Carpet Bombing

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Tyndmyr
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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 14, 2015 6:54 pm UTC

Strategic/carpet bombing was not treated as a war crime by the allies precisely because they did it. The victors set the rules, after all.

The rules of war do not wholly forbid such tactics. Of course, everyone encourages a policy of minimizing civilian casualities, but in practice, every major nation still has artillery corps, stockpiles of iron bombs, etc. And, they certainly do get used when major conflicts arise.

morriswalters wrote:The failure of carpet bombing ISIS is that ISIS personnel are recruited from other nations, from somewhere other than the particular geographic location where the fighting occurs. And it can't be reliably shown that the remaining populace wholeheartedly supports ISIS. To kill ISIS in that way means in effect that you have to kill the population around them. This is the raison d'être of drone strikes, the ability to hit anywhere at any time while holding collateral damage to a minimum. And we have condemned the use off barrel bombs by Syria, so it would seem to set a somewhat two faced standard to carpet bomb.


The bar you seem to expect, "the remaining populace wholeheartedly supports x", does not seem like one that would apply in almost any time and place. Not all germans were Nazis. Not all north koreans hated the US...literally every large population of humanity is going to contain a lot of people that do not particularly want to fight.

Do you hold that war can be conducted at all? Or that it can only ever be done by targetting individuals? Why?

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Zamfir » Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:12 pm UTC


First off, you're using genocide, a word you just decided to toss into the conversation, and which literally nobody has endorsed. So, that's sort of a wild goal post shift.

Is there some reason to draw the line here, where you are willing to play devil's advocate for razing cities with its death toll, but not for genocide? If it is indeed a useful exercise to ignore morality and just to consider effectiveness, why would genocide be off the table?

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby morriswalters » Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:47 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Do you hold that war can be conducted at all? Or that it can only ever be done by targetting individuals? Why?
Eventually if you are going to get in to this fucked up mess it means putting in troops. As much bombing as went on during WW2 they still had to invade. Carpet bombing as a tactic doesn't work to end wars. And any member of ISIS looks pretty much like any other Arab if they take off identifying clothing and fade into the woodwork. Right now ISIS is holding ground, the minute they choose to abandon that tactic they become much harder to kill. And carpet bombing becomes useless if it isn't already. And it wouldn't stop the Asian branches, or the African branches of ISIS that are springing up.
Zamfir wrote:If it is indeed a useful exercise to ignore morality and just to consider effectiveness, why would genocide be off the table?
It wouldn't be in the end. Without some moral basis to keep it from happening people might come to believe in the hoof and mouth cure. If their weren't any Muslims then there wouldn't be a Muslim problem. To me that is the scariest thing about the idea.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:14 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:

First off, you're using genocide, a word you just decided to toss into the conversation, and which literally nobody has endorsed. So, that's sort of a wild goal post shift.

Is there some reason to draw the line here, where you are willing to play devil's advocate for razing cities with its death toll, but not for genocide? If it is indeed a useful exercise to ignore morality and just to consider effectiveness, why would genocide be off the table?


I'm not against tossing it around(there's a fun lesswrong series where it comes up), but the original comment is about carpet bombing, and does not actually mentione genocide. So, it's a sort of different argument.

Note that playing devil's advocate does not require ignoring morality entirely, and I'm not proposing that this is essential to discussing it...I merely think that some people are dismissing it for bad reasons. Reflexively, rather than for any reason they've actually thought about.

morriswalters wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Do you hold that war can be conducted at all? Or that it can only ever be done by targetting individuals? Why?
Eventually if you are going to get in to this fucked up mess it means putting in troops. As much bombing as went on during WW2 they still had to invade. Carpet bombing as a tactic doesn't work to end wars. And any member of ISIS looks pretty much like any other Arab if they take off identifying clothing and fade into the woodwork. Right now ISIS is holding ground, the minute they choose to abandon that tactic they become much harder to kill. And carpet bombing becomes useless if it isn't already. And it wouldn't stop the Asian branches, or the African branches of ISIS that are springing up.


That is likely, yeah. Carpet bombing doesn't hold ground, so if you want to actually deny territory, you have to go beyond carpet bombing, that's true.

And yeah, if they abandon their strategy of holding ground, the game changes. But...making them abandon that is a defeat in itself. I will point out that defeating ISIS and stabilizing Syria are not necessarily the same goals. You can do both, just the first, or neither, I think. Both almost certainly requires a very large, ongoing military commitment.

There's definitely still other things to deal with, but I think that, at least in part, you've got existing bad apples jumping on the bandwagon precisely because they appear effective, and part of that is due to holding turf.

Zamfir wrote:If it is indeed a useful exercise to ignore morality and just to consider effectiveness, why would genocide be off the table?
It wouldn't be in the end. Without some moral basis to keep it from happening people might come to believe in the hoof and mouth cure. If their weren't any Muslims then there wouldn't be a Muslim problem. To me that is the scariest thing about the idea.


Incidentally, this is part of why it's important to think about why a given thing is a terrible idea. If it's merely because it's socially unthinkable, well...that can change easily enough.

It is not enough merely to agree that say, banning muslim immigrants* is a bad idea. It's worth exploring the consequences of doing so, and how, on a practical level, it would work poorly.

*Not the same topic as being discussed here, but arguably a closely related example, given who we're talking about.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby BeerBottle » Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:50 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Beerbottle wrote:Just to be clear, the "tactic" you are talking about is genocide.


No, it isn't.

We carpet bombed the germans in WW2. And yet, it isn't referred to as genocide. Hell, we NUKED the japanese, and that wasn't a genocide either.

Again, you can't just slap whatever negative labels on just because they sound sort of like they're similar.

After the second world war the UN made a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It defined genocide as
Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a NATIONAL, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part...[SNIP]
(emphasis mine, obviously.)

The proposal to carpet bomb the NATION of Syria is specifically with the intent of destroying the people of Syria and so is genocide as defined by the UN.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Chen » Tue Dec 15, 2015 12:34 pm UTC

BeerBottle wrote:After the second world war the UN made a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It defined genocide as
Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a NATIONAL, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part...[SNIP]
(emphasis mine, obviously.)

The proposal to carpet bomb the NATION of Syria is specifically with the intent of destroying the people of Syria and so is genocide as defined by the UN.


You know that section would seem to apply to ISIS alone as well, what with them being a religious group and all. Clearly there's more to it, or that section is just ignored as people see fit. Either way, I don't think it supports your point too well.
Last edited by Chen on Tue Dec 15, 2015 8:41 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Dec 15, 2015 5:26 pm UTC

BeerBottle wrote:After the second world war the UN made a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It defined genocide as
Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a NATIONAL, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part...[SNIP]
(emphasis mine, obviously.)

