more elite elements kept as reserve. Hezbollah did not even feel the need to call up its reservists. This while being badly outnumbered and even more so outgunned. The idf was not even able to secure border villages.

    Don’t take it from me, let’s hear what former British MI6 analyst, Alastair Crooke, had to say about the fighting in Lebanon, 06;

    But by any accounting – whether in rockets, armored vehicles or numbers of dead and wounded – Hezbollah’s fight against Israel must be accorded a decisive military and political victory. Even if it were otherwise (and it is clearly not), the full impact of Hezbollah’s war with Israel over a period of 34 days in July and August has caused a political earthquake in the region.
    [...]
    After-battle reports of Hezbollah commanders now confirm that IDF troops never fully secured the border area and Maroun al-Ras was never fully taken. Nor did Hezbollah ever feel the need to call up its reserves, as Israel had done. “The entire war was fought by one Hezbollah brigade of 3,000 troops, and no more,” one military expert in the region said. “The Nasr Brigade fought the entire war. Hezbollah never felt the need to reinforce it.”
    [...]
    Reports from Lebanon underscore this point. Much to their surprise, Hezbollah commanders found that Israeli troops were poorly organized and disciplined. The only Israeli unit that performed up to standards was the Golani Brigade, according to Lebanese observers. The IDF was “a motley assortment”, one official with a deep knowledge of US slang reported. “But that’s what happens when you have spent four decades firing rubber bullets at women and children in the West Bank and Gaza.”
    [...]
    IDF commanders were also disturbed by the performance of their troops, noting a signal lack of discipline even among its best-trained regular soldiers. The reserves were worse, and IDF commanders hesitated to put them into battle.

    US Colonel and war veteran, Pat Lang, wrote re the highly overated idf:

    “It must be said that they[the Israelis] have typically been lucky in their enemies and that if they had faced more serious enemies, they would have had a much different experience than the ones they had. In the Golan Heights the Syrians gave them a very difficult time in 1973[...]The Jordanians gave them a run for their money in 1948-49. Hizbullah delivered a hint of the inherent limits in such a socio-military system in 2006 and now we are seeing whatever it is that we will see at Gaza.”

    Former zionist terrorist and israeli soldier, Uri Avnery had this to say about the last israeli attack on Gaza;
    AFTER 29 DAYS of fighting (until now), who has won?

    It is, of course, much too early to draw final conclusions. The ceasefire has blown up. It will take months and years to sum up all the consequences. But Israeli popular wisdom has already drawn its own conclusions: it is a draw.
    [...]
    WHEN A guerrilla organization with at most 10,000 fighters achieves a draw with one of the mightiest armies in the world[trust me Uri, it is not], equipped with the most ultra-modern weapons, that is by itself a kind of victory.
    Hamas has not only shown a lot of courage during the fighting, but also surprising ingenuity in preparing for this campaign. It is still standing upright.

    The Israeli army, on the other hand, has shown very little imagination. It was quite unprepared for the maze of tunnels.

    Indeed, as a commentator dared to write, the army has become a heavy, cumbersome, conservative machine.
    It followed its established routine, without employing special forces. Its doctrine was, in essence, to pound the civilian population into submission, causing as much killing and destruction as possible, so as to deter the “resistance” as much and as long as possible. In Israel, the terrible pictures of death and destruction did not evoke compassion. On the contrary. People were proud of it.

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  78. Anonymous
    says:
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    This article is a fail.

    The only way you could do an index like this is if you were very narrow in scope. Like focusing only on technology. Or focusing on naval power.

    As mentioned yourself, military prowess is highly contextual. Who is attacking? Who is defending? What is the terrain? What are the stakes involved? The reason why this is so important is that any competent people will immediately try to neutralize an enemies advantage. This is why rice farmers in Vietnam and goat herders in Afgansitan can go toe to toe with a super power much more powerful than them. They will just bypass their enemies strengths.

    Enemy has a strong Air Force? Build tunnels and focus on hit and run attacks that will disperse before an airplane can arrive. Enemy has drones? Good for them, let’s see the enemy try and hold land.

    Having a strong military has more to do with iq, a common non-tribal culture, and a desire to win than it does with all the things you mentioned. The AK47 was the great equalizer that enabled any people who could work together to be a formidable army.

    That’s why no matter how much tech Saudi Arabia has they will never be a strong military. They may be able to bomb lesser powers from up high, but once the fight turns to the ground the pampered Saudi will just spray bullets in the air.

    I think if you were going to do a ranking like this, you should just rely on your gut and intuition. Not some mathematical model. I don’t care how many Indians there are or what your model says, I will never take an Indian army seriously unless they are fighting other SE Asians like Bangledeshis.

    India should be near the bottom of your rankings, while people who have more mettle like South Africans and Vietnamese should be higher.

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  79. And even Brzezinski’s understanding of Polish interests is short-sighted. On its present course Poland will be inundated by third-worlders within the next 20 years. If the current wave of “refugees” doesn’t reach it, one of the next 20 waves will.

    Not true, for the following reasons:

    1. Unlike Germany, where there is widespread support for taking in refugees, Poles do not want them. Poles don’t feel guilt for anything, nor as in the case of non-German western Europeans do they feel any guilt about colonialism.

    2. Refugees themselves do not want to go to Poland. Germany, right next door, offers much higher incomes. Poles are very stingy with social services – not much welfare for refugees in Poland. And there are no established refugee communities to help newcomers feel at home. They will be, for them, in a cultural desert in Poland. A refugee coming to Poland will get a lower income, less opportunity to get hired, less welfare opportunities, more unfriendly/proudly Christian local environment, and won’t have a network of compatriots to help him get started. He wouldn’t want to go to Poland when right next to it is a country that offers all the thing the refugee would want. Even if he were sent to Poland, he would probably just cross the border.

