Analyzing Russia's military power: a secret Pentagon study of
Material posted: Publication date: 18-04-2016
It's 25 years after the end of the cold war, and the Pentagon is again concerned about Russian military power.

General-Lieutenant Herbert Raymond McMaster (Herbert Raymond McMaster) clean-shaven head and aggressive attitude that only reinforces his reputation as a leading warrior-intellectual American army, often citing the famous Prussian General and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz. Ten years ago, McMaster led the Pentagon in an intense struggle for the development of a new concept of war that takes into account the threat posed by Islamic terrorists and militants in Afghanistan, Iraq and other troubled places. Now he has a more specific task.

Politico has learned that after the overwhelming success of the supposedly secret invasion of Russia to Ukraine McMaster quietly headed important expert group, trying to understand how the U.S. army can adapt to this new Russian threat. In part, this was a tacit admission of the failures of the American army — and the state as a whole.

"It is clear that while our ground troops fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia had studied American capabilities and shortcomings, and embarked on an ambitious and largely successful program of modernization, said last week McMaster, speaking to the Senate Committee on the armed forces. For example, in Ukraine, the combination of unmanned aircraft, offensive cybersect and the latest electronic warfare systems, indicates a high level of technical equipment".

Ukraine quickly mobilized the rebel army that Russia was equipped with a surprisingly effective tanks, artillery and antitank means, and released into the air, whole swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles and conducted a series of cyber attacks that knocked out the tactical communication systems and even GPS.

Discussions were held on the basis of what was found out during trips to Ukraine, and on other studies conducted by experts from the U.S. government and European countries. They allowed us to make some tentative conclusions about what the document says, based on the results of the briefings in recent weeks, the senior leadership of the Pentagon and the military command of the allies.

American military leaders and intelligence officials are concerned that Moscow today can be advantages in several key areas. She has a new weapon, which is not protected by a light armoured vehicle widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan. And main battle tanks like the Russian T-90, which in recent conflicts considered anachronistic proved that they still play a crucial role.

McMaster notes that "Russia has a large variety of guided and unguided missiles and artillery systems that are in range and the effect of superior artillery system of the US army and ammunition". According to retired General Wesley Clark (Wesley Clark), who commanded NATO forces from 1997 to 2000 and expressing concern over the Ukrainian conflict and its meaning for the U.S. army, the Russian tanks are so improved that they are now "mostly invulnerable to anti-tank missiles".

Events in Ukraine gave another disturbing lesson. Russia widely uses political sabotage against the Ukrainian authorities, leading to the so-called "hybrid war", in which she combines military power and covert operations to undermine enemy of the state. After Ukraine, Russia has carried out air-to-ground intervention in Syria, having received some success, and demonstrates the power in other ways. This week, two Russian warplanes and helicopters flew over a naval ship of the U.S. Navy in the Baltic sea, despite the broadcast warnings.

Answer McMaster was the study entitled "Russia's war a new generation" (Russia's New Generation Warfare). The participants from the state authorities made several secret trips to the front line in Ukraine. These important but subtle efforts aim to review the whole concept of the use of ground troops, and possibly their organizational and staff structure in case they have to deal with the Russians in Eastern Europe.


Russian soldiers at a military base in Perevalnoe, March 4, 2014 © AP Photo Sergei Grits

This study is expected in the coming years will have far-reaching implications for the United States army, for procurement of weapons and military equipment, as well as to content and methods of combat training of parts and divisions. The first conclusions will be tested in large military exercises to be held in June in Poland. Says the former army chief of staff General Gordon Sullivan (Gordon Sullivan): "All this is intended to show that we are in the game."

Among those who have carefully analyzed the actions of Russians in Ukraine, Professor at Georgetown University and former marine corps officer, Philip Karber (Karber Phillip), 2014 22 times visited Ukraine. "Few in the West paid particular attention to the doctrinal turn Russia into a "war of a new generation" before it found its manifestation in Ukraine," says Karber. Another surprise, he adds, it is the inattention of the West, especially given the unexpected magnitude and duration of the conflict, as well as the unexpected aggressiveness with which Russia initiated it.

Carbury says he was stunned by the striking effect of the new Russian munitions, including set scatterable mines, which the U.S. has not. He counted at least 14 different types of drones used in the conflict. According to him, the Ukrainian division, to which he was attached, in one day recorded up to eight flights of drones. "How to combat UAV enemy?— asks Clark. — Is it possible to dazzle, disable or shoot down these systems? The American army had not been seriously attacked from the air since 1943".

