Author Topic: US Army Forced To Buy Tanks It Doesn't Want- Now A Discussion on " What If.."  (Read 46562 times)

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Offline Thucydides

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As mentioned many times upthread, the idea of the tank or AFV has been around for centuries before the technology caught up to make one. The reason is the need to cross fire swept ground and deliver shock or firepower is a long standing military problem, and in the past was "solved" with such innovations as chariots, armoured knights and even highly trained Infantry soldiers trained to run forward at all costs (Chasseurs à pied). The mechanized solution simply did the job better than anything else up to that time, and, so far, no other technical soution has been able to carry out the essential military task in an equally effective or economical manner. (uneconomical ideas like the 100 ton Maus have been tried, but the T-34 is probably the apex of tank evolution, being both effective and very economical).

So perhaps the best way to look at this is to stand the question on its head, and ask "what essential military tasks need to be performed?", and then see how they can be done.



WRT the massive costs of "improved" vehicles and the institutional inertia, part of this is systematic, since bureaucracies essentially exist to preserve themselves. The fierce resistence to adopting tanks in many armies was more a case of protecting existing rice bowls, and now the Armoured (or Armored for our American cousins) Corps is a big rice bowl all of its own, with a shiny cult object in the center. Part of it is the actual military problem it was ment to solve still exists, so we still need tanks, but now have to figure out how to make them survive a very much more hostile environment. The last part of the problem is that most people really cannot think outside the box, so gravitate towards refining existing solutions rather than look for other ways to attack the problem. (There is no shame to this, the vast majority of out of the box solutions are not going to be effective or economical or both; an "in the box" improvement is much more likely to be accepted and the developer showered with praise and rewards. Consider the people who came up with the idea of the MMEV and MGS as tank replacements in the CF; are they looked at today as visionaries or idiots?).



As a brief aside, hovercraft can be used for vehicular purposes. There have been various ideas combining a hovercraft with a trailer or self propelled vehicle, which allows for wheeled traction and control while lowering ground pressure. You can tow or drive heavy loads over soft ground like muskeg using this system. As a fighting machine, it would suck because the instant the blowers stopped working the thing would sink into the muck, but this might be acceptable as some sort of specialist logistics or engineering platform to operate in that sort of condition. Or you could use a BV-206...
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Colin P

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Hover assisted vehicle did not pan out because the machinery involved took up 3/4 of the payload. Hover  tech works well for moving very large objects over prepared ground, such as large oil tanks or hover barges, but there is nothing "tactical" about them.

The real game changer I see is hyper space aircraft, bouncing along the atmosphere armed with KE weapons. The first one gets over the area id's the targets, the strike force comes in, nails them and is back home in a few hours. The ablity to id and react for the enemy will be difficult and a very short time frame.

Offline PanaEng

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Re: US Army being forced to buy tanks it doesn't want
« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2013, 12:29:36 »
..... how is the girl with screwdriver received?
I would say thank you but I asked for a pina colada - but you can leave this one here, its kind of hot...

Interesting topic. Some technological advances are pretty much inevitable as it may seem by the tank but the look and feel of it may take different paths through its evolution - the key is who or which side will think out of the box first and what solution will they employ. With this I'm inferring that there may be many solutions to the problem with different limitations and and requirements; the first mover will usually drive development in a certain direction unless that technology or materials are not available to the other side.
If DaVinci had perfected the flying machines, Europe may all be speaking Italian now.  Research would have been driven more towards lighter/advanced materials and also on systems to counter this threat.
But, as someone said earlier, solutions to current issues may be readily available and we do have some ppl that can recognize them and employ them; the challenge is to foster more ppl with that ability and empower them to think out of the box iot reduce the innovation cycle - I'm not saying we need more ppl in the HQs, just more of this type at all levels.

anyway, I'm sick and my meds may be doing the talking...
Now I am SAS or SWAT dude ;-)
see:
Quote from: RHFC_piper ink=topic=51916.msg617784#msg617784 date=1190404708

The 'pana" is a play on the Greek 'pan' meaning 'all' or 'encompassing' - not quite but similar to UBIQUE
some think I just misspelled "para" :-)

Offline Thucydides

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A fire support platform arriving from Low Earth Orbit may well be the coolest vehicle ever designed. Sadly, a much simpler solution was explored in the same movie ("I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.").

