2013/03 - some links

By James R. Holmes

This piece follows approx. my reasoning, but I don't pay so much attention to the fashionable unmanned aviation. Land-based bombers have sunk Prince of Wales and Repulse from a long distance in late 1941 (and could have done so years earlier), Allied bombers patrolled over the entire North Atlantic in search of German submarines by 1943 and by 1944 even escort fighters could have reinforced bombing missions against distant Central Atlantic targets and guided munitions were available for high lethality against shipping.
The ranges available for land-based strike have grown even more with the introduction of mid-air refuelling.

There is really no need for a belief in fashionable robot planes to come to the conclusion that carriers are unnecessary for strike missions unless you want to strike so far away from your or allied bases that this warfare could not possibly have a defensive character. Almost exclusively aggressions or bullying would require strike missions thousands of miles away from available land bases. The Falklands War was an oddity in this regard, as it was quickly overrun and very distant from the next friendly base.

Aircraft carriers can be justified with the argument that transoceanic maritime trade convoys would require fighter protection amongst others against such long-range threats. I would buy into this. I don't buy into the necessity of carriers primarily for strike purposes.

by Abdullahi Osman El-Tom

He doesn't like the typical African army either.

by Jonathan D. Caverley

He has an interesting sociology / political economy thesis. I don't really agree, but the piece is extraordinarily useful for pointing out how much the income distribution and taxation distribution issue appears to influence thought in the U.S.. The "47%" debate's effects seem to spawn in the most unlikely places these days.
I can't help but point out that Americans should be alert and attempt to detect the examples of the 47% debate's influence on thought. Once they spotted an example, I would strongly recommend they seek non-American sources on the topic (which is generally advisable on all topics that produce a partisan divide). Some stuff that appears self-evident to Americans these days leaves non-partisan foreigners wondering 'WTF how could anyone have such a pattern of thought' !?

by Albert Bryant (1988)

I read this (skipped some of it) as part of my research for my book. It's a fine example of the official literature on military theory.
First of all, most such authors don't write because they have an deep desire to write about military theory. They do so because they were told to do so.They were told to do so because they wanted to check a box on their to-do list for their career and thus got into some school were they were told to do the writing.

They don't write because they have original thoughts, concepts or ideas. First they have to write, then they make some such thing up. Or worse; some are entirely uncreative and ask a supervising tutor for a topic.

Then they begin to write and usually very much of what they write is lip service to the doctrinal fashion du jour.

Such master thesis publications are almost without exception useless (to me).

There's a lot of crap in commercial publications about military theory, of course.
Just read Richard Simpkin's "Race to the Swift" with his partial fixation on the threat of Soviets deploying submarine helicopter carriers to invade capitals in coup de mains...this guy was treated as a serious theorist!
I also read a book about operational logistics a while ago. The book was so expensive I chose interlibrary lending instead of buying a copy. I can summarise all the useful stuff from that book in about ten lines.
Yet at least those writers have ideas.

On the other hand, some publications are just great, as is for example
by Curtis D. Taylor (2005)

The tragedy is in the noise to diamonds ratio of the overall literature on military theory.
Then again, maybe I just can't tell both apart, who knows?


And now for something completely different:
A reminder about the importance of outside-the-box thinking and improvisation!


1 comment:

  1. A big factor for carriers used to be as a sensor host. It is a very big ocean and it was easy to lose track of an enemy fleet.

    With space based sensors commonly available, the utility of carrier hosted sensors is much reduced.