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Insomniac
29 Nov 05,, 15:51
http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/12756099.htm

What do you guys think?

Dreadnought
29 Nov 05,, 17:39
Restraint may be advisable, given the lack of combat experience of PLA officers and rank-and-file alike since a short war with Vietnam in 1979. Moreover, training of conscripts and soldiers, while improving, still trails that of the U.S. military.


"Everybody who comes into the U.S. military knows how to drive a car. They can drive a Humvee away. But I don't think that's true for the PLA," said Dennis J. Blasko, a former military attache in Beijing who is an author on Chinese military matters.

Quote:
Even so, some of China's top officers seem to be feeling emboldened.


In remarks that sent ripples across the Pacific, Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu told foreign journalists in Beijing in mid-July that China should be ready to attack the United States with nuclear weapons if U.S. forces intervene in a confrontation over Taiwan.


"We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course, the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds ... of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese," said Zhu, a "hawk" who teaches at China's National Defense University.


China's Foreign Ministry later brushed aside his remarks as personal reflections.

Personally I think he needs to put down the opium pipe that has clouded his judgment. You can bet the U.S. will protect Taiwan as it promised regardless of the size of China's military. :rolleyes:

sparten
29 Nov 05,, 18:58
You can bet the U.S. will protect Taiwan as it promised regardless of the size of China's military.
Nope, the US will not risk nuclear war over the issue. A nuclear war with China would be a disater for the US, sure the Trident D5's will close the chapter on Chinese Civilization, but with a dozen or so dead US cities, the US will no longer be the World premier power.

Bluesman
29 Nov 05,, 19:06
Nope, the US will not risk nuclear war over the issue. A nuclear war with China would be a disater for the US, sure the Trident D5's will close the chapter on Chinese Civilization, but with a dozen or so dead US cities, the US will no longer be the World premier power.

It is not a given that it will go nuclear. I agree with Dread: we'll fight any move to take Taiwan.

Officer of Engineers
29 Nov 05,, 19:07
Neither is China willing to risk nuclear war with the US no matter what the internet warriors say.

Insomniac
30 Nov 05,, 03:55
We can't really predict what the politicians will be like when/if war breaks out over Taiwan. The U.S. has retained a policy of only using nukes if one has been used on it. We don't really know if the Chinese leaders are willing to risk nuclear war. Are the generals of the Chinese military willing to risk it? Hell yeah, apparently. One thing I can say for sure is (and it's just common sense), you just don't threaten to use nuclear arms on a country that has 15,000 more nuclear weapons than you. It's not smart, but then again both America and China have had their own political idiots now and then.

As for the conventional People's Liberation Army Navy, the only concern I have at all is over those sizzler weapons and the silent submarines. Those alone can't win a war, but they could still cause some serious damage to a fleet. The U.S. Navy is currently working on way of countering the sizzlers and making better submarine detection systems.

Officer of Engineers
30 Nov 05,, 04:26
Let's get some perspective here.

Chinese nuclear warheads are stored in different locations away from their delivery platforms. The warheads are under the Central Military Commission's control, ie civilian control. The delivery platforms are tasked through the 2nd Artillery Corps. In other words, the military is at the mercy of the civilians as far as nukes are concerned. So much so that the 2AC could not depend on the availability of nukes in their strike plans, even in their exercises (the civies could not give their release codes in time). This has been so frustrating that the 2AC has pretty well given up nukes as their 1st strike systems. Instead, relying on conventional warheads in a precision barrage of 4-5 missiles.

So, NO, the Chinese ain't ready to even begin contemplating a 1st strike, not without years, if not decades of retraining, refocusing, and re-making their entire nuclear strike package.

As for Gen Zhu, he's pissed off that he's been passed over for promotion and is stuck at a dead end job being a tour guide at the NDU. He's in charge of the English speaking foreign students, meaning that he's job does not allow him ANY exposure to materials that his students might have a chance to read. Do not assume his statements are official policy because it's not, neither written nor in practice.

As for Chinese subs, until they get more sea legs, they ain't much of a threat.

bull
30 Nov 05,, 08:23
The question over here, is how will a nuclear war happen?

It can happen only if china attacks taiwan, so the onus is on china whether they want to go back to stone age or not?

bull
30 Nov 05,, 08:25
also to add on, dhina is winessing a dream run right now,their communists have started liking the smell of money.They wont exchange that for smart bombs!!!

lurker
30 Nov 05,, 19:42
The question over here, is how will a nuclear war happen?
It can happen only if china attacks taiwan, so the onus is on china whether they want to go back to stone age or not?
Does that concerns you? China is much less urban than the USA. About 40 half megatonn charges will destroy their whole infrastructure, but they will lose only 20% of the population. With 120 of the same warheads you can destroy the whole infrastucture of the USA, but that will mean 40% of the population will die instantly and 80% in the next 3 months. The whole continent willl not only sink to the stone age, nobody wil want to live on it for couple of centuries.

Officer of Engineers
30 Nov 05,, 19:54
1) China does not have 120 warheads that can reach the US.
2) The damage done to China far exceeds your prediction.
3) Re-read the Soviet invasion plans for China.

Dreadnought
30 Nov 05,, 20:01
Does that concerns you? China is much less urban than the USA. About 40 half megatonn charges will destroy their whole infrastructure, but they will lose only 20% of the population. With 120 of the same warheads you can destroy the whole infrastucture of the USA, but that will mean 40% of the population will die instantly and 80% in the next 3 months. The whole continent willl not only sink to the stone age, nobody wil want to live on it for couple of centuries.

How do you come up with these numbers? 40%+80%=120% last time I checked.
Just for kicks the U.S. population = 295,160,302 (2005 census).
Did you know a vast majority of U.S. citizens dont live in these major cities that these missles are aimed at but the suburbs of these cities?

You can destroy our whole infastructure with 120 of the warheads?
For starters China doesnt own 120 warheads capable of even reaching the U.S.

Also this must be taken into account that our armed forces took the week off from duty and just gave up or deserted which i certainly doubt in both cases.

If the U.S. detected even one launch inbound from China the game is over and China would probably be showered with warheads that are very capable of reaching them from several different platforms not just mainland U.S. including our subs etc..

IMO if the U.S. fully replies then far more then 20% of China's population
(1,306,313,812) will be gone alot more then just 20%. P.S. I would like to see where this 20% number comes from as well as our 40% dead and 80% there afterwards.

I would bet they wouldnt even chance launching at the U.S. just a bunch of saber rattling like so many others before them that get a new weapon and a hard on to taunt the U.S. :rolleyes: I think we know what that leads to from past examples.

As far as their sub fleets go..they have very long way to go with another countries who's sub force is far more advanced and has been playing the sub warfare game alot longer then they ever have. ;)

And if they attempt to take Tawian, China just may find out that the U.S. not only will respond quickly but is more advanced then they seem to believe we are ;)

tphuang
01 Dec 05,, 03:55
China wouldn't start a nuclear war, but it would fight for Taiwan even if it has no chance of winning against a much superior American side

As for the stuff about 20% of China's population gone, do you think that's actually a problem for the communist government? This is the same government that started the one child policy to lower population. They are trying anyway they can to loose population.

Dreadnought
01 Dec 05,, 14:45
China wouldn't start a nuclear war, but it would fight for Taiwan even if it has no chance of winning against a much superior American side

As for the stuff about 20% of China's population gone, do you think that's actually a problem for the communist government? This is the same government that started the one child policy to lower population. They are trying anyway they can to loose population.

Dont bother me in the least they are communists but I do know it would be far more then just 20% as stated previously above. :rolleyes:

lurker
02 Dec 05,, 00:07
1) China does not have 120 warheads that can reach the US.
2) The damage done to China far exceeds your prediction.
3) Re-read the Soviet invasion plans for China.
I know, I know ... all this stuff is highly uncertain (although I used the US research data, just dont remember where I got it from).

But several things to point out:
1) Nobody exactly knows how many and what kind of warheads Chinese have (You are being the biggest China spec-st I know probably have more data) - In my opinion that they probably have less, but more powerful (old style) WH's.

2) I dont' know the state of China's civil defence (if they followed the Soviet model - i.e. at least one nuclear shelter in any district, under the district clinic) - number of survivors is a thing to discuss (How about those things in the USA or Canada? Do anyone of you know where is your nearest shelter?).

3) The same goes for their ways to transport food. You don't need to kill all those people directly (Saying for example destroying the Great Lakes cascade that makes about 60 percent of electricity, and let say destroying highly centralized oil refineries (Texas?) to cut the gasolin production by 50% - will effectively reduce USA ability to feed it's population). I have the numbers for Russia but that is only it.

Visigoth
02 Dec 05,, 07:42
Heres a good article:http://www.strategycenter.net/research/pubID.60/pub_detail.asp

Swift Sword
02 Dec 05,, 09:21
As for Chinese subs, until they get more sea legs, they ain't much of a threat.

I am with you and Dreadnougt on that one: experience in submarine operations is going to be the big limiting factor if the balloon were to go up tommorrow.

On the balance, though, some of the waters in the prospective war zone might be a pretty Kilo friendly environment.

Just how good are the best Kilo boats these days in your opinion?

On the broader issue of US fighting China over Taiwan, it strikes me as a distinctly bad idea on a variety of levels treaty obligations and long standing friendship aside.

Since I am nowhere near an expert on the subject I would like to submit a few of the arguments that I have heard for possible rebuttal or I suspect I will never learn nothing:

Force projection issues: AFAIK, the Taiwan Strait is only about a hundred miles wide and little more than 200 feet deep which is a relatively low logistics bar compared to the vastness of the Pacific. I understand that the Pacific is essentially an American bath tub for the foreseeable future so we can deny it to the enemy, but it is still a Hell of a long haul for reinforcements and supplies. Forward basing answers parts of this argument but...

Forward basing issues: alot of the usual suspects are easily within range of a wide variety of Chinese ordnance which will color their calculus. The US is going to have to allay fears of retaliation which is going to drive up the diplomatic, military and financial commitments before, during and after any action with China. As it stands, several states in the region are investigating advanced air and missle defenses and possibly nuclear deterrents which exasperates the situation with arms races and proliferation, both of which run contrary to US interests in the region.

Nuclear weapons: agree this is unlikely but this would be distinctly bad for the US. The Chinese do not need to use very many if it came to that. California is a huge piece of the US economy as well as the fact that West Coast ports in general are a key component of US grand strategy in the Pacific.

If military conflict erupted with China before proposed, robust missle defences were in place, just a few nuclear weapons delivered to the West Coast would probably hurt the US more than any measured response delivered against China. Look at the mess that losing two buildings in Manhattan caused and then imagine what a megaton yield airburst over San Diego would do.

Espionage: the US has proven itself to be very susceptible to Chinese espionage. Even if forces overseas were quickly victorious, nobody popped off the nukes and the Chinese sued for peace, we would still be in quite a bit of danger.

Everybody loses: OTTOMH, I think it is probably fair to say that half of all the maritime traffic in the World passes through the South China Sea and nearby areas which would no doubt be part of the theatre in the event of war with China.

In such and environment, any military action would no doubt drive shipping rates and maritime insurance rates through the roof which would essentially amount to the US shooting itself in the foot and would make Japan and Australia immediate and big loosers which is not in the US interest. Remember what happened one someone dumped just a few mines in the Red Sea a couple of decades back (but this might not be a good paralell, admittedly).

Based on these notions, I could see a US Administration sometime in the future blinking and letting Taiwan swing if the Chinese made a credible grab for it.

I am NOT saying that the US should abandon Taiwan so please do not misunderstand my line of reasoning, just saying that any remotely rational actor would probably consider it.

The not to distant future may find the US in a position where defending Taiwan at any cost might run contrary to more supreme interests.

Comments?

Dreadnought
02 Dec 05,, 17:19
I dont know for sure but with things they way they are now I wouldnt count on the U.S. letting Tawian fall to China. It would be surprising to see just that. :confused:

Bluesman
02 Dec 05,, 18:45
This isn't a game of 'Risk'. Countries not directly involved will react negatively to a nation too craven to fulfill their obligations. Abandon ANYbody that you're committed to, and see how many will commit to YOU.

NEVER consider abandoning Taiwan - or anybody else that you've pledged your word to defend - to an agressor.

Officer of Engineers
03 Dec 05,, 03:23
But several things to point out:
1) Nobody exactly knows how many and what kind of warheads Chinese have (You are being the biggest China spec-st I know probably have more data) - In my opinion that they probably have less, but more powerful (old style) WH's.

Excluding the idiotic claims by internet warriors, I've seen estimates ranging from 200-1000 warheads. Some are based upon available platforms while others are based on known 2AC brigades.

Jeffery Lewis's The ambigous arsenal (http://www.thebulletin.org/article.php?art_ofn=mj05lewis) summarized public available American intel on this. According to his reasearch from American intel sources, the Chinese have


Sidebar: China's arsenal, by the numbers

Why 80-130 operationally deployed weapons is the best estimate for China's nuclear forces

• 18 DF-5 (NATO designation: CSS-4) ICBMs. The liquid-fueled Dong Feng (DF)-5 ICBM ("East Wind") is the only Chinese missile capable of striking targets throughout the entire United States. With the greatest throw weight among Chinese ballistic missiles, the DF-5 is likely equipped with China's largest nuclear warhead, with an estimated yield of 4-5 megatons. The National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) estimates that China has "about 20" DF-5s. [1] In congressional testimony, Gen. Eugene Habiger, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, was more specific, revealing that China had 18 DF-5s, all of which are silo-based. [2]

• 12 DF-4 (CSS-3) ICBMs. Although NASIC lists the DF-4 as an ICBM, the DF-4 is not capable of reaching the continental United States. In 1993, the U.S. intelligence community estimated that of China's approximately ten DF-4 ICBMs, "two of the DF-4s are based in silos but most are stored in caves and must be rolled out to adjacent launch pads for firing." [3] The DF-4 reportedly is loaded with the same 2,000-kilogram, 3-megaton reentry vehicle as the DF-3. [4] NASIC estimates that China has "fewer than 25" DF-4 ICBMs. [5] The most recent National Intelligence Estimate on ballistic missile threats is more specific, stating that China maintains "about a dozen [DF-4] ICBMs that are almost certainly intended as a retaliatory deterrent against targets in Russia and Asia." [6]

• 50-100 DF-3 (CSS-2) and DF-21 (CSS-5) medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs). China's nuclear-capable "theater" ballistic missile force comprises DF-3 and DF-21 ballistic missiles. The DF-3 is a land-based derivative of the naval Julang-1 (CSS-NX-3). China is upgrading the DF-21 to replace the much older DF-3 and converting an unspecified number of DF-21 ballistic missiles to conduct conventional missions. During normal peacetime operations, DF-3 and DF-21 launchers probably remain in their garrisons, where the principle method of protecting deployments is extensive tunneling. [7]

In 1972, U.S. intelligence assessed that the DF-3 was equipped with China's earliest 3-megaton thermonuclear warhead. [8] Unofficial reports indicate that China planned a 600-kilogram warhead for the DF-21 with a yield of 400 or more kilotons, although the delayed deployment of the DF-21 in the late 1990s may have allowed China to use DF-31 type warheads tested between 1992 and 1996. [9] Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat estimates the number of launchers for the DF-3, DF-21 "Mod 1" and DF-21 "Mod 2" MRBMs as "less than fifty" each, implying as many as 150 total MRBM launchers. [10] Intelligence documents leaked to the press, however, suggest that there are fewer than 50 total MRBM launchers of all types. [11] The entire MRBM force (DF-3 and DF-21), then, comprises either 50 or 100 missiles, depending on whether 1 or 2 missiles are assigned to each launcher.


2) I dont' know the state of China's civil defence (if they followed the Soviet model - i.e. at least one nuclear shelter in any district, under the district clinic) - number of survivors is a thing to discuss (How about those things in the USA or Canada? Do anyone of you know where is your nearest shelter?).

One word - firestorm. Won't do any good in a shelter when all the oxygen is consumed in a firestorm.


3) The same goes for their ways to transport food. You don't need to kill all those people directly (Saying for example destroying the Great Lakes cascade that makes about 60 percent of electricity, and let say destroying highly centralized oil refineries (Texas?) to cut the gasolin production by 50% - will effectively reduce USA ability to feed it's population). I have the numbers for Russia but that is only it.

