US Military or Military in General 42 replies

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Adrian Ţrumpeş Forum Mod

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#1 6 years ago

Here's a juicy one, and due to the controversial nature of this topic I'm not going to leave a poll.

So, my question to you is, do you like your military? Do you feel it's good to support the troops even if you're strongly anti-war? Do you feel that the troops are fighting for freedom, as cliched as that sounds?

Please give reasons for any and all answers.

You don't have to limit yourself to those questions, just give your honest opinion of the military.


"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.



MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#2 6 years ago

I have mixed feelings towards the military. I am fascinated by the technology and dislike the way they are usually employed. Necessary evil may be a good description.

Sometimes militaries fight for freedom, but it is important to realize that this usually only happens if the our proclaimed values coincide with our strategic interests. Afghanistan may be an exception (we won't really get a lot out of that place), but then our efforts to pacify that region are rather half-assed.

I think it is important to keep up with military technology due to the changes this world is going through. The US won't be the dominant super power much longer (arguably it isn't already). Countries with significantly different values will gain importance. Their attitude towards waging war may change once they realize that the old powers have lost their teeth.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#3 6 years ago

The military is an outdated organisation, far too large for what it actually does. We've got a field army, something made for fighting armour and planes. Which is about as relevant to today's political world as a line army was in the first world war. The only reason we've still got one is because, reasonably enough, no major power's yet willing to use nukes or nerve gas.

Even during the cold war, WMDs were what pretty much all the military planning was about though. Tank rushes through Europe? Even the Russians knew that one was bullshit. You look at what they were issuing their troops: anti-radiation tablets that were essentially, 'Fight like crazy and then drop dead,' pills.

That's what a war between modern powers looks like.

All it's going to take is for someone to lose a major strategic objective against the right enemy; something they can't afford to lose against someone who doesn't have nukes. Then, they'll turn a city into a nice glowing crater. And that will be the end of the field army's practical use.

Oh but what about insurgents? Well, look, if you want to kill insurgents you don't dress up in a bunch of camo that makes you stand out like a sore thumb, you don't sit around in military bases with a big red circle around them. You know how that goes? Move into an area, start patrolling - the insurgents move into the area and start shelling your base - you declare the position untenable and fall back.

Oh, you'll win, eventually, but the sheer cost of the thing. As an economic activity, it doesn't make sense for a country to engage in. Makes sense for individuals within that country who are selling you stuff for your military though, mind.... The messier the war, the better for them.

If you want to kill insurgents, you find people who are smart enough to acquire the language, dress up like the locals and maintain a group of a few hundred people you shuttle around the country when you need to do something more blatant. You don't need tens of thousands of troops walking around waiting to get their legs blown off by a mine.

But we won't control the little villages and farms! And? Who gives a flying what some dirt sucking farmer in the middle of nowhere does?

But we want to change the political landscape! Well then, hire some thugs. I don't get why you're so averse to the idea. People have been changing the political landscape without moving their armies around for hundreds of years. You want to change some other country you get the natives to kill each other for you :rolleyes:

But we won't do that either – not blatantly anyway. Part of me's convinced the army's just there as something big that will distract people from the real work.

"Look: a war!" "Well, we can't be fighting like that. Look at the army: We fight like this!"

Tch.

My opinion is that the army is a way to spend a lot of money doing something that would be best done by a combination of small, highly-mobile, groups of specialists; a deterrent, nuclear or otherwise; and some carefully applied backstabbing.

Like as not, whatever the next big advance is in weaponry will totally blindside the armies – with their incredibly high sunk-costs in existing weapon paradigms – anyway. So, I don't buy into the whole, we have to have an army to keep up with the edge of military technology line. The interesting military technologies of history have been, by and large, the pragmatic application of techniques developed over a much longer period of peace time. I see no reason to assume that's changed.

#

Do I like the army? I don't much care one way or the other. I like it about as much as I like any other inefficient welfare program, I suppose.

Do I think you should support the army if you don't support war? No. That's a cop-out. It's like saying you don't support rape, but you support rapists. Or you don't support religion, but you support priests. The role is defined by what it does, if you don't support the latter you cannot support the former. The contrary position is just an attempt by people to appear less offensive, rather than having to stand by their convictions.

