viernes, 14 de agosto de 2015

Are Russian and NATO Military Exercises Making War in Europe more Likely?

Pentagon Fears It’s Not Ready for a War With Putin

by Nancy Youssef

The U.S. military has run the numbers on a sustained fight with Moscow, and they do not look good for the American side.

A series of classified exercises over the summer has raised concerns inside the Defense Department that its forces are not prepared for a sustained military campaign against Russia, two defense officials told The Daily Beast.

Many within the military believe that 15 years of counter-terrorism warfare has left the ground troops ill prepared to maintain logistics or troop levels should Russia make an advance on NATO allies, the officials said.

Among the challenges the exercises revealed were that the number of precision-guided munitions available across the force were short of the war plans and it would be difficult to sustain a large troop presence.

“Could we probably beat the Russians today [in a sustained battle]? Sure, but it would take everything we had,” one defense official said. “What we are saying is that we are not as ready as we want to be.”

One classified “tabletop exercise” or “TTX”—a kind of in-office war game—“told us that the wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan] have depleted our sustainment capability,” a second defense official explained, using military jargon for the ability to maintain a fight. The exercise was led by the Department of Defense and involved several other federal agencies.

In recent months, the top officers of the military have begun to call Putin’s Russia an “existential threat” to the United States. The results of those exercises—and Russian-backed forces’ latest advance in Ukraine—didn’t exactly tamp down those fears.

But these concerns about readiness and sustainability are not universally held—not even inside the Pentagon. Nor is there a consensus about the kind of risk Putin's Russia really poses. Everyone in the U.S. security establishment acknowledges that Moscow has roughly 4,000 nuclear weapons, the world’s third-largest military budget, and an increasingly bellicose leader. There’s little agreement on how likely that threat could be.

“A war between Russian and NATO is an unlikely scenario given the severe repercussions Russia would face. In addition to the overwhelming reaction it would provoke, Russia’s aging military equipment and strained logistical capabilities make a successful offensive attack a very difficult proposition for them,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast. “In short, direct conflict with Russia is a low-probability, high-risk situation. The challenge of Putin’s erratic leadership is that low-probability events are slightly more probable.”

The U.S. military still has the upper hand in so many ways, after all. But there are limits—severe limits—on those advantages. For its airpower, for example, the U.S. military would be leaning on worn out fighter pilots and limited maintenance abilities for their planes. And the surveillance drones needed would have to be drawn from other conflict zones.


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