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Is the Pentagon Hyping the Russia Threat?

While most of our foreign-policy attention is focused on the Middle East, a new danger lurks. According to a number of high-ranking Pentagon officials, that danger is not Russian aggression but rather their own colleagues, who are inflating the threat Russia poses in an effort to boost the Defense Department’s budget.

Those in the military who are encouraging the build-up [1] of U.S. troops along Russia’s European border are “the ‘Chicken-Little, sky-is-falling’ set in the Army,” one senior Pentagon officer told Politico [2]. “These guys want us to believe the Russians are 10 feet tall.”

“There’s a simpler explanation,” he added. “The Army is looking for a purpose, and a bigger chunk of the budget. And the best way to get that is to paint the Russians as being able to land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. What a crock.”

He’s not the only one to suspect bureaucrats are inflating the Russian threat. When Politico highlighted a recent Pentagon study [3] on Russian capabilities, high-ranking current and retired Army officers told the magazine it was laughably incorrect. They particularly rejected frightening descriptions of Russian technological prowess.

All this hype is “news to me,” said one [2] respected officer. “Swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles? Surprisingly lethal tanks? How come this is the first we’ve heard of it?”

The massive momentum of the U.S. military may presently be on the side of the inflaters, but the facts are on the side of the skeptics.

The Pentagon’s stated goal for its Eastern European escalation [4] is to provide a counter-balance to Russian strength in the region. “Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right up against [their border with Poland and the Baltic states] with a lot of troops,” said [5] Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, who labeled the exercises “provocative.”

But a moment of consideration here presents a very different picture indeed.

First, if Russians confronted the United States military, they would be wildly, laughably outmatched. As vividly explained [6] by former paratrooper Daniel Kearns, the answer to the question, “How much stronger is the United States military compared with the next strongest power?” is “1,000 times. Maybe more.”

“Fighting a conventional war against the U.S.,” Kearns continues, “would be like a three-year-old child playing chess against Gary Kasparov.”

Compared to Russia specifically, our considerable advantage is easily demonstrated, as Politico summarizes [2]:

The United States spends seven times the amount of money on defense as Russia ($598 billion vs. $84 billion), has nearly twice the number of active duty personnel (1.4 million vs. 766,000), just under six times as many helicopters (approximately 6,000 vs. 1,200), three times the number of fighters (2,300 vs. 751) and four times the total number of aircraft. We have 10 aircraft carriers, the Russians have one.

The Russian bear is also easily outmatched [7] by the militaries of our close allies (and obvious counters to Russian power) in Britain, France, and Germany combined. The U.K. alone outspends Russia on defense each year. Add to all that America’s other security advantages—such as two major oceans, numerous allies, and friendly neighbors—and the suggestion that we must send troops to contain Russia becomes difficult (if not impossible) to justify on national-security grounds.

Such engagement sure would drive up the Pentagon’s budget, though.

Another important question: How is it [5] more “provocative” (per Secretary Work) for Russia to do military exercises inside its own country than for the United States to send troops halfway around the world to do military exercises right on Russia’s doorstep?

It isn’t hard to divine Russia’s perspective here. American expansion in Eastern Europe “would be a very dangerous build-up of armed forces pretty close to our borders,” said [8] Andrei Kelin of the Russian Foreign Ministry. “I am afraid this would require certain retaliatory measures, which the Russian Defense Ministry is already talking about.”

His push for restraint stems from Russia’s national interest, to be sure, so more compelling from an American perspective are the benefits of restraint for us. Namely, we can save a lot of blood and treasure. As Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula put it [2], “It’s time to stop waving the bloody red shirt.” Instead of grabbing for ever more money in response to inflated threats, “We really need to think in a deliberate goal-oriented way to secure national interests, not just parochial Army interests.”

He’s right: The Pentagon budget should be dictated by the state of our national security—not the other way around. And here’s hoping it doesn’t take war with Russia for Washington to figure that out.

