“If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I wanted to put some thoughts out there regarding our current situation. I intended to do this by video and spent about an hour today trying to figure out Rumble live recordings and for whatever reasons, technology seems to have gotten the better of me today. Anyway, I will reengage with that line of effort early next week until I figure it out. ..
Nevertheless, back to Russia. So far we have our president and his staff saying one thing, and Vladimir Putin saying another. Also chiming in and muddying the geopolitical waters are comments by both Ukraine leadership, as well as NATO. It's hard to make sense of it all. I'll link two really good articles for you at the bottom for you to follow up and perhaps make it less muddy. However, I have some personal observations that I would like to add here so you can get a gist of where my mind is at regarding this volatile situation.
Personal Observations and Concerns
The last time the US fought a peer, or near-peer level opponent, was with China in the latter half of the Korean War (1950-53). So some 69 years ago. Keep this in mind
We have spent the last 20 years, fighting in counter-insurgency (COIN) operations. As compared to fighting a peer, or near-peer military force, these are very different things. Rapid response Ranger Regiments can deploy quickly but aren't much good against heavily armored units (and the Russians know it)
The repeated deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq from 2003-2021, have essentially drained all the heavy military units out of Europe (robbing Peter to pay Paul).
On January 26, 2012, President Obama ordered two Brigade Combat Teams (170th and 172nd) to be removed from Europe. These were our last two heavy-armor BCTs (around 10,000 soldiers) that would be deployed to the Middle East, and then relocated back to the US at the end of those deployments (see here)
The predominant feeling during the early to mid-2000s amongst Army Soldiers (I can't speak for the Air Force, Navy, or Marines) was that Russia was not a threat. Their economy was in the tank. Their populations and economy were dwindling. And their armies fought with antiquated weapon systems
Simultaneous to this, US forces received more upgrades, modifications, and new systems than we knew what to do with. I mean, the Army changed service uniforms some three separate times, and we retired the M16 rifle and upgraded to the M-4 with all of its bells and whistles. Add to that, all the new electronic gadgets we got. The last twenty years (while I was in) felt like this non-stop roller coaster of upgrades we were continually having to relearn how to use
It wasn't until around 2016 that I started hearing the upper echelons (like GEN Milley) really start to address his concerns about Russia. Once he did it, the Russian threat filled the flag officer echo chambers like a broken record. Like it was taboo to talk about it before then, but once he did, they all had tacit approval to now voice their concerns
After Russia, it soon became China, and then Iran and North Korea. Keep in mind this is after we pulled out of Iraq, and before we cleaned the floor with ISIS
If having to learn how to use all new equipment, upgrades, and modifications weren't enough, the DOD decided to add on some 300 hours of online and classroom training that had to be completed each fiscal year, or you weren't being "compliant." While some of it was important (anti-terrorism, cyber threats, etc), a lot of it either wasn't (transgender training, inclusivity training, etc.) or was overkill (PTSD awareness, sexual harassment, sexual assault, anti-racism, etc.). As for the latter group, you'd often walk out of those classes feeling like you were guilty by just being the wrong gender (male) and race (white). Nevertheless, the amount of training (both essential and non-essential) piled on so high, that the Pentagon was forced to review it and start scaling it back. I mean, it took more priority at times than actually learning how to fight and win wars
The US Army didn't have any land-based, long-range conventional missile systems. All of those were either air or sea-based platforms. The best the Army could do was MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket Systems) or HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems). Neither had a range longer than 310 miles. It didn't matter so much when fighting COIN Operations, but against a peer or near-peer with those capabilities, it put the US Army (the US's largest component of the fighting force) at a huge disadvantage
Of the Air and Sea-based missile systems, the US only possessed low flight level, subsonic cruise missiles. Russia has tens of thousands of Zircon hypersonic missiles, which can fly up to 28,000 feet, up to Mach 9 (9,800–11,000 km/h), and traverse a distance of up 620 miles
If there was a war with Russia, the US Navy would not get a carrier or carrier group through the Istanbul Strait into the Black Sea. If it did, they probably would not be floating long. At best, the US would have to remain in the Mediterranean, and either fly around Turkish airspace (as they would most likely not allow us to use their airspace).
Given that reality, it makes sense why Russia needs to secure its foothold in Syria. If it can secure a permanent military presence in Syria, it can control the eastern half of the Mediterranean Sea pushing US naval forces out even further
While the US does have more advanced equipment, the loss of each one (say a UH-60M, or F35) is stratospherically more expensive to replace, than say a Russian HIND helicopter or MIG. IOW, it would cost us A LOT more to fight it and lose aircraft, than it would the Russian (war of attrition?)
Our over-reliance on communication systems and satellites, while advantageous to us, is also a huge liability should either or both of those capabilities be taken away from us. The Russians and Chinese know this as well and have devoted more energies and resources to finding ways to nullify our advantage through anti-satellite systems, as well as thousands of soldiers solely dedicated to cyber-attack us into oblivion
Our over-reliance on air power. While F35's are the more superior aircraft, the Russian's could throw MIGs at us all day and not run out. There is few and far between F35's in the European theater
Our economy, while the strongest in the world, is also fragile due to the growing weakness of the US Dollar. The Russians and Chinese know this as well
While we don't know exactly what was discussed, we do know China's Xi Xiping and Russia's Putin can and will align when necessary to support each other's agenda
Given our surrendering of Bagram Airbase (a huge strategic mistake) and our disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, our enemies smell blood in the water and are now probing and prodding and testing our willingness to put our money where our mouth is. IOW, we just showed massive weakness to the entire world, and our enemies are thinking now is the time to knock us off the top of the geopolitical pyramid
While Russia does have a failing economy, a declining population, using more antiquated combat systems, and thus, appearing weaker, I'm willing to bet both Putin and Xi XiPing have both studiously read the Art of War. Furthermore, our inept and choleric leader, and their shared issues, i.e., both China and Russia want to reclaim what they think is rightfully theirs. They also know if they work in tandem, and possibly throw in a North v. South Korea scenario, the US would be at its breaking point. It would be a monumental mistake to underestimate them. However, to put a counter-perspective to all of this, let me include a piece of additional information as to why Putin won't attack Ukraine. After considering everything, what do you think will happen?