Wednesday, October 19, 2022


h/t WRSA

Matt Bracken, whom we generally agree with, has misdiagnosed badly in his analysis of the latest Russian tactic, the Iranian-supplied Shahed-136 drone swarms.

He gets most of it right, until we get to effects, both individual, and collective.

It's anything but hard to intercept, as Ukraine has been swatting down 80-85% of them every day of the week, and twice on Sundays. Their success is limited, but not nil, because when Russia launches five of them, that means one gets through, and when they launch 100 of them, 20 get through. With a fairly small and limited-effectiveness warhead. Their saving grace is that they're enormously cheaper than heavier Russian rockets, so unlike their own heavy rocket artillery, Russia can afford to waste 80-85 to get 15-20 through. Provided all you wanted to do was scare people and hit soft targets, which is what terrorists do. But we're talking about Putin, so we repeat ourself.

Their effect, to date, is negligible. Zelensky himself noted outages in 30% of their power grid from the totality of all Russian strikes. But that's temporary, unless they're hitting items that can't be repaired or replaced, which is the difference between breaking windows, and actually demolishing a building.

To date in world history, only two bombardment campaigns have had any strategic effect in any war, and only one of those effects lasted beyond three years' time.

Bombing London in WWII, twice, including both conventional bombers, and the V-1 and V-2 campaigns, did nothing but piss off the British people, stiffen their resistance, and have them resolve to accept nothing from Germany but dismemberment and unconditional surrender. Epic fail.

Bombing Germany, even obliterating Dresden with a conventionally-created firestorm, didn't get the Germans to quit until Russia marched into Berlin and held the Nazi leadership at bayonet-point. Fail. Japan was wholesale bombed into oblivion as well, and it gained us nothing in the long run. Fail.

Linebacker II in 1972 convinced North Vietnam to return to peace talks, but that just gave them a couple of years' respite to re-arm, wait until the US was navel-gazing and war-weary, then wait until Watergate and near impeachment in Washington left them an open door to invade and conquer the South in 1975, barely two years later. Half-credit.

The only bombing campaign that ever "worked" for any strategic value of that word, was performed by the 509th Composite Bombardment Group under Col. Paul Tibbetts, in two pivotal missions. One over Hiroshima, and the second over Nagasaki, in August of 1945. Perhaps you've read about it. Strategic win.

Russia can't bomb tactical formations in Kherson or the Donbas, because they're too busy retreating, which is why those offensives keep rolling along, with the ultimate goal of dislodging Russia from Ukrainian territory altogether, including the increasingly probable loss of the entire Crimea, in perpetuity, by the end of this year.

So all that leaves them is non-mobile soft civilian targets in Ukraine, and their success rate is down around 15-20%. And as fast as they blow targets up, crews work to fix them.

Thus, when you're trying five attempts to get one small hit, they're simply a terror weapon, and the Ukrainian citizenry isn't afraid of the Russian wolf snarling any more.

And the offensives in the east and south continue completely unimpeded and unaffected by Russia bombing civilians.

The multi-billion dollar question is, where the F**k is the Soviet Air Farce, which has been almost entirely MIA since February 25th. If Russia really could bomb anything effectively, they would be doing that, rather than using second-hand Iranian-made drones (because they literally can't even make those drones themselves.) They're that hard-up.

Flash back to 9/11, and tell the class how those bombings in America convinced the US to get out of the Middle East, mind our own business, and roll over and play dead.

That's where Putin is, and there's no amount of lipstick that will make this pig into a prom queen.


  1. Why are there two such wildly differing opinions about the war in Ukraine amongst America-first patriots?

    Two authors whom I respect, this blog writer and Matt Bracken, arrive at two very different interpretations of events.

    Bracken is convinced Russia is waging the kind of military engagement it wishes and is having success (and sympathizes with the Russian motivation). Aesop is convinced Russia is stepping on its own junk at every turn and is failing wildly (and is unsympathetic towards the Russian leadership's motivations).

    Both believe what they say, and both want the best for this country and the world. Why the disparity, and how are patriots so divided in their takes on this?

