“New NATO Member Finland Elects a President Set to Keep Up Hard Line on Neighboring Russia”

National Coalition Party candidate Alexander Stubb celebrates after winning the second round of the presidential election during an election party night, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Helsinki. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Associated Press | By Jari Tanner

HELSINKI — Former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has narrowly won a runoff vote to become Finland’s next president, who will steer security policy that includes integrating the new NATO member into the alliance at a time of concern over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The final tally from Sunday’s runoff shows Stubb, of the center-right National Coalition Party, had 51.6% of the votes, while independent candidate and former Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto from the green left got 48.4% of the votes. The two were the top vote-getters in the second round of the election. Haavisto had served as Finland’s top diplomat in 2019-2023. Stubb is taking over from the hugely popular President Sauli Niinistö, whose second six-year term expires next month and who wasn’t eligible for reelection.

A runoff was required after none of the original nine candidates got a majority of the votes in the first round on Jan. 28. In tradition with consensus-driven Finnish politics and no below-the-belt attacks during the campaign, Stubb visited Haavisto’s election party event late Sunday after the result was clear. “You’re one of the nicest people I have ever met,” Stubb told his opponent Haavisto at the party event, according to Finnish broadcaster YLE.

The presidency is a key political post in this northern European country of 5.6 million people. Unlike in most European countries, the president of Finland holds executive power in formulating foreign and security policy together with the government. But he is also expected to remain above the fray of day-to-day politics and stay out of domestic political disputes while acting as a moral leader of the nation.

The head of state also commands the military — a key role after Finland joined NATO in April 2023 in the aftermath of Russia’s attack on Ukraine a year earlier. Finnish media outlets on Monday pointed out how Europe’s security is at stake as never before since World War II, due to Russia’s invasion.

At a news conference in Helsinki, Stubb was asked by The Associated Press to assess the state of the Finnish military and whether he intended to be a hands-on commander. “We have one of the strongest military forces in Europe,” Stubb replied. He pointed to Finland´s wartime military strength of 280,000 through reservists – a number that is augmented by some 900,000 men and women who have received military training through conscription service. “When the Cold War ended, Finland did not run down its military – quite the contrary,” Stubb said, referring to the modern state of the country´s defense forces. “We will play our part in the alliance (NATO). People trust us and they know that we are serious about our defense for rather obvious reasons. Will I be an active commander-in-chief? Yes, I intend to do that,” he said.


Comment: A lot has happened since the Grand Duchy of Finland was ruled by Saint Petersburg as part of the Russian Empire. Stubb’s election and the accession of Finland to NATO are only the latest historical permutations. I doubt Putin anticipated his invasion of Ukraine would lead to an additional 830 miles of NATO on Russia’s border and so close to Saint Petersburg. He doesn’t seem too concerned since he’s denuding this border of units. He’s putting air defense units back around Saint Petersburg, but that’s due to Ukrainian drones. He’s also pulled units out of Kaliningrad. I think his desire for a more expansive Russia far outweighs his fear of a NATO attack from Ukraine or elsewhere. I still wonder if he considers the former Grand Duchy of Finland to rightfully be part of the Russkiy Mir.


Posted in Europe, Russia, TTG | 63 Comments

“The Advent of Russia and the New World”

A new world is being born before our eyes. Russia’s military operation in Ukraine has opened a new era – and in three dimensions at once. And of course, in the fourth, domestic Russian. Here begins a new period both in ideology and in the very model of our socio-economic system – but this is worth talking about separately a little later.

Russia is restoring its unity – the tragedy of 1991, this terrible catastrophe of our history, its unnatural dislocation, has been overcome. Yes, at a great cost, yes, through the tragic events of what is essentially a civil war, because now brothers separated by belonging to the Russian and Ukrainian armies are still shooting at each other – but Ukraine will no longer exist as anti-Russia. Russia is restoring its historical completeness, gathering the Russian world, the Russian people together – in its entirety of Great Russians, Belarusians and Little Russians. If we had refused this and allowed the temporary division to take hold for centuries, we would not only have betrayed the memory of our ancestors, but would also have been cursed by our descendants for allowing the collapse of the Russian land.

