The Ottomans Enter the War: Part I See also the supplemental background brief: "The Ottomans, Sykes-Picot and ISIS which is being posted concurrently with this week's commentary.
The Ottoman Empire signed a secret Ottoman-German Alliance on August 2, 1914 in which the Ottoman Empire agreed to enter the war one day after Germany declared war on Russia. Sultan Mehmed V refused to sign the agreement, however, preferring that the Empire remain neutral in the coming conflict. As the Sultan was also the Commander in Chief of the military, Ottoman forces could not be deployed without his permission.
Just two weeks after the start of the war, two German ships, the heavy cruiser Goeben and the light cruiser Breslau arrived in Constantinople. The German government promptly donated them to the Ottoman Empire. The ships were renamed the Yavuz Sultan Selim and Midilli. The German officers and crew remained, now part of the Ottoman navy.
Elements in the Turkish military now took matters into their own hands and ordered the two ships to sail into the Black Sea. On October 29, they attacked Russia's Crimean port, Sevastopol. Despite the Ottoman Government protestations that the ship had acted without authorization and an offer to pay reparations to Russia, the Russian government used the incident as a pretext to commence hostilities against the Ottoman Empire.
The attack prompted a Russian declaration of war on November 2, and was followed by French and British declarations several days later. On November 6th, British forces landed in the Shatt al-Arab and took control of Basra and its surrounding oil fields. The Sultan's reluctance notwithstanding, the Ottoman Empire was now at war.
The Caucasus Theater The Caucasus Campaign was a series of armed conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, including Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Central Caspian Dictatorship, between 1914 and 1917. The theater extended from the Caucasus to eastern Anatolia; reaching as far as Trabzon, the historic Trebizond, Bitlis, Mus and Van. Warfare on land was accompanied by naval action between the Russian and Ottoman navies in the Black Sea.
The main objective of the Ottoman government in the Caucasus campaign was to retake the territories lost to Russia in the war of 1877. These territories were Artvin, Ardahan, Karsand, and the port of Batumi. For Germany, a Caucasus campaign served the additional purpose of diverting Russian forces from the Polish and Galician fronts and further complicated Russian war planning. Success, the Germans and Ottomans believed, would ignite a revolt of Caucasian Muslims and the Turkic people of central Asia. It would cut off Russian access to oil fields in the northern Caspian Sea and possibly spread to the Muslim population of British India.
Russia viewed the Caucasus as a secondary theatre to the Eastern Front, but was concerned about Ottoman ambitions to retake Russian conquests from the 1877 Russo-Turkish war. Notwithstanding its secondary importance, Russia had grand plans, for which it sought British and French support, to take control of Constantinople, the Turkish Straits, and a broad expanse of land from the Black Sea coast of Anatolia through Thrace and south to Izmit.
Turkish forces consisted of the 3rd Army, composed of the IX, X and XI Corps, numbering between 150,000 and 200,000 men. They outnumbered Russian forces in theater by about 3 to 1, but were poorly equipped. Russian Forces in the region, initially, numbered about 100,000 men. They were under the nominal command of Illarion Vorontsov-Dashkov, Governor General of the Caucasus, but his Chief of Staff, General Nikolai Yudenich, was effectively in charge. Following the defeat of Russian forces at the Battles of Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes, almost half of the force was transferred to the Eastern Front, leaving approximately 60,000 troops. Russian troops were supplemented by the creation of Armenian volunteer units. By 1917, these volunteer units numbered around 110,000 men.
Armenian Volunteer Units in the Russian Caucasus Army
1914 Operations in Eastern Anatolia
Russian forces commenced offensive operations on November 1, a day before the official Russian declaration of war. The Bergmann Offensive, named after General Georgy Bergmann, the Commander of the Caucasian Army Corp, planned to capture Dogubeyazit and Koprukoy in Eastern Anatolia.Russian forces consisted of 25 infantry battalions, 37 cavalry units, and 120 artillery units organized into two corps, the Russian I Corps and the Russian IV Corps.
Russian Caucasus Army at Sarikamish
They reached Koprukoy on November 4. Initial Ottoman counterattacks failed and were forced back, extending the Russian advance. Bolstered by additional reinforcements, Ottoman Forces began a second series of counterattacks beginning on November 7, and by November 20 had retaken Koprukoy. By the end of November, the front had stabilized with the Russians clinging to a 15-mile salient along the Erzrum-Sarikamis axis.
For a country with a small population, Canada was well-represented among the ranks of the deadliest air aces of the First World War.
Two Canadians — Billy Bishop and Raymond Collishaw — are among the top 10 scorers overall. Three of the 10 are Germans, with Manfred von Richthofen, the fabled Red Baron, leading everyone with 80 victories.
First World War ace Raymond Collishaw was born in Nanaimo, B.C. and is credited with shooting down 60 enemy aircraft. Archive photo, Postmedia News
Dozens of other Canadians became aces, with five or more victories. Other notable Canadians include Donald MacLaren, William Barker and Roy Brown. Brown is known mainly for the controversy surrounding his downing of Richthofen. Canada insists Brown fired the fatal shots. Australia says some of their infantry felled the ace by shooting from the ground.
Most of these pilots were barely out of their teens.
Bishop looms the largest of Canada’s aces, with books, plays and a few controversial films about him. After the first war, he was instrumental in founding the Royal Canadian Air Force and was put in charge of recruitment to swell the RCAF’s ranks during the Second World War.
He would end the First World War with the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth’s highest honour for valour and 72 aerial victories.