Still, the essential military task is to bring powerful and accurate fire support to the correct point on the battlefield when the commander needs it. In the time of Gustavus Adolphus this was light cannon drawn by a team of horses (Previous cannon were so huge they were drawn by ox carts and often needed hours to days to dismount and set up). Today we look for helicopter gunships and strike aircraft. My guess would be a large strike platform carrying a railgun for tomorrows support vehicle (having a large metal dart impact the target at 6X the speed of sound will do wonders for troop morale, and such an aircraft could prosecute targets from ground level to Low Earth Obit as well).
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Chris Pook

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A few years ago you were being taken to task for adopting a "warlike" posture in Afghanistan.  One of the arguments used to oppose the move to the south was the "need" to take on the "humanitarian" mission of intervening to keep the Sudanese/Taliban/Wahabi out of Darfur.

An argument against intervention was that Darfur was out of range of seaborne forces.  That situation is still true.

At the same time the French are well set up to intervene in Darfur, just as they are in Mali.

The French do have a Navy.  But in the Sahara allies, ground bases, and light, mobile, airportable, and dare I say - special - forces have long given the French a continuing ability to influence events.

The have silly vehicles like wheeled, amphibious "tanks" with silly little 90 mm guns that can be transported by air and manned by troops that can be parachuted in. 

They also use open trucks, as well as APCs, to transport troops.

They don't bring their heavy vehicles to these fights. 

I suppose it can be argued that they are spectacularly unsuccessful in their efforts because they seem to have been exercising their capabilities two or three times every decade since they first took over Algiers.   An argument aided by the fact that they are French....

On the other hand, two or three times every decade since they took over Algiers the French have been well positioned and equipped to influence events in places that the Thalassocrat powers can't reach.

I have thalassocrat inclinations myself and am predisposed to marines and Big Honking Ships.... but the French present some interesting alternatives that could and perhaps should influence Canadian strategy.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

"If change isn’t allowed to be a process, it becomes an event." - Penny Mordaunt 10/10/2019

Offline GR66

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Part of the French formula is also the will to deploy those light forces and take casualties in pursuit of their national objectives.  Our national objectives are often the simple act of showing political support for our larger allies by contributing to joint military actions rather than our own imperative need to militarily force a given result on the ground.  This may have as much to do with the planned make-up of our military as any other factors.  What is the cheapest and safest contribution that we can make in order to get the approval of our allies for our actions?  At times we may get caught with our pants down by not being prepared for the task we're forced to take on, but in most cases we've usually been able to find a contribution that suits both our budget and our objectives.


Offline Chris Pook

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That business of willingness to take casualties is an interesting, if fraught one.

The French willingness to take casualties is mitigated by hiring Foreigners (and anonymous ones at that) to do their fighting for them - French Foreign Legion.  Beyond the foreigners they also have the domestic volunteers available to them.  Not conscripts ... not since the Paras left Algeria singing "Je ne regrette rien".

Another aspect that drives French policy is the need to secure raw materials - something that Canada isn't bothered with.  The French have "rien, rien de rien".  Not Alsatian coal, Nigerian uranium or North Sea oil.

Here is another article that relates to the opening thought - buying stuff you don't need in case you might need it.

Debate Over Army’s Future Vehicle Raises Question: Why Heavy Armor?

This paragraph stands out: 

Quote
Capuccio predicts the Army will stand by GCV, even if the rationale for the vehicle is questionable, because it needs its suppliers to stay in business. “They keep building the same stuff to keep the industrial base alive,” he says, but that approach is short-sighted because it does not necessarily lead to innovation. “If you are going to keep the industrial base, it doesn’t mean keep the old industrial base,” Capuccio says. “Keeping the industrial base is not about factories; it’s the intellectual power.”

At the same time there is this article:

Marines Ponder Future of Unmanned Cargo Helicopter

Quote
The K-MAX was fielded to safely and quickly transport emergency cargo in dangerous areas. After an uncommonly swift introduction, two helicopters were purchased at a cost of $11 million each to deliver cargo from main supply depots to isolated forward operating bases.

