Do you suppose people at the Pentagon read RI? I don’t mean read it in the sense that they have to know the Sewage Emitted by the Vast Army of Putin Trolls so they can Counter it with the Clear Water of NATO Bromides. I mean read it in the sense that they think they might learn something from the VAofPT ?
We at RI have published a number of articles about the relative chances in a fight between NATO and Russia. The Saker has contributed In a War With Russia NATO Doesn’t Stand a Chance and Russia Is Still Ready for War – Even Nuclear. I have written Is American Warfighting Doctrine Hardwired for Failure? and NATO Would Probably Lose a War Against Russia. Other pieces have been Could America Win a Nuclear War Against Russia?, Ready for Nuclear War over Ukraine? and Pat Buchanan’s Arming Ukraine Would Pull US into a War It Can’t Win. The common conclusion to these pieces is that USA/NATO would lose a conventional war with Russia and everybody would lose a nuclear war. There is no USA/NATO victory here.
Something about the war that we are pondering should be made clear at the outset. We are talking only about a conventional war fought at Russia’s borders. No one expects a Russian expeditionary force to successfully fight the USA from a base in Mexico. No one is betting on Russia winning a naval battle in the south Pacific. No one thinks Russia could gain and hold air superiority over southern Africa. No one is suggesting that Russia could conquer France. Indeed I do not think Russia could conquer Ukraine – “Getting to the Dnepr, Kiev or Lviv would have been easy, but once there, the Russians would have found themselves surrounded by people who didn’t want them to be there. And that, as the Americans found out in Iraq, is quite a different thing.” No. We are talking about the chances of NATO forces, on the edge of Russia, attacking it. Or reacting to a limited Russian attack to, say, finally put a stop to the continual shelling of civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk. That they would lose. Tough talk about stopping a Russian attack on NATO countries is alarmist nonsense: Russia is not interested in grabbing the Baltics or Poland let alone Finland or Sweden. Those who think that it is, must first explain why the Russia that they claim is hell-bent on recreating the USSR didn’t grab Georgia in 2008. Is not as if the USA/NATO was in a position to stop it then, was it?
It appears that some in the US military are starting to realize what has been started.
A series of classified exercises over the summer has raised concerns inside the Defense Department that its forces are not prepared for a sustained military campaign against Russia, two defense officials told The Daily Beast.
The piece is worth reading, despite the claptrap (“Putin’s erratic leadership “) and tough talk (note it’s the civilian who boasts: “We’d clean their clocks”), because it shows that reality is slowly seeping through the carapace of delusion.
The USA/NATO have been more or less continually at war with somebody since the fall of the USSR. But that somebody has been small, incompetent, poorly equipped, with very limited military reach. The principal concern of their armies for the last ten years have been roadside bombs; of their air forces, finding things to bomb; of their navies, firing cruise missiles. Nobody has been shooting back at the ships or aircraft. But where the enemy has been shooting back, in the ground wars, one has rudely to ask who won? In Somalia? Afghanistan? Iraq? Not the mighty NATO armies.
The USA spent months and months moving weapons, soldiers, spare parts, fuel, ammunition and materiel to the Middle East before the two Iraq wars. “The span of that bridge was literally a ship every 72 miles from the US to Kuwait”; “From January 2003 through the end of April 2003, MSC delivered more than 21 million square [sic – cubic surely] feet of war-fighting equipment and supplies, 260 million gallons of fuel and 95,000 tons of ammunition to the Persian Gulf “. Does anyone seriously think that Russia would wait quietly while hundreds of ships placidly crossed the oceans, arrived in ports, dumped their cargoes, assembled the bits and moved to the front? Saddam Hussein had nothing with which to hinder this ponderous buildup, but Russia does. Plenty of capable submarines to sink the convoys, hundreds of formidable Iskander rockets to shatter the ports and airfields and a large and competent air force to hinder free movement. To say nothing of a gigantic airborne force to get there first.
