Warships Pod

22: UK Defence Word Salad & War in the Black Sea

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Episode notes

In part one of this discussion between Dr. Gary Blackburn and host Iain Ballantyne, they investigate the recently published UK Defence Command Paper (DCP). 

It was meant to lay out how British national defence and security will be achieved, especially in light of the on-going Ukraine War. However, it is regarded by some as nothing more than a ‘word salad’ - an opaquely worded smokescreen to hide the fact that Britain doesn’t have enough money to defend itself properly.

Gary highlights valid points made by the DCP, while also suggesting its weaknesses. Iain proposes the DCP should actually be called the ‘No Money Command Paper.’ Iain and Gary look at ‘wonder technologies’ versus traditional combat mass (and how the former has for decades been used as a mask for defence cuts in various UK defence reviews).

Other things touched on during Gary and Iain’s chat include Russia’s moves in Africa and China’s ability to build as many warships as it likes with no regard for the sort of political-economic imperatives that Western democracies have to take into account.

A hot topic also considered is the Ukraine War at sea, including attacks by maritime drones on Russian vessels and Moscow’s ‘Black Sea Grain Gambit’ - the weaponization of grain exports to the rest of the world (or lack of them).

When it comes to sea drone attacks on Russia’s ships, some historical context is provided – basically, the use of such equalising weapons by weaker nations against stronger ones is nothing new, as Gary and Iain point out. So-called ‘kamikaze’ maritime drones are just the latest variation on an old weapon…

Aspects of this fascinating discussion are covered also in the new (September) edition of Warships IFR magazine, which is OUT NOW! 

Warships IFR is available in shops and direct as a both a hard copy mag and digital edition. You can make sure that you receive a regular delivery of global naval news and features by subscribing bit.ly/wifrsub 

For more information on Warships IFR magazine http://bit.ly/wifrmag 

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• In part two of their podcast discussion Iain Ballantyne and Gary Blackburn provide their opinions on the Hollywood movie ‘Oppenheimer’, about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the ‘father of the atom bomb.’ It includes a discussion on the historical context of The Bomb’s use to end WW2, especially in light of the US Navy already bringing Japan to the brink of surrender. Finally, in part two Iain and Gary also weigh up the worth of the latest revelations in the story of UFOs (aka UAPs) and how the mystery craft have interacted with the US Navy. Might the Warships Pod one day feature an alien lifeform as a special guest!?

• Dr Gary Blackburn is an honorary fellow of the Centre for Security Studies at the University of Hull, which seeks to enhance understanding on the nature of war and strategy while also providing guidance on best practice in war and strategy to professional stakeholders. Gary has taught Security Studies and Military History at the Universities of Leeds and Hull, respectively - and has written for Defence Studies and The Critic, and for the latter about aspects of the UK’s 2021 Integrated Review of Defence and Security. 
Follow him on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) via @gjb70

• Iain Ballantyne is the founding and current Editor of Warships IFR. He is also author of the books ‘Hunter Killers’ (Orion) and ‘The Deadly Trade’ (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), both about submarine warfare, with his most recent books being ‘Bismarck: 24 Hours to Doom’ and ‘Arnhem: Ten Days in The Cauldron’ (new editions for Canelo History).  For more details on Iain and his books visit the web sites http://iainballantyne.com and https://www.bismarckbattle.com/ 
Follow him on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) via @IBallantyn