Warlordism would do alot more harm than that.

indianguy4u
03 Dec 05,, 03:33
How about rumours circulating that taiwan proclaiming independence just b4 olympics, & china vowing not to let such thing happen. If such a thing do happen then it will test china's military reslove. But will it happen?

Officer of Engineers
03 Dec 05,, 03:50
Force projection issues: AFAIK, the Taiwan Strait is only about a hundred miles wide and little more than 200 feet deep which is a relatively low logistics bar compared to the vastness of the Pacific. I understand that the Pacific is essentially an American bath tub for the foreseeable future so we can deny it to the enemy, but it is still a Hell of a long haul for reinforcements and supplies. Forward basing answers parts of this argument but...

The most obvious answer to all of this is the island of Taiwan itself. It is an unsinkable aircraft carrier ... if the ML Chinese don't resort to nukes against their island cousins.

Let's be clear about something here. The Taiwanese would bore the brunt of the fighting. They will be doing the majority of the fighting and dying, including in the air. What the Americans bring to the picture is the tipping of the scales, decisively so. Thus, the full weight of the American military might need not apply.


Forward basing issues: alot of the usual suspects are easily within range of a wide variety of Chinese ordnance which will color their calculus. The US is going to have to allay fears of retaliation which is going to drive up the diplomatic, military and financial commitments before, during and after any action with China. As it stands, several states in the region are investigating advanced air and missle defenses and possibly nuclear deterrents which exasperates the situation with arms races and proliferation, both of which run contrary to US interests in the region.


Nuclear weapons: agree this is unlikely but this would be distinctly bad for the US. The Chinese do not need to use very many if it came to that. California is a huge piece of the US economy as well as the fact that West Coast ports in general are a key component of US grand strategy in the Pacific.

If military conflict erupted with China before proposed, robust missle defences were in place, just a few nuclear weapons delivered to the West Coast would probably hurt the US more than any measured response delivered against China. Look at the mess that losing two buildings in Manhattan caused and then imagine what a megaton yield airburst over San Diego would do.


From Armscontrolwonk.com (http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/category/china/?pg=2)

DIA translated a reference book published by Zhu’s employer in 2000, the Chinese National Defense University (Guofang Daxue). Operational Studies (Zhanyi Xue) contains a chapter on Chinese nuclear operations that warns future nuclear commanders that, like it or not, they will be going second:


The campaign is in a bleak nuclear environment, and the position of protection is very important. According to our principle of “no first-use of nuclear weapons,” the nuclear retaliation campaign of the Second Artillery will be conducted under the circumstances when enemy has launched a nuclear attack on us.

Since the strategic missile force of the Second Artillery will be the important target of the enemy nuclear attack, it decides that the nuclear campaign corps of the Second Artillery will fight under very serious nuclear circumstances. The personnel, position equipment, weapons equipment, command telecommunication system and the roads and bridges in the battlefield will be seriously hurt and damaged. Whether the missile force can survive and whether it can maintain its nuclear retaliation capabilities becomes the important strategic issue that directly relates to the result of the nuclear retaliation campaign.

This means that the campaign protection of the strategic nuclear missile force of the Second Artillery has a very important position and function. Careful protection becomes an important means and precondition for guaranteeing the survival and successful nuclear retaliation of missile force.

Moreover, Chinese exercises suggest China’s nuclear missileers —the Second Artillery Corps—train to absorb a first strike. Read this description of a Chinese military exercise in 1994:


At a certain “Red Army” battlefield where a mountain breeze was softly blowing, the harsh sound of siren suddenly pierced the air. As “Red Army” battle personnel urgently withdrew, several “Blue Army” missiles exploded within some 100 square kilometers of the “Red Army” position. In an instant, the ground vibrated vigorously and the area was engulfed in fire. The entire site became a “death zone.”

In response to the sudden “nuclear attack,” scores of “Red Army” “cavalries” rapidly entered the “nuclear-attack zone” to carry out urgent nuclear and chemical pollution monitoring, cleaning, and battlefield rescue.

After safety taking refuge in a completely sealed “underground shelter” for several days, the “Red Army” strategic missile force began to carry out a “nuclear counterattack.” One after another, missiles shot up into the sky. Even before tremors in the mountains subsided, the target area had begun to convulse.

You fight like you train, they say.


Espionage: the US has proven itself to be very susceptible to Chinese espionage. Even if forces overseas were quickly victorious, nobody popped off the nukes and the Chinese sued for peace, we would still be in quite a bit of danger.

What the hell are you talking about?


Everybody loses: OTTOMH, I think it is probably fair to say that half of all the maritime traffic in the World passes through the South China Sea and nearby areas which would no doubt be part of the theatre in the event of war with China.

Controlled by the USN, backed by the JMSDF, the RN, and the RAN and another naval task group available from Canada.


In such and environment, any military action would no doubt drive shipping rates and maritime insurance rates through the roof which would essentially amount to the US shooting itself in the foot and would make Japan and Australia immediate and big loosers which is not in the US interest. Remember what happened one someone dumped just a few mines in the Red Sea a couple of decades back (but this might not be a good paralell, admittedly).

What exactly is the threat?


Based on these notions, I could see a US Administration sometime in the future blinking and letting Taiwan swing if the Chinese made a credible grab for it.

Comic book.


I am NOT saying that the US should abandon Taiwan so please do not misunderstand my line of reasoning, just saying that any remotely rational actor would probably consider it.

The not to distant future may find the US in a position where defending Taiwan at any cost might run contrary to more supreme interests.

Comments?

If it were the USSR making a play for an island that the Americans have deliberately abandonned, then you might have a point but the PRC ain't the USSR. Not even close.

And the Americans have not abandonned Taiwan.

Officer of Engineers
03 Dec 05,, 03:51
How about rumours circulating that taiwan proclaiming independence just b4 olympics, & china vowing not to let such thing happen. If such a thing do happen then it will test china's military reslove. But will it happen?
Taiwan needs a change in the constitution before they can do that.

Swift Sword
03 Dec 05,, 14:20
The most obvious answer to all of this is the island of Taiwan itself. It is an unsinkable aircraft carrier ... if the ML Chinese don't resort to nukes against their island cousins.

Understood.


Let's be clear about something here. The Taiwanese would bore the brunt of the fighting. They will be doing the majority of the fighting and dying, including in the air. What the Americans bring to the picture is the tipping of the scales, decisively so. Thus, the full weight of the American military might need not apply.

Again, understood. However, the theatre is likely going to include more than just Taiwan and I could see an opponent with the resources such as China has not folding up conveniently so the troops can come home by Christmas. Whether they can use what they have to best effect is open to debate but they would have the home court, so to speak.


What the hell are you talking about?

Conversations through the years with various people from various agencies and employees at certain sensitive facilities have lead me to this conclusion. Until people with equally impressive credentials and experience try to convince me otherwise, I am inclined to continue to believe it.



Controlled by the USN, backed by the JMSDF, the RN, and the RAN and another naval task group available from Canada.

What exactly is the threat?

Unless I am misreading the tea leaves, it appears that the entire region is dependent on maritime traffic. Some people, like the Japanese, are much more so than the others.

OTTOMH, I would think that 11 or 12 million barrels of oil a day transit the South China Sea and half of the World's tanker traffic in a given year.

Too, half of the World's LNG traffic goes through the South China Sea.

Without breaking it down, I am going to suppose that the bulk of this vital traffic goes to supporting staunch US allies in the region such as Japan and South Korea. Taiwan itself needs to import half of its daily consumption of oil.

In the event of war with China, I would suspect that the South China Sea would be awash with mines and anti ship cruise missles which the Chinese have in great abundance (and other people they might use them against if they choose to use open war against the United States to forward other agendas they no doubt have).

History has demonstrated that this type of threat is very real and that the USN for all its strength and prowess had difficulties managing this type of threat on a small scale in the Arabian Gulf (though I am sure many lessons learned have been absorbed).

Based on past cases, one would think it would only take one ULCC or VLCC running over a dirt cheap Russian MKB or clone or absorbing one of the notorious Silkworms to bring traffic in the region to a halt (and cause systemic shock globally). The further Southwest the theatre extends, the greater the chances of serious disruption.

If this shipping is dirupted even for a breif moment, the United States will most likely be in the position of having won the battle and lost the war. Saving Taiwan to goat**** the Japanese, Koreans, Austrailians et al might not be too appealing to a future generation of US and NATO leadership regardless of how we feel about it today.

Again, I may be seriously misjudging circumstances or overrating the threat so please feel free to correct as neccessary.


Comic book.

Maybe...maybe not.

The case could be made that the Democrat and Republican parties are the United States' most robust purveyors of comic book characters; Stan Lee's got nothing on them.

Anyway, the gist of my comments is simply that everything has its price weather we are talking about soap cakes or the fate of states.

My question is at this point theoretical, I agree, but I still stand by it:

Under what conditions would the United States be forced to contend with the possibility of letting Taiwan swing?

This scenario is critically important if you beleive in supporting Taiwan to the hilt as the best way to prevent it is to work within those theoretical limits and manage any crisis real or perceived away from those limits.


If it were the USSR making a play for an island that the Americans have deliberately abandonned, then you might have a point but the PRC ain't the USSR. Not even close.

Understood.


And the Americans have not abandonned Taiwan.

And I never said they did or should.

Sir, thank you for your input and the beneift of your experience.

Officer of Engineers
04 Dec 05,, 16:28
You are under the assumption that any future Mainland-Taiwan conflict would be a long drawn out affair. It would not be. The PLA as of this moment AT BEST could put a single corps onto TW itself.

Domestically, there is a limit to which the populace can tolerate losses without something to show for it. Tienamen Square has shown that the CCP MUST placate the people. The days of the Red Guards blindly following a senile man's idiotic poetry are long over. Think Argentine Junta and the results of the Falklands War.

Therefore, military and domestic politcs concerns do not lend themselves to your arguments. The war would be over long before alot of your concerns would come into play.

I failed to see how war would change current Chinese spying practises or increase their threat. If anything, the resulting OPSEC clamp down would limit the Chinese even more.

As for the South China Seas, I failed to see your concerns. Chinese ships would be sunk if they become a problem and those AShM batteries bombed. You've also misread the Gulf War. The USN sunk the Iranian Navy. Check out the Tanker War.

Dreadnought
05 Dec 05,, 16:15
I was able to find this article that briefly describes Iran/Iraq war including the Tanker War. Please do note though that it comes from the Iranian society and could possible be bias. ;)
http://www.iranchamber.com/history/iran_iraq_war/iran_iraq_war1.php

sparten
05 Dec 05,, 16:53
Col a question,
In an earlier thread you had said that the Chinese do not give their sub commanders launch codes or even overriding codes. NATO and Soviet subs had ovveriding codes that allowed them to launch their missiles when they had acertained that a strike had actually taken place. Chinese SSBN's do not even have this capability? Why do you think it so? And finallyout of curiosity, what is the difference between lauch codes and overriding codes? I had assuemed they were one and the same, but all literature I have read refers to them bring different, so what is the point of issueing one, but no the other.

Officer of Engineers
05 Dec 05,, 21:04
Chinese SSBN's do not even have this capability? Why do you think it so?

Smaller arsenal. Much more limited options. Much more limited controls (can't have too many chiefs when you have very few arrorws). Thus, the civies wanted control and wanted to keep control of the nukes.

American and Russian arsenals are much bigger and hence, much more flexible, and therefore, requiring a bigger set of authority for its usage.


And finallyout of curiosity, what is the difference between lauch codes and overriding codes? I had assuemed they were one and the same, but all literature I have read refers to them bring different, so what is the point of issueing one, but no the other.

The 2IC can countermand the overriding codes. Neither the CO nor the DCO have the authority to countermand the National Command Auhtority.

Blademaster
05 Dec 05,, 22:00
Taiwan needs a change in the constitution before they can do that.

But isn't having a constitution a implicit sign that they are striving for independence?

Officer of Engineers
05 Dec 05,, 22:02
Their current consitution is that of the Republic of China, ie Nationalist China, not Taiwan.

Jay
05 Dec 05,, 23:07
Unless I am misreading the tea leaves, it appears that the entire region is dependent on maritime traffic. Some people, like the Japanese, are much more so than the others.

OTTOMH, I would think that 11 or 12 million barrels of oil a day transit the South China Sea and half of the World's tanker traffic in a given year.

Too, half of the World's LNG traffic goes through the South China Sea.


Why would the cargo ships bound to Japan travel to South China sea? I doubt that China can mount an attack on the mouth of South China sea which feeds Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam etc.

And China has a limited option for a second strike, if we dont count the imaginary 1000's of miles of tunnels under the mountains.

They have 1 SSBN, which seldom leaves the port and it will be identified miles ahead.

Swift Sword
06 Dec 05,, 12:15
Why would the cargo ships bound to Japan travel to South China sea? I doubt that China can mount an attack on the mouth of South China sea which feeds Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam etc.

If I understand the situation correctly, they like to transit various straits on the Western end such as the Straits of Malacca and transit the SCS as it takes several days off of the trip.

Many of those straits are fairly chocked and any number of parties could conceivably mine them overtly or clandestinely for a variety or reasons. Given the current security climate, there is a long list of potential suspects.



And China has a limited option for a second strike, if we dont count the imaginary 1000's of miles of tunnels under the mountains.

True. However given the history of Chinese strategic weapons, the threat might evolve quite quickly.

It has been pointed out here that a US v. PRC conflict does not neccessarily have to go nuclear for a few different reasons.

Too, if we consider the much ballyhooed but sound Chinese treatise "Unrestricted Warfare" (which most people who talk about it do not seem to read, incidentally) it is entirely possible whatever the Chinese consider an offset or a second strike might not be readily recognizabe as such.

This book is free online, BTW, which makes it a really good educational opportunity: http://www.terrorism.com/documents/TRC-Analysis/unrestricted.pdf

It is an interesting read but funny translation: it refers to the AEGIS cruiser as the "Zeus Shield cruiser" :)


They have 1 SSBN, which seldom leaves the port and it will be identified miles ahead.

I have complete faith that the Chinese cannot venture far with thier fledgling submarine service in the face of the USN.

However, what about their SSKs?

A Kilo boat operating close to shore in home waters seems to be a threat of some order and our own SSNs would lose some of their advantages under such circumstances. I would like to hear those of you with much more expertise comment on this and the latest Kilo variants in general.

sparten
06 Dec 05,, 12:24
"Zeus Shield cruiser"
I believe that Ageis was Athena's shield.

Swift Sword
06 Dec 05,, 12:58
You are under the assumption that any future Mainland-Taiwan conflict would be a long drawn out affair. It would not be. The PLA as of this moment AT BEST could put a single corps onto TW itself.

But how long does it have to go on in general to be regionally disruptive?


Domestically, there is a limit to which the populace can tolerate losses without something to show for it. Tienamen Square has shown that the CCP MUST placate the people. The days of the Red Guards blindly following a senile man's idiotic poetry are long over. Think Argentine Junta and the results of the Falklands War.

Ok, I understand.


Therefore, military and domestic politcs concerns do not lend themselves to your arguments. The war would be over long before alot of your concerns would come into play.

I do not share your optimism. With Japan 90% dependent on various petroleum imports (AFAIK) to meet its needs, how long does any war have to be to have an adverse impact? Sure the Chinese cannot hold out forever for the reasons you pointed but there are others who might suffer more immediately from the blowback.


I failed to see how war would change current Chinese spying practises or increase their threat. If anything, the resulting OPSEC clamp down would limit the Chinese even more.

That may be the case but it still pins down resources that might be used for something more productive somewhere else but I am not in a postion to speculate which makes it a strategic asset for the PRC just the same.


As for the South China Seas, I failed to see your concerns. Chinese ships would be sunk if they become a problem and those AShM batteries bombed. You've also misread the Gulf War. The USN sunk the Iranian Navy. Check out the Tanker War.

I have a modest grasp of the Tanker War, "Earnest Will", "Praying Mantis" and some of the associated operations. The USN did indeed sink the Iranian Navy.