    1. Well said good Sir!
      I enjoy raking our host over the coals. Its fun. But you are correct, an intelligent mind well possessed of logic and intellect, so his opinion should carry some weight. Likewise Mr. Bracken has established his reputation.
      Thus the question: who is right?
      Two thoughts come to mind. Perhaps this is a non-binary situation? Aka grey area? One side being right does not preclude the other. Maybe one side is winning, the other not-losing? Know what I mean? The interpretation of events could be successfully argued from both sides, so neither party is 'wrong'.
      Secondly I find myself coming back to Michael Yon's concept of paradigm. When factual events don't seem to add up, its usually ones paradigm that is out of whack. This situation is perfect: Russia is losing because they haven't captured Kiev vs Limited Police action... kinda like the US in S. Vietnam 50 years ago, we won, right...? But I'd digress.
      In the fog of war, truth is the first casualty.

  2. Yeah, the Putin-tards online are still thinking that the Russians have every advantage on their side and any setbacks are the prelude to a total Russian victory. It’s basically Tet Syndrome, crossed with Lenin-style defeatism.

    The irony of it all is that these same commentators talk endlessly about the collapse of the cities and the Golden Horde, yet think that a Russian nuclear strike on American soil would cripple us forever instead of wiping out the least-patriotic/productive part of the continent.

  3. The thing that worries me is that if - when, with the current regime - we stumble into a direct war with a peer or near-peer competitor, we'll start seeing such drone swarms attacking American cities. For that matter, most of our domestic military bases are wide open to such drone attacks. Not a whole lot of AA guns deployed around the continental USA in peacetime, and the things are low and slow enough fighters have a hard time engaging them (I believe UKR lost a MiG-29 the other day engaging a Shaheed with its cannon and was caught in the blast).

    The modified hobbyist drones with a grenade or mortar shell - which IIRC you've addressed before - are bad enough. This seems to be a whole order of magnitude worse of a threat, especially to civilian targets.

    I'm wondering how many of those Iranian drones have been, or are being, shipped to, say, Cuba right this minute. Or smuggled into Mexico and stashed in a warehouse somewhere. Hope the woke and pozzed Pentagon is spending at least a little time observing events in UKR and planning countermeasures, for the home front as well as our troops and installations abroad.

    --Wes S.

  4. Insty had a story where the Russians are complaining that their Chicom sourced microchips have a 40% failure rate. Which could be one reason they're bring out all the old relics from storage, and why there's no working air cover.

  5. "(because they literally can't even make those drones themselves.) They're that hard-up."

    The Iranian drone is but a mailing tube with wings with a lawn motor attached. But Aesop I think you missed the closing argument. -- Why can't the Russians accomplish better targeting? They have their own GPS system in orbit. They should be able to push one of those drones right thru a window to something vital, OR is their GPS system FUBAR as well and can't do better than a city block???

  6. @Anon 4:03P,

    You'd have to ask Matt.
    Nothing he posted but what I pointed out was incorrect, and nothing I told you was false either.

    But when you dial down successful hit potential on 80# warheads on those drones from 100% to 15%, those drones go from catastrophic to nuisance.

    Imagine, for reference, 15 bombs that size going off in, say, Texas. Every day.

    a) How long before Texans would surrender?
    b) How long before they'd form their own army, and conquer whoever was launching them, anywhere on the planet, and use the severed heads of that enemy as yard decorations on pointed staves, and chain the torsos up for bayonet practice?
    c) If that enemy was, for instance, Mexico, how long before Texas would extend to the Yucatan and across to the Pacific Coast, with a 20-mile-deep completely uninhabited No Man's Land south of that, fully mined, and covered by machineguns, artillery, and hourly StrikeCaps carrying napalm and cluster bombs, and fuck whatever DC said about it?

  7. @Wes S.,
    I have been assured by the World's Foremost Drone Expert in Canuckistan that using small drones to attack any worthwhile American targets is unpossible, because he can't figure out how to do it, nor even imagine how it might occur. So sleep tight.

    You may take that assurance for exactly what you paid to get it.

    1. Oh my! Was that snark? Both you boys need to put your Wolverine claws away, stop the dick swinging contest, and bury the hatchet. You and Glen are the on the same side, the right side of history; the 2nd amendment, freedom loving, limited government, God given rights side, etc, etc. And I surmise you are both believer’s, so both you act like one. All this hate is non constructive. Just agree to disagree. Having differing opinions is what makes a free world. I appreciate and respect BOTH of you and value what each of you have to contribute to the dialogue.

      Yeah. You will probably ream me a new asshole for my comment, but, as Chris Stapleton sings,
      Fire away
      Take your best shot
      Show me what you got
      Honey, I'm not afraid
      Rear back and take aim
      And fire away 😉

      Actually, I am afraid, but I respect and appreciate you, but I will not sign my name cause you can be a really scary man at times.

