Hacker News Re-Imagined

The Return of Industrial Warfare

  • 64 points
  • 11 days ago

  • @paganel
  • Created a post

The Return of Industrial Warfare


@pm90 11 days

Replying to @paganel 🎙

Maybe unpopular opinion: Its actually good that we may not have the industrial capacity to supply large scale conflicts for great lengths of time.

There’s a simple solution to prevent conflicts like the one in Ukraine: expand NATO membership. It has turned out to be a n effective tool at preventing land wars in Europe.

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@aftbit 11 days

Replying to @paganel 🎙

History shows that peacetime nations frequently underestimate the cost of war. If you haven't seen them yet, Perun on YouTube has done a number of good videos on the economics of war & the Russo-Ukranian conflict in particular.

Here's one in particular that deals a bit with ammo shortages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2ptG1IxZ08

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@spywaregorilla 11 days

Replying to @paganel 🎙

I'm not convinced. This is a weird war. Russia has an enormous supply of really shitty vehicles, indifference to losing tens of thousands of soldiers, and indifference to slaughtering civilians at will. Dumb artillery and cheap shells are a good solution for this. Will we ever see such a situation again? Russia is the only country that can do this as far as I can tell.

This is a war in large part being fought with tech from 50 years ago. The new stuff is only just reaching the front. I'm not sure how relevant the lessons to be learned are.

The javelins are a weird case. Yeah they probably did burn through javelins quickly. That'll happen if your enemy is careless with its troops and tanks. We can still make javelins a lot faster than Russia can make tanks, they just had a lot of tanks to begin with. We're now seeing russia roll out tanks from 60's. I'm inclined to believe that supply is rapidly running out.

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@baybal2 11 days

Replying to @paganel 🎙

An excellent article when it comes to throwing a dry fact into the face.

An even greater commentary been provided by this tweet: https://twitter.com/kamilkazani/status/1539623100144295936

How did America pump out liberty ships faster than even China can build ships today during the WW2?

US military production was a byproduct of its great civilian heavy industry. US tanks, ships, airplanes, bomber, guns were mostly made by factories repurposed from making civilian goods. So when the demand for them waned, so did the raw military potential. This was in contract to USSR, where civilian manufacturing was a byproduct of weapon production.

American military planners knew that all well during the late cold war, and its pursuit of "smart weapons" was an attempt to substitute quality for quantity, and capitalise on American leadership in electronics. This paid out extremely well. Even first generation smart munitions were many times more efficient.

After the Cold War, US peacetime military planning started to stagnate, and finally disappeared due to obsession with "special operations" during the War on Terror, and military procurement becoming a business like operation. By only allowing expensive toys winning procurement competitions, the military pigeonholed itself into extremely uncompetitive purchasing position.

While USA has no rivals in arms exports for things like fighter jets, nearly no brand new weapon systems developed after year 2000 are bought by US allies. As you see even now, most bought US hardware today is still from the Cold War era, which is a proof of the above. Look at the super expensive titanium M777 howitzer: they wanted to restart its production recently, but... surprise! They have to buy its titanium from Russia. F35's titanium bulkheads are now turning into a similar issue.

US electronics is no longer an edge for its military industry, and more likely a liability. What however the West can deny China, and Russia are high grade machine tools, and other implements for the heavy industry: modern Chinese steel industry was built by Dutch, car industry by Germans and Italians, materials by Japan, electronics assembly by Taiwanese, and heavy machinery by Koreans.

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@yborg 11 days

Replying to @paganel 🎙

This points out the fact that ceding your technical manufacturing base to other countries, especially your possible enemies, is good way to lose geopolitical relevance in a hurry. The implicit assumption has always been that nuclear weapons trump everything, but realistically this only is useful if an enemy believes you are willing to invoke Armageddon to resolve a conflict. Is the US going to risk annihilation over Taiwan? If the answer is 'no', then relative conventional combat strength will determine the victor, and when your opponent owns your industrial base, you have already lost.

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@bell-cot 11 days

Replying to @paganel 🎙

For all the article's talk about military supply businesses closing down when the government isn't regularly buying enough, it fails to mention the long history of government-owned, government-operated armories and arsenals. Most major nations developed, maintained, and operated those, for centuries. Because staying ready to produce arms and ammunition - at scale, when needed - was always a poor fit for private industry.

EDIT: Add one simple example - "The Springfield Armory, more formally known as the United States Armory and Arsenal at Springfield located in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, was the primary center for the manufacture of United States military firearms from 1777 until its closing in 1968. It was the first federal armory and one of the first factories in the United States dedicated to the manufacture of weapons." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_Armory )

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@otikik 11 days

Replying to @paganel 🎙

> Luckily for the US, its gun culture ensured that small arms ammunition industry has a civilian component in the US. This is not the case with other types of ammunition, as shown earlier with Javelin and Stinger missiles

I am trying to keep an open mind and see where this person is coming from, but I don't think "Luckily" is the right word to use. If I was feeling particularly charitable I would call it a "Mixed bag".

It's a bit ridiculous, but imagine for a second if Javelin and Stinger missiles did have a civilian component.

> If competition between autocracies and democracies has really entered a military phase, then the arsenal of democracy must radically improve its approach to the production of materiel in wartime

That is one option, there are others. We could, for example, decide to take preventive economical measures against autocracies, and thus preventing them from capital they could use to build their own arsenal. Everyone having smaller arsenals is good for everyone (except the Military Industrial complex, of course).

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