Can’t these people sodding count?

Britain’s decision to delay the purchase of 14 Chinook helicopters to save money will actually cost taxpayers £300 million because they will be more expensive later, an official report has found, amid warnings of a “worrying inability to control costs”.

It’s a $2 billion contract.

If inflation is 10% a year then that’s $600 million off the price for a 3 year delay (you know, -ish-ish). The nominal sum might well rise to try to meet that.

But the idea that delay in spending money in inflationary times adds to the net present cost is an absurdity, isn’t it.

Yes, yes, the enemy, now be fair

Russians turn to crowdfunding for ill-equipped soldiers in Ukraine
Everything from rifle scopes to boots have been sent to troops, paid for by ‘patriots’ through fundraising initiatives

Why are they “patriots”? Why the “”?

We see endless stories about how Estonians (was it?) have crowdfunded a drone for Ukraine for example.

Yes, yes, war, enemies, friends, etc, but let’s be British about this, shall we?

Which numbers should we believe?

Russia may have lost a third of the invasion force it sent into Ukraine as its offensive continues to struggle in the face of stiff resistance, British military intelligence has said.

Not, perhaps, that one. Apparently 190,000 went in. And one third of that is 65k odd. Do we believe that’s the death number there?

Probably not. Or, we probably would believe that units amounting to 65k have been degraded sufficiently that without significant reorganisation, relief and or renewal they’re not ready to fight. That we might indeed believe.

“Russia has now likely suffered losses of one-third of the ground combat force it committed in February,” it said.

“Russian forces are increasingly constrained by degraded enabling capabilities, continued low morale and reduced combat effectiveness.

“Many of these capabilities cannot be quickly replaced or reconstituted and are likely to continue to hinder Russian operations in Ukraine.

We have military types reading here, what say you? Do they mean “one third no longer effective fighting units” or do they mean 30% in coffins?

Former Worstalls

Someones putting up RAF career records, bit by bit.

They reached GrandPops.

One of the things this confirms is an old family story that he was indeed at Cranwell with Frank Whittle. Both of them being aircraft apprentices (ie, common folk taken on to be artificers) who were picked up by the RAF to train as officers and thus cross into being gentlemen. The RAF being the first of the services to do this in modern times as I understand it.

There’s a mention of him in The Times archives in, I think, 1929, when he walked away from a crash bomber. Telling the journo that that was his 8 th crash so far…..

Not hugely a surprise

President Putin is demanding that provinces in the far east of Russia provide him with 200 “volunteer” soldiers a week but he has spared Moscow from recruitment, according to a Ukrainian think tank.

The Centre for Defence Strategies said that the Kremlin was concentrating its recruitment on the far east and Siberia to sustain the war in Ukraine.

Armies have often concentrated on the rural rubes for their footsloggers….

Hmm, well, yes, good initiative but

I even collected metal from the missiles but couldn’t find anyone to buy it,” says Myrhorod. “I’m 30 years old. I’ve got legs and arms, but nobody wants them.”

From missiles it’ll be mostly aluminium. $1500 a tonne for scrap, maybe, about? Not many buyers in an actual war zone, to be fair, but definitely worth piling up in a courtyard for when it’s over.

The actual thing that’s worth tons of money is the brass scrap from fired bullets and shells – the cartridges. There’s actually a whole specialist little industry segment that deals with it.

Has to be specialist because, of course, before you put it into a furnace you’ve got to really know, know know know, that it’s expended and not merely a misfire.

The Russian Steamroller

Used to be a big thing in European geopolitics. Even, a Big Thing.

It would take Russia near forever to actually mobilise its troops. But given the fertility of those serfs once it did there would be just so many ill-trained mobs of cannon fodder that no professional military would be able to resist it.

The Germans sorta disproved this in WWI – tech plus training beats numbers. They lost the rematch.


Vladimir Putin is set to declare all-out war on Ukraine as his military chiefs seek “payback” for their invasion failures, according to Russian sources and Western officials.

Frustrated army chiefs are urging the Russian president to drop the term “special operation” used for the invasion and instead declare war, which would enable mass mobilisation of Russians.

Just how much use is ill-trained, or even untrained, infantry on a modern battlefield? My best guess is close to zero, and that approaching from the negative side.

Actual military minds here might be able to illuminate…..