When did the USA/NATO last have to fight for the air superiority they have always taken for granted? They will this time.
USA/NATO assume clear and reliable communications; they take for granted the ability to navigate by GPS; to send digital control messages to drones and so on. Not this time. Russia has formidable electronic warfare capability. Some American generals are starting to notice: “unprotected” “eye-watering”. Note the amusing assumptions that Kiev 1) is fighting the Russian Army 2) which is using its best stuff. They will be stunned when the reality hits them.
When they did fight heavy formations, USA/NATO were up against Soviet 1960s and 1970s equipment, poorly maintained, poorly trained, poorly led. With no EW, no air cover, no air defense no significant artillery support, no secure communications. Not this time.
When did USA/NATO forces have to worry about really heavy artillery fire? The Russian army had made a god of artillery for 200 years. And, should more reminding be needed, a big artillery exercise just began in Southern Russia.
When did USA/NATO forces have to fight against a well-motivated and well-led force? Well, many times: Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. But when, and this is the new bit, against a well-motivated and well-led force with competent and up-to-date weapons too?
Russia has much experience of starting as the underdog and prevailing. The USA/NATO have always assumed they would start big.
The US military has had something like 10,000 deaths in combat since 911. It will be many, many more this time.
There are said to be serious and continuing morale problems in the US Army. Not surprising, if you think about it: horrible fighting followed by defeat. That’s not good for anybody’s morale. As I have suggested before, I suspect they are a lot closer to the Vietnam-syndrome of the 1980s than the gung ho people in the Pentagon think. Other concerns, perhaps exaggerated, are moral injury: “I cannot become what I despise” or Neo-nazis. As to its NATO allies: there are plenty of stories of unpreparedness and underequipping. Here, from one of the US media cheerleaders for war with Russia: “Germany’s army is so under-equipped that it used broomsticks instead of machine guns.” A Pew survey shows that NATO countries aren’t all that willing to fight; one can harrumph “NATO’s Rot From Within”, but it’s more likely a disbelief about what they’re being told about Ukraine and Russia: few in Germany believe it. On the other hand: Russians fighting for Russia in Russia? If a thousand years of history is any guide, they will have no morale problems.
The US has a huge military structure backed by enormous expenditure. But a lot of that structure is irrelevant to a war with Russia: the USN wouldn’t dare put one of its fabulously expensive carrier battle groups into the restricted waters of the Black Sea. An enormous amount of that money is wasted: read how a family of air-transportable vehicles was transformed into expensive overweight under-armed boondoggles, or that they’re still building tanks that the Army doesn’t want, or the most expensive military project ever. There’s undeniably waste and corruption in the Russian Armed Forces and procurement system too, but their purpose is much more modest: defense of the homeland, not the unattainable gold-plated target of full spectrum dominance.
And what happens in the meantime in the seven countries that Obama has proudly “ordered military action in” and in any others that might need a spot of remedial bombing?
So what are we to make of these concerns now surfacing that the USA/NATO are in no condition to fight Russia?
The most frightening possibility is that it doesn’t mean anything very much and we will continue down the road of arrogant stupidity, the New American Century, American exceptionalism and other fantasies. This is the road to Götterdämmerung for all of us.
Ron Paul’s interpretation, which many share, is that it’s only rhetoric to support another raid on the taxpayers’ wallets. The big bucks come from the big complicated systems and for that you need to preach the big complicated threat. That’s mostly a threat to the American taxpayer.
But perhaps one can hope that it is a realization by soldiers – not desk warriors, real soldiers – that the USA is being pushed by a cabal in and around State and the White House (a cabal that boomed other quick little victories that dragged on and on to eventual defeat) into a war that it is in no condition to fight, let alone win.
Again I quote Field Marshal Montgomery, who had more experience of big war than anyone in the Pentagon today: “Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war, is: ‘Do not march on Moscow’. Various people have tried it, Napoleon and Hitler, and it is no good. That is the first rule.”
Russia’s not marching on you; don’t march on it.