However, the PLAN strikes me a more robust, better trained and more varied threat. The USN would have a field day shooting them up but they do not have to get far or do too much damage to make a ruckus.

My concern in the South China Sea is analagous to when 19 ships struck mines in the Red Sea. None were sunk, but traffic was reduced and the Egyptian economy subsequently suffered damage and there was a maritime insurance premium spike that could have had serious repercussions on the global level.

What I am concerned about is something similar but on a grand scale. It would not have to be an overt act of violence, just blowback from mining and AShM activity that could conceivably occur in a USN v. PLAN shootout.

Now another scenario might find the Chinese deliberately targetting commerce in an effort to weaken any regional coalition the US might build as part of its effort to defend Taiwan. Third parties might covertly strike at commerce in the region to advance their own agendas under the cover of a US v. Chinese confrantation. Under thse scenarios, damage would be global and systemic, I suspect.

I should issue a caveat: I am a shareholder in three tanker companies and a container outfit so this may color my thinking to some extent ;) but I honestly think that there are security implications for the US and its allies in the region that merit some discussion.

Officer of Engineers
06 Dec 05,, 13:26
But how long does it have to go on in general to be regionally disruptive?

To put it bluntly and therefore, the rest of your arguements invalid. The PLA has at most 30 days to do what they need to do on Taiwan. Even assuming that they can manage to land a corps, they have at most 72 hours of combat in them. Assuming that they can be resupplied twice at the expense of their entire transport fleet and their fishing and civilian fleet, that's nine days of combat.

As stated before, this is they ONLY get one try at this which means that they HAVE to put EVERYTHING into the campaign. What ships are NOT supporting the invasion are out there trying to prevent the USN from intervening.

They don't have the ships to do an invasion, prevent the USN (hell, they don't even got enough ships to do those two things), and harrassing shipping.

Swift Sword
06 Dec 05,, 14:34
To put it bluntly and therefore, the rest of your arguements invalid. The PLA has at most 30 days to do what they need to do on Taiwan. Even assuming that they can manage to land a corps, they have at most 72 hours of combat in them. Assuming that they can be resupplied twice at the expense of their entire transport fleet and their fishing and civilian fleet, that's nine days of combat.

Actually, a thirty day time frame might only make my argument stronger.

Cut that in half and there still may be cause for concern.

A cursory glance at the C.I.A. World Factbook and security information from the E.I.A., a partial disruption of shipping might leave Taiwan itself cumulatively two million barrels of oil short after a fortnight. Our good friends the Koreans and the Japanese would be pinched pretty good to boot.

I have not even factored in the all important container trade.

There is an awesome amount of material and money transitting those waters and I am disinclined to think that it would not be disrupted by military activity.

Too, any maritime disruptions caused by mines will linger long, long after a nine day offensive regardless of who wins or loses. IIRC, after Gulf War '91, it took the USN a year and a half to clear ten minefields from the Persian Gulf which is geographically a much smaller theatre.

Theoretical and hypothetical concerns aside, there is more than ample historical evidence which you might find hard to explain away that mining is effective against both military and commercial shipping (the latter more so than the former, one would think).


As stated before, this is they ONLY get one try at this which means that they HAVE to put EVERYTHING into the campaign. What ships are NOT supporting the invasion are out there trying to prevent the USN from intervening.

I understand and that is a very good reason to suspect they will try all sorts of stuff.


They don't have the ships to do an invasion, prevent the USN (hell, they don't even got enough ships to do those two things), and harrassing shipping.

Which is really a good reason to beleive they might turn to mines and other offsets.

It is known that the Chinese are developing new types of mines (and their mine warfare experience goes back to the 14'th Century so I am sure they are cognizant of the capabilities).

It does not take much of a boat to lay mines and they are much easier to effectively plant before the commencement of hostilities so it is entirely possible that clandestine, pre-emptive mining to throw off the opponents balance and timing as well as opportunities to maneuver could take place.

Officer of Engineers
06 Dec 05,, 16:01
Takes time to lay mines. Time that they don't have. When are they going to start laying mines? Right at the start of the conflict? They don't have the ships. Before the conflict? Warning to the USN to get ready and therefore, cut down their actual available combat time even further.


Theoretical and hypothetical concerns aside, there is more than ample historical evidence which you might find hard to explain away that mining is effective against both military and commercial shipping (the latter more so than the former, one would think).

Can you sight me a case where sea traffic actually stopped because of a minefield? Simple fact is that naval minefield is a hindrance, not a show stopper. It's way too easy to go around. The actual problem is locating the field, not the field itself.

Wraith601
06 Dec 05,, 18:23
I believe that Ageis was Athena's shield.

It was the shield of Zeus.

Aegis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aegis)

Jay
06 Dec 05,, 19:07
A cursory glance at the C.I.A. World Factbook and security information from the E.I.A., a partial disruption of shipping might leave Taiwan itself cumulatively two million barrels of oil short after a fortnight. Our good friends the Koreans and the Japanese would be pinched pretty good to boot.

Nope it does not work that way. Like the US, lot many countries hold stockpiles of oil. China, India hold them as well.

Read this excerpt,
Developed countries in the world, including Japan, are members of the International Energy Agency (IEA) as a framework in which oil consuming nations work together to secure energy supplies. IEA member states keep their own oil stockpiles. As of January 1 this year, these stockpiles amount to approximately 395.9 million tons, or 2,656 million barrels of oil, which are equivalent to 114 days' oil imports of the 26 IEA members. Drawing a lesson from the 1973 first oil crisis, Japan also maintains oil stockpiles. Our oil stockpiles meet 169 days' domestic consumption. Japan's oil stock consists of the state oil stockpile, which amounts to 320 million barrels, or 51 million kiloliters of crude, the private-sector stockpile, which oil-related private business enterprises maintain in accordance with the Petroleum Stockpiling Law and which amount to 129 million barrels, or 21 million kiloliters of crude, and the stockpile of petroleum products amounting to 130 million barrels, or 20 million kiloliters. Viewed in terms of domestic consumption, the state stockpile covers 92 days' supplies and the private-sector stockpile meets 77 days' consumption.
In a nutshell, even if our oil imports from all countries, including those in the Middle East, should be totally cut off, we have "a stock of oil" sufficient to meet petroleum requirements for the nation's production activity and people's living for almost half a year. We will draw on our oil stockpiles if we face uncertainty about the availability of oil supplies. In that case, because the concerted action of oil consuming nations will have a greater impact on the world oil market, IEA member states will basically work together to cope with the crisis. Based on accurate assessment of the trends in oil producing countries as well as the trends in the world oil market, we will properly use the nation's oil stockpiles we have built up in order to spare you inconvenience.

http://www.enecho.meti.go.jp/english/energy/japan/oilinfo.html

Jay
06 Dec 05,, 19:18
If I understand the situation correctly, they like to transit various straits on the Western end such as the Straits of Malacca and transit the SCS as it takes several days off of the trip.
Partially true. Ships courses are altered based on available intel all the time.
Yes, it may take time, but they will factor it in when they plot a course.


Many of those straits are fairly chocked and any number of parties could conceivably mine them overtly or clandestinely for a variety or reasons. Given the current security climate, there is a long list of potential suspects.
Other than China I dont see any body else mining. Even china does not have resource to mine the Indian Ocean. Indian Navy has a naval base thats right on the mouth of Malacca Straits. Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia wouldnt want to disrupt the high seas traffic. Incase of war, there will be active patrol on the seas. Any unusual Chinese movement will be carefully monitored/being monitored as we speak.


True. However given the history of Chinese strategic weapons, the threat might evolve quite quickly.
What history? During Sino-Russian conflict the Chinese were saber rattling missile loaded with conventional warheads, ask the Colonel.


It has been pointed out here that a US v. PRC conflict does not neccessarily have to go nuclear for a few different reasons.
Unless China initiates it. Any attack on Taiwan will be replied back by Ameria and I dont think China is quiet ready to handle that.


Too, if we consider the much ballyhooed but sound Chinese treatise "Unrestricted Warfare" (which most people who talk about it do not seem to read, incidentally) it is entirely possible whatever the Chinese consider an offset or a second strike might not be readily recognizabe as such.
Un-restricted warfare and political games might not work/win wars all the time. Actually the US is not bad at these either.


However, what about their SSKs?
A Kilo boat operating close to shore in home waters seems to be a threat of some order and our own SSNs would lose some of their advantages under such circumstances. I would like to hear those of you with much more expertise comment on this and the latest Kilo variants in general.
IIRC, PLAN has less number of upgraded Kilo's than IN. Kilo's are not utterly in-destrutable, you know. Combined fleets of USN, RN, ROTN, and other ABCA navies would sink PLAN far before, incase the war starts.

Swift Sword
06 Dec 05,, 23:11
Takes time to lay mines. Time that they don't have. When are they going to start laying mines? Right at the start of the conflict?

Best time to to lay them is generally considered to be ahead of the pistol.


They don't have the ships. Before the conflict? Warning to the USN to get ready and therefore, cut down their actual available combat time even further.

PRC capability, AFAIK, might support some creative, clandestine aerial dispersion of mines; perhaps from commercial flight plans. Nobody has yet convinced me that they are just dumb, brown people.


Can you sight me a case where sea traffic actually stopped because of a minefield?

Slowing, not stopping is the gist of mine warfare. Just study "The Tanker War". After all, "the best fordes are choked with caltrops."


Simple fact is that naval minefield is a hindrance, not a show stopper. It's way too easy to go around.


There are those who feel that the USN underrates minewarfare. What is your opinion?


The actual problem is locating the field, not the field itself.

Mi amigo, you just wrote some man's epitaph :biggrin:

Swift Sword
06 Dec 05,, 23:20
It was the shield of Zeus.

Aegis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aegis)

My neo-classical education aside, I call them like I see them: check out page 124.

Swift Sword
06 Dec 05,, 23:28
Nope it does not work that way. Like the US, lot many countries hold stockpiles of oil. China, India hold them as well.

I have good reson to be suspicous of stated stockpiles and reserves; they change with a breath.

Jay
07 Dec 05,, 01:53
I have good reson to be suspicous of stated stockpiles and reserves; they change with a breath.
Hmm, mostly not. Everytime the stockpile is released it will be slowly built up again. So in anycase even if the stock pile is used, you cannot be totally empty, in this hypothetical case it will still work out for 30 days. IMO it will not take 30 days incase China attacks Taiwan. It will be much sooner, atleast the air and naval war would be over long by then.

TopHatter
07 Dec 05,, 02:42
Can you sight me a case where sea traffic actually stopped because of a minefield? Simple fact is that naval minefield is a hindrance, not a show stopper. It's way too easy to go around. The actual problem is locating the field, not the field itself.
Hanoi/ Haiphong Harbor 1972? :confused:

Officer of Engineers
07 Dec 05,, 02:58
Best time to to lay them is generally considered to be ahead of the pistol.

So, let me get this straight. You're going to send a fishing boat out to lay a mine and then have it rush back in time to pick up soldiers to transfer over Taiwan. No one is that good.


PRC capability, AFAIK, might support some creative, clandestine aerial dispersion of mines; perhaps from commercial flight plans. Nobody has yet convinced me that they are just dumb, brown people.

They're not dumb but they're not super high intelligence technology experts either. What you're not getting is the timing. Ships got to be in port to pick up soldiers. If they're out laying mines, then that's the warning for the USN to get ready. Forget about commercial flights, the flight profile is not condusive to laying mines. There's a reason we don't drop bombs out the back door of 747s.


Slowing, not stopping is the gist of mine warfare. Just study "The Tanker War". After all, "the best fordes are choked with caltrops."

The Tanker War was an act of desperation by the Iranians. They couldn't blockade Iraq and hence attack anyone and everyone. This, however, present you with a delima with the Chinese scenario. The very act of laying mines is, according to you, to discourage American allies from helping out the USN but the very nature of minefields means that the Chinese already struck before the American allies even know about it. In other words, the Chinese have committed an act of war before the allies could back out.

And let's be clear about the kind of timeframe we're talking about. The USN can respond with full combat operations within 72 hours.


There are those who feel that the USN underrates minewarfare. What is your opinion?

Sea mines are meant more for protection (ie, guarding ports and lanes of approach) than any offensive application.


Mi amigo, you just wrote some man's epitaph :biggrin:

I'm a combat engineer.

Officer of Engineers
07 Dec 05,, 03:00
Hanoi/ Haiphong Harbor 1972? :confused:

Other ports were openned.

Swift Sword
07 Dec 05,, 13:06
Hmm, mostly not. Everytime the stockpile is released it will be slowly built up again. So in anycase even if the stock pile is used, you cannot be totally empty, in this hypothetical case it will still work out for 30 days. IMO it will not take 30 days incase China attacks Taiwan. It will be much sooner, atleast the air and naval war would be over long by then.

Again, let me stress that quotes of stockpiles and reserves have historically been proven to be suspect.

I have lost money betting on statements of reserves and strongly suggest the fates of lives and states not be bet on them.

Swift Sword
07 Dec 05,, 14:37
So, let me get this straight. You're going to send a fishing boat out to lay a mine and then have it rush back in time to pick up soldiers to transfer over Taiwan. No one is that good.

One insignificant vessel is all it might take and I am sure the Chinese would be willing to bet that.

That mess in the Red Sea was caused by the Ghat (allegedly) laying just a couple of hundred mines.

The Siraj layed just nine mines to hit the Bridgetown and that was certainly money well spent when the consequences are considered.


They're not dumb but they're not super high intelligence technology experts either.

Bingo; you hit the nail on the head. What I am talking about is Crimean War methodology and First World War technology.

That 1907 Imperial Russian design has caused all sorts of trouble over the last century and given the waters in question I suspect the Chinese will use it to good effect along with some more more contemporary weapons.


What you're not getting is the timing. Ships got to be in port to pick up soldiers. If they're out laying mines, then that's the warning for the USN to get ready.

As history has demonstrated, only one boat is neccessary to acheive the desired effect against commercial activity. If the Chinese are short a boat, one could be chartered or the whole operation could be subcontracted to a non state actor which in fact would probably be prefferable for pre emptive mining.


Forget about commercial flights, the flight profile is not condusive to laying mines. There's a reason we don't drop bombs out the back door of 747s.

Commercial flight and maritime routes have been successfully used for military activity in the past so I would think it foolish to discount the possibility.

Too, I see no technological reasons why a naval mine could not be designed to be dropped from significant altitude but I could be wrong.


The Tanker War was an act of desperation by the Iranians. They couldn't blockade Iraq and hence attack anyone and everyone.

Unless I have been grossly misinformed, the Tanker War was a cool, calculated act initiated by the Iraqis and it did have more than just a little effect in the grand scheme of things and that is the lesson that has not exactly been learned.


This, however, present you with a delima with the Chinese scenario. The very act of laying mines is, according to you, to discourage American allies from helping out the USN but the very nature of minefields means that the Chinese already struck before the American allies even know about it.

Not quite such a simple explanation, but that is the gist of it.

The mining could be done clandestinely to cause adverse pressure on various actors in the region which the Chinese could take advantage of. The Chinese would not have to advertise the fact, just take advantage of the consequences.

Also, as history has proven, it does not take much of a minefield to significantly disrupt commercial activity.

As a military man, you naturally would want your mines to not be found readily. Look at this problem from a viewpoint of commerce war: it is exactly the opposite: you cause much more damage with much less effort WHEN YOU WANT YOUR MINES TO BE FOUND.

What would happen if a mine was found in the Straits of Malacca? One single mine, and it does not even have to do any damage.

What would happen? A substantial amount of shipping would have to have up to three days added to its transit time and substantially increase the cost of activity in general and that is the best case scenario. Given the large volume, the effects would be felt very far off.

In those straits at the West end of the South China sea, I have heard it said some large tankers have about ten feet of water between their keels and the sea bottom so it would not be to tough to hit one if that was the intent.


In other words, the Chinese have committed an act of war before the allies could back out.

Only if it can be conclusively proven. IIRC, the mess in the Red Sea did not yield enough intelligence to make a strong enough case against Libya.


And let's be clear about the kind of timeframe we're talking about. The USN can respond with full combat operations within 72 hours.

I suspect that Lloyds will most likely respond in less than 72 seconds.


