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Indo Pacific strategy

Discussion in 'Geostrategic Issues' started by spoz, Feb 10, 2019.

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  1. spoz

    spoz Active Member

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    The ocean is still a very big place and ships are, relatively, very small objects. Even SSNs have maximum transit speeds and all weapons have maximum ranges; even those with a couple of hundred kilometres range don't cover a great deal of an ocean. And, or course, they are in limited numbers and require real time targetting. Focal points become issues but in general there are alternative routings, which admittedly will take much longer. So while the problem is a difficult one it is not an impossible one - and there would be massive damage to the world economy, not just Australia's if there was a major war; but in that situation, which is probably the only one where anybody would seriously be able to threaten Australia's communications, the significant combatants would probably be directing their major efforts elsewhere.

    On convoys, they still require the enemy to come to you at a point where you can concentrate your strength. The alternative is, in most situations, probably worse.
     
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  2. StingrayOZ

    StingrayOZ Well-Known Member

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    I think its pretty unlikely we will see fuel imports into Australia blocked. While we get much of our stuff from Singapore, it could come directly from the Middle East to the West coast. Or from the US or South America or Indonesia. China blocking the Persian gulf I think would be hugely problematic and unrealistic. Australia also produces a reasonable amount on the West coast, not loads, but enough to run our military (~130,000+ barrels a day). We also have significant LPG and Gas reserves and a significant LPG car fleet. We have significant ethanol production as well. It is likely in the next 10 years we will see a surge in electric personal transportation as well. I think it is overstated how crippled we would be.

    A more realistic case is global trade is disrupted or global oil supply is disrupted. You don't even need a war for that. That is really what Strategic reserves are for. Pre-2000 Australia didn't have a tremendous need for one, because we were fairly self sufficient for oil.

    If international trade was to break down, Australian exports would be the big damage. Australia would stop exporting coal and iron ore to china for one, and China doesn't have never ending coal supply, most of their new coal stations will require imports.


    Well it looks like the project is moving, construction of the yard has been started, SPA signed. Good to get that out before the next election.
     
  3. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    History has shown us that blockade can be an effective tool against an island nation and even though technologies change strategies still remain the same when dictated by geography.

    In WW2 the Germans were very close to strangling the UK supply lines by the use of the U Boats. It was the introduction of long range aircraft such as the B-24 Liberator operating from North America, Greenland / Iceland and the UK enabling full air cover of the Atlantic that turned the Battle of the Atlantic in the allies favour. Of course Huff Duff, radar, asdic / sonar, Ultra, Enigma, and Donitz's micromanagement of the u boats at sea played significant parts as well.

    In the Pacific the USN submarine fleet decimated the Japanese merchant marine and effectively blockaded the home islands. Most importantly of all they successfully stopped the flow of oil and fuel products from the Dutch East Indies to Japan. This blockade also significantly impacted upon the food supply of the home islands and by wars end the population was on very low rations. However the IJA and IJN had managed to stockpile significant quantities of fuel in the home islands for the defence of the home islands against the US invasion of Japan - OP DOWNFALL.

    Whilst Australia or NZ may be able to feed itself, how does it transport the food from the farm to the consumer if there is no fuel for the truck or train? During WW2 gas was used in some vehicles, but a lot of gas was used in the cities domestically with many having gas works and trains were steam engines using coal. So no basic problems moving food and goods around. Today trains are either diesel electric or electric. In Australia a significant amount of the electricity generation is coal based. What happens to that if your oil based fuel supply flow is interrupted for a significant amount of time? In NZ most of our electricity generation is hydro or geothermal based, however most of our automotive and aviation fuel is imported. We do export oil, but the oil that we extract is not the light sweet crude oil that is required to refine petrol etc. Hence both of our nations face the same problem and it's not whether one is weaker or stronger but more that we both have the same Achilles heel. And that is why BOTH our navies need to be strong and have the right tools.
     
