Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has stated that Russia is ready to respond to NATO’s growing potential in Europe. On March 25, 2016, he denounced the upgrade of NATO troops in Europe, in particular near Russia’s borders, thus compelling Russia to react. “NATO continues to build up its military potential in Europe, including in close vicinity to the Russian borders. No doubt, this situation cannot but concern us. We are forced to respond to it,” the minister said.I first heard about the Russians reforming the 1st Tank Army (Guards caliber which makes them elite in the Russian order of battle) back around the first of this year. The addition of extra aircraft, artillery and anti-air systems is new though. But wait! There's more!
Shoigu added that in 2016, Russia’s Western Military District will be upgraded with over 1,100 pieces of military hardware, including Sukhoi Su-35 advanced fighter jets, Koalitsiya-SV and Msta-SM self-propelled howitzers, and S-400 antiaircraft missile systems. The District has set up a new 1st Tank Army headquartered in the Moscow area. During 2016, Russia will raise its alert levels and conduct 800 operative and combat training drills to boost the military’s response readiness.
In a March 31, 2016 interview with Russia 24 TV, Russian envoy to NATO Aleksandr Grushko promised a “totally asymmetrical” response if NATO carries out its plan to deploy new armored units to Eastern Europe. Grushko said: “We are not passive observers, we consistently take all the military measures we consider necessary in order to counterbalance this reinforced presence that is not justified by anything. Certainly, we’ll respond totally asymmetrically.” He added that Russia’s actions would correspond to its “understanding of the extent of the military threat; not only will this not be extremely expensive, but it will also be highly effective.”Read the entire article but the highlighted portion should cause NATO and European leaders concern. NATO is weaker, the borders looser and the Russians more skilled (if we're to take the Crimea assault as an example) in infiltrating target countries.
Some hints of the form such an asymmetrical response might take came from other top Russian officials. Russian Foreign Ministry Department of European Cooperation director Andrei Kelin explained that “symmetrical steps are unlikely” taking into consideration “the huge amount of money that our American partners are presently investing” and what he called U.S. plans to spend “four times as much” in 2017. He added: “I’m sure that a symmetrical response is completely unnecessary. However, compensating measures to maintain a normal military-strategic balance are being taken and will be taken.”
I expected the movement of more Russian troops to the border. The idea that a Russian official would state matter-of-factly that they were prepared to use asymmetric warfare against the alliance is disturbing.
But the worse part of this is that the Army is no longer properly oriented to meet the strategy being pushed forward by policy makers.
Does it still make sense for the Army to rotate troops to Europe (I'm not sure of the timeline but its more like Marine Corps floats than being stationed there in the past) ? Is it time to move a division headquarters to Europe to take charge of all the Brigade Combat Teams that will be needed there?
But more importantly is it time for the US to seek a European solution to the continents issues with Russia? I'm thinking that we're seeing a small US Army that is officially over extended now...not in the future. Additionally I see the same pressures on the Navy and Marine Corps.
The new reality is that we're asking our military to be prepared to fight two major regional wars....one in Europe and another in the Pacific...while shepherding a counter-insurgency on steroids in the Middle East.
We need a new strategic plan, and a new orientation of forces now or we're screwed.