Bonnie Kristian is a fellow at Defense Priorities. She is a contributing writer at The Week and a columnist at Rare, and her writing has also appeared at Time, Relevant, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.

28 Comments (Open | Close)

28 Comments To "Is the Pentagon Hyping the Russia Threat?"

#1 Comment By the the On June 20, 2016 @ 4:05 am

Our military leaders say nothing about Islamist who are invading the US and who are attacking us. Nothing. Why? Because they are here on visas or immigrating. Islamist are actually harming people. But none of our so-called military experts say a thing…except they cry about Russia which hasn’t hurt us at all. Amazing.

#2 Comment By John S On June 20, 2016 @ 7:25 am

” How is it more “provocative” for Russia to do military exercises inside its own country …?”

What Russia does is provocative because they call snap exercises without warning NATO contrary to the terms of the Vienna Document.

The US is a member of NATO, and NATO’s exercises are happening with NATO allies. It is not America that is expanding in eastern Europe, it’s NATO.

It’s also worth remembering that Russia has invaded a couple of countries in the past few years, and has threatened to invade more. While NATO has invaded…zero countries. Are we supposed to believe that Russia is worried about an invasion NATO? NATO is a defensive organization.

Russia used to cooperate nicely with NATO a few years ago. They might return to that modus operandi.

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 20, 2016 @ 8:39 am

We may have a “1000% advantage” but that doesn’t seem to translate well into practice. After bombing ISIS to very little effect for a year, the Russians accomplished more against ISIS in one month. “Smart Power” it ain’t.

#4 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 20, 2016 @ 8:44 am

This discussion is unreal.

Outlining the US military’s “1,000 times stronger” conventional war advantage over Russia doesn’t address Russia’s 7,300 nuclear warheads — including a stockpile of approximately 4500 nuclear warheads assigned for use by long-range strategic launchers and shorter-range tactical nuclear forces with roughly 1800 strategic warheads deployed on missiles and at bomber bases. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 15, 2016)

“German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned Nato against ‘warmongering’, after it conducted military exercises in Eastern Europe. Mr Steinmeier said that extensive Nato manoeuvres launched this month were counterproductive to regional security and could inflame tensions with Russia. He urged the Nato military alliance to replace the exercises with more dialogue and co-operation with Russia.
Nato has carried out a 10-day exercise simulating a Russian attack on Poland. The drill, which ended on Friday, involved about 31,000 troops, as well as fighter jets, ships and 3,000 vehicles.

“’What we shouldn’t do now is inflame the situation further through sabre-rattling and warmongering,’ Mr Steinmeier said in an interview to be published in Germany’s Bild am Sontag newspaper. ‘Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken. We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation,’ he said, adding that it would be ‘fatal to search only for military solutions and a policy of deterrence’.”

[9]

#5 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 20, 2016 @ 9:44 am

Unfortunately, after listening to Pres. Putin yesterday and to his credit he sounds exactly like the shrewd considerate statesman his years navigating and surviving the Soviet Union’s KGB, muchless the state itself, one might expect. Juxtaposed against his reasoned comments, even our pacifists sound like warmongers (I exaggerate of course).

This article has two disconcerting perspectives.

1. Is straight up clear. There’s no need to make any moves against the Russian Democracy provoke a conflict that is unnecessary.

2. The other belies a hubris that is stunning. Extolling our military advantage ignores history. I am quite confident that we could defeat Russia. But I am not all confident that the comments reflect an understanding of Russian History who have repeatedly beat back or forestalled invasion while being out gunned technologically as well as by the numbers. These are people who have known warfare in most tragic circumstances.

They have engaged in house to house on their homeland. They know blood guts, and tears in their homes. The suggestion here as been cleaned that we are going to clean clocks. And while I have known war, I am very certain, that the advantage most weighing against the Us is the will to fight for years on end with ceasing rests in the hands of the Russians. The ability to withstand excruciating losses and disasters (as war often brings) rests with the Russians. The will to fight has been tested repeatedly throughout history lends them no small advantage.