New army initiative directs Brigadier Peter Jones (Peter L. Jones), head of the infantry school of the army in Fort Benning, Georgia. But actually this is the brainchild of McMaster, who, as head of the Center for the integration of forces and means of the army in Fort Eustis, Virginia, is responsible for the development prospects of the army of 2025 and beyond.

Clark calls the work of the McMaster dramatic rethinking the role of land forces after the collapse of the Soviet Union. "On these issues, the U.S. army hasn't worked in 25 years since the cold war has ended," he says.

The question is, why is the American government, and especially the army, again diverted his attention for so long that they were caught off guard by major developments such as strengthening the capacity of the Russian army. While the President of Russia Vladimir Putin carried out an active military construction, the U.S. army was the downsizing of personnel on active duty with 490 000 to 450 000, that is, 40 000 people. Now the plan is questioned. Recently the house of representatives has proposed to stop this decline. And last month a delegation from Alaska has convinced the Pentagon to abandon the plan of dissolution airborne brigade. One of the reasons the new hostility of Russia.


The headquarters of the Ministry of defence of the USA © AFP 2016, Staff

Also, the question arises whether the General McMaster to its official purpose. Most of his career he caused controversy and scandals. In its written already the book Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam (Forgetfulness of duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the joint chiefs of staff and the lies that led to Vietnam war), he criticized the generals of the Vietnam era for failing to honestly and openly confess that to win this war impossible. But later, when the General has devised a comprehensive strategy protivoprotosanoe war in Iraq and Afghanistan, his critics said that McMaster with his associates misrepresented and exaggerated the advantages of this strategy. Protivoprotosana war involves not only military operations, but the campaign to "win hearts and minds" to win over to their side the local population at the expense of restoration, restore order and achieve economic progress, which takes at least a decade.

But the Americans did not intend to stay in Afghanistan and Iraq for so long.

Now new realities derive McMaster just on that task, on which he and his colleagues protivoprotosanoe strategy was to focus at the beginning: to provide guidance to the army on what it does best — to fight the traditional enemy. But the question is, will the American military to develop a realistic approach to Russian aggression and not to drag the country into a third world war.

It is quite strange, but a model for new development has become a detailed military analysis of the war that was 43 years ago, and which most of us forgot. McMaster dusted off the old study of the 1973 war that Israel had with the then Moscow-based proxies Egypt and Syria.


In October 1973, when America turned its painful Odyssey through the jungles of Vietnam, thousands of miles from there broke out another war, radically changed American ground troops.

Tank losses for the first six days of the Yom Kippur War, when Egypt and Syria struck a sudden blow to Israel, was more than the entire American tank fleet, stationed in Europe to deter the Soviet Union. During the last major tank battles of the Second world war tank armies on both sides had acted on the average on distance of 700 meters from each other. During the Arab-Israeli war, the distance was 2700 metres and more. That is, the affected area has become much more.

Subsequently, the army chief of staff General Creighton Abrams (Creighton Abrams) was sent to the combat area a couple of generals that they went to the battlefields, saw burned tanks, damaged samples of Russian equipment and found out what lessons from that war must learn the American army.

"The Yom Kippur war made a powerful psychological impact on the U.S. army — says Karber, who participated in the expert group Starry-REM, called by the names of its leaders. She denied accumulated decades of assumptions and estimates".


The Arab-Israeli conflict. The six-day war of 1967, © RIA Novosti

Of the war the army issued the next lesson, reflected in the report of the group of Starry-REM: "powerful New anti-tank weapons, the rapid advancement of military orders on the battlefield as well as interaction between ground forces and aircraft showed how much the world has changed around our army, while we fought in Vietnam". Words don Starry (Donn Starry) about the events of forty years ago is quite applicable to what our land forces face today — just need to change Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Soviet Union on Russia.

"The attention of the military again focused on the commitments of our country before NATO in Europe, wrote then Starry. We found that Councils were very active while we were engaged in Vietnam. They have revised the concept of combat at the tactical and operational level, to strengthen the organizational structure and has adopted the equipment and weapons of the new generation".

Include fast-forward and moved in 2016. It's been 15 years protivoprotosana fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places — it's even longer than the Vietnam war, and today, we have to re-review the "accumulated decades of assumptions and estimates". McMaster and other high-ranking generals came to the conclusion that while the United States is floundering in the middle East, Moscow has focused its efforts on the modernization of the army, so that she could successfully resist the American tactics.

