Imperial Navy weapons mix

So, I was reading this Twitter thread from Bret Devereaux (of ACOUP) this morning:

Teaching modern military history one thing that is interesting in the modern era is the increasing prevalence of weapon systems that never really 'had their day,' a product of the increasing pace of technological change paired with decreasing rates of warfare.

— Bret Devereaux (@BretDevereaux) March 12, 2023

Click through for whole thread, but in particular note:

This is even more extreme in naval affairs today, since there hasn't been a great power war since 1945. Some of these ships did other missions, but just to take CVs, the Saipan, Forrestal, Kitty Hawk, and Enterprise *classes* all never fought the battle they were designed for.

— Bret Devereaux (@BretDevereaux) March 12, 2023

It covers the territory of something I haven’t articulated terribly well about the Imperial Navy and their weapons mix. Because the ultimate evolution of:

All of that does, however, have the side effect of making wars even less predictable - and they were already very unpredictable, as Clausewitz notes (drink!). Rapid technological change combined with long peaces means everyone's weapons will be untested.

— Bret Devereaux (@BretDevereaux) March 12, 2023

And again of course this is a good thing, but it ought to also caution policy makers and strategic thinkers: information may be more available today than yesterday, but in some important ways, you know *even less* about the results of trying to use force.

— Bret Devereaux (@BretDevereaux) March 12, 2023

Is that you - and everyone else - owns a lot of nice shiny fleet arsenals filled with Wunderwaffen, with great specs and field performance unknown. The absence of large-scale Great Power wars creates a certain tropism for the tried and true weapons mix that’s always been perfectly satisfactory up to now and doesn’t make everyone else get panicky.

Plenty of time to break out the new stuff when it’s actually needed .

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My suspicion is that like us, there will be some difficulty judging just how much ammunition and other consumables will be needed in serious usage. The Empire will probably be considerably less bad at this, but new and not-very-used tech can be really hard to judge without the battlefield experience.

I suspect that the biggest things that will happen in any large-scale conflict between near-peers will be the following two things (there’s probably more, but this is day number six of being back at a full time job and my brain is like overdone bacon right now)-

  • Being surprised by innovations at the grunt level.
    Currently, one of the biggest things that is going on is COTS drone use by Ukrainian and occasionally Russian forces. This usage of COTS drones-not even “milspec” drones, but stuff you could get on AliBaba and Amazon, has created millions of procurement contracts for counter-drone systems, EM detectors at the infantry level, bigger and better drones for the soldiers in the field, etc, etc, etc…
    And, within a few days of the war starting, some grunt took wire, a hand grenade, and a servo motor and tried to make one of their drones drop something explosive on people’s heads ASAP. With some member of the E4 Mafia getting access to a machine shop somewhere to make bigger drones carry things with more of a bang! to them (light mortar shells are one of the most popular things).
    And, this has been one of the biggest systems that we’ve seen be innovative at the individual grunt/soldier level.

  • Good doctrine and shitty training is acceptable in peacetime, but terrible in wartime. Good training and shitty doctrine is acceptable in wartime, but terrible in peacetime.
    Russian military theorists have been considered the world-class in a number of high-level doctrine. But, corruption and nepotism and a terrible economy (a friend who studies this kind of thing for a living suggests that the Russian economy is maybe as large as Texas once you factor out corruption and deliberate deception measures) means that Private Conscriptovich has a crappy uniform, eats like shit, his money might buy him a shot of vodka a week, barely trains, might be able to drive his armored vehicle in a straight line on a training ground without throwing a track, and in general he doesn’t want to be there or he’s trying to figure out how to sell the copper in the barracks walls to a scrap dealer and make sure the people above him get their cut so they don’t turn him into an example.
    The Ukrainian army, on the other hand, doesn’t quite have the same skilled theorists in doctrine. And, there’s a lot of corruption, possibly worse because there actually might be more to steal. But due to a number of decisions made by the Ukrainian government to get sweet, sweet US and NATO aid…they actually had to spend money on training their soldiers and paying them something that might buy them two shots of vodka and a cheap sloppy hand-job on Friday nights. Having them actually train and drill. And wear real uniforms with real boots.
    And you can tell the difference in the results of both armies. What people thought was going to be a steamroller that would end with a Russian conquest in a month or two has lasted over a year. Russian equipment that is being pulled out of “controlled storage” is being revealed to be stripped worse than a cheap whore. Videos of Russian conscripts being told to beg their families for basic medical supplies are common online.
    There’s still corruption and other issues on the Ukrainian side. But, in comparison to the Russians, it’s night and day.