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The Military

Chinese Sub Pops Up Amid US Navy Exercise 916

One NATO figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik." American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast USS Kitty Hawk. By the time it surfaced, the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine had sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier. The incident caused consternation in the US Navy, which had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication.
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Chinese Sub Pops Up Amid US Navy Exercise

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  • PR ploy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:10PM (#21330661)
    Of course, if they're trying to throw the Chinese off, they'll say that.
  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CheddarHead ( 811916 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:11PM (#21330667)
    While it was no doubt lots of fun to put some egg on the face of the US Navy, I have to wonder why the Chinese did this. Why tip your hand? Now that the Navy knows how sophisticated they Chinese subs are they'll be much more careful in the event of an actual conflict. No doubt there's people thinking of new counter measures even as I type this.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:13PM (#21330685) Journal
    Not really. Our submarines are far superior to the Chinese even now, but the problem is the crews.

    One of the reasons I got out of the submarine business is how far the standards have fallen even in the 6 short years I was on a submarine.

    Modern submariners are a joke compared to their cold war predecessors.
  • by Vulcann ( 752521 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:16PM (#21330707) lobby for further hikes in defense spending. It almost sounds deliberate. Diesel-Electric subs are noisy little buggers so either the American navy is seriously incompetent or too clever by half.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:16PM (#21330727) Homepage Journal
    Well if they water was shallow enough to sit on the bottom.
    Truth is they could just run at creep speed on electric and wait for them to come to them as you said.
    What bothers me is the Navy is going to retire the S-3 in about 6 months and the P-3 replacement is still no where to be seen.
  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:18PM (#21330743) Homepage Journal
    It seems like submarines are outpacing the ability of anti-submarine warfare to keep up with them. While it is somewhat surprising that the Chinese have evolved a quiet submarine, the threat of modern hybrid electric submarines is not new.

    Indeed, there are numerous and famous stories of Dutch and German sailors sending back pictures of various US Aircraft carriers through their periscopes. This indicates that they successfully penetrated the US Navy ASW screen, made it to periscope depth, snapped a picture, and then got back out, all undetected. In response to this, the US Navy has actually asked NATO allies equipped with such submarines to drill with the American teams, in order to bolster the US ASW capability. This incident, then, suggests that the US Navy has a lot more to do.

    In general, rumours abound that submarines are now operating at close to the ambient noise level of the ocean. If genuinely operated so quietly, and given the difficult acoustic environment of the underwater world, it remains difficult to understand just how one might actually detect a submarine. Certainly, passive detection is difficult, and active detection only gives your own position away.

    What's really troubling about all of this is that, doctrinally, the US Navy does not have much in passive armor against weapons at all. Aircraft carriers, destroyers, and more are generally not armoured as doctrinally, the idea is to keep the enemy from engaging your assets to begin with by forming a screen around the capital ships. Thus, we are operating a Navy that has a reduced ability to absorb damage from an enemy increasingly able to inflict it.

    If the US does not adjust, then, it is very likely setting itself up for an enormous defeat in a naval engagement against a determined opponent.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cmowire ( 254489 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:24PM (#21330793) Homepage
    They can win a battle without firing a shot this way.

    The Navy's going to be less likely to discount the Chinese navy from now on, which means that they can make a more credible threat out of invading Taiwan.

    Also, it can result in the US increasing navy funding, which means that there is less money to be had for military intervention in other parts of the world, giving China a freer hand.

    Finally, the Chinese government exists at the whim of their huge population. Anything to keep those folks happy.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:26PM (#21330811) Journal
    Part of the problem is something very simple (in a Freakonomics sort of way):

    Laser eye surgery is destroying the Navy

    Every single officer* who joins the Navy wants to be a pilot. In the past, many smart people with less-than-perfect vision joined the Navy and many were sent to submarines. Now, all the smart ones get surgery and become pilots. It almost makes me cry to remember the type of people who now make "nuclear officers".

    * (not much of an exaggeration)
  • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:29PM (#21330839)
    It's entirely possible that the Chinese subs are good enough to escape detection by our fleet, or that we didn't detect it due to user error.

    Or, perhaps, it was seen and detected all along but we're just saying it wasn't so that we don't give out an idea of what our tech is or isn't capable of.

  • by Lost Penguin ( 636359 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:30PM (#21330845) Homepage
    Submarines and targets.....
  • by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:31PM (#21330863) Homepage Journal
    "Sinnnng, Sing a song...."

    On VETERAN'S day, no less (unless it happened on the other side of the IDL...).

    "According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.

    The Americans had no idea China's fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.

    One Nato figure said the effect was "as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik" - a reference to the Soviet Union's first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age."


    *I* will venture to say that "consternation" is a POLITE, GENEROUS description. The USN/DOD probably are having a major cataleptic fit. They're probably throwing chairs higher, harder and faster than Steve Ballmer, and HE already throws them faster than the speed of light...

    Of course, the USN WILL, as obliged, say some shit like, "Well, if this had been the Enterprise, or the new George H.W. Bush, with their CVN ASW/CVIS suite, this would NEVER, NEVER happen. Why, our technological sophistication by FAR outstrips anything the Reds... Umm, are we on tape? Strike that... Correction all after Reds... Chinese Navy has in its inventory. Why, Our USS Virginia and Jimmy Carter boats are quieter at FLANK, above 500 below sea level than a ANY LA SSN or follow-on boat is just sitting at the pier with recirc pumps on minimal output..."

    That may be, but you STILL got your ass embarrassed.

    But, I don't for one SECOND believe China WOULD attack. They are just saying, TAG. Here's realism for your fake-ass scenarios and drills.

    Why am I talking this way? Cuz I'm an ex Sailor, from 1984-1988, and after playing the "Terrorists" in security alerts aboard my second ship (an FFG), I grew to despise TYCOM Longbeach for the shitty scenarios we had. Sure, the "Nav" upgraded since 87, but I was still bored with and tired of officers who cheated their way into regaining control of the ship when I denied them with REALISTIC scenarios.

    Also, I don't CARE that drones COST money. You have CIWS to do a TASK, not SIMULATE. That's why the Stark was popped, cuz her CIWS was BROKE DICK, NOT performing to manufacturer's claims. My ship deployed from Long Beach, as part of the NRF in Nov 87, to the Gulf, to in-chop by some date in Jan 88, and we had SIMA, Fleet this and Fleet that and I think Norden or NavElex and a other "experts" aboard, and that fucking GE gun failed to cooperate UNTIL we we're almost done transiting the Strait of Hormuz (Silworm Alley). It woke up to our surprise. Nobody in Long Beach, Pearl, Subic, or on-board could get that goddam gun to do jack shit in defensive mode.

    I FIRMLY believe the Stark was a victim of lies all over the place. The ship's captain was a scapegoat. I believe MY ship's captain felt the same, because MANY of us in the crew donated funds to the victims and their families. Few other ships did that. I think our CO was making or allowing us to make a statement.