The US now has developed the technology to convert, it seems, any helicopter in an unmanned variant.  They have the Schweizer - Firescout, the Bell 407 - Firescout and now the K-MAX.

The Firescouts are not just recce platforms but like the K-MAX are also cargo carriers.  Except the cargos they carry a 1 to 20 lb packets of HE delivered with 1 m precision from 5 km standoff and 200 km from the operator.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

"If change isn’t allowed to be a process, it becomes an event." - Penny Mordaunt 10/10/2019

Offline Thucydides

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Cargo delivery is another essentiall military task (and a not very glamourous one at that), so inovations like unmaned helicopters and "smart parachute" delivery using GPS guided cargo 'chutes are quite welcome.

I'm not sure I buy the "keeping the industrial base" agument. Building a factory and putting an item into production is not at all difficult any more, and more a test of how well the end producer can manage the supply chain than anything else. Good supply chain managers do things like "just in time" car assembly, while less adept managers end up with embarrassing to critical problems. Boeing's 787 "Dreamlineer" seems to be a victim of that, but similar problems can be seen in the second world war with the modular production of the Type XXI "Electroboote" submarines; modules arrived on time and could be welded together in the slipway, but in the end, only 4 out of about 180 assembled subs ever actually made it to sea duty, the remainder needed pretty extensive correction and almost a complete rebuild die to errors in the manufacture of the modules.

Now there might be a few critical production items that need unique factories or industrial process to make, but the correct answer might be to investigate alternative means of getting the desired item or item of equivalent performance; or opening up competition and allowing interested bidder to provide the items in question. Having the military establishment over a barrel due to a quasi monopoly supply system is what is leading to problems in price, availability and performance.

Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Colin P

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Capuccio predicts the Army will stand by GCV, even if the rationale for the vehicle is questionable, because it needs its suppliers to stay in business. “They keep building the same stuff to keep the industrial base alive,” he says, but that approach is short-sighted because it does not necessarily lead to innovation. “If you are going to keep the industrial base, it doesn’t mean keep the old industrial base,” Capuccio says. “Keeping the industrial base is not about factories; it’s the intellectual power.”

Yea, so wrong there. Industrial base is specialized machines with people that know how to use them. Take a look at just how old the largest industrial machines are in the US, some of them date back to the heyday of the battleship or to the cold war , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy_Press_Program http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TQkHGtjE3I once they are gone, the ability to make certain large components also disappears. Factories need to modernize on a regular basis, but it's not like you can trade up on a 12000 ton press every 5 years
If you lose the corporate knowledge to run such presses, it's going to be very costly to regain that knowledge.   

Offline Canadian.Trucker

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At the same time there is this article:

Marines Ponder Future of Unmanned Cargo Helicopter

The US now has developed the technology to convert, it seems, any helicopter in an unmanned variant.  They have the Schweizer - Firescout, the Bell 407 - Firescout and now the K-MAX.

The Firescouts are not just recce platforms but like the K-MAX are also cargo carriers.  Except the cargos they carry a 1 to 20 lb packets of HE delivered with 1 m precision from 5 km standoff and 200 km from the operator.
I like the idea of unmanned stuff.  It's like playing Battlefield 3, if I crash it I just wait for my vehicle to respawn and go again.  Right?  Guys?
/sarcasm
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Offline Colin P

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Just fire up the 3D printer and out comes your mini-UAV

Offline Chris Pook

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Colin -

You are closer with your reference to the 3D printer than you are with your reference to WW1/WW2 12000 ton presses, I think.

Those presses were limited in their capabilities.

Modern CNC-Robotics techniques are much more flexible in their applications.  I agree that a good toolmaker is still worth his/her weight in gold - for that matter so is any good craftsman these days. 