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  4. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    Maybe so, but such a possibility should never be overlooked or forgotten. Like I posted above, it's a well known and used strategy and should always be planned for, especially if one is an island maritime nation.
     
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  5. oldsig127

    oldsig127 Active Member

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    Minor detail. Much of the freight network carrying coal in Queensland is electric. Electricity which is coal generated. It *would* be all of it, but stage four of the coal electrification was abandoned to use the funds for a more politically useful extension of the passenger service from Caboolture to Gladstone

    Clearly this is not universal within Australia (Qld has over 3 times as much electrified rail as NSW , the next largest user) and current moves to shut down coal mining and power generation have driven up the cost of electric rail haulage to comparable with diesel. This will not help strategically to say the least.

    oldsig
     
  6. malleboy

    malleboy New Member

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    I appreciate the rigour and knowledge that threads in this forum have, so with my personal limited military knowledge, I tend not to post but enjoy the exchanges.

    I'm curious to understand how a block aid of Australia would work. Whilst I agree that Australia is an island, it is continental sized island (albeit the smallest continent). I'm curious about how a crippling naval block aid of Australia that effected our fighting ability would be maintained. I could conceive of how a block aid that disrupts trade and impacts the civilian economy might be undertaken but to cut the fuel and supplies needed for continued military operation would require a block aid that is very thorough.

    A blockaid at source of resources would immediately bring multiple world powers into the conflict and it would require not just shutting down the Malacca straits but middle eastern and America's source of resources, a very challenging proposition. (Again thinking in terms of block aid to the point of impacting supplies required for military not just economic impact)

    A blockaid at destination, would require simultaneous, thorough block aid of Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane along with likely Darwin, Cairns/Townsville. I'm happy for someone to correct me but given the distances involved it would require 5 or 6 naval blockaid groups to cover the distinct ports being blockaided. Australia has some maritime strike capability from air (F35, FA18E/F, P8) which would require air protection for these naval forces. Plus small sub force would require anti-sub ships. This force would then have to be maintained and supplied in place, at quite some distance from any friendly ports, requiring a massive logistics and supply chain, which would be vulnerable to intervention by Australian subs, so would itself require more combat ships to be assigned to protect it. Furthermore ships could not maintain at sea permanently and so would likely require additional forces to rotate through the blockaid.

    Any country trying this level of blockaid would have to use so many combat ships to thoroughly enforce the blockaid, that it would likely leave itself vulnerable elsewhere. As I said happy for more knowledgeable poster to inform me of where this post is inaccurate or incorrect.

    OK reading the posts posted whilst I was writing mine, the option is a sub block aid, but the issue with this that it would hit 3rd party shipping. A attacking force would have to be very careful on the ships targetted. It would still take a large sub force to cover all Australia's ports.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  7. StingrayOZ

    StingrayOZ Well-Known Member

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    It would be extremely difficult to implement a complete naval blockade of Australia. We have a huge coast line, with few choke points. Ships can easily transit from Northern Qld to Tasmania on the east, and Adelaide on the south and any of the major ports on the West. Darwin is surrounded by shallow hot tropical waters, so operating a sub there would be problematic even, if they found much shipping to target.

    Isolating Australia also doesn't buy you much for the amount of resources it would take. While certainly possible to conduct raids on shipping, hassle, tie up resources, conduct fear campaigns (as the Japanese did in WW2), actually naval blocking Australia up completely is a huge task. Even if you do, Australia has a whole continent of resources to access so all you would be doing is driving local innovation to access local resources.

    That said, outside but near Australia is a number of choke points which could easily be cut by the actions of just one or two subs. Malacca straits is one for example. Straits of Hormuz is another. Australia would be vital to keeping both of those areas operational. Both of those are difficult points for most Western nations to access and maintain a presence.