    I also at the time, well, around June 87 as an E-4 Radioman, but not Gunner's Mate or weapons person, told several of the GM's (who were loading the DU (depleted Uranium) rounds into the gun (they were wearing asbestos gloves, but no respirators...tsk tsk...), "This gun isn't worth shit. All the Soviets need to do is pickle our asses from high altitude with a self-guided or corrected set of bombs. They don't even need a direct hit. Just defoliate our masts and antennas. Hell, they could come from zenith and attack the CVNs, BBs and anything else IF they can break through CAP (Combat Air Patrol) for CVNs or sqwack (fake being CommAir (commercial aircraft) and close in on us."

    The Gunner's Mate, Guns (as opposed to Missiles)

    But, China's stated policy (like the US') is not to fire first. However, China recently stated to the Naval Community worldwide this:

    "China will not fire the first shot. But if a shot is fired AT us, the shooter will not fire a SECOND shot."

    THAT will keep the smugness, arrogance and cheekiness out of the rest of the navies for the foreseeable future...
  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:34PM (#21330893) Homepage
    While waiting for informed responses to trickle in here, I found this [] on Google Groups (UseNet):

    When the incident first happened I commented that we would never know if the Chinese boat was detected and being tracked, which would provide far more intel than flushing it when first detected.

    Considering they were in international waters and responses were limited. My comment was that the telling factor would be determined by how many, if any heads rolled. The USN does not forgive such lapses without someone being sacrificed. As far as I can tell, no one has been punished. That would indicate to me that they had a solution on the Chinese boat and were gaining intel.

    We do not know why the Chinese Sub surfaced when they did. What happens below the water is rarely shared with the general public. It's entirely possible that once the Chinese got within a certain distance the American boat 'encouraged' them to surface. Just as when a fighter plane can signal it's non-hostile intents by lowering its gear, a Sub surfaces.

    If the Chinese were truly undetected they could have gained far more by staying undetected than the minor political points garnered by surfacing.

  • Why not? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:38PM (#21330919) Homepage

    There is little that's secret about modern diesel/electric submarines. Submerged they've always been hard to detect. With advances in battery technology and quieter props it's not that big of a shock they could get close enough to launch.

    It's not like they were pulling all their clubs out of the bag, it was a demonstration what they could do with fairly basic technology. The real interesting speculation would be what they might have in the inventory that's even more capable. Long range missiles or UAV's that could attack a carrier from hundreds or thousands of miles away, perhaps aided by satellite, robotic mines, or something equally surprising.

    When your foreign policy is built around being able to project air power it's a rude surprise to find out in the modern era a floating airport is a big, fat target.

    If you really want ulcers start looking up how many countries have similar subs. You might be surprised at some of the names.

  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Neuticle ( 255200 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:42PM (#21330967) Homepage
    I'd mod you up if I still had points.

    To keep this on-topic somewhat: Teh Chinese R in r base, steelinz r sub planz! LOLZ!!!1!eleventy!!

    But seriously, they did publish photos of classified sub propellers on Google Earth.

    While I understand the value behind an all volunteer force, I've always thought there was something of value in systems of compulsory service like Israel and Switzerland, i.e. if you don't want to be a combatant, you can opt for non-combat duty. Everyone still gives a contribution of some sort, be it cook, driver, nurse, janitor/maintenance etc thus the combatants (who chose combat) can operate at best efficiency without worrying about non-combat details.

    It seems to me that this is a good compromise between drafting people and coercing them to fight like the US did in Vietnam, and relying solely on volunteers for the whole operation of the military.

    Plus it would eliminates much (but probably not all) the cultural and economic disparity in the ranks. If Johnny Megabucks had to serve next to William Poorhouse, as equals, it just might make the USA a better country.

    /considering a military career for grad school, but not only for financial motives. There are other ways to pay.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:43PM (#21330977) Homepage Journal
    Russian supersonic sea-skimming missiles can take one out, and they've been selling them to China, Iran, etc.

    I'm not worried as much about the Sizzlers, as, theoretically, all the missile defense research we're doing suggests that we'll be able to intercept those too. air is fairly permeable to electromagnetic radiation and so we can "see" the target at least. In the ocean, its a lot worse... sound bounces all over the place, there's ghost images, light doesn't get through it. So, there's a lot more theoretical limits on detecting things under the ocean.

    Really, submarines basically mean that no single side will be able to have control of the ocean surface.. and they are the threat. The only thing I can think of is a continuously operating flight of actively pinging ASW helicopters, and, that will give away our own ships in the battle group as much as find theirs. The other thing is to have a heck of a magnetometer, but, what if the enemy sub's hull isn't made out of a magnetic material? I've heard of satellites attempting to measure the bulge in the ocean surface to find a sub... but that seems aweful dodgy if the sub is really deep.

  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2007 @09:57PM (#21331129)
    I was on a sub as well. I was in the engineering spaces and not in the control room (I was a "fucking nuke" and not a "coner", long story to explain what that means but you would not understand unless you were on a sub yourself) but I've heard stories that lowered my confidence in those that were controlling the ship.

    When we got past the continental shelf and submerged, we started tracking a US navy submarine, turns out it was ourselves. Another time we were waiting to come to periscope depth but there was a fishing boat in the area. When we did finally did get to PD, that fishing boat turned out to be an aircraft carrier which I also assume included a group of ships as they do not typically travel alone.
    It seemed to me that when the boat ran exercises, they always went well and as planned so I assumed when the eyes and ears of the submarine know something is there they can do good but when the unexpected or unplanned comes up, they seem clueless and stressed. Maybe the technology and the tracking is not an exact science for them and one individuals interpretation stands as fact without much questioning. I know we did not have that philosophy in the nuclear side of the boat and everything was questioned and worked out many times over. Military rank meant next to nothing with us. Any person could provide a solution or question someone elses solution or actions and the details were discussed equally among everyone, officer and enlisted.

    Again, I was not a "coner" and did not hang out in the control areas so maybe these stories are a little exaggerated.

  • Just for laughs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lelitsch ( 31136 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:05PM (#21331203)
    Not directly related, but here is a nice picture a German submarine took of the USS Enterprise during a NATO exercise. []

    And IIRC, that was during an antisubmarine drill.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Highroller ( 655558 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:10PM (#21331239)
    It makes sense in another way--you can have a career as an airline pilot after you leave the service.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m4cph1sto ( 1110711 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:42PM (#21331471)
    Regarding your claim that laser eye surgery is destroying the navy...

    At the US Naval Academy summer seminar a few years ago, I was informed by some officers that having laser eye surgery would immediately disqualify me from being a pilot. This is due to the uncertain effect of altitude/pressure/high g-forces on the vision of someone who's had laser surgery. I was disappointed by this policy because my vision is not perfect, and I was told that the best I could aim for was being a "back-steater", like Goose in Top Gun. I decided not to apply to the Academy. But if what you say is true and the surgery is now allowed, I might reconsider my decision and go for some Lasik... wait, did I just prove your point?
  • by inKubus ( 199753 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:42PM (#21331477) Homepage Journal
    Actually, they are using fuel cells to power the subs now, which means 6000nm range, across 45 days. They also have sterling engines available to generate power/thrust as needed. See the wiki on Air-Independent Propulsion [].