But - High Pressure Water Cutting
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1YjqouRDVo

Multi-Dimensional Lathes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdCRCcwDeKQ

Heavy Presses
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUH3IDz8GhQ
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

"If change isn’t allowed to be a process, it becomes an event." - Penny Mordaunt 10/10/2019

Offline Colin P

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Industrial capacity requires the intellectual skills to be coupled with the hands on skills and the machines to translate those designs into physical items. It's good to create new ways of doing things, but capacity to do unique and large items is slowly being lost. I have a friend who is a bit of a industrial historian and he has been talking about the widening gap between what we could do and what we can do now.

Offline Chris Pook

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I don't disagree with the general thought but if we are hung up on the capital cost of replacing old hardware then you can't advance.

That was Britain's problem after WW2.  It "won" with all of its Victorian and Edwardian infrastructure largely intact.  And its unions and capitalists conspired to keep it that way.

Meanwhile the Germans, who had been forced by circumstances to "do things differently", grasped new technologies and rapidly sunk British manufacturers.

The Americans, especially the shipyards, are very British in their outlooks.  Much of their infrastructure dates to the WW2 boom.   And, I believe, it traps them into this cycle of building what they can with what they have - resulting in high-priced solutions that struggle hard to catch up with other nations.

Conversely, the Americans also have very innovative thinkers and suppliers available to them.  What they need more of is people willing to try the "different".

And as an aside - I personally think that one of the most innovative nations on the planet is the Aussies.  The never seem to do things the same way as other folks.

I'm not quite sure if that's because they are Irish, poachers or just spend too much time hanging upside down or some combination of all of the above.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

"If change isn’t allowed to be a process, it becomes an event." - Penny Mordaunt 10/10/2019

Offline Thucydides

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WRT shipbuilding, first the Japanese and now the Koreans can build massive ships faster and more cheaply than American shipyards (many of these bulk carriers, container ships and RO/RO cargo ships are analogues of various supply ships the military needs, only much bigger). The Norwegans have become able to dominate the niche market of cruise liners, these ships also have the size of many of the largest warships afloat (CVN's). Norway also builds very sophisticated ships to support the oil industry in the North Sea, some with very specialized capabilities like operating ROVs at extreme depths to examine and repair pipelines.

Now we can argue that these ships are "not built to military standards", and there are differences in design like the ability to mount weapons or sophisticated electronic devices, as well as operate at speeds that are uneconomical for cargo or passenger ships, but the essential point is the industrial capacity to build tankers, container ships or cruise liners wasn't "inherited", it was essentially "new build" to capture and dominate the market(s) by the companies which run the shipyards. 

Now even going full tilt, there is no "assembly line", since the scale and scope of ships is far larger than any assembly line hall, and few enough ships are built each year to sustain an assembly line type of production, but these shipyards have innovative techniques both in building and in management to remain competative and profitable. This is the sort of thinking that needs to be tapped (and especially if we need to suddenly ramp up production in order to respond to a crisis).
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Chris Pook

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Further to the machinery/innovation aspect of this drifting thread*


Head Forming Press (attached 16 minute video)
http://www.siempelkamp.com/index.php?id=2148

A little bit more google-digging turned up these machines.

Noteworthy points:

Machines manufactured by Germans (explains Germans prominence in the EU debate - lots of foreign exchange rolling in)
Most examples described are in India (lots of foreign exchange rolling in to Germany - India has latest technology)
Very few bodies shown in any of the shots - and not a dhoti to be seen anywhere (reduces the supposed advantage of cheap labour)
With respect to the Head Forming Press - biggest issues - raw materials and energy (India - and China don't have them - Canada does)

With labour not being an issue and energy and materials being plentiful in Canada why can't Canada be competitive in this type of field?

As well, why can't Canada be doing more of the German stuff? 

One thing that I have noticed over the last few decades is that while North American kids have been distracted by law degrees and MBAs, and Dot Com Bubbles and Real Estate the Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians have maintained a solid corps of mechanical engineers.   And that shows in the MBT/CCV/Bv206/GCV/Helo debates.  North Americans are well behind the curve in applying new ideas to old problems. 

It seems to me that the Yanks spend billions of dollars trying to figure out how they can steal a march on the rest of the world, exploring edge of the envelope ideas and never quite being able to put the pieces together in a timely fashion.  Meanwhile the rest of the world plods along, watching what they Yanks and everybody else is doing and incorporating what they can, when they can, as they need it.

