Floating in the Trope-Sphere

Towards the end of the Vietnam war, and for at least another decade after it ended, there was a trope/cliché which always could be depended on in movies and television; the whacked out, dysfunctional and traumatized veteran; sometimes a victim, often the guilty party, but always and reliably whacked-out. Even news media got into the act, now and again, interviewing theatrically dysfunctional, traumatized veterans, who – on cue – related how they had supped full on the horrors of the war in southeast Asia. This was so pervasive that for-real veterans for years were advised to leave periods of military service off resumes when job-hunting, and to never, never, ever advertise any connection to military service, be it with a ring, a gimme ballcap, a tee shirt, or an OD green field jacket … unless, of course, they were in the war protest movement.

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The Russo-Ukrainian War’s Electronic Warfare Front

I did a direct message interview with Forbes Magazine journalist David Axe the first week of November 2023 about the state of the “Wizard War,” that is electronic warfare, between Ukraine and Russia.  I’ve cleaned it up for mis-spellings, removed extraneous comments, adding links and photos for clarity and I am presenting it below:

 

1. The Russians were famous for their battlefield EW prior to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. How do you think this EW complex stacked up against other countries’ own EW systems?

Russian EW kit has ranged from good to adequate to poor in terms of individual performance compared to Western standards.

The biggest gap seems to be in the latest VKS (Russian Air Force) Khibiny M Electronic Warfare Self Protection Pod (EWSP), which seems to lack the latest digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) technology. [In 2017 the Russians claimed a Su-24M FENCER carrying the new Khibiny M EWSP system had disabled the SPY-1 Aegis weapon system on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. See the picture below] DFRM is needed to survive very long range air to air missile combat engagements and for delivering anti-radar Kh-31/AS-17 KRYPTON missiles, like the US HARM, against ground radars.

KREB "Khibiny-M" Khibiny-M electronic warfare pod
KREB “Khibiny-M” Khibiny-M electronic warfare pod

There have been X (formerly Twitter) social media videos of VKS jets with pairs of Kh-31 and no EWSP pods. Which meant the jets were using the Kh-31 missile seekers to hunt Ukrainian radars. Shooting both Kh-31 missiles left the jet defenseless!

Where the Russians were outstanding in Feb. 2022 was in terms of the shear numbers of jammers they had with both the force structure and doctrine to operate them. Russia is still a big believer in “Quantity has a quality all its own.

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A Double-Edged Sword

Almost as horrifying as Hamas going all murderously Einsatzgruppen in Israel two weekends ago, is the realization that yes, indeed – is the realization there are a not-inconsiderable number of Americans (and Americans-in-name-only) cheering them on. Cheering the remorseless slaughter of young and old alike, kidnapping for extortion and/or jollies, mutilation, torture, burning whole families and individuals alive, gang-rape … it’s a sobering spectacle. I expect any minute a rousing chorus of “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” from the Jew-hating undergrads and their professors on the campus too many colleges and universities.

I used to wonder how Germans under Adolph Hitler came around to accept, support, or at least turn a blind eye towards the so-called “Final Solution”, during the 1930s and ’40s. Well, wonder no more – I’ve seen it play out now in real time. Corked up resentments, envy and pure unadulterated hatred, given voice in classrooms, newsrooms, in social media and from the pulpits of certain churches, spewing from so-called leaders of various communities … all spilling out, in the wake of October 7 … it’s as sick-making as reports of all the rejoicing in the Arab streets, and the comments about how we Americans had it coming, after 9-11. To try and focus on the horror and misery inflicted on the innocent and the self-justifying replies from the usual pro-Palestinians boils down to something like the rationale from an abusive spouse – “Look at what you made me do!”

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History Friday – The Care of an Army

I’ve been going deep in the weeds in research for the current work in progress, the long-put-aside Civil War novel, concerning the experiences of a spinster of independent means, who is active as an abolitionist lecturer in the 1840-1850 time frame, and a battlefield nurse during the war years. Frankly, the research is fascinating in and of itself; the matter of the existence of slavery in the United States was a contentious and hard-fought-over issue in the antebellum years. It’s been quite the antidote to the current 1619 historical fantasy, reading through memoirs and accounts of and by notable abolitionist crusaders of the time. Not only did the existence of the ‘peculiar institution’ in the pre-war South retard economic progress there (as industry and immigration favored the North) but the fight against it was sustained and uncompromising. The first half of the book is just about complete – it’s the second half, concerning the war and most particularly the operation of field hospitals that has me deep in another field of weeds now, discovering some extraordinary stories and some extraordinary women.
One of the reasons that I love writing historical fiction – I very rarely need to create anything of whole cloth and imagination; generally, the honest-n-truth version of events often surpasses anything I could possibly make up. So it is with the epic of a little-recalled national volunteer relief organization called, most prosaically, the United States Sanitary Commission, which mobilized women for the war effort to an extraordinary degree – as nurses, administrators, counselors and organizers of countless benefits to raise funds for military support, the care and healing of the wounded, and later, for the welfare of veterans.

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Re-Run: History Friday: MacArthur’s Southern Philippines Campaign

[This post was originally published in 2013. Re-posting to allow a new comment. Jonathan]

Logistics, the ability to transport and supply military forces, underwrites military strategy. The importance of logistics is the reason for the adage, “Amateurs talk tactics while professionals talk logistics.” These truisms of military affairs are often glossed over by General Douglas MacArthur’s critics — like US Naval Historian Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison — and replaced with talk of MacArthur “Seeking Personal Glory” and taking “Unnecessary Casualties.” This was especially true when it came to MacArthur’s liberation of the Southern Philippines. MacArthur’s Southern Philippines campaign, far from being “unnecessary” and a “strategic dead end,” was a logistical enabler for Operations Olympic and Coronet, the American invasion plans for the islands of Kyushu and Honshu Japan.

MacArthur had been directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be able to stage through the Philippines 11 divisions by November 1945 and a further 22 by February 1946. The securing of the Southern Philippines would cut off Japanese small boat production there, protected MacArthur’s sea lines of communication filled with small boats and a polyglot freighter fleet from both radar and radio directed Japanese Kamikaze aircraft and suicide boats, and provide the vitally needed Filipino workforce for assembly work and port capacity to support the staging those divisions for the invasion of Japan.

Suthern Philippines Campaign
MacArthur’s Southern Philippines Campaign — Source: “Southern Philippines: The US Army Campaigns of World War II” CMH Pub 72-40

To understand the Southern Philippine campaign in historical context, you need to know that MacArthur’s liberation of the Philippines was done in four phases.

1) Sixth Army’s Leyte Campaign
2) Sixth Army’s Mindoro/Luzon Campaign
3) The Eighth Army’s the Leyte-Samar operation (including clearance of the Visayan passages)
4) The Eighth Army’s extended Southern Philippines campaign south of the Visayan passages

The first two phases are not included in the “waste of soldiers” critiques of MacArthur, while the other two usually are. So I will lay out MacArthur’s logistical reasons to pursue those “unnecessary” military operations as the relate to the invasion of Japan.

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