Tagged: forces

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US Military and NATO May Now Target Russia With Cyberweapons, Marking Huge Policy Change

Western military alliance NATO’s recent decision to integrate cyber warfare into its command could be its biggest policy shift in decades and represents a stark 21st-century warning to foes, especially Russia, according to one of the leading officials to help draft the new strategy.

Capitalizing on the multinational coalition’s recognition of cyberspace as a theater of operations at last year’s Warsaw Summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced last month[1] the creation of Cyber Operations Center as part of an overall effort to update and adopt a more expansive and efficient command structure. Last week, retired Air Force Colonel Rizwan Ali revealed how the decision, which he helped write and implement, could affect the way NATO conducts operations and counterthreats from abroad.

Related: China snubs Trump, says Russia ties best and most important in world[2]

Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now[3]

“In short, NATO embraced the use of cyberweaponry in NATO operations. This is a marked departure from NATO’s historical stance of using cyber only defensively, mainly to ward off incursions against its own networks,” Ali wrote in Foreign Policy[4].

“The more aggressive approach was intended as a strong message, primarily to Russia, that NATO intends to use the cyber capabilities of its members to deter attacks in the same way it uses land, sea and air weaponry,” he added.

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A military specialist presents the NATO Cyber Coalition exercise in Tartu, Estonia, November 29, 2017. The Western military alliance recognized cyberspace as a battlefield like air, land and sea last year, and has since adopted a more aggressive approach to electronic warfare. Ints Kalnins/Reuters

Ali said that although the move went widely unnoticed, it was a historic development not only because it showed NATO forces had “the will to use their cyber capabilities and weaponry during military operations,” but also because of how it would be rolled out. When nations have joined NATO, they have placed their equipment and crew under the command of a designated NATO commander, who could hail from any of NATO’s 29 member states. In the case of the new cyber command, however, Ali said that nations would retain control over their cyber tools, potentially making integration “an uphill battle for NATO.”

It isn’t the first time NATO has placed electronic warfare on its agenda. In 2008, NATO bolstered its own networks by establishing the Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia after accusing Russia of launching massive cyberattacks on the Baltic State. Estonia, along with fellow Baltic States Latvia and Lithuania, as well as nearby Poland, have become the front lines for NATO’s massive military buildup along Russia’s borders. NATO’s decision to return to its Cold War role as a war-fighting command[5] was taken in the wake of Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and other military moves in the region.

In addition to the proliferation of troops, equipment and conventional weapons, cyber tools have played an increasingly crucial role as a theater of conflict in Europe. In an email to Newsweek, a NATO official said the alliance had experienced about 380 cyber incidents per month for the first six months of 2017. The official said this number amounted to a 20 percent decrease from last year’s monthly average, showing that “cyberattackers are changing their tactics and increasingly targeting softer systems, such as personal devices and networks related to NATO.”

While stating that NATO would “remain vigilant, and continue to adapt” to cyber threats, the official emphasized, “NATO is not taking a more aggressive approach on cyber defense.” In a separate statement sent to Newsweek, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said that “certain claims” in Ali’s article in Foreign Policy are “sensationalist‎, and bear little resemblance to NATO’s actual cyber policy and activities, which are and remain defensive and in line with international law.”

“I don’t think the article contradicts what they’re saying,” Ali told Newsweek in response to NATO’s criticism. “Whether it’s more aggressive or not is open to interpretation. I wrote it was a more aggressive approach than the one they had previously adopted.”

20171213-cyber-coalition-2017-4

Germany’s recently formed electronic warfare military branch, the Cyber and Information Space Command, participates in NATO exercise Cyber Coalition 17. From November 28 to December 1, NATO conducted its annual Cyber Coalition exercise in Estonia, training personnel to defend against what the Belgium-based Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe described as “an increase in frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks.” Martina Pump/Bundeswehr

From November 28 to December 1, NATO conducted its annual Cyber Coalition exercise in Estonia, training personnel to defend against what the Belgium-based Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe described as “an increase in frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks.” For the first time ever, EU experts and Germany’s own recently formed electronic warfare branch, the Cyber and Information Space Command[6], helped coordinate the exercise.