They don't require that every programme is a multi-unit programme, thought out over the next half-century.  They are quite willing to just keep slowly advancing.

Example:

About the time that Canada started looking at the JLSS concept the Netherlands put the AMSTERDAM in the water (1995).  Concurrently the Spanish built and launched the PATINO - a sister ship.   
Since then the Spanish have launched a modified PATINO - the CANTABRIA.
Meanwhile the Dutch have moved forward with ROTTERDAM - an LPD - the JOHAN DE WITT - a larger sister of the ROTTERDAM but still and LPD and are building the KAREL DOORMAN - another sister of the ROTTERDAM that also does the functions of the AMSTERDAM.

The Dutch call the KAREL DOORMAN a JLSS - the original Canadian concept that was derided as ridiculous and expensive in 1995.  The Dutch will be retiring the AMSTERDAM when KAREL DOORMAN is commissioned and will build no more AORs.

In the time Canada has been thinking about the JLSS, the Dutch have built 5 ships (including the Patino) and have made the JLSS concept a reality.

In the same time the Spanish have moved from the PATINO, to the CANTABRIA, to the LPDs and LPHs of which they just sold 2 hulls to Australia for outfitting in Australia for use by the RAN.

And Canada still has nothing afloat - and apparently are still waiting for yards that can build such ships to be developed.

By the way the Danes went from ordering Absolon in 2001, to laying her down in 2003, launching her in 2007 and commissioning her in 2007 to completing the fifth ship in the class Niels Juel as and AAD ship in November 2011.  The three AAD variants were all launched in 2011 with the total build time of all three being three years with much of the work being done concurrently.

I could go on with odious comparisons to the CSC and the AOPS as well as the BHS, or to the LCS in the States. 

These are the reasons that I prefer the Euro model over the Yankee (or even the MOD) model.  They are also the reason why I strongly disagree with the PBO on pricing ships as I believe that they study on which the PBO relied was far too heavily weighted towards the American model.

I also think that the involvement of Lockheed Martin in the AOPS project has the possibility of dragging the project under in the same way that it took the LCS project off track.

If LockMart then Milspec
If Milspec then high priced.

The LCS started as a cheap Aussie car ferry with a Danish Stanflex style weaponry suite.  Lockmart wasn't even in the hunt.  They found their way into the project by arguing that they could build a "proper" ship with a single hull built to traditional USN standards. The price ballooned, the timeline expanded, the capabilities decreased. I believe it is arguable that it is in LockMart's interest to "sink" novel ideas because they are so heavily invested in "traditional" capabilities - at least when it comes to ships and tanks.   Aircraft?  Not so sure - America still seems to maintain a lead in that field.


*(PS mods: please allow this one to drift - the subtext here is all about what is possible, what are others doing, how are they managing innovation and what can we learn from them:  Its not about pieces of equipment per se, or technology, or organization, although it could just as easily be about the difficulties in getting from an existing organization to a new organization.  Its about managing change - real change - not PER change)
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

"If change isn’t allowed to be a process, it becomes an event." - Penny Mordaunt 10/10/2019

Offline Colin P

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Frankly leasing a replacement might set a fire under our industry to sort out their ****. I do like your heavy industry suggestion. I hear the sobs that labour is to much, economics of scale, shipping distances, etc. But we did have such industry before http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Locomotive_Works. it played a significant role in our tank production in WWII. I suspect the real issue is lack of capital and lack of leadership, project management skills to keep it working. Between the inept management and short sighted union management, they effectively killed such ventures and the desire to pursue them.

Offline GR66

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People cry out to produce our military equipment domestically in order to create jobs for Canadians.  However, are those same people willing to let us export the weapons that these companies now produce in order to maintain those industries?  If the political will isn't there to allow domestic arms industries to succeed then I'd suggest that it's better to buy offshore and instead invest that money in industries where we do have the political will to compete internationally.

Offline dapaterson

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Don't worry.  The Irvings will do their utmost to ensure that whatever they make in profits is quickly moved offshore.  They learned at their daddy's knee, after all...