Vladimir Putin took upon himself – without a bit of exaggeration – historical responsibility, deciding not to leave the solution to the Ukrainian issue to future generations. After all, the need to solve it would always remain the main problem for Russia – for two key reasons. And the issue of national security, that is, the creation of anti-Russia from Ukraine and an outpost for Western pressure on us, is only the second most important among them.

The first would always remain the complex of a divided people, the complex of national humiliation – when the Russian house first lost part of its foundation (Kiev), and then was forced to come to terms with the existence of two states of not one, but two peoples. That is, either renounce your history, agreeing with the crazy versions that “only Ukraine is the real Rus’,” or helplessly gnash your teeth, remembering the times when “we lost Ukraine.” To return Ukraine, that is, to turn it back to Russia, would be more and more difficult with each decade – recoding, de-Russification of Russians and inciting Little Russian Ukrainians against Russians would gain momentum. And if the West consolidated complete geopolitical and military control over Ukraine, its return to Russia would become completely impossible – it would have to be fought for with the Atlantic bloc.

Now this problem is gone – Ukraine has returned to Russia. This does not mean that its statehood will be liquidated, but it will be reorganized, re-established and returned to its natural state as a part of the Russian world. Within what boundaries, in what form will the alliance with Russia be consolidated (through the CSTO and the Eurasian Union or the Union State of Russia and Belarus)? This will be decided after the end is put in the history of Ukraine as anti-Russia. In any case, the period of the split of the Russian people is coming to an end.

And here the second dimension of the coming new era begins – it concerns Russia’s relations with the West. Not even Russia, but the Russian world, that is, three states, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, acting in geopolitical terms as a single whole. These relations have entered a new stage – the West sees Russia returning to its historical borders in Europe. And he is loudly indignant at this, although in the depths of his soul he must admit to himself that it could not have been otherwise.




Comment: This article appeared in RIA Novosti at exactly 0800 on 26 February 2022. It also appeared on the Sputnik News Network websites. Its release was planned in advance in anticipation of a lightning victory over Ukraine. Things didn’t work out as the Kremlin anticipated, but the preplanned victory lap was published as planned before being quickly taken down. How embarrassing. But this short lived article did us all a great service. It laid out the Kremlin’s true reasons for launching their invasion and its plans for the new world order. 

I was going to wait for the two year anniversary of the article to write this, but the recent Putin interview convinced me the time is now right. I’m impressed by the consistency between this article and the world view laid out by Putin. That’s not a bad thing. I think it’s admirable, but it does explain in stark terms why the Ukrainians are continuing the fight. If they lose to Russia, they will cease to exist.

In addition to ending Ukraine as a country and an idea, how did the article’s author, Petr Akopov, envision the Russkiy Mir after the total defeat of the government in Kyiv? He envisioned a Europe free of the Anglo-Saxon yoke aligned politically and economically with Russia. He spoke of the rise of a multipolar world with “China and India, Latin America and Africa, the Islamic world and Southeast Asia” assuming their rightful place alongside the “Russian world, that is, three states, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, acting in geopolitical terms as a single whole.”

I don’t think it’s the worst of world visions, except if I were a Ukrainian. I wouldn’t be too thrilled if I was a Belarusian, either.  A renewed “Pax Americana” should also give us pause. Besides, such a unipolar world existed only for a few years, if at all. I don’t think it existed at all except in the minds of neocon true believers. We’ve been in a multipolar world throughout the course of modern history. A true multipolar world should be comprised of many independent countries, big and small, not a few empires lording it over the smaller countries, not a Pax Americana nor a Russkiy Mir.


For a comparison, here’s a transcript of Putin’s recent interview with Carlson.


Posted in Europe, Russia, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 75 Comments

Tom Cooper on the status of the Ukrainian Armed Forces

Question 5: What can you say about the general state of the Ukrainian Armed Forces under Valery Zaluzhny?

