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Don't Bomb Anyone

This article LET SLOBBO SPEAK FOR HIMSELF fits in with the thinking in your recent article on Kosovo, the head of which I disagreed with thoroughly. I'm not sure either side should have been bombed and I'm bloody certain that the government television service in the Serbian capital shouldn't have been touched with the death of all there including the cafeteria staff, on the ground that it was pumping out propaganda.

One thing increasingly obvious about these heavily armed peace missions is that they carry a very high level of probability of going badly wrong. The American dead number in Iraq approaches 1000 as the locals do their best to comply with Bush's instruction to "bring it on"; and there's no doubt at all that a lot of harmless local citizens have died with them. The Afghanistan thing would be a farce were it not for the dead, crippled and starved, this latter after the USAF twice bombed the UN food stores in Kabul to ensure not a grain of wheat was left.

US armed forces already face grave morale problems, and senior generals lie to and mislead your parliamentarians, right there on oath, in splendid uniforms and on live television. As quite a lot of folks have pointed out, in any future history of the current war on Iraq, pictures taken by debauched US military personnel in Abu Ghreib will certainly play their part.

Your earlier suggestion that Syria and Iran were to be the dessert to the easy conquest|liberation of Iraq seems vacated by the evidence that your armed forces are not equal to these missions -- good news for the US as well as the Syrians and Iranians. But it's bad practice, as Sun Tzu pointed out, to let your potential enemies know where your weaknesses lie. As America's enemies do now.


Ed:  I agree, the USA needn't bomb anyone in the Balkans.  Yet as Patrick J. Buchanan noted: "One of NATO's functions is to serve as a jobs program for American Generals." Now American Generals want NATO nations to send occupation troops to Iraq, and are confused as to why most members of this DEFENSE alliance resist.    

The arm patch at left is from the World War II Nazi SS Division Skanderberg.  Muslims from Albania were recruited into an SS Division and charged with hunting down Serbian troublemakers during World War II.  It is the same symbol for the Albanian flag and the Kosovo Liberation Movement; which is a group of criminal gangs once supported by the CIA.  That same arm patch is worn today by the Kosovo Protection Corps which help provide security in Kosovo. So you can imagine the bewilderment of the Serbians when their fellow Christians from the USA backed Muslim gangsters supported by al Qaeda and Iran, and by the Nazi SS during World War II.

Genocide and Kosovo

I've talked to some Albanian refugees (they spoke some German because they worked here fore some years).  And you are definitely wrong. The Serbian militia tried to force the Albanian (Muslim) majority out by committing atrocities and genocide. There were a lot of mass graves found (and eyewitness reports). The Serbian militias killed hundreds and maybe thousands of innocent civilians intentionally. The UN acknowledge this too. Today the western forces are trying to prevent Albanian revenge. For there has been atrocities against Serbs too. But Milosovic and his communist/fascist party ordered these crimes for political reasons.

Like they did in Bosnia and Croatia (where Serbs were victims of the other side too, but not in such  numbers). The Christian Serbs lost the "demographic battle" against the Muslim Albanians. And the Muslim Albanians tried to separate this former Serb heartland from Serbia. Such ethnic/religious problems are not uncommon. May we westerners will face such problems in the future. But Europe had to get rid of such communist/fascist dictatorships. Same reason for the Middle East. So I give a big  "thank you" to US forces on the Balkans and in Afghanistan and Irak.                                                                                                               

                                                                                             Thomas Tritscher

Ed: I've read several accounts where reporters pursued tales of atrocities based upon accounts from Albanian refugees.  They all turn out to be lies.  Some refugees hear stories elsewhere and turn them into first hand accounts, for the good of their own people.  They wanted the Serbs out, not just because of ancient hatred, but because the Serbs owned most all the land and businesses in Kosovo and the Albanian immigrants a fair share.  

Lucky for Americans in the Southwestern USA that overwhelming numbers of Mexican immigrants have not begun to demand "their" share of the land and businesses from native born US citizens.  I suggest you explain your "lost the demographic battle" to fellow Germans in your community; your idea that if enough Albanian illegal immigrants show up, the local Germans should just accept that and flee, lest they be called fascists.  I will not argue that Serbs are saints, and that atrocities never occurred.  There are always what George W. Bush described as: "a few bad apples." Keep in mind that most of the Albanians were illegal aliens, so it is not surprising the native Serbs would try to run them off.