      First time commenting.

      Live long and prosper.

  8. I saw an example of "that kind of expert" commentary after 9/11.
    A panel was discussing possible threats, and one said "it would be impossible to smuggle a nuclear weapon into the US. The military guy they had on the panel answered "the easiest way to do it would be to hide it in a ton of cocaine."
    Dead air for 30 seconds, cut to commercial, back and that guy was gone.
    John in Indy

  9. Enough of these cheap drones take out electrical substations and transformers then Ukraine will find that they are living in the 19th Century and unable to perform agricultural and industrial tasks and then the war will be over.

    No electricity, water, food, communications, Internet . . . the Ukrainians will direct their ruling puppet to move to his mansions in Miami or Tel Aviv.

    1. Winner winner chicken dinner.

      For 500 bucks, Vlad gets to blow up a $50k transformer station. With no spare parts transformers in inventory.

      I'll take you 15% success rate.

      Welcome to the 18th century Zipperboy!

    2. This.

      "Large orders for pad-mounted transformers, which typically took between 6–12 weeks to fulfill in 2020, now have lead times of 52–86 weeks. Transformer orders slated for arrival in mid-2021 have been postponed several times, with final arrival dates yet to be determined.

      As the global supply of transformers has diminished, prices have risen accordingly. 25kVA pad-mounted transformer pricing rose nearly 400% from 2020 per-unit pricing, and 50kVa unit pricing jumped 900% since 2020. Pole-mounted transformers, which the PUD uses less of, have seen similar price increases, as well as extended lead times with no guarantees of meeting price quotes. "

      Not that long ago, this very site was talking about the vulnerability of the US grid to hunting rifles...

  10. I don't know what side he's on, except overwhelming ignorance. He got his ass handed to him here and on Peter's BRM blog time after time after time over drones, and keeps trying to win that argument months and years after being overtaken by events. Whatever side he's on, based on what scant little I've bothered to look at since then, he's an intellectual featherweight with delusions of competency, and has tried to claw his way to importance with nothing but ass-gas and ad hominem, which adverse outcome is predictable, and living proof that shit will not do for brains, even in a pinch.
    Were he anywhere near bright enough to recognize that on his own, he would concentrate his efforts on his own communists in Canuckistan, like Turdoo, and leave off trying to opine on places he can't even find on a map, and equipment and tactics he's only seen in picture books or war movies. That and more are why he generally keeps to his own patch of the internet, which I happily consign to him uncontested. Whatever audience he gets, deserves him, with my full blessing.

    And frankly, that's more electrons than I've bothered to throw his way in months to years, and far more thought than he deserves. The shitburgers he's eaten over this already (e.g. "The Moskva is barely scratched, and steaming under her own power back to Sevastopol!" - yes, really, that was him, verbatim), and will be eating presently, will last him a lifetime, and at the end of that, like Motorman Holman at the very end of The Sand Pebbles, he'll be sitting there with a baffled look on his face wondering aloud "What the hell happened?!?"

    If you think otherwise, it's a free country, and you have our best wishes.

  11. @Anon 12:23A,

    Meh. It's Ukraine, and part of the same Soviet Union for 70+ years. They're not a helluva long way from the 19th century most days anyways.

    None of which attacks are doing anything substantive to slow down Putin's drunken misfits getting their asses handed to them and being pushed back across the Dnieper, and likely out of Crimea to boot after that. Vlad should have quit while he was ahead.

    But the Ukrainians pushed out Vlad's ruling puppet several years back, which is how the current guy got the job, hence the butthurt in the Kremlin. All that graft from their side since 1990, shot all to hell, and nothing to show for it.


    Particularly like the historical analysis of bombing effectiveness.


  13. @Anon 2:37A,

    Now all you have to do is document
    a) that's what's happening,
    b) that it matters, and
    c) that it's having any effect whatsoever on the ongoing rout of Russian forces across the entire collapsing front.

    Your move, chief.

  14. @Anon 2:37 must assume every drone that escapes destruction achieves targeting an essential item. One wonders if GLONAS is still operational. One wonders if the GPS Jammers I worked on twenty years ago are still as effective now as they were then.

  15. Bracken has been consistently wrong in every specific prediction he makes for something like a decade now - for as long as I've been paying attention to him.