Do I think the troops are fighting for freedom? HAHAHAHAAHAHAAAAA.

[SIZE="5"]No.[/SIZE]

Well, I think they're fighting for a lot of things, actually. Maybe some of them are stupid enough to think that this is the best thing they can possibly be doing to spread freedom in the world. I'm not sure I could be that cynical about their intelligence.

Most of them are going to have more than one reason. Many of them will just be doing it because they wanted a bit of adventure and couldn't get a better job (my, that sounds like the rationale a gangster would use...) some of them will be doing it because they couldn't get into college....

Do I think they actually are doing the freedom-maximising things? No. I think they're doing what a collection of interests at home have decided is politically expedient. For all I know what they're actually doing - whether they realise it or not - is the weapons sales maximising thing.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#4 6 years ago
Nemmerle;5628985The only reason we've still got one is because, reasonably enough, no major power's yet willing to use nukes or nerve gas.

That's the thing though. As long as you can't use nukes due to PR reasons or because the other side might use their nukes in return you'll need a conventional army.

As for the Cold War and the Soviet tank rush- that strategy was realistic for the early phases when a nuclear war wouldn't necessarily have implied total annihilation due to technological constraints. At a later point (i.e. when NATO realized that they couldn't have won a conventional war and decided to place tactical nukes behind the front lines) things changed, but it isn't completly obvious to me that a conventional war was not a valid option at that point: how effective would those tactical nukes have been? Tanks are surprisingly resilient and you need a lot of small nukes to destroy tens of thousands of them distributed all over the place. Not to mention the possibility of attacks on missile sites (either direct strikes with short range missiles with little warning time, air strikes or sabotage). As for the argument that a nuclear attack on cities in inevitable as soon as important military objectives are lost - that is a possibility, but it is better to lose a conventional war than to start a nuclear war (for real world applications look at how the Dutch or French folded in WW2 when confronted with the choice to keep on fighting at catastrophic cost to their civilian population).

Another point to consider is that the near future might change the effectiveness of ABM systems to such a degree that you might need a conventional army in case your nuclear weapons are shot down.

Like as not, whatever the next big advance is in weaponry will totally blindside the armies – with their incredibly high sunk-costs in existing weapon paradigms – anyway. So, I don't buy into the whole, we have to have an army to keep up with the edge of military technology line. The interesting military technologies of history have been, by and large, the pragmatic application of techniques developed over a much longer period of peace time. I see no reason to assume that's changed.

Armies are always designed to fight the last war, but if you want the capability to develop new weapons you'd better create a market for them. Development and production of modern weapons take much longer today than it did during the last major wars. In WW1 you could develop an aircraft from drawing board to production in a matter of weeks. The same process takes decades today. If you don't have a modern army now chances are that you won't be able to create it in time after you notice a threat. You won't have the necessary industry, you won't have the human resources with the necessary experience and you won't have the soldiers trained in operating the weapons.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#5 6 years ago

MrFancypants;5629201That's the thing though. As long as you can't use nukes due to PR reasons or because the other side might use their nukes in return you'll need a conventional army.[/QUOTE]

Why?

If you want to nick stuff off of smaller countries, there are other methods to do that.

If you're talking about a country that's more or less equal to you, they'll have nukes too. So, the two of you will never fight directly - it'll end up being proxy wars instead.

If a smaller country attacks you, then you can always nuke them.

"They forced our hand.... If only we'd had an army. Oh well; too bad, so sad."

And they, realising that, are unlikely to do it in the first place.

MrFancypants;5629201As for the Cold War and the Soviet tank rush- that strategy was realistic for the early phases when a nuclear war wouldn't necessarily have implied total annihilation due to technological constraints. At a later point (i.e. when NATO realized that they couldn't have won a conventional war and decided to place tactical nukes behind the front lines) things changed, but it isn't completly obvious to me that a conventional war was not a valid option at that point: how effective would those tactical nukes have been? Tanks are surprisingly resilient and you need a lot of small nukes to destroy tens of thousands of them distributed all over the place. Not to mention the possibility of attacks on missile sites (either direct strikes with short range missiles with little warning time, air strikes or sabotage).[/QUOTE]

It doesn't matter whether you killed the tanks themselves or not. No-one was going to be supporting them. You'd have an army with no fuel or food, in the middle of nowhere.