American War Crimes of 1999

I've got 2 volumes on my office bookshelf entitled, "NATO Crimes in Yugoslavia: Documentary Evidence; Volume 1: 24 March - 24 April 1999; Volume 2: 25 April - 10 June 1999.  They were published in Belgrade in 1999 by the FRY Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Hundreds of photos, pathology/forensics reports, sworn testimonies, judicial investigative reports -- day by day, village by village, bombing sortie by bombing sortie. They make Abu Grahib look like a weekend at Disney Land.  You are free to examine/borrow them.

Usually, no one really gives a rat's ass -- or they are so offended by the photos and reports they stop "processing" and just hand the books back to me.  More "inconvenient" history.


Ed: You are right, no one gives a damn, and the evidence is too shocking for most Americans to view.  My favorite event occurred after mad Generals of the US Air Force bombed every bridge over the Danube, and there was just one left -- Novi Sad or something.  A hundred local people, mostly ethnic Hungarians, camped out on the bridge so the good Americans would never bomb it.  They were slaughtered anyway.  On an ironic note, when the US sent troops to Kosovo afterwards, barges provided the best deployment option from Germany, but the Danube was blocked with downed bridges.  US tanks cannot deploy across the Alps because several bridges are too weak and tunnels too small, which is why US armored units should be pulled out of Germany.  As a result, the US Army sent armored units northward to German ports and shipped them all the way around Spain to reach the Balkans.

They do the same thing in Iraq every week.  They hear a rumor that some insurgents may be in a house in the middle of a city, so they drop a bomb on it.  They pretend it doesn't matter if innocent people are killed, claiming they weren't targets.  Can you imagine the outrage if the US Air Force dropped a bomb on a house in New York because "intel" told them terrorists may be there?  Read this recent report about typical US bombings in Iraq as part of "peacekeeping."  Iraqis understand that if someone shoots at US troops they have the right to shoot back.  But when a jet swoops over and drops a bomb on a house when no fighting is underway, they are furious.  Then our troops wonder why Iraqis cheer whenever a roadside bomb kills Americans.

US troops on the ground know bomb drops are counterproductive, but Air Force pilots insist on a chance to play war, and need those combat medals for promotion.  I suspect if they'd bring the Air Fore pilot to the bomb site to help dig out the bodies while local villagers scream and cry, he'd suffer an emotional breakdown.  He'd be unable to pick up and bag body parts of a young girl while her mother wails nearby while calmly explaining it was no one's fault because the girl wasn't intentionally "targeted."  Be sure to see the movie "Fog of War" now at your local video store, where America's most famous mad bomber, General Curtis LeMay, was quoted as saying that if the USA had lost World War II, he would have rightly been tried as a war criminal.  I'm not saying Air Force bombing is always bad, but bombing suspect targets in civilian neighborhoods during a peacekeeping mission when no fighting is underway is outright criminal.  

Crazy Links

The credibility of your site is affected by the sites it links to.  The site is particularly amusing.  It seems to be stuck in the Cold War.  On the 1 hand, it ignores the fact that the best Russian military technology is built for export & is beyond the means of its own cash poor armed forces.  On the other hand, it suggests that China has not learned a lesson that it actually has.  What I mean is that strategic power is a product of economic development.  Check out the stats on Chinese consumption of world oil & cement production.

On a totally different subject, I have seen 'outsider' sites including your own promote the EFOGM.  It makes me wonder if this is a weapon that sounds great until you actually have to use it.  Specifically, I wonder how difficult it is for the operator to find the target in the image from the little camera in the nose of the missile.  Sounds like a lost cause if the bad guys pop smoke.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not real optimistic about the loitering version of Netfires.  But it doesn't necessarily follow that EFOGM will work either.


Ed:  I just enjoyed the photos and the technical information at the site.  I agree, the viewpoints seem a bit looney, but nothing more bizarre than information that routinely comes out of Washington DC.  Yes, EFOGM would need a spotter just like regular artillery.

