The Pentagon is going through re-evaluation of its Cold War era-old military plans amid deteriorating relations between Russia and the U.S. after Moscow has taken sudden interest in Syria earlier this month.
The U.S. Defense Department feels the need to update the plans to respond to any potential aggression against any NATO allies given “the actions of Russia,” according to one senior Pentagon official familiar with the updated plans.
Moreover, Russian President Vladimir Putin is “no longer a potential partner, but a potential threat,” another Pentagon official told the Foreign Policy magazine, warning of “potential (Russian) aggression against” the U.S. and its NATO allies.
The reason for such major changes in Pentagon’s war plans against Russia lies in the fact that the U.S. found its current plans “pretty out of date” following Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine, as explained by Michèle Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense for policy and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security.
Therefore, Washington is going to make a shift away from its post-Cold War military policy and focus on Russia’s current threats and aggression. The policy shift comes just weeks after Russia has suddenly got itself involved in Syrian Civil War by sending its artillery and seven T-90 tanks to an airfield in the Syrian province of Latakia.
Moreover, there have been reports of at least four Russian jets spotted at a Syrian airfield, including military ones.
Pentagon updates nuclear war plans against Russia
The Pentagon is also revising its hybrid warfare strategies and tactics, including nuclear strikes.
“As you look at published Russian doctrine, I do believe people are thinking about use of tactical nuclear weapons in a way that hadn’t been thought about for many years,” said a senior official who spoke with the Foreign Policy magazine on the condition of anonymity.
U.S. military plans are divided into two versions. One outlines U.S. actions, as a NATO member, in case Russia attacks one of NATO’s members, while the other version describes U.S. plans for war against Russia outside the Alliance.
Both versions are based on Russian aggression in the Baltic states, including fighting against Russia’s hybrid tactics, non-traditional warfare as well as cyberwar.
Russia’s recent actions in Syria have significantly escalated tensions between Washington and Moscow. It must be noted that even before Russia’s threatening actions in Syria earlier this month, the relations between the U.S. and Russia had already been at its worst since the end of the Cold War.
In September, the Kremlin has been increasing its military presence in Syria, supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the U.S. wants his government removed from power.
Only Russia can destroy the U.S.
In June this year, Putin denounced U.S. “scaremongering,” saying that the U.S. is a global empire of military bases, and adding that Russia has “virtually no bases abroad.”
The ones Russia has are outdated Soviet-era relics. “I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO,” Putin told journalists.
ValueWalk reported earlier this month that Russia is the only country in the world capable of destroying the U.S., according to U.S. Ambassador Linton Brooks.
Russia “outnumbers all U.S. and NATO troops combined 2 – 1 in terms of manpower. We are unable to defend the Baltics,” according to a former Pentagon official and current Rand Corp. strategist, David Ochmanek, as reported by the Foreign Policy magazine.
U.S. vs Russia: who will destroy whom?
However, is Ochmanek’s claim true? First of all, the advantage of the U.S. is that Russia is effectively surrounded by NATO military bases. According to the Pentagon’s estimations, the U.S. has 598 military objects stationed in 40 countries around the world as well as 4,461 bases on U.S. soil.
Russia only has a naval facility located in the port of the city of Tartus, which is in Syria, where Russia has been boosting its military presence recently. Apart from that, Russia has no more military bases outside former USSR states.
Russia has about 845,000 active-duty troops and nearly 2.5 million more in reserve, while the U.S. army accounts for about 1,400,000 active-duty troops and 850,000 more in reserve.
However, it must be noted that the U.S. would not be able to deploy all of the forces to Russia, as it would have to maintain its 598 military bases stationed around the world as well as protect U.S. soil.
NATO, for its part, has 13,000 ready-to-go troops and thousands more in reserve.
U.S. vs Russia: Nuclear capabilities
Even though there is a mutual nuclear disarmament since the end of the Cold War, Moscow and Washington still own about a thousand ready-to-go nuclear warheads each. It was reported in 2014 that the entire stockpile of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) – about 448 active warheads – are aimed mainly against Russia.
The U.S. possesses 1,597 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 785 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers, according to the March 2015 New START numbers.
The U.S. possessed as many as 4,717 active nuclear warheads as of September 30, 2014, according to the U.S. State Department. Other warheads are retired and are awaiting dismantlement.
Russia, for its part, has 1,582 strategic warheads deployed on 515 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers, according to the March 2015 New START numbers. On top of that, Russia has additional 3,200 that are awaiting dismantlement.
U.S. vs Russia war could begin today or tomorrow
In August, ValueWalk reported that analysts at the European Leadership Network think tank analyzed Russia’s large-scale military exercises that took place in March as well as NATO’s smaller military drills in June.
The analysis concluded that both sides were holding the drills with the other side’s military capabilities and war plans in mind. However, the “nature and scale” of the drills showed that “Russia is actively preparing for a conflict with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia.”
ValueWalk also reported that some military experts a high probability of the beginning of a large-scale war between the U.S. and Russia following an encounter between warplanes over the Baltics or the North Sea during military drills.