    Seriously. Go find me a quote from him where he says "major event X is going to happen" and then X happened like he said. It NEVER happens. As a firebrand and a cheerleader, he's fine. As an analyst, he's a total fucking moron at best, and a lying grifter at worst. (He DOES write and sell books following the same general line of argument he takes in blogs and social media. Is he selling wisdom, or fear porn? How would you tell?)

    I can give you several specific counterexamples, prior to the current Russia case.

    First, some years back, as a result of whatever current crisis of the day was going on in the Mideast or North Africa, Merkel's Germany let in a bunch of migrants. There was a big crowd in one German city where some women got raped and/or assaulted. Bracken made a detailed post (published at WRSA) where he explained how the migrant Muslim mobs were going to forcibly take over the core of German cities and seize apartment buildings and houses in large numbers, there'd be organized systematic mass rape everywhere, etc. etc., and by the end of the winter all German cities would be held by the Caliphate. I said at the time it was total bullshit. He responded to me, defending the prediction. I repeated that it was total bullshit. Six months later, it was indeed provably total bullshit. This is not to say that the Muslim tide entering Europe is not a problem - it is an existential one - but being that ridiculously over-the-top about the nature of what's going on is the opposite of helpful or accurate.

    In early February 2020, people hadn't freaked out about COVID yet and in Virginia people were agitating about the Democrat legislature overreaching on guns. A gun-rights rally with lots of open carry was planned for Richmond. Bracken (and Aesop) denounced it as being a Charlottesville-style trap that would, guaranteed, lead to disaster (Bracken's article about it, titled something with the words "buffalo jump", is probably still findable if you look for it). It went very peacefully and quietly, the police were extremely respectful to the attendees, I believe the height of unruliness was that the police had to speak twice to one specific individual to have them stand somewhere else, and it was followed by Glenn Youngkin getting elected governor. I will note here that Aesop's specific comments on how things COULD have gone wrong are worth reading as guidance for how to avoid J6 style trouble in the future. The plain fact is though that it did not turn into a J6 incident, in large part because it had been demonstrated with blinding clarity that the rally and the movement was STRONGLY supported by municipal governments all across the state. J6 had no such support by legitimate authority - rather the reverse; see Georgia - so they knew they could act with impunity. Bracken's predictions about the Virginia rally were totally wrong, because he didn't take this into account.


  16. (2/2)
    During some episode of the ongoing tensions with China, Bracken posted a fairly long analysis about how all China needed to do to beat the US was to grab some superfreighters, fill them with excess young men and guns, and sail them to America without caring exactly where they land. It would be an army of millions, far outnumbering any military in the New World, with nothing to lose, strong motivation to seize women and territory and whatever else, a benefit to China by removing all the young male agitators, net cost to China negligible because once the ships are launched they can just write them off and even if they lose many of them they don't care because the ones that manage to land will still outnumber the local militaries ... He went on like this at some length. It is computer game thinking. It is crazy and it is stupid and as soon as you start thinking about this sort of thing in the real world you can perceive all the issues with it and the ways it would go wrong and totally fail to accomplish any of the stated objectives. But this is classic Bracken. He's a midwit fooler. He writes things that sound really smart and deep to people who haven't actually spent much time thinking about the topic and looking into it and maybe having to deal with actual consequences of getting a guess wrong.

    On Russia, I've looked at some of what he cites as evidence for his claims that the Russians are doing well, that they're advancing, that Ukraine is losing, etc. It is consistently tactical, not strategic. He links to videos of specific incidents. He does not discuss overall patterns. The overall pattern is that Russia ran out of steam by late March, made a grindingly slow advance in some areas over the next few months, then started falling apart all over the place. Cherry-picking details and ignoring the pattern is not a way to demonstrate correctness. He claims to be sympathetic to Russian motivations; he does not discuss how and why Russian opposition to gay marriage should equate to smashing civilians in Ukraine with artillery barrages. This sort of thing, more than anything, is why I am increasingly disinclined to give him any sort of benefit of the doubt. One does not systematically avoid difficult questions like this unless one knows precisely what the true answers are but wishes to continue stating the opposite of the truth.