“Billy Bishop was a man absolutely without fear,” was how Eddie Rickenbacker, one of the United States’ greatest First World War aces, summed him up in “Billy Bishop: The Courage of the Early Morning,” by Bishop’s son, Arthur. “I think he’s the only man I have ever met who was incapable of fear.”
Bishop was one of three Canadian airmen to win the Victoria Cross during the First World War. The other two were Barker, the most decorated Canadian serviceman and Alan McLeod, a 19-year-old pilot who fought off an attack by several German planes before crashing and then dragging his wounded gunner to safety despite his own injuries.
Known as “The Lone Hawk” for his preference for solo missions, the Owen Sound, Ont.-born Bishop was Canada’s highest-scoring ace and the third highest overall of the war.
Canadian fighter ace William (Billy) Bishop sits in a Nieuport aircraft in a 1917 file photo. Air combat was in its infancy when the First World War began, only 11 years after the Wright Brothers invented the airplane and took it for its first successful flight in 1903. Archive photo, National Archives of Canada
The Royal Flying Corps officer — there was no RCAF when the war started so Canadians joined the British service — was awarded his Victoria Cross for a single-handed attack on a German airfield at Arras on June 2, 1917. He also won the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down 25 of the enemy in 12 days.
“He has become a kind of mythical figure,” Diana Bishop, the ace’s granddaughter, said in a telephone interview. She was three years old when Bishop died in 1956 but says he remained a “wonderful, friendly ghost that haunted our house” even after he was gone.
“I would say he’s probably been the biggest influence in my life, without a doubt — and I didn’t even know him,” said the former journalist. “It was my journey to have him as a grandfather and I couldn’t be prouder. But I’m also proud of my dad.”
Billy Bishop’s son Arthur was also a fighter pilot with the RCAF in the Second World War as well as a journalist and noted author.
Although impressed with her grandfather’s service, Diana Bishop’s recollections of him are more personal than the average Canadian.
To most, including the legions of children who have done school projects on him over the years, he was a daredevil, a knight of the air.
“He wasn’t a great business person and he was a prankster and all those things,” Diana Bishop says with a hint of a smile in her voice.
She said he was someone who tried to make “a lot more fun” for the family.
Diana Bishop cited pranks her grandfather pulled such as holding a backwards dinner party, where dessert came first and all the other courses came in reverse order. Even the servants walked backward. Other times he’d show up at home with blocks of soap or ice and get everyone involved in carving projects.
“He brought home instruments to play at one point so that everybody would learn to play the clarinet or violin,” she said. “He was always doing little projects like that. He loved to entertain.”
That was a view shared by her father in a 2001 interview with The Canadian Press.
“You’d have to know my old man to realize he was quite a character and he was a lot of fun,” said Arthur Bishop, who died last year. “He was always a jolly kind of guy.”
Diana Bishop acknowledged that her grandfather was also a controversial figure and some filmmakers and authors have taken issue with his service record.
Billy Bishop was profiled in a contentious 1982 National Film Board of Canada documentary which challenged many of his claims, including those that led to his getting the Victoria Cross.
Two Senate subcommittees found attribution errors and events shifted in time to add to the film’s drama but they were also unable to substantiate Bishop’s claims. The film, “The Kid Who Couldn’t Miss,” was subsequently labelled a docudrama on the Senate’s recommendation.
“I’ve made my peace with it because I actually had to go in and play devil’s advocate for a little while with myself and say, ‘Do I really believe that he possibly could have done that’?” Diana Bishop said.
“I think in the end people will remember, honestly, he was the first of a breed to do combat in the air,” she said, adding it took extraordinary courage to go up in flimsy machines with the engines spitting oil in their faces and people shooting at them.
“My grandfather, he was young and he was bold and he was brash, all of those things,” she said. “In the end, he did what he did.”
Others also had notable careers.
Collishaw, who shot down 60 enemy aircraft as well as eight observation balloons, joined the Royal Naval Air Service after being rejected by the Royal Canadian Navy. Leading the so-called “Black Flight” squadron, he was the first pilot to claim six kills in one day.
The native of Nanaimo, B.C., stayed with the air force after the war, served in Russia in 1919 and attained the rank of air vice-marshal in the Second World War after distinguished service in North Africa. He retired from the Royal Air Force in 1943 and died in Vancouver in 1975.
Roger Gunn, in his book “Raymond Collishaw and the Black Flight,” wrote that while Collishaw wasn’t the most brilliant of student pilots, he persevered.
Among his many accomplishments, he participated in the Allies’ first real attempt at strategic bombing, on a factory in Germany in 1916.
“Raymond Collishaw had many close encounters with death during his lengthy and successful career and he survived them all,” Gunn wrote. “His bravery in combat was recognized many times with the award of decorations and praise and, in short, his legacy should not be as forgotten by Canadians as it has become.”
MacLaren, who was a fur trader before joining the RFC in 1917, scored an impressive 54 kills before his flying career was ended by a broken leg incurred while wrestling with a friend in October 1918. Another of those who helped found the RCAF, the Ottawa-born MacLaren had a career in civil aviation after the war and died in 1989 at the age of 94.
Donald MacLaren posess in front of an Airco DH 5. Handout photo, Library and Archives Canada
Barker, who was Canada’s most decorated war hero, was involved in one of the first war’s most famous dogfights in October 1918 when he went up against 15 German fighters all by himself and was wounded three times. Despite passing out from his injuries twice, he shot down three of the enemy and drove the rest off before crashing.
He notched 50 kills overall, starting in 1916 when he was an observer-gunner. The overwhelming majority were claimed as a pilot, including 46 in the same Sopwith Camel aircraft.