At this point in time, the answer is unclear. The state of research about this war is that only statements by different persons are available, and next to no official documentation. Thus, we have the ‘he said, she said’ situation: lots of different people are making lots of different statements, but there is no absolute certainty about who is right and who is wrong (or, even worse: who might be lying).

What is sure is that the ZSU under Zaluzhny has survived the initial Russian onslaught. Alone that was a major achievement – because almost everybody (and thus Putin, too), expected the ZSU to fold and run away. Even to surrender en masse. As next, the ZSU’s resistance and the quality of that resistance (and the resulting, massive Russian losses) have forced Putin to drastically reduce his original aims for this invasion: to withdraw his troops from Kyiv, Czerhnihiv, and Sumy, and to abandon plans for seizure of Odesa. Finally, the fighting will of the ZSU has enabled the recovery of eastern Kharkiv Oblast, and northern Kherson Oblast.

However, I’m of the kind not assigning such achievements to ‘generals’, but to lower-ranking officers, non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and to ‘troops’. It doesn’t matter if generals are popular or not; military geniuses, or not; lucky, or not; skilled or not. Indeed, Generals can command as much as they like: if the officers, NCOs, and troops these generals are commanding are running away, surrendering or similar – then nobody is left to fight. And it took lots of officers, NCOs, and especially ‘troops’, lots of courage to stand and fight the massive Russian airborne- and mechanised onslaughts on Kyiv, Czernihiv, Mykolaiv, Voznessensk, Zaporizhzhya, on Izyum, on Lyman, on Popasna, on Severodonetsk, on Lysychansk, on Bakhmut, on Vuhledar, on Avidiivka etc. Indeed, the ZSU wouldn’t even reach Robotyne without its troops being ready to pay the ultimate price and cross those extensive and dense Russian minefields in order to get there.

Where ‘generals’ are really important is ‘organisation’. See: enabling lower-ranking officers, NCOs, and troops willing to fight – to fight. This enabling goes through the provision of organisation, command style, training, logistics, and then equipment and weaponry etc. By all respect, and with or without General Zaluzhny: these are all also the major problem zones of the ZSU.

Certain is only that it must have been Zaluzhny who has instilled, or at least authorised the instillation of the ‘fighting spirit’ and ‘can do’ mentality within lower ranks of the ZSU: without him at least granting permission to do so to somebody else, this would be impossible. Thus, a ‘plus point’ for him.

However, it is still so that after two years since the all-out invasion, none of other affairs important for the ZSU’s effectiveness is anything like ‘working well’. Indeed, improvements observed so far remain relatively minimal. The ZSU grew immensely in numbers, but lacks well-trained officers, skilled in commanding bigger formations (from battalion to brigade and bigger). The lack of skilled commanders is such that brigades are still grouped into ‘territories of operations’, instead into divisions – because Generals do not feel ‘safe’ to let their lower-ranking officers command more than a battalion. Foremost: much too often it happens that when there is a crisis, battalions from 5, 10, 15 and more different brigades are rushed to the zone in question, piecemeal, instead of entire brigades…

These are other big issues, too. There are major issues in the way the ZSU is deploying its newly-established units (see: rushing them into offensives, instead of assigning them quieter sectors of the frontline, to enable them to work-up). There are major issues with the logistics (which often appears to be run by ‘Soviet-style’ officers, who are rather ‘hoarding’ than ‘pushing forward’ what they get, etc., etc., etc.). And, there are major issues with the rotation of existing units: multiple examples are known for units that were kept in the line for up to 18 months, instead of being rotated to the rear, to enable them at last some time for rest, reorganisation and retraining. Problem: the longer a unit is in the field, the more exhausted its troops get, and thus the higher the losses and lower its efficiency…

Unsurprising result is: some units (those given the time to train, work-up and then get their stuff together before launching an offensive) are highly efficient, and thus attracting lots of volunteers. Others are ‘merely vegetating’: they’re existent (on paper and in the field), but of very low combat effectiveness…and thus attracting next to no volunteers, and in need of reinforcements whenever there’s a serious Russian attack. However, and as the ZSU knows very well (which is why it’s not insistent on general mobilisation of all the able-bodies men in Ukraine): combat effectiveness of volunteers is several magnitudes higher than that of draftees…