    It's not that surprising that the Chinese sub was allowed to surface inside the task force. I'm guessing they will use this story to increase military spending somehow. The US, in addition to the typical ship-based sonar, will also have many sub escorts traveling with it. Also, they have seafloor based sonar emplacements []. Although SOSUS is old and not very up to date, you can bet there's some other seafloor emplacements we haven't heard of.

    Also, during a training excercise, they are going to be making a lot of noise and doing stuff they wouldn't otherwise do. All those things together would make it likely that a modern sub could infiltrate fairly close without being noticed. I doubt the Chinese would "pearl harbor" us, nor that a submarine torpedo would do much damage to a carrier, but it is interesting. Especially interesting is they could bring their nukes within range of the west or east coast of the U.S., assuming this is factual. Which makes this more scary. China does have nukes and probably has some cruise missles which can carry them.

  • by Latent Heat ( 558884 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:45PM (#21331509)
    I find your theory interesting on why the Chinese submarine even surfaced.

    Correct me on this, but I have long imagined there to be a Mad Magazine "Spy vs Spy" quality to the Cold War confrontations. One one hand, you might want to put the fear into the other side that you have a certain capability (i.e. ultra quiet sub). On the other hand, you may not want to tip your hand that you can do a certain thing.

    There is this account of a Russian attack sub tailing a U.S. super carrier, and the captain of the carrier ordering increasing amounts of speed to see if the sub could keep up. There was a certain sobering factor that the sub was able to match whatever speed the carrier could reach. Above a certain speed, the sub was going so fast and making so much noise that there was no longer any sub stealth involved, but there was a command decision about whether to go even faster to see if the sub could keep up. On one hand, the sub is giving up intel about how fast it can go, but the carrier is giving up intel on its speed, and the account was that the captain of the carrier gave up on attempting to outrun the sub to not reveal what the carrier could do.

    There must be also a factor that any of this sea-going machinery must have a "short time rating" and that one can push the capabilities of the power plant in exchange for shortening its life or needing repairs. I heard an account that when the SS United States (one of the last of the great passenger liners) made a record Atlantic crossing on its maiden voyage, the machinery was never quite the same after that.

    So why would the Chinese sub surface. One explanation is that is close to home waters and it was to "teach the Americans a lesson" about messing around in Chinese near-territorial waters. Another explanation, as you have offered, is that the Chinese sub captain panicked, and in so doing gave up some information of about Chinese capabilites that they might want to keep secret.

  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:47PM (#21331527)

    All China has to do is release it's US funds to the open market. Pop goes the US financial system, no money no Navy, Army, Air Force or USMC. China grabs Taiwan before the US recovers.

    The only thing that the US can hope for is that the US economy is worth more to China than Taiwan.
  • Happens quite a bit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by waimate ( 147056 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:48PM (#21331543) Homepage
    I don't have the reference to hand so feel free to claim it never happened, but this occurred a few years ago with an Australian Collins-class diesel electric. It also happened a few decades ago with an Australian Oberon-class sub, and ISTR some European sub managed a similar trick.

    The problem seems to be that US sub crews simply aren't accustomed to going up against diesel-electric subs, which *are* much quieter than the US nukes. There may also be a hubris effect going on, in that the crews *assume* they and their technology will easily detect interlopers, and therefore aren't as much on guard as they should be.

    The worrying bit is that (for want of a better term) "rogue states" are much more likely to be using a diesel-electric sub than anything else.
  • by jeko ( 179919 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @10:50PM (#21331559)
    OK, I'll bite. Totally passive detection system for big hunk of metal in the water:

    Listen for it. See current topic of discussion.

    See it. Detect the EM radiation, probably heat, coming off the metal. Metal must be hotter than surrounding ocean due to heat of crew and machinery. Metal immersed in unbelieveably frigid water sucking away heat by convection. Best of luck.

    Touch it. Intall massive feelers in front of sub. Hello, SS Waterbug.

    Smell/Taste it. Try to detect minute amount of fuel/lubricant/rust/etc in the water. Heat signature beginning to look childishly easy.

    Feel it. Detect gravitational signature of the big hunk of metal. Detect magnetic properties of big hunk of metal interacting with Earth's magnetic field. Both theoretically possible. Better get T'Pol to help you upgrade your sensors. Ask Douglas Adams' to borrow his chunk of cake from the Total Perspective Vortex.

    I got news for ya, Zatoichi. If you can't actively look for something, and that something doesn't hand out clues for free, then you ain't gonna find it.

  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:02PM (#21331675) Homepage Journal
    In the 70s and 80's, part of the problem with retention was directly due to CIA manipulation of (or, tacit compliance by) the USN SSN fleet. They had the boats laying/attaching cable sniffing devices, nearly costing several divers their lives as they were nearly crushed by the boats (USN SSNs) to which they were tethered. I understand that depth charges may have been used on some of these boats which penetrated Russian waters. The Russians/Soviets would have been WELL within their rights to depth-bomb the boats without warning, apology, or restitution.

    So, in the early part of the 80's (June-ish 83) when I volunteered for SSN Advanced Electronics, my recruiter started the paperwork, and I was to report to Great Mistakes (Great Lakes) circa June 84. But, then, by June 84, when I swore in for the second time, at MEPS Oakland (1313? Clay St.) I was told I was not needed for SSN training. The navy no longer was having its retention problems.

    Only years later, after reading Blind Man's Bluff, did I start to put two and two together. Hell, even my prospective recruiter in 1979-1982 ...

    (I haunted the USN recruiters, and in Galveston AND in San Jose, ALL 5 branches wanted me; the Army and Marine recruiters were begging the Navy to trade me to them for 3 to 4 of their top candidates; I was interested in SHIPS and SUBS, not bivouacs and showerless days, infantry maneuvers, or being in the Chair Force... Granted I WAS a member of the Army JROTC of Ball High, and concurrently a Young Marine in the Henry W. Nichols Detachment of the Young Marines in the 10th grade, and upon moving to San Jose, was in the Army Military Science Explorers, training out the the USNGR center near downtown, and concurrently in the Milpitas High Navy JROTC, and was drawing/designing SSNs, SSBNs, and surface war ships (Free World Frigate variants, DDH/DDG/LHA/LHD forays)... ... was a bubblehead and he didn't seem to be in ANY hurry to relinquish is recruiting role. Not that he was a bum, he probably dared not discourage me from volunteering for sub duty. I'd read Missile Base Beneath the Sea, numerous other contemporary and WWII sub and ship war books, and freaked him out when I drew a 7-bladed prop.. IN 1980/80!. See: []

    Look at pic # 41, the last one.

