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Old 05-17-2020, 03:45 PM
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What would a war between 2 US militaries look like?


Let's say we find a portal to an alternate dimension which is exactly like ours and the US military of that dimension invades the US so that they are on about equal footing with the US military of this dimension, including manufacturing facilities, agencies, satellites etc. No nukes as that would make it too quick. Presume a competent commander-in-chief on both sides. What would that look like?
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Old 05-17-2020, 04:08 PM
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Weird is what it would look like. Half of each military would be set for a Fulda Gap style clash of armored divisions and lethal AA capabilities. The other half would be set for asymmetrical warfare against a lesser opponent, and would require time to adapt.
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Old 05-17-2020, 04:31 PM
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The portal would serve as a choke point, so the advantage goes to the defender.
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Old 05-17-2020, 09:32 PM
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It would be quick. Modern weapons systems are very lethal but few in number because they're expensive.

The entire U.S. military has about 4500 combat planes, to use that example, and that's assuming they're all battle ready at once, which isn't the case. 4500 sounds like a lot and it is by modern standards - it's the most anyone has - but in a war they would all be swiftly blown to bits. IF one side got an early edge it might quickly overwhelm the other.

The expensive and shiny stuff wouldn't last long, leaving behind just soldiers and rifles and basic stuff, and it takes so long to build the expensive stuff that it might never factor in much again.
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Old 05-17-2020, 09:52 PM
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It would be quick. Modern weapons systems are very lethal but few in number because they're expensive.

The entire U.S. military has about 4500 combat planes, to use that example, and that's assuming they're all battle ready at once, which isn't the case. 4500 sounds like a lot and it is by modern standards - it's the most anyone has - but in a war they would all be swiftly blown to bits. IF one side got an early edge it might quickly overwhelm the other.

The expensive and shiny stuff wouldn't last long, leaving behind just soldiers and rifles and basic stuff, and it takes so long to build the expensive stuff that it might never factor in much again.

What would be the main targets early on? What would each side try to do?
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Old 05-17-2020, 10:38 PM
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Read "1984". Both sides would prolong the stalemate as long as possible while squandering resources and harvesting patriotism.
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Old 05-18-2020, 12:24 AM
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What would be the main targets early on? What would each side try to do?
There isn't one thing, exactly, but US doctrine calls for the establishment of air and naval supremacy. What you would see happen first would be an air and naval battle of unprecedented rapidity and ferocity. Most of both sides' assets would be swiftly blown to bits. It's likely by random chance one side would end up with something left, though, which could be used to establish air supremacy over land operations. Or try, at least. If there isn't a lot left much of that remaining force might not survive land based air defense. Of course I don't know exactly where USA 2.0 is based; is there a new USA plopped in the middle of the Pacific? If so, both sides might hold back something to defend their mainland.

It wouldn't be possible for either side to replace these losses very quickly. The USA today isn't prepared for rebuilding its armed forces rapidly. This isn't like WWII where belligerent nations did little else; during the Battle of Britain, the United Kingdom was literally building fighter planes faster than the Germans could shoot them down. American output was the stuff of legend. Today stuff is just harder to build and no one is planning to pump them out very fast.

The other problem you have is ordnance. Bullets and bombs are one thing, but modern weapons platforms require guided weapons of extraordinary complexity and cost, and even the USA does not stock a limitless supply. Both sides would find themselves quickly starved for the weapons that serve as the USA's backbone. Harpoon anti ship weapons, SM-2 anti air missiles... laser guided bombs, AMRAAM air to air missiles, this stuff is expensive and it doesn't roll off the assembly line easily. Raytheon isn't sitting on a huge stock. Wars can be decided by a lack of such things; Argentina would probably have won the Falkland Islands War had they ever received a full shipment of Exocet anti-ship missiles. With just six missiles - total, that is all they had - they sank two ships and knocked a third out for the remainder of the war. What would have happened if they'd had 36 missiles?

Yeah, this would devolve either into a grinding land war or, if the two sides are separated by sea, just blowing up most of their navies and air forces and then glaring at each other from across the ocean.