53-year-old MacMaster was one of those who for the last ten years trying to refocus the army away from their traditional methods of warfare. But many believe it is one of the major thinkers-the strategists of the army, and his supporters insist that McMaster is best able to determine what actions should be taken. "He analyzes and thinks about things and what you need to do," said General Sullivan.

When McMaster has developed innovative tactics to combat the Iraqi insurgency after the invasion of 2003, the award was an important position under the supervision of General David Petraeus, in which he rewrote the fighting Charter of land forces on protivoprotosanoe action. It was not an easy task. The American army since the Vietnam war was not engaged in counterinsurgency operations, and that several decades. Commanding in the 2005 team in the Western Iraqi Anbar province with the rank of Colonel, McMaster participated in the development of strategy called "we clean, saralaya, beef-up efforts." Under its provisions, U.S. troops with air support have seized the town, there are fixed and create the security forces from among the population, staying there for as long as these forces will not be ready to provide security on the period of formation of local authorities.

To turn the army into an organization are engaged in combat training and procurement of necessary equipment to deal with gangs of terrorists and guerrillas hiding in the settlements, and refuse from a large tank type units of the Iraqi Republican guard, which had been smashed during the Persian Gulf war in 1991, was extremely difficult.

Society is less and less supported the conflict, and Congress was dissatisfied with the fact that this war seems to never end.

But events in Ukraine have changed a lot. McMaster and the working group believe that their work can have a huge impact on the purchase of the land forces, on methods of combat training and organizational structure for many years to come as the Yom Kippur War.


The army has long been trying to learn the lessons of those wars in which she participated, and to enrich these lessons in your Arsenal.

Ten years before the beginning of the bloody Civil war in the United States George McClellan (George McClellan), who later became commander of the army of the Union, was an official observer of the European armies involved in the Crimean war, which Russia lost to an Alliance of France, Britain, Ottoman Empire and Sardinia. Many believe this conflict is the first modern war in which for the first time found the use of mass production rifles, explosive shells, bombs and armored landing craft. John Pershing (John Pershing), who commanded the allied troops during the First world war, had previously served as an observer in the Russo-Japanese war.


The landing of the American military in Vietnam, © Public domain

However, the current thoughts of McMaster and his colleagues about the consequences of the Ukrainian war for the US is strangely reminiscent of the events of the early 70s. It was a time when the American army was at war with the guerrillas in Vietnam and the Russian armed forces were strengthened and improved, creating a new threat to the military Alliance NATO.

Analysis of the 1973 war "serves as a useful model for the study of conflict in Ukraine," says Colonel Kelly Ivanoff (Ivanoff Kelly), who served in the field artillery, now working as a chief assistant McMaster. He noted that a detailed study of the 1973 war "greatly influenced the development of American land forces in the next 15 years."

The study "the Russian war of a new generation" intended "to study Ukrainian theater of war in the interests of perspective development of the land forces, with emphasis on the Russian army and its proxies are using disruptive technology," said Ivanoff.

This research, which is just beginning, focuses on 20 separate issues of warfare. Among other things, this communications on the battlefield in terms of cyber attacks, improving tactical intelligence, development of new combat formations and tactics, as well as exploring new air defense systems, weapons and methods of application of helicopters.

Parallels with the Arab-Israeli war ends where Russia starts to use other, non-military means — during the first armed annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and then in the ongoing proxy war in Eastern Ukraine.

"They looked at what we were doing in the early 90s, and what we wanted to do, and then we went beyond that, says Sullivan, who held the post of army chief of staff from 1991 to 1995, and now heads the NGO for the protection of the interests of the military Association of the U. S. Army. — They began to create a special task group with the participation of diplomats who undermine the Ukrainian state from within. It's a hybrid tactics."

According to him, now the army is trying to apply what "we learned about their practice of using little green men — the people who overthrow the government".

Not to say that the Russian army and its puppets are powerful and invincible. The Ukrainian army managed to repel a large-scale Russian invasion. And those documents, which were distributed to army command and foreign allies, indicates that the Russian army between 1985 and 2015 have decreased significantly in number. Its main drawback many people think of conscripts who are poorly trained and poorly motivated.

General Starry head of working group on the assessment of the Arab-Israeli war, came to the conclusion that the outcome of the war is determined by the quality of soldiers and not their quantity. "It's quite obvious, — he wrote later — that victory in the battle provides the courage of the Soldier, the character of the commander and combat experience well-trained units".

But the generals believe that Moscow's efforts to modernize their nuclear forces, coupled with the events in Eastern Ukraine and the recent military attack of Russia in Syria can lead to serious and lasting change in the United States army.

Bryan Bende



Tags: Russia , USA , armed forces