#6 Comment By David J. White On June 20, 2016 @ 10:31 am

First, if Russians confronted the United States military, they would be wildly, laughably outmatched. As vividly explained by former paratrooper Daniel Kearns, the answer to the question, “How much stronger is the United States military compared with the next strongest power?” is “1,000 times. Maybe more.”

“Fighting a conventional war against the U.S.,” Kearns continues, “would be like a three-year-old child playing chess against Gary Kasparov.”

And yet lightly-armed, mobile insurgencies using things like improvised explosive devices have constantly bloodied the nose of modern militaries, including our own, for the last half century. Maybe we’ve prepared to fight the wrong enemy. All that expensive hardware doesn’t seem to have done us a lot of good in fighting most of the wars we’ve actually been fighting.

Besides, why is it surprising that the military establishment would exaggerate the threat from Russia as a way of getting support for an inflated budget? They did the same with regards to the Soviet Union for decades. Our very expensive intelligence establishment didn’t seem to know that the Soviet Union was going to break up even a few short years before it did. Of course it wasn’t in their interest to see that the Soviet Union was about to go away. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair.

#7 Comment By Chris Chuba On June 20, 2016 @ 10:36 am

NATO makes the Russian military sound more menacing by the use of the term ‘snap drills’ which are on their own soil BTW.

Russia’s snap drills are an artifact of their now much smaller military. They do not have the personnel to man stationary forts on all of their frontiers so they practice being able to re-deploy their forces quickly. This is a prudent exercise and should be expected.

For an analysis of their current situation and their recent response to NATO go here by someone who is familiar with the Cold War organization of the Soviet Forces
[10]

It was NATO that did not want to bound to the
“CFE Treaty” that would have continued transparency (see link)

“For some years the management of the Russian army did not appear to have understood that everything had changed – that the huge Soviet forces were gone and would not magically fill up with hundreds of thousands of conscripts to fill up the “empty formations”But, they didn’t know how to make them smaller either: we were always told in talks with the Russian General Staff that the state could not afford to pay the officers the pensions and housing allowances they were entitled to. And so this once mighty army decayed.

The new organization is a result of an extremely painful reorganization process but now we are twisting the knife into their side and calling them aggressors for trying to take prudent measures to ensure their security on a shoestring budget.

#8 Comment By Patrick Constantine On June 20, 2016 @ 11:55 am

I agree w/ the comment saying how unreal these discussions about Russia have become. The US spends more on its prisons than Russia spends on its entire military, yet we routinely hear claims about how free we are versus what an aggressor Russia is.

#9 Comment By Mightypeon On June 20, 2016 @ 1:06 pm

A couple of things to bear in mind:

1: Russia is actually training and equipping her armed forces to fight peer competitors, be they Chinese, Japanese or Western.
2: The colossal degree of US imperial overreach actually means that the USA is now more distracted then Russia. Given that Russia directly borders several Great powers, (Japan, China, Europe), while the US borders to non threatening nations, this is incredibly ironic.

3: Russia is not composed of supermen, and does lose wars on occassion. Since these lost wars have direct implications on Russia, they are actually a lot better in learning lessons from them. The shambolic force that moved into the first Chechen war was already drastically different from Putins considerably leaner (and a lot less ham handed, and with much less civilian casulties) effort in the second Chechen war. The Georgian war saw yet another improvement, and the Russian intervention of Crimea saw a further one.

By contrast, it does not appear that the US military is improving much.

4: Money invested in warfare eventually reaches a state of diminishing returns, and the US is way past that point. Their were numerous wars throughout history in which the weaker side won. The balance between the Dutch and the Spanish was far more one sided in favor of the Spanish then the current balance between Russia and the US is in favor of the US. Frederick the Greats 7 year war also comes to mind, as does the victory of the Bolsheviks in the Russian civil war, or the Russian defeat at the hands of Imperial Japan in 1905. The latter is actually a pretty good example what happens if an overstretched Empire that is dismissive of its adversaries encounters focused opposition from a regional adversary that is able to bring all of its forces to bear.