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Read "1984". Both sides would prolong the stalemate as long as possible while squandering resources and harvesting patriotism.
Well, you're fighting the OP's hypthetical.

George Orwell famously called the book 1984 just because he wrote it in 1948. His vision of war sounds like World War II, understandably, as that's the kind of war he was familiar with, but with the new tech typical of the very end of the war - rocket attacks similar to V1s, and he mentions helicopters, and "Floating Fortresses." Orwell's endless war is like World War II in that is grinds, year after year, fronts of mighty armies constantly pushing and pulling.

It's dubious modern war would be like that. Both sides would swiftly lose their advances systems. Neither side has huge armies the way they did in Orwell's day.
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Old 05-18-2020, 01:02 AM
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What would be the main targets early on? What would each side try to do?
C3: command/control/communication. Knock those out and the opposing military may still exist but it doesn't do anything.
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Old 05-18-2020, 01:09 AM
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Read "1984". Both sides would prolong the stalemate as long as possible while squandering resources and harvesting patriotism.
The United States is not Oceania. Americans don't like prolonged wars. We want quick decisive wars. The longer the war goes on, the less popular it becomes - and the less popular the politicians in charge become.
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Old 05-18-2020, 05:08 AM
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I assumed the question would be a lot different and possibly more interesting, could the entire US military of 1945 defeat the US military of today? Just putting total military force of 1945 against total available military force of 2019 (just before the coronavirus shifted priorities)
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Old 05-18-2020, 05:09 AM
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T

Well, you're fighting the OP's hypthetical.

George Orwell famously called the book 1984 just because he wrote it in 1948. His vision of war sounds like World War II, understandably, as that's the kind of war he was familiar with, but with the new tech typical of the very end of the war - rocket attacks similar to V1s, and he mentions helicopters, and "Floating Fortresses." Orwell's endless war is like World War II in that is grinds, year after year, fronts of mighty armies constantly pushing and pulling.

It's dubious modern war would be like that. Both sides would swiftly lose their advances systems. Neither side has huge armies the way they did in Orwell's day.
I think the opposite is true and Orwell foresaw the shift. WW2, both sides threw all they had at each other' Since then, the US just milked it for corporate profit. We beat Germany and Japan in 5 years, but failed to beat Vietnam in ten or Iraq in 20.

1984 clearly states there was no "human" war with casualties going, it was just posturung at frontiers, intended to waste wealth to keep a middle class from arising to threaten a hierarchy.
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Old 05-18-2020, 06:42 AM
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If both sides went all-out, it wouldn't be long before the only weapons left are sticks and stones.
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:01 AM
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I've actually wondered about the materiel question as well. It's much more complicated to build an F-35, with a vastly more complex supply chain (compared to WWII kit).

Would we see a devolution of weapons systems? That is, as they were consumed, would there be a thinking that, well, we can get another 20 planes out if we leave out that special stealth component, or the third layer of redundancy on some system?
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Old 05-18-2020, 01:27 PM
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I've actually wondered about the materiel question as well. It's much more complicated to build an F-35, with a vastly more complex supply chain (compared to WWII kit).

Would we see a devolution of weapons systems? That is, as they were consumed, would there be a thinking that, well, we can get another 20 planes out if we leave out that special stealth component, or the third layer of redundancy on some system?
I believe that a lot of the US militaries aircraft after "retirement" are placed in the desert precisely so in case of emergency we could reactive them. So in case of a "long" war we'd see older model F-16's and F-15's being used instead of building new aircraft.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:27 PM
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I think the opposite is true and Orwell foresaw the shift. WW2, both sides threw all they had at each other' Since then, the US just milked it for corporate profit. We beat Germany and Japan in 5 years, but failed to beat Vietnam in ten or Iraq in 20.
It has nothing to do with economics or politics. The difference is nuclear weapons. Countries can no longer go "all in" on a war if a nuclear power is involved on the other side. We couldn't fight a total war against North Korea or North Vietnam because that would have meant fighting a war against China and the Soviet Union.

