sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, February 27, 2017

On War and Money

We've been involved in a war since September 11, 2001 across the Middle East and into Afghanistan. The wars, much of which involved wasteful spending, cost the nation $6 trillion. The Iraq War was unnecessary then but under the theory, "you broke it, you bought it," we're still trying to balance out that part of the world which has never ever - ever - been balanced.

President Trump will ask Congress for a $54 billion increase in defense spending, some of which will go to the border wall. After eight years of gross negligence under Obama's watch and heavy depletion during the prior Bush years, it's not enough.  Those in the know feel that the entire Defense Dept. budget projected for 2018 of $608 billion is insufficient to fix the navy alone. I tend to agree. There are libertarians who read this blog who may wish to savage me for these sentiments, but simply ignoring the world does not keep us safe

The question of how much is enough is a recurring theme that I don't have an answer to. Clearly finding a balance would be useful. How much longer will the B-52 Stratofortress have to remain in service? The aircraft went into service before I was born - and I'm old now. The USAF plans to replace the B-52 in a few years with the B-21 Raider (a follow-on to the B-2 Spirit, which rolled out at $2 billion per aircraft). Northrop Grumman assures us all that the new bomber can be built for $550 million each. Maybe President Trump can re-negotiate that price? Meanwhile, I'm sure that my grandsons will see B-52's still in service when they're adults. Billion dollar aircraft are absurd. We can't afford to use them because we can't afford to lose them. And they don't work that often.
The B-52 had the highest mission capable rate of the three types of heavy bombers operated by the USAF in the 2000–2001 period. The B-1 averaged a 53.7% ready rate, the B-2  achieved 30.3%, while the B-52 averaged 80.5%. The B-52's $72,000 cost per hour of flight is more than the B-1B's $63,000 cost per hour, but less than the B-2's $135,000 per hour.
Things are wearing out, though and a lot of it is critical.

          One Example (among many)

The Trident Missile arm of our triad nuclear defense ride on a fleet of SSBN's (nuclear missile launching submarines). It's deterrence and it's a good idea. More than anything, the submarines provide a secure response to a nuclear attack. Even one submarine launching its missiles with their MRV warheads means that somebody, somewhere will be flattened. 
The U.S. Navy operates three kinds of submarines—nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines (SSGNs), and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs).2 The SSNs and SSGNs are multi-mission ships that perform a variety of peacetime and wartime missions. They do not carry nuclear weapons.
The Navy currently operates 14 Ohio (SSBN-726) class SSBNs. The boats are commonly called Trident SSBNs or simply Tridents because they carry Trident SLBMs.

The first of the 14 Ohio-class SSBNs will reach the end of its 42-year service life in 2027. The remaining 13 will reach the ends of their service lives at a rate of roughly one ship per year thereafter, with the 14th reaching the end of its service life in 2040. The Navy has initiated a program to refurbish and extend the service lives of D-5 SLBMs to 2042 "to match the Ohio Class submarine service life."

Unlike other services the Navy requires a long lead time to design and build platforms, most of which have planned obsolescence. The same is true of ordnance. The new Colombia Class SSBN will need to be designed, built and tested along with a new class of Trident missiles, which will replace the aging D-5.

More than any other submarine class, the SSBN's must be undetectable in order to provide the deterrent strike that the nation requires. If you take them out of the equation, the capacity of the nation to retaliate against a nuclear strike on the US is called into question.



Signaling

The Sign of the Donkey

The Sanders constituency didn't win control of the Democrat Party, and Obama has the tiller through Tom Perez, who has always been his cat's paw. Perez's job is to motivate working class white people while his party has built itself on hating and mocking working class white people who 'cling bitterly to their God and guns'.

President Trump found the whole arrangement much to his liking (and personal amusement) and tweeted as is his way. The progs were not amused at the tweet and feel that they can motivate the deplorables to vote for their candidates, and to let more illegals in to take what jobs are remaining in the Heartland.

The Sign of the Black Tie Extravaganza

The White House Correspondent’s Dinner is an event where the elite, smug, self-satisfied, deceptive, progressive mainstream media parties with the President. Many Hollywood grandees are often invited to share in the narcissistic orgasm that the press has at their big night with the President. This year, they all threatened to boycott the dinner as a signal to President Trump. 

President Trump announced that he wasn't going to attend but that they should have a grand time of self congratulation (not unlike the Oscars) without him.

The elite mainstream media (which replaced the Democrat Party as a major US political party) decried President Trump's failure to participate as a shot across the bow of free speech and freedom of the press. No, it's not the Super Bowl, but you can still eat popcorn and watch the fireworks.

Signaling the Long March in the Spratly Islands

Chinese crews are building concrete structures with retractable roofs on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross Reefs. These are the three man-made islets which have operational runways and other support structures. 

The Chinese said that they are carrying out normal construction activities on their own territory. The deployment of necessary and appropriate territorial defense facilities is a normal right under international law for sovereign nations, an official said.

Installation of hardened and weather-proof shelters for air defense missile systems on the three islets with runways is a technological step up from anti-aircraft guns and shoulder-fired air defense missiles. The Chinese are building, perhaps nearing completion of, an integrated, modern local air defense system. It probably already is a sector in the national integrated air defense system. 

The new construction is a continuation of China’s militarization of the Spratly Islands, rather than a new stage in the process. After the Chinese completed the construction of the runways, this step was certain to follow. It was just a matter of time. Declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) is a logical next step.

Chinese annexation of territory that was not theirs is simply muscle flexing on their part that came easy during the eight years when the US signaled weakness and a lack of interest in stopping them (or anyone else including ISIS). I don't know how that will change in terms of absolute function now that there is a new US administration. Practically, the Chinese will wait for the mid-term elections to see how much staying power the new American philosophy has before it continues to expand like a cancer across the Pacific.