U.S. Special Forces Commander Army General Raymond Thomas also entered the conversation of cyber warfare on Wednesday. Citing previous statements[7] made by Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford, Thomas identified the leading cyber threats as Russia and China, which were in talks of developing their own joint cyber defense in October, Russia’s state-run Tass Russian News Agency[8] reported. Both countries have denied hacking the West, and Russia has been extremely critical of what it perceived as U.S. and NATO plans to undermine its national security, but Thomas said Wednesday it was the U.S.’s turn to “attack” and “exploit” using cyberweapons. He noted, however, that the country’s cyber capabilities still lagged behind.

“We have the structure and know-how to dominate in this domain, but it requires a focused effort, and repetitions matter,” Thomas said, according to the Defense Department[9].

“We are moving in the right direction, but talent and task organization matter,” Thomas added.

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F-22s Fire Warning Flares at Russian Jets in Coalition Territory

Two U.S. F-22 Raptor[1] stealth fighters intercepted two Russian Su-25 fighter jets Wednesday, conducting multiple maneuvers, firing warning flares and, in one instance, aggressively flying to avoid colliding with one another, U.S. officials tell Military.com.

The Su-25s — single-seat, twin-engine aircraft — “flew into coordinated coalition airspace on the east side of the Euphrates River near Abu Kamal, Syria, and were promptly intercepted,” Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Military.com in an email.

The F-22s, the U.S.’ most advanced fighter aside from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter[2], were in the area providing air cover for partner ground forces conducting operations against the Islamic State, he said.

“The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our deconflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area,” Pickart said.

During one maneuver, an Su-25 flew so close to an F-22 “that it had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision,” he said.

Related content:

A Russian Su-35 was also involved.

An F-22 ended up trailing the Su-35 after it flew across the river into territory deemed unsafe to coalition aircraft.

“The incident lasted approximately 40 minutes before the Russian aircraft flew to the west side of the river. During and following the encounter, coalition leaders at the [Combined Air Operations Center in Al Udeid, Qatar] contacted the Russians on the deconfliction line to de-escalate the situation and avert a strategic miscalculation,” Pickart said.

AFCENT officials said the Russians had “verbally agreed” in November through the deconfliction line that they would remain west of the Euphrates River, and the coalition would operate to the East, he said.

“Since agreeing to this deconfliction arrangement, the Russians have flown into our airspace on the east side of the river 6-8 times per day, or approximately 10 percent of the Russian and Syrian flights,” Pickart noted.

“If either of us needs to cross the river for any reason, we’re supposed to first deconflict via the line,” he said. “It’s become increasingly tough for our pilots to discern whether Russian pilots’ actions are deliberate or if these are just honest mistakes.”

Officials have said recently that coalition aircraft — more than a dozen air forces cooperating to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria — are concerned about the shrinking airspace.

“The coalition’s greatest concern is that we could shoot down a Russian aircraft because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces,” Pickart said. “We train our aircrew to take specific actions and to make every attempt possible to de-escalate the situation wherever possible.”

He continued, “We are not here to fight the Russians and Syrians — our focus remains on defeating ISIS. That said, if anyone threatens coalition or friendly partner forces in the air or on the ground, we will defend them.”

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at [email protected][3]. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214[4].

© Copyright 2017 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

References

  1. ^ F-22 Raptor (www.military.com)
  2. ^ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (www.military.com)
  3. ^ [email protected] (www.military.com)
  4. ^ @Oriana0214 (twitter.com)
0

F-22s Fire Warning Flares at Russian Jets in Coalition Territory

Two U.S. F-22 Raptor[1] stealth fighters intercepted two Russian Su-25 fighter jets Wednesday, conducting multiple maneuvers, firing warning flares and, in one instance, aggressively flying to avoid colliding with one another, U.S. officials tell Military.com.

The Su-25s — single-seat, twin-engine aircraft — “flew into coordinated coalition airspace on the east side of the Euphrates River near Abu Kamal, Syria, and were promptly intercepted,” Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Military.com in an email.

The F-22s, the U.S.’ most advanced fighter aside from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter[2], were in the area providing air cover for partner ground forces conducting operations against the Islamic State, he said.

“The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our deconflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area,” Pickart said.

During one maneuver, an Su-25 flew so close to an F-22 “that it had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision,” he said.

Related content:

A Russian Su-35 multi-role fighter was also involved.

An F-22 ended up trailing the Su-35 after it flew across the river into territory deemed unsafe to coalition aircraft.