And we beat Iraq in less than a month. We won the war quickly and decisively. It was the post-war occupation we screwed up.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:29 PM
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Quick and violent as fuck, with REALLY heavy losses.

I mean, we'd have two high operational tempo forces fighting each other with some of the most advanced weaponry and support in the world.

But... it would peter out equally fast as the reserves of ammunition and equipment were consumed. Assuming neither side had some sort of difference in generalship due to random choice, we'd see a sort of lull period, where it would primarily be infantry combat, with the remaining aircraft and tanks being carefully husbanded for larger scale attacks and/or as a sort of mobile reserve. Back home, you'd see frantic efforts to build more tanks and aircraft, as well as to spin up older aircraft and tanks from storage, as well as to make more bullets, artillery shells, etc...

Probably the most glaring difference is that after the initial really intense burst of combat, a lot of the precision-guided weapons would be in much shorter supply, so we'd see more of a Vietnam-era or even earlier level of actual terminal weaponry. In other words, your F-35s would be dropping a lot of dumb bombs, and your artillery pieces would be firing regular HE shells.
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Old 05-18-2020, 04:12 PM
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Both governments would try to trade with the other nations of Earth. Someone would piss the other one off by trading with the wrong country, or in the wrong way, or both. Sanctions and stern speeches would start flying left and right, and if things didn't cool off after that, we'd most likely get bogged down in another third world proxy war with some other country's kids doing most of the fighting and dying and the two US governments orchestrating it but pretending they're not really behind it. Anything to keep from making real sacrifices or using nukes. Oh, and all the defense contractors and their friends in Washington would need to build a second Scrooge McDuck style swimming pool on their palatial estates to hold all their ill gotten gold.
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Old 05-18-2020, 04:51 PM
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Well they would be precisely evenly matched, so suddenly allies would become important to both. Especially ones with force projection ability such as the UK. But if it goes like people here are predicting and a fast violent clash results in most of the shiny stuff being broken, then getting more shiny stuff from allies when the opposition does not have shinies can be quite an advantage. Like borrowing 50 F-35s from Norway. (If this is after they are complete mind)

Also, the US population might have to deal with bombing raids. This has not been something the US has had to deal with in any of its wars previously.
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Old 05-18-2020, 05:57 PM
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Would there be a tipping-point effect here? Once one side started to acquire an advantage, it would only increase, until that side won everything, big time? Or would there be some kind of negative feedback, benefiting whoever was the underdog at any given moment?
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Old 05-18-2020, 06:06 PM
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The portal would serve as a choke point, so the advantage goes to the defender.
Honestly, I'm still wondering why this isn't the correct answer.

You haven't set out what the boundaries are between the two US's. We don't know what the political situation is. Or if one US can draw on its allies.

Or is this some situation where two nations are transported to some sort of battleworld? Even then, what's the boundary? Is there possibility for manufacture and re-supply?

As written the OP is impossible to answer.
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:22 PM
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Possibly the simplest and most straightforward image is just "mate" two U.S. maps together in a mirror image. Imagine Canada as another U.S., just upside down (magically having the same latitude/climate.)

Chicago/Chicago becomes a major military objective! California and Texas are reserve areas. Big battles in New England/New England, but the real tank-battle terrain is the border east of Chicago.

At least this interpretation is easy to war-game.
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:36 PM
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Possibly the simplest and most straightforward image is just "mate" two U.S. maps together in a mirror image. Imagine Canada as another U.S., just upside down (magically having the same latitude/climate.)

Chicago/Chicago becomes a major military objective! California and Texas are reserve areas. Big battles in New England/New England, but the real tank-battle terrain is the border east of Chicago.

At least this interpretation is easy to war-game.
Yeah, that'll do.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:13 PM
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What are the win conditions? Is this just a war of endless attrition until one side is utterly wiped out? Are there specific things one side wants?
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:51 PM
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Since nuclear weapons were ruled out by the hypothetical, seems that victory should be pretty obvious. One side takes a handful of major cities and holds 'em, the other side fails to dislodge the incursion, a handful of big battles and a bunch of small ones, mostly going badly for one side...

WWI didn't end with the invasion and occupation of Berlin: one side just wasn't winning, and it was all over.