5: TLDR: I would rate the US armed forces at about 3 times, perhaps factoring in their allies 4 times, as powerful as the Russians.
The Russians have some qualitative edges in land equipment (as do, f.e. the Germans) over the USA, and they have nukes which will definitely be used on Russian territory if necessary.

#10 Comment By Jon Lester On June 20, 2016 @ 4:59 pm

There is nothing improper about the Russian military revisiting and exercising old conventional tactics (long-range bomber patrols, shortwave radio alerts, etc) and new (“snap drills”). If anything, it’s the duty of any responsible government. We seem to think other nationals ought to be less patriotic and motivated than we.

While airspace along the Alaska side is tight, and we see the occasional intercept with crews waving at each other, nothing really happens there, yet our leadership takes Russia’s western frontier more seriously than our own southern border, and for what? Polish historical grievances? Ukrainian fracking? Estonia’s “fair tax” experiment?

#11 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On June 20, 2016 @ 5:07 pm

Obama’s Pentagon knows that Putin greatly prefers to deal with a realist like Trump than an ideologically-fevered hawk like Hillary Clinton, and in particular the Hussymits might be worried that Putin will pull an October surprise.

My favorite theory along these lines is that Putin will release documents showing four decades of treachery by establishment Republicans, as well as Democrats like John Kerry of the disgraceful Clinton-era Kerry Commission, in throwing MIA/POWS under the bus. Clearly, that will help Trump, who is disliked by establishment Republicans and Democrats alike.

There’s an obvious wrinkle on the timing of any such election surprise (think Cleveland), but the less said about that the better.

#12 Comment By Jon Lester On June 20, 2016 @ 5:12 pm

Also, it’s nice that we have ten carrier groups, but that’s no reason to risk losing three or more (depending on which assets are where) in a matter of minutes. Russia’s new Mach 3 cruise missile is nuclear-capable, and current doctrine says that’s very much an option if conventional forces won’t suffice.

#13 Comment By amhixson On June 20, 2016 @ 5:16 pm

The main drivers here are two-fold:

1) Some months back, maybe last year, there was a study that determined the U.S. and NATO wouldn’t be able to defend the Baltics from a Russian invasion. In other words, they finally figured out what Putin and his people probably figured out a long time ago: the Baltics are NATO’s Achilles heel.

Were the Russians so inclined, they could effectively neuter NATO by executing just such an invasion and daring the U.S. to respond. The political will in the U.S. wouldn’t be there. The political will in Europe definitely wouldn’t be there. Article 5 would be rendered meaningless.

With the central pillar of the NATO alliance removed, the U.S. military primacy on the continent would be reduced to basically Poland with the UK just offshore. Germany, being a pacifist state, would either declare neutrality a la Sweden and/or negotiate its own agreement with Russia. Either way, they’d kick the U.S. out. The rest of Europe would then bandwagon with Germany given its economic primacy.

2) There is, broadly speaking, a split within the DoD between two factions when it comes to U.S. grand strategy. For the sake of argument, I’ll call them the Futurists and the Traditionalists.

The Futurists have been dominant since the 1990s. They believe that the age of great power competition and traditional, large-scale physical warfare is over, and that defense strategy in the 21st century is all about asymmetric, irregular threats like terrorism and cyber-warfare. They’re technocrats and incrementalists at heart who think grand strategy itself is a quaint, absurd relic from a more primitive era. To them, Russia is an annoying gadfly, an impoverished and broken-down rump state at the eastern edge of Europe.