After the war, he started an unsuccessful airline with Bishop — Bishop-Barker Aeroplanes Ltd., and then joined the RCAF in 1922. He resigned in 1924. Barker then worked in the tobacco industry and was the first president of the Toronto Maple Leafs before dying in a plane crash while demonstrating a new airplane for the RCAF in 1930. He was 35.
Maj. Bill March, an RCAF historian, says Barker is one of his personal heroes.
“Not only was he an exemplary pilot but he was an exemplary teacher,” March said. “He would nurture people under his command and while he was in combat, he never lost a wingman. They would normally fly in pairs or groups and he never lost anyone under his direct supervision.”
Some of Canada’s top air aces
Canada produced some of the First World War’s top air aces. Here are sketches of some of the most prominent:
William (Billy) Bishop
Born in Owen Sound, Ont., on Feb. 8, 1894; died on Sept. 11, 1956, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Service: Attended Royal Military College before joining the army in 1914; transferred to Royal Flying Corps in 1915 as an observer and obtained pilot’s licence in 1917. Ended the war as a lieutenant-colonel in command of Canadian Air Force Section of the Canadian military forces overseas headquarters.
Post-war: Went into unsuccessful aviation venture with William Barker in 1919, brought family to England in 1921 where he built up successful business but suffered in Wall Street crash of 1929. Was offered vice-presidency of McColl Frontenac Oil Co. afterward and honorary Group Captain in Royal Canadian Air Force in 1931. Appointed air vice-marshal in 1936 and air marshal in 1938, then director of recruiting in 1940. Retired in 1944.
Medals: Victoria Cross; Military Cross; Distinguished Service Order and bar; Distinguished Flying Cross; France’s Legion of Honour and Croix de guerre.
Born in Dauphin, Man., on Nov. 3, 1894; died in plane crash near Ottawa on March 12, 1930.
Service: Enlisted with Canadian Mounted Rifles in December 1914, transferred to Royal Flying Corps in April 1916 as a mechanic, then became an observer where he claimed the first of his kills. Awarded pilot’s certificate in January 1917 and made squadron commander a month later. Eventually recorded 50 victories. Participated in one of the war’s most famous dogfights when he took on 15 German aircraft alone in 1918 and shot down three despite being seriously wounded. Joined Royal Canadian Air Force in 1920 after short-lived commercial aviation venture with William Bishop and resigned in August 1926.
Post-war: Worked in the tobacco industry in Canada after leaving the RCAF until he sold his interests in 1929. Also served as the first president of the Toronto Maple Leafs and was president of Fairchild Aviation Corp. of Canada when he was killed demonstrating a new plane.
Medals: Victoria Cross; Distinguished Service Order and bar; Military Cross and two bars; Italy’s Silver Medal of Valour; France’s Croix de guerre.
Born in Nanaimo, B.C., on Nov. 22, 1893; died in West Vancouver in 1975.
Service: Joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1916, commanded the so-called “Black Flight” squadron; flew long-range bombing missions into Germany near the end of the First World War. Shot down 60 aircraft and eight observation balloons during the war. Remained with Royal Air Force after the war and served in Russia, attained rank of air vice-marshal after serving in North Africa during the Second World War.
Medals: Distinguished Service Order and bar; Distinguished Service Cross; and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Born in Ottawa on May 28, 1893; died in Burnaby, B.C. on July 4, 1988.
Service: Joined Royal Flying Corps in 1917, was credited with shooting down 48 aircraft and six balloons in less than eight months. Was briefly director of air services for Canadian Air Force, left in 1919.
Post-war: Was executive assistant to president of Trans-Canada Airlines between 1945 and his retirement in 1958.
Medals: Military Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Order
Born in Stonewall, Man., on April 20, 1899; died in Winnipeg on Nov. 6, 1918, of Spanish flu.
Service: Joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 straight out of high school, was commissioned as a second lieutenant and flew as a night fighter pilot against German air raids on London. He then joined squadron in France that concentrated on day and night bombing, photography, and co-operation with artillery.
Medals: Victoria Cross
Born in Carleton Place, Ont., on Dec. 23, 1893; died of a heart attack at Stouffville, Ont., on March 9, 1944.
Service: Royal Naval Air Service in 1915 and served in various duties before shooting down first aircraft in 1917. He would eventually be credited with downing 11 enemy aircraft, including Germany’s fabled Red Baron. He left the air force in 1919.
Post-war: Worked as an accountant, founded a small airline and was editor of “Canadian Aviation.” Tried provincial politics but lost election in 1943.
Report: Troops, vets to get checked for chemical exposure in Iraq
Soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division uncovered these munitions in a large weapons cache in Iraq on Sept. 28, 2005.
The Pentagon will offer medical examinations and long-term health monitoring to servicemembers and veterans exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq as part of a review of how the military handled encounters with chemical munitions during the American occupation, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
An Oct. 15 Times story found that while the United States had gone to war looking for an active weapons of mass destruction program, troops instead quietly found and suffered from the remnants of the long abandoned arsenal.
Since that article, which detailed instances of exposure that the military kept secret in some cases for nearly a decade, more veterans and servicemembers have come forward, the Times reported. To date, neither the Pentagon nor any of the services have released a full list of chemical weapons recoveries and exposures.
The Times found that the military did not follow its own guidelines in the initial care of many patients, and did not establish a means for tracking their health, as guidelines also required.
In response, two senior Army doctors said in interviews this week that new medical examinations for troops and veterans who were exposed to chemical munitions would begin in early 2015. The Navy too has announced it will ramp up care.