I'm still seeing a "tipping point" scenario. One side just gets lucky, wins a battle, and it's all downhill from there. It would be *hard* to reverse an ebbing tide of misfortune. Also, public opinion. Once the population of America I feels that America II is winning, there'd be a call for negotiations.

(Why fight in the first place? They both have extremely skilled diplomatic corps... But, hey, it's the premise. They fight.)
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Old 05-18-2020, 11:07 PM
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Why fight in the first place?
"We are black on the right side and white on the left side, while the people of the Other America are white on the right side!"
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:39 AM
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What are the win conditions? Is this just a war of endless attrition until one side is utterly wiped out? Are there specific things one side wants?
"There can be only one!"

To be serious, I agree with your point. It would seem like two different versions of the United States would be natural allies rather than enemies. But I'm not fighting the premise. We're here to debate how the war would be fought not question if it would occur.
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Old 05-19-2020, 02:41 PM
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Huge happy grin! If that isn't worth fighting for, what is?
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Old 05-19-2020, 09:29 PM
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If the Army tried to fight the Navy, they’d drown pretty quick.
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Old 05-21-2020, 04:34 PM
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If the Army tried to fight the Navy, they’d drown pretty quick.
I also thought it would be about one service fighting another. That's happened in several civil conflicts in South America, most pretty short, where various services entirely or mainly lined up on opposite sides. For example the Chliean Naval Mutiny in 1931. Basically the whole navy joined, and Chile had a significant navy, so no intra-naval combat like the 1891 civil war. The army remained loyal to the govt and seized the main naval repair facility at Talcahuano. Then loyal air units attacked the anchored fleet in what might have become a more famous incident presaging air attacks on ships in WWII, except all bombs missed. But these actions broke the morale of the mutineers and negotiations followed.

In the 1950's to early 60's the Argentine Navy was the center of anti-Peromism and this led to some armed conflict between the services. The failed coup of 1963 included an incident where an army tank column (ex US M4 tanks) overcame naval a/c attacks (by ex-USN F9F jet fighters) to threaten the navy air base and force the naval air units to fly to Uruguay. Part of the process of 'taming' the navy after that included reducing the size of the marine corps so it couldn't hope to defend naval bases against the army.

Last edited by Corry El; 05-21-2020 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 05-21-2020, 04:54 PM
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I also thought it would be about one service fighting another. That's happened in several civil conflicts in South America, most pretty short, where various services entirely or mainly lined up on opposite sides. For example the Chliean Naval Mutiny in 1931. Basically the whole navy joined, and Chile had a significant navy, so no intra-naval combat like the 1891 civil war. The army remained loyal to the govt and seized the main naval repair facility at Talcahuano. Then loyal air units attacked the anchored fleet in what might have become a more famous incident presaging air attacks on ships in WWII, except all bombs missed. But these actions broke the morale of the mutineers and negotiations followed.

In the 1950's to early 60's the Argentine Navy was the center of anti-Peromism and this led to some armed conflict between the services. The failed coup of 1963 included an incident where an army tank column (ex US M4 tanks) overcame naval a/c attacks (by ex-USN F9F jet fighters) to threaten the navy air base and force the naval air units to fly to Uruguay. Part of the process of 'taming' the navy after that included reducing the size of the marine corps so it couldn't hope to defend naval bases against the army.
Is there a way the US Navy or Air Force wouldn't lose against the US Army? It seems like the land component is less reliant on static bases than the air and naval components. It seems doubtful the Marines would be able to hold against the entire Army.
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Old 05-21-2020, 06:54 PM
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I assumed the question would be a lot different and possibly more interesting, could the entire US military of 1945 defeat the US military of today? Just putting total military force of 1945 against total available military force of 2019 (just before the coronavirus shifted priorities)
That's definitely interesting, particularly if each side keeps its contemporary industrial capacity to keep churning out equipment. I think today's navy would wipe the floor with 1945's (quick Google says that the US has more aircraft carriers now than in 1945), but not sure how quickly we can build them now vs. back then. For ground forces you have to think modern technology doesn't give enough edge over the number superiority of the WW2 era force, but I'm not sure if ground engagements would be all that likely.
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Old 05-22-2020, 01:07 AM
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quick Google says that the US has more aircraft carriers now than in 1945
From the U.S. Navy's Naval History and Heritage Command , in August of 1945 the U.S.N. had 28 fleet carriers and another 71 escort carriers. The U.S.N. in September 2016 had 10 aircraft carriers (CVN); if we're counting everything from 1945--fleet carriers and escort carriers--then from 2016 the LHA and LHD types certainly look a lot like some form of aircraft carrier ("helicopter carriers") and there were another 9 of those. So, 28 (1945) vs. 10 (2016) for full carriers; 99 (1945) vs. 19 (2016) for various aircraft-carrier-like ships.