Finally, there’s the issue of accountability: while lots of medals are distributed to officers and troops successful in combat, investigations of major failures of the ZSU are progressing at snail’s pace – if at all. For example, two years since the Russians made their ‘Sunday afternoon drive’ to Kherson, Melitopol and Berdyansk, it is still unclear who was responsible for letting them do that? Similarly, it’s still unclear who has left the Russians drive all the way from the border to downtown Kyiv, on the first 2-3 days of the war? At least since November 2021, it was clear the Russians would invade, but nobody in the SBU and the ZSU came to the idea that they would go ‘all-out’ and not only try seizing Kyiv, but also Odesa, and all of north-eastern and southern Ukraine? Who is responsible for making such, massive failures in assessing Russian intentions?

Really: nobody?

There’s still no answer to this question. Sorry, but: this is where nobody else than the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces is responsible.


Comment: This is part of a recent Q and A posting in Tom Cooper’s Sarcastosaurus Substack blog. It’s about as good an overview of the status of the Ukrainian Armed Forces I’ve found. It’s not a rosy assessment. It’s not an optimistic outlook. But it’s realistic.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces is a force in the midst of a massive transformation which is also in the midst of a war for the survival of the country. The current Ukrainian military rose from a truncated piece of the Soviet Red Army. After independence, it further deteriorated due to neglect and corruption to a point where they could barely muster a force of 6,000 in 2015. After the first Russian invasion the US and the rest of NATO made a serious effort to remedy the situation. A major focus of this effort was to transition to a total national defense strategy with a heavy reliance on lightly armed Territorial Defense Forces. The laws and doctrine to support this weren’t signed off on until late in 2021. As part of this transition, Ukraine was supplied with an array of man portable anti-armor and air defense weapons. These weapons served well in the early stages of the current Russian invasion.

I know of another military that underwent a major transformation during a war. The Lebanese Army was in the midst of a total reorganization in 1983 when their civil war really flared up. I am most familiar with the fate of the 8th Brigade, a mechanized infantry brigade armed mostly with M-113 APCs, M-48 MBTs, 155mm howitzers and a wide assortment of other weapons. We were still training the newly reorganized brigade in small unit tactics when they were called to the Chouf Mountains at Souk Al Gharb. The 8th Brigade defended those positions against Druze and Syrian assaults for nearly a year. They did well. Other brigades did not. Some dissolved as the troops and leaders switched sides to the warring factions. The Lebanese Military managed to pull through, but they pale in comparison to the military forces of Hezbollah. They probably always will.

Building a national military takes many years. Few senior officers can make the transition to a new way of thinking and operating. It takes an intensive program of education and training among the junior officers and NCOs and the time to allow those junior officers and NCOs to become senior officers and NCOs. Will the Ukrainian Armed Forces remain together long enough to complete this transition? We shall see. We “Ukraine lovers” can take solace in the fact that, in spite of all those years of Gerasimov’s reforms, the Russian Armed Forces appear to be in even worse shape. Unfortunately Putin has a lot more meat to feed into his grinder if he and the Russian people are willing to do so. Ukraine cannot win a pure one-for-one war of attrition.


Posted in The Military Art, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 98 Comments

The question of life after death

Our jld left this video in a comment a few days ago. He commented that it “may not be immortality but it’s definitely weird.” That piqued my curiosity. I’m glad it did. The video is well worth watching. 

The Parnis Lab’s field of research is resuscitation after cardiac arrest. As such, their research into the question of consciousness after death is undertaken with a dispassionate and scientific approach largely devoid of religious and philosophical questions. Obviously those questions raised by their research do affect those doctors and scientists. How can they not? I think this is clearly shown in the resuscitated pig head experiment. Their reaction to their findings moved into the philosophical and/or religious realm in spite of the purely scientific design of the experiment. 