    3. Poland may fill its quote with “refugees” from Ukraine.

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  80. He’s not a neocon, but he has something important in common with them – he says that he’s primarily motivated by America’s interests, yet this isn’t true.

    Correct, although the two are close enough that its’ probably not hard for him to sincerely believe it.

    I would guess that a truly pro-American regime in Washington would at least consider an alliance with Russia against China.

    Why? Russia offers what US already has – natural resources. China offers a lot of trade. Russia makes trouble (Middle East, Venezuela, Ukraine) , China much less so. Objectively Russia is a more decent country than China, but in terms of pure interest choosing Russia over China wouldn’t make much sense.

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  81. The Ukraine is totally broke.
    It does not have much of an economy left.
    Ukraine has the neocons to thank for that.

    Ukraine’s reserves are up to $12.7 billion, from a low of $5.6 billion in February 2015:

    http://www.tradingeconomics.com/ukraine/foreign-exchange-reserves

    Ukraine’s rate of economic decline has slowed after reaching its high point in early 2015, and will probably stop at the end of this year, with slight growth next year. Moreover it’s decline has been uneven. The economy has completely collapsed in the war-torn, bombed out Donbas (who would be surprised by that?) but has actually grown in some of the western provinces. Chart of economic change, by oblast:

    http://www.ukrstat.gov.ua/operativ/operativ2008/vvp/vrp/vrp2008_u.htm

    As for neocons – they didn’t make Yanukovich reviled.

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  82. Why? Russia offers what US already has – natural resources. China offers a lot of trade.

    Every American patriot is deeply bothered by America’s deindustrialization. This is true of French, British, Ruissian, etc. patriots as well. Calls for reindustrialization, for imposing high tariffs on Chinese goods in order to stimulate domestic production was a key component of the messages of Perot and Buchanan, and I think Trump has made such noises too. It’s natural for any patriot of any country to resent the destruction of that country’s industrial base. Any pro-American regime in Washington would be anti-China for at least that reason.

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  83. 2. Refugees themselves do not want to go to Poland. Germany, right next door, offers much higher incomes. Poles are very stingy with social services – not much welfare for refugees in Poland.

    I don’t fully agree with that.

    First off, not all West Europeans are motivated by historical guilt. Sweden didn’t do much at all in recent history, but it is famously the most affirmatively enthusiastic about Third World immigration.

    Second, the initial waves of immigration happened back when Germany resembled Poland socially somewhat. The initial Gastarbeiters came in the 50s/60s under the understanding – shared by both Right and Left – that they would all go back eventually:

    “Back then, the societal consensus in Germany was that Turks were guest workers and would have to go home,” Freiburg-based historian and author Ulrich Herbert told SPIEGEL ONLINE. And this wasn’t confined to right-leaning political parties like Kohl’s [Christian-Democrats], but rather “penetrated deep into the SPD,” he added, referring to the center-left Social Democratic Party.

    That of course never happened.

    Finally, the popular opinion of Poles is one thing, the attitudes of their rulers (as everywhere else) is another matter and in fact the one that truly matters.

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  84. Poles do not want them.

    That can change. Poland exists within the Western information space. I think I remember Anatoly tweeting about surveys that showed Poland and Russia starting with the same, low, level of support for gay marriage and then going in opposite directions in recent years on that issue. In other words, the popularity of gay marriage is going up in Poland and down in Russia. The leftist package of ideas is promoted within the Western information space. Population replacement is as much a part of that package as gay marriage.

    Poles don’t feel guilt for anything, nor as in the case of non-German western Europeans do they feel any guilt about colonialism.

    Poland’s history of imperialism in what’s now the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia will not be held against it because the Western information space is anti-Russian, but there are countries in Europe that honestly lack any history of imperialism, and which are still being filled up with third-worlders: Switzerland, Finalnd, Ireland. The soundness of justifications is irrelevant for propaganda purposes. The only things that determine the outcome are the propagandists’ goals and their market share withing the information space.

    An argument can be made that since millions of Poles have been immigrants in North and South America, in France, etc., it’s immoral for them to refuse third-world immigrants to Poland. I’m sure that the Irish are being told that right this minute. But if that argument wasn’t available in Poland’s case, others could be made up. Propaganda doesn’t need to have any logic in it to be successful.

    “Poles are very stingy with social services”

    An EU program could be established that would pay immigrants to Eastern Europe out of the EU’s budget. Didn’t Anatoly recently quote Soros proposing something like that? When there’s a will, there’s a way.

    “He wouldn’t want to go to Poland when right next to it is a country that offers all the thing the refugee would want.”

    As German cities get more filled up with third-worlders, Polish cities will become more attractive to them.

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  85. You are right about Sweden, of course.

    As for Germany – yes – but at that time Germany was the only game in town. Germany didn’t have a wealthier, more-friendly neighbor for Turks to move to instead. Moreover, Poles don’t even want guests from the Muslim countries.

    Poland has signed this agreement but the structural problems (weak welfare system, low payment to refugees, hostile local population, no native Arab community they can join) that will keep Arab migrants from coming to Poland – or staying there if they are sent there – remain. Sounds like a piece of helpful diplomacy, good PR for the western allies, with no actual consequences.

    Poland is around .2% Muslim. This won’t change anytime soon.

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  86. Poles do not want them.

    That can change. Poland exists within the Western information space. I think I remember Anatoly tweeting about surveys that showed Poland and Russia starting with the same, low, level of support for gay marriage and then going in opposite directions in recent years on that issue.

