Archive for the 'Russia' Category



Russia Sending Ships With Marines To Syrian Waters

BY Herschel Smith
2 years ago

I’m a little late to the punch here, but it appears as if Russia is testing its expeditionary warfighting skills.

Amid the continued uprising in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry on Friday issued somewhat contradictory statements about a group of its naval warships steaming into the eastern Mediterranean.

The first statement said the warships were not planning to call on Tartus, a naval base Russia maintains in Syria. The second, issued several hours later, said it was possible that service boats from the group might call on Tartus to replenish supplies “if the time period of the trip is extended.”

Earlier in the day, Interfax quoted an unnamed Defense Ministry source as saying three landing assault ships, an anti-submarine ship and four smaller vessels might call on Tartus by Sunday. The ships are carrying a contingent of about 360 marines and amphibious armored personnel carriers.

The source didn’t specify whether the marines would remain in Tartus or leave with the warships. Tartus is a small port and won’t be able to dock more than two warships at a time, the source said.

Defense experts debated whether the naval group might be in the region to evacuate Russians based in Syria.

“I am absolutely confident that most likely their task will be to evacuate the personnel and equipment of the base,” Alexander Golts, a defense expert and deputy editor-in-chief of the popular liberal online publication Yezhednevny Zhurnal, said in an interview.

“However, this group is not sufficient enough to evacuate from 30,000 to 60,000 Russian citizens working and living in Syria,” Golts said, “unless the marines will be ordered to gain control of a landing strip at Damascus airport and help establish an air-bridge to take all Russians out.”

“Whatever their task, it is clear that given the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria the Kremlin wants to have some sort of military presence close to its shores,” Golts added.

Uh huh.  360 Marines, barely more than a company.  And expeditionary warfighting is hard work.  It is fraught with difficulties – ships that leak, ships that break, parts that fracture, lack of replacement parts, the need to weld and perform complex in-situ refurbishment and maintenance, the need for replenishment of resources, the need for at-sea supply, the need for fuel, the need for involved medical treatment up to and including complex surgery, the need for egress from the sea-borne crafts should they fail, the need for air transport to and from the sea-borne craft, the need to be able to perform complex maintenance on that air transport, the need for complex logistics, and so on.

And in this case, they need all of the Marines necessary to be able to perform the mission.  360 isn’t nearly enough.  Should they actually be needed for land-based operations, they see combat, or they cannot use the port if it is not secure, this is a disaster in the making.

The Russians are curious about their current ability to conduct expeditionary warfare, and as commenter and loyal reader Jean and I remarked to each other, so are we.  While it is sad that the Middle East has devolved into a morass (at least in part I fault the current U.S. administration for that), this seems to be an opportunity for us.  It’s time to retask all available satellites, and queue up the signals intelligence.  I want to know how the Russians do at this.

Reset With Russia Didn’t Work So Well

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 3 months ago

Remember this visit to Moscow?  Remember this goofy-ass picture?

Perhaps the button has malfunctioned.

Russia’s most senior military officer said Thursday that Moscow would preemptively strike and destroy U.S.-led NATO missile defense sites in Eastern Europe if talks with Washington about the developing system continue to stall.

“A decision to use destructive force preemptively will be taken if the situation worsens,” Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov said at an international missile defense conference in Moscow attended by senior U.S. and NATO officials.

The threat comes as talks about the missile defense system, which the U.S. and its allies insist is aimed at Iranian missiles, appear to have stalled.

“We have not been able to find mutually-acceptable solutions at this point and the situation is practically at a dead end,” Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.

Perhaps a better idea would be a reset in our so-called “smart diplomacy.”

It’s Time To Engage the Caucasus Part III

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

From The Times of India:

The US is now less dependent on Pakistan for supply of cargo for its troops fighting al-Qaida and Taliban  militants in Afghanistan, a Congressional report said today, amid a standoff between Washington and Islamabad over supplies through the country.

The Senate committee report said that only 29% of the total Afghan cargo supply now goes through Pakistan; which about an year ago was nearly 50%.

Islamabad has closed the crucial Nato supply route from Pakistan after the November 26th airstrikes that killed 24 of its soldiers.

“An estimated 40% of all cargo transits the NDN (Northern Distribution Network), 31% is shipped by air, and the remaining 29% goes through Pakistan. An estimated 70% of cargo transiting the NDN enters Afghanistan via Uzbekistan’s Hairaton Gate,” the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said.

Since 2009, the US has steadily increased traffic on the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a major logistical accomplishment.

According to US Transportation Command, close to 75 per cent of ground sustainment cargo is now shipped via the NDN, it said.

As a result of increasing dependence on NDN for supply of logistics and cargo to its troops in Afghanistan, Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee emphasized that there was a need to build relationship with the Central Asia countries.