The Traditionalists believe that, since the end of the Cold War, great power competition has instead returned. Long-dormant conflicts and fault lines are becoming active again after decades of being suppressed by the Cold War duopoly. the Great Game is on once again. Thus, rather than being obsolete, the kind of force strength and strategic calculations that have driven defense posture since the beginning of civilization are as relevant as ever. To them, Russia is a resurgent great power that still has enough nukes and ICBMs to destroy much of the U.S.

IMO, the Traditionalists have the stronger argument. Human nature doesn’t change. Neither does the calculus of power. The Futurists drank the “End of History” kool-aid, and it’s made them both naive and short-sighted.

#14 Comment By An Agrarian On June 20, 2016 @ 6:42 pm

Yes, the Pentagon hypes the Russian threat, as it’s exceptionally good for business. What’s good for the Pentagon is great for Booze Allen Hamilton, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Lockheed, Boeing, Northrup Grumman … need to go on? And who do you think hires the retired Generals, Admirals & SES’s from the Pentagon?

For all the NATO fans, please read General Smedley Butler’s post WW1 masterpiece, “War is a Racket.”

And let’s not be absurd – NATO IS America. Withdraw American support & NATO withers, as it rightly should … it’s an organization that’s outserved it’s Cold War usefulness.

#15 Comment By Subtly On June 20, 2016 @ 6:47 pm

My history is not so good. When’s the last time the Russians invaded a European country without being provoked first?

#16 Comment By Sal On June 21, 2016 @ 9:31 am

One wonders if Putin is doing a Reagan, trying to bankrupt the USA by getting it to keep on increasing defence spending?

#17 Comment By amhixson On June 21, 2016 @ 10:30 am

@An Agrarian

I’m quite familiar with the isolationist tradition in U.S. foreign policy, thanks. It’s a naive fantasy predicated on delusional assumptions about international relations.

@Subtly: When’s the last time the Russians invaded a European country without being provoked first?

The annexation of Crimea two years ago. The Russian “justification” for which sounds suspiciously similar to the German “justification” for annexing the Sudetenland in 1938.

Cue semantic games with the meaning of the word “provoked” and anti-Western conspiracy theories regarding Ukraine in 3…2…1…

#18 Comment By helmet On June 21, 2016 @ 10:53 am

“It’s also worth remembering that Russia has invaded a couple of countries in the past few years, and has threatened to invade more. While NATO has invaded…zero countries. “

“Afghanistan”?

Or does it cease to be an invasion “in the past few years” by your definition when a NATO member (i.e. us) still occupies the place with thousands of troops and has no plans to leave?

#19 Comment By Chris Chuba On June 21, 2016 @ 12:11 pm

amhixson, Crimea already had Russian troops in it and the people voted to join Russia in a referendum, so is that an ‘invasion’ in any true sense of the word? Was the separation of Kosovo from Serbia an invasion?

Regarding the NATO / Baltic state scenario. If the Russians invaded, we could respond effectively by destroying their surface fleet and keeping every Russian ship out of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean. We could probably do a devastating job on their navy in the Black Sea as well. Their oil and NG gas revenue would decline by 50 to 80%, as we and the Gulf States would have a fracking and LNG gas boom the likes of which the world has never seen. Is this not enough of a deterrent?

Trying to build up a conventional force in Latvia, 1-200 miles from St. Petersburg, that could defeat a conventional Russian force would have to be considered by the Russians an existential threat. This course of action is impractical even if we could do it.

#20 Comment By Subtly On June 21, 2016 @ 12:27 pm

@amhixson

Has eastern half of the Ukraine historically been inder the influence of Poland/Austria-Hungarian/whoever or Russia?

#21 Comment By amhixson On June 21, 2016 @ 3:36 pm

@Chris Chuba: Crimea already had Russian troops in it…

Basing rights =/= surrender of sovereignty

By that logic, the U.S. has every right to annex Okinawa, South Korea, and Germany.