    Your statement about information space would make sense if Poles were on the same schedule as Germany. but because Germany’s refugee inundation will occur a decade or more before Poland’s could possibly occur, Poles will get a chance to see for themselves what will happen in Germany. If accepting refugees becomes a disaster in Western Europe, propaganda will not be able to hide this from Poles, who often visit Germany next-door, and who often have family living in Germany.

    As for gay marriage support, at most modest increase in support:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recognition_of_same-sex_unions_in_Poland#Support_for_LGBT_rights_in_Poland

    Only one tracking poll listed. Support for civil unions peaked in 2005 and then declined. Support for gay marriage declined and then grew but is still back to where it was 2001. Opposition to gay adoption remains steady, and higher than it had been in 2001.

    I suspect that Russian opposition to gay rights is an anti-Western thing, not an issue of morality. Russia was traditionally less homophobic than the West. Until 20-30 years ago gays were often seen as evil, disgusting perverts in the USA. In Russia they were generally pitied or ignored. Homophobia in Russia has grown as relations with the West have deteriorated. If the West were homophobic, I suspect Russians would be pro-gay, would celebrate Tchaikovsky’s orientation, and would rub their pro-gay attitudes (or at least their tolerant indifference) in Westerners’ faces.

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  87. Russia was traditionally less homophobic than the West.

    Only during the early Bolshevik period.

    “Until 20-30 years ago gays were often seen as evil, disgusting perverts in the USA.”

    I think that the “evil, disgusting perverts” attitude disappeared from mainstream US youth culture in the late 60s and early 70s.

    If the West were homophobic, I suspect Russians would be pro-gay

    No. Putin is genuinely socially conservative. In a moderate live-and-let-live way of course. But he’s still much more socially conservative than any Western head of state. It’s both late-Soviet upbringing and his personal emotional makeup. Socially liberal people rarely choose to become intelligence officers or officers of any other sort, or have life-long love affairs with the martial arts.

    “Your statement about information space would make sense if Poles were on the same schedule as Germany. but because Germany’s refugee inundation will occur a decade or more before Poland’s could possibly occur, Poles will get a chance to see for themselves what will happen in Germany.”

    Sweden was inundated decades after England, France and Germany. All Swedes know English. Most must have had a good idea of British and US realities. This didn’t help Sweden. Some regions of the US were inundated with local and/or foreign NAMs decades after others. New York, Chicago, etc. during and right after WWII, Minnesota and Indiana just a decade or two ago. Indianans knew what was happening in New York, Detroit, etc. all along. This sort of stuff never stops anything.

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  88. [Only during the early Bolshevik period.]

    Not even then. There was a period when it wasn’t a criminal offence, sure, but it had been not a criminal offence under the Napoleonic Code and its descendants for far longer by then, and public opinion nevertheless rejected it everywhere and always. Chicherin’s predilections were known to his colleagues, but he never dared to flaunt them even in the narrowest of circles.
    The idea that somehow Russians only disapprove of faggotry because Americans boost it is one of the most absurd ever propounded, even in this comment section.

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  89. Russia was traditionally less homophobic than the West.

    Only during the early Bolshevik period.

    Wrong. Traditional Russian attitudes towards homosexuality were “don’t ask/don’t tell.” This was much less homophobic than traditional American attitudes, which probably retained some Puritan moralism.

    I couldn’t find polls from the 80s, but here, in 1998:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2012/05/18/russian-attitudes-towards-gays-are-still-really-negative/

    35% of Russians believed homosexuality was immorality; 33% that it was a sickness or the result of trauma; 18% that it was a legitimate sexual orientation. Concomitantly, the most favored approach to homosexuality was to heal them. A compassionate approach. Was this much different than, say, 1988 or 1978? I’m not sure, but I know one Russian gay who was a student in the USA in the early 90s and he said he felt more homophobia in the USA than in Russia. Personal behavior as long as it wasn’t publicly flaunted, was much more tolerated in Russia.

    I couldn’t find a similar question in the USA, but in general American homophobia reached its high point in 1987:

    http://www.norc.org/PDFs/2011%20GSS%20Reports/GSS_Public%20Attitudes%20Toward%20Homosexuality_Sept2011.pdf

    That year, 75% of Americans felt homosexual relations were always wrong and another 4% that they were almost always wrong. Only 11.4% felt they weren’t wrong at all (I suppose this can be compared to the 18% of Russians in 1998 who believed homosexuality was a legitimate orientation?). Not much changed in the USA until the early 1990s. American attitudes shifted dramatically sometime between 1991 and 1993.

    If the West were homophobic, I suspect Russians would be pro-gay

    No. Putin is genuinely socially conservative.

    My statement was too strong. More likely, Russia would be proudly tolerant and live-let-live about the issue, if the West hadn’t become very pro-gay and hadn’t tried to push pro-homosexuality onto Russia. And I wasn’t discussing Putin, who is probably a moral cynic and not at all genuinely socially conservative. I’m a friend with one FSB officer, and my wife has had classmates who joined the intelligence services. In general, they are highly intelligent but not exactly paragons of virtue. Moral cynicism was a very common trait for them.

    “Your statement about information space would make sense if Poles were on the same schedule as Germany. but because Germany’s refugee inundation will occur a decade or more before Poland’s could possibly occur, Poles will get a chance to see for themselves what will happen in Germany.”

    Sweden was inundated decades after England, France and Germany. All Swedes know English. Most must have had a good idea of British and US realities.

    Poland is much more exposed to Germany, than Sweden is to England. Poles often travel, live and work in Germany, or have close relatives who do. You have too much faith in the power of propaganda. Propaganda is effective with respect to phenomena that are distant. So Vermonters, in a state that is about 96% white or Asian, can be taught an unrealistic appraisal of events in Detroit or New York. In contrast, rural people from Michigan, in the same state as Detroit, tend to be rightwing about this. Americans can be taught that 9-11 was Saddam’s fault, or Swedes in the 1980s (when Sweden was quite homogeneous and most foreigners were Finns) that refugees are great and need help. People from Moscow can be taught that Galicians have low IQs and are violent savages. Etc. But it is much harder to change reality that people witness personally.

