November 24, 2015

Oh Dear

It looks like Turkey has shot down a Russian fighter. There are, naturally, conflicting reports as to where the Russian plane was, the Russians say it was over Syrian airspace, the Turks insist it was over Turkey.

This could turn pear shaped quick. 

 Reports differ if the Turkomen rebels have one or both Russian aviators from the SU-24. Regardless, watch how they are treated. If they are smart, they will turn them over, but being that Russia has been pounding them from the air, unlikely.

So, the fellows being backed by the Turks and who are allied with our proxies in Syria have just shot two Russian pilots dangling from their parachutes. They likely did so with our bullets, since they are working with the FSA.

This just gets better and better.


Admiral Josh Painter has thoughts....

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:07 AM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 155 words, total size 2 kb.

1 Wait, it gets better!*  The Syrians the Russians have been attacking shot down a Russian rescue helicopter, too!  Wanna bet they blame that on the Turks, too?  "If you hadn't shot down our plane..."

* some subset of the word "better" that I'm not altogether familiar with.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Tue Nov 24 20:49:16 2015 (zAcee)

2 This is where my lack of naval expertise hurts. Russians moved their prized asset, "Moskva", into the area and tasked it to help covering the approaches to the Khmeinim airbase, when and where jets are most vulnerable. Turks may send their submarines and do a General Belgrano on it. So 3 days ago Russians attached an ASW destroyer "V.Adm Kulakov" and a small ASW fregate "Smetlivyi" to form an approximation of a combat group around "Moskva". Compared to how it was done in WWII, clearly it's nowhere near enough. I expected 6 or so frigates, each with a helicopter, to surround "Moskva" and elbow Turkish assets both above and below the surface. But I don't know how it's done nowadays. Clearly it's not done however Argentinians were going at it, we know that much.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Wed Nov 25 16:11:38 2015 (XOPVE)


At best this is a revenge move. I can't see the Russians actively hunting and sinking a Turkish submarine, even if they were capable of doing so, unless the sub had fired first.

And these days, when a sub shoots, it hits.

So I guess this is intended as a deterrent. "Yeah, go ahead and shoot a torpedo if you want to lose your sub afterwards."

It then becomes a couple of questions: what kind of provocation would it take for the Turks to decide to shoot, and would the Russians actually have the ability to find and sink the sub afterwards?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Thu Nov 26 00:34:23 2015 (+rSRq)

4 I guess the answer to all those questions is "I hope we don't find out." This has the potential to get really, REALLY ugly really fast.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Thu Nov 26 00:34:55 2015 (+rSRq)


A different question: what happens if Turkey closes the Dardanelles to any and all Russian warships? And then Russia decides to send a group of ships through anyway? And Turkey uses shore-based artillery and airstrikes?

I think I'm going to go hide under my bed.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Thu Nov 26 00:38:10 2015 (+rSRq)

6 The combined British, French and Russian navies could not force the Dardanelles in WW1. If Turkey decides to close the Bosporus it is closed.
Russia would almost certainly consider this an act of war. 
NATO would probably not back Turkey if they did that unless bullets were already flying. 
Turkey has one of the largest armies on earth and in that regard are an extremely vital NATO ally. Turkey has as many ground troops as France, Italy, Germany and the UK combined.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Thu Nov 26 01:21:42 2015 (1zM3A)

7 The combined British, French, and Russian navies couldn't force them in WW1 because back then the three armies combined had less computing power than my cell phone. Ground-based defenses had two major advantages over sea-based gunnery - a much more stable firing platform (i.e. more accuracy) and a much smaller target profile (you had to hit the gun more or less directly to dismount it, whereas any hit on the ship can do damage enough to sink her eventually.)

The big disadvantage is that the ground defenses have limited target footprints - if you're outside their range, they can't come get you. The Union navy attacked several Confederate fortifications using this method, firing really large mortars from outside the range of the forts' defenses.

In the modern era, of course, fixed fortifications aren't worth that much at all - we can knock them out with missiles smart enough to fly right into the embrasures. Of course, that's the US... just how good are Russia's missiles? I doubt we really know.

On the other hand, the only reason that Erdogan is still in power is because he gutted the Turkish military's leadership and replaced them with his own people. You don't purge your staff like that without tons of damage to the effectiveness of your fighting force; ask the Russians about that! So even if Russia's capabilities aren't that great these days, neither are the Turks.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that we ought to have wound down NATO well before now. Soviet Russia's expansion needed to be stopped; Putin's Russia isn't nice, but it's simply not a threat to the US. We don't need to put ourselves on the line for a military alliance to prevent tanks coming through the Fulda Gap anymore. Nor am I fond of being lectured about not putting enough into social spending by countries who shamelessly free-ride on our military expenditures.

And the idea that we could get sucked into a conflict by the Erdogan government is positively grotesque. I wouldn't just leave him hanging, I'd root for the Russians.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Thu Nov 26 06:44:41 2015 (v29Tn)

8 The littorals are still the most dangerous place to be a warship. Clutter, interference and well camouflaged batteries of missiles and artillery that can have their guidance radars on mountains  to make use of their maximum range make any sort of inshore operation very dangerous. Both the Bosporus and the Hellespont are exceedingly narrow. The sea of Marmara is big enough to allow submarines to maneuver in and that brings us to the other thing the Turks pay a lot of attention to...mines. Mines sank Allied battleships with alarming regularity and Turkey is still highly adept at mine warfare.. If the Turks want to close those straits they will likely remain closed until foreign boots tread the full length of both the Asian and European shores. 
The big question is how badly Ergodans Stalineque purges have affected the army's fighting ability. The Turkish troops are generally pretty good but given the army's previous hostility to islamists, and officers with islamist sympathies had to be dug up from under rocks. They are not likely to be experienced. I tend to agree that this is likely to have a seriously deleterious effect on their effectiveness. 
Personally, I'm of the opinion that we ought to have wound down NATO well before now.

Yes, but sadly we didn't and the treaties have us kind of stuck.
 And the idea that we could get sucked into a conflict by the Erdogan government is positively grotesque.
Unfortunately thats how the treaty works. Of course article 5 doesn't necessarily apply if a NATO member shoots first and pokes at the bear. 
I wouldn't just leave him hanging, I'd root for the Russians.
Yep.  Russia certainly seems to be the more reasonable player here. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Thu Nov 26 09:28:49 2015 (AaBUm)


Article V of the NATO treaty ultimately only requires each member to do what they think is best. We found that out in 2001 when Article V was invoked for the first time and the response from some European countries was underwhelming.

Everyone is supposed to treat it as if it was their own country that was attacked, but that's not binding. (As we found out in 2001.)

At this point the NATO charter is pretty much a dead letter. Obama won't do anything except deploy strategic hash tags and expressions of deep concern. Until a new president takes office, no one in Europe had better be depending on American military power. And if it's Hillary, they still better not depend on it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Thu Nov 26 20:57:52 2015 (+rSRq)

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