The proposal to carpet bomb the NATION of Syria is specifically with the intent of destroying the people of Syria and so is genocide as defined by the UN.


The particular part you snipped out, with your interpretation, would label a wide range of activities as genocide, that, in practice, are not described as such. I suspect you're interpreting incorrectly.

I mean, at a lower bar it would literally include 'destroying in part' by 'killing or serious harm', which would include esssentially every conflict ever. That's ludicrous.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby BeerBottle » Tue Dec 15, 2015 9:23 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I mean, at a lower bar it would literally include 'destroying in part' by 'killing or serious harm', which would include esssentially every conflict ever. That's ludicrous.
Well that is the UN definition. Sorry if you don't agree with it. But I disagree with your assertion - this does not cover every conflict ever. The key point is the acts must be committed with the intent to destroy a particular group (national, ethnic, religious etc) i.e. the general population of a country. Civilians are (or should not be) a target in war. The objective of war should never be to destroy civilian populations or their property. Even killing enemy soldiers should not be the main priority. Degrading the enemy ability to fight and causing them to surrender is (or should be) the objective (don't take my word for it - see below). But doing so by killing civilians is a war crime, and if you take action that intends to kill ALL the civilians of a nation that is genocide, by the UN definition. I must admit it is somewhat worrying that a (current or former?) member of the USAF is not aware of this.

And some other definitions:
the Oxford English Dictionary
Genocide:The deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group.


Collins
Genocide: the policy of deliberately killing a nationality or ethnic group


Sun Tzu said: In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.
Last edited by BeerBottle on Tue Dec 15, 2015 9:39 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby ucim » Tue Dec 15, 2015 9:25 pm UTC

Ninja'd, but
Defining genocide, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide wrote:Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a NATIONAL, ethnical, racial or religious group
(emphasis mine)

Seems to me that the intent is the deal. War and other aggression committed for the purpose of accomplishing some other goal (such as conquering territory, spreading an ideology, defending rights, etc), which as a necessary side effect destroys a group as defined above would not be genocide, but a war or aggression committed for the purpose of destroying that group would be. This distinction may be lost on the dead people, but it's mainly of interest in deciding whether or not, and how, to pursue the action in the first place, which may prevent those people from becoming dead people.

Destroying ISIS for its own sake may well be genocide. However, stopping ISIS from destroying us, even if it may result in the destruction of ISIS, would not be.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Dec 15, 2015 9:34 pm UTC

BeerBottle wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I mean, at a lower bar it would literally include 'destroying in part' by 'killing or serious harm', which would include esssentially every conflict ever. That's ludicrous.
Well that is the UN definition. Sorry if you don't agree with it. But I disagree with your assertion - this does not cover every conflict ever. The key point is the acts must be committed with the intent to destroy a particular group (national, ethnic, religious etc) i.e. the general population of a country. Civilians are (or should not be) a target in war. The objective of war should never be to destroy civilian populations or their property. Even killing enemy soldiers should not be the main priority. Degrading the enemy ability to fight and causing them to surrender is (or should be) the objective (don't take my word for it - see below). But doing so by killing civilians is a war crime, and if you take action that intends to kill ALL the civilians of a nation that is genocide, by the UN definition. I must admit it is somewhat worrying that a (current or former?) member of the USAF is not aware of this.


Destroy a group, even in part? Cmon.

As stated above, that would totally include all sorts of horrible religious/terror organizations. It's a stupid definition, and it is not how the word is actually used.

LOAC training is mandatory and, if memory serves, was yearly. It was not as you describe. The idea that no civilians can be killed ever in pursuit of legitimate targets is not something that is embraced by our, or any other military. It is generally preferable to minimize risk to them, certainly, but...it's war. Shit happens. You think no civilians are getting killed in war now? They are dying in huge lots. As conflicts drag on, that tends to happen.

When talking about precision tactics vs less precise tactics, you've sort of got to weigh the additional potential damage against the strategic gains. If the strategic gains are large enough, ending a war faster can have a net savings of many lives. See also, the use of nuclear bombs in Japan, where this is very well supported on a grand scale.

Sun Tzu said: In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.


Yes, yes, wars of maneuver are generally preferable to wars of attrition. But you can't wish a war into being different than it is. People have tried that. Civil War. WW1. People kept acting as if they could, by sheer force of will, win despite fighting the wrong kind of war. If you're going to pick a fight, either way, then yes, picking the less bloody option is better.

But, the person who ATTACKS decides when war happens, and much of the nature of that war. Syria is a war of attrition. This is not some border spat that can be solved by the parties merely getting together and talking it out. Both sides are aiming to kill the shit out of the other as their primary path to victory. So, that's the kind of war it is. If you wish to engage with it, you've pretty much got to accept the nature of the present conflict. Not fighting is an option forfeited long, long ago.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Dec 15, 2015 9:46 pm UTC

There are a dozen if not hundreds of sides in Syria.

Assad
Russia
The US
Turkey
France
Other NATO countries
Turkmen
Druze (neutral)
PKK (Kurds)
PUK (also Kurds)
IS
Al nusra front (Al Qaeda)
Free Syrian Army
Christians
Yazidi
Hezbollah
Iran
Moderate rebels

Mainly there are 4 lumps. The Free Syrian Army is backed by NATO (and Al Qaeda; strange bedfellows) and fights both IS and Assad. Assad is supported by Iran, Russia, and Iran's proxy Hezbollah. IS is friends with no one but everyone is too busy arguing to do anything. Then there are the quasi neutral groups like the Druze and Kurds. The Kurds are backed by the US but opposed by everyone else, while they have had a truce with Assad since the very beginning (whichever side wins in the war we'll support, unless we can get Kurdistan). Everyone else hates them because they ethnically cleanse out anyone that has historically threatened them (Sunnis and Shia go, but Christians Druze and Yezidi can stay). Yezidis joined with the Kurds, because no one else will help them. Christians mostly backed Assad but some back the Kurds and rebels. It's complicated.

My suggestion? Arm the Kurds to the teeth, turn around while all other factions are wiped out or join up with the Kurds, turn back around and pretend that absolutely nothing happened while our back is turned.
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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby BeerBottle » Tue Dec 15, 2015 9:54 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Destroy a group, even in part? Cmon.
Cmon, can't I just exterminate a few of the Jews - that's not genocide, right? Seriously you are talking about a deliberate policy of exterminating a population. ISIS rule over a population of civilians. Not being fans of democracy, I doubt many of those subjects have a say over ISIS policy. Can you not see how it is a problem to try and solve this by killing all those civilians? And if so how exactly are you different from ISIS again?