“The incident lasted approximately 40 minutes before the Russian aircraft flew to the west side of the river. During and following the encounter, coalition leaders at the [Combined Air Operations Center in Al Udeid, Qatar] contacted the Russians on the deconfliction line to de-escalate the situation and avert a strategic miscalculation,” Pickart said.

AFCENT officials said the Russians had “verbally agreed” in November through the deconfliction line that they would remain west of the Euphrates River, and the coalition would operate to the East, he said.

“Since agreeing to this deconfliction arrangement, the Russians have flown into our airspace on the east side of the river 6-8 times per day, or approximately 10 percent of the Russian and Syrian flights,” Pickart noted.

“If either of us needs to cross the river for any reason, we’re supposed to first deconflict via the line,” he said. “It’s become increasingly tough for our pilots to discern whether Russian pilots’ actions are deliberate or if these are just honest mistakes.”

Officials have said recently that coalition aircraft — more than a dozen air forces cooperating to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria — are concerned about the shrinking airspace.

“The coalition’s greatest concern is that we could shoot down a Russian aircraft because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces,” Pickart said. “We train our aircrew to take specific actions and to make every attempt possible to de-escalate the situation wherever possible.”

He continued, “We are not here to fight the Russians and Syrians — our focus remains on defeating ISIS. That said, if anyone threatens coalition or friendly partner forces in the air or on the ground, we will defend them.”

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at [email protected][3]. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214[4].

© Copyright 2017 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

References

  1. ^ F-22 Raptor (www.military.com)
  2. ^ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (www.military.com)
  3. ^ [email protected] (www.military.com)
  4. ^ @Oriana0214 (twitter.com)
0

F-22s Fire Warning Flares at Russian Jets in Coalition Territory

Two U.S. F-22 Raptor[1] stealth fighters intercepted two Russian Su-25 fighter jets Wednesday, conducting multiple maneuvers, firing warning flares and, in one instance, aggressively flying to avoid colliding with one another, U.S. officials tell Military.com.

The Su-25s — single-seat, twin-engine aircraft — “flew into coordinated coalition airspace on the east side of the Euphrates River near Abu Kamal, Syria, and were promptly intercepted,” Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Military.com in an email.

The F-22s, the U.S.’ most advanced fighter aside from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter[2], were in the area providing air cover for partner ground forces conducting operations against the Islamic State, he said.

“The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our deconflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area,” Pickart said.

During one maneuver, an Su-25 flew so close to an F-22 “that it had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision,” he said.

Related content:

The F-22 ended up trailing that Su-35 after it flew across the river into territory deemed unsafe to coalition aircraft.

“The incident lasted approximately 40 minutes before the Russian aircraft flew to the west side of the river. During and following the encounter, coalition leaders at the [Combined Air Operations Center in Al Udeid, Qatar] contacted the Russians on the deconfliction line to de-escalate the situation and avert a strategic miscalculation,” Pickart said.

AFCENT officials said the Russians had “verbally agreed” in November through the deconfliction line that they would remain west of the Euphrates River, and the coalition would operate to the East, he said.

“Since agreeing to this deconfliction arrangement, the Russians have flown into our airspace on the east side of the river 6-8 times per day, or approximately 10 percent of the Russian and Syrian flights,” Pickart noted.

“If either of us needs to cross the river for any reason, we’re supposed to first deconflict via the line,” he said. “It’s become increasingly tough for our pilots to discern whether Russian pilots’ actions are deliberate or if these are just honest mistakes.”

Officials have said recently that coalition aircraft — more than a dozen air forces cooperating to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria — are concerned about the shrinking airspace.

“The coalition’s greatest concern is that we could shoot down a Russian aircraft because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces,” Pickart said. “We train our aircrew to take specific actions and to make every attempt possible to de-escalate the situation wherever possible.”

He continued, “We are not here to fight the Russians and Syrians — our focus remains on defeating ISIS. That said, if anyone threatens coalition or friendly partner forces in the air or on the ground, we will defend them.”

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at [email protected][3]. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214[4].

© Copyright 2017 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

References

  1. ^ F-22 Raptor (www.military.com)
  2. ^ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (www.military.com)
  3. ^ [email protected] (www.military.com)
  4. ^ @Oriana0214 (twitter.com)
0

F-22s Fire Warning Flares at Russian Jets in Coalition Territory

Two U.S. F-22 Raptor[1] stealth fighters intercepted two Russian Su-25 fighter jets Wednesday, conducting multiple maneuvers, firing warning flares and, in one instance, aggressively flying to avoid colliding with one another, U.S. officials tell Military.com.