MrFancypants;5629201As for the argument that a nuclear attack on cities in inevitable as soon as important military objectives are lost - that is a possibility, but it is better to lose a conventional war than to start a nuclear war (for real world applications look at how the Dutch or French folded in WW2 when confronted with the choice to keep on fighting at catastrophic cost to their civilian population).

It might be better to lose a conventional war than start a nuclear one. But it's even more preferable to do neither. If your enemy knows that making you lose an important objective will cause you to hit the button, he won't cause you to lose the objective in the first place.

If I can pre-commit to nuking you, if you make me lose the objective; at least.... That's the difficulty. You've got to believe I might actually do it.

I suspect, in a round about way, this is why humans have been selected to be vengeful little bastards. If you know that I'm going to keep fighting even when it ceases to have an element of immediate personal gain, then you're going to be a lot more cautious about pissing me off - lest a third party come along and take advantage of your weakness.

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5629201]Another point to consider is that the near future might change the effectiveness of ABM systems to such a degree that you might need a conventional army in case your nuclear weapons are shot down.

Assuming I didn't just stick it in a truck or shipping container, you mean? 'cause, if I was a dictator, that's how I'd do it....

=p

There are simple modifications to BM systems that would move the balance back in the direction of attack. MIRVs for instance.

Heck, if you're talking sub-munitions, there's a theoretical lower bounds to the size you can make a nuclear weapon, (and consequently the number of sub-munitions you can use for a given throw weight.) The limit for something like a biological weapon seems liable to me to be be far lower, with a consequently greater number of potential sub-munitions....

And obviously anything that cheapens access to space favours attack....

I suspect, by the time you have overcome all those potential problems, you're talking about having computer controlled railguns and extremely powerful lasers and things like that.... How would a conventional army let you overcome defences that powerful?

Dominance in that sort of situation seems likely to be defined by how close you are to your static defences, and how formidable those defences were in the first place. Sort of like railheads in the American Civil war.

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5629201]Armies are always designed to fight the last war, but if you want the capability to develop new weapons you'd better create a market for them. Development and production of modern weapons take much longer today than it did during the last major wars. In WW1 you could develop an aircraft from drawing board to production in a matter of weeks. The same process takes decades today. If you don't have a modern army now chances are that you won't be able to create it in time after you notice a threat. You won't have the necessary industry, you won't have the human resources with the necessary experience and you won't have the soldiers trained in operating the weapons.

The biggest advance in weaponry, in recent times, has been the IT revolution. And that had fairly little to do with the military, it was mostly driven by the demands of business.

Yes you have things like the F-22; which took decades to make and still don't work properly. But it's not clear to me that a missile with the processing power of your mobile phone couldn't blow the thing out of the air. Ultimately it's a very nice 20 year old aircraft, and given modern technology you can get far more bang for your buck.

It may very well be that you could sit down, once you noticed the other guy was starting to get uppity, design yourself a bunch of cheap – really advanced – stuff and use that to trump the stuff he's got massive sunk costs in. The advantage granted you by advances in technology doesn't seem to be linear with respect to years, and that seems to be becoming a more pronounced tendency as time goes on.

Edit: Really, I suspect the first major use of WMDs, most likely nerve agents, will just be someone getting bored of all this insurgency crap and deciding to take out the problem. If the West's support for Israel - for example - dries up, I don't think it'll be even as long as a decade before they do it. You keep poking someone, eventually they're gonna take a swing at you....




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#6 6 years ago

Nemmerle;5629364

Why?

If you want to nick stuff off of smaller countries, there are other methods to do that.

If you're talking about a country that's more or less equal to you, they'll have nukes too. So, the two of you will never fight directly - it'll end up being proxy wars instead.

If a smaller country attacks you, then you can always nuke them.

"They forced our hand.... If only we'd had an army. Oh well; too bad, so sad."

And they, realising that, are unlikely to do it in the first place.