Anyway, maybe since I've now given three definitions of genocide (UN, OED, Collins) that you dislike, you could give one that you do agree with?

Tyndmyr wrote:The idea that no civilians can be killed ever in pursuit of legitimate targets is not something that is embraced by our, or any other military. It is generally preferable to minimize risk to them, certainly, but...it's war. Shit happens. You think no civilians are getting killed in war now? They are dying in huge lots. As conflicts drag on, that tends to happen.
Civilians will be killed in modern war, of course. But can you really not see the difference between civilians being killed as a side effect of conflict between two armed forces, and one armed force deliberately killing civilians?

For example, if at some point your commanding officer had told you to bomb a village where it was certain there were no military targets would you comply?

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby elasto » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:44 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Destroy a group, even in part? Cmon.

As stated above, that would totally include all sorts of horrible religious/terror organizations. It's a stupid definition, and it is not how the word is actually used.

Not sure if the definition is genuinely ambiguous or you're just reading it wrongly.

It would be genocide to attempt to drive a group to extinction purely for the sake of it - when reasonable third parties would agree that that group is no threat to you. It is not genocide to continue to fight and kill members of a group that are trying to kill you - even if you end up killing every one of them.

It's like the difference between disbanding the Iraqi army following the defeat of Saddam Hussain vs summarily executing them all post-surrender. The latter would be a warcrime (the former was merely idiotic - leading in part to the power vacuum which later allowed ISIS to take root).

Likewise, if ISIS somehow morphs into a non-threatening organisation, at that point it would become genocide to seek to exterminate every last one of them. Right now though, most reasonable people would agree their actions leave precious little wiggle room for non-military options - whether carried out by us or by regional operators.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 16, 2015 3:12 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:My suggestion? Arm the Kurds to the teeth, turn around while all other factions are wiped out or join up with the Kurds, turn back around and pretend that absolutely nothing happened while our back is turned.


It's a viable suggestion, and probably not a bad one, but...it's also going to involve a *lot* of killing, probably including a lot of collateral damage. I'm not sure that there's any option that doesn't, mind you, just saying.

BeerBottle wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Destroy a group, even in part? Cmon.
Cmon, can't I just exterminate a few of the Jews - that's not genocide, right? Seriously you are talking about a deliberate policy of exterminating a population. ISIS rule over a population of civilians. Not being fans of democracy, I doubt many of those subjects have a say over ISIS policy. Can you not see how it is a problem to try and solve this by killing all those civilians? And if so how exactly are you different from ISIS again?

Anyway, maybe since I've now given three definitions of genocide (UN, OED, Collins) that you dislike, you could give one that you do agree with?

Tyndmyr wrote:The idea that no civilians can be killed ever in pursuit of legitimate targets is not something that is embraced by our, or any other military. It is generally preferable to minimize risk to them, certainly, but...it's war. Shit happens. You think no civilians are getting killed in war now? They are dying in huge lots. As conflicts drag on, that tends to happen.
Civilians will be killed in modern war, of course. But can you really not see the difference between civilians being killed as a side effect of conflict between two armed forces, and one armed force deliberately killing civilians?

For example, if at some point your commanding officer had told you to bomb a village where it was certain there were no military targets would you comply?


Nobody has said "we need to exterminate the entire population". Carpet bombing as a strategy is not the same thing as that. It DOES tend to result in a certain degree of collateral damage, obviously, but it doesn't kill everyone. And the point of it isn't to kill civilians. Not even trump is salivating over causing them to die.

Bombing a village where you're certain there are no targets is entirely different from accepting collateral damage to kill a legitimate target. The latter is a difficult decision worthy of discussion. You're not doing that. You keep switching to the former, even though literally nobody is endorsing that.

elasto wrote:Not sure if the definition is genuinely ambiguous or you're just reading it wrongly.


Well, I believe that yes, beerbottle was reading it wrongly. I'm pointing out that his interpretation is different than general use. Things like "they pose a threat to me, and I'm trying to stop it" are very different than genocide, and in practice, everyone else does acknowledge the difference. Discussing which strategy to use to stop a legitimate threat isn't the same as promoting genocide.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Dec 16, 2015 9:26 pm UTC

I think that I think that arming the Kurds will result in more deaths than I think you think. Just going to pull the number from the bottom of my gut (AKA the ass) and say that it'd cause 250,000 deaths. 50,000 fighters and so forth, the rest from reprisals and ethnic cleansings. Also there'll be lots of ethnic cleansings.

And I think that's the LEAST awful option at this point. If Assad retakes control, well, the Hama massacre was how his regime stayed in power; murder the shit out of a city as a warning to others, so he'll likely do the same. IS conquest is just right out. FSA victory is basically just guaranteeing another civil war. So either arm the Kurds or suck it up and invade.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:09 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Well, I believe that yes, beerbottle was reading it wrongly. I'm pointing out that his interpretation is different than general use. Things like "they pose a threat to me, and I'm trying to stop it" are very different than genocide, and in practice, everyone else does acknowledge the difference. Discussing which strategy to use to stop a legitimate threat isn't the same as promoting genocide.

And I think deciding what is and isn't genocide is probably not a very useful stage in this discussion, because it doesn't really bear on whether a particular tactic is considered a war crime, which doesn't itself tell us anything about what tactics Cruz and Trump are actually talking about or think they're talking about; Cruz has apparently referred to American actions in the first Gulf War as a "carpet bombing" strategy, so apparently he just means things should look more like that than all of this complicated "modern war" stuff now. I think it's overly generous to think of either of them as having a strategy, though, other than a campaign strategy that apparently decided the phrase "carpet bomb" was going to test well.

So I don't think any of that is a very good argument against any particular strategy against ISIL.

Carpet bombing in the sense people generally mean by the phrase, dropping lots and lots of dumb bombs into a civilian population in the interest of inspiring terror and destabilizing national power, as used against damn near everyone including Germany and Japan in WWII, yeah, that's pretty definitely and consistently considered a war crime now, and also doesn't logically work in the case of ISIL. Absurd comments like Cruz wanting to find out if sand glows in the dark, yeah, that's pretty close to a genocidal sentiment, insofar as "sand" is pretty directly metonymic for Arabs, but that doesn't mean in any way that anything Cruz has in mind as a strategy is actually genocidal in practice. Trump pretty clearly relishes civilian deaths when he talks about how much more clever it is to go after fighters' families than the fighters themselves.