The Russians Aren't Coming 

I'd first like to say that I enjoy G2MIL very much. It is extremely difficult in this day and age of blind nationalism to find balanced appraisals of new weapons systems and military capabilities.  I especially appreciate the fact that this site presents largely realistic discussions of military issues devoid of the "we're America, we're the greatest, we have the greatest military of all time" rhetoric.  As a person who studies military history academically I dare say nothing is more tiring than listening to and reading uninformed evaluations of the U.S. military that imply that it is the only capable force in the world in every regard and that no other nation possesses solid, efficient, and formidable forces.

The main reason I wanted to drop you a line was because of the content on the web page which you linked to in the Summer edition which contained pictures of Russia's airmobile forces and equipment.  While I always enjoy studying the machines and units of other nation's armed forces, particularly Russia, I found the premise of the page, that Russia and China are preparing for an invasion of the U.S. laughable. In so far as the Russian military (and its Soviet predecessor) always placed great emphasis on the training and equipping of hard-hitting airmobile units it should come as no surprise that they still maintain considerable vertical envelopment capability. While I realize that you all are not responsible for the content of other websites.  I still felt compelled to point out that, as anyone who has studied the current state of the Russian military and its struggles in Chechnya will say, the idea that they are developing plans for a large scale invasion of the U.S. is so far-fetched it should be dismissed out of hand.

Nevertheless, as those of us who take a global view of military studies are aware, Russia, though its armed forces are in need of considerable reforms, is still producing some of the most advanced and effective weapons systems in the world.  Sukhoi's military aircraft rival those of any company and Tupulov and Illyushin still manufacture high quality transport aircraft.  I did enjoy the pictures very much since finding good images of new Russian (or any other nation's) equipment is nearly impossible in the U.S.  Thanks for the valuable service you provide to those of us who study warfare without national blinders!

                                                                                        Luke Swinson

Ed: You'd be surprised at the numbers of seemingly intelligent US military "experts" opposing reductions in our nuclear arsenal because they think the Ruskies are still out to get us.  Russia is our ally in the fight against Islamic terrorists.  They worry more about a future threat from Germany, Japan, and China far more than the USA.  They've gone through the superpower implosion, and they are getting a good laugh watching the American empire on the verge of bankruptcy.

INF Treaty and land based cruise missiles

"It would be much cheaper to mount Navy GPS guided Tomahawk missiles on missile launchers already in Army service (MLRS, or HiMars) and use their 1000lb warhead against high value targets up to 700 miles away, compared to just 40 miles for the Army's current longest range missile."  

The problem with this is the INF Treaty- which banned the USA and USSR from developing land-based missiles with a range greater than 500km and less than 5,000km. INF did away with the US' Pershing stocks and killed the ground launched Tomahawk program, as well as longer-ranged Soviet SRBMs and all of their IRBMs (not to mention their own ground-launched cruise missile program based on their joint air/naval nuclear cruise missile- AS-15 'Kent'/ SS-N-21 'Sampson').

Regarding Netfires- I thought the main purpose for it was loitering attack missiles to destroy enemy vehicles etc. Of course, you could load sensor-fused submuntions into ground launched Tomahawks for that, but I'm not sure how cost-effective either of these options is. I like EFOGM and ground launched Hellfire.


Ed: That is an issue, but since the Soviets have pulled out of Central Europe, and the US Army will soon follow, I doubt the Russians will care.  Recall we already trashed the treaty against National Missile Defense, claiming the Soviet Union no longer existed.  We even ignored treaties with the new SSGN program by keeping those Boomers in service.  Although their mission is now conventional munitions, they can easily load up with nukes instead.

Netfires Boondogle?

  You wrote: "The US Army has two outstanding options for future precision weaponry, the E-FOGM and the ground-based Hellfire.  Both systems are proven and are ready for purchase." Proven? Ready for purchase? Ok, the ground Hellfire might be, but the FOGM isn't. I've heard that the fibre optics were very problematic with such long filaments, and costly too (unlike it's original concept). Has anyone heard anything of the European version of this, it was supposed to come out some time ago, yet silence.

However, FOGM is at least a two man operation, with all that entails, and the effect is similar to someone
on the radio guiding Phantom's in for a napalm strike in the jungle: the pilot/operator is taking directions from someone else, and his forward view is very limited, and fast moving. Netfires just has the observer, giving precise datalink instructions directly to the incoming missile.  Hellfire fired from the ground is fine, but it's still requiring an operator to hold a laser designator on the target. This may not be advantageous at all, especially against a thinking enemy: your average Dragunov SVD as an IR filter in it's scope, the implication is that anyone with such a system would be able to visibly see the operator "lasing" said target for a minute or so, and take pot shots at him, or call in mortars.  