Proxy wars or conventional wars with states that don't have nukes call for a conventional army. There are plenty of examples for nuclear states which fought conventional wars since WW2.

It doesn't matter whether you killed the tanks themselves or not. No-one was going to be supporting them. You'd have an army with no fuel or food, in the middle of nowhere.

By that stage you'd have an all-out nuclear war because the sort of nuclear weapons necessary to destroy your enemy's infrastructure always end up killing significant numbers of civilians which prompts a response against your own civilian targets.

It might be better to lose a conventional war than start a nuclear one. But it's even more preferable to do neither. If your enemy knows that making you lose an important objective will cause you to hit the button, he won't cause you to lose the objective in the first place.

If I can pre-commit to nuking you, if you make me lose the objective; at least.... That's the difficulty. You've got to believe I might actually do it.

I suspect, in a round about way, this is why humans have been selected to be vengeful little bastards. If you know that I'm going to keep fighting even when it ceases to have an element of immediate personal gain, then you're going to be a lot more cautious about pissing me off - lest a third party come along and take advantage of your weakness.

Maybe, but I don't think this is how things would have developed. Suppose the Russians capture Germany - then the French are confronted with the choice of either accepting that life is unfair or killing everyone, including themselves. There is a huge risk involved for the Russians, but the worst that can happen is that everyone gets nuked, in which case the side with the better fallout shelters prevails. All it takes is a totalitarian leader who doesn't care about casualties.

Assuming I didn't just stick it in a truck or shipping container, you mean? 'cause, if I was a dictator, that's how I'd do it....

=p

There are simple modifications to BM systems that would move the balance back in the direction of attack. MIRVs for instance.

Heck, if you're talking sub-munitions, there's a theoretical lower bounds to the size you can make a nuclear weapon, (and consequently the number of sub-munitions you can use for a given throw weight.) The limit for something like a biological weapon seems liable to me to be be far lower, with a consequently greater number of potential sub-munitions....

And obviously anything that cheapens access to space favours attack....

I suspect, by the time you have overcome all those potential problems, you're talking about having computer controlled railguns and extremely powerful lasers and things like that.... How would a conventional army let you overcome defences that powerful?

Dominance in that sort of situation seems likely to be defined by how close you are to your static defences, and how formidable those defences were in the first place. Sort of like railheads in the American Civil war.

The truck/container approach may work for terrorism, but for a big war between major players it seems risky. The risk of detection increases with the number of nukes you try to smuggle in and your enemy retain his arsenal of missiles.

Submunitinos complicate things, but the most effective method to destroy ICBMs would be to shoot them down during their boost-phase using a space-based platform. Combine that with interceptor missiles and lasers to target whichever missiles get through and you probably have a reasonable chance of limiting casualties to the point where an insane dictator might just go for it.

As for lasers and railguns - that will be the equipment of future conventional armies, so I don't understand your question. If both sides have these weapons then there will at be attempts at hardening and if that doesn't work the trend will be to send lots of unmanned systems, a war of attrition where the side with the better mix of technology and industrial capacity wins (maybe it will turn out that outsourcing all our electronics production to China was not such a great idea after all).

The biggest advance in weaponry, in recent times, has been the IT revolution. And that had fairly little to do with the military, it was mostly driven by the demands of business.

Yes you have things like the F-22; which took decades to make and still don't work properly. But it's not clear to me that a missile with the processing power of your mobile phone couldn't blow the thing out of the air. Ultimately it's a very nice 20 year old aircraft, and given modern technology you can get far more bang for your buck.

It may very well be that you could sit down, once you noticed the other guy was starting to get uppity, design yourself a bunch of cheap – really advanced – stuff and use that to trump the stuff he's got massive sunk costs in. The advantage granted you by advances in technology doesn't seem to be linear with respect to years, and that seems to be becoming a more pronounced tendency as time goes on.

Edit: Really, I suspect the first major use of WMDs, most likely nerve agents, will just be someone getting bored of all this insurgency crap and deciding to take out the problem. If the West's support for Israel - for example - dries up, I don't think it'll be even as long as a decade before they do it. You keep poking someone, eventually they're gonna take a swing at you....

