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Russia’s Strategic Military Planning
Posted by: McQ on Friday, September 08, 2006

I talk alot about how planners in the Pentagon, or I should say, some planners, insist we should tailor our forces for a "near-peer" enemy and then adapt to other contingencies. Many argue that we should instead face reality and understand that the likelihood of the emergence of a 'near-peer' enemy isn't probable and instead tailor our forces to fight a real enemy (and, in fact, one we've been fighting for a decade). The near-peer of choice for the US seems to be China.

That said, it is alway interesting to see the discussions in that realm that go on in other countries. In this case Russia. Now this is an old document (Jan 2003) but it demonstrates a point:
The Defense Minister believes that the major threat to Russia comes from terrorists. He said that the events of the September 11 in the US clearly showed the potential of this threat and Russia was already involved in the war against terrorists since the early 1990s. Still, Ivanov talked about the importance of maintaining a nuclear deterrent that would guarantee Russia's security and that of its allies.
So Defense Minister Ivanov see's radical elements such as those found in Chechnya to be the greatest military threat to Russia at the moment. But nuclear deterrance is also on the top of his list of "must have" for Russia's security. A wide view. One focused on a mostly "internal" threat and, on the other hand, a wider view based in nuclear deterrance.

On the whole, not much different that a large segment of US planners in that regard.
The Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin talked about the need for Russia to cooperate with the five major powers in the world: the European Union, China, India, the US and the oil-producing countries of the Middle East.
Gen Kvashnin's thoughts interest me. He sees the path to peace and stability through cooperation with the existing economic powers. But he also sees the need to include the very important oil-producing states in this calculation as well. He sees them as key as the major powers (this explains why we continue to see Russia as luke warm on sanctions against Iran).

I'd guess it is because, strategically, he understands the looming economic battle for oil as the economies of India and China continue to expand (not to mention the expanding demand in the US and Europe). Kvashnin's is a reality based view with an emphasis of cooperation, and obviously, peace. Nice to see.

Apparently, however, there's a "near peer" guy in every defense establishment:
However, the Chief of General Staff of the Russian Navy had a different opinion: according to Adm. Victor Kravchenko the US and its continuing quest for new sources of oil and other energy resources will inevitably lead to a future armed confrontation with Russia over such resources. Adm. Kravchenko said that even in a non-nuclear war today the US is able to destroy thousands of strategic targets in Russia.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so suprisingly given Kravchenko's branch and orientation, he sees the US as the enemy of the future.

Now you might ask, given China's red-hot economy and surging demand for energy, why Kravchenko didn't identify them as that enemy instead of the US?

Well I go back to his branch. He's the head of the Navy. Name the only blue-water navy in the world? It isn't China.

My guess is Kravchenko, as will all good military bureaucrats, is trying to build the case for more ships and a bigger presence on the world's oceans. So, like our planners need China to play the 'near-peer' enemy and justify their requests for more technology and more high-tech weaponry, Kravchenko needs the US to justify more ships and a blue-water navy.

That doesn't mean we should take his identification of the US as the potential enemy any more seriously than should China take our declarations that they may be the emerging future threat. After all, in both cases, there are toys to be bought and a defense industry to be fed. And it isn't necessary for the justification to be either particularly valid or probable. It simply needs to be saleable in a CYA kind of way ... to those who control the purse strings.

It works here. There's certainly no reason for it not to work there. In the meantime, you can probably read more into the real focus of Russia's military in the words of both Ivanov and Kvashnin.
 
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Kravchenko was worrying about American wars for oil in 2003 (coincidentlty a favored trope of anti-American "anti-war" protesters).

And in 2006 a Chevron oil-field discovery in domestic waters adds 50% to the American reserve!

Next.
-Steve
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
Interesting post. I would have thought, however, that even an admiral would note that China’s future depends on its securing the natural resources it needs to maintain economic growth, and the land it needs to accommodate its growing population. All one has to do is look at a map and ask the question — where can the Chinese meet both of these requirements? Siberia, maybe? And then the Caucusus.....
 
Written By: RAZ
URL: http://
China’s future depends on its securing the natural resources it needs to maintain economic growth
Think a repeat of Tibet in the direction of Indonesia.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
The near peer people just don’t get it. Any full-blown war we fight against a true near peer nation will be a nuclear war, because only nuclear weapons could make any of them a near peer to the US militarily. Which is why of all the wars in which we could possibly find ourselves entangled, an all-out war with a near peer is our least likely prospect. Therefore our military needs to be designed to fight the only actual enemies we are going to encounter: the much weaker forces of small- to medium-sized dictatorships and transnational entities resorting to terrrorists wars of attrition, their only possible winning strategy.

It really is a war on terrorism in this sense.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
Mr. Kvashnin left his post more than two years ago. Since that time a lot of changed. Don’t you think so?
 
Written By: Alexey Zayko
URL: http://
Alexey: As I stated in the post, it was "an old document Jan 2003)" and it was used to "demonstrate a point".

That point being all militaries use whatever ’enemy’ is necessary to justify their spending and acquisition, whether there’s any validity to their choice or not.