Sea mines are meant more for protection (ie, guarding ports and lanes of approach) than any offensive application.

Incidentally, that is why I would think the PLAN's mine capability would be quite robust. Doctrinally, IIRC, the mission of the PLAN for several decades was to defend against amphibious assault and I am sure that Wonson Harbor was a lesson learned.

Too, in this day and age, it might be a fatal mistake to differentiate between offensive and defensive weapons: there are just weapons. What is even a weapon is ill defined when one looks at that hole in Manhattan.

If I wanted to use a naval mine as an offensive weapon, I would have no hesitation. It is not in the nature of the weapon itself, only the application.

Speaking of weapons, do the Chinese have anything analagous to the MK60?

If they did or could build a crude knock off, it would be easy to deploy a significant threat long before they intened to open hostilities.




I'm a combat engineer.

And I am nobody which is why I esteem your opinon even if we are debating to cross purpose. I am trying to get a better grasp of the subject of globalization and maritime power so I am grateful for your continued input.

Officer of Engineers
07 Dec 05,, 16:04
One insignificant vessel is all it might take and I am sure the Chinese would be willing to bet that.

That mess in the Red Sea was caused by the Ghat (allegedly) laying just a couple of hundred mines.

The Siraj layed just nine mines to hit the Bridgetown and that was certainly money well spent when the consequences are considered.

Combat operations was not even curtailed.


Bingo; you hit the nail on the head. What I am talking about is Crimean War methodology and First World War technology.

That 1907 Imperial Russian design has caused all sorts of trouble over the last century and given the waters in question I suspect the Chinese will use it to good effect along with some more more contemporary weapons.

The problem with all of this is still the timeframe. The Chinese NEEDS to prevent USN intervention or even slow it down. That MEANS catching the USN off guard, ie the CVBGs are still in home port. All of these actions you're speaking of are great big warning signs.

The Iran-Iraq War lasted 7 years. There was time to allow the economic effects to affect the war. No such thing is possible with the Chinese scenario.


As history has demonstrated, only one boat is neccessary to acheive the desired effect against commercial activity. If the Chinese are short a boat, one could be chartered or the whole operation could be subcontracted to a non state actor which in fact would probably be prefferable for pre emptive mining.

And start a war with the US and maybe also get into a shooting war with the JMSDF, RAN, RN, and maybe even CF/MC? Who's stupid enough to do that?


Commercial flight and maritime routes have been successfully used for military activity in the past so I would think it foolish to discount the possibility.

All available studies that professional watchers have done is that they're reliant on commercial assets. We're not discounting the possibilities, we're doing the math. A single 747 can carry a full company of light infantry. Divert that to other usage and you have 150 men less on Taiwan. Let's do the math here. The RoCA has over 400,000 men under arms. The PLA can land one corps (30,000).

After that the 747 manages to drop off that single company, it would have to go back for supplies.

And that's assuming that 747 isn't shot down on the way back and forth.

Get the picture of the LOG reqs?


Too, I see no technological reasons why a naval mine could not be designed to be dropped from significant altitude but I could be wrong.

Not out of a back door of a 747. They're way too big.


Unless I have been grossly misinformed, the Tanker War was a cool, calculated act initiated by the Iraqis and it did have more than just a little effect in the grand scheme of things and that is the lesson that has not exactly been learned.

People continued to die after the Tanker War and at a faster rate. The outcome of the Iran-Iraq War was not influencd.


Not quite such a simple explanation, but that is the gist of it.

The mining could be done clandestinely to cause adverse pressure on various actors in the region which the Chinese could take advantage of. The Chinese would not have to advertise the fact, just take advantage of the consequences.

Also, as history has proven, it does not take much of a minefield to significantly disrupt commercial activity.

Here's your problem. In order to disrupt commercial activity, the Chinese would have to declare war on those actors not involved in the Taiwan scenario.


As a military man, you naturally would want your mines to not be found readily. Look at this problem from a viewpoint of commerce war: it is exactly the opposite: you cause much more damage with much less effort WHEN YOU WANT YOUR MINES TO BE FOUND.

1st off, you're off on the nature of mine warfare. I EXPECT my minefields to be found and in wars of manouver, I don't want to spend time laying a complex field and committing resources, including manpower, where they would never be used.

2nd, when my fields are found, I have predicted courses of actions that the enemy will take. Actions that are designed in my favour. And here is where none of your postings make any military sense.

You want the implicit threat of laying mines to discourage American allies from getting involved but in order to make the threat explicit, you have to lay mines, getting those same allies involved that you don't want involve in the 1st place.

And what would be the point of laying mines? Any effect that they could generate would not be felt until the war is over.


What would happen if a mine was found in the Straits of Malacca? One single mine, and it does not even have to do any damage.

What would happen? A substantial amount of shipping would have to have up to three days added to its transit time and substantially increase the cost of activity in general and that is the best case scenario. Given the large volume, the effects would be felt very far off.

In those straits at the West end of the South China sea, I have heard it said some large tankers have about ten feet of water between their keels and the sea bottom so it would not be to tough to hit one if that was the intent.

And what effect would that have on combat operations? The PRC will still be on the losing side of the war and by extension, the CCP will be chucked into the Taiwan Straits by the Chinese people, specifically, the mothers of all those dead soldiers.


Only if it can be conclusively proven. IIRC, the mess in the Red Sea did not yield enough intelligence to make a strong enough case against Libya.

Does it matter? Combat forces from those countries will be deploy to protect their shipping, if nothing else, freeing the USN of those duties to committ even more resources to the Taiwan scenario.


I suspect that Lloyds will most likely respond in less than 72 seconds.

Lloyds is not within my Chain-of-Command.


Incidentally, that is why I would think the PLAN's mine capability would be quite robust. Doctrinally, IIRC, the mission of the PLAN for several decades was to defend against amphibious assault and I am sure that Wonson Harbor was a lesson learned.

D E F E N S I V E L Y


Too, in this day and age, it might be a fatal mistake to differentiate between offensive and defensive weapons: there are just weapons. What is even a weapon is ill defined when one looks at that hole in Manhattan.

And it would be a mistake to use a one-time usage as a basis for a doctrine. This is not to say that the Chinese cannot think outside the box and come up with something unexpected. By the same token, they could be bluffing. In any event, we cannot defend against what we don't know but that does not mean that we should run away scare when what we do know does not scare us.


If I wanted to use a naval mine as an offensive weapon, I would have no hesitation. It is not in the nature of the weapon itself, only the application.

Mines by themselves cannot be offensive. They rely on the enemy to come to you. Under operational thinking, what that means is that you force the enemy to come to you, either by sailing a task force into his territory, set a field, and wait for the enemy to evict you.

Other than that, it's an indiscrimate usage, not knowing who or what you're going to hit, including your own people.


Speaking of weapons, do the Chinese have anything analagous to the MK60?

They do but I don't have the designation for it right now. I'm land warfare.


If they did or could build a crude knock off, it would be easy to deploy a significant threat long before they intened to open hostilities.

See above about getting enemy forces up and ready for action.

Swift Sword
09 Dec 05,, 11:17
Combat operations was not even curtailed.

In the case of the Ghat, combat operations are not relevant as the mines were deployed as a strategic offensive weapon.

As to the Bridgetown striking a mine, it did not disrupt combat operations to be true, however, it did influence dispositions. The Iranians were not the most capable opponents; a more capable opponent who used a handful of mines to slow a convoy to three or four knots might have made better use of the opportunity.



The problem with all of this is still the timeframe. The Chinese NEEDS to prevent USN intervention or even slow it down. That MEANS catching the USN off guard, ie the CVBGs are still in home port. All of these actions you're speaking of are great big warning signs.

The Reagan Administration thought that mining ports was just the thing so I would think that there is a lesson that others might learn/have learned.


The Iran-Iraq War lasted 7 years. There was time to allow the economic effects to affect the war. No such thing is possible with the Chinese scenario.

Tiny economies by comparison with much less dependence on imports.


And start a war with the US and maybe also get into a shooting war with the JMSDF, RAN, RN, and maybe even CF/MC? Who's stupid enough to do that?

Someone who is smart enough to pull it off; other people have gotten away with it.


All available studies that professional watchers have done is that they're reliant on commercial assets. We're not discounting the possibilities, we're doing the math. A single 747 can carry a full company of light infantry. Divert that to other usage and you have 150 men less on Taiwan. Let's do the math here. The RoCA has over 400,000 men under arms. The PLA can land one corps (30,000).

After that the 747 manages to drop off that single company, it would have to go back for supplies.

And that's assuming that 747 isn't shot down on the way back and forth.

Get the picture of the LOG reqs?

I suspect that you have more information than me on the specifics of action across the Taiwan Straits.

Moving beyond specifics, however, I submit two observations. First, the Chinese--or anybody else for that matter--are not obligated to strike in the matter that we would like or predict. Also, "proffessional watchers" have been known to feed skewed--deliberately or otherwise--information to the powers that be.

Too, methinks that the Chinese are rational enough to realize that they cannot readily deploy 30,000 against 400,000 and will readily seek offsets.


Not out of a back door of a 747. They're way too big.

In a past life, I was briefly involved in modifying the interiors of B747 aircraft for various purposes. You might be suprised what a few men and a "skylift" can get through the door of a 747..."they" swore that computer would never fit.

If a mine can be concoted to fit through a 21 inch torpedo tube, they can be made to fit through something bigger.


People continued to die after the Tanker War and at a faster rate. The outcome of the Iran-Iraq War was not influencd.

You have to look very slightly further afield: who and what was influenced?


Here's your problem. In order to disrupt commercial activity, the Chinese would have to declare war on those actors not involved in the Taiwan scenario.

I am an American. Who am I to expect a formal decleration of war?


1st off, you're off on the nature of mine warfare. I EXPECT my minefields to be found and in wars of manouver, I don't want to spend time laying a complex field and committing resources, including manpower, where they would never be used.

2nd, when my fields are found, I have predicted courses of actions that the enemy will take. Actions that are designed in my favour. And here is where none of your postings make any military sense.

I can defer to your superior experience in most of this and I would be foolish not to. However, the history of maritime mining seems to indicate that it is effective at inducing modifications to dispositions and influencing maneuver all military sense aside.


You want the implicit threat of laying mines to discourage American allies from getting involved but in order to make the threat explicit, you have to lay mines, getting those same allies involved that you don't want involve in the 1st place.

Laying mines easily and anonymously appears to be alarmingly easy.


And what would be the point of laying mines? Any effect that they could generate would not be felt until the war is over.

The "Tanker War" would seem to refute that conclusion as near as I can tell.


And what effect would that have on combat operations? The PRC will still be on the losing side of the war and by extension, the CCP will be chucked into the Taiwan Straits by the Chinese people, specifically, the mothers of all those dead soldiers.

I just cannot consider a potential war with China as an Aldershot Set Piece


Does it matter? Combat forces from those countries will be deploy to protect their shipping, if nothing else, freeing the USN of those duties to committ even more resources to the Taiwan scenario.

"Their shipping" is ill defined in the scheme of things; any response would have to conform to a variety of international conventions...or the breaking of conventions.


Lloyds is not within my Chain-of-Command.

Be that as it may, they do govern the activity of Masters to a large extent and herein lies the rub.


D E F E N S I V E L Y

I understand that Wonson Harbor with all its simple junks and sampans laying lots of mines was clinically a defensive operation but what of the outcome? It has the appearance of demonstrating the effectiveness of the weapons in queston.


And it would be a mistake to use a one-time usage as a basis for a doctrine. This is not to say that the Chinese cannot think outside the box and come up with something unexpected. By the same token, they could be bluffing. In any event, we cannot defend against what we don't know but that does not mean that we should run away scare when what we do know does not scare us.

I understand.


Mines by themselves cannot be offensive. They rely on the enemy to come to you. Under operational thinking, what that means is that you force the enemy to come to you, either by sailing a task force into his territory, set a field, and wait for the enemy to evict you.

I conceed that you have a superior knowledge of military operations but I am having trouble trying to classify the the Red Sea mining as other than an offensive operation.


Other than that, it's an indiscrimate usage, not knowing who or what you're going to hit, including your own people.

These facts do not seem too much of a deterrent to people who deploy mines on both land and sea.


They do but I don't have the designation for it right now. I'm land warfare.

Understand. A minor detail so please do not spend any time digging it up.


See above about getting enemy forces up and ready for action.

I would never expect an enemy to tip his hand and would think that he would actively be working to the contrary.

Officer of Engineers
10 Dec 05,, 04:21
In the case of the Ghat, combat operations are not relevant as the mines were deployed as a strategic offensive weapon.

As to the Bridgetown striking a mine, it did not disrupt combat operations to be true, however, it did influence dispositions. The Iranians were not the most capable opponents; a more capable opponent who used a handful of mines to slow a convoy to three or four knots might have made better use of the opportunity.

I think you better re-examine your conclusions. It was a complete and utter disaster for the Iranians.

They sufferred a strategic disaster by unintentionally getting into a shooting war with the USN.

They sufferred a complete military disaster by losing their entire navy.


The Reagan Administration thought that mining ports was just the thing so I would think that there is a lesson that others might learn/have learned.

Hardly the same kind of thing we're talking about here. The Americans ain't scaring a banana republic here but taking on a well balanced though inferior force. And we're not talking about a port but sea lanes.


Tiny economies by comparison with much less dependence on imports.

The point again is that the war would be way too short for any economic result to affect the outcome of combat.


Someone who is smart enough to pull it off; other people have gotten away with it.

You're giving people way too much credit. I'll let you in on a secret. It's not that us Western military are that good. It's that everybody else are that bad. We could be a hell of alot better.

If people had gotten away with it, it's because we didn't do our homework.


Moving beyond specifics, however, I submit two observations. First, the Chinese--or anybody else for that matter--are not obligated to strike in the matter that we would like or predict.

But they are obligated to strike the way they're prepared for. You're talking about a 30,000 man force. Change the war plan too much away from the way that they're trained to fight and the result is a military disaster.


Also, "proffessional watchers" have been known to feed skewed--deliberately or otherwise--information to the powers that be.

I disagree with that since I am a professional watcher. The biggest problem with figuring out what the PLA is doing is that often, the PLA don't know themselves. I have been guilty of jumping the gun and applying my Western trained military bias (they must be doing this because we did it).

Our evals may not be 100% correct but we're always sure of what we know and we're always sure to include what we don't know.


Too, methinks that the Chinese are rational enough to realize that they cannot readily deploy 30,000 against 400,000 and will readily seek offsets.

You might want to do some research on how they actually think (or take the lazy way: WAB - CDF & TMF's work on the PLA WZC in the TW Context (http://worldaffairsboard.com/showthread.php?t=140))


In a past life, I was briefly involved in modifying the interiors of B747 aircraft for various purposes. You might be suprised what a few men and a "skylift" can get through the door of a 747..."they" swore that computer would never fit.

Try getting it out and deploying it properly.


If a mine can be concoted to fit through a 21 inch torpedo tube, they can be made to fit through something bigger.

We're thinking different kinds of mines.


You have to look very slightly further afield: who and what was influenced?

The Iranians lost their navy and bought the USN in as an enemy combattant.


I am an American. Who am I to expect a formal decleration of war?

How about Acts of War? 11 Sept should tell you what I mean.


I can defer to your superior experience in most of this and I would be foolish not to. However, the history of maritime mining seems to indicate that it is effective at inducing modifications to dispositions and influencing maneuver all military sense aside.



Laying mines easily and anonymously appears to be alarmingly easy.

That it is. Controlling the outcome of those actions is not.


The "Tanker War" would seem to refute that conclusion as near as I can tell.

Again, timeframe. The Iran-Iraq War lasted 7 years. The TW scenario is expected to last 30 days.


I just cannot consider a potential war with China as an Aldershot Set Piece

It's not. No doubt that they have a few surprises waiting but when weighed against the full assets of the USN, it is very hard to imagine that they could emerge victorious. As stated before, their only chance is to delay the USN entry into combat until the ground action in TW is decided in their favour. Then, to present the US with a fait accompli.

Also, we've got guys playing wargames left, right, and centre FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW.

We can see what they're thinking. They MAY have a chance to take out one carrier, maybe even two. Well, what happens when the rest of the fleet come screaming for vengence?