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  90. Glossy says:
    *
    It’s natural for any patriot of any country to resent the destruction of that country’s industrial base. Any pro-American regime in Washington would be anti-China for at least that reason.*

    for the sake of humanity, i suggest a world coalition force to attack the unitedsnake.

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  91. I think that Putin wanted Russia to recover from the 1990s disatser WHILE retaining a good relationship with the West. He gradually realized that this was impossible – the West could only be friends with a poor, looted-out, humiliated Russia, never with one that’s trying to recover its strength and/or standard of living. Once he realized this, he began to reorient Russia towards China.

    There are people in Russia who think that the West was always a bad influence. Putin isn’t one of them. I bet his opinion of Peter I and Catherine II is positive, for exampls. He’s not opposed to the West in principle, just to its current leadership.

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  92. Airfields can be repaired very quickly.

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  93. F-22 is a hangar queen that needs hours and hours of specialized maintenance, reapplication of coating, etc.

    Blasting the hangars more so than putting holes in the ground will make it very difficult to keep these aircraft operating in theater.

    Force them to base farther away and they’ll have a lower sortie rate, slower response time, bottleneck imposed by vulnerable tanker aircraft, etc.

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  94. Poland is around .2% Muslim. This won’t change anytime soon.

    If they stay in the EU then it will change dramatically and soon. The EU clearly want to turn all the national populations into minorities for divide and rule purposes so Polish politicians will be bought like those further West.

    .

    Comparing countries in the list as if they were adjacent is probably a useful double check.

    .

    Indians in the British Army in India were fine

    (population * IQ) / corruption index.

    .

    The quote goes something like “nations don’t have friends; they have interests” which ought to apply to enemies also so people in Washington ought not to be so viscerally anti-Russia (or anywhere else) but neocons clearly are. However I think there is more than one reason for it: Israel-First is one but also historical animosity (e.g. Brezhinski) or general “full spectrum dominance” ideology.

    .

    The people procuring, designing and building planes in the 50s and 60s were people who came out of the war years and still had the war mentality of wanting the best for their side. Since then it’s gradually become about making the most money for the suppliers.

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  95. I’m not sure how valuable it is (some of the criticisms leveled at it – like Saudi Arabia’s clearly too high rankings – look justified to me, others – like the supposedly too low ranking of South Africa – don’t), but it was interesting, to say the least.

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  96. I agree with the comments above about corruption: that needs to be taken into account, and the result should be noticeably lower estimates of China’s military power.

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  97. >>I don’t know what “superior tech” means, but Iran has certainly made several scientific and engineering advances which Turkey has not<<

    I meant that Turkey has access to current Western military equipment, while Iran is embargoed. As for people, Iran may have a larger smart fraction than Turkey, Turkey’s elite may be relatively smaller but smarter (they compare well with most Mediterranean European elites IME – closer to Italy than to Greece). But the nations seem pretty similar in my experience – a smart educated minority and an uneducated but not moronic majority. Basically they're middling 90-IQ nations (normed to UK=100), smarter than the countries south of them, less smart than the countries north of them.

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  98. This all makes perfect sense. But I still cannot quite fathom why, if forced to choose between alienating the West or China, Putin or indeed any Russian leader in the forseeable future would choose to alienate China.

    I am not trying to be obtuse, but you did write that a pro-American regime in Washington ought to give serious thought to an alliance with Russia against China. You made it perfectly clear why patriots in Washington should want allies against China, in a reply to another reader. But I hope you could explain why you think patriots in the Moscow would want allies against China.

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  99. The generic term “West” vis-a-vis Russia is somewhat a misnomer, although I have used it too.
    In this context “West” is actually Leo Straussian Neocon infected US: its brain has been taken over by the creature, and its body does what the creature commands it do.
    Against its (American) interests and its will.
    Germany has no issue with Russia.
    Neither does France.
    Both want to do commerce with Russia and China (via Russia).

    For centuries England has worked hard to thwart any economic and military union of Continental powers.
    Fearful the island nation would be isolated and starve to death.
    Now the US has taken the mantle of Anglo-American Empire and is doing its best to thwart Germany and France getting too close to Russia.
    Both countries suffer economically from Anglo-American meddling, but the leaders have either been blackmailed into compliance or bought off.
    For example, there was absolutely no economic benefit to France in cancelling the Mistral orders, but Hollande was somehow forced to do it.
    Same with Germany: German industry has lost $billions in Russian business due to US inspired sanctions, but they are somehow forced to go along with it.

    UK+US are terrified that Germany, France, Russia, and China will form a Eurasian economic union. That will spell the end of Anglo-American world domination.
    Bad news of US+UK Empire: so they pull all stops to thwart it.
    Time will tell.

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  100. glossy the *partiot* [sic]

    for the sake of humanity, the world community need to form
    a coalition against the usa.

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  101. hmm,
    i’ve a perfectly legit, non offensive post deleted ;-(

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  102. How much should we de-rate the US Military for it’s Diversity is Strength stance?

    For example, how many pregnancies are there aboard US Navy Vessels?

