Saturday, September 10, 2016
Old weapons, modern battlefields
The other day I was watching a news clip of Kurds fighting in Syria. The Kurds were in old Russian T-55 tanks. They were great tanks . . . in WWII. However, they still proved effective against ISIS.
There's an awful lot of old style weapons seeing service all over the world. It's not all generation 5 fighter jets, and composite armor tanks. There's a lot of older stuff out there too, especially in places like Africa and former Soviet satellite states.
Even old firearms are still seeing service. For example the old SKS rifles, predecessor to the AK-47 are still out there. They were produced in huge numbers and they function just fine.
Then there are new weapons based on old designs. From South America to Afghanistan propeller driven combat planes are in service. They make sense when fighting low intensity wars against insurgents lacking their own air capacity. Cheap, easily maintained aircraft that are slow enough to linger over battlefields are more effective than F-16s.
So where am I going with this? I'm thinking that future battlefields will not be as we imagine. Currently most wars are being fought by surrogates that are heavily supplied by outside allied nations. Now imagine a world war where most countries are engaged to one degree or another. That seemingly endless supply line of war machines and supplies would come to an end. Everyone would be fighting with what they have, even if it's obsolete.
A general sterilize the planet nuclear exchange is the only thing that would quickly end the struggle. Barring that, the other high tech toys would soon be exhausted in combat. Then the dust would be blown off the old museum pieces and those would be thrown into war. There are a lot of old mothballed war machines that could be put into service.
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Old Albert knew where this all ends. The world has not seen the horror of a world war in many years. In WWII the US manufacturing base was protected by its oceans. The Russians moved manufacturing over the Urals to be out of easy reach of bombers. Germany really began to suffer in its war effort when Allied bombers finally reached their factories in sufficient numbers.
Manufacturing is very different today. Most of the high tech stuff is built from parts and materials sourced from all over the world. If war cut off those supplies countries would be forced to drop back to simpler and more primitive designs.
In the end, it's all sticks and stones.
Let's not go there.