“Central Asia matters. Its countries are critical to the outcome in Afghanistan and play a vital role in regional stability. As we reassure our partners that our relationships and engagement in Afghanistan will continue after the military transition in 2014, we should underscore that we have long-term strategic interests in the broader region,” Kerry said.

And of course, you heard about the need for this transition here before you heard about it anywhere else.  But there is a catch.  Kerry is right – Central Asia matters, but our lines of logistics now rely exclusively on routes through Central Asia and Russia (whereas I had recommended a logistics line from the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosporus Strait in Turkey, and from there into the Black Sea.  From the Black Sea the supplies would go through Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan.  From here the supplies would transit across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan).  The added benefit of such a logistics line would be increased spending, influence and authority in the region, a region heavy in oil and natural gas.

The Caucasus region matters too.  From The Jamestown Foundation:

The “disbalance of interests” (see EDM, December 15), favoring Russia over the United States in the South Caucasus, used to be offset by superior US resources, attractiveness and credibility. But that offset has diminished as US policy turned toward de-prioritizing this region (compared with the earlier level of Washington’s engagement). Lacking a strategy for the South Caucasus, the US has taken a back seat to Russia at least since 2008 in the negotiations on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

Washington had reduced its profile and role on this issue (and on South Caucasus regional security writ large) already during the second term of the Bush administration. It folded the Karabakh conflict portfolio into other portfolios within the State Department; it handled this issue through medium-level diplomats versus Russia’s top leaders; and it separated this issue from US regional strategy, which was itself fading out. Under the Obama administration, the policy drift grew more pronounced, with domestic politics distorting US diplomacy on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

Takeaway point: “Lacking a Strategy.”  Read the whole report.  What other administration could pull off such a feat?  We have transitioned our logistics lines to the North (as I recommended almost three years ago), all the while alienating the Caucasus region in favor of Russian routes.  Meanwhile, while every other nation is preparing to cut and run from Afghanistan, including the U.K., Georgia is literally doubling down on its troop levels in Afghanistan.

What a strange world in which we live.  Georgia is begging to be our ally, assisting us in Afghanistan at their own peril, and we have the chance to increase U.S. authority and presence in the Caucasus, and choose instead to empower Russia.  Again, what other administration could pull off something like this?

It’s Time To Engage the Caucasus

It’s Time To Engage the Caucasus Part II

U.S. Agrees to Divulge British Nuclear Secrets to Russia

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

From The Telegraph:

Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.

Duncan Lennox, editor of Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems, said: “They want to find out whether Britain has more missiles than we say we have, and having the unique identifiers might help them.”

Professor Malcolm Chalmers said: “This appears to be significant because while the UK has announced how many missiles it possesses, there has been no way for the Russians to verify this. Over time, the unique identifiers will provide them with another data point to gauge the size of the British arsenal.”

Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.

The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called “special relationship”, which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website.

Details of the behind-the-scenes talks are contained in more than 1,400 US embassy cables published to date by the Telegraph, including almost 800 sent from the London Embassy, which are published online today.

Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.

Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.

The Telegraph is referring to the New START treaty already ratified by the U.S. Senate, and for which Secretary Gates lobbied.  I had previously argued that the treaty was one-sided and brought the U.S. no discernible advantage in any area of weapons or nuclear technology, or foreign policy.  When Ronald Reagan advocated for the initial START treaty, even Time Magazine noted that it was one-sided in favor of the U.S., a fact which caused Time incorrectly to predict its failure.  Reagan negotiated from a position of strength.

But what we’ve learned now goes past a bad treaty – and it was a bad treaty.  It goes to reputation, to status, to honoring allies and friendships, to standing.  It makes this administration out to be pusillanimous weasels willing to sell out even our closest friends to enemies and criminals for a mere smattering of success on the world stage.

We pressed the reset button in foreign policy with Russia, but Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev viewed this as having made us sniveling lackeys.  Our enemies think we are fools and clowns, while our allies cannot trust us.  So much for success on the world stage.  Mr. Obama, we all knew Ronald Reagan, and you sir are no Ronald Reagan.

It’s Time to Engage the Caucasus Part II

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

After discussing the recent disputations that have occurred between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Stephen Blank goes on to make recommendations for greater U.S. engagement in the Caucasus.

The U.S. has displayed indifference, or at least apathy, toward the situation. This needs to change. Armenia’s threats reflect the facts that NATO disregarded Armenia’s claims and that the OSCE, largely because of distrust between the U.S. and Russia, cannot bring itself to function as intended (i.e., as a mediator). But the threats also reflect the fact that behind most of the headlines, this has been a very good year for Azerbaijan in its international relations, particularly its energy diplomacy. As a result, Azerbaijan has become more strategically important to the West, including the U.S.