    Also, when the shit hits the fan, will those diverse different groups trust each other and fight together? Black troops in the US army have mutinied before … during WWII in Australia for example and there are suggestions that aboard a US aircraft carrier …

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  103. perhaps a system glitch ?
    lets try again…

    real patriots get beaten up, rots in jail, fighting the real enemy.
    sainthoward.blogspot.com/2014/12/putting-saints-in-jail.html

    sheeples bleat at discussion forum at whoever is currently on
    the official enemy list.

    hey grossy the *patriot,*
    u’r behind time , the china slave labor gravy train is going bust cuz the locals demand a minimum pay these days, your 1% is looking out for the next sweat shop, i heard its india.
    are u gonna pivot to india now hehehe

    p.s.
    while your real enemy, the 1% laughs the the way to the bank,
    hehehe

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  104. I think that Putin would give a lot in return for a normalization of Russia’s relationship with the West. Of course that’s not on offer. The choice actually before him is 1) Gorby-like capitulation followed by 1990s-style looting and the further break-up of the country 2) Cold War II. And he’s wisely chosen Cold War II.

    But if the West offered a normalization that included the end of color revolutions in the former Soviet republics, the end of Western support for the Kiev junta, Moscow “liberals” and Islamist extremists in the Caucasus, the end of sanctions and of demonization in the Western media, then supporting the US in a hypothetical conflict with China would be a tiny, tiny price to pay. A bargain. What could it involve? Trade wars, steering former Soviet republics away from an economic relationship with China, a refusal to share mil tech know-how with the PRC. Reindustrialization, the gradual replacement of Chinese consumer products with domestic ones is as much in Russian as in Western interests.

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  105. The above list of CMP ratings show the US at 197.35 (love those fractions, such precision, such certainty). Afghanistan is 0.53 (is that the western installed government or the opposition?). The CMP would suggest that the Afghans/Taliban will lose. Yet the Taliban are still there and still show life, and I expect will eventually win the war. How is this possible when the ratio is 197.35 to .53?

    Remember Napoleon’s rough dictum: that in war “the moral is to the physical as three is to one”. The illusion of certainty can lead to folly.

    The more apt quote is Clausewitz, ‘war is the continuation of politics by other means.’

    And America does not have the political or cultural understanding to achieve her aims.

    Nevermind that the Taliban’s aim ‘to government most of Afghanistan with a religiously inspired iron fist’ and America’s aim ‘to turn Afghans into Swedes in one generation while avoiding bad headlines’ are not exactly the same difficulty.

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  106. Even against Hamas and the other palestinian militants in Gaza, I’m not so sure they would win.

    In a long post of motivated reasoning, this is the winner.

    I have had lots conversations that flow along these lines but about Americans. Some hick doesn’t like his compatriots, another runs his mouth and some snooty East Coaster declares that Mexicans are harder workers and Blacks are more civilised. The conversationalist then combines these comments with his blatant prejudices to form what to him is a perfect argument, but to anyone else it just looks like a bunch of gossip strung together by hate.

    Are Israelis useless? Check. Do they love human suffering? Check? Are they cowards? Check! And without a single positive or even neutral quality? Check and check.

    Well done you have written sorry low quality propaganda.

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  107. Now I understand. Thanks for taking the time to gratify my curiosity.

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  108. A whole lot of propaganda. While you perform that chest thumping routine, understand that the Givati and Golani brigades when they fight in the North are essentially fighting under constraints: as if with a hand tied behind. Hezbollah units are interspersed, and Israelis have to avoid harming the U.N. forces in the area. Do a bit of actual, objective reading.

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  109. Go lighter on the propaganda, won’t you? While you perform that chest thumping routine, understand that the Givati and Golani brigades when they fight in the North are essentially doing so under constraints: as if with a hand tied behind since Hezbollah units are interspersed, and Israelis under strict orders to avoid harming the U.N. forces in the area, heavily scrutinised by the International media during their operations and importantly, under a cost-benefit analysis they are unwilling to take heavy losses for little gain. Should the optimisation problem change, you might be surprised next time.

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  110. a sampling of three patriots wish from ich ,the saker

    1]
    WE THE PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY DEMAND THE FOLLOWING;
    1 Complete withdrawal of all US military in the Middle East and the Ukraine.
    2 Complete withdrawal of all anti-terror laws created under false pretenses.
    3 The US Constitution restored in full immediately.
    4 An Independent Inquiry into the entire 9/11 hoax.
    5 The immediate arrest of all persons involved with the hijacking of the US.
    6 Charges up to and including Treason for the above including Independent criminal trials
    7 The immediate dismantling of CIA, FEMA, NSA and related institutions.
    8 The immediate arrest of Obama, Bush, Rumsfeld etc

    2]
    It makes perfect sense for Russia , China, Europe, and Africa to trade amongst themselves and place sanctions on the US until it pays reparations for all its war crimes

    3]
    thanks Saker and South Front..so this does mean ‘political solution’ is about USA…

    Grotesque that these problems are only to be solved politically with USA because USA is the aggressor in both cases – Syria and Yemen.

    Oh God forgive us for creating this monster of a nation…please may we get this monster back in a cage before it wrecks the planet we all live on
    hear, hear !

    our *patriot* glossy here want an anti chinese union with russia,
    lol !
    i think this *patriot* is a one percenter, hehehehe

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  111. Since the quality of reporting on that conflict is very poor, I really have no way of knowing who is right. Nonetheless your tone was needlessly abrasive considering that my point was that an energetic bombing campaign from a position of air superiority and conducted without regards to human suffering would be effective is hardly controversial.

    I have no dog in that fight although I rather sympathise with the Houthis, but you appear to have a side, and as with all sides in Middle Eastern conflicts I have no doubt that you’ll pursue ithis in the starkest black and white terms, which makes my participation in your monologue pointless.

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  112. It’s funny that you identify as an American patriot but English is clearly your second language.

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  113. Fair enough. I served in the Army not the Navy and I’m clearly out of my depth. I think that you were broadly right and that I was broadly wrong lol.

