Thursday, May 23, 2019

That Time the U.S. Military Played a War Game Against "Iran" — and Lost


The Russian navy test-fires a Moskit P-270 antiship cruise missile in February of 2015. The P-270 Moskit is a Russian supersonic ramjet powered cruise missile (source). To view full-size, click here.

by Thomas Neuburger

Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.
     –Michael Ledeen, holder of the Freedom Chair at AEI

Iran is not Iraq.
     –Lawrence Wilkerson

Call it the Kobayashi Maru in reverse.

In the fictional Star Trek universe, Captain Kirk, as a cadet, was able to win an unwinnable war game simulation. In command of a starship that received a distress call from a damaged and failing ship in the Neutral Zone, the choices facing the cadet are stark — attempt a dangerous rescue and risk galaxy-wide war with the Klingons, or do nothing and watch as the ship and all lives aboard are lost. Unbeknownst to the cadets who took the test, the simulator was programmed to make sure any rescue attempt ended in their destruction.

The training officers who ran the simulation later explained that its purpose was not for the cadets to win or lose, but to put them in an impossible situation and observe their character through their reaction. Kirk's reaction was to try to win. On the third try, he defeated the game by secretly reprogramming the simulator.

In the Kobayashi Maru story, the "system" stacks the cards against the "hero" — here, the cadet — and one of the cadets unstacks them.

But what if the story happens in reverse? What if the cadet defeats an unbiased simulation, causing the system — here, the training staff — to reprogram the simulator, adding bias that prevents a win on the next try?

In 2002, the U. S. military ran a war game (including live action and simulations) in which the enemy was very much like Iran. The goal of the "U.S. side" was to issue "Iran" an ultimatum, let the enemy respond, then defeat it.

The U.S. side failed — the officer commanding the "Iranian side" won the simulation, sinking an aircraft carrier and 10 cruisers in the process. So the game was suspended, the rules rewritten to forbid tactics that worked, and the simulation restarted. Needless to say, the U.S. side was successful the second time around, and the commander of the "Iranian" forces quit the game in disgust.

In Star Trek terms, he'd been "Kobayashi Maru"-ed — the game had been reprogrammed to force his defeat.

Can the U.S. Military Defeat Iran?

This is the U.S. military that John Bolton and Mike Pompeo want to take to war against the real Iran, a military that refused to learn from its own war game because the outcome produced the wrong answer, an American loss. (You can read how big a loss below.)

Can this U.S. military be successful against Iran in a real encounter? Or will the world watch as a bunch of very good Russian missiles sink an aircraft carrier in under an hour?

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, agrees with the second assessment: "I think aircraft carriers are anything but an instrument of national power except against countries like Panama or someone who really can’t shoot back very well because aircraft carriers are extraordinarily vulnerable and we’re going to find that out when one of them with 5,000 hands and $14 billion worth of taxpayer money is sunk in less than 30 minutes, whenever we get engaged in something real."

For an example of how vulnerable U.S. warships are to these new-generation missiles, watch the video at the top. These missiles can also be launched from land (modified trucks), underwater, and the air. 

Millennium Challenge 2002

Here's the full story of the Millennium Challenge 2002 war game courtesy of Wikipedia (emphasis added):
Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) was a major war game exercise conducted by the United States Armed Forces in mid-2002. The exercise, which ran from July 24 to August 15 and cost $250 million, involved both live exercises and computer simulations. MC02 was meant to be a test of future military "transformation"—a transition toward new technologies that enable network-centric warfare and provide more effective command and control of current and future weaponry and tactics. The simulated combatants were the United States, referred to as "Blue", and an unknown adversary in the Middle East, "Red", with many lines of evidence pointing at Iran being the Red side.

Red, commanded by retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper, adopted an asymmetric strategy, in particular, using old methods to evade Blue's sophisticated electronic surveillance network. Van Riper used motorcycle messengers to transmit orders to front-line troops and World-War-II-style light signals to launch airplanes without radio communications.

Red received an ultimatum from Blue, essentially a surrender document, demanding a response within 24 hours. Thus warned of Blue's approach, Red used a fleet of small boats to determine the position of Blue's fleet by the second day of the exercise. In a preemptive strike, Red launched a massive salvo of cruise missiles that overwhelmed the Blue forces' electronic sensors and destroyed sixteen warships. This included one aircraft carrier, ten cruisers and five of six amphibious ships. An equivalent success in a real conflict would have resulted in the deaths of over 20,000 service personnel. Soon after the cruise missile offensive, another significant portion of Blue's navy was "sunk" by an armada of small Red boats, which carried out both conventional and suicide attacks that capitalized on Blue's inability to detect them as well as expected.