As I watched the video, I thought of my own research and experiments into the field of remote viewing and what this means for potential of human, or any other, consciousness. I also thought of the writings of the Jesuit priest and anthropologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a truly remarkable man with remarkable thoughts. Jane Goodall, another human I admire, and my first celebrity childhood crush, wrote of similar thoughts.

“There are really only two ways, it seems to me, in which we can think about our existence here on Earth. We either agree with Macbeth that life is nothing more than a ‘tale told by an idiot,’ a purposeless emergence of life-forms including the clever, greedy, selfish, and unfortunate species that we call homo sapiens – the ‘evolutionary goof.’ Or we believe that, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin put it, ‘There is something afoot in the universe, something that looks like gestation and birth.’ In other words, a plan, a purpose to it all.”

(Jane Goodall, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey. New York: Warner Books, 1999)


Posted in Religion, Science, TTG | 51 Comments

“Ukrainian Attack May Have Crushed Production Of Russia’s Deadliest Drone”

Supplies of Lancet kamikaze drones fell off sharply after the ZOMZ explosion

The Lancet has been one of Russia’s most effective weapons in its war with Ukraine, a small kamikaze drone which can find and destroy targets from 40 miles away with deadly precision. Lancets knock out Leopard tanks, artillery and even parked aircraft. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief, singled the Lancet out as a problem in his recent paper on the current military situation. Only a few appeared at first, dozens per month, but in July 2023 numbers were set to soar. Instead, something interrupted the supply.

That month Russian news media showed a video of Lancet makers Zala Aero, featuring their flamboyant CEO Aleksandr Zakharov touring a giant new production facility in a converted shopping mall on a Segway. The video showed racks of hundreds of Lancets, and one article suggested that production could increase by a factor of fifty. This looked like bad news for Ukraine. But instead of surging, Lancet strikes dropped off markedly. There was initially no clue as to what had happened.

Information from Molfar, a Ukrainian OSINT group looking at sabotage operations in Russia, suggests that the cause may have been a well-targeted strike by Ukrainian forces.

On August 9th, Russian state media source TASS reported a massive explosion on the site of the Zagorsk Optical-Mechanical Plant (aka ZOMZ) in Sergiyev Posad near Moscow. They described the facility as making optical and optoelectronic devices for law enforcement, industry and healthcare. The company, established in 1935, is well known in Russia for high-quality binoculars and opera glasses, and according to ZOMZ website they also make medical equipment for diagnosing eye conditions as well as X-ray amplifiers.

The damage was considerable. Thirty people were taken to hospital, four buildings close to the center of the explosion were severely damaged and windows were blown out over a wide area. The damage extended to part of the local university, two schools, a sports complex and a store as well as thirty-eight apartments and four cars.

The article and analysis continues at this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhambling/2024/02/01/how-one-blast-shut-down-production-of-russias-deadliest-drone/

Comment: David Hambling did a good job in connecting the “incident” at the ZOMZ factory with the battlefield effect of a stark drop off in lancet drone attacks. The graph alone is strong evidence. The real question is whether this is due to another careless Russian smoker in a nearby fireworks factory or a deliberate Ukrainian drone strike or act of sabotage. No matter how it happened, Ukraine was fortunate that a massive increase in Lancet drones did not materialize. The Lancet is very effective and was tearing the Ukrainians a new one.

I’m inclined to believe this was a deliberate Ukrainian operation resulting from sound target analysis. As we developed target folders back in 10th SFG(A), we employed the CARVER methodology. This methodology allowed us to create the desired effect with the least risk. I’m sure US and other Western intelligence and special operations trainers have been training their Ukrainian counterparts in this methodology for years. 


Posted in Russia, The Military Art, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 54 Comments

“US retaliatory airstrikes on targets in Iraq and Syria will not be the last”

The carefully planned raids were the largest yet against Iran’s proxies and are likely to continue until threats to US personnel are neutralised. US retaliation, when it came, was broad and deep, and telegraphed five days in advance.