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  114. when did i say im a yank ?

    language aside, what do u think of glossy the *patriot* ?

    p.s.
    from what i gathered, my english language actually compare
    very favorably with some *native speakers*, hehehe

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  115. I never claimed to be a patriot of any country. I described what US patriots tend to want. But that’s just an observation.

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  116. [that an energetic bombing campaign from a position of air superiority and conducted without regards to human suffering would be effective is hardly controversial.]

    Anyone who has the most cursory acquaintance with military history knows that the question “effective at what?” is highly controversial.

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  117. You’re changing the topic. The topic is not whether the air campaign is a solution for the Saudis, but whether the Saudis are capable of running a proper air campaign; which they clearly are.

    I’ll leave the bigger debate over whether an air campaign designed to attrit the enemy and break the will of their population through targeted starvation is a clever strategy for another time. Although I suspect that punitive measures do generally work as Ghengis Khan never lost an insurgency.

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  118. You continue to set imposing standards for incoherence, factual deficiency and inability to reason.

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  119. We started this discussion by disagreeing on whether Saudi Arabia has a quality military or not.

    I used their bombing campaign in Yemen as evidence to support that they may.

    The key criteria for evaluating my argument in this context is whether that bombing campaign is reasonably well run or not.

    It clearly is, so this thread of the discussion is over.

    I did allow you to divert me earlier into the separate question of whether air campaigns are effective, and I am willing to continue on that thread, but it is not relevant to the original discussion point on which you continue to be so graceless.

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  120. @”deduction” in reply to 5371

    “We started this discussion by disagreeing on whether Saudi Arabia has a quality military or not.”

    It DOES NOT.

    “deduction”:
    “I used their bombing campaign in Yemen as evidence to support that they may.”

    Such a silly statement shows clearly you have zero understanding of what you are talking about.
    Either that or you are just another propagandist.

    BTW, Mr.”deduction”(what a handle you chose eh!), back to the highly overated israeli military.
    You may dislike what i presented about them, but the info comes from US, British and Israeli sources.
    Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts(OF CHOICE) including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years.
    He is no dove. Rather, it would be more accurate to describe the man as an American firster who believes that force solves lots of things and that American Exceptionalism is the natural order of things.
    He knows the IDF. “I associated with and/or conducted liaison with The Israel Defense Force (IDF) for many years. This activity occurred as part of my regular duties as a US Army officer and later as a civilian executive of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Since my retirement from US government service I have had many occasions to visit Israel and to watch the IDF in action against various groups of Palestinians all over the West Bank.”

    What was it that he wrote about them? Again for you and Sam Shama;

    It must be said that they[the Israelis] have typically been lucky in their enemies and that if they had faced more serious enemies, they would have had a much different experience than the ones they had. In the Golan Heights the Syrians gave them a very difficult time in 1973[...]The Jordanians gave them a run for their money in 1948-49. Hizbullah delivered a hint of the inherent limits in such a socio-military system in 2006 and now we are seeing whatever it is that we will see at Gaza.

    What about Shama’s shameful l-y-i-n-g about his beloved idf cowards fighting under “constraints”!!! Buahahhahaha, man, have you no shame??(pun intended).

    The idf carpet bombed Lebanon in the 06 war, to such an extent, that even the zamericans, themselves not shy of using massive firepower(their entire doctrine is based around it), became aghast with the israeli campaign!!

    Let’s hear what the former high ranking MI6 intel officer, Alastair Crooke, had to say on the israeli bombardment of Lebanon in 06, as per what USAF officers who followed the war told him:

    “It seemed to them [USAF officers] that Israel threw away the book in Lebanon. This wasn’t surgical, it wasn’t precise, and it certainly wasn’t smart. You can’t just coat a country in iron and hope to win.”
    [...]
    The Israeli military’s plans called for an early and sustained bombardment of Lebanon’s major highways and ports in addition to its plans to destroy Hezbollah military and political assets. The Israeli government made no secret of its intent – to undercut Hezbollah’s support in the Christian, Sunni and Druze communities. That idea, to punish Lebanon for harboring Hezbollah and so turn the people against the militia, had been a part of Israel’s plan since the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.
    [...]
    “The “target stretching” escalated throughout the conflict; frustrated by their inability to identify and destroy major Hezbollah military assets, the IAF began targeting schools, community centers and mosques”

    Not surprising. Col Pat Lang wrote of his visits to the West Bank:

    “In Beit Suhur outside Bethlehem, I have seen IDF troops shoot at Palestinian Christian women hanging out laundry in their gardens. This was done with tank coaxial machine guns from within a bermed up dirt fort a couple of hundred yards away, and evidently just for the fun of it. In Bethlehem a lieutenant told me that he would have had his men shoot me in the street during a demonstration that I happened to get caught in, but that he had not because he thought I might not be a Palestinian and that if I were not the incident would have caused him some trouble. I have seen a lot of things like that.”

    Ha, Such restraint! This is what the israelis have proven to be good at, time and again, murdering civilians.

    But back to the war in Lebanon in 06, from Alastair, this bit is priceless;

    “Late on the day of the 21st, the White House received a request from Olmert and the IDF for the provision of large amounts of precision-guided munitions – another telltale sign that the IAF had failed in its mission to degrade Hezbollah military assets significantly during the opening rounds of the war.

    The request was quickly approved and the munitions were shipped to Israel beginning on the morning of July 22. Senior Pentagon officials were dismayed by the shipment, as it meant that Israel had expended most of its munitions in the war’s first 10 days – an enormous targeting expenditure that suggested Israel had abandoned tactical bombing of Hezbollah assets and was poised for an onslaught on what remained of Lebanon’s infrastructure, a strategy that had not worked during World War II, when the United States and Britain destroyed Germany’s 66 major population centers without any discernable impact either on German morale or military capabilities.