Not sure I see your point about the F-22. Sure, with today's technology you could reduce the costs of the electronic systems that were state of the art 20 years ago, but if you start building a new fighter with current technology today it will again take 20 years until is is available. And by that time things will look different again.

As for the part about designing cheap state of the art solutions - I doubt that this is possible. How many years in advance can politicians predict a coming war? Often they don't see it coming at all, but I'd say less than 10 years is a good approximation. If you don't have the industrial base you won't be able to develop and produce, e.g., a modern air force in that time frame.




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#7 6 years ago

If nobody picked up/used/commanded the weapons of war, there wouldnt be a war. Mankind is still unaware of the power people would have if they werent all sucked in. Military is part of the problem, not the solution, however lets face it, its never going to change, not with the way mankind is.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#8 6 years ago

MrFancypants;5629413 Proxy wars or conventional wars with states that don't have nukes call for a conventional army. [/QUOTE]

Proxy wars don't require that it be your army. That's what makes them proxy wars. Let someone else take the risk.

MrFancypants;5629413There are plenty of examples for nuclear states which fought conventional wars since WW2.[/QUOTE]

That doesn't mean those examples were advisable.

MrFancypants;5629413By that stage you'd have an all-out nuclear war because the sort of nuclear weapons necessary to destroy your enemy's infrastructure always end up killing significant numbers of civilians which prompts a response against your own civilian targets.[/QUOTE]

And then the tank battalions would be the last people left. Which would make the invasion kind of pointless. Which is why it never happened. No point in capturing a radioactive wasteland.

MrFancypants;5629413Maybe, but I don't think this is how things would have developed. Suppose the Russians capture Germany - then the French are confronted with the choice of either accepting that life is unfair or killing everyone, including themselves. There is a huge risk involved for the Russians, but the worst that can happen is that everyone gets nuked, in which case the side with the better fallout shelters prevails. All it takes is a totalitarian leader who doesn't care about casualties.

... Be that as it may, we have access to a cheap form of pre-committal. No-one needs to make the decision to fire, we can just put the nukes on a fail-deadly system. If you take out my military, no-one will be telling the subs not to fire. The Russians did it during the cold war, they called it Perimeter. The West nicknamed it 'Dead Hand,' I believe.

And, if I want to have a mutual defence agreement with Germany - such that I'll use my nukes against Russia if you invade Germany - I set it up so that the required authentication keys for the fail deadly system are distributed. You take out Germany and their portion of the authentication keys isn't there anymore, and the FD system goes off.

#

If your enemy doesn't care about casualties, he'll nuke you when it looks like your conventional army is going to win too. The only winning move there is to have a monopoly on nuclear weapons.

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5629413]The truck/container approach may work for terrorism, but for a big war between major players it seems risky. The risk of detection increases with the number of nukes you try to smuggle in and your enemy retain his arsenal of missiles.

I think, ideally, I'd want you to find some of them. Get you thinking on what you hadn't found. =p

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5629413]Submunitinos complicate things, but the most effective method to destroy ICBMs would be to shoot them down during their boost-phase using a space-based platform. Combine that with interceptor missiles and lasers to target whichever missiles get through and you probably have a reasonable chance of limiting casualties to the point where an insane dictator might just go for it.

As for lasers and railguns - that will be the equipment of future conventional armies, so I don't understand your question. If both sides have these weapons then there will at be attempts at hardening and if that doesn't work the trend will be to send lots of unmanned systems, a war of attrition where the side with the better mix of technology and industrial capacity wins (maybe it will turn out that outsourcing all our electronics production to China was not such a great idea after all).

Different types of weapons, manoeuvring and information systems seem suited to different styles of warfare. When you have incredibly accurate, incredibly powerful weapons linked to computers, then manoeuvrability and concealment (at least in the sense of hiding in a natural environment) cease to be effective defences.

You're down to who can shoot first and who can make it count, and that's always going to favour a fixed system – where you can link your giant ray gun up to a nuclear power station or a huge bank of capacitors.

Heck, lasers are – to all intents and purposes – purely LOS weapons.