The 21st century vessels are vastly more capable: At least some of them are nuclear powered; their sensors and communications are enormously better; they're just flat out bigger (a Nimitz class carrier weighs in at over 100,000 tons whereas the Essex class fleet carriers were less than half that), and size directly affects how many aircraft an aircraft carrier can carry, and also how big and capable those aircraft are--21st century American warplanes are massively more capable than American warplanes from 1945 in terms of speed, sensors, and firepower.

But the fleet from 1945 would definitely outclass the 21st century fleet in terms of sheer numbers of hulls it could put in the water. They'd probably just be targets, but there would be a lot of them.
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Old 05-22-2020, 03:54 PM
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Are you a writer, MichaelEmouse? Because this could make an interesting book! (Or even series if you wanted to go full Harry Turtledove with it.)
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:50 PM
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quick Google says that the US has more aircraft carriers now than in 1945
I think your source is incorrect. The United States Navy had twenty-seven fleet carriers, eleven light carriers, and around a hundred escort carriers in 1945. The United States Navy has eleven fleet carriers and nine helicopter carriers in 2020.
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:21 PM
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I think your source is incorrect. The United States Navy had twenty-seven fleet carriers, eleven light carriers, and around a hundred escort carriers in 1945. The United States Navy has eleven fleet carriers and nine helicopter carriers in 2020.
Yes I was reading too hastily - I skimmed a paragraph stating that there were 44 aircraft carriers in 2020 and assumed that was how many the US navy had, not recognizing that was the total number globally

Thanks as well MEBuckner for the breakdown.
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Old 05-23-2020, 12:10 PM
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I think as RickJay said in post 7, there would be a very short violent part of the war where each side tries to wipe out all of the other sides air, naval, command and control assets. The side that gets ahead first will be better able to inflict causalities on the other side, so I wouldn't be surprised if at the end one side still has a fairly significant portion (say 50%) of its assets still intact by the time the other side is pretty well spent.

The question is what to do after that. The US military can barely hold Afghanistan and Iraq. There is no way that even with superior air and naval power, that the US would have the ability to occupy and hold the united states against a dug in US army, national guard and armed citizenry. The US doesn't really go in for total war of cities with mass civilian casualties, these days. So while I think life will be pretty miserable for the losing side for a number of years/decades I don't imagine it will even be totally defeated. Eventually the "winning" side will decide its just not worth it and go home.

Last edited by Buck Godot; 05-23-2020 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:11 PM
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Convention military wisdom is you should have a three to one advantage to attack a defending force. If the other earth were attacked our earth, tie goes to us, the defenders
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:23 AM
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Are you a writer, MichaelEmouse? Because this could make an interesting book! (Or even series if you wanted to go full Harry Turtledove with it.)
I'm thinking of making a near-futuristic game based on electronic warfare.


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It wouldn't be possible for either side to replace these losses very quickly. The USA today isn't prepared for rebuilding its armed forces rapidly. This isn't like WWII where belligerent nations did little else; during the Battle of Britain, the United Kingdom was literally building fighter planes faster than the Germans could shoot them down. American output was the stuff of legend. Today stuff is just harder to build and no one is planning to pump them out very fast.
Presuming both USAs went into total war mode (let's say they had some time to prepare), what would be the production bottlenecks, aside from training?
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