SUBMARINE WARFARE IN THE ARCTIC:
OPTION OR ILLUSION?
By Hark Sakitt
Center for International Security and Arms Control
Stanford University, Hay 1988
63 pp with 4 appendices & bibliography
The title of this brief, thoughtful and well-structured monograph leads the reader to expect a discussion of under-ice submarine combat, which the author does provide. First, however, he examines the Hew Maritime Strategy, from which stems the anti-SSN/SSBN missions for u.s. submarines, and therefore, the Arctic combat scenarios.The SSN threat to Soviet SSBNs is expected to achieve two goals : first, to prevent their SSNs from contesting u.s. control of the seas by keeping them back to protect SSBHs; and second, to reduce the incentive for the Soviets to escalate to nuclear war by destroying their SSBNs, thus shi~ting the balance of forces to the u.s. side. This study examines whether the force structure proposed has a reasonable chance of success.
The author reviews the assumptions of our strategic ASW strategy and questions their validity. He discusses three general criticisms: one, that the task cannot be accomplished successfully; two, that even if successful, it will not have a major influence on a land war; and three, that unexpected results detrimental to U.S. interests are likely to occur. Having identified SSN vs SSBN operations in the Arctic region as a key element of our strategic ASW strategy, he then describes the opposing u.s. and Soviet naval forces, and the physical features of the Arctic region. He proceeds to develop an analysis to test the outcome of SSN vs SSBN combat operations, using acoustic detection, search, and counter-measures models and certain environmental acoustic information. The results of this analysis indi-cate an outcome unfavorable to the u.s. Having raised serious questions, the author identifies different assumptions in order to maintain control of Sea Lines of Communications (SLOC), and recom-mends a critical discussion of the strategic ASW strategy and alternatives thereto. One alterna-tive would lead to surprising SSN force levels.
Mr. Sakitt has produced a well-developed treatment of a subject of major importance to u.s. submariners, albeit no doubt unpalatable to their leaders. As in all analyses, assumptions are arguable. In this study, his limited use of Arctic environmental acoustic data introduces considerable uncertainty as to the validity of both hypotheses and analytical results. Specifically, his opinion of passive submarine detection capability is too negative, and he neglects to consider the potential of u.s. ice-mounted surveillance systems, which recent work with vertical line acoustic arrays has demonstrated.
His paper has sections dealing with: New Maritime Strategy, U.S. Naval Forces, Soviet S/M Forces, Physical Features of the Arctic Region, Detection in the Arctic, Combat and Attrition, Soviet Northern Fleet, Soviet Countermeasures, and Conclusions. He includes (and uses) four valuable appendices, with which SSN operators should be familiar:
- Submarine Search Models
- Submarine Attrition Models
- Arctic Ambient Noise
- Propagation of Sound in the Arctic His bibliography contains many references useful to SSN operators.
The author’s ideas and conclusions are worthy of serious consideration and discussion by submarine supporters. They will certainly get such treatment from other parties interested in SSN force levels. This monograph is highly recommended reading for all SSN planners and operators, and for inclusion in PCO school curricula as an exercise in submarine planning and analysis.
Charles B. Bishop
ASW versus SUBMARINE TECHNOLOGY BATTLE
By Louis Gerken
American Scientific Corp.
3250 Holly Way
Chula Vista, California, 1986
ISPN # 0-9617163-0-4
This book is a superb summary of Submarine Developments throughout its entire history, from early beginnings to recent times. It is a reference that Tom Clancy would have admired when he wrote The Hunt For RED OCTOBER. It would have saved him a lot or research time. Much of it is a graphic and unclassified portrayal of the evolution of submarine technology. It is a catalog of pro- and anti-submarine developments on an international scale.
