Attritional victories
Posted by aogMonday, 29 October 2007 at 15:02 TrackBack Ping URL

According to this article, Bin Laden is implicitly admitting that Al Qaeda is failing do to strategic mistakes and general attrition. That’s been a theme of mine, that while concerns about attrition on our side was a realistic one, few of the critics who harped on that seemed to be able to conceive of the possiblity that our enemies might suffer from similar effects. As many others have pointed out, defeating a guerilla / terrorist threat is generally a matter of slogging through, until it become clear that the defenders are not going to lose, at which point the necessary support for the insurgents disappears. At that point, only massive foreign aid from safe bases can sustain the “movement” and sometimes not even then. I actually had an exchange with a defeatist on exactly that subject a week or two ago, answering the question “how do we win the war?” with “don’t surrender”. Nice to get vindicated so rapidly :-).

Of course, we must be careful of triumphalism, as there are still many ways the occupation can end badly. But recent events like this do seem to put a floor under the amount of badness that could result. And really, given the way the world works, that’s no small thing.

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cjm Friday, 02 November 2007 at 11:10

aog, have you been following the episode that occurred in syria (back in september) ? from what i read we used some next generation signal spoofing combined with hacking into the control system of the syrian’s (supposedly state of the art russian) air defense grid. the net effect is we tune the spoofing by monitoring what the grid is picking up, causing the system to be completely oblivious to the activity in the air. i can’t help but wait with greedy anticipation, for the approaching battle with iran. seeing their infrastructure pulped and their economy shattered will be the ultimate payback. also, i have been reading about how the russians and chinese think they can beat us in a conflict, by taking out our gps satellites — something a rockketeer like yourself might have some views on (particularly with regard to satellites with on-board missile defenses).

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 02 November 2007 at 14:53

Yes, I had intended to write something about it but it became too un-topical and most of what I wanted to write has been written by others.

Yes, I suspect that no small part of the operation in Syria was to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Russian air defense against American/Israeli efforts. That de facto junked billions of dollars worth of Iranian military assets without firing a shot at them. I was expecting a follow up of much stronger arm twisting on the diplomatic front, given the shift in perceived capabilities, but that hasn’t happened yet.

As for satellites, that’s something I find very worrisome. There are no defenses on any of our satellites, it’s simply unaffordable even for the USA. The technology to destroy the satellites is fairly basic, enormously simpler than the satellites themselves. Really, if you don’t care about your own satellites, all you need is some rockets and gravel. Launch and dump the gravel in to the appropriate equatorial orbit. As the spy sats cross the equator in the polar orbits, the gravel hits them at roughly 25km/s. There’s nothing that can defend against that. The best counter measure is cheap launch costs, so you can just loft new satellites if the old ones are taken out, but NASA is institutionally incapable of developing that and no one responsible seems to care much.

cjm Saturday, 03 November 2007 at 11:50

gravel in orbit — fiendishly clever. from what i have read, we have a contingency plan using high altitude blimps. funny how these dog assed countries like russia and china never want a straight up competition. or just tend to their own miserable countries.

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