    I'd been inspired by Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (which I'd increasingly come to despise for its fakery) and other shows. I bought cutaway model of the U-47, and one of the Geo Washington (that one, by Revell, ROYALLy pissed of one Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, for it gave a nice view of the reactor, recirc pump, steam vessel, prop shaft, generator sets, the SINS (Ship's Inertial Navigation System) and huge-ass gyro amidships...) and began to cut beer cans and shape props. I tested my Huey UH-1D model but could not blow hard enough to spin the two blades. The 3-bladed props on my LSD model wouldn't spin. I then used the aluminum and cut 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 blades of various pitch, rake, skew, and other things, by hand of course, and blew as HARD as I could down onto the blades. The 7-bladed one lifted off smoothly, rapidly, and in near balance, and nearly cut the shit out of my cheek in the process. Excitedly, I said, "THAT'S MY PROPELLER", and drew it on my notional SSBN. I'll always remember that thrum and VVVVOOOMPH sound that aluminum made as it lifted in near controlled-violence. In some ways, that sight and sound were (now) better than most occasions of adult contact (TMI, but you have to put this in the context of a 14-17 y.o. having self-discovered something no one would publish back then) I had. Imagine being on your ship when ILO (Initial Light-Off) of the plant or weapons or radar systems happens. You get that energizing, LIFE, feeling.

    I took it to my recruiter, and he went ape-shit. Said "HOW'D YOU GET THAT???!!! THAT'S a national/USN secret!" Secret my ass, cuz one, he shouldn't have reacted that way, and two, by 1983 or so (a y
  • I think you underestimate the firepower an aircraft carrier has. Modern conflicts have not really demonstrated it.

    A current U.S. aircraft carrier carries approximately 65 aircraft, thousands of crew, and a huge pile of missiles.

    In a combat situation, long-range bombers take too long to get into position, particularly over an extended period of time, and with varying intensities of combat. An aircraft carrier can supplement these bombers with craft that are a good deal cheaper, and a good deal quicker to respond.

    In terms of surface superiority, an aircraft carrier outranges any other form of surface ship. It's an effective response to any sort of surface fleet. It is not, nor ever was, a response to missiles, bombs, mine fields, or aircraft. There are other naval craft for that (hence the battlegroup). In that sense, however, an aircraft carrier is no different than other form of military base. Missiles, and long-range bombers can attach anywhere on the globe, and penetration of enemy facilities on land by special operative is practically an art form, and much harder to defend against than submarines.

    That being said, the art of weaponry is a continued point/counterpoint. We don't have all the data avaliable to us regarding anti-ship weapons, however, there's a good deal of evidence suggesting that our anti-missile programs are quite successful against the latest and greatest anti-ship missiles. In a hostile situation, surrounding a carrier group, our subs would play the same roll, and given proper ASW-air support, our subs would simply win. On the other hand, if we screwed up tactically (as in the way the article describes), or if technology is vastly inferior (which it isn't, yet), we would loose.

    In my mind, the aircraft carrier is still king in the world of national warfare. However, as time goes on, it is growing clearer that we are in the age of economic and subversive warfare (meaning, terrorist). Currently, the bulk of this sort of economic/terrorist activity is occurring in the Middle East, however, there's nothing to suggest that it will not spread if conflicts spread.

    I'd also like to ad that we (the U.S.) are no stranger to this sort of warfare. Neither is Russia, China, or Europe. Of course, these days MNCs (Blackwater) and political groups (Al-Qaeda, Islamic Front of Chechnya, hell, even Scientologists []). Is this a worse form of warfare? I think so. Certainly, there's a great deal of collateral damage. But I believe that this sort of low level violence, present in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Gaza, Chechnya, Tibet, Sudan, Eritria, even Colombia, will dominate this century, leaving the days of open warfare in the past, and with them, expensive weaponry. There are very few places in the world where you can draw a clean line like the DMZ (N/S Korea). There is plenty of openwarfare, but it is all a mess.
  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:21PM (#21331871) Homepage Journal
    "Spy vs Spy" is certainly an interesting way to put it, but it is indeed a poker match. Multiple audiences exist:
    • The opposing navy
    • The opposing government
    • The friendly navy
    • The friendly government
    You'd need to do a full [] treatment of each combination to wring out a full analysis of whether the Chinese 'won' or 'lost' in the encounter.
    Looking historically, most assessments of opposing capabilities end up inflated. Consider the US assessments of Iraq, or of Soviet Capabilities. That's all well and good: you've got the hindsight working for you. Alas, we live in the present tense. Do you really want to low-ball your investments in, say, sonar development, just because you "guess" that the Chinese "really" wouldn't pickle off a round at one of your aircraft carriers?
    Subsurface warfare preparation is really like studying for final exams in an unloved course. It really gets in the way of partying, which is why an event like this surfacing tends to be accompanied by a chorus of sphincters slamming shut like water-tight doors as the ships in the battlegroup go to general quarters.
    Thus, my cynical guess is that the real audiences for this sort of article are the governments. In the US case, the subsurface Navy is more wallpaper than usual, based upon the previously mentioned lack of blue-water opponents, the (appropriate) mind-share commanded by Iraq, and the overall "un-shiny-ness" of subsurface warfare.
    My knowledge of the Chinese is essentially 0. Can't hazard a guess as to how the event plays in Beijing.

    There is this account of a Russian attack sub tailing a U.S. super carrier, and the captain of the carrier ordering increasing amounts of speed to see if the sub could keep up. There was a certain sobering factor that the sub was able to match whatever speed the carrier could reach. Above a certain speed, the sub was going so fast and making so much noise that there was no longer any sub stealth involved, but there was a command decision about whether to go even faster to see if the sub could keep up. On one hand, the sub is giving up intel about how fast it can go, but the carrier is giving up intel on its speed, and the account was that the captain of the carrier gave up on attempting to outrun the sub to not reveal what the carrier could do.
    Yes, it's a poker match, played with information as chips, as the two sides see who will be the first to say 'uncle' (probably due to equipment problems). I'll venture that the concern from the US side was not so much the carrier as her escorts. Even with an airwing embarked, the Kittyhawk (the remaining non-nuclear powered US carrier) is simply an impressive piece of engineering.
    For all I punted on a full active career in the US Navy (personal reasons), I still have a "moment" when I come out of the Norfolk VA tunnel, look South to the carrier piers, and see two or three of those ladies moored. Mahan [] would nod in approval. Conversely, the decline of the United States in world historical importance will likely be proportional to the state of her Navy, if you'll permit a blatantly partisan observation.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Walt Dismal ( 534799 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:34PM (#21332011)
    It's certainly known that the Chinese have rubber-coated anti-sonar subs, see: []

    If we are ignoring that, someone in the Pentagon needs be retired. Our failure to detect them could have been due to inadequate equipment, or else incompetent personnel or practices, or worse, arrogance. I'm not too thrilled with any of these cases.

  • Re:Oh hell no (Score:3, Interesting)

    by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {srevart.sirhc}> on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:39PM (#21332051) Homepage Journal
    Compulsatory military service would help prevent that. At least in theory, the impact of the war would be spread more broadly, thus making people think beforehand a bit more carefully.

