Military & intelligence

US Bid to ‘Strategically Weaken’ Russia Backfired, Creating Army Adapted for Postindustrial Warfare

Russian soldiers march during the Victory Day military parade marking 71 years after the victory in WWII in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 9, 2016

Tuesday is the 32nd anniversary of Russia’s modern Armed Forces. NATO may have planned otherwise, but the crisis has served to forge an effective, battle-tested fighting force – one uniquely prepared for the postindustrial warfare of the future, US and Russian military experts have told Sputnik.May 7 marks Russian Armed Forces Day, with the holiday sandwiched in among a busy schedule of major events and holidays which Russians have been celebrating since last week, from May Day and Easter to the presidential inauguration and Victory Day.A quote once attributed to 19th century Russian Czar Alexander III holds that “Russia has only two allies: its army and its fleet.”Whether or not the czar actually uttered these words is a matter of historical debate, but what is clear is that the sentiments expressed in the quote remain as relevant today as they did 130+ years ago, with one important addendum.“The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation benefit from both a massive military-industrial base capable of producing large quantities of arms and ammunition including highly capable advanced weapons, and a large professional fighting force. Backed by a significant nuclear deterrent, the Russian military is designed and demonstrably capable of defending what is the largest nation by land area in the world,” says military and international affairs analyst and US Marine Corps vet Brian Berletic.“Russia’s political leadership has ensured that the military-industrial base and the fighting forces it arms and equips exists to underwrite the nation’s national defense rather than serve as an opportunity for private enterprise to enrich itself either through the procurement process and/or through military-backed expansionism overseas. These are the key factors that distinguish the Russian military from its Western counterparts and is why amid Washington’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, Russia has so far successfully outmatched the collective wealth, resources, and military power of the West,” Berletic told Sputnik.The correctness of Russia’s strategy has been demonstrated over the course of the proxy war in Ukraine, the observer believes, noting that while Washington and its allies spent the post-Cold War period optimizing themselves for “small wars” against weaker countries, Russia “continued preparing for large scale, protracted, intense warfare against either NATO itself or potential proxies along its peripheries.”Berletic stressed that throughout the Ukrainian conflict, Russia’s defense sector has proven able to expand and adapt more quickly than its Western counterparts to the needs of the front, and to produce weapons in greater quantities and at lower cost. The same can be said of Russia’s focus on electronic warfare and air defenses, according to the observer, with NATO “neglecting” these capabilities for decades and ending up “years behind Russia in both quality and quantity.”“Artillery, air defenses, drones, glide bombs, armor, cruise and ballistic missiles and electronic warfare have been decisive throughout the Special Military Operation and provide Russian forces with a significant advantage over US-NATO forces,” Berletic said, noting that the NATO systems delivered to Ukraine have proven insufficient to overwhelm Russian defenses, and that it’s been impossible to adequately protect them against Russia’s quantitative advantage in weaponry and munitions.Berletic recalled that during the Second World War, the USSR was able to achieve victory over Nazi Germany in large measure due to its ability to out produce the Nazis “across every metric.” And although the scale, circumstances and conditions of today’s conflict with NATO may differ, Russia is once again “confronting foreign aggression along its borders with a massive military industrial base able to out produce its adversaries,” the American soldier said.WorldPentagon ‘Takes Into Account’ Risk of Its Weapons Ending Up in Russia’s Trophy Display7 May, 07:10 GMT

Ukrainian Crisis Steels Russian Military’s Resolve

“Certainly the entire Armed Forces of Russia, including the generals that are running the special operation, they [have certainly] learned a lot: number one, about the skill level of the of the Russian forces, how well trained they are; number two, the equipment that the Russian army has built over the years – missiles, rockets, drones. And, have they learned a lot from the use of this new equipment,” retired US Army Maj. Gen Paul E. Vallely told Sputnik, commenting on the “learning experience” Russia, the US and Washington’s proxies have received through the course of the current crisis.The Ukrainian conflict marks a new approach to modern conflict, Vallely said, pointing out that “there’s a lot of things that have changed” in terms of the capabilities afforded by new equipment ranging from artillery and drones to advanced missiles, cyber, intelligence and electronic warfare.

‘Postindustrial Warfare’

Nikolai Kostikin, an expert from the Bureau of Military-Political Analysis, a Moscow-based military and foreign affairs think tank, concurs with that analysis, saying the crisis in Ukraine “affects almost all aspects of military science,” and is perhaps the world’s first “postindustrial war.”“This is a conflict involving the massed use of autonomous weapons systems, electronic warfare, remote control systems,” Kostikin told Sputnik. “This has affected all branches of the military service,” especially infantry formations. “That is, if before, the emphasis would be on creating a strike force for massive breakthroughs, today, any large formation that is not adequately protected by electronic warfare, and any mass accumulation of forces by one side or the other generally becomes an easy target.”The observer emphasized that in the Ukrainian battlespace, if forces are spotted by enemy drones, they will be immediately targeted. If troops are caught using phones, they will be immediately targeted. If a piece of expensive military equipment is brought to the front without adequate protection, it will be immediately targeted.“Drones are used en masse by everyone. In parallel, electronic warfare equipment is evolving. If earlier, this equipment would protect large formations, today we’re talking about these devices being practically individualized – to suppress drones and so on. Today, their production is becoming cheaper and they are seeing a mass appearance on the battlefield,” Kostikin said.RussiaSecond to None: How Russia Masters Its Electronic Warfare15 April, 19:12 GMT

New Technologies Necessitate New Strategy

These technological advances have been accompanied by dramatic shifts in battlefield strategy, the observer said, with rapid ground advances becoming next to impossible, and the Russian military adopting the concept of “creeping offensives,” involving the painstaking identification of enemy points. Without this, any enemy soldier armed with an anti-tank missile or drone could destroy a tank or a large concentration of personnel.“Therefore, the area is carefully combed. Bombs with correction and planning modules are now widely deployed, transforming old weapons into high-precision ones,” Kostikin said. “Hypersonic weapons are used en masse, including to destroy Patriot missile systems. That is, means which previously existed but were not used on a large scale have now not only been used in the course of hostilities, but honed, and the tactics for their use and further improvement have been set.”NATO’s ongoing Steadfast Defender drills – the bloc’s largest exercises since the 1980s, demonstrate the now obvious differences between Russia’s adoption of the principles of postindustrial warfare, and the Western alliance’s lagging behind in this regard, Kostikin believes.“If we look at these exercises in Europe taking place around us, it’s clear that people’s thinking on the other side is of a pre-conflict nature. They are well aware, having gained experience on the battlefield, particularly in Ukraine, that the use of massive armies for operations such as Desert Storm is now impossible, especially when it comes to Russia. And it doesn’t matter how many personnel are involved. They will suffer damage even if the NATO grouping concentrated in Europe attacks us with conventional weapons. They understand that it will lead to catastrophic consequences,” the observer said.“They are not ready for the kind of creeping offensive tactics Russia has adopted in Ukraine, because this is not their land, and they are not willing to take high casualty levels in a conflict that is not seminal for them and which does not threaten the security of their countries,” Kostikin said.AnalysisClimbing the ‘Escalation Ladder’: French, British Threats Provoke Russian Warning7 May, 02:30 GMT

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