Maj. Gen. Gary Cheek, deputy commanding general for Army operations, said the accounts of poor medical care and follow-up were disturbing. “I am not going to try to excuse it,” he said.
But he defended the classification of chemical-weapons incidents, telling the Times that the military did not want to provide information to insurgents that Iraq’s old chemical munitions “could be effective.”
Rear Adm. John Kirby, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s spokesman, suggested that position is under review. “The secretary obviously remains committed to preserving operational security but also recognizes the value in making available as much information as possible to veterans preparing — or continuing to file — VA claims,” he said.
The new accounts increase to at least 25 the number of U.S. troops exposed to chemical agents.
The latest accounts mostly fit a familiar pattern, the Times wrote. They include two Army bomb disposal technicians who picked up a mustard shell at a roadside bombing in 2004; two Navy disposal technicians who handled mustard shells in 2006 and 2007; and members of an Army infantry platoon who said they were denied decontamination and swift medical evaluation after inhaling mustard vapors in 2008, when soldiers were destroying a buried chemical-munitions stockpile.
The accounts of still other troops and veterans suggest there were more instances of exposure, and that there could be a larger number of exposed veterans than the services have acknowledged or perhaps even know about, according to the report.
Jonathan Martin, a former Marine who was exposed to mustard agent and whose exposure was confirmed by the Marine Corps, told the Times that when he tried to tell the Department of Veterans Affairs about his exposure he had been doubted. “It would be nice,” he said, “to get some recognition that this actually happened.”
The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Council has selected the W80-1 thermonuclear warhead for the Air Force’s new nuclear cruise missile (Long-Range Standoff, LRSO) scheduled for deployment in 2027.
The W80-1 warhead is currently used on the Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), but will be modified during a life-extension program and de-deployed with a new name: W80-4.
Under current plans, the ALCM will be retired in the mid-2020s and replaced with the more advanced LRSO, possibly starting in 2027.
The enormous cost of the program – $10-20 billion by some estimates – is robbing defense planners of resources needed for more important non-nuclear capabilities.
Even though the United States has thousands of nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles and is building a new penetrating bomber to deliver nuclear bombs, STRATCOM and Air Force leaders are arguing that a new nuclear cruise missile is needed as well.
But their description of the LRSO mission sounds a lot like old-fashioned nuclear warfighting that will add new military capabilities to the arsenal in conflict with the administration’s promise not to do so and reduce the role of nuclear weapons.
What Kind of Warhead?
The selection of the W80-1 warhead for the LRSO completes a multi-year process that also considered using the B61 and W84 warheads.
The W80-4 selected for the LRSO will be the fifth modification name for the W80 warhead (see table below): The first was the W80-0 for the Navy’s Tomahawk Land-Attack Cruise Missile (TLAM/N), which was retired in 2011; the second is the W80-1, which is still used the ALCM; the third was the W80-2, which was a planned LEP of the W80-0 but canceled in 2006; the fourth was the W80-3, a planned LEP of the W80-1 but canceled in 2006.
The B61 warhead has been used as the basis for a wide variety of warhead designs. It currently exists in five gravity bomb versions (B61-4, B61-4, B61-7, B61-10, B61-11) and was also used as the basis for the W85 warhead on the Pershing II ground-launched ballistic missile. After the Pershing II was eliminated by the INF Treaty, the W85 was converted into the B61-10. But the B61 was not selected for the LRSO partly because of concern about the risk of common-component failure from basing too many warheads on the same basic design.
The W84 was developed for the ground-launched cruise missile (BGM-109G), another weapon eliminated by the INF Treaty. As a more modern warhead, it includes a Fire Resistant Pit (which the W80-1 does not have) and a more advanced Permissive Action Link (PAL) use-control system. The W84 was retired from the stockpile in 2008 but was brought back as a LRSO candidate but was not selected, partly because not enough W84s were built to meet the requirement for the planned LRSO inventory.
In the past two year, NNSA has provided two very different cost estimates for the W80-4. The FY2014 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan (SSMP) published in June 2013 projected a total cost of approximately $11.6 billion through 2030. The FY2015 SSMP, in contrast, contained a significantly lower estimate: approximately $6.8 billion through 2033 (see graph below).
The huge difference in the cost estimates (nearly 50%) is not explained in detail in the FY2015 SSMP, which only states that the FY2014 numbers were updated with a smaller “escalation factor” and “improvements in the cost models.” Curiously, the update only reduces the cost for the years that were particularly high (2019-2027), the years with warhead development and production engineering. The two-third reduction in the cost estimate may make it easier for NNSA to secure Congressional funding, but it also raises significant uncertainty about what the cost will actually be.
Assuming a planned production of approximately 500 LRSOs (there are currently 528 ALCMs in the stockpile and the New START Treaty does not count or limit cruise missiles), the cost estimates indicate a complex W80-4 LEP on par with the B61-12 LEP. NNSA told me the plan is to use many of the non-nuclear components and technologies on the W80-4 that were developed for the B61-12.
In addition to the cost of the W80-4 warhead itself, the cost estimate for completing the LRSO has not been announced but $227 million are programmed through 2019. Unofficial estimates put the total cost for the LRSO and W80-4 at $10-20 billion. In addition to these weapons costs, integration on the B-2A and next-generation long-range bomber (LRS-B) will add hundreds of millions more.
What’s The Mission?
Why does the Air Force need a new nuclear cruise missile?
During a recent meeting with Pentagon officials, I asked why the LRSO was needed, given that the military also has gravity bombs on its bombers. “Because of what you see on that map,” a senior defense official said pointing to a large world map on the wall. The implication was that many targets would be risky to get to with a bomber. When reminded that the military also has land- and sea-based ballistic missiles that can reach all of those targets, another official explained: “Yes but they’re all brute weapons with high-yield warheads. We need the targeting flexibility and lower-yield options that the LRSO provides.”