    As for weapons, harpoon is more viable for a sub than it is for a surface ship, but going into the future we would want to look at something better.
    JSM/NSM maybe? The French I am sure would love for us to buy MdCN(MdCN (Missile De Croisière Naval - Naval Cruise Missile) - Naval Technology) which has a range of about 250Km. Sub-launched version of LRASM?

    Maybe something else? Weren't we looking at partnering with Singapore on some rocket technology?

    As for sub launched anti-air weapons, doable, how tactically useful is something I am less sure on. However if you are operating long range underwater drones, then giving up a drone and knocking out part of their anti-sub capability might be a useful trade.
     
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  8. Raven22

    Raven22 Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    I think that before you talk capability, you have to talk the strategy behind it. Try as I might I simply can’t think of any plausible scenario that would see a power try to destroy merchant ships wholesale on the high seas.

    When we discuss this of course, we are really discussing China. While Russia has the ability to cause a nuisance in places like the middle east that will disrupt trade (and drive up oil prices to their own benefit) they certainly don’t have the moxy to destroy trade anywhere relevant to Australia. So that leaves China.

    But how does China making a concerted effort to destroy international trade, like Germany in the world wars, possibly align with their national interest? They want to control the world trade, not destroy it. International trade, and the prosperity it brings to China, is the only thing keeping the domestic population happy and content (and stopping them getting all finger-pointy at the government). Take away that prosperity and China’s own population would become a much bigger problem than any external aggressor (hence why China are trying to develop their domestic consumer appetite, and reduce reliance on exports for their growth).

    I can certainly see China deliberately disrupting trade, in an un-attributable way, as a cassius bellito stick their nose where is doesn’t belong (‘the continued disruption of international trade has forced us to deploy a naval task group to the Malacca Straights to secure trade in the region…’), but wholesale destruction of the world’s merchant ships can’t possibly be in their national interest.

    Comparisons to the world wars aren’t very helpful, in my opinion. Germany used submarine warfare as an exhaustion strategy against the UK, because there was no other option available. Due to the allied blockade they had very little stake in international trade, so seemingly little to lose (although it did guarantee the eventual entrance of the USA and other neutral powers into both world wars, which is hardly an advertisement for its use by China).

    I think a far better analogy is the Soviets attempting to close the Atlantic during a cold war gone hot. They would have attempted to interdict Atlantic trade not to force the European nations to capitulate, but simply to isolate the European theatre until the Red Armies had done the business on the North German Plain. The comparison with China are pretty obvious – China would attempt to interdict allied naval and supporting merchant marine movements to prevent interference in some sort of decisive action – seizing Taiwan, for example. The purpose of the A2AD system is obvious here. Extending this further, I think the problem for Australia is not having to escort merchant ships to Australia, but to escort Naval task groups away from Australia. A significant challenge, obviously, but very different to escorting international trade ships around the globe.

    I think we can all agree that the biggest threat to Australia is not a great power (*cough* China *cough*) attempting to strangle Australia into submission, but simply instability somewhere around the globe disrupting the international trade system enough to undermine the just-in-time economy of Australia. Trump doing something stupid to force the Iranians to close the Straight of Hormuz; a miscalculation in the South China Sea that Sea that stops ships transiting the Malacca Straights for a week etc. This would certainly be enough to significantly disrupt the economy, and may be enough to prevent us intervening militarily in whatever is going on, but it’s certainly not going to bring us to our knees as a nation.
     
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  9. ASSAIL

    ASSAIL Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Technical question?
    I understand power stations can be converted to LNG but can Diesel engines be converted to use it?
    With reference to the post off course.
     
  10. Takao

    Takao Active Member

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    Ha! There'd be enough sonar bouys scattered that Army could get involved. We'd be able to run foot and mounted patrols around the perimeter, one bouy to the next. 75% of the missions wouldn't even get boots damp!

    Hope we can produce them domestically....
     
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  11. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    Diesel engines can be adapted to run on compressed NG.
     
  12. ASSAIL

    ASSAIL Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    In that case if the SHTF we wouldn’t have a fuel problem.
     