"Their shipping" is ill defined in the scheme of things; any response would have to conform to a variety of international conventions...or the breaking of conventions.

I could care less what "their shipping" is. Warships have their own rules. In fact, I will give you an example. The Indian Navy was protecting civilian shipping while NATO warships were pounding Afghanistan.


Be that as it may, they do govern the activity of Masters to a large extent and herein lies the rub.

So? They're not affecting the outcome of the war. The better I do my job. The better Lloyds can breathe a sigh of relief. The point again here is that whatever the Chinese do here in your scenario has absolutely no positive effect on their sides and in fact, detrimental to their actions - getting otherwise neutral countries to send their warships out, at the very least to relieve the USN for combat operations in the TW scenario. The very worst to participate in that scenario.


I understand that Wonson Harbor with all its simple junks and sampans laying lots of mines was clinically a defensive operation but what of the outcome? It has the appearance of demonstrating the effectiveness of the weapons in queston.

I see alot of junks and sampan giving fish new homes. Handling such explosives ain't that easy.


I conceed that you have a superior knowledge of military operations but I am having trouble trying to classify the the Red Sea mining as other than an offensive operation.

And the result is again, getting a 800lb gorilla pissed off at you and tearing your arms off to beat you over your head with.


These facts do not seem too much of a deterrent to people who deploy mines on both land and sea.

Amateurs. Give any idiot an AK47 and he thinks he's Rambo. The same kind of thing with mines. No passive system is ever a match for an active system. In my day, a properly deployed clustered minefield at best may kill a company, even of tanks. However, there's nothing stopping the rest of the battalion from now exploiting an openned route.


I would never expect an enemy to tip his hand and would think that he would actively be working to the contrary.

It is better to tip your hand and make sure your people can do ALL their jobs properly than to hide your hand and have confused people who don't know what their job is.

The results of most combat is not that we can't figure out what the other guy is doing but rather we can do our job a hell of alot better than he can do his.

The Iraqis set up ambush galore and 99 times out of 100, the Americans steamrolled through those ambushes.

Blademaster
10 Dec 05,, 05:07
I did a google search on Tanker War and I only found that US destroyed two Iranian ships. How can that effectively destroy an entire navy? Unless the entire navy consisted of two ships?

Officer of Engineers
10 Dec 05,, 05:21
Operation Earnest Will

Iraq attacked Iran in September 1980, launching a war that would last eight years. By 1982, more than 100,000 people had died. The war was costing each side $1 billion a month and devastated both countries' oil industries. In the so-called "tanker war", both belligerents launched attacks on neutral merchant vessels transiting the Gulf, prompting several Gulf states to seek protection from foreign navies.

In March 1984, Iraq initiated sustained naval operations in its self-declared 1,126-kilometer maritime exclusion zone, extending from the mouth of the Shatt al Arab to Iran's port of Bushehr. In 1981 Baghdad had attacked Iranian ports and oil complexes as well as neutral tankers and ships sailing to and from Iran; in 1984 Iraq expanded the so-called "tanker war" by using French Super-Etendard combat aircraft armed with Exocet missiles. Neutral merchant ships became favorite targets, and the long-range Super-Etendards flew sorties farther south. Seventy-one merchant ships were attacked in 1984 alone, compared with forty-eight in the first three years of the war. Iraq's motives in increasing the tempo included a desire to break the stalemate, presumably by cutting off Iran's oil exports and by thus forcing Tehran to the negotiating table. Repeated Iraqi efforts failed to put Iran's main oil exporting terminal at Kharg Island out of commission, however.

Iran retaliated by attacking first a Kuwaiti oil tanker near Bahrain on May 13 and then a Saudi tanker in Saudi waters five days later, making it clear that if Iraq continued to interfere with Iran's shipping, no Gulf state would be safe. These sustained attacks cut Iranian oil exports in half, reduced shipping in the Gulf by 25 percent, led Lloyd's of London to increase its insurance rates on tankers, and slowed Gulf oil supplies to the rest of the world; moreover, the Saudi decision in 1984 to shoot down an Iranian Phantom jet intruding in Saudi territorial waters played an important role in ending both belligerents' attempts to internationalize the tanker war. Iraq and Iran accepted a 1984 UN-sponsored moratorium on the shelling of civilian targets, and Tehran later proposed an extension of the moratorium to include Gulf shipping, a proposal the Iraqis rejected unless it were to included their own Gulf ports.

Iraq began ignoring the moratorium soon after it went into effect and stepped up its air raids on tankers serving Iran and Iranian oil-exporting facilities in 1986 and 1987, attacking even vessels that belonged to the conservative Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Iran responded by escalating its attacks on shipping serving Arab ports in the Gulf.

As Kuwaiti vessels made up a large portion of the targets in these retaliatory raids, on 1 November 1986, Kuwait, a nonbelligerent, announced it would seek international protection for its ships. The Soviet Union responded first, agreeing to charter several Soviet tankers to Kuwait in early 1987. Washington, which has been approached first by Kuwait and which had postponed its decision, eventually followed Moscow's lead. On 7 March 1987, the United States offered to reflag 11 Kuwaiti tankers and provide U.S. Navy protection. Kuwait accepted.

On 17 May 1987, an Iraqi attack aircraft fired two Exocet missiles, killing 37 sailors and wounding 21 others aboard USS Stark (FFG 31). Iraq apologized, claiming "pilot error."

Ironically, Washington used the Stark incident to blame Iran for escalating the war and sent its own ships to the Gulf to escort eleven Kuwaiti tankers that were "reflagged" with the American flag and had American crews. Iran refrained from attacking the United States naval force directly, but it used various forms of harassment, including mines, hit-and-run attacks by small patrol boats, and periodic stop-and-search operations. On several occasions, Tehran fired its Chinese-made Silkworm missiles on Kuwait from Al Faw Peninsula. When Iranian forces hit the reflagged tanker Sea Isle City in October 1987, Washington retaliated by destroying an oil platform in the Rostam field and by using the United States Navy's Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) commandos to blow up a second one nearby.

Within a few weeks of the Stark incident, Iraq resumed its raids on tankers but moved its attacks farther south, near the Strait of Hormuz. Washington played a central role in framing UN Security Council Resolution 598 on the Gulf war, passed unanimously on July 20; Western attempts to isolate Iran were frustrated, however, when Tehran rejected the resolution because it did not meet its requirement that Iraq should be punished for initiating the conflict.

American units had already found a dozen mines in Persian Gulf shipping lanes when the Navy began escorting re-flagged Kuwaiti tankers during Operation EARNEST WILL in July 1987. During the very first escort mission, a mine ripped into the re-flagged supertanker Bridgeton. That first month, three tankers hit mines and minesweeping operations by Navy helicopters began. Later that summer, U.S. forces captured the Iranian minelayer Iran Ajr while it was deploying mines in international shipping lanes and U.S. helicopters repelled an attack by Iranian speedboats.

In October 1987, U.S. surface forces destroyed an armed Iranian oil complex in retaliation for an Iranian missile attack on a U.S.-flagged tanker. On 19 October 1987, an attack was launched by four US guided-missile destroyers, the Young, Hoel, Kidd and Leftwich, against the Iranian oil platforms Result and Reshadat, owned and operated by the National Iranian Oil Company in the Persian Gulf. The Resalat and Reshadat platforms are located in the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone of the Islamic Republic. They form part of a larger series of oil installations involving more than 100 producing wells and platforms essential to the Iranian commercial oil industry. On 19 October 1987, a radio warning was issued by the US naval forces of the attack, with the information to personnel on the platform that firing would begin in 20 minutes. At 1400 hours, the US vessels began their attack using 5-inch guns, the largest naval artillery in the Persian Gulf at the time. The attack lasted for 90 minutes, and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition were used. As a result of the attack, one platform was completely obliterated, and the other was 90 per cent destroyed. This resulted in the complete stoppage of oil production from the underlying oilfields. In statements made after the incident, the United States justified the attack as a "lawful exercise of the right of self-defense", and as a "measured response'' to an alleged Iranian attack against the reflagged Kuwaiti tanker Sea Isle City said to have been launched from the Fao Peninsula along the northern stretches of the Persian Gulf.

In early 1988, the Gulf was a crowded theater of operations. At least ten Western navies and eight regional navies were patrolling the area, the site of weekly incidents in which merchant vessels were crippled. The Arab Ship Repair Yard in Bahrain and its counterpart in Dubayy, United Arab Emirates (UAE), were unable to keep up with the repairs needed by the ships damaged in these attacks.

It was during these operations that USS Vincennes (CG 49) shot down an Iranian commercial Airbus A300B2-202 airliner [Iran Air Flight 655] on 03 July 1988 after mistaking it for an Iranian F-14. The total of 290 dead civilian passengers, included 66 children. On 22 February 1996 the United States agreed to pay Iran $61.8 million in compensation ($300,000 per wage earning victim, $150,000 per non wage earner) for the 248 Iranians killed in the shootdown.




Operation Praying Mantis

On 14 April 1988, watchstanders aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) sighted three mines floating approximately one-half mile from the ship. Twenty minutes after the first sighting, as Samuel B. Roberts was backing clear of the minefleld, she struck a submerged mine nearly ripping the warship in half. Working feverishly for seven hours, the crew stabilized the ship. Samuel B. Roberts was sent back to the United States for repair.

Three days after the mine blast, forces of Joint Task Force Middle East executed the American response -- Operation PRAYING MANTIS. During a two-day period, the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force units of Joint Task Force Middle East destroyed two oil platforms being used by Iran to coordinate attacks on merchant shipping, sank or destroyed three Iranian warships and neutralized at least six Iranian speedboats.

Operating in conjunction with USS WAINWRIGHT (CG 28) and USS BAGLEY (FF 1069), USS SIMPSON (FFG-56) was assigned to the strike on the Iranian oil platform at Sirri, and shelled the platform. In response, the Iranian Navy missile patrol combatant JOSHAN approached the three U.S. ships. When JOSHAN was warned to stand clear, she responded by firing a Harpoon missile at the group. SIMPSON was the first ship to return fire, striking JOSHAN with the first of four successful missiles she fired that day. After JOSHAN was disabled by missile fire, she was sunk by gunfire. As a result of that action, SIMPSON and her crew were awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award and the Combat Action Ribbon, along with numerous personal awards received by individual crew members.

Blademaster
10 Dec 05,, 05:25
Well it seems clear to me that the Iranian navy wasn't much to begin with or boast about. It was downright pathetic.

Oil platforms are not naval ships by any stretch of imagination.

Officer of Engineers
10 Dec 05,, 05:32
Speedboats.

Blademaster
10 Dec 05,, 05:59
Speedboats.

A fleet of speedboats makes a navy?! Hahahahahaha!!!! I bet those naval officers and sailors aboard the USN ships were laughing themselves silly to death. Perhaps that's what the Iranians were trying to do, kill Americans by making them laugh to death.

Even speedboats with sea skimming missiles are not much of a threat. They just don't have the endurance or the strength to hold more than a couple missiles with a few hundred pounds of warhead and it takes more than a couple missiles to sink a boat like a frigate or a destroyer.

Even going up against USN ships that have no missiles or gun ammunitions, the USN ships will come out at any day because they can just sideswipe those boats and those boats will end up in splinters.

rickusn
10 Dec 05,, 07:26
Mines at sea are a losing strategy.

And especially for China whose economy is totally dependent on trade by sea.

I typed up a whole post refuting its usefulness as a winning strategy but it disappeared into Cyberland when I clicked the "submit reply " button.

It can be irritating and inconvenient to be sure but not a winner.

You people missed out on a great essay.

Blademaster :

I dont know what your point is.

I addressed your foolishness with an historical appraisal also.

But alas.

"I did a google search on Tanker War and I only found that US destroyed two Iranian ships. How can that effectively destroy an entire navy? Unless the entire navy consisted of two ships?"

IMHO your way out of line in your discussion with OOE. But then so were the rest of the posters who espoused mine warfare as something its not, cant be nad never will be.

Its like those lamenting the USN only having Harpoon anti-ship missles when the USSR/Russia and now other nations have have far,far more powerful long-range missles.

Its about targeting. Always has been and always will be. But about 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999% of the world doesnt get it.

My next conmments are but a few observations of a 1/2 dozen paragraphs in my original essay.

In WWII the USN "effectively destroyed" the Japanese in less than a year. And not by sinking all their ships. The IJN was a far more dangerous foe than Iran.

The Iranians knew they were "effectively destroyed" as their major units refused to come out and fight.

In fact even with what you consider minor losses(Even though there most modern vessels took the brunt of the losses. And no not speedboats.) the Iranians then and for nearly 20 years later have not asserted themselves again.

I dont know but I would say that it pretty much "destroyed" the Iranian navy.

There should be more study by most posters here and less talk.

I include myself even though I spend at least four hours everyday studying military(in particular naval) history.

But in any case you may want to read this. But personally I dont think many care much for objective history, practicality or reality. Only about spouting opinions based on nothingness.:

FAIR USE NOTICE
This post contains copyrighted material, which is reproduced under the Fair Use Provision of Title 17, U.S.C. Section 107, and is posted for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. This material is posted without profit for the benefit of those who, by accessing this post, are expressing a prior interest in this information for research and educational purposes.



Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute 66 (May 1989)
© 1989 United States Naval Institute
The Surface View: Operation Praying Mantis

By
Captain J. B. Perkins III, U.S. Navy

For the escorts of Battle Group Foxtrot, preparations for the 18 April 1988 Operation Praying Mantis began in the southern California operating area ten months earlier. From this first underway period as a unit, the Battle Group Commander, Rear Admiral Guy Zeller (Commander Cruiser Destroyer Group Three) had insisted on a rigorous set of exercises to prepare for the upcoming tour on station in the North Arabian Sea (NAS). Initially, the ships drilled hard at interpreting rules of engagement (ROE) and at devising means to counter small high-speed surface craft (e.g., Boghammers) and low, slow-flying aircraft-both of which abound in and around the Persian Gulf. We later added exercises stressing anti-Silkworm (an Iranian surface-to-surface missile) tactics, boarding and search, Sledgehammer (a procedure to vector attack aircraft to a surface threat), convoy escort procedures, naval gunfire support (NGFS), and mine detection and destruction exercises.

We practiced in every environment-in the Bering Sea during November, throughout our transit to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, and on station in the NAS. During the battle group evolution off Hawaii in January, we executed a 96-hour Persian Gulf scenario, with a three submarine threat overlaid. We conducted live, coordinated Harpoon missile firings in southern California and off Hawaii, dropped Rockeye, Skipper, and laser-guided bombs (LGBs) on high-speed targets off Point Mugu and Hawaii and drilled, drilled, drilled. By late March, each ship had completed dozens of these exercises, and we were considering easing the pace and working on ways to make the exercises more interesting, as the day approached when the Forrestal (CV-59) battle group would relieve us. Such philosophic discussions ended abruptly when the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) hit a mine on 14 April.

Four battle group ships en route to a port call in Mombasa were turned around, and the USS Joseph Strauss (DDG-16) and USS Bagley (FF-1069) raced north, refueled from the USS Wabash (AOR-5) and steamed through the Strait of Hormuz at more than 25 knots to join teammates, the USS Merrill (DD-976) and USS Lynde McCormick (DDG-8) . They, and their Middle East Force (MEF) counterparts, the USS Simpson (FFG-56), USS O'Brien (DD-975), USS Jack Williams (FFG-24), USS Wainwright (CG-28) , USS Gary (FFG-51), and USS Trenton (LPD-14) repositioned at high speed as the plan was developed. In the NAS, the USS Enterprise (CVN65) closed to within 120 nautical miles of the Strait of Hormuz. Her escorts, the USS Reasoner (FF-1063) and Trurtun (CGN-35), were stationed to counter the potential small combatant threat in the Strait, and the air threat from Chah Bahar.