The assumption for the argument is that if the Air Force didn’t have a nuclear cruise missile, an adversary could gamble that the United States would not risk an expensive stealth bomber to deliver a nuclear bomb and would not want to use ballistic missiles because that would be escalating too much. That’s quite an assumption but for the nuclear warfighter the cruise missile is seen as this great in-between weapon that increases targeting flexibility in a variety of regional strike scenarios.
That conversation could have taken place back in the 1980s because the answers sounded more like warfighting talk than deterrence. The two roles can be hard to differentiate and the Air Force’s budget request seems to include a bit of both: the LRSO “will be capable of penetrating and surviving advanced Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS) from significant stand off range to prosecute strategic targets in support of the Air Force’s global attack capability and strategic deterrence core function.”
The deterrence function is provided by the existence of the weapon, but the global attack capability is what’s needed when deterrence fails. At that point, the mission is about target destruction: holding at risk what the adversary values most. Getting to the target is harder with a cruise missile than a ballistic missile, but it is easier with a cruise missile than a gravity bomb because the latter requires the bomber to fly very close to the target. That exposes the platform to all sorts of air defense capabilities. That’s why the Pentagon plans to spend a lot of money on equipping its next-generation long-range bomber (LRS-B) with low-observable technology.
The LRSO is therefore needed, STRATCOM commander Admiral Cecil Haney explained in June, to “effectively conduct global strike operations in the anti-access, access-denial environments.” When asked why they needed a standoff missile when they were building a stealth bomber, Haney acknowledge that “if you had all the stealth you could possibly have in a platform, then gravity bombs would solve it all.” But the stealth of the bomber will diminish over time because of countermeasures invented by adversaries, he warned. So “having standoff and stealth is very important” given how long the long-range bomber will operate into the future.
Still, one could say that for any weapon and it doesn’t really explain what the nuclear mission is. But around the same time Admiral Haney made his statement, Air Force Global Strike Command commander General Wilson added a bit more texture: “There may be air defenses that are just too hard, it’s so redundant, that penetrating bombers become a challenge. But with standoff, I can make holes and gaps to allow a penetrating bomber to get in, and then it becomes a matter of balance.”
In this mission, the LRSO would not be used to keep the stealth bomber out of harms way per ce but as a nuclear sledgehammer to “kick down the door” so the bomber – potentially with B61-12 nuclear bombs in its bomb bay – could slip through the air defenses and get to its targets inside the country. Rather than deterrence, this is a real warfighting scenario that is a central element of STRATCOM’s Global Strike mission for the first few days of a conflict and includes a mix of weapons such as the B-2, F-22, and standoff weapons.
But why the sledgehammer mission would require a nuclear cruise missile is still not clear, as conventional cruise missiles have become significantly more capable against air defense and hard targets. In fact, most of the Global Strike scenarios would involve conventional weapons, not nuclear LRSOs. The Air Force has a $4 billion program underway to develop the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) and an extended-range version (JASSM-ER) for deliver by B-1B, B-2A, B-52H bombers and F-15E, F-16, and F-35 fighters. A total of 4,900 missiles are planned, including 2,846 JASSM-ERs.
Since the next-generation long-range bomber would also be the launch platform for those conventional weapons, it will be exposed to the same risks with or without a nuclear LRSO.
“If I take a bomber, and I put standoff cruise missiles on it, in essence, it becomes very much like a sub. It’s got close to the same magazine capacity of a sub. So once I generate a bomber with standoff cruise missiles, it becomes a significant deterrent for any adversary. We often forget that. It possesses the same firepower, in essence, as a sub that we can position whenever and wherever we want, and it becomes a very strong deterrent. So I’m a strong proponent of being able to modernize our standoff missile capability.”
Although the claim that a bomber has “close to the same capacity of a sub” is vastly exaggerated (it is up to 20 warheads on 20 cruise missiles on a B-52H bomber versus 192 warheads on 24 sea-launched ballistic missiles on an Ohio-class submarine), the example helps illustrates the enormous overcapacity and redundancy in the current arsenal.
What Kind of Missile?
Although we have yet to see what kind of capabilities the LRSO will have, the Air Force description is that LRSO “will be capable of penetrating and surviving advanced Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS) from significant stand off range to prosecute strategic targets in support of the Air Force’s global attack capability and strategic deterrence core function.”
There is every reason to expect that STRATCOM and the Air Force will want the weapon to have better military capabilities than the current Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), perhaps with features similar to the Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM). After all, so the thinking goes, air defenses have improved significantly since the ALCM was deployed in 1982 and the LRSO will have to operate well into the middle of the century when air defense systems can be expected to be even better than today.
With a 3,000-km range similar to the ACM, the LRSO would theoretically be able to reach targets in much of Russia and most of China from launch-positions 1,000 kilometers from their coasts. Most of Russia and China’s nuclear forces are located in these areas.
In thinking about which capabilities would be needed for the LRSO, it is useful to recall the last time the warfighters argued that an improved cruise missile was needed. The ALCM was also “designed to evade air and ground-based defenses in order to strike targets at any location within any enemy’s territory,” but that was not good enough. So the Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM) was developed and deployed in 1992 to provide “significant improvements” over the ALCM in “range, accuracy, and survivability.” The rest of the mission was similar – “evade air and ground-based defenses in order to strike heavily defended, hardened targets at any location within any enemy’s territory” – but the requirement to hold at risk “heavily defended, hardened targets” was unique.