The White House, the Pentagon and state department had spent the best part of a week talking about the response to Sunday’s drone attack on a US base in northern Jordan, which killed three Americans and wounded more than 30. They warned that retaliation against the suspects, primary among those the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia, would be “multi-tiered” and continue over many days, but when the opening salvo came in the early hours of Saturday Middle Eastern time, it still caused some surprise in its range and scale.

According to US Central Command, 85 targets were hit in seven facilities, four in Syria and three in Iraq, with more than 125 precision munitions, using a mix of drones and long range B1 bombers flying from US territory in a demonstration of the reach of the US air force. “Tonight’s strikes in western Iraq eastern Syria are FAR bigger than any action undertaken before against Iran’s proxies – huge secondary explosions on both sides of the border suggest big rocket/missile depots have been hit,” Charles Lister, senior fellow of the Middle East Institute, said on the social media platform X.

Joe Biden said the targets were facilities used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and “affiliated militia”, and he made clear that it was just the beginning. The full response for the attack on the Tower 22 base would “continue at times and places of our choosing”. The limits of the response were as clear as its scale. As expected, no targets were hit on Iranian territory, and senior administration officials made clear Iran was out of bounds for any future sorties as well.


Comment: This is the beginning of an analysis by Julian Borger, the Guardian’s world affairs editor. From his analysis and the scope of this first wave of attacks shows an administration searching for a path between a strong violent response demanded by damned near everyone in the US and the desire not to initiate a direct war with Iran or put Iran in the position where she feels she must initiate a direct war with the US. 

This was advertised as a multi-day, multi-tiered response so I figured the first night’s strikes weren’t the end of it. I waited all day for the next shoe to fall. Leith hinted that it was about to happen when he told us about the Iranian spy ship raising the hotel alpha pennants and hightailing it to a Chinese port in Djibouti. A few hours later, the news of the next strike hit the airwaves. Either the ship saw it coming or was warned. This is CNN’s brief account:

The US and the United Kingdom have conducted strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen from air and surface platforms — including F/A-18s — on over 30 targets across 13 locations, according to officials. The US and UK carried out the strikes with the support of several other countries, according to a joint statement on Saturday.

“Today’s strike specifically targeted sites associated with the Houthis’ deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, and radars,” the statement released by the US, UK, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand said. The Houthis said US and UK warplanes struck multiple provinces in Yemen, including the capital of Sanaa.

Two US destroyers fired Tomahawk missiles as part of the strikes, a US official told CNN. The USS Gravely and USS Carney fired the land-attack cruise missiles and F/A-18 fighter jets from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier were also involved, officials said.


Comment: These two series of strikes seem fairly standard to me. I am wondering what Smokin’ Joe Biden meant by calling the complete response multi-tiered. Will it be more strikes by different air platforms or something more imaginative?


Posted in Iran, Middle East, TTG, Yemen | 45 Comments

How One Moth Species Can Jam Bats’ Sonar Systems

In a species of tiger moth native to the Arizona desert, scientists have discovered a new weapon in the endless evolutionary arms race between predator and prey. New research shows that the moths, Bertholdia trigona, have the ability to detect and jam bats’ biological sonar – the technique that allows bats to “see” through echolocation. The moths’ remarkable ability, which as far as scientists know is unique in the animal kingdom, allows the insect to evade hungry bats and fly away.

Evidence of this ability was first uncovered in 2009, by a group led by Aaron Corcoran, a wildlife biologist who was then a PhD student at Wake Forest University. “It started with a question has been out there for a while, since the 1960s—why do some moths produce clicking sounds when bats attack them?” Corcoran explains.

Scientists knew that most species of tiger moths that emitted ultrasonic clicking sounds did so to signal their toxicity to bats—similar to how, for example, poison dart frogs are brightly colored so that predators can easily associate their striking hues with toxic substances and learn to look elsewhere for food. This particular species, though, emitted about ten times as much sound as most moths, indicating that it might be serving a different purpose entirely.