Table 1 U.S. Naval Order of Battle

OTC: Commander Joint Task Force Middle East

(Embarked on the Coronado) Battle Group Commander:

ComCruDesGru Three (Embarked on the Enterprise)

SAG Bravo:

OSC: ComDesRon Nine (Embarked on the Merrill)

USS Merrill (1 SH-2F)

USS Lynde McCormick

USS Trenton (1 SH-60B)

MAGTF 2-88 (4 AH-IT, 2 UH-1, 2 CH-46)


SAG Charlie:

OSC: CO, USS Wainwright

USS Wainwright

USS Bagley (1 SH-2F)

USS Simpson (1 SH-60B, I UH-60)

SEAL Platoon


SAG Delta:

OSC: ComDesRon Twenty Two (Embarked on the Jack Williams)

USS Jack Williams (2 SH-2F)

USS O'Brien (2 SH-2F, I UH-60)

USS Joseph Strauss

CVW-11 CAP/SUCAP Support

On 16 April, I flew with Lieutenant Commander Mark "Micro" Cessnock -- my one-officer "battle micro staff"- from the Enterprise to Bahrain at the direction of Commander, Joint Task Force Middle East (CJTFME). Rear Admiral Anthony Less, to assist in planning and executing the response. We were joined on the flagship, the USS Coronado (AGF-Il), by the MEF Destroyer Squadron Commander and began working on the plan with the CJTFME staff and other players. The objectives were clear:


Sink the Iranian Saam-class frigate Sabulan or a suitable substitute.

Neutralize the surveillance posts on the Sassan and Sirri gas/oil separation platforms (GOSPs) and the Rahkish GOSP, if sinking a ship was not practicable.

There were also a number of caveats (avoid civilian casualties and collateral damage, limit adverse environmental effects) to ensure that this was in fact a "proportional response."


It was a long night, but by 0330 on 17 April we had developed a plan. We formed three surface action groups, each containing both battle group and MEF ships, that were to operate independently but still be mutually supportive. Surface Action Group (SAG) Bravo was assigned Sassan (and Rahkish), SAG Charlie, Siril, and SAG Delta, the Sabalan. The Gary was our free safety, a lone sentinel on the northern flank protecting the barges. Each SAG commander had an objective and a simple communications plan to direct our forces, to coordinate if required, and to report to CJFTME.


Both GOSPs were to be attacked in the same fashion: we would warn the occupants and give them five minutes to leave the platform, take out any remaining Iranians with naval gunfire, insert a raid force (Marine reconnaissance unit at Sassan/SEALs at Sirri) on the platform, plant demolition charges, and destroy the surveillance post. Colonel Bill Rakow, Commander of Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) 2-88, and I developed a plan to coordinate NGFS and Cobra landing zone preparatory fire and discussed criteria for committing the raid force, which included the possibilities of die-hard defenders, secondary explosions, and booby traps.


At first light, as SAG Bravo approached the Sassan GOSP, the Trenton began launching helos, including the LAMPS-Ill from the Samuel B. Roberts, which we used for surface surveillance. The GOSP appeared unalerted as we came into view from the southwest and turned to a northerly firing course -- our gun target line was limited by a United Arab Emirates oil field three nautical miles south of Sassan and a large hydrogen sulfide tank on the northern end of the GOSP. H-Hour was set at 0800; at 0755, we warned the Sassan GOSP inhabitants in Farsi and English.

"You have five minutes to abandon the platform; I intend to destroy it at 0800."

This transmission stimulated a good deal of interest and activity among a growing group of Iranians, milling about on the roof of the living quarters. Several men manned their 23-mm. gun and trained it on the Merrill about 5,000 yards away, but many more headed for the two tugs tied up alongside the platform. One tug left almost immediately, and the other departed with about 30 men on board soon afterward. The VHF radio blared a cacophony of English and Farsi as the GOSP occupants simultaneously reported to (screamed at) naval headquarters and pleaded with us for more time. At 0804, we told the inhabitants that their time was up and commenced firing at the gun emplacement. This was not a classic NGFS mission; I had decided on airbursts over the GOSP to pin down personnel and destroy command-and-control antennae, but to avoid holing potential helo landing surfaces.


At the first muzzle flash from the Merrill's 5-inch mount 51, the Iranian 23-mm. gun mount opened up, getting the attention of the ship's bridge and topside watchstanders. The Merrill immediately silenced the Iranian gun with a direct hit, and encountered no further opposition. After about 50 rounds had exploded over the southern half of the GOSP, a large crowd of converted martyrs gathered at the northern end. At this point, we checked fire and permitted a tug to return and pick up what appeared to be the rest of the Sassan GOSP occupants. Following this exodus, the Merrill and the Lynde McCormick alternated firing airbursts over the entire GOSP (less the hydrogen sulfide tank), and we watched the platform closely for any sign of activity but saw none. As this preparatory NGFS progressed, Colonel Rakow and I selected 0925 as the time to land his raid force. In a closely coordinated sequence, the ships checked fire, Cobra gunships delivered covering fire, and the UR-1 and CH-46 helos inserted the Marines via fast rope. It was a textbook assault, and I caught myself stopping to admire it. Despite some tense moments when Iranian ammunition stores cooked off, the platform was fully secured in about 30 minutes, and the demolition and intelligence-gathering teams flew to the GOSP. About two hours later, 1,500 pounds of plastic explosives were detonated by remote control, turning the GOSP into an inferno.


Meanwhile, the fog of war had closed in periodically. First, a United Arab Emirates patrol boat approached at high speed from the northwest. We evaluated it as a possible Boghammer-a popular classification that day. It could be engaged under the ROE, but we just identified it and asked it to remain clear. Later, we reconstituted SAG Bravo and headed north to attack Rahkish GOSP, for no ship had yet been located and sunk. A Cobra helo crew, our closest air asset, evaluated a 25-knot contact closing from the northeast as a warship. This quickly took shape as a "possible Iranian Saam FFG," and the Merrill made preparations to launch a Harpoon attack. We then asked for further descriptive information and ultimately for a bull number. The contact turned out to be a Soviet Sovremennyy-cIass DDG. The skipper, when asked his intention, replied with a heavy accent, "I vant to take peectures for heestory." We breathed easier. Shortly after that, SAG Bravo was instructed to proceed at full speed to the eastern Gulf, in response to Boghammer attacks in the Mubarek oil field. That ended our participation in the day's fireworks.


At the Sirri GOSP, the sequence of events began essentially the same way they did at Sassan. SAG Charlie gave warnings on time, most of the occupants departed on a tug, and the Wainwright, Bagley, and Simpson commenced fire about 0815. Sirri was an active oil-producing platform, however, and one of the initial rounds hit a compressed gas tank, setting the GOSP ablaze and incinerating the gun crew. Thus, it became unnecessary to insert the SEAL platoon.


With the primary mission accomplished, SAG Charlie patrolled the area. About three hours later, they detected the approach of an Iranian Kaman patrol boat, which the Bagley's LAMPS-I identified as the Joshan. As the patrol boat closed, the SAG commander repeatedly warned the Iranian that he was standing into danger and advised him to alter course and depart the area. When his direction was ignored, the U.S. commander requested and was granted "weapons free" by CJTFME. He then advised the

Joshan:

"Stop your engines and abandon ship; I intend to sink you."

After thinking this communication over, the Joshan 's CO apparently decided to go out firing and launched his only remaining Harpoon. The three SAG Charlie ships, now in a line abreast at 26,000 yards, and the Bagley's LAMPS simultaneously detected the launch and maneuvered and launched chaff. The Harpoon passed down the Wainwright's starboard side close aboard (the seeker may not have activated) and was answered by a volley of SM-1 missiles from the Simpson and the Wainwright. Four missiles fired; four hits. An additional SM-1 (a hit) and a Harpoon (a miss, probably resulting from the sinking Joshan's sudden lack of freeboard) were fired, and the patrol boat was eventually sunk with gunfire.

SAG Charlie had still more opportunities to modify the Iranian naval order of battle when an F-4 made a high-speed approach just prior to the sinking of the Joshan hulk (SAG Bravo also detected approaching F-4s, but those dove to the deck and departed as they reached SM-1 range). The Wainwright is SM-2 equipped. As the F-4 continued to close, ignoring warnings on both military and internal air defense circuits, the SAG Commander fired two missiles and hit the Iranian aircraft. Only the pilot's heroic efforts enabled the Iranians to recover the badly damaged aircraft at Bandar Abbas. At this point, SAG Charlie was through for the day, as well.

For SAG Delta, it had been a frustrating night and day of following up intelligence leads and electronic sniffs as they tried to locate the Sabalan. Various reports had held her in port or close to Bandar Abbas with engineering problems. The tempo picked up when the U.S. civilian tug Willy Tide and a U.S. oil platform were attacked by Iranian Boghammers near the Saleh and Mubarek oil fields. The Joseph Strauss provided initial vectors that assisted the A-6s in locating and destroying one of these high-speed craft and chasing the others onto the beach at Abu Musa Island. Following this successful tactical air engagement, an Iranian Saam-class frigate, the Sahand, was discovered proceeding southwest at high speed toward the Mubarek and Suleb fields, perhaps as part of a preplanned Iranian response to the GOSP attacks. Another CVW-11 A-6 detected her when it flew low for a visual identification. Pursued by antiaircraft fire, the A-6 evaded and reattacked with Harpoon, Skipper, and a laser-guided bomb. This brought the Sahand dead in the water as SAG Delta closed on the position at high speed. The Joseph Strauss conducted a coordinated Harpoon attack with the A-6's wingman, achieving near-simultaneous times on target in the first-ever coordinated Harpoon attack in combat.

Although this was the SAG's final participation in the day's attack on Iranian forces, their location in the crowded waters of the Strait of Hormuz-closest to the Bandar Abbas naval base and airfield-led to several tense moments. Reports of Iranian Silkworm antiship missile firings and the apparent presence of targeting aircraft caused the SAG to fire SM-1 missiles at suspected air contacts and in several other near engagements. Because of the concentrated effort of both Battle Group Foxtrot and SAG Delta assets--with special credit going to the E-2C and F-14 aircrews-however, there were no blue-on-blue or blue-on-white engagements. These results reflect an extraordinary degree of discipline on the part of ship and air crews, as well as a bit of good luck, in this area jammed with so many oil platforms, neutral naval and merchant ships, small craft, and civilian aircraft.

As the sun set on 18 April, all objectives of Operation Praying Mantis had been achieved. There were no civilian or U.S. casualties, and collateral damage was nil. The Iranian war effort had been struck a decisive and devastating blow. Tactics and procedures that had been honed over the previous nine months had been dramatically validated, but a number of lessons were (re)learned which should be reviewed by commanders in future "proportional responses" of this sort. They include:

KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Simple plans, with clear objectives and a minimum of interdependence and rudder orders from higher authority are most effective.

Force Integration: Pairing up disparate forces (e.g., at least one MEF and one battle group ship in each SAG; co-locating SAG and MAGTF commanders) is essential in a joint-or multiple task group-operation.

Surface Surveillance: Air assets, fixed wing and helos, are essential to force protection, targeting, and battle damage assessment. Visual identification is almost always required; especially in areas with high white and blue shipping densities.

"Proportional" responses: Classic contingency plans do not contain such options and should. The order to respond will leave little time to plan and collect intelligence.

Linguistic support: The Farsi linguist was indispensable; both in communicating with the Iranians and in gleaning intelligence from clear radio circuits.

GOSP destruction: This was not classic NGFS since the goal was to clear the platform, not destroy it. Their distinctive construction makes shooting off platform legs a non-starter and a waste of ammunition (we fired 208 rounds total at both Sassan and Sirti). Airbursts were effective for this mission but mechanical time fuse ammunition was in short supply.

Warnings: Warning an armed GOSP-or worse, a warship-prior to opening fire may register high on the humane scale, but it clearly ranks low in terms of relative tactical advantage. We should rethink this requirement.

Missile performance: SM-1 in the surface mode worked very well (five fired; five hits), which is better than my earlier experiences. With its high speed, it should be the weapon of choice in a line-of-sight engagement. Harpoon performance was good, and its use as a "stopper' '-even at relatively short range and in proximity of other shipping-was validated.

Fog of war: Karl von Clausewitz was right; it is always there. Commanding officers need to think through, talk through, and exercise in as many scenarios as possible with their watch teams. There is no cookbook solution to the problem of deciding when to shoot and when to take one more look first.

Most of us believe in the deterrent value of sea power and hope that by such strength we will successfully avoid conflict. Should deterrence fail, however, and hostilities occur, each of us wants to be there to act swiftly and decisively. Such was the opportunity presented to the ships and aircraft of Battle Group Foxtrot and the Middle East Force on 18 April 1988, and their crews did themselves, and all Americans, proud.

Swift Sword
10 Dec 05,, 14:08
A fleet of speedboats makes a navy?! Hahahahahaha!!!! I bet those naval officers and sailors aboard the USN ships were laughing themselves silly to death. Perhaps that's what the Iranians were trying to do, kill Americans by making them laugh to death.

Then a few Americans must have laughed themselves right into the grave when something even less than a speedboat attacked the U.S.S. Cole.


Even speedboats with sea skimming missiles are not much of a threat. They just don't have the endurance or the strength to hold more than a couple missiles with a few hundred pounds of warhead and it takes more than a couple missiles to sink a boat like a frigate or a destroyer.

Actually, just one will do the job quite nicely. I submit the H.M.S. Sheffield and the Atlantic Conveyor as adequate proof.


Even going up against USN ships that have no missiles or gun ammunitions, the USN ships will come out at any day because they can just sideswipe those boats and those boats will end up in splinters.

Attempting to sideswipe a small craft with armed with a few missles, mines or other significant ordnance aboard strikes me as potentially unhealthy.

Swift Sword
10 Dec 05,, 14:22
Speedboats.

Yup.

For those wanting more information, here is a pretty good article:

http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/jfq_pubs/0629.pdf

Swift Sword
10 Dec 05,, 14:42
There should be more study by most posters here and less talk.

I include myself even though I spend at least four hours everyday studying military(in particular naval) history.

But in any case you may want to read this. But personally I dont think many care much for objective history, practicality or reality. Only about spouting opinions based on nothingness.

I suspect that there are two types of people here: those who underrate the threat and those who overrate it. It might be that I am indeed in the latter camp as Officer of Engineers feels.

As for opinons based on nothingness, the following is one of the pieces on the subject which I have been studying. In your learned opinion, does it pass muster or is the guy just a crack smoking alarmist?



Text from:

http://www.ndu.edu/inss/books/Books_2002/Globalization_and_Maritime_Power_Dec_02/21_ch20.htm

[QUOTE] In a conventional military sense, globalization has been with us for many decades. The era of an abundant and seemingly unlimited supply of military weapons—fanned by the subsidies of the Cold War—has made it possible for just about every military and paramilitary force to have access to everything short of nuclear ballistic weapons (and that gap may soon be closing as well). The irony is that while many would argue that the economic effects of globalization have bifurcated the world more precisely into haves and have-nots, just the opposite is true in regard to the globalization of conventional weapons. From the grenade launcher to the shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile, the process of globalization has, in some ways, facilitated a democratization of conventional forces. Now every military has some degree of access to technology that can support a slice of the modern technological forms of warfare. But despite such a spectrum of death available to the highest bidder, the most democratic of these weapons is also the least technologically advanced: the mine.

Whether on land or at sea, the mine now constitutes the true everyman weapon whose very universality serves as a reminder of the progress of modern life. If globalization means the ability for consumers and producers to create a world where everyone has access to all the world’s products (if not necessarily the ability to purchase them), then the very proliferation of mines to arsenals throughout the world—including those of nonstate actors—means that we are all more or less equal. At least, we are all more or less vulnerable on a scale not witnessed before.

This means that most average citizens in the Third World are threatened to some degree (some much more than others, such as in Afghanistan or Cambodia or parts of Africa) every day by landmines. It also means that every navy, along with commercial shipping, is threatened to some degree by the sea mine, even when operating in neutral waters or offshore the most technologically unadvanced of nations. The annual report issued by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, founded by Nobel laureate Jody Williams, lists 76 countries where mine clearance is occurring, excluding the countries that might have them in their territories but are unable to exorcise them.1

Although landmines can be (relatively) technologically advanced either with plastic casings that make locating and thus neutralizing them almost impossible or with computer chip sensors that can discriminate between the most similar of targets (or both), the sad truth is that landmines do not have to be that sophisticated to be effective. Rather, the sheer number of mines, the impenetrability of the medium (soil), and the lack of technologically advanced methods for clearance make them just as effective when employing World War I technology as when they contain 21st-century technologies. In fact, the United States still clears landmines basically the same way that the Armed Forces did during World War II: through either brute force or one at a time by single soldiers armed with magnetometers. The new technologies of ground-penetrating radar, chemical analysis, and sonar mapping all have been confounded by the imperviousness of the soil to give up what it considers its own secrets willingly. Thus, the mine-clearer, whether Afghani, Egyptian, Cambodian, or American, usually moves inch by inch in a painstaking advance of modern blind man’s bluff.