Yet when comparing the ALCM and ACM mission requirements and capabilities with the operational experience, GAO in 1993 found that “air defense threats had been overestimated” and that “tests did not demonstrate low ALCM survivability.” The ACM’s range was found to be “only slightly better than the older ALCM’s demonstrated capability,” and GAO concluded that “the improvement in accuracy offered by the ACM appears to have little real operational significance.”
Nonetheless, the ACM was produced in 1992-1993 at a cost of more than $10 billion. Strategic Air Command initially wanted 1461 missiles, but the high cost and the end of the Cold War caused Pentagon to cut the program to only 430 missiles. A sub-sonic cruise missile with a range of 3,000 kilometers (1,865 miles) and hard-target kill capability with the W80-1 warhead, the ACM was designed for external carriage on the B-52H bomber, with up to 12 missiles under the wings. The B-2 was also capable of carrying the ACM but as a penetrating stealth bomber there was never a need to assign it the stealthy standoff missile as well.
The ACM was supposed to undergo a life extension program to extend it to 2030, but after only 15 years of service the missile was retired early in 2007. An Enhanced Cruise Missile (ECM) was planned by the Bush administration, but it never materialized. It is likely, but still not clear, that LRSO will make use of some of the technologies from the ACM and ECM programs.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The W80-1 warhead has been selected to arm the new Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) missile, a $10-20 billion weapon system the Air Force plans to deploy in the late-2020s but can poorly afford.
Even though the United States has thousands of nuclear warheads on land- and sea-based ballistic missiles that can reach the same targets intended for the LRSO, the military argues that a new nuclear standoff weapon is needed to spare a new penetrating bomber from enemy air-defense threats.
Yet the same bomber will be also equipped with conventional weapons – some standoff, some not – that will expose it to the same kinds of threats anyway. So the claim that the LRSO is needed to spare the next-generation bomber from air-defense threats sounds a bit like a straw man argument.
The mission for the LRSO is vague at best and to the extent the Air Force has described one it sounds like a warfighting mission from the Cold War with nuclear cruise missiles shooting holes in enemy air defense systems. Given the conventional weapon systems that have been developed over the past two decades, it is highly questionable whether such a mission requires a nuclear cruise missile.
The warfighters and the strategists might want a nuclear cruise missile as a flexible weapon for regional scenarios. But good to have is not the same as essential. And the regional scenarios they use to justify it are vague and largely unknown – certainly untested – in the public debate.
In the nuclear force structure planned for the future, the United States will have roughly 1,500 warheads deployed on land- and sea-based ballistic missiles. Nearly three-quarters of those warheads will be onboard submarines that can move to positions off adversaries anywhere in the world and launch missiles that can put warheads on target in as little as 15 minutes.
It really stretches the imagination why such a capability, backed up by nuclear bombs on bombers and the enormous conventional capability the U.S. military possesses, would be insufficient to deter or dissuade any potential adversary that can be deterred or dissuaded.
As the number of warheads deployed on land- and sea-based ballistic missiles continues to drop in the future, long-range, highly accurate, stealthy, standoff cruise missiles will increasingly complicate the situation. These weapons are not counted under the New START treaty and if a follow-on treaty does not succeed in limiting them, which seems unlikely in the current political climate, a new round of nuclear cruise missile deployments could become real spoilers. There are currently more ALCMs than ICBMs in the U.S. arsenal and with each bomber capable of loading up to 20 missiles the rapid upload capacity is considerable.
Under the 1,500 deployed strategic warhead posture of the New START treaty, the unaccounted cruise missiles could very quickly increase the force by one-third to 2,000 warheads. Under a posture of 1,000 deployed strategic warheads, which the Obama administration has proposed for the future, the effect would be even more dramatic: the air-launched cruise missiles could quickly increase the number of deployed warheads by 50 percent. Not good for crisis stability!
The First World War may have have featured static battlefields and attritional strategies, but that doesn't mean the course of events from 1914 to 1918 couldn't have unfolded differently. Here are 11 events that could have changed the outcome of the Great War.
Top image: A French solider is shot during the Battle of Verdun, 1916 (Alamy).
Listed in roughly chronological order.
1. No Russian Mobilization in 1914
Russian troops prepare for war. The Great War/BBC
Had it not been for the Russian mobilization of July 1914, the Great War might not have ever happened. By rushing to the defense of its Slavic ally, Serbia, Russia set German plans into motion. Earlier, Germany had issued a "blank cheque" to Austria-Hungary, promising to come to its aid should Russia interfere with its efforts to tame Serbia. But after relations between Russia and Germany soured, and as Russian troops scrambled along the Austrian border, Germany believed it had no choice to but to roll out its Schlieffen Plan — a strategy wherein France, an ally of Russia, was to be defeated prior to launching an all-out assault on Russia; the idea was to prevent a war on two fronts, which is precisely what ended up happening anyway.
Russia mobilized for several reasons. It was looking to re-assert itself after an embarrassing defeat to Japan in 1905. It was also the era of pan-Slavism, in which dreams of independent slavic states fueled aggressive foreign policies. But from a purely strategic perspective, there was no critical reason for Russia to come to Serbia's defense. The Tsar's actions turned a regional Balkan conflict into a global conflagration. But perhaps intentionally, it thwarted the plans of Austria-Hungary to expand its aging Empire into a tripartite state — the never-achieved Austro-Hungarian-Balkan League.
2. Britain Stays Out of the War
As Europe prepared for war during the July Crisis, it was not immediately obvious that Britain was going to join in. But when the million-strong German army ploughed through neutral Belgium, Britain sprang into action, officially entering into the fray. Though it was scarcely ready at the time, Britain's contribution to the Western Front and the ensuing naval blockade on Germany proved to be decisive; France would have very likely fallen without Britain's help.
