OF GOLD AND WARGAMES: TWO SEEMINGLY UNRELATED ARTICLESMarch 15, 2019
When Mr. V.T. and Mr. E.G sent along the following article about wargames, my ears perked up, because as some readers here might or might not be aware, playing wargames has been a hobby of mine since I was young. When time permits (and it usually doesn't) I still enjoy playing them. By wargames, I don't mean the roll-playing stuff that kids play nowadays. I mean the actual thing; there are commercial versions of the types of game systems that were developed by various general staffs prior to World War One, and they're very sophisticated and, back then, used to take forever to play as one had to do endless calculations, roll dice and so on. They came with real maps printed out with an overlaid hex grid, and small cardboard square pieces with the standard NATO symbols printed on them to represent various units, divisions, corps, armor, infantry, artillery and so on. If nothing else, it was a way to "relive" military campaigns one read about in books, and the maps were an education in where places were and what the topography was. Well-known, and not so-well-known, places - Moscow or Leningrad or Novi Sad or Cluj - became part of the landscape. Today the large maps and cardboard unit counters and dice have been replaced by computerized games, automatic calculations of battle resolutions, and so on, and take lots less time to play. In fact, in the picture accompanying this article, you can see what one of those old wargames with its hexgrid map and cardboard unit counters looked like. They're still enjoyable, and they make you think.
And needless to say, this story made me think:
This little excerpt from the article says it all: the U.S. would not prevail in a general confrontation with Russia and China:
We lose a lot of people. We lose a lot of equipment. We usually fail to achieve our objective of preventing aggression by the adversary," he warned.
In the next military conflict, which some believe may come as soon as the mid-2020s, all five battlefield domains: land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, will be heavily contested, suggesting the U.S. could have a difficult time in achieving superiority as it has in prior conflicts.
The simulated war games showed, the "red" aggressor force often destroys U.S. F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters on the runway, sends several Naval fleets to the depths, destroys US military bases, and through electronic warfare, takes control of critical military communication systems. In short, a gruesome, if simulated, annihilation of some of the most modern of US forces.
“In every case I know of,” said Robert Work, a former deputy secretary of defense with years of wargaming experience, “the F-35 rules the sky when it’s in the sky, but it gets killed on the ground in large numbers.”
So, as Russia and China develop fifth-generation fighters and hypersonic missiles, “things that rely on sophisticated base infrastructures like runways and fuel tanks are going to have a hard time,” Ochmanek said. “Things that sail on the surface of the sea are going to have a hard time.”
"That’s why the 2020 budget coming out next week retires the carrier USS Truman decades early and cuts two amphibious landing ships, as we’ve reported. It’s also why the Marine Corps is buying the jump-jet version of the F-35, which can take off and land from tiny, ad hoc airstrips, but how well they can maintain a high-tech aircraft in low-tech surroundings is an open question," said Breaking Defense.
Reading between the lines a bit, the article is highlighting a problem I've mentioned before, namely, that with so much money chasing high tech military weapons systems, the US military is actually getting much bang for the buck than its major potential enemies, who spend far less, but get greater returns on what they do buy. Or to put it differently, the USA has invested in the wrong systems.
Now tuck that wargame story in the back of your mind, with the added insight that, if RAND's wargames are showing these types of results, the likelihood is that similar wargames in Moscow and Beijing are probably showing more or less the same results. With that in mind, now consider this "completely different" story shared by Mr. H.B.:
With that, you can add Romania to the list of countries that are trying or in part have succeeded in repatriating its gold reserves: Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Venezuela. And if one adds in stories about other nations concerned about their gold, you can include Italy and Australia.
So what's the connection between the stories? It's simple: the backing of the US dollar as a reserve currency is the US military, and in particular, the US Navy, though as we move into the space age, that would also include the air force and now the space force. Wargames such as this - and virtually every major power plays them periodically - are showing acute vulnerabilities in the US military, and hence in the US dollar, and countries are moving accordingly into gold until such time as a new reserve currency (or currencies) emerges.
See you on the flip side...