But I think the connection between feelings, narratives, and proposed tactics is all pretty damn fuzzy. That's how we get to this weird place where conservatives consider Obama soft on terrorism or something.

If the question is something more like, are the US's strikes as we approach them now too calculated, precise, and expensive, and should we be delivering more boom at an economy of scale instead, I think we get back to the common wisdom that we're already pretty bad at our ratio of enemies killed to enemies made and don't really want to make that ratio worse. But that only applies in the real world, and both in thought experiment land and in rhetoric, if you just had enough boom over a large enough area, it would definitely solve all of your problems. Until, you know, the next war.
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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:47 pm UTC

Don't bother targeting the terrorists; target the people arguing in favor of it. The imams and clerics that openly pray for death and destruction. The cartoonists publishing propaganda. The people donating to the various groups. It's easy to say "kill Americans" when it's Someone Else that's going to get shot.

Aesop had a very rare fable involving only humans. A trumpeter wandered too close to the enemy and was captured. He begged to be spared, saying he didn't fight just made music, but the enemy said that he was responsible because he blew the horns of war.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Zamfir » Thu Dec 17, 2015 2:47 pm UTC

@Copper Bezel, that's a sharp post. I presume they are vague on purpose - it allows a range of people to project their own ideas on them. The range from "like Obama, just more bombs" all the way to "the only good Arab is a dead Arab".

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:30 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:I presume they are vague on purpose - it allows a range of people to project their own ideas on them. The range from "like Obama, just more bombs" all the way to "the only good Arab is a dead Arab".


This is likely. We've probably already put more thought into it than say, Trump has. Likely they view it more as a political stance of being tough on terrorists(real controversial stand there), not a highly specific strategy.

But, both discussing only the political meaning and the basic reality of "a sufficiently large explosion leaves an inverse number of problems unsolved" both end up being fairly obvious. So, I think moving on to somewhat more detail is really the only place the conversation can go. What we should do, really.

Copper Bezel wrote:Trump pretty clearly relishes civilian deaths when he talks about how much more clever it is to go after fighters' families than the fighters themselves.


For me, this is the line where things get ludicrous. I'm okay with calculating that the most efficient way to stop x involves some degree of collateral damage and accepting that. I'd push the lever on the trolley to hit one person, as it were.

But making the collateral damage the GOAL is pretty sketchy from an efficiency or a morality basis.

Shit, they are going after collateral damage vs us, and it isn't stopping US from wanting to fight. So, the truth of Trumps' statement is definitely questionable.

Copper Bezel wrote:If the question is something more like, are the US's strikes as we approach them now too calculated, precise, and expensive, and should we be delivering more boom at an economy of scale instead, I think we get back to the common wisdom that we're already pretty bad at our ratio of enemies killed to enemies made and don't really want to make that ratio worse. But that only applies in the real world, and both in thought experiment land and in rhetoric, if you just had enough boom over a large enough area, it would definitely solve all of your problems. Until, you know, the next war.


At a certain point, actually running low on precision weapons is a thing*. There are finite numbers of cruise missiles and stuff out there. And we're ALSO bad at pouring money into security, so just throwing more money into buying more precision weapons seems to have significant downsides as a strategy. Sure, there's a time and place where precision is totally worth the extra money, but...not necessarily always. Perhaps a particularly remote area lends itself more to just covering the mountainside with iron bombs. *shrug*

I'm also someone skeptical of the whole "creating lots of enemies" line. I'm not saying that some degree of it is not actually true, merely that it seems to be almost invariably accepted as truth without conclusively demonstrating it. Honestly, I think that for most parts of the world, the US would be entirely content to ignore them until they intrude on our lives. Once they do so, we do...something. Maybe good, maybe bad, but as a society we mostly just react to stuff, then kind of forget about the whole area again.

*http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/12/03/isil-iraq-syria-hellfire-missiles-drones/76741954/

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Neil_Boekend » Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:51 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Trump pretty clearly relishes civilian deaths when he talks about how much more clever it is to go after fighters' families than the fighters themselves.

Technically, and if you ignore morality completely, in most cases hurting the family of fighters hurts the fighters more than hurting the fighters themselves. It's just that the hurt of a murdered family easily turns to hate. This is not related to any religion, just ask any parent that is actually involved in raising their kids (IF they can even bear to think about it). For some it will be enough hate to choose to be a suicide bomber. This is one of the tactics that I have no doubt will increase the problem.

That makes it a stupid idea IMHO, even if one were to have Hitler's moral code and actually consider it.
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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby jewish_scientist » Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:23 pm UTC

From a solely military point of view, carpet bombing is not a good idea. For every bomb dropped that kills an enemy, a large number would be dropped that did not. The bombs to enemy casualties ratio would be very lopsided. Even when an army is bombing an occupied city, the ratio is rather small. Think about how many bombs dropped by the Germans on London during WWII. A lot of English soldiers and equipment was destroyed but a huge amount of bombs had to be dropped daily for it to happen. The goal of all military campaigns, regardless of time, place or reason, has been to deplete the opponent's resources (food, men, moral, ammunition etc.). Think about how much resources are spent to make every bomb: the raw materials, man-power to mine/collect raw materials, processing the raw materials, man-power to run factory, raw materials to make factory, man-power to make factory, land for factory, man-power to design new bombs, training for workers, education for scientists, fuel to transport the bombs and raw materials, planes to fly the bomb to the target, training for pilots, and space to store the bombs and planes are just a few things necessary to drop a bomb on a target. Almost all of those things can have a use besides making/deploying bombs. Imagine if all of those resources went to supplying troops with food or building battleships. Bombs, like anything else, are an investment, and only a fool would not want the maximum return on their investment.

Since the U.S. civil war, the trend has been that precision is valued more than raw power. Before the CW, everyone's strategy was to line up a lot of people and shoot together at the target. This worked well pre-CW war because soldiers were using muskets. Muskets do not have rifling (small groves in the barrel of the gun that cause the bullet to turn). Without rifling, the change of hitting a target at significant distance was very small, so many people would shoot at once to create a 'wave' of bullets that would hit the general area of the target in unison. When one guy added a grove to making cleaning the barrel easier, and he found that accuracy increased dramatically (the added angular momentum stopped the bullets from curving). During the CW, when the 'everyone shoot together' tactic was still being used, the 'wave' of bullets created by rifles was much more concentrated, so more bullets hit the center of the target. That is part of the reason why the CW has so bloody. WWI was mostly trench warfare because the 'everyone shoot at the side' idea was still popular, but generals realized that soldiers had to have protection from the enemy. WWII focused on fortifying a location (usually a city) and mobile units (yes tanks were slow and cumbersome, but they are infinity more maneuverable than trenches). The attackers goal was to find a weak point in the defender's fortifications and then attacking there. Modern warfare revolves around intelligence, finding the exact location of the enemy and then hitting there full force. The U.S. did not launch the final assault on Bin-Laden until they confirmed his location down to the very building. The general strategy has gone from 'aim in their general direction', to 'aim at things on the other side', to 'aim at their weak points', to 'aim at individual structures'.