British citizens cheer upon hearing the declaration of war.
There are two scenarios under which Britain could have stayed out of the war. First, Germany could have avoided provoking Britain by not sending its army through Belgium and invading France directly (though Britain would have likely declared war anyway to protect its ally and critical northern ports). Alternately, Britain could have stayed out of the war simply for the sake of staying out of it. As historian Niall Ferguson argues, the intervention was "the biggest error in modern history." He concedes that Britain would have reneged on its commitments to uphold Belgian neutrality, but that realism in foreign policy has a "long and distinguished tradition, not least of which in Britain."
3. The Schlieffen Plan Results in German Victory
The Schlieffen Plan as Schlieffen intended. The Great War/BBC
This is one of the big "what ifs" of history: What if Helmuth von Moltke and his general staff had succeeded in reaching Paris in September 1914? Indeed, such an assertion is not altogether unreasonable. Some historians contend that the Schlieffen plan would have worked if Moltke had followed Schlieffen's original plan. Had the right flank not been depleted, Germany's 1st Army would not have been forced away from the sea, the British Expeditionary Force would have been overwhelmed, and the French armies would have been trapped between Paris and the French eastern frontier.
With France fallen and the British routed, it's difficult to say what would have happened next, but it's safe to assume Germany would have given Russia hell out in the East. Unlike the situation 27 years later, Germany would have likely defeated Russia given the sorry state of its military. Together with Austria-Hungary, the two nations would have ruled over a massive European empire. What's more, a quick victory by the Central powers would have presented a terrible blow to democracy, while reaffirming autocratic political values. Indeed, the First World War was more ideological than many people realize.
4. Italy Joins the Central Powers
When war broke out in August 1914, Italy declared a policy of neutrality — this despite its previous alignment with Germany. Over the ensuing months, both the Entente and the Central Powers desperately tried to get Italy on their side, offering sweet rewards for victory. Italy bided its time, waiting for the best offer — and to get a better sense of who might actually win the conflict. Italy decided to join the Entente under the terms of the secret 1915 Treaty of London under which it was promised huge territorial gains at the expense of Austria-Hungary. Unabashedly, the Salandra government admitted that its decision arose from pure self-interest, or "sacred egoism."
Italian troops head to war.
But let's assume for a moment that the Central Powers were able to make a better offer, or that the Italian government honored its commitment to the Triple Alliance. With Italy on the side of the Central Powers, the war would have unfolded quite differently. Rather than having Italy fight against Austria-Hungary, the two nations could have joined together to clean up the Balkans and then launch coordinated campaigns against Russia on the Eastern Front. Some Italian troops could have also been sent to the Western Front, or help out the Turks. It's difficult to know if the war would have ended differently (probably not); Italian troops were plagued by poor generals, lack of experience, and a dearth of heavy equipment. One thing's for certain, though, the war would have dragged on considerably longer — perhaps long enough for the belligerent countries of Europe to suffer complete social and political collapse.
5. The Allies Invade Normandy — World War II Style
In their rush to open a third front and quickly knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war, Allied planners launched a naval campaign in 1915 in the Dardanelles that, after failing to meet its initial objectives, regressed into the catastrophic Gallipoli Campaign, an eight month ordeal that resulted in 252,000 casualties on the Allied side — and for absolutely no gain. It was a military and political disaster that cost Winston Churchill his job as the First Lord of the Admiralty. Historians regard Gallipoli as a precursor to the Normandy Campaign of June 1944. But unlike Operation Overlord, the amphibious landing at Gallipoli was a haphazardly planned and ill-equipped venture. In his book, Gallipoli: The End of the Myth, historian Robin Prior makes the case that the campaign would have failed in any incarnation.
ANZAC troops prepare to land at Gallipoli.
But what if they had landed in Normandy instead? Like the invasion rolled out by Allied forces in the subsequent war? It's certainly a plausible suggestion. With the war stalemated along the Western Front, the Entente could have caused the Germans considerable problems by opening up a new theatre of operations in northern France. The British Navy maintained sea dominance during the war, and could have easily transported masses of men to the Normandy (or Callais) coast. The Germans, barring sufficient intelligence, would have been caught completely off guard.
Admittedly, this is highly speculative stuff. Given the primitive state of technologies at this point in military history, and given what happened at Gallipoli, it's no guarantee this campaign would have worked. The logistical demands alone would have precluded such an invasion from happening until 1916 or later. Moreover, it would have been very difficult — if not impossible — to justify the diversion of resources away from the main theatre, and for the Allies to contend with Germany's superior internal line of communications (in this war of attrition, Germany would have been able to supply its troops at a considerably quicker rate).
Yes, it was the Zimmerman Telegram that ultimately pushed the United States into the First World War — but a strong case can be made that, if it wasn't for Germany's U-boat campaign against its merchant shipping fleet, the U.S. might not have entered into the fray.
Things were looking very bleak for Germany in 1917. With victory on land doubtful, Kaiser Wilhelm renewed his push for unrestricted submarine warfare — an effort to crush the flow of merchant shipping to its enemies. As it retained a defensive posture on the Western Front, the supreme army command endorsed the German navy's opinion that unrestricted U-boat warfare against the British and Americans at sea could result in a German victory on land by the fall of 1917. Germany's prime minister, Bethmann Hollweg, feared that such action would antagonize the United States. He was right.