    In Vietnam, we had been there for a long time before the draft came up. If the draft had to happen in advance, do you think we would have been there at all?
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Like2Byte ( 542992 ) <Like2Byte AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:46PM (#21332101) Homepage
    Hi there. Ex-Submariner myself. And, no, I didn't miss your point, either.

    However, those Trident Missile class submarines are pretty much nothing more than 16/24 huge political statements. Add a few MIRVs for good measure.

    As for electric boats? they're quite. Scary quite. They run on batteries while submerged which is far quieter than nuclear reactors. Granted their range is rather limited; but, that's beside the point. When you're running within the 12 NM national coastline, who do you think has the advantage?

    I'd put money on a diesel sub any day.

    On your other points, I think you are correct. The US needs an electric boat division - one devoid of nuclear reactors for inner coastline defense. These aren't the platforms that are going to do intel gathering but hunter-killer packs like the German U-Boat tactics of WWII. American technology in this field is unsurpassed; though I'd lay bets the chicoms are right behind us.

    Why? Their recent statements suggest they've been attacking our networks for years. I'm not going to dig up the link but it's out there if you search the net. One of their leaders recently stated that the next war with China's involvement will be a technological war which, according to them, no country can protect against.

    Besides, a statement like a sub popping up in the middle of an exercise say a few things:
    1) We're good enough to sneak up on you both.
    2) We're good enough to sneak *our* missile subs close to your shores, too. (Remember them Trident class subs from above?)
    3) Sleight of hand, if you will, maneuvering. The chicoms *want* you to see them and focus your energies elsewhere while they, perhaps, focus on placing a new satellite/orbiter in orbit for the start of our new space race with Asia.
    4) or, the boat was simply having an emergency and had to surface. (*very* un-likely - I just threw this in for the pacifists.)

    Choose your conspiracy. However, keep this in mind - no power shows a card as powerful as detailing how vulnerable you are to their attack without drawing you toward a conclusion they'd *like* you to draw or spend your energies trying to figure out. Meanwhile, they're out getting or doing what they think needs getting done.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:47PM (#21332107) Homepage Journal
    Don't forget about the shareholders. In today's climate, restraint is generally expected more than ever. If some loose-cannon NCA or local Fleet Admiral/Commodore pops off some rounds based on non-agreeing ROE, a LOT of financial devastation will occur.

    Don't forget:


    And on and on and on have sites in China. So, where would the US retaliate first? Responding too soon would seem rash, as if lashing out. Waiting too long will just give rise to threat of sanctions, and maybe a "Failsafe"-like request for China to blow up one or two or six of their own ships as in-kind repayment.

    Any US-initiated retaliation will so royally screw up the global economy the US will only expect to be the scourge of the planet. Shareholders want profit, sustained quarterly, and they DON'T want their fabs or R&D facilities blown up capriciously. A fab can cost BILLIONS to design, build and staff before even the first wafers are cut and shipped. Much like the new CVN/CVX for 2012 will cost some US $5.6 BILLION before first STEEL is even cut.

    No, I suspect that local self-defense is allowed, but launching Tomahawks or Harpoons into the Yellow Sea/Taiwan Strait (take your pick) is verboten in the standing Rules of Engagement UNLESS clear, unequivocal PROOF of China's involvement can be found. Even so, MOST of the rest of the world despises the US, tho until the recent economic wreck of the dollar to Euro thingy, some countries now LOVE the US's weakened state as goods will cost less to buy in/from and maybe import TO the US.

    Until/unless those high-tech companies start basing out of say, Dublin, Ireland, or Poland, or Portugal or someplace inexpensive but outSIDE of China, you can BET that they are constantly needling their congresspersons to keep the US military around Asia in check. Don't hit our factories. One stray Tomahawk, despite the celebrated precision electronics and striking during acceptance trials, and our market sector gains will be eroded beyond recovery.

    There will probably be some InSea (Incidents at Sea) like with the US/Soviet ships playing chicken, scratching each other's paint jobs, hurling bag of dung, mooning each other, and flipping the bird, but those will be the unprofessional of the bunch topside. Fender-benders and "tag" will be occasional events in testing each other's fleet or unit professionalism for after-the-event, a measure of restraint. It will also allow each side to test each other and gives each side press to make the other side look bad.

    China won't launch. An individual UNIT might, but even so, who wants to wreck a new, $2B boat early in the career, risk a bullet to the head, and face 88 or 120 angry souls upon reincarnation? That said, I WOULD expect a Chinese boat to fire if she detects cavitation datum bearing down on her. She won't know which threat axis is to be fired upon, so she will either go down gentlemanly-like, or fire what she can to be sure the world knows she didn't go down without a fight and probably didn't start the shit, either. But, only those analyzing the SOSUS data will know the truth of such an occurrence -- IF the sensors aren't snowed out or picking up too much ambiguous data.
  • by Maxmin ( 921568 ) on Monday November 12, 2007 @11:49PM (#21332135)

    Ah yes, the infamous Blackwater Flight 61. Pilot got caught in a box canyon at 4600m in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan. He only realized that screwing around on a flight, in high mountain valleys, could get someone hurt when there was no longer room left to climb.

    The following is from a TV and radio interview with the attorneys for the families of the three Army soldiers killed on that flight []:

    "Look, there is an expression in aviation, that you plan your flight, and you fly your plan. That didn't happen here. Instead of flying a recognized route to the west, the crew went sightseeing in the mountains to the north of Bagram. They got into a box canyon. The plane they were flying could not climb above the 16,000-foot peak. They were in a canyon where they could not turn around, and tragically all six souls on board died." (Robert Spohrer)

    One of the soldiers actually survived the flight, and lived long enough to smoke some cigs, before he died of exposure.

    It's not only Blackwater who allows goofballs to pilot their planes. February 3, 1998, Mt. Cermis, Italy: A low-flying U.S. Marine surveillance jet on a training flight, whose joy-riding pilot must've been high or something, was deliberately flying *below* the mountain's ski lift cables. He "accidentally" clipped one of the cable-car lines, which freed the gondola to the effects of gravity, and caused all 20 people aboard to fall some 260 ft to their deaths.

    A jet ain't a hot-rod. Drive with care.

  • by steveroehrs ( 74840 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:10AM (#21332285)
    Feel it - Detect magnetic properties of big hunk of metal interacting with Earth's magnetic field.

    Using one of these perhaps? []
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:11AM (#21332293) Homepage Journal
    In all that RAMBLING, what I forgot to mention re: the first para was that USN bubbleheads were like, "We're being depth-charged and mines are being place around us for the fucking CIA???!!?"

    So, not necessarily in DROVES, but certainly in high enough numbers, SSn sailors started using various illicit narcotics in an attempt to become discharged or transferred to shore, brig or not, but ANYWHERE except fighting the CIAs for them. They'd joined to fight sub-to-sub, militarily, as sailors, not errand boys for an organization that had a budget without a limit but didn't want to buy their OWN conveyance. Some sailors claimed homosexuality, and more.