The Su-25s — single-seat, twin-engine aircraft — “flew into coordinated coalition airspace on the east side of the Euphrates River near Abu Kamal, Syria, and were promptly intercepted,” Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Military.com in an email.

The F-22s, the U.S.’ most advanced fighter aside from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter[2], were in the area providing air cover for partner ground forces conducting operations against the Islamic State, he said.

“The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our deconflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area,” Pickart said.

During one maneuver, an Su-25 flew so close to an F-22 “that it had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision,” he said.

Related content:

A Russian Su-35 was also involved.

An F-22 ended up trailing the Su-35 after it flew across the river into territory deemed unsafe to coalition aircraft.

“The incident lasted approximately 40 minutes before the Russian aircraft flew to the west side of the river. During and following the encounter, coalition leaders at the [Combined Air Operations Center in Al Udeid, Qatar] contacted the Russians on the deconfliction line to de-escalate the situation and avert a strategic miscalculation,” Pickart said.

AFCENT officials said the Russians had “verbally agreed” in November through the deconfliction line that they would remain west of the Euphrates River, and the coalition would operate to the East, he said.

“Since agreeing to this deconfliction arrangement, the Russians have flown into our airspace on the east side of the river 6-8 times per day, or approximately 10 percent of the Russian and Syrian flights,” Pickart noted.

“If either of us needs to cross the river for any reason, we’re supposed to first deconflict via the line,” he said. “It’s become increasingly tough for our pilots to discern whether Russian pilots’ actions are deliberate or if these are just honest mistakes.”

Officials have said recently that coalition aircraft — more than a dozen air forces cooperating to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria — are concerned about the shrinking airspace.

“The coalition’s greatest concern is that we could shoot down a Russian aircraft because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces,” Pickart said. “We train our aircrew to take specific actions and to make every attempt possible to de-escalate the situation wherever possible.”

He continued, “We are not here to fight the Russians and Syrians — our focus remains on defeating ISIS. That said, if anyone threatens coalition or friendly partner forces in the air or on the ground, we will defend them.”

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at [email protected][3]. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214[4].

© Copyright 2017 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

References

  1. ^ F-22 Raptor (www.military.com)
  2. ^ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (www.military.com)
  3. ^ [email protected] (www.military.com)
  4. ^ @Oriana0214 (twitter.com)
0

F-22s Fire Warning Flares at Russian Jets in Coalition Territory

Two U.S. F-22 Raptor[1] stealth fighters intercepted two Russian Su-25 fighter jets Wednesday, conducting multiple maneuvers, firing warning flares and, in one instance, aggressively flying to avoid colliding with one another, U.S. officials tell Military.com.

The Su-25s — single-seat, twin-engine aircraft — “flew into coordinated coalition airspace on the east side of the Euphrates River near Abu Kamal, Syria, and were promptly intercepted,” Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Military.com in an email.

The F-22s, the U.S.’ most advanced fighter aside from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter[2], were in the area providing air cover for partner ground forces conducting operations against the Islamic State, he said.

“The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our deconflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area,” Pickart said.

During one maneuver, an Su-25 flew so close to an F-22 “that it had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision,” he said.

Related content:

A Russian Su-35 multi-role fighter was also involved.

An F-22 ended up trailing the Su-35 after it flew across the river into territory deemed unsafe to coalition aircraft.

“The incident lasted approximately 40 minutes before the Russian aircraft flew to the west side of the river. During and following the encounter, coalition leaders at the [Combined Air Operations Center in Al Udeid, Qatar] contacted the Russians on the deconfliction line to de-escalate the situation and avert a strategic miscalculation,” Pickart said.

AFCENT officials said the Russians had “verbally agreed” in November through the deconfliction line that they would remain west of the Euphrates River, and the coalition would operate to the East, he said.

“Since agreeing to this deconfliction arrangement, the Russians have flown into our airspace on the east side of the river 6-8 times per day, or approximately 10 percent of the Russian and Syrian flights,” Pickart noted.

“If either of us needs to cross the river for any reason, we’re supposed to first deconflict via the line,” he said. “It’s become increasingly tough for our pilots to discern whether Russian pilots’ actions are deliberate or if these are just honest mistakes.”