  13. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    NG is a solution but there would be some significant conversion costs and likely some infrastructure costs (refueling stations).
     
  14. Wombat000

    Wombat000 Member

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    Can you imagine the logistics involved in this?
    How many vehicles do you reckon a local workshop could convert, if they had the parts and know-how?
    Meanwhile, everyone still has to get to work.
    Produce has to get to market, and then you have to walk to the collection point to pick it up and carry it home.

    How much do you think 1 Ltr of fuel (any type) will cost, if you are lucky enough to find any?

    Of course there would be a fuel problem, cos there would be almost none available,
    What was there would cost a fortune,
    You would be 2500th in the queue for a vehicle conversion, whenever that was available?
     
  15. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    In a wartime situation a country will do whatever is needed to carry on whatever the cost. A total fuel blockade of Australia would be difficult IMO. For much of the latter stages of WW2 Nazi Germany relied on synthetic fuel derived from coal. Australia has both coal and NG. Synthetic fuel would be rationed but there is no need for Australia to run dry and some fuel will get past a blockade as well. Agree it won’t be easy so planning now would seem prudent.
     
  16. Wombat000

    Wombat000 Member

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    I genuinely am not trying harp on the point, but:
    NG, is transported by truck, correct? A diesel truck. Find another way cos there's very little diesel available.
    Coal. Coal *NEEDS* fuel at every single stage of its use. EVERY STAGE. It exacerbates the shortage IF it runs at all??

    Synthetic fuels, how long will that take to dream up? How many vehicles can they convert?
    The notion of 'synthetic fuels' is theoretical and a mystery in practice roll-out.

    All the time, the REQUIREMENT for fuel is unrelenting.
    Everyone needs it TODAY to facilitate everything.

    If some actually gets thru, how much will actually filter thru & how long will that last?

    It's a grim prospect.
    It's easier just to pretend it can't happen and think a solution will be swift.

    How big is the Navy, again?
     
  17. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    I am surprised your Greenies in Oz haven’t been demanding NG buses to replace diesel or is most of your public transport electric? Many diesel backup generators run on NG. Synthetic fuels derived from NG is an easier process than from coal. In any event, NG conversion is better than nothing.
     
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  18. swerve

    swerve Super Moderator

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    Synthetic fuels aren't theoretical. They've been around for over 100 years. They were produced from coal in bulk by Germany during WW2, & South Africa from the 1950s. The process can be powered by coal (& some of the products created in the process can be fed back into it to power it), & one of the processes used in WW2 produces a lot of diesel. LNG to liquid fuel is also a well-established process.

    So there wouldn't be any shortage of diesel to transport synthetic fuels. Set up plants beside coal mines. It's not done much nowadays because it's more expensive than producing fuels from crude oil.
     
  19. Rob c

    Rob c Active Member

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    Don't forget satellite surveillance,which tends to mean that something the size of a convoy can be found within a matter of an hour or two and the huge area that modern surveillance aircraft can cover in just one flight. The convoy in today's technology still means you will wind up fighting the weapons (torpedo or missile ) and not the delivery system as was the case in the past. It was the ability of past convoy escorts to fight the delivery system that in the end made the system successful. If you cannot destroy the delivery system then it can continue to deliver weapons at you. What the answer is I don't know, but I am sure that military minds fare better than mind have something up their sleeves. However it seems to me that you would need your escorts or at least some of them well out from the convoy so their weapon systems can destroy the attacking weapon system before it gets to its weapon launch range of the convoy. This would require a significant number of escorts to achieve this and is probably impractical. I seem to have more questions than answers on this matter.

    Edited by Mod to fix formatting. Rob C owes said Mod a cold Speights :D
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 12, 2019
  20. Volkodav

    Volkodav Defense Professional Verified Defense Pro

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    Yes.
    Years ago diesel generators were set up in remote locations around the Territory and progressively converted to gas as it became available. Its even a viable alternative on high speed matinee diesels.