    Once the morale issues were addressed (more and better/interesting assignment rotations ashore; increased hazard/at-sea/sub duty pay, etc...), retention was dramatically improved. This coincided with my not receiving orders to Great Mistakes. It wasn't personal, or that my math grades were crappy (the navy has ways of educating people, even marginally-graduating individuals), it just was that retention must have also coincided with a sudden drop-off of the spy missions that were risking these $250M to $700M boats and their fancy gear.

    Why a drop-off? It was conceded that for the amount of risk taken on by the Navy, all the CIA was getting was information about gambling, illegal/excurricular weapons deals, sexual exploits and other dubious acts of ranking Soviet officers. It just wasn't WORTH it anymore to imperil these boats when they were constantly ever complex, expensive, and politically monitored. You can't explain to the American public that they died doing their duty when cracked, emotionally distraught sailors return home, unable to tell their wives or parents WHY they are cracking up, going nuts, and so on. Presumably, the CIA resorted to humint, techint, sigint, and other -ints to get what they needed.

    And STILL, those Masters of the Universe didn't see the Berlin Wall coming down!

    Oy vey...
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by soundhack ( 179543 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:32AM (#21332435)
    I agree with everything you said, and am also amazed that the media, and educated people do not get this at all.

    To add one more point: perhaps this incident was China's way to do unto us what we did unto the Soviet Union? If we restart a cold war mentality with corresponding increases in spending, then we will bankrupt ourselves (more so than we are already doing now anyway) just like the Soviet Union did. So long as we give China a butt load of our own money in bonds and in interest payments, there is no way for us to win.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:47AM (#21332531)
    Nowhere near enough rambling. But probably as much rambling as we should be reading :)

    As a civilian engineering geek, thanks - not just for serving, but for some great laughs in your story.

    (Me? Different major in college, different kinda hardware. Similar story, couple years later in my life, similar bug-eyed looks (but it wasn't from a recruiter), similar lulz. Human nature be damned, at least you got to work with your hardware of choice. I did OK in my completely unrelated civvie career, but sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like in an alternate universe where I took the road less travelled. Today was one of those days when I'd have loved to have traded the cash for something like your career.

    Say no more about what you did; I just wanted thank you for letting me live vicariously - if only for a beer or two - through your post.

  • by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:58AM (#21332607)
    One thing to keep in mind is that during training the anti-submarine aspect has its hands tied. Certain types of active sonar are forbidden due to the belief that they can maim/kill sea animals (namely whales).

    The other issue to keep in mind is that it is one thing to break in on a scheduled training mission. It is another thing to catch an aircraft carrier cruising around at 40+ knots. Diesel/electric boats have almost no capacity to hunt on the modern stage. They really need to move into position, wait, and hope that a target comes by. The sea is big, and airplanes with refueller aircraft have very long ranges.

    In a sea engagement the Chinese navy really is not much of a threat. The real threat comes from the Chinese missile and rock batteries, and to some extent, their air force. In a battle over Taiwan, China has a base to fly from that can be heavily guarded so as to make anything that isn't a stealth fighter weary about entering their airspace. That isn't to say that the Chinese airforce wouldn't take horrific losses, just that they could do some damage before bleeding their airforce away on the combined US/Taiwan air defense.

    The real place where China is still screwed is in the actual crossing. A Chinese boat could get lucky and whack a carrier if they positioned themselves just right, but US hunter killer subs could do horrific damage against any sort of invasion force. What the subs don't eat, the aircraft would once they leave the AAA cover of the main land. An army a few million strong doesn't do any good if it can't get to land.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by florescent_beige ( 608235 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @01:48AM (#21332931) Journal
    Every now and then...just sometimes...Slashdot comes roaring right on through. Boy there are some good people that post here.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @02:05AM (#21333043)
    Well only 25% of US debt is foreign owned and 47% of that is owned by Japan or China []

    Looking at this []

    About 40% of that is owned by China. So China owns 25% * 47% * 40%, or about 5% of US debt. Even if by some magical process it evaporated overnight the US would survive. If they sold, the dollar would fall which would improve the trade balance from a US perspective, the US economy would be dinged but China would be desperately short of money. And once they started to sell the price of the remaining bonds would fall - they'd actually cause a crash in the price of the ones they still held.

    None of that is the Chinese interest. Plus the actual money is in the US. So the US government actually owns a chunk of money which China needs.

    Now I hate the Chinese government, but them lending money to the US government doesn't seem like a problem to me. In fact as people have pointed out if China attacked Taiwan I'd expect the US Treasury to seize the money in some way so it acts as a stabilising factor on them.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peacefinder ( 469349 ) <> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @02:09AM (#21333069) Journal
    "Submarine technology is actually way less relevant to the threats of the modern world than even freaking tanks. When was the last time we used a submarine to do any kind of warfare or political maneuvering? I'd say that ended in the cold war."

    Oh good lord. No. Just no.

    There's two very good reasons to care about subs. One is nuclear deterrence, the other is fleet defense.

    Did all the nuclear warheads and ICBMs in the world just magically disappear overnight when the cold war ended? Nuclear deterrence is... well, if not good, at least currently necessary. The US SSBNs provide us a sufficent detterent, all by themselves, to make any contemplated invasion of Iran over nuclear weapons utter madness. By having those subs, we have more options than trying to prevent at any cost hostile powers from getting nukes of their own. Oh, and we aren't the only nation still running boomers, so our attack subs kinda matter for keeping track of them.

    We have to care about other folks' subs because submarines are about the only weapon platform of any kind that can still hide. That means they can - as this Chinese sub did - potentially sneak up on our carriers. Coupled with the right weapons system, a sub can kill a carrier. If the US carriers go down, or even can be credibly threatened, that reduces the US position as a superpower considerably. So everyone else's subs matter to us... especially the Chinese, given that Taiwain is a cmpletely plausible flashpoint for naval conflict between the powers.

    You may or may not like all the political implications of the above, but it is complete madness to suggest that subs no longer matter.

    Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention Al Qeida. They're one threat among many, and a rather small one at that.
  • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @03:33AM (#21333457) Homepage
    I find that carrier story to be less than credible. Surprisingly, carriers are generally understood to be the fastest ship in the fleet, because they need to be; both to facilitate takeoffs and to be able to run away from just such a threat. Their top speed is classified, but it is probably safe to assume they can outrun their battlegroup if necessary. And that's just the surface.

    Subs can indeed travel faster underwater than on the surface, however their props are designed for stealth first and speed second. That priority almost guarantees that the prop would cause cavitation at high speeds, which would basically destroy a very expensive item, so even if a captain *could* push his boat that fast, he would likely cripple it. Aside from that, traveling underwater inherently requires more energy due to vastly increased friction, and it's extremely unlikely that the sub would be have the power to keep up in the first place. Subs are designed to pop up to 40-60 feet, launch some fish or some birds, and get back down, not chase down a panicked warship.
  • by Camel Pilot ( 78781 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @03:49AM (#21333511) Homepage Journal
    Blackwater: "I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am."

