Russian Tu-160 bomber. Source - Russia Beyond.
Strategy

Nuclear war in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine seems to be heading, step by step and inexorably, towards a first use of nuclear weapons. Something unheard of since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. This is the consequence of the years-long move towards a Second Nuclear Age and the normalisation of the concept of Offensive Deterrence, which Russia has been putting into practice since the early stages of the conflict to modulate the degree of Western involvement. If Russia, faced with the threat of complete military defeat and the loss of conquered territories, finally resorts to atomic weapons it will have done nothing more than confirm some of the theories explained in this article. At the height of the Cold War, Herman Kahn, one of the most prominent nuclear strategists, said in 1984 in his famous book ‘Thinking the Unthinkable in […]

Captain Dean W. Morisson, Executive Officer with the 1st Infantry Divisions 3rd Brigade Reconnaissance Troop, directs Staff Sgt. Nicholus Danielsen, acting platoon sergeant with the troop, while conducting clearing operations in Fallujah Nov. 15, 2004. Source - US Army.
Strategy

An introduction to urban warfare

This article aims to provide a basic introduction to urban combat – or urban warfare -, the historical perspective on the problem and its evolution. It also aims to outline some of the different solutions that various countries, organisations, practitioners, or academics have offered to the specific problems they have encountered. All of this is done by sharing a series of sources of information with which to delve deeper into the subject and enter into the debates that are taking place today. An effort has been made to include a bibliography so that the reader can look more deeply into the different issues and debates related to urban warfare. If the reader so desires, this article could also be called a State of the Art of Urban Warfare. Introduction to the urban warfare problem ÔÇťOperating in a rural area, if […]

Strategy

The tactical nuclear ground battle in Ukraine

The use of tactical (or non-strategic) nuclear weapons on the ground battlefield is much more difficult to visualise and understand than is popularly assumed. In general, the usual thing is simply to extrapolate the apocalyptic images of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then deducing that carrying out a few attacks with nuclear artillery fire would cause extremely destructive effects that would annihilate an enemy army with relative ease. Things, however, are far from being so simple, with multiple technical problems that are not easy to solve. This turns tactical nuclear warfare into a complex issue that is not within the reach of any power, as we will see below. In addition to the difficulty of inflicting an acceptable level of damage on the enemy, we must also take into account the effects on our own troops -sometimes difficult […]

Strategy

Strategic Transport

The war in Ukraine has shown us once again the importance of Strategic Transportation. In the Russian case, given the enormous distances to be traveled through a country that is the size of a continent. In Ukraine, due to the amount of supplies, systems and platforms sent by its allies throughout the world. However, there are not a few armies, including the Spanish Armed Forces, that neglect a fundamental capacity, especially when they are part of organizations such as the European Union and NATO, as is our case. Most confrontations or acts of war between sovereign countries take place across common borders. Even so, due to its extension or due to the resources that must be mobilized, both in personnel and in material means, they force their armies to make large transport movements to go to the front. If we […]

Launching of a Chinese space rocket. Source - CCTV.
Strategy

Chinese FOBS and Limited Nuclear Options

On 16 October, the US Financial Times published what, in the world of Strategic Studies, was a real bombshell: China’s alleged test of a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) combined with a hypersonic missile. The advantages of FOBS lie in their ability to attack by orbital flight, so that they can describe unpredictable trajectories with a flight profile that makes them very difficult to detect, track and intercept with anti-missile systems or space weapons. In addition to the advantages of orbital flight, in the terminal phase of the attack, the weapon re-enters the atmosphere and strikes as a hypersonic glide-glide missile (HGV). Taken together, the combined characteristics of FOBS and HGVs provide unique capabilities to prevail in a crisis or limited nuclear engagement. However, this weapon is not a panacea and has the disadvantage that ballistically it is very inefficient; it takes alot of energy to launch a FOBS-HGV, while the same amount of energy used by a rocket in ballistic launch could launch many ballistic warheads. Moreover, FOBS-HGVs are not a “First Strike” weapon that could alter strategicstability between China and the US but are only a weapon for limited engagements and escalation control. Theselimited engagements were formalised […]

AUKUS could lead to the Royal Australian Navy's acquisition of Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines. Source - General Dynamics Electric Boat
Strategy

AUKUS and nuclear submarines

Australia’s announcement that it will acquire at least eight nuclear-powered attack submarines came as a remarkable surprise. Especially as it was accompanied by another announcement of even more profound consequences: the formation of the AUKUS between the US, the UK and Australia itself.  It is true that for years there had been talk in defence circles that Australia needed nuclear-powered attack submarines. As early as 2009, the then Australian government ruled that the nuclear option to replace the nationally designed (highly problematic and poorly operational) Collins-class diesel-electric submarines was ruled out. Various studies on the future of Australia’s submarine weapon, such as this one by ASPI in 2012 entitled ‘Mind the gap. Getting serious about submarines‘, explored three options, one of which was to have nuclear-powered Virginia-class submarines, although there were doubts that even the Americans would be willing to transfer the technology. According to the Financial Times, it was the Australians who asked the Americans for technology for nuclear attack submarines. The very creation of AUKUS, a military technology-sharing partnership, […]

On Strategic Autonomy. Source - European Defence Agency.
Strategy

On “Strategic Autonomy”

If in the field of European security and defense in recent years one expression stands out above all, it is that of “Strategic Autonomy”, especially since the publication of the EU Global Strategy in 2016. However, lacking of a specific definition, this is presented as one of the pending accounts of the EU, especially in view of the preparation of the Strategic Compass. ‘European strategic autonomy’ are not mere words. The strategic independence of Europe is our new common project for this century. In everyone’s interest. Seventy years after the founding fathers, European strategic autonomy is the number one goal of our generation. For Europe, this is the true beginning of the XNUMXst century (European Council, 2020) In this forceful way, the speech of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, ended in front of the Brussels Economic Forum […]

Strategy

Distributed Lethality

In 2015, the United States Naval Institute (USNI) published an article signed by Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden and Rear Admirals Peter Gumataotao and Peter Fanta, calling for an operational change in the US Navy that would lead to what its authors called “Distributed Lethality”. To do this, they not only asked to increase the offensive power of each ship in the surface fleet, but also wanted them to start operating in what they defined as “hunter-killer surface action groups”, leaving behind the large formations of escorts, with AAW orientation and articulated around nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. We have talked about the Third Offset Strategy, understood as the economic, military, technical and diplomatic effort of the United States to compensate for the military rise of the People’s Republic of China and its expansion, especially in the naval field, it is now time […]

Strategy

Third Offset Strategy

The Third Offset Strategy is the US response to the military rise of revisionist powers like the People’s Republic of China. It aims to overcome the limitations of the RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs) of Information, the one that in the decades before and after the turn of the century promised us a long-distance, precise and bloodless war, is already a reality assimilated to a greater or to a lesser extent by many of the most powerful armies. It is evident that this RMA has changed the way of waging war in many aspects, although its influence is far from what was promised by many of its main defenders during the happy 90s. The new developments in terms of autonomous weapons, cyber warfare or nanotechnology, for On the contrary, they represent a change of greater significance that could forever change […]