Officials have said recently that coalition aircraft — more than a dozen air forces cooperating to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria — are concerned about the shrinking airspace.

“The coalition’s greatest concern is that we could shoot down a Russian aircraft because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces,” Pickart said. “We train our aircrew to take specific actions and to make every attempt possible to de-escalate the situation wherever possible.”

He continued, “We are not here to fight the Russians and Syrians — our focus remains on defeating ISIS. That said, if anyone threatens coalition or friendly partner forces in the air or on the ground, we will defend them.”

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at [email protected][3]. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214[4].

© Copyright 2017 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

References

  1. ^ F-22 Raptor (www.military.com)
  2. ^ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (www.military.com)
  3. ^ [email protected] (www.military.com)
  4. ^ @Oriana0214 (twitter.com)
0

Russia's Military Is Leaner, But Meaner

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference on Thursday, a friendly journalist asked Putin whether the escalating tension in relations with the U.S. and the crumbling of arms control treaties would draw Russia into an unsustainable arms race. “We will ensure our security without engaging in an arms race,” the president replied[1], citing widely diverging dollar numbers for the U.S. and Russian defense budgets. 

That’s a simplistic answer from a politician starting an election campaign (of sorts: Putin is headed for re-election in March without giving anyone else a chance). The more pointed question that should be asked is this: How, with a relatively small and decreasing military budget — 2.77 trillion rubles ($42.3 billion) for 2018, down from some 3.05 trillion[2] rubles this year — is Russia is still a formidable military rival to the U.S., with its enormous and increasing budget of almost $692.1 billion in 2018, up from $583 billion[3] this year? 

The equalizing value of the two countries’ well-balanced nuclear deterrents is enough of a reason to avoid direct confrontation. But leaving that aside, Putin may well understand the nature of modern military challenges better than U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. legislators — and Russia’s authoritarian system may be more efficient when it comes to military allocations. Note that Russia is now almost an equal to the U.S. as a power broker in the Middle East, where the Russian military has just helped Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad effectively win a civil war — in which the U.S. was helping the other side. At the same time, Russian defense spending numbers are deceptive. The country is far more militarized than its defense spending suggests. That level of security spending is only sustainable at the expense of Russia’s future.

Trump’s military spending hike, which makes it necessary to remove the existing cap on defense expenditure, is a dubious and likely outdated response to decreased global security.

Quite aside from the cost of maintaining the world’s most powerful military, the U.S., according to the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, has spent at least $2 trillion on its wars since 2001. But, considering the less transparent costs, such as those of caring for veterans, war-related increases to the Department of Defense base budget and interest on the debt taken on to cover defense spending, it’s closer to $4 trillion at the very least. The Afghan conflict has cost the U.S. at least $840 billion — more than four times Afghanistan’s cumulative GDP since 2001. Since the 2018 U.S. defense budget contains additional funds for sending 3,500 more troops to Afghanistan, the results of the massive outlay over the years are clearly suboptimal.

Today’s wars aren’t fought with fat wads of money. The adversaries are mostly small, agile forces that aren’t as well-resourced as nation states. Fighting them requires a combination of local knowledge, brute force applied only at important points in a conflict and ability to shift risks[4] onto the shoulders of irregular fighters. Russia kept cutting its defense budget all through its participation in the Syrian war. Yabloko, an opposition party, earlier this year put[5] the cost of the Syrian operation for Russia at about 140.4 billion rubles ($2.4 billion at the current exchange rate) since September, 2015; that’s some 4 percent of what the U.S. allocated to overseas contingency operations in 2017 alone — and the outcome is as good as Russia could have expected.

The U.S. is pumping money into comparatively inefficient warfighting — and into preparing for the kind of large-scale war that’s not likely to take place because of existing nuclear arsenals and unauthorized nuclear proliferation. Even North Korea, with its unknown but probably small nuclear capability, is dangerous enough to deter the U.S. from attacking. At his press conference, Putin made the point that the U.S. couldn’t know for sure where to strike in North Korea — and if the Kim regime managed to get a single long-range, nuclear-armed missile in the air, the results could be catastrophic.

U.S. defense budgets, of course, feed a large, powerful domestic industry; even the indirect U.S. involvement in a conflict lifts the stock prices of major defense contractors, research[6] has shown. In Russia, the biggest contractors are state-controlled; they have far less lobbying clout, and the technocratic Russian government has kept them on a short leash, though some of the military’s purchasing decisions have served regional development rather than defense purposes. Such an arrangement, which would have been inefficient in most other industries, probably reduces wasteful spending in the budget-dependent military-industrial complex.