I think it likely that warfare's going to become a primarily defensive exercise, based around a relatively small number of more or less static fortifications. You're paying such a high price, to ship a comparable level of fire-power half way around the globe, that I can afford not to invest as much as you.

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5629413]Not sure I see your point about the F-22. Sure, with today's technology you could reduce the costs of the electronic systems that were state of the art 20 years ago, but if you start building a new fighter with current technology today it will again take 20 years until is is available. And by that time things will look different again.

As for the part about designing cheap state of the art solutions - I doubt that this is possible. How many years in advance can politicians predict a coming war? Often they don't see it coming at all, but I'd say less than 10 years is a good approximation. If you don't have the industrial base you won't be able to develop and produce, e.g., a modern air force in that time frame.

I think you'd be better off designing a new ground to air missile system than you would designing something to go up against the F-22. I don't think you'd need state of the art either, that's sort of my point. You should be able to take stuff that's essentially 'off the shelf' and put it together with a little bit of engineering to beat something that's twenty years old.




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#9 6 years ago
Crusader;5629417If nobody picked up/used/commanded the weapons of war, there wouldnt be a war. Mankind is still unaware of the power people would have if they werent all sucked in. Military is part of the problem, not the solution, however lets face it, its never going to change, not with the way mankind is.

Not with that attitude it won't!




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#10 6 years ago

Nemmerle;5629421

Proxy wars don't require that it be your army. That's what makes them proxy wars. Let someone else take the risk.

At the very least a proper proxy war involves your hardware. And that also implies some help from your army.

That doesn't mean those examples were advisable.

It suggests that simply nuking your opponent wasn't a valid option in those wars though.

And then the tank battalions would be the last people left. Which would make the invasion kind of pointless. Which is why it never happened. No point in capturing a radioactive wasteland.

Unless neither side uses weapons which would escalate a conventional war into a nuclear war.

... Be that as it may, we have access to a cheap form of pre-committal. No-one needs to make the decision to fire, we can just put the nukes on a fail-deadly system. If you take out my military, no-one will be telling the subs not to fire. The Russians did it during the cold war, they called it Perimeter. The West nicknamed it 'Dead Hand,' I believe.

And, if I want to have a mutual defence agreement with Germany - such that I'll use my nukes against Russia if you invade Germany - I set it up so that the required authentication keys for the fail deadly system are distributed. You take out Germany and their portion of the authentication keys isn't there anymore, and the FD system goes off.

#

If your enemy doesn't care about casualties, he'll nuke you when it looks like your conventional army is going to win too. The only winning move there is to have a monopoly on nuclear weapons.

Fail deadly systems are triggered by nuclear explosions, from what I read. If they exist at all (it is a nice story to scare your enemy - but trusting an automated system with this seems a bit crazy).

I think, ideally, I'd want you to find some of them. Get you thinking on what you hadn't found. =p

I'd say if your opponent finds out about an impending nuclear attack you are probably screwed, regardless of how many bombs you may have smuggled through.

Different types of weapons, manoeuvring and information systems seem suited to different styles of warfare. When you have incredibly accurate, incredibly powerful weapons linked to computers, then manoeuvrability and concealment (at least in the sense of hiding in a natural environment) cease to be effective defences.

You're down to who can shoot first and who can make it count, and that's always going to favour a fixed system – where you can link your giant ray gun up to a nuclear power station or a huge bank of capacitors.

Heck, lasers are – to all intents and purposes – purely LOS weapons.

I think it likely that warfare's going to become a primarily defensive exercise, based around a relatively small number of more or less static fortifications. You're paying such a high price, to ship a comparable level of fire-power half way around the globe, that I can afford not to invest as much as you.

We are already at a stage where the one who shoots first has a considerable advantage. That doesn't seem to imply that stationary defences are superior though, if anything the importance of mobility in warfare has increased.

I think you'd be better off designing a new ground to air missile system than you would designing something to go up against the F-22. I don't think you'd need state of the art either, that's sort of my point. You should be able to take stuff that's essentially 'off the shelf' and put it together with a little bit of engineering to beat something that's twenty years old.

So why doesn't North Korea take off the shelf components to build a missile which would be capable of shooting down a F-22? Why is Iran importing aa-systems from Russia?