…and the people voted to join Russia in a referendum,

If you think that referendum was on the up-and-up, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Russian citizens voted in the referendum, ballots were pre-marked, and only a third of the local populace actually participated. The whole thing was canned.

…so is that an ‘invasion’ in any true sense of the word?

Ukraine is an internationally recognized, sovereign state. So, yes.

Once again: see the Sudetenland in 1938.

Was the separation of Kosovo from Serbia an invasion?

Invalid comparison. Albania didn’t annex Kosovo.

Also, it’s quite funny that Russia’s defenders cite that as a precedent when Russia doesn’t even recognize Kosovo.

Regarding the NATO / Baltic state scenario. If the Russians invaded, we could respond effectively by destroying their surface fleet and keeping every Russian ship out of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean. We could probably do a devastating job on their navy in the Black Sea as well. Their oil and NG gas revenue would decline by 50 to 80%, as we and the Gulf States would have a fracking and LNG gas boom the likes of which the world has never seen. Is this not enough of a deterrent?

No. Because the Russians will immediately go nuclear during such an attack. Whereas we escalate to using nukes, their policy is to start with nukes and de-escalate from there.

With Russia, MAD is the only deterrent. What we need to do is demonstrate credible resolve with regard to honoring Article 5.

@Subtly: Has eastern half of the Ukraine historically been inder the influence of Poland/Austria-Hungarian/whoever or Russia?

Doesn’t matter. In what way is an internal struggle within Ukraine between factions of Ukrainians a “provocation” of Russia?

Mind you, Russian intervention hasn’t been a peacekeeping mission that’s neutral with regard to the competing factions. Rather, it has been for the express purpose of arming and supporting the eastern faction. With the end goal, of course, of annexing the Donbass if not the entirety of Ukraine.

#22 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 21, 2016 @ 9:07 pm

” . . . Rather, it has been for the express purpose of arming and supporting the eastern faction. With the end goal, of course, of annexing the Donbass if not the entirety of Ukraine.’

This entire perspective is intriguing. An I would be shivering me timbers if not for one missing tid bit.

The Ukrainians foolishly engaged in a violent revolution that was unnecessary. They were of course encouraged by western states — foolishly. The result, was cracking open a vault that was on it way to being ameliorated by what were fair elections.

That violence was being exported throughout the region. The idea that the Russians would not offer assistance to those in the region asking for the same where Russia has a major military facility is more than naive’. It was careless. And as test, it demonstrated that Russia is not dead and has no intention of being so.

I want to embrace the Ukrainians, but I it’s hard to hold them blameless when one half of the country went on a killing spree in the name of democracy.

Democracy is a slow and painful process. That’s what elections are designed to for change, a peaceful change and transition if the people so decide. By subvertng that process they legitimized the same by other interested parties. It’s entirely possible and likely that Crimeans were scared of what was headed their way and chose the least frightening option.

#23 Comment By sglover On June 22, 2016 @ 12:41 am

It’s nice of amhixon to bolster the case of the original article, by serving up the Baltic Anschluss fever dream. There’s nothing very clever in pointing out that small, flat countries are vulnerable to blitzkriegs. But one thing that’s never explained in these musings is why the Russians would want to roll into the Baltics. Even if you discount the (considerable) risks of military escalation, the cost-benefit calculations from the Russian side are pretty terrible: Along with a little territory and a few million (somewhat) sympathetic co-nationals, Russia “gains” years of guaranteed guerilla war and serious economic and political isolation. amhixon might find his imaginary NATO split-up plausible, but I suspect that Moscow’s a little too shrewd to place any bets on that.

#24 Comment By sglover On June 22, 2016 @ 1:07 am

The hits keep coming:

Rather, it has been for the express purpose of arming and supporting the eastern faction. With the end goal, of course, of annexing the Donbass if not the entirety of Ukraine.

So what’s keeping them? Especially since they’ve already annexed Crimea, which isn’t even strictly contiguous with Russian territory? You seem to be very creative when it comes to speculative foreign policy, but on this planet there’s good evidence that far from “annexing” Donbas, Moscow is actually at [11].