"However, the Army has begun to "develop" an ultra-expensive micro cruise missile called Netfires." I agree the micro-cruise missile configuration is too complex and unneeded. However, the basic idea behind Netfires holds a huge advantage IMO. In fact, while writing a book, I had come up with a very similar idea to it, although mine has a bit more capability, is less complex, a bit more practical, and is a more complete integrated 'system'.  "If you read that website, they are vague and uncertain how this will work"  Agreed. Like the FCS, they are just throwing ideas in the air, and watching to see what sticks on the wall.  "A 100-120 lbs missile will cruise overhead and supposedly find its own targets with lasers?  Its warhead is likely to be less than 20 lbs. Whatever the outcome, it will prove far too expensive."  Didn't you just describe a Hellfire? Same weight, same firing profile, same warhead, and it's hardly expensive, $22,000 per round. It's my belief that they are modeling this entire program around the Hellfire, as relates to target destruction, and missile unit size.

"Are Army officers so incompetent that they think a small, complex self-guided cruise missile can be fielded for less than a half million dollars each? What damage do they expect a 20lb warhead to cause, assuming it finds a target.  If it finds no target before its fuel runs out, it just crashes."  Well, 20lb warheads do just fine on Predators,  Apaches, Kiowa Warriors, in killing enemies, terrorists in buildings and vehicles. Israel has terminated many a terr with them, America has terminated many an Iraqi tank using them in GW'91. As for cost, something like this system will depend almost entirely on the number of units bought.

 I'm sure that in the middle of the cold war, pilots and tankers must have thought Sidewinders and TOW's were incredibly expensive and complex useless 'trinkets' that detracted from warfighting preparedness.  As for the guidance, be aware of the LOCAAS missile's LIDAR has been in extensive testing since '95, which might be useful to this program. So too has the Brimstone's MMW Radar seeker, it's an autonomous anti-tank "torpedo/robot" that actually looks identical to the Hellfire, uses the same airframe (Boeing is now the primary contractor on that one).  Brimstone has already been selected a couple of years ago by the RAF as the next anti-armor weapon for the GR.7, EF2000 and GR.4, and the US services are giving it a serious look to replace the Maverick  as the primary common anti-armor weapon. It's either fired directly at a ground vehicle/target that you have a 'lock' on. Or, it can be simply told to follow a bearing, activate at a set distance, and then it will search for targets. Once it sees returns of army vehicles, it compares the returns against it's massive threat/friendly library, and decides which vehicles to hit (there's a target hierarchy at play).  If fired with two other missiles, they will deconflict to prevent all three hitting the same target.

 While there are many things that are disturbing, overly costly, and don't offer any true improvement in "Transformation", I believe that "Netfires" is one of the best ideas (once refined) that the Army has come up with. I believe that over the next ten years, this will go from concept to proven system, and have a great number of supporters from just it's first generation version.  It's my belief that Netfires will be one of only a couple of technologies that will help ensure western military dominance now that we are headed straight into the hell of urban warfare. I view the concept of Netfires as being at least equivalent in importance to land warfare, as the introduction of the attack helicopter.

                                                                                           Rick Deckard

Ed:  Last I heard, E-FOGM was canceled after successful tests, I don't know why.  The wire guided TOW systems seem tricky, but they have proven extremely reliable, so feeding out fibre optic line seems reasonable.  Yes you need an observer or spotter to use these systems; a man in the loop is critical.  The idea that lasers or computers will find targets is a fantasy.  You really don't think lasers can find a mortar pit on their own. They might find a tank on the flat desert at Yuma Proving Grounds, but I can't image setting Netfires loose over the roadways during the advance to Baghdad.  The detailed US Air Force airpower study of the 1991 Gulf War revealed that its aircraft had not destroyed a single SCUD launcher, their #1 priority target.  Those thought to have been destroyed were "trucks that were unfortunate to have a SCUD-like signature."  So will lasers and computers do a better job than human pilots?