    Blackwater 61 []
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by doktorjayd ( 469473 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @04:01AM (#21333571) Homepage Journal
    We don't print money on trees

    actually, the US pretty much does: []

    one of the underlying theories on why gwb/chaney & co were so eager to go to war was to stop saddam from trading his oil in euros rather than $USD. see, being able to print out as much as they need to spend is only going to work if everyone else plays along by agreeing on a 'value' for resources, the biggest and most valuable of these of course being oil.

    now, imagine what might have happened if a quater of the worlds oil were no longer traded in $USD, then you see the real domino effect take place: iran stops trading in $USD, saudis & so on.

    so as far as economic reasons for not to go do something rash goes: i dont think the world needs much more of a tipping point reason to shun the US for its actions, and indeed, if they went out and started picking someting with china, how long will their currency be worth anything in the global market?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @04:06AM (#21333589)
    Chances are, and as a US citizen I surely hope this is the case: that this is intentional dis-information by the Pentagon. That in fact, the Chinese sub was really large and loud to the SONAR guys and gals, and we slow their development by making them think they're so good. I had an NROTC roommate in college umpteen years ago who was careful about keeping secrets, but generally allowed me to understand that the US military has FAR more capability than we let on. And I surely hope so, and sleep better in my belief.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joib ( 70841 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @04:08AM (#21333607)

    The swollen armed forces of the US have been unnecessary for quite some time. I'm surprised people haven't cottoned on a long time before now.

    Depending on who you ask, the US is responsible for about half of the worlds military spending (or if you add up US close allies as well, then it's about 2/3 of world spending). It has actually increased quite a lot this decade, largely as a result of gulf wars episode II and afghanistan. I think it's rather abundantly clear that the cold war never ended for the military-industrial complex. There's nothing out there that could even begin to challenge the US military for at least several decades, yet the billions keep rolling in for procuring large numbers of high end systems that will be obsolete within a few decades anyway.
  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @04:32AM (#21333691)
    Some years ago the Russian torpedo VA-111 [] using supercavitating technology managed to reach speeds of more than 200 knots (370 km/h), multiple times the speed of any NATO torpedo. That, too, was a yellow shower.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @04:38AM (#21333725)
    But hey, it's cheaper! And makes your buddies happy that funded your election.

    Also, you can't force education on people. You can offer it and you can encourage it. You can force people into the army, though. Even when it's no longer popular to outright force them, just "encourage" them by offering them no other viable option to sustain themselves, then they pretty much have to if they don't want to live under a bridge.

    Also, half educated people are simply and plainly cheaper than people with a well rounded education. They won't even consider their work valuable and feel underpaid if they only get 4 bucks an hour. After all, what can they offer? Just enough to bag stuff or sweep the floor.

    After all, if you're rich, you want your kids to stay rich. To do that, you have to make sure that, no matter how dimwitted they are, there won't be much competition for the top management positions in some corporations. Imagine you allow some smart guy without money to actually get an MBA or some other degree, and your vegetable son suddenly finds himself asking "paper or plastic".
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @05:28AM (#21333903)
    The problem isn't so much that the debt is large or that the Dollar is losing value. The problem is that in the Euro there is now a viable and quite attractive alternative to it.

    What makes the Euro so attractive is, funny enough, the "weakness" of the kinda-sorta government behind it. The EU is a conglomerate of countries with very different agendas. There is no chance in hell that they will ever agree on a radical point of view and change economic policies or foreign relationships radically over night. That means stability. Together with a very strong economic power backing the currency, it becomes incredibly attractive as a currency to use for international trade.

    And that is a big problem for the US. What if China suddenly demands Euros for its goods instead of Dollars?
  • Their top speed is classified, but it is probably safe to assume they can outrun their battlegroup if necessary. And that's just the surface.

    A former coworker of mine was on a carrier that at one point indeed did outrun its escort ships. According to him, the rooster tail of the wake was almost at the level of the flight deck (taking into account that the back end was lower in the water at that speed).
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @09:05AM (#21334863) Journal

    the logical response to a long history of US support for the nasty regime of Israel
    There, fixed that for ya.

    Without entirely disagreeing with your post, if I had meant to type Israel, I would have. I was responding specifically to a comment about Al Quaeda which was predominantly a response to the US presence Saudi Arabia and support of the deeply unpleasant regime that controls it. It's an actual monarchy! Not in the stupid soak up your taxes and do nothing but inbreed English way, but an actual monarchy! Have no doubt that it is right to want a representative government there. And whilst Israel colours everything in the Middle East, and is an ever-present factor in creating the tolerance or sympathy that lets Al Quaeda hide and recruit, the actual original demand of Osama bin Laden was for the US to get out of Saudi Arabia and let them sort out issues with their government their own way. If we're going to look at the initial drive behind Al Quaeda, then we first have to look at Saudi Arabia. That is not to say that the effect of Israel on muslim and non-muslim relations outweighs Saudi in general terms. This is a country that demands a particular religion for immigration. Not even Iran asks that!
  • by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) * on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @10:37AM (#21335725)
    When it comes to being disciplined around weapons, the principles apply broadly. Many decades ago, Jeff Cooper sponsored/ran a shooting instruction class for juvenile delinquents (as they were called in those days). The principle was simple. He felt that kids going bad needed to have at least one part of their lives where they are trained and responsible, where they can enjoy the rewards of their labor yet be instantly responsible for their screwups. He felt they needed one circumstance where they would succeed at having good self-discipline. He felt that a lack of self-discipline was a root cause of juvenile delinquency. The idea was that success in being self-disciplined under one limited set of circumstances could lead to them employing more self-discipline in other parts of their lives and, thus, screwing up less.

    The drill was simple. On the firing range, the kids were told that they could have some good fun and learn something if they did what they were told and consistently maintained the self-discipline necessary to obey range rules. If they wanted to goof around, though, they were welcome to shoot themslves in the foot. (Not really, of course. The actual punishment was temporary or permanent banishment from the program and loss of an opportunity to play with the guns. To those kids, that was a serious consequence.)

    There were some amazing success stories from that program. Oddly, nowadays the idea of reforming a kid gone bad by giving him a rifle or pistol and teaching him to use it seems unthinkable. Sad, really. There are some fine life lessons that can best be learned with a rifle in hand. Nowadays, people don't seem to remember that. Really, really sad.
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @10:49AM (#21335865)
    You do know that's a reason for them not to attack us, right? I mean, it's not like we'd honor their treasury bonds if they declared war on us.

    So? China has plenty of Euro reserves and the Chinese banks have been quietly shifting everything over to non-US dollars (at the same time very discreetly because of their US investments) and if push came to shove, China would have a large in place R&D and manufacturing base, plenty of Euros and of course plenty of worthless US dollars.

    While we would have nothing but worthless US dollars, 9 trillion dollars of US debt, no comparable industrial infrastructure, and a nation full of marketers, lawyers, and middle management.

    You expect all those office workers to start working in the factories tomorrow? Canceling the US debt would hurt us much far more than it would hurt the Chinese.
  • Subs can indeed travel faster underwater than on the surface, however their props are designed for stealth first and speed second. That priority almost guarantees that the prop would cause cavitation at high speeds, which would basically destroy a very expensive item, so even if a captain *could* push his boat that fast, he would likely cripple it.

