While an analysis of recent Russian military drills concludes that Russia is getting ready for a war against the United States and its NATO allies, yet another high-ranking U.S. official calls Russia the “most dangerous” threat to the U.S.
The outgoing Army chief of staff, Gen. Raymond Odierno noted Wednesday that only a third of U.S. army brigades are capable to compete at the level of the “sophisticated” operations and the hybrid warfare that Russia is waging in Ukraine.
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The General is also concerned that Russia would next invade a Baltic state, a NATO ally, like Estonia or Latvia.
“They are [Russians] more mature than some other of our potential adversaries, and I think they have some stated intents that concern me in terms of how the Cold War ended,” Odierno said during an interview with CNN.
“They have shown some significant capability in Ukraine to do operations that are fairly sophisticated, and so, for me, I think we should pay a lot of attention,” he added.
The General also pointed out that he is worried that the Kremlin underestimates the seriousness, with which NATO partners would defend the Baltic states in case Russian decides to invade them. Odierno argued that the solution is to beef up NATO’s responses to deter any possible Russian threat.
“We have deterrent there and I think we’re doing a good job with that,” he said. “What we have do in the next several years is continue to increase that so the risk goes up for anybody who might consider operations in Eastern Europe.”
Obama appointing hawks or doves disguised as hawks?
It seems that General Odierno is not the only high-ranking U.S. officials expressing such concerns about Russia.
His possible successor, General Mark Milley, who is nominated to be the next Army chief of staff, was asked during his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee whom he considers the biggest U.S. threat.
“As a soldier, as a military officer, I’d have to say it is Russia,” Milley answered. “Russia is the only country on earth that retains a nuclear capability to destroy the United States. It’s an existential threat.”
The man nominated to be the next Army chief of staff added that he doesn’t know Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intent, but his country’s actions have been “very, very aggressive.”
The generals followed the trend of calling Russia the “biggest threat” to the U.S. after the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford had made quite a stir last month, saying that Moscow “presents the greatest threat to our national security” due to the fact that it’s a nuclear power.
After that, Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, who is likely to become the Vice Chairman, said in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee that he “would put the threats to this nation in the following order: Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.”
Washington is divided about Russia being the biggest threat
Therefore, it seems like the Barack Obama administration is looking to appoint as many fearless and relentless chiefs and commanders as possible.
However, the problem is that the administration cannot figure out what threats are really the most serious and ‘existential’ to Americans, according to leading U.S. media outlets that had been analyzing the hottest debate in Washington of the last few weeks.
In particular, the Pentagon insists to recognize Russia as the key threat, while the White House firmly opposes such an idea, according to the U.S. media.
On August 12, The New York Times published an editorial piece titled ‘Who Threatens America Most?’, in which it answered the question as “it depends on whom and which agency you ask.”
“If officials cannot agree on what the most pressing threats are, how can they develop the right strategies and properly allocate resources?” it asked a rhetorical question, urging the administration to decide what are the current priorities of the country.
There has been a dangerous turn in the relations between Washington and Moscow, according to the newspaper. The Pentagon tries to “pry out” more money from the Congress due to the worsened relations between the countries, but “the idea that Russia is America’s top threat is not shared by other important players in Washington, including the White House,” the newspapers noted.
Even though U.S. military officials unanimously agree that the chances of a possible war against Russia have increased, the Obama administration is still committed to cooperate with Moscow where in areas it is possible in order to reach peaceful results, according to the newspaper.
Is Russia’s nuclear might the only thing that stops Obama?
Citing a high-ranking military official in a recent article in the Daily Beast, the author Noah Shachtman reminds that the origins of the differences between Washington and Moscow go back to the period when Russia annexed Crimea.
In February 2014, commanders of U.S. Armed Forces had to urgently prepare a secret report that described the Russian threat and was handed over to all military departments of the U.S., according to the official. “Soon, the intelligence community, the Pentagon, and the State Department added their input. And one four-star after another got the brief that Russia was a growing threat,” Shachtman wrote.
But then it was the publication of Russia’s revised military doctrine that made the Americans worried. In the publication, Russia considered the possibility of using nuclear weapons. After that, the threat was raised “from a regional matter to a global one,” according to the Daily Beast article.
A recent article in U.S. News & World Report listed the greatest threats to America: from ISIS to lone terrorists acting in the U.S., from cyber attacks to drug cartels, from China to Iran and North Korea, from domestic budget cuts to climate change. And “Russia’s continued ability to reduce the North American continent to a radioactive crisp.”
The author, Paul D. Shinkman, concludes the article by expressing an unpromising prediction that “as Obama enters his last 18 months in office, it remains unclear whether he’ll be able to soothe world threats for his eventual successor.”