That said, in relative terms, Russia is spending more on force-related functions than the U.S. does. Trump’s budget proposal[7] allocated $71.8 billion to the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department. Add that up with the defense spending, and the total security budget will stand at $764 billion, less than 19 percent of total federal spending. Russia will spend a combined 29 percent of its federal budget — some 4.8 trillion rubles — on defense and domestic security. That’s probably not all of the security-related outlay either, as Mark Galeotti pointed out[8] earlier this year: Even some of the education and development spending in Russia goes toward military goals.

In the U.S., federal law enforcement outlay is a fraction of defense spending. In Russia, the two areas of government expenditure are almost equal. That’s the difference between a country with a relatively liberal domestic order and a near-dictatorship, which relies heavily on the suppression of dissent and must keep large law enforcement agencies under centralized control.

Russia could show the world how to spend efficiently on more than adequate defense — but instead it is engaged in an arms race against its own development. For years, it has been underfunding areas such as education and health, undermining what Putin told the press conference was his vision of the country’s future — flexible, technology-driven, highly productive. Judging by Putin’s answers to reporters on Thursday, he still prefers not to notice that.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:

Leonid Bershidsky at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Therese Raphael at [email protected][9][10]

References

  1. ^ replied (kremlin.ru)
  2. ^ 3.05 trillion (www.rbc.ru)
  3. ^ $583 billion (www.defense.gov)
  4. ^ shift risks (www.bloomberg.com)
  5. ^ put (www.vedomosti.ru)
  6. ^ research (papers.ssrn.com)
  7. ^ proposal (www.whitehouse.gov)
  8. ^ pointed out (www.ecfr.eu)
  9. ^ [email protected] (www.bloomberg.com)
  10. ^ [email protected] (www.bloomberg.com)
0

Russia's Military Is Leaner, But Meaner

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference on Thursday, a friendly journalist asked Putin whether the escalating tension in relations with the U.S. and the crumbling of arms control treaties would draw Russia into an unsustainable arms race. “We will ensure our security without engaging in an arms race,” the president replied[1], citing widely diverging dollar numbers for the U.S. and Russian defense budgets. 

That’s a simplistic answer from a politician starting an election campaign (of sorts: Putin is headed for re-election in March without giving anyone else a chance). The more pointed question that should be asked is this: How, with a relatively small and decreasing military budget — 2.77 trillion rubles ($42.3 billion) for 2018, down from some 3.05 trillion[2] rubles this year — is Russia is still a formidable military rival to the U.S., with its enormous and increasing budget of almost $692.1 billion in 2018, up from $583 billion[3] this year? 

The equalizing value of the two countries’ well-balanced nuclear deterrents is enough of a reason to avoid direct confrontation. But leaving that aside, Putin may well understand the nature of modern military challenges better than U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. legislators — and Russia’s authoritarian system may be more efficient when it comes to military allocations. Note that Russia is now almost an equal to the U.S. as a power broker in the Middle East, where the Russian military has just helped Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad effectively win a civil war — in which the U.S. was helping the other side. At the same time, Russian defense spending numbers are deceptive. The country is far more militarized than its defense spending suggests. That level of security spending is only sustainable at the expense of Russia’s future.

Trump’s military spending hike, which makes it necessary to remove the existing cap on defense expenditure, is a dubious and likely outdated response to decreased global security.

Quite aside from the cost of maintaining the world’s most powerful military, the U.S., according to the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, has spent at least $2 trillion on its wars since 2001. But, considering the less transparent costs, such as those of caring for veterans, war-related increases to the Department of Defense base budget and interest on the debt taken on to cover defense spending, it’s closer to $4 trillion at the very least. The Afghan conflict has cost the U.S. at least $840 billion — more than four times Afghanistan’s cumulative GDP since 2001. Since the 2018 U.S. defense budget contains additional funds for sending 3,500 more troops to Afghanistan, the results of the massive outlay over the years are clearly suboptimal.