Look at how cannons have changed over time. The list goes from biggest to smallest, but look at the year each cannon was build. The general trend is for the newer cannons to be smaller. The two most powerful machine guns (guns are basically small cannons) Randell could find both had a caliber (diameter of barrel) of 30mm. Compare that to the smallest cannon on that list, the 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 gun, which had a caliber of 406mm. Armies have realized that small, accurate cannons with fast reload times beat large, inaccurate cannons with slow reload times. Again, we see that as time moves forward, precision is preferred to raw power.

All of these things show that precision-style warfare is the most efficient use of resources. Precision requires information, which is why it was not relied upon until recently. Now that when we have radar, satellite imaging, and instantaneous communication information is a lot easier to collect and analyze. It would be foolish to not use these new advancement.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:38 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:From a solely military point of view, carpet bombing is not a good idea. For every bomb dropped that kills an enemy, a large number would be dropped that did not. The bombs to enemy casualties ratio would be very lopsided. Even when an army is bombing an occupied city, the ratio is rather small. Think about how many bombs dropped by the Germans on London during WWII. A lot of English soldiers and equipment was destroyed but a huge amount of bombs had to be dropped daily for it to happen. The goal of all military campaigns, regardless of time, place or reason, has been to deplete the opponent's resources (food, men, moral, ammunition etc.). Think about how much resources are spent to make every bomb: the raw materials, man-power to mine/collect raw materials, processing the raw materials, man-power to run factory, raw materials to make factory, man-power to make factory, land for factory, man-power to design new bombs, training for workers, education for scientists, fuel to transport the bombs and raw materials, planes to fly the bomb to the target, training for pilots, and space to store the bombs and planes are just a few things necessary to drop a bomb on a target. Almost all of those things can have a use besides making/deploying bombs. Imagine if all of those resources went to supplying troops with food or building battleships. Bombs, like anything else, are an investment, and only a fool would not want the maximum return on their investment.


London is an old city, with lots of stone and what not. Plus, the bombardment used many weapons that were particularly imprecise even for the time(V-1s and V2s, forced nighttime bombing due to allied air superiority for most of it...)...it's not really a good analogy. Better would be US bombing campaigns vs Japan. Operating in daylight with impunity and massed air power. That's...kind of how we work.

And, frankly, many of those things like "designig new bombs" cannot be credibly described as a cost. The US has designed all manner of bombs, and that's a sunk cost anyway. Regardless of strategy, we're gonna keep on doing that, but for unguided bombs, that's...not really an R&D expense. And building battleships is a garbage strategy nowadays.

Since the U.S. civil war, the trend has been that precision is valued more than raw power. Before the CW, everyone's strategy was to line up a lot of people and shoot together at the target. This worked well pre-CW war because soldiers were using muskets. Muskets do not have rifling (small groves in the barrel of the gun that cause the bullet to turn). Without rifling, the change of hitting a target at significant distance was very small, so many people would shoot at once to create a 'wave' of bullets that would hit the general area of the target in unison. When one guy added a grove to making cleaning the barrel easier, and he found that accuracy increased dramatically (the added angular momentum stopped the bullets from curving). During the CW, when the 'everyone shoot together' tactic was still being used, the 'wave' of bullets created by rifles was much more concentrated, so more bullets hit the center of the target. That is part of the reason why the CW has so bloody. WWI was mostly trench warfare because the 'everyone shoot at the side' idea was still popular, but generals realized that soldiers had to have protection from the enemy. WWII focused on fortifying a location (usually a city) and mobile units (yes tanks were slow and cumbersome, but they are infinity more maneuverable than trenches). The attackers goal was to find a weak point in the defender's fortifications and then attacking there. Modern warfare revolves around intelligence, finding the exact location of the enemy and then hitting there full force. The U.S. did not launch the final assault on Bin-Laden until they confirmed his location down to the very building. The general strategy has gone from 'aim in their general direction', to 'aim at things on the other side', to 'aim at their weak points', to 'aim at individual structures'.

Look at how cannons have changed over time. The list goes from biggest to smallest, but look at the year each cannon was build. The general trend is for the newer cannons to be smaller. The two most powerful machine guns (guns are basically small cannons) Randell could find both had a caliber (diameter of barrel) of 30mm. Compare that to the smallest cannon on that list, the 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 gun, which had a caliber of 406mm. Armies have realized that small, accurate cannons with fast reload times beat large, inaccurate cannons with slow reload times. Again, we see that as time moves forward, precision is preferred to raw power.

All of these things show that precision-style warfare is the most efficient use of resources. Precision requires information, which is why it was not relied upon until recently. Now that when we have radar, satellite imaging, and instantaneous communication information is a lot easier to collect and analyze. It would be foolish to not use these new advancement.


As a counter-argument, I present the nuclear bomb.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:34 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Zamfir wrote:I presume they are vague on purpose - it allows a range of people to project their own ideas on them. The range from "like Obama, just more bombs" all the way to "the only good Arab is a dead Arab".


This is likely. We've probably already put more thought into it than say, Trump has. Likely they view it more as a political stance of being tough on terrorists(real controversial stand there), not a highly specific strategy.

But, both discussing only the political meaning and the basic reality of "a sufficiently large explosion leaves an inverse number of problems unsolved" both end up being fairly obvious. So, I think moving on to somewhat more detail is really the only place the conversation can go. What we should do, really.

Agreed.

Shit, they are going after collateral damage vs us, and it isn't stopping US from wanting to fight. So, the truth of Trumps' statement is definitely questionable.

A very good point.

At a certain point, actually running low on precision weapons is a thing*. There are finite numbers of cruise missiles and stuff out there. And we're ALSO bad at pouring money into security, so just throwing more money into buying more precision weapons seems to have significant downsides as a strategy. Sure, there's a time and place where precision is totally worth the extra money, but...not necessarily always. Perhaps a particularly remote area lends itself more to just covering the mountainside with iron bombs. *shrug*

The understanding I'm taking from the very shallow read I'm taking of how bombs and particularly carpet bombing work is that it's very hard to drop a dumb iron bomb out of a plane and make sure it lands on the right building, and that carpet bombing is an informal term used for the dumb-bomb drops popular in WWII and Vietnam, the only two cases of its use listed on its Wikipedia page. The targets in those cases were cities. Ted Cruz, if we still want to talk about him at all, apparently walked back his comments about carpet bombing without admitting that he'd misused the term by redefining it to mean targeted strikes on particular installations. It's possible that the use of the term "carpet bombing" I'm running into in these sorts of places is actually the inaccurate one.