At this point, the exercise was suspended ... After the war game was restarted, its participants were forced to follow a script drafted to ensure a Blue Force victory....
So much for the best bloated military money can buy. Wilkerson may be right. In a real fight that may be all it proves to be — a swollen, badly run excuse to extract masses of government cash for its patrons and clients, and not much good at fighting a country large enough to resist being thrown against a wall, like Iran.

In the same interview quoted above, Wilkerson added, "The military just hooks up, like it’s hooking up to an intravenous I.V. system and the money just pours out— slush fund money, appropriated money, and everything else. This [war talk] is all about money and it’s all about keeping the complex alive..." The war talk Wilkerson was referring to was about China, but no matter; the point is the same.

If Pompeo and Bolton talk Trump into launching an attack against Iran, a nation four times the size of Iraq, do you like his odds? I don't.

Even so, the military loss would not be the worst of the outcomes. More than 20% of world oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz every day. A disruption there would be catastrophic — first, for everyone in the region, which would explode in violence; and later for much or most of the rest of the world, including, perhaps, the shopping malls of America.

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At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a proxy war vs. Russia. I'll bet putin is goading our shit-for-brains fuhrer into making a YOOOOGE mistake. But I'd bet biden would be eager to make that same mistake. I know for sure that $hillbillary would also love to have been able to make that same mistake.

Perhaps that is the only way in which obamanation might have been less horrid than any of those 3.

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cluster of idiots who think they can bully the world first formed in 1945 after Germany was clearly defeated. No one in the US or the UK wanted to admit that the Soviet Union had done the most to defeat Hitler, and now the US had atomic weapons intended to keep the Soviets in line. That only lasted in reality until Russia had them as well.

"Little" wars that the US should have won (on paper) became the norm, as no one wanted to unleash the widespread death and destruction of WWII. Why, that would be bad for American business! So the US military was applied only when American business interests were threatened and the job was too big for the CIA to handle alone. Remember the occupation of the Dominican Republic in 1965? Few do.

In reality, such "excursions" are really a creeping corporatist colonization. Some corporation wants something, and calls Uncle $cam to topple the government and set up a puppet to rule for private profit with a cut of the action. In other words, what is now going on in Venezuela.

The US no longer knows how to fight a real war against an enemy who can fight back. Those who currently lead the nation will destroy what remains of it, whether internally be eliminating what remains of the rule of law, or externally by entering a disastrous war.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger VG said...

GP, reading this I was reminded of a talk given by Lawrence Krauss at the AEI (2007?) about scientific literacy. I watched it at the time. One part I remember particularly was about testing missile defense systems. The tests (simulations) were cancelled when they (tests) revealed that the systems didn't work. Wish I could do a better job of explaining this.. but here is the link
The part I am referring to starts at ~22 min and ends at ~30 min.

Worth watching imho

Yes, there is a transcript available on the page, but it's in all caps, alas. I copy a bit below. Know that I am not yelling at you.


At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Millennium Challenge 2002 was a direct result of Bush?Cheney pursuit of PNAC in which Iran was a major target. Well Bush/Cheney are not in power and it's 17 years later and Iran is still our target? That Clinton went through a failed impeachment attempt and subsequently went to war with Serbia after, kinda reeks of a"J Edgar Hoover" style political blackmail that ensures the Masters of War have no insurmountable obstacles. Would a No Collusion conclusion be worth war with Iran? How bout we throw in a hotel room filled with some incontinent hookers to sweeten the deal?

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:11, cheney/bush are still in power... in that the same PNAC people (Bolton) and neocon mentality are in power supported by the same CMIC and oil money.

wouldn't matter if it was $hillbillary or biden. same result. another war; another loss

this time, though, instead of a bunch of regressive goat-herders praying 5 times a day, it'll be a loss to the Russians and their equipment, ordnance and training. But this time it might even escalate to a loss in a nuclear exchange.

hey, we can lose any war with anybody at any time. we suck.

guaranteed... whoever is prez when we lose... the other money party will win the next election.
won't change anything except the letter beside the fascist regime.

fuck we're stupid!


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