To learn more, he and colleagues collected trigona moths, put them in a mesh cage, attached them to ultra-thin filaments to keep track of their survival, and introduced brown bats. “If the sounds are for warning purposes, it’s well-documented that the bats have to learn to associate the clicks with toxic prey over time,” he says. “So if that were the case, at first, they’d ignore the clicks and capture the moth, but eventually they’d learn that it’s toxic, and avoid it.”

But that wasn’t what happened. The bats didn’t have to learn to avoid the moths – rather, Corcoran says, “they couldn’t catch them right from the beginning.” The reason for this, they determined, was that the moths were using the clicks to jam the bats’ sonar.

A bat’s sonar works like this: Normally – because they hunt at night and their eyesight is so poorly developed – bats send out ultrasonic noises and analyze the path they take as they bounce back to “see” their environment. But when approached by the bats, the moths produced their own ultrasonic clicking sounds at a rate of 4,500 times per second, blanketing the surrounding environment and cloaking themselves from sonar detection. “This effectively blurs the acoustic image the bat has of the moth,” Corcoran says. “It knows there’s a moth out there, but can’t quite figure out where it is.”

But the experiment left a remaining question: How did the moths know when to activate their anti-bat signal? The team’s latest work, published this summer in PLOS ONE, shows that the trigona moths are equipped with a built-in sonar detection system.

As the bats approach, they increase the frequency of their calls to paint a more detailed picture of their prey. Corcoran’s team hypothesized that the moths listen to this frequency, along with the raw volume of the bats’ calls, to determine when they’re in danger of attack.

To test this idea, he attached tiny microphones to moths to record the exact sounds they heard when attacked by bats. He also stationed microphones a few feet away. The mics near the moths heard a slightly different sound profile of approaching bats. Then, he played each of these sounds to an entirely different group of moths to see their responses.

The moths that heard the recordings only began emitting their own ultrasonic noises when the researchers played the sounds heard by the moths actually in peril—and not the sounds that would be heard by moths a few feet away from the one in danger. By analyzing the two acoustic variables (volume and frequency), the moths could effectively differentiate between the two.

The moths click “only when they can confidently determine that they’re getting attacked,” Corcoran says. This makes sense, because the ability to figure out exactly when they’re in danger is particularly crucial for this species of tiger moths—unlike other, toxic species, these ones taste good to bats.


Comment: This is the entire story. Given our recent discussions of drones, anti-drones and EW, I think this is both an interesting and appropriate story. It shows how intricate and ingenious nature can be in the age old struggle between predator and prey. I rank it right up there with my ode to the dung beetle and her celestial navigational skills.

The human art of war can be just as intricate and ingenious. Years ago I did a lot of collection on what was then called battle management systems. I never did anything so dramatic as arranging the theft of one of these systems or even just the software. But I did manage to obtain the minute cues used by the algorithms to determine the identity of a potential target. With that information, our weapons designers and software developers could mask or modify those very particular cues and thwart those battle management systems. 

Modern AI is far more sophisticated in how various cues are blended into decisions, but it still depends on those received cues. Just like those Bertholdia trigona tiger moths, our anti-drone technologies need to determine those clues used by AI-controlled drones to counter them. Alternatively, we can simply become better at blasting them to smithereens or, as James suggested, fry their circuits. AI-controlled drones are a real challenge, but they are far from invincible.


Posted in fauna, Intelligence, Nature | 18 Comments

Ukrainian naval drones sink a Russian missile corvette

Ukraine has sunk another Russian warship in the Black Sea using drones. The Ivanovets, a $70 million missile corvette, went down on January 31. Video shows multiple Ukrainian boat drones dodging bullets before hitting the stern of the warship, disabling it in the water and then causing it to sink. According to the Ukrainians, a search and rescue operation found no survivors. Kyiv said the mission was carried out by shadowy ‘Group 13’ of the Main Intelligence Directorate, Ukraine’s spy agency, along with the Digital Ministry. It is at least the fifth warship that Putin has lost from his once-feared Black Sea Fleet, which is being beaten by a country with no functioning navy. British Intelligence estimated Ukraine had destroyed a fifth of the fleet even before the Ivanovets was sunk, helping Ukraine keep its ports open.