But what I'm taking from this is that it's very difficult to hit a target smaller than an area of city blocks in scale by just dropping an explody thing out the back of an airplane. So a dumb-bomb attack is inherently geared to create more collateral damage.

I don't know that decimating a city hurts ISIL in the same way it would hurt a state power. I mean, like, pick an ISIL-controlled city and kill off 10% of the population, including 10% of the leadership, and I think it's questionable what headway has been made. The leadership can reorganize and doesn't give a damn about civilian casualties, while the civilians still probably feel they have better chances with the folks killing them in the street and running the local postal service than in rocking the boat on the part of the folks killing them in the street and not running the local postal service.

Maybe I'm over-generalizing.

I'm also someone skeptical of the whole "creating lots of enemies" line. I'm not saying that some degree of it is not actually true, merely that it seems to be almost invariably accepted as truth without conclusively demonstrating it.

I think the models I'm unconsciously using for comparison here would be things like the lovely things our drone policies are doing for our PR in Pakistan. But these ideological entities or totalitarian or psychoviolent regimes keep rolling through the same peoples, and we keep needing to bomb the same civilians over and over again. It's not the same arrangement as fighting state powers that go down and stay down.

Honestly, I think that for most parts of the world, the US would be entirely content to ignore them until they intrude on our lives. Once they do so, we do...something. Maybe good, maybe bad, but as a society we mostly just react to stuff, then kind of forget about the whole area again.

*http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/12/03/isil-iraq-syria-hellfire-missiles-drones/76741954/

I think that's probably true, but it's getting really questionable to me whether reacting to the stuff is actually all that effective at preventing the intrusions on our lives. At least the predator drones taking out the high-level terrorist leaders seemed fairly direct, you know, killing the same people back again.
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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:02 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
At a certain point, actually running low on precision weapons is a thing*. There are finite numbers of cruise missiles and stuff out there. And we're ALSO bad at pouring money into security, so just throwing more money into buying more precision weapons seems to have significant downsides as a strategy. Sure, there's a time and place where precision is totally worth the extra money, but...not necessarily always. Perhaps a particularly remote area lends itself more to just covering the mountainside with iron bombs. *shrug*

The understanding I'm taking from the very shallow read I'm taking of how bombs and particularly carpet bombing work is that it's very hard to drop a dumb iron bomb out of a plane and make sure it lands on the right building, and that carpet bombing is an informal term used for the dumb-bomb drops popular in WWII and Vietnam, the only two cases of its use listed on its Wikipedia page. The targets in those cases were cities. Ted Cruz, if we still want to talk about him at all, apparently walked back his comments about carpet bombing without admitting that he'd misused the term by redefining it to mean targeted strikes on particular installations. It's possible that the use of the term "carpet bombing" I'm running into in these sorts of places is actually the inaccurate one.


It has drifted, yes. A bombing run by a B-52 is, by it's nature, usually referred to as carpet bombing, because it's usually just a nice long strong of dumb bombs, despite the fact that you can orient that strip of explosions however you please, and with a reasonably good accuracy. Carpet bombing refers to the methodology, not the type of target.

Bombing an entire city is WW2 tech, and that was outdated even in vietnam, when we layered strips with some degree of precision, and selected specific targets. You might be right in that there's a communications gap here. Targetting systems are WAY better now than in Vietnam, even, let alone WW2.

But what I'm taking from this is that it's very difficult to hit a target smaller than an area of city blocks in scale by just dropping an explody thing out the back of an airplane. So a dumb-bomb attack is inherently geared to create more collateral damage.


Sort of. Precision does allow you to get away with more interesting things, and can significantly change tradeoffs in some instances. But 500-1000 pound bombs are kind of messy regardless. You've still got a somewhat large blast radius, and it doesn't change with more precision. So, in many cases, it may not actually matter.

Note that kicking a barrel bomb out of a chopper is wildly different from the US way of doing things...we can still usually deliver ordinance pretty close to where it's supposed to go, regardless of method.

I don't know that decimating a city hurts ISIL in the same way it would hurt a state power. I mean, like, pick an ISIL-controlled city and kill off 10% of the population, including 10% of the leadership, and I think it's questionable what headway has been made. The leadership can reorganize and doesn't give a damn about civilian casualties, while the civilians still probably feel they have better chances with the folks killing them in the street and running the local postal service than in rocking the boat on the part of the folks killing them in the street and not running the local postal service.

Maybe I'm over-generalizing.


If you're only hitting the same percentage of leadership that you are of the general population, you've probably done something horribly wrong, precision munitions or not. I think pretty much everyone is still in favor of at least aiming at the bad guys, even if there are other folks around, and that should skew the percentage significantly. Killing people at random is obviously a bad strategy, but...I don't think that's really the goal.

I'm also someone skeptical of the whole "creating lots of enemies" line. I'm not saying that some degree of it is not actually true, merely that it seems to be almost invariably accepted as truth without conclusively demonstrating it.

I think the models I'm unconsciously using for comparison here would be things like the lovely things our drone policies are doing for our PR in Pakistan. But these ideological entities or totalitarian or psychoviolent regimes keep rolling through the same peoples, and we keep needing to bomb the same civilians over and over again. It's not the same arrangement as fighting state powers that go down and stay down.


It'd be different if no turf was being held. Holding turf inherently means you need a structure, and that creates targets. A structureless, hidden enemy...yeah, carpet bombing is pointless. But if they're actually fielding forces and have leadership, well...you have big targets then. It makes sense to paste those areas.

I think that's probably true, but it's getting really questionable to me whether reacting to the stuff is actually all that effective at preventing the intrusions on our lives. At least the predator drones taking out the high-level terrorist leaders seemed fairly direct, you know, killing the same people back again.


Maybe? I mean, I think sometimes our reactions work out, sometimes they don't, but...it is sketchy. I'm not fully isolationist, but I am for some careful strategy consideration. And longer term strategy.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:42 am UTC

It'd be different if no turf was being held. Holding turf inherently means you need a structure, and that creates targets. A structureless, hidden enemy...yeah, carpet bombing is pointless. But if they're actually fielding forces and have leadership, well...you have big targets then. It makes sense to paste those areas.