    But there was little grumbling in the Pentagon, though one former serving officer observed that the deployment of US munitions to Israel was reminiscent of a similar request made by Israel in 1973 – at the height of the Yom Kippur War. “This can only mean one thing,” this officer said at the time. “They’re on the ropes.” ‘

    The following bit provides such a beautiful glimpse into how the tail(Israel) wags the dog(ZUSA):

    “In spite of its deep misgivings about the Israeli response (and the misgivings, though unreported, were deep and significant – and extended even into the upper echelons of the US Air Force), senior US military officers kept their views out of public view. And for good reason: criticism of Israel for requesting a shipment of arms during the 1973 war led to the resignation of then Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) chairman General George Brown. Brown was enraged that US weapons and munitions were being sent to Israel at the same time that American commanders in Vietnam were protesting a lack of supplies in their war in Southeast Asia.

    The current JCS chairman, Peter Pace, who remained notably silent during the Israeli-Hezbollah war, understood history, saluted, and remained silent.”

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  121. 7 Red flags for ???

    1. Posts on one subject only.

    2. Poster engages in ‘splitting.’

    3. Content is mostly cut and paste hearsay or even just emotional responses.

    4. Post content is only incidentally on the subject matter.

    5. Post is mostly (obsessively) pre-prepared.

    6. Poster takes all disagreement intensely personally.

    7. The poster projects their own negative characteristics onto others.

    So the question is, what are these red flags for? And how many should you need to be diagnosed as such?

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  122. Hold on. My BS-detector is going off.

    So, good sir, explain to me Hezbollahs victory (military victory) on the ground against the IDF in 2006?

    You know, the ones who declared they were going to “destroy Hezbollah” and then days later added “…or at least his missile firing capabilities” (failed on both counts).

    Hezbollah is everything that is considered “negative” in a modern military (by the authors standards). They are Arabs, Muslim, unconventional, and undermanned/under equipped YET seemed to do just fine putting a hurt on the unlimited supported, US-backed, air-dominating, technologically-advanced, numerically superior Israel (who expended their ENTIRE inventory of smart-munitions in the first 10 days of the conflict and fired more artillery than the entire 1973 war).

    The Hezbollah military victories on the ground don’t include the ‘fourth-generation of modern warfare’ component of social networking and politics of negotiating a ceasefire.

    Or explain the NVA and their successful war against the US in Vietnam? You know…. that small little country that not only fought the Americans but France and the Chinese as well.

    I guess the WILL to fight doesn’t factor into your equation?

    It’s a funny thing you mention Clausewitz, the man who said:

    “War Is Merely the Continuation of Politics by Other Means”

    What’s the point of this scoring system if its not going to measure RESULTS. I mean last I checked the most efficient organizations are RESULT-ORIENTED ORGANIZATIONS.

    As for trying to gauge this historically, the only time period relates to today (militarily, again) is the days just before World War 1. The world today has so much high-tech weaponry, much of which has never been fired in anger (combat situation).

    The same applied prior to WW1 with all that fancy high-end equipment (for that period) just waiting to be used (biplanes, submarines, radio communications, motorized vehicles, chemical weapons, tanks later on, breech-loaded weaponry, etc. etc. etc.).

    That’s the problem with all these “scoring” systems. They’re all BS. Regardless of how much thought and effort are put into it. It’s called the the FOG OF WAR for a reason. War is too complex, on nearly all levels, to just simply quantify into a numerical value.

    This article is what I like to call the “American Thinking of War”. The oversimplification of clearly complex matters.

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  123. When Hezbollah shows itself capable of occupying the north of Israel for 22 years or even just crossing the border en masse at will, then I’ll concede that your point is as strong as you think it is.

    Doctrinally, you require a 10:1 force ratio to attack an enemy in a built up area. That ratio is a great leveller.

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  124. So, good sir, explain to me Hezbollahs victory (military victory) on the ground against the IDF in 2006?

    Urban war fighting significantly favors the defender – and I’d say doubly (or more) so when the defenders are from clannish cultures – so maybe counter intuitively the cultures who are the worst at large-scale warfare will often be the best at this kind of warfare.

    But although this kind of war, like the Taliban in Afghanistan, Chechens etc, is a special case it still ought to be explainable by an accurate model.

    Which means an accurate model needs a factor that can vary between close to zero and a very large number within the same population.

    I’d use corruption index as a proxy because 1) clannish populations among their own people on their own turf will have a very low corruption index and 2) clannish people among their own people on their own turf fight really well – or at least very tenaciously.

    (Used as a denominator so when corruption index is very low the fighting ability tends to infinity and where corruption index is very high fighting ability tends to zero.)

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  125. The first step to do what you want is just to combine Karlin’s measure with force ratios.

    So if Saudi Arabia invades Iran you have to times Iran’s combat power by 3 as the force ratio required for conventional warfare over an open country is 3:1. If Saudi Arabia somehow wins and then decides to occupy the cities and towns rather than starve them out or whatever then you times Iran’s power by 10 as that would require Saudi Arabia to operate in built up areas.

    I’ve never heard of anyone trying to estimate the force ratio you would need to occupy a foreign country, impose your ideology on them and yet constrain yourself to relatively humane means, but 1000:1 seems to work when combined with the score system here!

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  126. because Germany’s refugee inundation will occur a decade or more before Poland’s could possibly occur, Poles will get a chance to see for themselves what will happen in Germany. If accepting refugees becomes a disaster in Western Europe, propaganda will not be able to hide this from Poles, who often visit Germany next-door, and who often have family living in Germany.

    I hope you are right, however the Irish experience is not encouraging. Virtually every family in Ireland has had at least one member, usually more than one, who has worked and lived in English inner cities and the US, especially Boston, a city infamous for its racial issues between Irish-Americans and blacks. They’ve had half a century of knowledge and often personal experience with diversity, especially blacks, and yet here we are in 2015. Only 15 years ago Dublin was as white as Lublin yet today it’s looking a lot like London.