(YouTube video description from the Daily Mail)

Comment: This is an instructive video. It should send a chill up the spine of every serving naval officer throughout the world. We have already seen what the massive use of drones is doing to the conduct of land warfare. This attack was carried out with a swarm, albeit a small swarm, of a drone designed and built under the stress of an ongoing war. It wasn’t a surprise attack. The Russian corvette was underway and returning fire. The drones evaded that fire. The strike to the stern of the corvette was an immobilizing hit. The double strike to the midships destroyed it. The drones were likely controlled from Odesa, maybe with a seaborne or airborne relay. Or it could have been controlled from a small craft from a closer distance.

Now imaging a larger swarm of even more capable drones, or FPV long range torpedoes. How about deploying and controlling such drones from a submarine? The navies of this world are in for some serious rethinking and refitting.


Posted in The Military Art, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 68 Comments

“Kataib Hezbollah: Iran-backed group suspends attacks against US after drone strike”

Map locating Tower 22, a logistics base in Jordan hit by a drone strike which killed three US soldiers on January 28. – AFP / AFP / SOPHIE RAMIS

An Iran-backed Iraqi militia suspected of a drone strike in Jordan that killed three US soldiers says it has suspended operations against US forces. Kataib Hezbollah, which is part of an umbrella group that claimed Sunday’s attack, said this was “to prevent embarrassment of the Iraqi government”.

The US defence department said: “Actions speak louder than words.” US President Joe Biden meanwhile said he had decided how to respond to the attack but did not elaborate. Iran warned it would retaliate against any attack on its “interests”. Earlier, it denied US and British accusations that it was involved in the attack. The US has hinted at an armed response that might come in several waves.

Kataib Hezbollah Secretary-General Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi said in a statement on Tuesday: “As we announce the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces – in order to prevent embarrassment of the Iraqi government – we will continue to defend our people in Gaza in other ways.”

The three US soldiers were killed at a base next to the Jordanian-Syrian border by a “type of Shahed drone”, the one-way attack drones Iran has been providing to Russia, a US official told CBS News, the BBC’s US partner.


Comment: This is an interesting turn of events in this Tower 22 drone strike story. I did not expect anything but continued defiance from Kataib Hezbollah. They clearly felt threatened by the possibility of a massive retaliation by the US and were most likely pressured by both the Iraqi and Iranian governments to suspend further attacks against US forces. Will this be factored into the strike package approved by Joe Biden? I can’t see the perpetrators of the drone attack getting away scot free, but maybe they’ll just lose some drone stores and facilities. I have no idea what the full retaliatory package will entail.

The success of the drone attack on Tower 22 also highlights how unprepared our troops are for modern drone warfare. The Shahed drone followed a returning US reconnaissance drone and was apparently mistaken for another US drone. The tactic of shadowing a returning or retreating enemy force is not new, but it remains effective. It’s one of the reasons a passage of lines is such a delicate and dangerous operation. This applies to air, sea and ground operations. Those managing drone operations at Tower 22 should have been absolutely certain of where their drones were and assumed anything else flying was a threat. I guess twenty years of enjoying absolute mastery of the air has erased all those lessons that were drilled into us when I was on active duty. We assumed anything flying was a threat until proven otherwise. We have a lot to relearn.


Posted in Jordan, Middle East, The Military Art, TTG | 92 Comments

A quiet interlude

I’m glad to see this guy, Lurch, posting Milgate duck punt videos once again. They’re very seldom exciting, but always soothing. I still like these little duck punts for their simplicity and honesty. No rudder. No centerboard. Just a hard chine and a reliance on body shifting. Oh yes, don’t forget that nifty pair of short oars to help in steering and to serve as a secondary means of propulsion. I like the whole ethos these little boats evoke of laying back and enjoying a slow sail, just ghosting along.


Posted in Messing about in boats, TTG | 6 Comments