Author Topic: "A Comparative Guide to Russia’s Use of Force: Measure Twice, Invade Once"  (Read 1343 times)

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Interesting piece on how RUS seems to get a lot of political/coercive bang for not much on-the-ground military buck - some highlights ...
... “Moscow has used just enough force to get the policy job done, but not more.”  This is part and parcel of a Russian strategy defined by reasonable sufficiency, compelling an outcome with the least amount of force required. It contrasts sharply with working to achieve battlefield dominance and overmatch at the outset. Perhaps, this is best understood for what it is not. The Russian approach is the polar opposite of the Weinberger Doctrine, which Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger laid out in a famous 1984 speech. Weinberger’s six conditions for the use of force included, “if we are unwilling to commit the forces or resources necessary to achieve our objectives, we should not commit them at all,” and the “need for well-defined objectives and a consistent strategy is still essential.”


Both in Ukraine and Syria, Moscow has applied force sparingly, leveraging the local population, its own volunteers, and the militias of allies.  Russia indulges in sub-conventional approaches, including irregular warfare, or a mix of conventional, and unconventional capabilities where it has little need to worry about escalation, because it would likely win as long as the conflict remains geographically contained.  These are all cost reduction methods in material and political terms.


In order to deter and dissuade peer adversaries Russia  will often introduce high-end conventional capabilities, such as long range air defense, anti-ship missiles, and conventional ballistic missile systems.  These weapons are not meant for the actual fight. Instead, they are intended to make an impression on the United States. The first goal of the Russian leadership is to make the combat zone its own sandbox, sharply reducing the options for peer adversaries to intervene via direct means.  America does this in its campaigns by attaining air superiority. Russia’s method is cheaper: area denial from the ground.

In cases when coercive diplomacy fails due to the ineffectiveness of gradual escalation or because threats of force can lose their credibility over time (as occurred in Ukraine during the summer of 2014), Vladimir Putin puts on the iron gauntlet.  There is a preference for indirect approaches, organized by the Kremlin’s experts in political warfare like Vladislav Surkov and the country’s intelligence services, but sometimes these machinations simply amount to making a mess of things.  Their failure forces the Kremlin to hand the problem over to the Russian General Staff, which pulses high-end conventional capability within a narrowly allotted time window.


The Russian goal is to retain coercive credibility, keeping much of its military potential in reserve. Whereas Stalin once remarked that “in the Soviet army it takes more courage to retreat than to advance,” the modern Russian army withdraws regularly.  Russia prefers to establish dominance for brief periods of time, but does not desire mastery of the battlefield, and would rather take a long time with limited application of power than have to ‘own’ the war.  Rather than risk taking, its use of force is based on calculated prudence. Russia carves the battlefield piecemeal, in line with Creighton Abrams’ caution on eating an elephant:  Take one bite at a time ...
Ebook version (.mobi file) downloadable here if you're a Kindle-ite like me.
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