This volume should be especially valuable as a compendium of institutional knowledge about submarining and how various friendly and adversary nations are trying to limit their effectiveness in time of war. For students and managers of submarine and ASW warfare it should be required reading and always available for ready reference. Of great interest are the chapters dealing with ASW Surface Ships, Aircraft, and Communications. At the last Submarine Symposium (Washington, D.C., 1987) it was announced by a high official of the U.S. Navy that under consideration was the formulation of a Unified Navy Command for ASW. This book gives a dramatic overview of why this unifying command is so long overdue. It is essential that the air, surface and submarine forces become more focused on the ASW problem. On page 729, the author states that a major need exists for a new ASW “CZAR.”
Always, when an author is dealing with a subject so heavily bounded by classification limitations, the coverage must be overly general. In the later chapters of the book (Chapters 17 to 26), the manuscript does avoid touching on advanced technology developments that have not yet become fully operational or have not appeared in non-classifed publications. The coverage is focused primarily on technologies that have been tested to some degree and are in the operating forces. The most sensitive areas (Chapters 24 and are an interesting summary of events already in the public domain and provides for the curious or serious reader an insight into current operational concerns facing Commanders in the active duty navies of the world, but who have not provided official commentaries on these subjects pro or con. Each reader, depending on his experience-background can come to his own conclusions about the validity of this authored work and his opinions.
Overall, this is a very readable book which is an excellent dissertation on a major problem facing the Defense Establishment of this country and other nations. It should be a memorable book for “old salts” and a useful overview for those responsible for solving the problems of Anti-Submarine Warfare.
Charles H. Hoke
THE CARDINAL OF THE KREMLIN
by Tom Clancy.
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 543 pages
More than a novel, mE CARDINAL OF THE KREMLIN is a polemic for the Strategic Defense Initiative, and a good one at that. Also, it is a convincing argument for the U.S. Navy’s strategic missile submarines and for continuing development of that arm — (as well as for a strong program to develop U.S. strategic ASW capabilities to eliminate potential Soviet missile-firing submarines before they can launch their strategic weapons).
But those looking for another submarine yarn will not find it here. While one submarine plays a relatively minor role in the action, most of the story takes place far inland — Moscow, Afghanistan and Dushanbe, the Soviet site for development of their missile defense system.
The story is about the further adventures of Jack Ryan, Clancy’s incredible hero who makes James Bond seem like a rather dull wimp. Although described as a “desk man” at the CIA, Ryan gets around with the President of the United States, the head of British Intelligence Service, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the Chairman of the KGB. He talks the KGB Chairman into defecting and arranges his escape, along with the CARDINAL, better known as Colonel Misha Filitov.
Filitov, the only man living who ever won three Hero of the Soviet Union medals in battle, is the trusted personal aide to Marshal Yazov, the Soviet Defense Minister. Nevertheless, in the story Filitov has operated for many years as an agent who passes “most secret” information to the CIA.
While the CIA, the KGB and Filitov are parrying with each other in Moscow and Los Alamos, a band of intrepid Afghan freedom Fighters led by the “Archer”, an expert at firing Stinger missiles, and an Afghani major, trek seventy miles into Soviet territory and attack the secret laser research site at Dushanbe. Their attack is a limited success in which the Archer and his men are killed. After that the Major and what is left of his men head back to Afghanistan.
(The failure of Soviet air power to overwhelm the Afghan Freedom Fighters on the ground — using the shoulder-launched, simple, low-cost Stinger missile — marks a dramatic change in the dominance of air power in war. This also suggests that a Stinger-type missile, covertly fired from u.s. submarines might be equally effective against enemy ASW aircraft hunting our subs.)
There are many more facets to the story, and many more characters than can be mentioned in a short review. But one thing can be revealed: Jack Ryan comes through with no more damage than a sore leg. Since he is only thirty-five years old, readers can expect continuing accounts of his exploits.
REV. JOHN F. LABOON (JAKE) CAPT, USN( RET.)
CAPT ANTHONY L. PALAZZOLO, USN( RET.)
CAPT CHARLES E. STASTNY, USN( RET.)
CAPT PETER DURBIN, USN ( RET. )