Just to add from personal observation. Yes, Russian conscription, supposedly all adult males (except those with any connection to get them out of it, ie, near all the urban middle classes and above) have had that basic training. But the idea that the Russian military actually believes they’ve done anything other than hand lift potatoes in that time is absurd. What probably matters here is how much Russian politics believes they’ve done anything other than hand lift potatoes. One of those things about autocracies, the autocrats might not be all that well plugged into reality.

A useful little indicator

Not that it’s proof of course. Prince Battenberg was doing an excellent job as First Sea Lord in 1913. But one of those things we might think of as indicative:

Take Uganda as an example, where the president’s son, Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, announced

When the military’s run by the kids of the politicians in power we might want to think just a little bit about the freedom, democracy and devolved power nature of the place.


The German government is facing renewed criticism after it reportedly rejected an offer by an arms firm to repair 100 tanks to send to the Ukrainian front line.

Rheinmetall, an arms manufacturer, said 100 Marder tanks standing around in its factory could be made battle-ready, enabling the German armed forces to send an equivalent number of operative vehicles to Ukraine.

You’ve got to train the crews to use different equipment. T-70whatevers, sure, fine. Something entirely different? Nope….

Well, yes, but not sure how big an effect this will have

‘Our boys do not want this war’: The grieving widows of Russian soldiers speak out against Putin
Despite propaganda over casualties, there are signs that thousands of wives and mothers could prove to be the Kremlin’s Achilles heel

Mum of the guard on the palace gate and all that.


Casualties among professional military – of which Russia does have some – aren’t the sort of thing that produces that sort of reaction. Privately just as painful as any other loss of course but the death of folk who have signed up to fight as a professional life just doesn’t resonate across society.

The mass death of conscripts, ah, yes, that does. Or at least can. But conscripts in Russia are, almost by definition, the kids of the rural rubes and the lumpenproletariat – the people without any contacts or weight in Russian society. The very reason they got caught by conscription is that the families have none of the societal weight that would have got them out of it.

It’s even true that mourning mothers should have weight but given the way Russian society and conscription works I don;t think they will, at least not very much.

This is fun

Ukraine is set to get its first wartime delivery of tanks to help bolster its defences in the east, amid warnings that the region would see “heavy battles” following Russia’s withdrawal around Kyiv.

A buddy has been buying tanks from Ukraine for decades. Picking up units and more importantly the spares so that the US Army can run its red v blue games out in the desert.

Business has been slow this past few years, the business has shrunk considerably. This past few weeks he’s been out hiring folk again. Not that I know the details but perhaps this is like oil pipelines, they can be reversed in direction of flow with a bit of tinkering….

This amuses

From Churchill to Pearl Harbor, Zelenskiy’s speeches push the right buttons abroad
Analysis: Ukrainian leader’s addresses to foreign legislatures focus on each country’s history

Odd, isn’t it? Scriptwriter knows something about rhetoric?

Just one of those things

A few years back I did a couple of contracts with the US Navy. Large numbers for a business my size. To go into warships, obviously. We weren’t by any means, the lowest bid. But we were the only people who could guarantee that the material had not been produced in China. US DoD was trying to expunge China from the supply chain. We did it by using Russian sources.

Wouldn’t work today, would it?

Having looked it up

Ukraine kills third Russian major general as army advances on key cities

A Russian major general is what we would call a brigadier.

As such they’re not exactly two a penny but it’s less of a surprise to find them up at the front where the action is.

Government’s just so efficient, isn’t it?

Problems with the Army’s vibrating Ajax tanks may never be resolved, a report from the Whitehall spending watchdog has warned.

In a scathing report, the National Audit Office (NAO) said that the £5.5 billion project was “flawed from the start”, and that the Ministry of Defence failed to understand the scale and complexity of the work it was undertaking.

Let’s do everything this way!

Maybe Jason can tell us what they’re actually got wrong with these new tanks? Vibration, sound issues?

So here’s a problem

If Vova loses this militarily then he’s going to end up hanging from a petrol station forecourt alongside that gymnast of his.

So, Vova’s not going to lose this militarily, is he?

By which I mean he’s not going to say “Well, we tried” and then go home. He’s going to just keep ramping up the action until it’s either shit or bust.

I don’t say that fills me with joy but that is the way that I currently read it.