Yet to this point, we have been addressing the effects that the availability of landmines has on the civilian populations of the world. Although problematic in a very serious way to these people—if only because of the humanitarian element of the argument—landmines nevertheless do not necessarily pose insurmountable problems to most modern armies of the world because of the air mobility that these armies possess, especially the armies of the United States and Western Europe. Landmines instead tend to restrict the movements of ground-based forces that one tends to find almost exclusively in the Third World. Afghanistan provides the perfect current example of the efficacy of the landmine when opposing unsophisticated armies, hence the universal appeal of landmines as defensive weapons to these kinds of land forces.

But it is the sea mine that still presents the greatest impediment to modern military forces. To understand this modern threat, a cursory overview of the development of the sea mine as a viable weapon is necessary.
Anatomy of a Weapon

Although the modern sea mine bears little resemblance to its 19th-century antecedent in terms of technical sophistication, the original definition given to what then were called torpedoes still holds true: an unattended underwater explosive. Antiship devices of one sort or another have been used since Grecian times with a fairly consistent failure rate. The primary problem that plagued the early proponents of mine warfare was the design of a firing system that would fire at the most opportune moment—preferably when an enemy ship was within striking distance and not when the mine was being planted.

It was not until the 19th century that the first practical firing mechanism for an underwater explosive device was developed.2 Essentially, the device consisted of a glass tube that contained sulfuric acid in a mixture of sugar and potassium chlorate powder. It, in turn, was protected in a sheath of lead. When something large, such as a ship, ran into the explosive container, the glass tube broke and the chemicals reacted exothermically with one another, causing the explosive to detonate. In addition, the mines were anchored in a stationary location in order to wait passively for targets to move toward them. This concept of passive operational deployment was to remain the norm until the development of active target-seeking mines in the 1960s. However, many of the mines still stockpiled by Third World nations remain based on this principle.

Many of the early mines were extremely unreliable because of their primitive firing systems and unpredictable explosives (gun cotton and black powder). Furthermore, when deployed in sal****er, they corroded easily and quickly became totally ineffective. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that such engineering problems would be sufficiently solved so that mines could be used extensively and contribute strategically to the outcome of a war.

The Hague Conference was convened in 1907 as the first attempt to negotiate viable restrictions upon the employment of mine warfare by belligerent nations. Essentially, four basic points were agreed upon: it was forbidden to lay drifting mines unless “they are so constructed as to become harmless one hour at most after those who have laid them have lost control over them”; it was forbidden to lay “automatic contact mines which do not become harmless as soon as they have broken loose from their moorings”; it was forbidden to lay automatic contact mines off the coasts and ports of the enemy with the sole purpose of intercepting commercial navigation; and every possible precaution must be used to ensure safe navigation to nonbelligerents when moored minefields are employed. That these agreements were largely unenforceable and (from a military standpoint) essentially impractical if mining was to offer any tactical or strategic advantage is borne out by the actions of the belligerents during World War I when they were largely ignored. The Hague agreements were scheduled for renewal in 1914, but the war prevented it, and consequently the stipulations of the original 1907 Hague Convention were never updated or amended. It remains, for all practical purposes, the basic international agreement on mine warfare in force today.

World War I witnessed the first extensive use of sea mines as a major weapon in a total war as the allies and central powers used mines in tactical situations up through 1918. The most significant employment of mines was the result of the inability of the United States and Britain to counter the German U-boat threat with conventional surface actions. Consequently, the two allies embarked on what has come to be termed the North Sea Barrage in which over 72,000 mines were laid between the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland to the northern coast of Norway. According to several sources, the effects of the barrage ranged from negligible to questionable, due to the extent of the area coverage (over 250 nautical miles), the depth of the water, and the unreliability of the mines.3 However, despite its minimal success, it was becoming increasingly apparent to military planners throughout the world that “the mine would make the difference if [it was] properly designed, properly reliable, and properly supplemented by other forces.”4

World War II ushered in the modern age of mines through the development of the bottom influence mine. The significance was twofold. First, the underwater mine no longer required a heavy anchor in order to be moored within the path of a ship. Instead, the new influence mines could detect ship presence as they lay on the sea bottom, detonating at the precise opportune moment of the ship’s passage. With this development, the mine could now be delivered by airplane against an enemy’s protected harbors, giving the mine an offensive potential for the first time. Secondly, the coverage of a minefield was dramatically increased since a ship no longer was required to run into an influence mine. In other words, fewer mines could threaten a much larger area.

This combination was not lost on U.S. Navy planners who formulated a massive offensive mining campaign, code-named Operation Starvation, against the Japanese homeland from March 27, 1945, until the first of August of the same year. Over 12,000 mines were laid, primarily by airplane but supplemented by submarine. By the war’s end, the operation was successful in cutting the total imports of the Japanese by 97 percent. It has been debated whether the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been necessary if Operation Starvation had begun 6 months earlier.5

Just as World War II demonstrated the offensive potential of mine warfare, the Korean War reaffirmed the mine’s defensive possibilities, especially when used by a qualitatively inferior force to stop a technically superior one. Specifically, North Korea effectively prevented the U.S. Army from landing at Wonson Harbor in October 1950 primarily through the use of Russian MKB mines, one of the world’s most unsophisticated moored mines.6 Approximately 3,000 of these mines were laid by sampan and junk in combination with a few bottom influence mines. Despite the relative crudeness of the operation, the North Koreans were able to sink four U.S. minesweepers, damage several destroyers, and—more importantly from a strategic aspect—delay the landing of U.S. troops by a full week at a critical juncture of the war.7

The modern underwater mine has evolved from the crude and (by today’s standards) largely ineffective influence mine employed near the end of World War II to a highly sophisticated, computerized weapon that in some cases can seek and destroy targets autonomously. The electronic arming and fuzing devices that have been incorporated into today’s mines allow them to be extremely sensitive in the target acquisition phase yet impervious to incidental background influences. They are also highly selective and accurate in target discrimination capabilities and rugged enough to withstand tremendous depth pressures for extended periods of time. In addition, simultaneous improvements in explosive blast/weight ratios, as well as the recent advances in the miniaturization of electronic circuitries, have made mines smaller and hence easier to deploy. As a result, a few mines can be used with strategic effect when employed in low-intensity conflicts in which the objectives are primarily disruption of seaborne supply channels in and out of principal ports. Additionally, the ease of concealment and deployment has facilitated their attractiveness as a preemptive weapon prior to the beginning of conventional hostilities.

The actual assessment of mine effectiveness is a fairly arcane process that attempts to quantify a statistical probability of kill against certain types of shipping based on such factors as minefield density, damage criteria, and parameters of ship traffic. Strictly counting the number of ships sunk by mines has never been considered an accurate method of determining a particular minefield’s utility. For example, during World War II, the United States aerially planted mines in the mouth of Palau atoll in the Pacific. Due to their disinclination to move through the minefield, the Japanese elected to keep their fleet of 32 ships in the harbor where they became sitting ducks for American torpedo planes and bombers, which were able to sink every ship the very next day.8 Consequently, minefield planners frequently argue what a minefield could have accomplished rather than what the actual results were. It is necessary to keep in mind, therefore, the ability of a minefield to deny access to or out of a particular geographic area (a capability admittedly not easily measured but rather inferred) as opposed to a numerical accounting of mine to ships sunk ratio.
Modern Use of Sea Mines

Mines today can be roughly classified into four major categories: moored contact mines (World War I technology); bottom influence mines (with significant improvements on what was introduced during World War II); moored influence mines (post-World War II antisubmarine weapons); and moored influence target-seeking mines. This last category is considered to be the most significant development in mine technology since the advent of influence mines at the beginning of World War II.

Moored contact mines still in service today have not radically altered in design since World War I. They consist basically of two types: the chemical-horn design previously described and the galvanic antenna mine, a device suspending a copper wire several feet above a chemical-horn mine by means of a float. The contact of a ship’s steel hull with the copper wire in sal****er produces an electrical current that subsequently fires the mine. Using this procedure, the target range of the contact mine was increased threefold. Most moored mines are difficult to deploy because of size (a large air cavity must be contained in the mine body) and because of their weight (a heavy anchor and steel cable are necessary for mooring). Consequently, only surface ships and a few specially configured submarines operating on the surface are suitable for planting these mines. A minefield containing only moored contact mines, for all intents and purposes, has to be planted overtly in one’s own waters as a defensive barrier against enemy combatants rather than in enemy-controlled harbors and chokepoints.9

The bottom influence mine, by eliminating the requirement for an air cavity in the mine as well as an anchor, significantly reduces mine size and weight. As a result, influence mines are now configured for aircraft and submarine deployment into hostile environments. The early influence mines were strictly magnetically actuated, firing only when the magnetic field of a ship was detected by a sensor inside the mine. These mines were unreliable and frequently fired either before or after the ship was overhead, thus causing minimal or no damage to the intended target. Today, however, bottom influence mines are not only much more reliable but also use two other kinds of influence signals to fire: an acoustic signal and pressure signal. Mines can now be set to detect a variety of ship signals before firing, which increases both the mine’s reliability and discrimination capabilities. In the more sophisticated bottom influence mines, microcircuit computer technology has been incorporated into sensing and firing systems with the result that they can be set to fire against a much more specific range of targets. In fact, it is now theoretically possible to adjust the sensitivity setting of a programmable mine to the point where the mine will fire only on certain classes of ships.10 However, such exclusive targeting is usually not considered to be an effective use of mine capabilities since this fine-tuning overly restricts the range of available targets that the minefield can attack.

Mine technology has also developed various counter-countermeasure devices that have made bottom influence mines more resistant to sweeping and other countermeasure techniques. These include delay-arming devices that allow the minefield to remain dormant until such time as it is required to become active; ship counters that allow the mines to fire only after a prescribed number of ships has transited the area; probability actuator circuits that randomly turn mine circuitry on and off; and nonferrous mine casings and anechoic mine coatings that reduce the sonar reflection of the mine and, consequently, increase the difficulty of minehunting.

During and immediately following World War II, the nominal target range of bottom influence mines was sufficient to be effective against surface ships as well as submarines operating in shallow water. The physics of underwater explosions basically restricts the effectiveness of bottom mines against surface targets to a maximum depth of 200 feet because the air bubble that the explosive creates—the primary destructive element of the mine against ships—dissipates to such a degree after 200 feet that it no longer contains sufficient force to effect consistent damage beyond that range. This does not usually pose insurmountable problems when the intended target areas include harbors, channels, and amphibious landing beaches—normally areas close enough to shore that the depths would not be greater than 200 feet.

Improvements in the design of modern submarines, however, significantly altered the necessary depth capabilities of the mine. Initially, the moored influence mine was designed specifically to counter the deep-water submarine threat. These mines, however, proved to be ineffective at depths near the continental shelf (600 feet) and practically useless when used in deeper waters—the prime operating area of the modern submarine—because of the relatively small target width provided by their stationary explosive charge.11 Nevertheless, they are still in the inventory of the U.S. Navy, despite efforts since 1960 to develop a replacement. The Russian Navy also has retained a shallow water moored influence mine in their inventory whose principal utility seems to be for export rather than for Russian operational use.

Consequently, the problem was to develop a mine that, while planted in the operating depths of the submarine, would be effective against an area large enough to require relatively few mines. Thus the requirement for the prohibitive number of mines that would have to be planted to pose a serious threat to the submarine in forward operating areas would be eliminated. Ironically, the answer was arrived at more or less simultaneously by both Soviet and American mine engineers in the late 1960s: marry the concept of the mine and the torpedo into an independently deployable package that, once the mine has detected an appropriate target, would automatically launch and destroy it. The result was the moored influence, target-seeking mine.

These mines (presently in both U.S. and Russian inventories) have basically taken the advanced arming and firing technology of the most sophisticated influence mines and incorporated it into available torpedo and rocket hardware so that, in essence, the new mines are unmanned torpedo platforms that deploy in the deep operating depths of the modern submarine. When the mine senses an enemy submarine within a target detection range of several hundred yards, it will fire its single torpedo or rocket toward the target.

Mines have been used extensively since the Korean War by a growing number of nations. Known mining incidents have occurred in:

* Long Tau Channel in 1965 (North Vietnam)
* Suez Canal and the Straits of Aqaba in 1967 (Egypt)
* Straits of Gubal and Chittagona, Bangladesh, in 1971 (India)
* Haiphong Harbor in 1972 (United States)
* Tripoli, Benghazi, and Bomba in 1973 (Egypt and Libya)
* Khowr-E-Musa, Iraq, in 1982 (Iran)
* Corinta, Nicaragua, in 1983–1984 (Nicaraguan contras with U.S. support)12
* Approaches to the Suez Canal in the Red Sea in 1984 (suspected to have been Libya).

Today, there is obviously no longer a monopoly by the wealthy industrialized nations on mine warfare since mines have become increasingly available to the Third World. The technology of today’s mines makes them ideally suited to low-intensity conflicts when the strategic objective becomes a cut-off of sea transported supplies rather than naval confrontation. Until the Persian Gulf War, however, deploying mines remained only within the purview of the major nations. That all changed in 1990.

A simple World War I design (patterned after the Imperial Russian MKB moored mine), the LUGM 140, an indigenous mine manufactured by Iraq, was deployed in late 1990 as a floating mine throughout the Arabian Gulf. Although specifically in violation of the 1907 Hague Treaty, which prohibited such “floaters,” the mines complicated the maneuver capabilities of the naval armada positioned in the Gulf prior to and during the outbreak of hostilities. Additionally, and probably more importantly, the mines helped to stall the world’s greatest Navy in its tracks in February 1991 off the shore of Kuwait because of the inability of the U.S. Navy, and anyone else for that matter, to sweep the sea lanes effectively prior to an amphibious invasion. The LUGM presence, as well as the presence of the more sophisticated Swedish manufactured Mantas (a magnetically activated mine that caused the damage to USS Tripoli and USS Princeton during the Gulf War), was a prime consideration of war planners designing options for landing marines ashore near Kuwait City. During that war, with no credible countermine capability, the U.S. Navy actually experimented, midwar, with individual swimmers armed with snorkels and facemasks merely to try to create an ad hoc minimalist capability that might ascertain the presence or nonpresence of mines in the assault lanes. Most of this effort was expended for a mine essentially based on a pre-World War I design.

For purposes of our argument on the globalization and subsequent proliferation of the mining capability, not only are the sea mines a threat from a traditional government organization, such as the Iraqi military, but, similar to their land mine brethren, they also can be employed effectively by paramilitary forces as well. Our own Central Intelligence Agency proved the point during the mid-1980s when it mined some ports off the coast of Nicaragua during the contra conflicts. Using a 55-gallon drum filled with explosives and fuzing devices, these homemade mines were intended to disrupt military supplies and commercial activities supplying the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega.

The capabilities of a modern armed force to countermine these sea mines in a timely manner has not significantly improved. Still without verified methodologies within the shallow water zone, the principle stumbling block to Gulf War access from the sea, the U.S. Navy and by extension the remainder of the world, is still vulnerable to the strategically laid sea mine. The question then could be whether globalization has been the culprit. One could easily say that economies of scale and simplicity of design came long before the weapons supermarket became a fact of life. Certainly, the global nature today of weapons availability made them all the easier to obtain but not necessarily easier to clear. Therein lies the Faustian bargain. Something that is cheap, easy to deploy, and thwarts the most powerful adversary through sheer numbers and simplicity becomes the hardest to counteract.
Problems of Countermeasures

As indicated earlier, there are technical countermeasures to mines, and the U.S. Navy continues to pursue both organic and mission-dedicated solutions. No problem is insolvable as long as one is willing to pay the cost to solve it. As chapter 17 notes, submarines may be the optimal platform to hunt mines at the outer edges of the littoral regions and possible in chokepoints and sea lines of communication. But the author of that chapter does not go so far as to advocate building specialized minehunting submarines; other missions appear to be a greater priority.