This posting made in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 2(b):
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication
http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/1.html

Offline Chris Pook

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On the other hand if the money is invested not with "weapons" manufacturers but with manufacturers more broadly then we don't have to sell just weapons.  We can make weapons if necessary but equally we can make components for many other applications.

The same press that presses domes could press a bulbous bow, a high pressure reactor or a heavy tank (water for the holding of, not machine guns for the carrying of).

The same milling or broaching equipment necessary for cutting the lands / grooves in large caliber guns can also be used in cutting grooves in decanters (centrifuges for separating solids and liquids) or for similar machines.

The same applies to the high pressure water cutters and the multi-axis lathes.

Those machines - perhaps they shouldn't be bought by Irving or Seaspan.  Perhaps the government would be better subsidizing the purchase of those machines by the steel companies and the smaller machine shops across the country through tax incentives.

Once Canadian industry had those machines then they would be better placed to compete more broadly - and not just for Canadian military contracts.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

"If change isn’t allowed to be a process, it becomes an event." - Penny Mordaunt 10/10/2019

Offline jeffb

    Really needs to stop buying guns... .

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Don't worry.  The Irvings will do their utmost to ensure that whatever they make in profits is quickly moved offshore.  They learned at their daddy's knee, after all...

In fairness to them they are personally great supporters of the CF especially The RCR.
~ Ubique ~
Simple is better except when complicated looks really cool.

Offline Chris Pook

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Quote
...First Nigel Lawson argued that Britain would be better off outside the EU. Then Michael Portillo agreed. Now we learn that Margaret Thatcher reached the same view after leaving Downing Street. Hannan's First Law, it seems, is as robust as ever: no party is ever Eurosceptic while in office.
Why not? Mainly because of what Milton Friedman called 'the tyranny of the status quo'. An immense apparat has grown up around the Brussels system. Disbanding it would mean taking on the Foreign Office, the Home Civil Service, the big multinationals, the mega-charities and NGOs (most of which receive EU subsidies) as well, of course, as the Brussels machine itself. It would consume all the energies of an administration for at least a year. Small wonder most ministers, while grumbling at their powerlessness, prefer to leave things as they stand.

per Daniel Hanan

Mr Hanan, a Eurosceptic MEP, is referring to politicians being Eurosceptic after they leave power.  The commentary could just as easily refer to GOFOs of any nation being "braver" out of uniform than in.  Or it could refer to the Tank supply system, or the Ship supply system, or the industrial complex.....

The tyranny of the status quo.
People don't change unless they have to.
Hope and change.
A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

This Friedman chappy sounds rather interesting. Understand he has written a book or two.  Might have to read them.

This thinking would seem to suggest that the carrot and stick method of moving donkeys is flawed.  Carrots only lead to fat donkeys.  Donkeys don't move without liberal applications of the stick.  (Alternative solution: dangle carrot on stick and keep it in front of donkey - donkey never gets carrot - eventually donkey ignores carrot completely).




Is this really the only option?

A bit of advice that I was given as a kid was how to go to the track and have a bit of fun betting the horses.  It seems to be applicable.
If you didn't know the horses place two bets - one on the favourite and one on the longshot.  You might get lucky and make a killing but equally you were likely to at least cover the cost of the bets.

The same principle works for retirement planning I have found - and for designing systems.  Figure out how much you can afford to fix when failure happens and experiment within that envelope.

The C(A)F needs to leave space in the system for experimentation at all levels - and that space requires RAB (Responsibilty-Authority-Budget). 

It used to be that the commander was advised to maintain a reserve of 10% of his forces to his own personal use.  Perhaps the 10% number could be applied to other resources (like budget).  I am sure that this would give some accountants fits -"what do you mean: a personal fund for innovation and experimentation?" - and some managers - "what do you mean: share my budget?"

But the same thing that others, prominently on this site Thucydides, have argued pertaining to decentralized government in Canada and the States (64 independent laboratories - somebody is bound to get it right eventually and everybody can learn from the idiots without the whole lot being lost) is equally valid for any organization.

Move the level of trust downwards and expect to be pleasantly surprised.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

"If change isn’t allowed to be a process, it becomes an event." - Penny Mordaunt 10/10/2019