    • Agree: Deduction
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  127. Doctrinally, you require a 10:1 force ratio to attack an enemy in a built up area. That ratio is a great leveller.

    1. Doctrine (military one)-is the nation’s system of views on building, maintaining and using its own armed forces. It does not provide ratios–it provides policy statements.

    2. There is combat (or war-fighting) doctrine which, generally, identifies forces, their structure and the way they fight.

    3. The issue of ratios, within or without “built up areas”, is not “doctrinal” issue–it is mostly the issue of Operational Art (such as used as separate subset of Military Art in Russia) or, as it was long known in the “Western” world–small strategy. There is NO pre-set ratio other than modern Operational Planning, which, among many other things calculates required force (in Russian–Naryad Sil) and it is not necessarily 10:1 or even 5:1.

    If you want to comment on the subject–start with acquaintance with Model Based Operational Planning here

    http://www.dodccrp.org/events/6th_ICCRTS/Tracks/Papers/Track3/054_tr3.pdf

    or..sadly I cannot attach here number of papers, including introduction to the effectiveness criteria (usually probabilities) and calculation of force as it is taught in any serious military academy. Today, CICS and Combat Computer Networks (i.e.such as COAST software) deal with these issues but operational officers still have to know the process and math behind it through and through.

    In general, this thread is one hell of an amusing reading, especially in regards to military history;-)

    • Agree: Vendetta
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  128. The more apt quote is Clausewitz, ‘war is the continuation of politics by other means.’

    I don’t see how famous, beaten to death and abused, Clausewitzian dictum, however genius, is relevant here. Here is a corollary (mine, I hope so, but will not be surprised if I inadvertently stole it)–Politics is continuation of the war by other means(c). But I would suggest to read all of Vom Kriege and, especially, with the foreword by Anatol Rappaport (Penguin Classics edition) Pelican Edition (yes, it is IN Penguin Classics edition;-) Worth it.

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  129. You sound knowledgeable and highly educated on this subject, but then again I was taught these force ratios at a military academy and an infantry officers’ school; I have also read about them in the doctrine.

    I can’t remember exactly where but a quick Google turned up the following link, and it broadly agrees with what I remember.

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=11568

    Also, when you say an Ops Officer needs to know the stuff you are talking about, do you mean civilian Operational Analysts? Because no offense to those guys, they’re very smart and offer useful advice, but having worked on the staff in a higher formation I know who makes the decisions and who influences those decisions and it isn’t really them.

    And if you mean real Ops Officers then I really have no clue where you get your ideas from…I don’t think any of them know any maths through and through haha, I certainly don’t.

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  130. I don’t see how famous, beaten to death and abused, Clausewitzian dictum, however genius, is relevant here. Here is a corollary (mine, I hope so, but will not be surprised if I inadvertently stole it)–Politics is continuation of the war by other means(c). But I would suggest to read all of Vom Kriege and, especially, with the foreword by Anatol Rappaport (Penguin Classics edition) Pelican Edition (yes, it is IN Penguin Classics edition;-) Worth it.

    It’s relevant to the question of why ISAF failed in Afghanistan and the coalition failed in Iraq.

    When we had military aims we almost never lost, but politically and culturally we didn’t have a clue, and so we failed regardless.

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  131. I clicked the link. Sinn Fein. That’s the old IRA front. Mind. Blowing. OMG. And it’s real. Benny Hill could have done a sketch like that.

    While looking this up I learned that Sinn Fein means “we ourselves” in Gaelic. So let me get this straight, they blew up Irish Protestants, that foreign horde, so that they could do this.

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  132. When we had military aims we almost never lost, but politically and culturally we didn’t have a clue, and so we failed.

    It is called the social dimension of strategy. Michael Howard wrote a fascinating piece “The Forgotten Dimensions Of Strategy”, well, in 1984. You may find it on net or, if you are really interested, in “The Art And Practice Of Military Strategy” from National Defense University, 1984 edition. But I would also suggest Richard Pipes’ “seminal” piece “Why The Soviet Union Thinks It Could Fight And Win A Nuclear War”. While Pipes, as usual, delivers truck loads of BS in this piece about Russia, he provides, strangely, some lucid accounts of American attitudes to war. Continental Warfare shaped the history, naval one–shaped the map. However, no Russian paratroop or armored division threatens Boston or Chicago (other than in Hollywood’s perverted wet dreams)and that is where the difference is. Just to give you some heads up–Leningrad, during the 900-days siege in WW II, lost more people than US lost in all of its wars combined. Should give some perspective, I hope. US “elites” and nation, in general, are NOT conditioned by war. This simple fact has enormous geopolitical ramifications.

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  133. Also, when you say an Ops Officer needs to know the stuff you are talking about, do you mean civilian Operational Analysts?

    No, I mean officers, like graduates of military academies and, what is more important, graduates of Army (or Navy) War Colleges in the US or Academy of General Staff (or Service Academies (War Colleges)–Navy, Air Force etc.) in Russia. Modern operational planning today is a complex of measures which includes both computer modelling and analysis of intelligence (both human and signal). In the end, we all arrive to Colonel Boyd’s OODA Loop, which crowns all of it. It is a very long discussion, of course, and there is no uniform answer to it but it all starts with knowing the subject and proper focus. But then, of course, comes culture (as in behavioral matrix) and that is where really interesting things start to happen.

    You sound knowledgeable and highly educated on this subject,

    Well, I was educated in these issues in one very interesting institution back in USSR. Let’s put it this way–I take a keen interest in the doctrinal issues.

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