Hellfires are around $100,000 each, and they use simple solid rocket motors.  Netfires requires a booster to kick it up and out of the box, and jet engine, and a GPS system to find its way, then a fantasy seeker which will find the bad guys (not the good guys and not the civilians).  And if no observer is there to give it a clue, it will be looking for a needle in a haystack with a limited amount of fuel.  Meanwhile, the US Air Force will become upset by all these small UFO blips showing up on their AWACS and fighter radar screens that look like small aircraft.  If Netfires uses a simple solid rocket motor to cut costs, it will have only the range of a Hellfire, ~15km. 


I disagree with you on the subject of Netfires vs. E-FOGM and/or ground-Hellfire.  Netfires promises a pair of missiles with a range of 40-70km.  This is much further than either EFOG-M (15km), or ground-Hellfire (8km).  Both Netfires missiles will have ability to autonomously find targets.  Neither EFOG-M nor Hellfire have this ability. The LAM missile will be able to loiter at 45 miles for 30 minutes looking for targets.  EFOG-M and Hellfire lack any sort of loiter.  Loitering gives a single LAM the ability to search a large area looking for a target.

The VLS, containerized nature of Netfires promises to greatly simplify logistics and allow you to either fire 15 rnds from the back of a HMMWV, or drop off the missile pack and use the HMMWV for something else.  Both EFOG-M and Hellfire require dedicated launcher vehicles.  In the future, additional rounds based on PAM or LAM could be developed.  The LAM airframe & engine coupled with an EO/IR sensor could be used as a micro-UAV.  Remove the IR seeker and PAM could carry, maybe, 40-60 submunitions to a 5-8m CEP GPS aimpoint 50km away, and do it inexpensively (sub-$10k in quantity, IMHO).  A weapon like this could be the counterfire weapon of choice in places like Afghanistan.

The big question is cost. PAM is spec'd to use a dual-mode uncooled IR/SALH seeker which shouldn't be terribly expensive (uncooled thermals are in the $8-15k range, IIRC).  LAM is going to use a LADAR seeker, which, while costly to develop, should be relatively inexpensive to produce in quantity.  Development costs of the LADAR seeker should be shared with the USAF LOCASS program. (the cost goal for LOCAAS is $33k per round, about half the price of a Hellfire)

Tomahawk and Netfires are not directly comparable.  Netfires is primarily an anti-armor/vehicular system with some bunker-busting capability.  The 20 lb warhead is comparable to Hellfire. Tomahawk is a strategic strike weapon.   Half-million dollar, 3200 lb Tactical Tomahawks just can't be bought or brought to theater in the numbers required to fulfill the anti-armor mission, and a 1000lb warhead is tremendous overkill against a tank.

                                                                                         Brent Smith

Ed: The big question is how it will "find" targets.  No one explains how this will happen, so we can only guess that someone sends out a message saying enemy forces are in a certain area.  Netfires is launched and cruises over there, then what?  If the USA has air dominance, all enemy vehicles will be well hidden.  During battles in the last war, we still had trouble with loitering A-10 pilots attacking US troops, British troops, and civilian vehicles.  How can we expect a tiny missile with a laser/computer system to do better? There MUST be a man in the loop.

Yes, Netfires PROMISES a weapon no bigger and no more costly that a Hellfire with five times the range and a magical ability to find targets, something Air Force pilots have found very difficult.  And these will be cheap munitions.  How?  Magic?  They say just give us a billion dollars and we'll reveal the secret--in a few years.  

Meanwhile, Boeing has convinced the Army that it needs $25 billion more for the vague "Future Combat System" in addition to the $92 billion it estimated last year.  Boeing has never made a ground combat vehicle, and the Army recently agreed to allow vehicle production to be delayed a few years in this program so funds can be devoted to "computer networking."


As a longtime reader and fan of G2mil I strongly protest suspension of monthly publication of G2mil. Granted that you need to take time off, but You can't get people addicted to you magazine and then leave them high and dry. You must at least leave someone in place as an acting editor to continue the monthly publications.  If even that is not possible then at least make it a bimonthly.


Ed: I asked a couple of knowledgeable friends, but while they are experts in certain aspects of warfare, all felt too uncomfortable to edit and comment on all aspects of warfare.  Hopefully I'll get this book finished this year and go back to a monthly format in 2005.

Other Editor Comments