    Sarah Hoyt - of whom I am not a fan at all - did make an excellent criticism of her own regarding Bracken. One of his earliest pieces is "When the Music Stops" about if/when EBT cards stop working. He predicts a wave of barbarian raiders swarming out of the cities to overwhelm the countryside. Hoyt made the very reasonable and excellent point that the people on EBT cards are the least motivated, least entrepreneurial, least likely to get up off their asses and do anything, on the entire continent. If there's no food, they'll sit in their ghettos and eat each other, maybe, but they don't have the organizational skills or drive or imagination to go a-conquering. I believe Hoyt pointed to Venezuela as a counterexample, where indeed in the cities things are bad, but the countryside is almost normal. This is an excellent criticism with a lot of very good sense behind it, to which Bracken has never responded. It is just another part of the pattern. He's a fear porn merchant, nothing more.

    The principles he claims to be defending are good ones. But I have never seen a clear reason for why he starts with sound principles and ends with recommended or predicted action that is consistently stupid and wrong.

  17. When I first saw those, I thought, "V-1, but slower." V-1s were notoriously ineffective.

  18. Speaking of Bracken, he posted this link today:


  19. @Anon 9:23A

    1) That's nice, but it says nothing about

    a) shortages in Ukraine
    b) whether Russia has hit any transformers

    So other than some giant gaps in proof between theory and reality, I'm not arguing the theoretical logic.
    If you haven't got any better information on either of those points than I have, we'll both have to see how it works out over time.

    2) IIRC, I have never argued the grid is vulnerable to "hunting rifles".
    Unless you can tell me what you'd hunt with a Barret M82A1 in .50BMG, etc.
    Unless you're using AP ammunition, you'd have more effect on the grid if you used hunting rifles on the operators, rather than the equipment.
    And even at firesale prices, Iranian drones' cost is closer to the price of a .50BMG rifle, not a round of ammunition for it.

    Everybody's grid is fragile. Ask people in Florida about that. Hell, I've had mine go down, just from old wires, and the concrete out front still bears the 10KV scars. The salient question is the state of Ukrainian spares, and speed of restoration, on a continuum from tomorrow-never. You got a legit source on that, feel free to share.

    I still suspect average people in Ukraine use more firewood than electrons any day of the week, especially in the countryside.

  20. @Anon 1:29P,


    It's RUMINT, i.e. RUMor INTelligence.
    For the uninitiated, RUMINT is one level above "found written inside a portapotty".

    Intel sources are graded on a 5x5 source reliability x source accuracy grid, with 25 (5x5) being max score.
    This is a 1. Only because a score of 0 is unpossible.

  21. Forget Filthie. I tried pointing out all the ways he's blowing it, and making a fool of himself, to try and get him to at least improve his game.
    His response was to tell me I'm Aesop.
    I damn near shit myself laughing that one off.
    I guess he and his toadies figure anyone smarter than them (which is just about everyone) must be Mr. A.

  22. From what I've seen of his scribblings, there's nothing wrong with him that another 70 IQ points wouldn't fix.

  23. As Tom Selleck said in Monte Walsh, "You can't have no idea how little I care". I've never read a single intelligent thought from Filthie on any topic I can remember going back years, and I don't expect him to break that streak anytime soon, which is why I really couldn't ignore him now any harder than totally. I sign my posts, but his projection is why he thinks everyone who bests him must be me. He's a sad little man trying to sound relevant, but he's just not lucky at thinking. People who go there get what they deserve, and/or peak out at about the same point on the IQ bell curve, which explains a lot. And that's really the last effort I'll spend discussing him. It's pointless.

    If the point of the VA rally was to not turn into a Charlottesville/J6 sh*tshow, then yes, it was a "success". But before Youngkin got elected, the prior governor against whom VA citizens rallied also completely ignored the rally, and shoved additional anti-gun bills right up their asses. A few more "successes" like Richmond, and VA becomes NJ.
    Stay out of the street. Nothing you want will be won there.
    Protests are the action of sad little irrelevant clowns. Consider how it worked out for the hippies. Von Clauswitz noted "War is politics, by other means." The inverse is also true. Politics is war by other means. The enemy doesn't respect drill and ceremonies. He only respects getting his ass kicked, and your bayonet to his throat, or removing him from the field of battle. If the Richmond rally energies had been directed at identifying friendly and enemy politicians, supporting the former, and removing the latter, with extreme political prejudice, it would have been time and effort well spent.
    And unlike stupid rah-rah rallies, wouldn't have risked an actual sh*tshow like Charlottesville or J6, only to accomplish less than nothing, except a tremendous waste of time, effort, and energy.

    It's too late in the game for cheerleaders. We need linebackers.