And that's fair, and it is a difference to consider with ISIL, especially in light of what you're saying about the change in dumb bomb accuracy. I just hope the US's ME strategy can evolve where necessary around objectives and not focus-grouped rhetoric. = .
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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby morriswalters » Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:30 pm UTC

There has been no change in dumb bomb accuracy. Once a 750 pound iron bomb leaves the plane it it subject to the vagaries of the atmosphere and timing. To hit a target the target has to be large or the aircraft has to be low. There are attachments that can be added to weapons to increase accuracy, which effectively turn dumb bombs into smart bombs, but there are limits. Syria overall has been "plastered" already. They had been plastered before we got there. If indiscriminate bombing could win the war Assad would have already done it.

There are no exposed armies moving along established fronts, and when they capture cities, those cities are hostage to ISIS. The ratio of the civilian population to ISIS members is such that bombing cities to kill ISIS would kill much of the civilian population before you damaged ISIS. Even with troops on the ground taking a city from a force that wants to hold it for as long as possible will mean lots of physical damage and civilian casualties.

The combatants in WW2 had infrastructure supporting the war and when we weren't bombing to scare the hell out of the population we were hitting targets that made war possible for the combatants. Arms industry and the industrial base. There are no targets like that held by ISIS. They are more akin to a well armed criminal group. If they have tanks it is because they took them and the same for aircraft. There are no true strategic targets. Merely tactical ones, perfect for what we are currently doing.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:49 pm UTC

Russian Proverb: Nuclear bomb always hits ground zero!

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby ucim » Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:22 pm UTC

Carpet bombing is their way of getting us to do their work for them.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:47 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
It'd be different if no turf was being held. Holding turf inherently means you need a structure, and that creates targets. A structureless, hidden enemy...yeah, carpet bombing is pointless. But if they're actually fielding forces and have leadership, well...you have big targets then. It makes sense to paste those areas.

And that's fair, and it is a difference to consider with ISIL, especially in light of what you're saying about the change in dumb bomb accuracy. I just hope the US's ME strategy can evolve where necessary around objectives and not focus-grouped rhetoric. = .


I suspect that, in practice, a lot of these decisions are being made by military folks, rather than politicians. Hopefully, anyway. Usually works out better when the folks with the experience and knowledge get to make the call.

morriswalters wrote:There has been no change in dumb bomb accuracy. Once a 750 pound iron bomb leaves the plane it it subject to the vagaries of the atmosphere and timing. To hit a target the target has to be large or the aircraft has to be low. There are attachments that can be added to weapons to increase accuracy, which effectively turn dumb bombs into smart bombs, but there are limits. Syria overall has been "plastered" already. They had been plastered before we got there. If indiscriminate bombing could win the war Assad would have already done it.


There's a wild difference between kicking a bomb out the door when it looks about right, and a smart targetting system that automatically releases the bomb when the calculations are right. We absolutely are way, way better at bombing stuff precisely than we were in WW2, even using relatively dumb bombs. Yeah, atmospheric vagrancies exist but...we're talking about an era when "aim for the city" was a routine strategy, and now it's "aim for that truck in the convoy".

And...we're slightly better at blowing shit up than Assad is. We have a far larger and more effective military. The fact that he couldn't accomplish something says little about our ability to do so.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby leady » Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:05 pm UTC

I suspect that not being strafed by Me-109s does wonders for accuracy

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby morriswalters » Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:34 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:There's a wild difference between kicking a bomb out the door when it looks about right, and a smart targetting system that automatically releases the bomb when the calculations are right. We absolutely are way, way better at bombing stuff precisely than we were in WW2, even using relatively dumb bombs. Yeah, atmospheric vagrancies exist but...we're talking about an era when "aim for the city" was a routine strategy, and now it's "aim for that truck in the convoy".
Norden bomb sight was used as late as Vietnam. B52's use radar bomb sights of some kind that are designed to hit a target in a 3000 foot circle, somewhere, since they were designed for nukes and carpet bombing. We use smart weapons so we can hit what we aim at. It's that simple. It's why they were developed. However I'm getting out of my depth here.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby leady » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:00 pm UTC

I think more accurately smart weapons were developed to enable the US to take out Warsaw pact armoured divisions from miles away, preferably before return fire, based on the fact that all AVs are much more vulnerable to vertical attack. The fact the same electronics are useful in taking out targets in urban environments with a minimum of collateral damage is a bonus.

Ironically I think the US had the perfect aircraft for use against ISIS in a low level dumb fire "carpet bombing" environment, but you retired them all a few years ago (the A10 was awesome)

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:23 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:There's a wild difference between kicking a bomb out the door when it looks about right, and a smart targetting system that automatically releases the bomb when the calculations are right. We absolutely are way, way better at bombing stuff precisely than we were in WW2, even using relatively dumb bombs. Yeah, atmospheric vagrancies exist but...we're talking about an era when "aim for the city" was a routine strategy, and now it's "aim for that truck in the convoy".
Norden bomb sight was used as late as Vietnam. B52's use radar bomb sights of some kind that are designed to hit a target in a 3000 foot circle, somewhere, since they were designed for nukes and carpet bombing. We use smart weapons so we can hit what we aim at. It's that simple. It's why they were developed. However I'm getting out of my depth here.


B-52s are also an older platform...they're barely post-WW2. And they're a high altitude bomber. You're going to get way different performance dropping off an F-15 or something. Now, there are good reasons to use high altitude(outranging aa, etc), but...dropping from high altitude is inherently less precise, all other things being equal.

Even a 3000foot CEP is way better than a city, though.

leady wrote:Ironically I think the US had the perfect aircraft for use against ISIS in a low level dumb fire "carpet bombing" environment, but you retired them all a few years ago (the A10 was awesome)


The A-10 isn't really a carpet bomber, but it IS pretty awesome for close air support. And really, really good at tank killing. They are being reduced, but are not entirely gone yet. May not ever happen, because the A-10 is particularly beloved, but...so far, I don't see folks lining up to fix the money issue behind it, so SOMETHING has to get the axe.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby leady » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:39 pm UTC

"carpet bombing" is being used in lot of senses here, but as a means of dropping a lot of dumb ordinance, accurately from a low level, whilst basically being a flying tank its hard to beat.

