It seems that military experts are not sure what to call Russia’s military: a lethal threat to the U.S. or a “paper tiger.”
According to Dave Majumdar of The National Interest, Russia’s military faces two deep structural problems that would bring deadly consequences to Russia in case of a military confrontation against another large force, such as the U.S.
In particular, Russia experiences severe difficulties with its unprofessional and undertrained manpower and outdated military hardware.
As for its manpower difficulties, Russia’s problem lies in conscription. More than half of Russia’s military personnel, except the Strategic Missile Forces, airborne forces, and naval infantry, still fill their ranks with undertrained and unprofessional young conscripts, who would love to do something else than hold weapons in their hands.
“Only about a quarter of Russian ground forces are fully staffed, well-trained professional troops,” the author of the article notes. “Those professional soldiers — who are not quite trained to Western standards — are part of a corps of rapid reaction forces.”
As for the rest of Russia’s military, they still get packed with the help of the draft, which obliges conscripts to serve only one year in Russian forces before being ‘freed’ from the military.
Even though such drafts prove themselves useful to quickly muster up an impressively large army, these conscripts fail to form a formidable fighting force that would be capable of countering professional forces. It also proves itself counterproductive when soldiers constantly rotate, because it does not allow Russia to maintain a stable military force.
Deadly consequences for Russia in larger wars
As for the second difficulty of the Russian military – the outdated hardware – even though Russia has made major attempts to modernize its military equipment, it still fails to meet the technological level of U.S. or NATO armed forces. With the collapse of the USSR, Russia lost large amounts of its military equipment as well as its industrial and technological base.
“The country fell behind in many crucial technological areas, particularly during the 1990s,” Majumdar noted. “For example, the Russians are well behind on key technologies for building precision weapons, targeting pods and active electronically scanned array radars — which are just a few examples.”
As for the shipbuilding industry, Russia is no longer capable of building large warships the size of a carrier, which is why the Kremlin uses outdated naval hardware, according to Majumdar.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to fully modernize the Russian military by 2020, it does not seem like an achievable task given the economic decline of Russia. Russia’s economy difficulties due to Western sanctions forced Moscow to significantly cut back on some of its ambitious defense projects, including the development of the new fifth-generation bomber, the PAK DA.
Even though Russia is able to successfully carry out small military operations on the territories it is familiar with, such as Crimea and Georgia, a bigger war against a large rival military would be a great challenge to the Russian military that could bring deadly consequences for the Kremlin and its leadership.
Russia’s military poses a lethal threat to the U.S.
However, at the same time, the Russian military poses a lethal threat to the U.S., according to Robert Caskey, an author of the American Thinker.
Caskey claims that Russia’s Syrian campaign turned into an exhibition of cutting-edge and formidable military hardware, reminding the U.S. of the damage Moscow could do to the U.S. and its allies.
U.S. President Barack “Obama’s reckless abandonment of U.S. commitments overseas, meanwhile, has left America’s armed forces flat-footed as they try to deal with military advancements abroad,” the author noted.
By using a few small corvettes deployed in the Caspian Sea, Russia managed to carry out the launch of brand new Kalibr NK cruise missiles at targets located nearly 1,000 miles away.
These missiles, which provide Moscow with the kind of strike capabilities even the U.S. does not have, were first tested in 2012. But Caskey wonders “why would the Russians launch cruise missiles from so far away when they already have a fleet off of Syria’s shores?”
Answering his own question, the author argues that it was to show Obama as well as Russia’s potential arms buyers what the Russians are capable of.
The brand new missiles are capable of shifting the balance of power in naval forces, since they can transform even the most outdated Soviet warships, which Majumdar claimed make the Russian military vulnerable, into a “lethal threat” against U.S. carrier groups, according to Caskey.
Obama administration has ruined U.S. military
“While Moscow and Beijing arm themselves for the conflicts to come, modernizing weapons and using their newfound strength to menace America’s allies, the Democrats have opted to go after the U.S. military with a vengeance,” the author noted.
He added that through sequestration, the Democrats reduced military spending, leaving American militaries without the tools and support required to function properly. After Obama became the President, the U.S. has slashed the military budget, reduced the number of troops and made both allies and enemies question whether the U.S. is still capable to defend its own interests and the interests of its allies.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin threw the entire Russia into developing ground forces, naval and air forces in order to be equal to the West in terms of its firepower. But the Obama administration still refuses to take the military needs of the U.S. seriously, the author noted and reminded of Obama’s jokes about “horses and bayonets.”
So, we have two completely different points of view, one saying that the Russian military is nothing but a paper tiger, while the other one claims that Russian forces present deadly threat to the U.S. Who got it right?