#25 Comment By Medusa On June 22, 2016 @ 11:38 am

If America has such a hotshot military, why has it been fighting in the Middle East for over 15 years with no end in sight? It can’t even defeat the Taliban, let’s not even think about it going to war with Russia-China.

#26 Comment By Peter Grafström On June 22, 2016 @ 12:12 pm

Many comments here are lacking in necessary explanation of the background. The Us did to Ukraine what they have done a great number of times before in collaboration with Britain: They direct ananymous snipers to shoot peaceful demonstrators or just people passing by, then blame it on the regime and claim they killed their own people whereafter foreign-backed regime change is deemed legitimate. The leader was said to cowardly flee but in reality he was afraid to make things worse by calling in the regular military who were just waiting for the order. The shah of Iran was in a similar situation in 1978. He too out of concern for the peoples safety hesitated to use the national guard, so the foreign-spondored agent Khomeini could take over.
In hindsight both the shah and Yanukovich probably ought to have called them in. In both cases the outcome was far worse. And in both cases the parasitic and devious angloamerican empirialists were the plotters.
During the 1900s similar things have happened multiple times in Russia and the middle east.
It is the way the angloamerican empire invades countries by proxy. Often without having to employ their own troops. Power of balance tactics using special operations. Secretely removing honest politicians and substituting stooged under their control. This mode of operation lay behind both world wars and most perhaps all known so called revolutions. When Russia felt threatened as was the case before and during WW2 they made countermoves which would otherwise never have been contemplated. The talk of annexion of Krim suits their western adversaries but is completely lacking in perspective.

#27 Comment By A.B. Prosper On June 29, 2016 @ 6:26 pm

Russia is no match conventionally for the US and if we were willing to go broke doing it we could probably push them out of any foreign nation we wanted to.

And go broke we would, we already borrow and mint , 1/3 of our federal budget a trillion plus US

On top of that our infrastructure is not much better off than that of Russia and in decline and our social intuitions arguably worse.

What Russia does have a working arsenal of nukes and ICBM’s and more importantly the will to use them.

This means simply we cannot attack Russian soil, they can and will target us or anyone stupid enough to allow to use their land as a base.

Even use of conventional or chemical warheads would be devastating, aging population in Europe (average age of ethnic Germans is 45 for example) want to take vacations not snort nerve gas

On top of that I’m not a hundred percent certain people would push the proverbial button here but I am highly certain they would in Russia

This means not only does the US try to gin up a Russian threat to feed the defense industries but in hopes they can repeat what happened to the USSR and drive Russia bankrupt

Its unlikely to work though, this Russia isn’t the USSR or the Russia under Yeltsin. Its run by smarter, more cunning and ruthless people grounded in reality

Odds are just as good we will fall into disability before Russia does

#28 Comment By MJMotley On June 28, 2017 @ 10:51 am

While the numbers stated in the article are as impressive as as it is accurate. However, the status of those numbers is relevant. Half the Navy’s aircraft is grounded, of the 58 brigades of ground forces less than a dozen by the Army’s own standards is battle ready.

The numbers don’t lie but, after 16yrs of constant engagement the military needs some well deserved R&R to put itself back together and get back up to speed. That is why we should be hesitant before getting embroiled in any more entanglements.

During the Obama years we dropped the doctrine of being able two fight two wars simultaneously, we are now seeing major threats on three fronts from four nation states. The Korean peninsula,the South China Sea, the Syrian alliance with Russia & Iran and Russian Covert ops across Eastern Europe.

We need resume the Two Wars Doctrine(if not three)and get our forces back up to full strength and that will take some time and investment. We need to find a way to cool things down and buy the time needed to do that.

As a retired combat soldier I stand with the hawks rather than the doves but, over estimating your own strength is just as folly as under estimating your enemy.