I'm sure the boffins could put a helicopter together for the same job they tried, the apache and commanche are again solutions to a different problem.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:25 pm UTC

The A10 needs to be replaced. But the people who want to replace it (air force) are not the people who need it (army/marines). So there's this idiotic push for stealth bombers and so forth when all you need is a flying tank with a gun the size of other more puny aircraft that can slowly approach any target and take out any material, leaving nothing but demoralized infantry for the real soldiers to mop up.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby leady » Sat Dec 19, 2015 12:42 am UTC

I can understand the spending patterns made though both in the US and the UK

People here for a while took the mickey out of the Typhoon due to it being an air superiority fighter. But the way I look at things, the UK needs air superiority in a real war to the extent that not having is death. I'd also apply the same logic to naval power. The UK generals would look in horror at my plan to run almost a pure mercenary land force to project power :)

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby sardia » Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:49 am UTC

http://www.wunderground.com/resources/climate/nuke.asp
Let's solve 2 birds with one stone. With a mere 100( less than 1% of the US stockpile) average sized nuclear weapons, we can lower the global temperature back down to 2 degrees.

Note: If you actually read the source, there are huge nonpolitical drawbacks.

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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:41 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:The A10 needs to be replaced. But the people who want to replace it (air force) are not the people who need it (army/marines). So there's this idiotic push for stealth bombers and so forth when all you need is a flying tank with a gun the size of other more puny aircraft that can slowly approach any target and take out any material, leaving nothing but demoralized infantry for the real soldiers to mop up.


That's all true, but there are other needs as well. They keep trying to replace the B-52, because that dates from just post-ww2. And hey, the C-130 is about the same era and it's STILL in production and use. And modern aerospace programs are ludicrously expensive. That last fact makes replacing/updating anything ridiculously painful, especially when many folks aren't real eager to dial up military spending. Plus, not every new warplane project is a success, really. Sometimes you dump a vast quantity of money in a pit and get very little out of it.

So, while a brand new iteration of the A-10 would be amazing, it seems really unlikely given the current climate. The F-35 has been sucking all the air out of the room here for a while now.

jewish_scientist
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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:11 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:From a solely military point of view, carpet bombing is not a good idea. For every bomb dropped that kills an enemy, a large number would be dropped that did not. The bombs to enemy casualties ratio would be very lopsided. Even when an army is bombing an occupied city, the ratio is rather small. Think about how many bombs dropped by the Germans on London during WWII. A lot of English soldiers and equipment was destroyed but a huge amount of bombs had to be dropped daily for it to happen. The goal of all military campaigns, regardless of time, place or reason, has been to deplete the opponent's resources (food, men, moral, ammunition etc.). Think about how much resources are spent to make every bomb: the raw materials, man-power to mine/collect raw materials, processing the raw materials, man-power to run factory, raw materials to make factory, man-power to make factory, land for factory, man-power to design new bombs, training for workers, education for scientists, fuel to transport the bombs and raw materials, planes to fly the bomb to the target, training for pilots, and space to store the bombs and planes are just a few things necessary to drop a bomb on a target. Almost all of those things can have a use besides making/deploying bombs. Imagine if all of those resources went to supplying troops with food or building battleships. Bombs, like anything else, are an investment, and only a fool would not want the maximum return on their investment.


London is an old city, with lots of stone and what not. Plus, the bombardment used many weapons that were particularly imprecise even for the time(V-1s and V2s, forced nighttime bombing due to allied air superiority for most of it...)...it's not really a good analogy


I do understand what you are saying. If London was made out of a less structurally sound material more damage to would have been done; if the allied air force was not defending the city then more damage would have been done. Both of those things are obvious.

Since the U.S. civil war, the trend has been that precision is valued more than raw power. Before the CW, everyone's strategy was to line up a lot of people and shoot together at the target. This worked well pre-CW war because soldiers were using muskets. Muskets do not have rifling (small groves in the barrel of the gun that cause the bullet to turn). Without rifling, the change of hitting a target at significant distance was very small, so many people would shoot at once to create a 'wave' of bullets that would hit the general area of the target in unison. When one guy added a grove to making cleaning the barrel easier, and he found that accuracy increased dramatically (the added angular momentum stopped the bullets from curving). During the CW, when the 'everyone shoot together' tactic was still being used, the 'wave' of bullets created by rifles was much more concentrated, so more bullets hit the center of the target. That is part of the reason why the CW has so bloody. WWI was mostly trench warfare because the 'everyone shoot at the side' idea was still popular, but generals realized that soldiers had to have protection from the enemy. WWII focused on fortifying a location (usually a city) and mobile units (yes tanks were slow and cumbersome, but they are infinity more maneuverable than trenches). The attackers goal was to find a weak point in the defender's fortifications and then attacking there. Modern warfare revolves around intelligence, finding the exact location of the enemy and then hitting there full force. The U.S. did not launch the final assault on Bin-Laden until they confirmed his location down to the very building. The general strategy has gone from 'aim in their general direction', to 'aim at things on the other side', to 'aim at their weak points', to 'aim at individual structures'.

Look at how cannons have changed over time. The list goes from biggest to smallest, but look at the year each cannon was build. The general trend is for the newer cannons to be smaller. The two most powerful machine guns (guns are basically small cannons) Randell could find both had a caliber (diameter of barrel) of 30mm. Compare that to the smallest cannon on that list, the 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 gun, which had a caliber of 406mm. Armies have realized that small, accurate cannons with fast reload times beat large, inaccurate cannons with slow reload times. Again, we see that as time moves forward, precision is preferred to raw power.

All of these things show that precision-style warfare is the most efficient use of resources. Precision requires information, which is why it was not relied upon until recently. Now that when we have radar, satellite imaging, and instantaneous communication information is a lot easier to collect and analyze. It would be foolish to not use these new advancement.


As a counter-argument, I present the nuclear bomb.

1: Precision is valued more than power. It is like how a very large amount of copper is worth more than a small amount of gold, even though gold is worth more than copper per unit.
2: Which would be prefered: a new nuclear bomb that was twice as powerful as the current best model and had the same radius of effect (I do not know what the actually term for that is), or a new nuclear bomb that was just as powerful as the current best model and had a 50% smaller radius of effect.
Last edited by jewish_scientist on Sat Jan 02, 2016 5:04 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

Tyndmyr
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Re: Carpet Bombing

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 21, 2015 5:25 pm UTC

My point is, you're only looking at the trends that support your theory. The invention of the nuclear bomb WAS an exercise in increasing raw power. Both initially, and there was a subsequent trend of "how big a boom can we make" that acheived frankly ludicrous levels.

Yes, yes, precision was also worked on, and certainly NOW we value that...but...for a goodly period, both size and quantity of nuclear bomb were primary goals. If you're trying to argue that since the civil war, precision has always been the goal, well...you are ignoring a ton of military history, including the invention of strategic bombing itself.


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