    There's one notable exception, which was probably involved in that story: []

  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:08PM (#21336923)
    China isn't going to attack Taiwan. They'll occasionally make plenty of noise, and rattle lots of sabres, but you'll never see the PLA storming Taipei in a pre-emptive strike. The US has assured Taiwan that we'll defend them from China as long as they don't declare independence. With emphasis on "as long as they don't declare independence." If they declare independence, all bets are off.

    Personally, I'm fairly confident that every militarily-significant country on earth has already reassured China that if Taiwan declares independence, and China doesn't attack, we'll all laugh politely, roll our eyes, and treat Taiwan like a naughty child throwing a tantrum in the middle of the floor -- ignoring it until it gets tired/bored and comes back to its senses.

    If China DID attack Taiwan following a declaration of independence, you can bet every step would be a carefully-scripted dance with the full knowledge and cooperation of the United States. The US would send troops to symbolically guard Taipei, but leave military targets and rural areas conspicuously unprotected. Then, the US would politely take metaphorical "bathroom breaks" while specific targets within Taipei (whose addresses were publicized well in advance) were selectively bombed. The clear message being, "We won't let China indiscriminately bomb you into the ground, but we're not going to save you from your own stupidity... and by the way, we think China's being AWFULLY generous with the SAR terms they've offered you... we STRONGLY suggest you accept them."
  • by yfarren ( 159985 ) <yossi&farvi,com> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @12:34PM (#21337345) Homepage
    Having been in an army that functions based on a draft, and having been none to eager to be in said army, Let me tell you, you get really good, competent, useful, smart, reliable soldiers, from a draft. (You also get lots of cannon fodder. But you get lots of EVERYTHING with a daft.)

    The fact that they don't want to be there doesn't really come into play. The myth that it does, is just a lie that we rich kids tell to keep us out of the army. Soldiers in WWII were wholly competent. Vietnam gave us a draft of people (not rich enough)/(without the connections) to get out, and too stupid to keep a minimum GPA in university.

    Look, the vast majority of smart, capable people will almost always look at an army and say "oh, wait, Getting Killed? For a little Bronze DooDad? No. I don't think so." And they will find something better to do (unless they have an inordinate amount of patriotism, or REALLY believe STRONGLY in the cause of the war. And even then, not so much). The only way you are going to get them into the army is to draft them. And really, for that to work, you have to have a strong draft, that doesn't leave people many outs (either because socially it is unacceptable (how many people went to the army and made out with another guy VS. Going to Canada?), or because it is virtually impossible to get out of.

    Once you have that, you get all kinds of people, and you have to categorize them. Most armies already do this (you don't have many stupid/unmotivated people in any elite force. Cannon fodder exists, are poorly trained, and serve a roll). How willing a person is to die doesn't really factor in, here, either. Given a challenge, and given training, smart/motivated people WILL meet that challenge. They wont admit it to themselves, people are great at rationalizing stuff away. But once in the situation, being given the training, those same smart motivated people who would never willingly join the army will learn the skills of soldiering as well as the smart motivated people who are all Gung Ho. And they will learn them far far better than the Gung Ho unmotivated stupid people.

    Surround a smart/capable person with other smart/capable people, even if they don't approve of the organization they are in, they will develop a bond with each other.

    And, once you give someone a skill, however vile a skill it is. Well. We like to use our skills. We really do. And when we can frame that skill in terms of it being a good thing to do (save our buddies, bring democracy to the people, help the majority of the people in this town have running water, blah blah blah) well, that makes using my horrible skills all the more appealing. The end Vs. the Means. Cutting out a cancer from the society. Pick your metaphor. People are great at rationalizing.

    This isn't to mention that the vast majority of skills the army imparts have nothing to do with combat. Tooth to Tail in the US (someone who knows more about the US army needs to correct me here) is something like 7:1. So most people in the army aren't involved in the combat side of things at all. Food prep, ordering supplies, cleaning camp, filling trucks with gas, etc. etc. etc.. (Cannon fodder aren't all in combat, ya know). Some of those things need smart, motivated people too (translation, reading local newspapers, listening to the radio, gathering Intel. Making sure you have the resources to feed 3000 people today etc.).

    And another thing. The vast majority of people make really crappy combat soldiers. Take a well trained (but not battle exposed) soldier, and shoot at him, and most of them will cower. It takes someone INCREDIBLY disciplined/motivated/(the right kind of cerebral) to grab cover, stick their head up and start shooting back. Funny thing is that that combination of discipline/motivation/(right kind of cerebral) ALSO has almost nothing to do with how much you wanted to be in that situation, in the first place. Because ONCE YOU ARE THERE, if you want to live, the correct response is to shoot back. And
  • Re:Simple solution: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @02:44PM (#21339405)
    "China has plenty of Euro reserves"

    That's doesn't mean that our treasury bills are worthless!

    "While we would have nothing but worthless US dollars, 9 trillion dollars of US debt, no comparable industrial infrastructure, and a nation full of marketers, lawyers, and middle management."

    This is not at all true. Most of the goods used by US citizens are made here (cars, houses, food!!!). Low cost goods are made in china, but they would be made here as well if the Chinese government didn't fix their currency to the value of the dollar. You seem to have forgotten that the US is the most industrialized nation on earth, much more so than china which is mostly agrarian. US dollars will always have value as long as the biggest spender on earth (The US) uses them. Moreover, if dollars were worthless, the 9 trillion dollars of debt would be as well, so putting those two claims in the same sentence is comical.

    "You expect all those office workers to start working in the factories tomorrow"

    Well, if they lose their office jobs, I imagine they would.

    "Canceling the US debt would hurt us much far more than it would hurt the Chinese."

    That's hard to say. It depends on how such an action is viewed by foreign creditors. It's pretty common for warring nations to seize the assets of their enemy (the debt is an asset to them, and our government has control over it). It would be unreasonable to expect us to honor the debt in such a circumstance (we'd pay them money, they'd use it to buy weapons and bomb us).
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2007 @04:09PM (#21340707)
    Well, there are a few differences between 1944 and today.

    First and foremost, the people generally felt that the war was just and correct, that this had to be done. It was the general sentiment that this is a "good" war that has to be fought and that dying in it is worth it. Also, don't forget that that were different times. Pride in your country was vastly different from today. And your options weren't so stunning. You were, compared with today, poor as dirt. You also had a lot different people back then at your disposal. One of the often cited reasons for losing the Vietnam war was the average age of a front line soldier (26 in WW2 compared to 19 in Vietnam).

    Also, the time and the way battles are waged changed dramatically. There is no Normandy today. There is no central structure in America's enemies. That would be trivial to solve in today's world of global warfare, send an ICBM into the center of the enemy territory and boom goes the Führer.

    Today, you don't need bodies. You need motivated, skilled and well trained soldiers. And you have none of those 3 qualities in a conscript.

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