If the U.S. hadn't joined the war, it would have dragged on for at least another year or two — or even more. There would have been no Michael campaign in 1918 — a last ditch effort by Germany to end the war before U.S. troops could make a difference — thus preserving Germany's fighting power.
7. Peace is Negotiated
Peace could have happened at virtually any time during the war. In fact, it would have been prudent for Germany to push for peace terms after the First Battle of the Marne in 1914 — a truly decisive battle that ultimately set the stage for Germany's defeat. Molke himself knew Germany was finished even at this early stage, telling the Kaiser, "Your Majesty, we have lost the war."
1917 would have been another good year to call it quits. With no end in sight, with no prescription for ending the war, and with widespread social unrest, it would have made complete sense for any of the belligerent nations to say enough is enough and end the war. With the battle lines drawn, Germany would have extended its territory along the 440 mile long front. It would have retained its possession of Alsace-Lorraine, and become the permanent occupants of much of Belgium. In the East, Poland would have remained partitioned between Russia and the Central powers. A cold war would have settled in among the previously warring nations.
But none of these scenarios ever unfolded.
Germany's militaristic leaders found the prospect of a negotiated settlement appalling, as did many of France's leaders. Far too much had been lost at that point to simply call it quits. Victory was deemed necessary to justify and and avenge the sacrifices, regardless of the cost. Moreover, once the United States entered the war, victory for the Allies was all but assured.
But that's not to say some didn't try to seek peace. After the death of Franz Josef, the new emperor of Austria-Hungary, Charles I, secretly approached France to negotiate peace, but nothing came of it. Germany's Ludendorff, when he learned of it, was so angry he actually considered declaring war on his ally.
8. Germany Attacks During the French Army Mutinies
Unbeknownst to Germany, masses of French troops, fed up with how the war was going, conducted a large scale mutiny from April to May 1917. Imagine what would have happened if they launched an all-out assault during that small window of opportunity.
A French solider is executed by his fellow troops.
It all started after the failure of the Nivelle Offensives, and the catastrophe at Chemin de Dames in particular. French soldiers had been promised a breakthrough, but instead suffered a humiliating defeat. Weary from war, the soldiers left their posts one by one, demanding better rations and extended leaves. It wasn't a full-on refusal to fight; rather, it was a kind of work-to-rule action. At its height (and historians only learned this about this in 1967 thanks to the work of Guy Pedroncini), nearly 50 French divisions were affected. Of its 113 infantry divisions, 43% were experiencing mutinous behavior of varying degrees.
But the French government suppressed the news so as to not alert the Germans, or exacerbate the situation any further. General Petain managed to appease and calm his troops, and the situation was resolved. Had he not done so, a similar situation could have arisen in France that did in Russia, leading to widespread social unrest and revolution.
9. Lenin Isn't Sent to Russia by the Germans
Not only would this have changed the course of the Great War, it would have dramatically changed the complexion of the 20th century.
The Great War/BBC
Exhausted and demoralized from war, the Tsarist autocracy was overthrown in February 1917. A provisional government was set up under Alexander Kerensky, a moderate socialist who insisted that Russia would uphold its commitment to the war. But in an astounding stroke of genius, Erich Ludendorff transported Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin and his acolytes from Switzerland to Russia in a sealed train. Knowing full well that Lenin was opposed to the war, Ludendorff's hope was that he would find a way to assume power — and assume power he did by virtue of a coup in October 1917. Platforming on the slogans, "Peace, bread, land," Lenin ended Russia's involvement in the Great War. It was an astounding German victory, one that knocked Russia out of the war.
Had Lenin not been sent to Petrograd, it's safe to assume that Kerensky would have continued the war, though under very difficult conditions. This would have forced the Germans to maintain sufficient forces on the Eastern Front — troops that were badly needed in the West.
Ironically, it would be Adolf Hitler's Third Reich that, a quarter of a century later, would fall to defeat at the hands of the Soviet behemoth his forebearers created during the Great War.
10. Revolution in France, Revolution In Germany
Troops with the Russian Provisional Government fire machine guns at revolutionaries in July 1917 in Petrograd.
After the fall of Tsarist Russia, a sense of dread emerged across Europe. No nation was left untouched by the specter of socialist revolution, France and Germany included. Had the war been more poorly managed, and had soldiers and workers been pushed ever more so to the brink, these countries could have very well fallen to socialist — or even communist — revolution. This would have resulted in a vastly different outcome to the war and very different post-war Europe, indeed.
11. Germany Refuses to Surrender in 1918
Such is the fantasy of the "Stab in the Back" conspiracists who followed in the wake of the war. Confused and surprised by the "sudden" surrender, some Germans believed the country still had considerable fight left in them. It was earlier in the year, after all, that Operation Michael produced some of the most significant gains recorded by the Germans during the war.
But it was only after much stubborn deliberation that Ludendorff and Hindenburg finally decided to call it quits in November 1918. With Germany stripped bare of its resources, and its population starving, exhausted, and entering into the early stages of an Influenza epidemic, the hawkish leaders finally — and reluctantly — surrendered.
But what would have happened if they hadn't? What if they insisted on a Nazi-esque Götterdämmerung in a desperate fight to the finish? First, the war probably wouldn't have ended in 1918 (the campaigning season was coming to a close), but it would have most certainly ended in early 1919. Allied troops, who were utilizing new combined operational tactics, were pushing steadily forwards. Eventually, they would have reached the German border, taking each town one by one until they took Berlin. It would have been a terrible mess, with mass soldier and civilian casualties on both sides — and for absolutely nothing.
Yet it would be this myth — that the war was still winnable for Germany — that fueled the subsequent rise of the Nazi party.