The U.S. Navy and many allied and friendly navies do have dedicated surface minehunters and minesweepers, but it is obvious to anyone who has studied American naval force structure that mine countermeasures still are not a priority to our fleet. Otherwise, countermine forces would not be as starved for resources as they have traditionally been. The programs that are funded, such as the Galveston-based countermine squadron, helicopter squadrons, and explosive ordnance disposal programs (such as marine mammals) are a miniscule part of the overall Navy budget, well below 5 percent—even with generous amounts of service overhead added in.

This situation is understandable. During the Cold War, minehunting and minesweeping were the primary responsibilities of the smaller North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) navies. The expected threat was a Soviet minelaying campaign directed against Western European ports in order to prevent military reinforcements from being transported across the Atlantic from the United States and Canada. It was natural enough to expect the nations to whom the ports belonged, such as the Dutch, Belgians, Germans, Norwegians, and Danes, to be responsible for neutralizing the mine threats to their own ports. More importantly, these nations could not afford to build their own large oceangoing warships in great numbers. Under the logic of scarce resources and comparative advantage, it made sense for many of the smaller NATO navies to put much or the majority of their resources into mine countermeasures, while the United States put most or almost all of its resources into globally deployable combatants. Since it is impossible to mine deep water effectively, the sea mine threat would not affect U.S. and Canadian forces until they were in the littoral regions where the smaller NATO navies could sweep channels and escort them.

However, with the end of the Cold War, this supposedly easy solution lost its rationale. If a war with Russia was so unlikely, protecting the European ports was no longer a focus of mine countermeasures. A part of the NATO capability atrophied; there were now more important priorities than naval spending. But even more critical, the local mine countermeasure capabilities could not be swiftly deployed to regions in which conflict was now expected. At a transit speed of 10 knots or less (less than half of that of a globally capable surface combatant or aircraft carrier), NATO mine countermeasures ships coming from Western European ports and their U.S. equivalents coming from across the Atlantic for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm were not timely enough or in sufficient numbers to have much of an impact on the mine threat until the Gulf War was over. The United States has kept two mine countermeasures ships homeported (or, technically, permanently forward deployed) to the Arabian Gulf region, rotating their crews from the United States by air. But two ships, supplemented by the faster arriving helicopter squadrons, could hardly make a dent against a prepared (albeit poorly coordinated) Iraqi mine campaign. As noted in chapter 19, the mines were already in place before coalition navies arrived in numbers, and, more importantly, before they were allowed to fire at the Iraqi minelayers—hence, the damage to USS Tripoli and USS Princeton.

As indicated, an even more difficult threat than the mines lurking on the littoral edge (after all, oceangoing warships could avoid them by staying clear and using long-range weapons to attack Iraqi forces) were the mines planted in the near-shore littoral and surf zone against which there was little the coalition could do at minimal risk. Certainly countermine swimmers could have been sacrificed in large numbers (assuming large numbers could be quickly trained); countermine vessels could have been exposed to greater, almost-certain chance of destruction; even the old, sardonic suggestion of filling empty merchant vessels with ping-pong balls and driving them through the minefields to set off the mines could have been tried (although with little success against the more sophisticated bottom mines). But none of these would have been particularly effective, even if the losses were acceptable. In the American style of war, few potential opponents are worth a damn-the-torpedoes amphibious assault when long-range air strikes could provide gradual attrition.

All of this would seem a wakeup call for a global Navy focused on littoral operations. Indeed, there has been a renewed interest in countermine programs. But a technological silver bullet has not arrived. As chapter 17 discusses, even relatively shallow water has remained remarkably opaque. So, if a degree of certainty against the littoral mine threat is desired, the issue becomes one of how many resources (for instance, in terms of aircraft or countermeasure ships) should be devoted to the problem. Currently the U.S. Navy has elected to focus on organic minehunting capabilities from existing oceangoing platforms. While this can afford more protection to a deep-water fleet, it can provide little to solve the antiamphibious assault mines in the surf zone.
Unilateral Solutions

If the sea mine threat is as difficult a threat as presented above—and continues to be proliferated during this era of globalization—it seems logical that the United States should devote considerable thought and resources to solving the mine problem. This is not simply a naval issue; it is a joint military issue, since most ground force combat vehicles and Army and Air Force sustainment logistics must travel by sea in any power projection scenario. There are at least three potential unilateral methods toward a near-term solution to the mine threat: a declaratory policy of preemption; a substantial increase in minehunting/clearing research and development; and a substantial increase in mine countermeasure forces and capabilities.

Preemption. In terms of operational effectiveness, the best way to prevent the use of sea mines in an antiaccess/area denial strategy against U.S. maritime forces would be to prevent the mines from ever being laid. Of course, since sea mines must be laid largely before the commencement of hostilities in order to be effective, destroying minelayers would require a preemptive or prehostilities strike. This is a policy that has been advocated by individual senior naval officers (as evident from chapter 17), but not one with which political leaders have been comfortable. Unless U.S. and/or allied decisionmakers were convinced that war with a state (or nonstate actor) was inevitable, it is unlikely that they would order a preemptive strike on ships or aircraft involved in minelaying. But they might be more inclined to do so if there was an existing declaratory policy that the United States would automatically take such action. Arguably, this is in consonance with the Bush administration’s recently released National Security Strategy.

There are certainly precedents in international law that could be used to justify a preemptive attack on any vessel or aircraft laying mines in international water. As noted in chapter 18, the existing International Law of the Sea would appear to mandate action in these circumstances. Since almost any type of watercraft can lay mines, it may be difficult to gather intelligence in a timely enough fashion to prevent actual emplacement. However, a declaratory policy that includes a defined, assured response against the state or nonstate organization perpetrating the mining may have a deterrent effect. Mine laying in international waters could be perceived in the same manner as piracy—that any state aware of such action is empowered to act against the perpetrator. This would appear in consonance with the Hague Conference of 1907.

Such a policy would have little effect on mine laying as part of emplacing antiaccess defense within a state’s own territorial waters, making it ineffectual against the rationale of globalized mine proliferation. It would require a multilateral agreement banning sea mines to justify the violation of sovereignty needed to stop coastal mine seeding.

Increase in Research and Development. As noted in chapter 17, detection of any object under the sea is a difficult art. But there is a significant difference between submarines and sea mines: mines do not (or are not supposed to) move. Thus, there is always the potential that substantial increase in minehunting/clearing research and development—particularly research and development involving space-based means of detection—might have considerable effect in blunting the mine threat. There have been experiments using space-based systems, but the amount spent on such research is miniscule in comparison to more favored defense programs. Part of the reason is that counter-sea mine efforts are seen as exclusively a naval problem, to be funded solely within the resources allocated to the Department of the Navy. But as pointed out earlier, sea mines are in effect a joint problem. Arguably, sea mines are actually less of a problem for the Navy in its sea control and land attack roles than they are for the power projection of the Army (and, ultimately, expeditionary air forces). They could be a substantial problem for amphibious forces and the U.S. Marine Corps; however, vertical assault by air from amphibious ships just outside of coastal waters may neutralize the mine threat for the light, self-sustaining Marine forces. All of this points to the need for a joint program, funded in a manner such as ballistic missile defense to ensure the level of resourcing that could spur significant technical advances. Advanced mine countermeasures might be a fruitful area for Department of Defense experimentation and transformation.

Increase in Countermeasure Forces. If sea mines are indeed the number one global antiaccess threat, then a substantial increase in mine countermeasure forces and capabilities would seem to be the logical counter. Currently, the U.S. Navy has avoided that route, opting for organic minehunting capabilities that improve protection for the oceangoing fleet but do relatively little to improve the coastal clearance necessary for amphibious landings or port debarkation.

The relative neglect of mine forces has become something of a tradition for all the reasons discussed earlier—as a lesson learned that has to be continuously relearned. As soon as it is relearned, it seems forgotten. The primary official study of the naval aspects of the Korean War optimistically noted, “There was one residual result of the mine war in Korea. It was to make mine warfare a more dependable career specialty in the United States Navy.”13 That statement was probably true for a few years in the 1950s, but it is not a true statement today.

In organizational politics, mine warfare is considered but a subset of expeditionary warfare, which is but a subset (if that) of surface warfare. Rarely does it have a strong advocate within the surface community (whose personnel crew the mine countermeasures ships). In aviation, it is a subset of the helicopter community, which is itself somewhat of a second-class (possibly third-class) branch of the fighter/strike-focused world of naval air. The community on which the mine clearing responsibility inevitably (and perhaps naturally) devolves is the explosive ordnance disposal specialty—a warfare community that has no flag officer billets. All of this adds to a lack of a powerful advocate for mine warfare in the competition for limited defense resources. This neglect makes little sense if sea mines are to be a significant antiaccess threat in the future and argues for more dedicated resources (in both personnel and platforms) for the mission.
Multilateral/Global Solutions

Globalization is about the interconnectedness of human society, with reduced hazard to freedom of trade or movement. Mine warfare is all about disconnecting and hazarding. In the same spirit of the international campaign to ban landmines, it would seem logical that multilateral or global steps could be taken to eliminate the proliferation of sea mines. Three potential global solutions would be an arms control regime to stop the proliferation of sea mines; an outright ban on the production and use of sea mines; and a commitment by the United Nations to take immediate sanctions or police action toward any state or nonstate actor emplacing sea mines in any part of the ocean or littoral.14

The second option—a ban on the production, trafficking, and use of sea mines—would most closely resemble the efforts of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. However, gaining public interest for such a campaign against sea mines would likely be much more difficult. Although civilian deaths on land as well as sea may have resulted from sea mines—consider Operation Starvation of World War II—there are simply not enough graphic public images such as paraplegic men and women or injured children to stir a strong sense of outrage. Sea mines are not the same sort of media exploitable threat to everyday activity as landmines—particularly in the most unfortunate, war-wracked Third World countries. It is difficult to portray the destructive effects of sea mines on the global economy.

Critics would claim that banning sea mines would be of disproportionate advantage to the U.S. Navy as the world’s last global navy. But that argument could easily be applicable to landmines, which are not needed to defend American territory and whose removal would be of advantage to U.S. power projection forces on land. If the security of the positive benefits of globalization is enhanced by today’s de facto global Navy, then there seems to be no good reason for a global proliferation of sea mines.

The other global solutions do not currently possess much support from proponents of arms control or international organization, but they are not any more difficult to achieve than the host of arms control, disarmament, or confidence building measures currently on the intellectual agenda. (The first option would be an attempt to complete the existing Hague Conference.) Inclusion of a complete ban on sea mines in the existing law of the sea might gain international support, particularly if encouraged by those states most capable of producing advanced mines, such as the United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom, and Italy. Sea mines have been particularly destructive in civil wars in coastal states, such as Sri Lanka, so it is quite possible that lesser developed states might be encouraged to join such an agreement. The issues of adherence, verification, and enforcement of controls on sea mines would be no more challenging than those of any other arms control regime.
Conclusion

The sea mine—perhaps the lowest tech of antiaccess weaponry—has become one of the world’s most proliferated weapons (small arms being the most proliferated). Sea mines are also a threat that has not received the attention or resources that is their due. The globalization process would benefit if a stabilizing power, such as the United States, maintained the resources to deal with this threat on a global basis. Doing so is also of obvious tactical benefit to the U.S. Navy and America’s joint armed forces. But increased resources alone would not result in a significant improvement unless there is a corresponding change in the cultural attitude of the joint forces that currently relegates the countermine mission to a relatively low priority. Part of this attitude is left over from the Cold War days in which mine countermeasures was a mission assigned to the smaller NATO allies. But the Cold War is over.

Moving beyond unilateral solutions toward a global regime to eliminate sea mines would be of even greater benefit in the long run. Whether a nongovernmental campaign such as that against landmines can be sparked seems to hinge on the degree to which individuals will come to recognize how much the beneficial activities of globalization are directly or indirectly dependent on the sea.[QUOTE]

Blademaster
10 Dec 05,, 20:35
RickUSN,

Take it easy. OOE and I go way way long back. We are used to each other by now.

I am sorry if I offended your sensibilities but I was not the one who brought up mine warfare. Someone else did. I am not an expert of naval warfare nor I claim to be although sometimes I feel strongly about a position but I am always willing to be educated.

With the Iranian navy in context, I always thought that sinking or disabling ships was the main criteria of how you stop or destroy a navy. It never occurred to me that making the enemy ships stay in port and too afraid to come out and fight would be effectively the same thing as sinking a couple ships.

As for targetting, you got no argument from me and I didn't bring it up. However do keep one thing in mind. Those missiles from Russia and elsewhere have one distinct advantage over Harpoon and that is, range. So if a navy with adequate or better targeting capabilities were to get ahold of these missiles, the USN is in for a world of hurt. However USN is lucky that no other navy has the required targetting capabilities to put the range advantage to good use.

Blademaster
10 Dec 05,, 20:41
Then a few Americans must have laughed themselves right into the grave when something even less than a speedboat attacked the U.S.S. Cole.


And it didn't sink the ship even with all the thousands pounds of explosive ordnance. WHat makes you think that a bomb with a few hundred pounds of explosives compared to that boat that put a hole in the Cole can do to a ship? A whole lot less damage. And not to mention that the Cole was still in fighting shape. It could continue combat operations if needed be.



Actually, just one will do the job quite nicely. I submit the H.M.S. Sheffield and the Atlantic Conveyor as adequate proof.
THose ships were made of aluminum and when a fire starts, you can kiss your ass good bye in those deathtraps of tubs.




Attempting to sideswipe a small craft with armed with a few missles, mines or
other significant ordnance aboard strikes me as potentially unhealthy.

Agreed but it was just hyperbole. What I am saying is that a fleet of speedboats is going to do diddly squat against a properly designed warship even a WWII destroyer. Adding missiles to a speedboat does not make it a good fighting warship. Unless you really design a speedboat with all the qualities of a war fighting ship, yeah it can be effective if used properly and ingeniously.

Swift Sword
11 Dec 05,, 13:48
And it didn't sink the ship even with all the thousands pounds of explosive ordnance. WHat makes you think that a bomb with a few hundred pounds of explosives compared to that boat that put a hole in the Cole can do to a ship? A whole lot less damage. And not to mention that the Cole was still in fighting shape. It could continue combat operations if needed be.[/Q
UOTE]

Point taken, but AQ might evolve the threat: bigger or sharper stick. We've been caught asleep more than once so I am sure they will try again. In some places, warships have proven easy to approach.

Aslo, unless I am misinformed, most ASM warheads are designed to penetrate before they explode which would reduce the amount of material required to do damage.

Incidentally, I understand that the USN moved to insensitive muntions based on the PBXN family to help mitigate this type of threat.

[QUOTE]THose ships were made of aluminum and when a fire starts, you can kiss your ass good bye in those deathtraps of tubs.

Understood but a mission kill is a mission kill regardless of what a boat is made out of. Indeed a lesson learned for the people who design and build ships as you have colorfully pointed out.


Agreed but it was just hyperbole. What I am saying is that a fleet of speedboats is going to do diddly squat against a properly designed warship even a WWII destroyer. Adding missiles to a speedboat does not make it a good fighting warship.

Maybe...maybe not.

It would depend upon the type of missle and how it was employed and the great element of chance that goes into jury riggin.

I would be hesitant to rule out the threat based on history and the whole notion, to purloin some verbage, of "the revenge of the Melians".



Unless you really design a speedboat with all the qualities of a war fighting ship, yeah it can be effective if used properly and ingeniously.

As they have been.

The Evolution of the Threat:

Swift Sword
11 Dec 05,, 13:52
Ooops...I would like to apologize for not having those images sized correctly.

Perhaps they might be moderted by a Moderator?

Dreadnought
11 Dec 05,, 19:46
This is an interesting article on the USS Cole. If you read as I have the bombing could have easily been prevented however our rules of engagement prevented this from happening. Thats a big problem rite there they have no rules and we have to live by ours. ;)
http://www.timjacobs.com/uss_cole.htm