Today’s wars aren’t fought with fat wads of money. The adversaries are mostly small, agile forces that aren’t as well-resourced as nation states. Fighting them requires a combination of local knowledge, brute force applied only at important points in a conflict and ability to shift risks[4] onto the shoulders of irregular fighters. Russia kept cutting its defense budget all through its participation in the Syrian war. Yabloko, an opposition party, earlier this year put[5] the cost of the Syrian operation for Russia at about 140.4 billion rubles ($2.4 billion at the current exchange rate) since September, 2015; that’s some 4 percent of what the U.S. allocated to overseas contingency operations in 2017 alone — and the outcome is as good as Russia could have expected.

The U.S. is pumping money into comparatively inefficient warfighting — and into preparing for the kind of large-scale war that’s not likely to take place because of existing nuclear arsenals and unauthorized nuclear proliferation. Even North Korea, with its unknown but probably small nuclear capability, is dangerous enough to deter the U.S. from attacking. At his press conference, Putin made the point that the U.S. couldn’t know for sure where to strike in North Korea — and if the Kim regime managed to get a single long-range, nuclear-armed missile in the air, the results could be catastrophic.

U.S. defense budgets, of course, feed a large, powerful domestic industry; even the indirect U.S. involvement in a conflict lifts the stock prices of major defense contractors, research[6] has shown. In Russia, the biggest contractors are state-controlled; they have far less lobbying clout, and the technocratic Russian government has kept them on a short leash, though some of the military’s purchasing decisions have served regional development rather than defense purposes. Such an arrangement, which would have been inefficient in most other industries, probably reduces wasteful spending in the budget-dependent military-industrial complex.

That said, in relative terms, Russia is spending more on force-related functions than the U.S. does. Trump’s budget proposal[7] allocated $71.8 billion to the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department. Add that up with the defense spending, and the total security budget will stand at $764 billion, less than 19 percent of total federal spending. Russia will spend a combined 29 percent of its federal budget — some 4.8 trillion rubles — on defense and domestic security. That’s probably not all of the security-related outlay either, as Mark Galeotti pointed out[8] earlier this year: Even some of the education and development spending in Russia goes toward military goals.

In the U.S., federal law enforcement outlay is a fraction of defense spending. In Russia, the two areas of government expenditure are almost equal. That’s the difference between a country with a relatively liberal domestic order and a near-dictatorship, which relies heavily on the suppression of dissent and must keep large law enforcement agencies under centralized control.

Russia could show the world how to spend efficiently on more than adequate defense — but instead it is engaged in an arms race against its own development. For years, it has been underfunding areas such as education and health, undermining what Putin told the press conference was his vision of the country’s future — flexible, technology-driven, highly productive. Judging by Putin’s answers to reporters on Thursday, he still prefers not to notice that.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:

Leonid Bershidsky at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Therese Raphael at [email protected][9][10]

References

  1. ^ replied (kremlin.ru)
  2. ^ 3.05 trillion (www.rbc.ru)
  3. ^ $583 billion (www.defense.gov)
  4. ^ shift risks (www.bloomberg.com)
  5. ^ put (www.vedomosti.ru)
  6. ^ research (papers.ssrn.com)
  7. ^ proposal (www.whitehouse.gov)
  8. ^ pointed out (www.ecfr.eu)
  9. ^ [email protected] (www.bloomberg.com)
  10. ^ [email protected] (www.bloomberg.com)
0

Russia's Military Is Leaner, But Meaner

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference on Thursday, a friendly journalist asked Putin whether the escalating tension in relations with the U.S. and the crumbling of arms control treaties would draw Russia into an unsustainable arms race. “We will ensure our security without engaging in an arms race,” the president replied[1], citing widely diverging dollar numbers for the U.S. and Russian defense budgets. 

That’s a simplistic answer from a politician starting an election campaign (of sorts: Putin is headed for re-election in March without giving anyone else a chance). The more pointed question that should be asked is this: How, with a relatively small and decreasing military budget — 2.77 trillion rubles ($42.3 billion) for 2018, down from some 3.05 trillion[2] rubles this year — is Russia is still a formidable military rival to the U.S., with its enormous and increasing budget of almost $692.1 billion in 2018, up from $583 billion[3] this year? 

The equalizing value of the two countries’ well-balanced nuclear deterrents is enough of a reason to avoid direct confrontation. But leaving that aside, Putin may well understand the nature of modern military challenges better than U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. legislators — and Russia’s authoritarian system may be more efficient when it comes to military allocations. Note that Russia is now almost an equal to the U.S. as a power broker in the Middle East, where the Russian military has just helped Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad effectively win a civil war — in which the U.S. was helping the other side. At the same time, Russian defense spending numbers are deceptive. The country is far more militarized than its defense spending suggests. That level of security spending is only sustainable at the expense of Russia’s future.