The point I was illustrating had to do with the Pentagon (or at least some in the Pentagon) using China for the same purpose. Adm. Kvashnin’s identification of the US as the potential enemy simply illustrated that point extremely well.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I would argue Peter Jackson is wrong. The US military would be well advised to continue to make combat with a near-peer a focus, mayhp not the focus, but still a major focus. I would use the example of the Royal Navy 1815-1898, the British Army from 1815-1904, and the US Army from 1865-1898. All three focused on the small war, and performed SUB-optimally when confronted with a peer nation, Imperial Germany. Beating "Fuzzie-Wuzzie" or capturing Geronimo was not the same as facing the Kaiser Heer. Thankfully both the US Army and the British Army had a dress rehearsal prior to the First World War, in the Boer War and the Spanish-American War. Neither performed well and if they ahd been facing a PEER nation, at that time, they would have lost. Historically, I see the case for making large-scale combat a focus of planning and training.

As to the idea that only war possible between peer nations is NUCLEAR War is not reasonable. As Gwynne Dyer once said, "Because nothing in the world is worth blowing the world up,..."nations will continue to practice for the same old game. The First World War saw extensive use of Chemical Weapons. It was presumed that any war involving the Great Powers would AUTOMATICALLY include their use, again, and yet such was NOT the case. Chemical Weapons were NOT used, even in extremis by the Germans, the Japanese or the US in the final "Island Clearing" Campaigns. Again historically, it is not entirely reasonable to assume that ANY confrontation between the US and the PRC or Russia will be nuclear.

Finally, it’s not entirely "either or", many programs that the US fields NOW have a use in a Big War scenario. "Net Centric" Warfare works whether you’re facing Usama or Mao.

Bottom-Line: A failure to remain conscious of large-scale combat with a near-peer can have costly consequences for the US and it is NOT reasonable to assume that nuclear combat or dterrence is the only arena of combat/conflict between the world’s powers.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe!
As to the idea that only war possible between peer nations is NUCLEAR War is not reasonable. As Gwynne Dyer once said, "Because nothing in the world is worth blowing the world up,..."nations will continue to practice for the same old game. The First World War saw extensive use of Chemical Weapons. It was presumed that any war involving the Great Powers would AUTOMATICALLY include their use, again, and yet such was NOT the case. Chemical Weapons were NOT used, even in extremis by the Germans, the Japanese or the US in the final "Island Clearing" Campaigns. Again historically, it is not entirely reasonable to assume that ANY confrontation between the US and the PRC or Russia will be nuclear.
So which nuclear nation do you think would suffer military defeat without resorting to their weapons of last resort?


yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
Oh, and
Again historically, it is not entirely reasonable to assume that ANY confrontation between the US and the PRC or Russia will be nuclear.
Historically, no nuclear nation has EVER fought more than an occaisional border skirmish with another nuclear country.

I never said nor meant to suggest that ANY confrontation between the US and a near-peer would go nuclear. Just a full-blown shooting war for which we would conceivably need a giant mechanized army to fight in the first place. Either way, such an army would never be used, so why expend the extraordinary resources that are necessary to build and maintaining such a force?

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
Either way, such an army would never be used, so why expend the extraordinary resources that are necessary to build and maintaining such a force?
If I had a dime for EVERY time someone whipped this idea out I’d be rich...As a friend of mine once said, "When you hear someone talking aobut how large armies are obsolete, it’s time to invest in a bunker." Simply put it’s cheaper to field and use a large army than to incenerate the oneself....

Again please note, Adolf Hitler, hardly the model of rationality nor a "god" human rights, did NOT authorize the use of chemical weapons, even as the Reich crumbled. You have Theory I have History....I’m just saying that people have been discounting armies since 1945, but no one has found a reasonable substitute yet. And it IS possible to imagine a scenario were the defeated power does not use it’s WMD’s...because it ahs already happened.

One can, in fact, delve into the "RAND Way of Thinking" and make a case for an army WITH nuclear weapons, under the theory of self-deterrence. Since my options without an army are a) acquiesce to the taking of Taiwan or b) lose LA I am more likely to acquiesce than risk LA. It was the problem that many pointed out with "Massive Retaliation" and the "New Look". Both of which hit the garbage can pretty quickly...in fact just before the US used it’s large ARMY, unsuccessfully, in SE Asia and Vietnma used ITS large Army, successfully, in the same theatre.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
You have Theory I have History
Yeah, right up until August 6, 1945, after which history becomes mine. Hitler’s decistions regarding chemical weapons are simply beside my point.

RE: China— if they do attempt to overrun Taiwan and we do become involved, you may have an argument. Or not.

RE: Vietnam— First, they’re hardly a near peer, and second, it was never our goal to actually defeat the North Vietnamese, so—surprise!— that’s exactly what happened. You can build and maintain an army as large as can be imagined, but it will never produce a victory that’s unintended.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
You have Theory I have History
Yeah, right up until August 6, 1945, after which history becomes mine. Hitler’s decistions regarding chemical weapons are simply beside my point.
Actually no they’re not. The British expected to suffer hundreds of thousands of CIVILIAN casualties in the first DAYS of war with the Reich, from Chemical Weapons. It was one of the reasons Britain did not intervene against Germany sooner. The Soviets didn’t call them WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, for no reason. So no Chemical Weapons came with the same patina that NUCLEAR weapons have today. So I believe you will have to elucidate more clearly as to WHY today is different. Beyond that if today is "different" your theory works, and if today ISN’T then your theory doesn’t.
RE: China— if they do attempt to overrun Taiwan and we do become involved, you may have an argument. Or not.
At that point it won’t be an intellectual argument. It will be a REAL question with real consequences. It might be best to have a REAL answer, not begin the discussion then.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://

 
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