The UN Legion and its opponent

One serious proposal for a standing “UN Legion” got me thinking. How would it compare to its most likely [conventional] opponent? The UN Legion (highly unlikely to be deployed in its entirety) would compare on the high-end to a Light OPFOR (conceived around the same time) mechanized force.

In short:

  • The two have a comparable mix of equipment, however the Legion’s equipment is likely to be newer but lighter (their heaviest vehicles are MGS/ERC-style wheeled ‘tank destroyers’). The Legion’s IFVs are considerably better, being newer wheeled ones, while the Light OPFOR division will be lucky to get older BMPs.
  • The biggest divergence is in heavy weapons. The Light OPFOR division has no organic aviation while the Legion has a sizable helicopter force. However, the entire Legion has only 18 towed artillery pieces, while a single mechanized brigade has that many self-propelled ones.

 

 

Children of the Sun

Billy Thorpe’s “Children of the Sun” has to be one of the strangest pop rock songs I’ve heard (even if it’s very good, IMO). Children of The Sun has two main “issues”.

  • Doesn’t really sound like anyone else (and that’s a good thing). If I had to describe it, it’d be “Bad Company with weird sound effects”.
  • Is uncomplicated music-wise but has the outer-space lyrics and sound effects of progressive rock.

So it’s weird but good.

Command-ing a Slapfight

One of the appeals of Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations is that it gives players a chance to use military platforms to their full potential. It can be a carrier group launching a super-strike. It can be a unit of heavy bombers fighting equally advanced SAMs.

Or, in the case of my latest scenario editor experiment, it can be a more realistic battle of what Saltybet would call “P-Tier” units. I took the MiG-21bis and Mirage V, eastern and western aircraft both armed with just rear-aspect AAMs, set both sides to “novice” proficiency, set up spotting radars, and let them have at it, with ten on each side in a staggered patrol.

The result, when the survivors ran out of fuel/ammo and returned home, was:

  • Seven lost MiGs and four lost Mirages, albeit with a good number of endgame calcs that could have swung things the other way with better/worse rolls.
  • A LOT of flopping around and being unable to fire, and some missiles overshooting once the target turned. However, the low proficiency was such that when a good solution was obtained, it usually meant that the target aircraft was shot down.

No Number Scales

I simply don’t like reviewing on a number scale.

How can a number scale take a seriously flawed but seriously enjoyable story into account? Both an overambitious but slightly lacking book and an unambitious but fun potboiler can be considered “mixed” but in totally different ways. That’s just one example why I don’t want to review on a number scale.

Politicized Armies

Kenneth Pollack’s Armies of Sand, and its thesis predecessor, “The Influence of Arab Culture on Arab Military Effectiveness”, is fascinating not just for its core claim, but also in how, culture aside, politicization and underdevelopment worked in theory and practice.

Pollack listed three main types of excessive politicization for militaries.

  • “Praetorianism”, where the military is more interested in politics and/or gaining power than preparing for serious combat.
  • “Commissarism” or ‘coup-proofing’, where the military is subject to measures designed to neutralize it as a political threat.
  • “Palace Guard” where the military is designed more for combating internal threats than for high-intensity combat.

The three can easily blend together. Praetorianism can be followed by commissarism as the winner of a power struggle consolidates, and commissarism and palace-guardism can be tied as the regime and country blur.

Palace-Guardism appears to be the least worst of the options, because in many cases an internal threat is far more urgent and far more credible than an external one, and because the common separate palace-guard forces (think the Republican Guard) are frequently benchmarked against the regular army and thus serve as the strongest conventional force.

Pollack’s description, which he backs up with evidence and case studies from several heavily politicized armies, is that politicization frequently leads to wildly uneven performance and affects the politically vulnerably upper ranks far more than it hits the lower, more obscure, or safe lower ones. Sometimes it can be downplayed, particularly in commissarist systems, if the regime lucks into a few high-ranking officers who are both militarily capable and politically friendly. And it often doesn’t need that many (For instance, a sample Light OPFOR Expeditionary Army needs only one army and three to five division commanders)

It’s an interesting study, as overly politicized armies will exist as long as politics and armies do, and it shows both the similarities and differences in every incarnation of it.