Trump’s military spending hike, which makes it necessary to remove the existing cap on defense expenditure, is a dubious and likely outdated response to decreased global security.

Quite aside from the cost of maintaining the world’s most powerful military, the U.S., according to the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, has spent at least $2 trillion on its wars since 2001. But, considering the less transparent costs, such as those of caring for veterans, war-related increases to the Department of Defense base budget and interest on the debt taken on to cover defense spending, it’s closer to $4 trillion at the very least. The Afghan conflict has cost the U.S. at least $840 billion — more than four times Afghanistan’s cumulative GDP since 2001. Since the 2018 U.S. defense budget contains additional funds for sending 3,500 more troops to Afghanistan, the results of the massive outlay over the years are clearly suboptimal.

Today’s wars aren’t fought with fat wads of money. The adversaries are mostly small, agile forces that aren’t as well-resourced as nation states. Fighting them requires a combination of local knowledge, brute force applied only at important points in a conflict and ability to shift risks[4] onto the shoulders of irregular fighters. Russia kept cutting its defense budget all through its participation in the Syrian war. Yabloko, an opposition party, earlier this year put[5] the cost of the Syrian operation for Russia at about 140.4 billion rubles ($2.4 billion at the current exchange rate) since September, 2015; that’s some 4 percent of what the U.S. allocated to overseas contingency operations in 2017 alone — and the outcome is as good as Russia could have expected.

The U.S. is pumping money into comparatively inefficient warfighting — and into preparing for the kind of large-scale war that’s not likely to take place because of existing nuclear arsenals and unauthorized nuclear proliferation. Even North Korea, with its unknown but probably small nuclear capability, is dangerous enough to deter the U.S. from attacking. At his press conference, Putin made the point that the U.S. couldn’t know for sure where to strike in North Korea — and if the Kim regime managed to get a single long-range, nuclear-armed missile in the air, the results could be catastrophic.

U.S. defense budgets, of course, feed a large, powerful domestic industry; even the indirect U.S. involvement in a conflict lifts the stock prices of major defense contractors, research[6] has shown. In Russia, the biggest contractors are state-controlled; they have far less lobbying clout, and the technocratic Russian government has kept them on a short leash, though some of the military’s purchasing decisions have served regional development rather than defense purposes. Such an arrangement, which would have been inefficient in most other industries, probably reduces wasteful spending in the budget-dependent military-industrial complex.

That said, in relative terms, Russia is spending more on force-related functions than the U.S. does. Trump’s budget proposal[7] allocated $71.8 billion to the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department. Add that up with the defense spending, and the total security budget will stand at $764 billion, less than 19 percent of total federal spending. Russia will spend a combined 29 percent of its federal budget — some 4.8 trillion rubles — on defense and domestic security. That’s probably not all of the security-related outlay either, as Mark Galeotti pointed out[8] earlier this year: Even some of the education and development spending in Russia goes toward military goals.

In the U.S., federal law enforcement outlay is a fraction of defense spending. In Russia, the two areas of government expenditure are almost equal. That’s the difference between a country with a relatively liberal domestic order and a near-dictatorship, which relies heavily on the suppression of dissent and must keep large law enforcement agencies under centralized control.

Russia could show the world how to spend efficiently on more than adequate defense — but instead it is engaged in an arms race against its own development. For years, it has been underfunding areas such as education and health, undermining what Putin told the press conference was his vision of the country’s future — flexible, technology-driven, highly productive. Judging by Putin’s answers to reporters on Thursday, he still prefers not to notice that.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:

Leonid Bershidsky at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Therese Raphael at [email protected][9][10]

References

  1. ^ replied (kremlin.ru)
  2. ^ 3.05 trillion (www.rbc.ru)
  3. ^ $583 billion (www.defense.gov)
  4. ^ shift risks (www.bloomberg.com)
  5. ^ put (www.vedomosti.ru)
  6. ^ research (papers.ssrn.com)
  7. ^ proposal (www.whitehouse.gov)
  8. ^ pointed out (www.ecfr.eu)
  9. ^ [email protected] (www.bloomberg.com)
  10. ^ [email protected] (www.bloomberg.com)