Baku has stood its ground with Moscow. While doubling gas exports to Russia, it signed a major deal with BP to develop new gas holdings off its shores, thus not only maintaining its energy independence, but also demonstrating the importance of the planned Nabucco pipeline to Europe. Azerbaijan has also visibly improved its relations with Turkmenistan, to the point where a Turkmen decision to send its gas to Europe through pipes traversing Azerbaijan is now quite conceivable. Further, Azerbaijan signed a four-party deal to build an Interconnector that will send Azeri gas through Georgia and the Black Sea en route to Romania and then Hungary. This deal enhances Azerbaijan’s importance to Southeastern Europe as a reliable supplier of oil and gas. Also in 2010, Azerbaijan improved its ties and signed an energy agreement with Turkey.

While these agreements cannot hide the fact that no progress was made on Nagorno-Karabakh — over 30 serious incidents occur daily on the “Line of Contact” there — they do show Azerbaijan’s growing importance to Europe and self-confidence in international affairs. Armenia, by contrast, has little to show for its efforts except continuing dependence upon Russia. For example, because of its refusal to negotiate with Azerbaijan, Armenia remains estranged from Turkey — a situation that decreases Armenia’s GDP by 15 percent. Recent reports show that Armenia ran weapons to Iran, something that will hardly endear it to the West.

Blank goes on to describe the disaster that would be open war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and then concludes with this:

The 2008 Russo-Georgian War showed that even small wars in the Transcaucasus can have repercussions that far transcend the region. Failure to take an active role in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue not only cements Armenia’s dependence upon Moscow and estrangement from Turkey and Europe; it also undermines the success Azerbaijan has had in strengthening Europe’s position vis-à-vis Russia on energy security. Continued neglect of Azerbaijan, and of the Transcaucasus as a whole, can only erode U.S. standing and damage its credibility in the region, confirming Russia’s belief that the reset policy amounts to an acknowledgement of its right to a sphere of influence over the Commonwealth of Independent States. Under the circumstances, the ongoing failure of the U.S. to play an active role here makes no sense at all — and worse, encourages the drift to war.

I had initially advocated engagement of the Caucasus region for at least two purposes, namely logistics (as an alternative to the troublesome line of logistics through the Khyber region or the increasingly troublesome Chamen area), and as a barrier to Russian assertion of influence in what it considers its “near abroad.”

Hidden, or perhaps simply assumed in my prose, was the understanding that the Caucasus region is oil and natural gas rich.  Blank recognizes that the Caucasus is strategically important due not only to its oil and gas, but also as a potential way to blunt the force of Russian hegemony (or possible developing Russian hegemony).

So there are three good reasons to engage the Caucasus: (1) Oil and gas, (2) as a barrier to Russian influence (see Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy for as discussion of Russian basing rights and logistics in Armenia), and (3) as an already-proven line of logistics to Afghanistan in lieu of Pakistan.  Actually, as Stephen Blank points out, in spite of the fear mongers who believe that Georgia will drag us into a war with Russia, there is a fourth good reason to engage the Caucasus region: to prevent war from occurring.

I don’t hold out high hopes that the Obama administration will pursue engagement of the Caucasus, as I am not convinced that they care about any of the above justifications that we have offered.  However, Russia is not our friend, we still need logistics to Afghanistan, our automobiles and trucks still need to run in order to support our economy, and war between Armenia and Azerbaijan would be a humanitarian disaster.

Prior: It’s Time to Engage the Caucasus

The End Of Russian Democracy?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

Via Instapundit:

Despite criticism from the U.S. and an appeal on Friday by Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s lawyers, it appears the former head of the Yukos Oil Company will spend as much time in the Gulag as many Stalin-era political prisoners. His sentence of 13.5 years for fraud means that he will not be a free man until 2017, if then. The presiding judge in the case said that correcting Khodorkovsky would only be possible if he was isolated from society.

In fact, however, the Putin regime is not concerned about correcting Khodorkovsky. The arrest and sentencing of Khodorkovsky made it possible to complete the transformation of Russia into a controlled society with a permanent political leadership and a president for life (Putin). It is for this reason that Putin not only hates Khodorkovsky but, to a degree, fears him. Putin cannot abide the implicit challenge that Khodorkovsky at liberty would represent.

When the Soviet Union fell, almost all property in Russia was in the hands of the state. This meant that it was controlled by government bureaucrats. At the same time, only criminal elements and those who had benefited from the connections to the authorities during the perestroika period and were able to start their own businesses had money to buy it. Khodorkovsky, a young communist league (komsomol) activist, was in the latter category. Like other nascent “capitalists,” Khodorkovsky benefited from corrupt ties to government officials to amass phenomenal wealth. Khodorkovsky acquired the Yukos Oil Company under the “loans for shares” program in which the government mortgaged the crown jewels of Russian industry in return for loans that it was clear would not be repaid. Khodorkovsky’s bank, Menatep, was put in charge of the auction of Yukos which controlled 2 per cent of the world’s oil reserves. It acted to eliminate all competitive bidding and Khodorkovsky purchased the company for $159 million, $9 million above the starting price. In 2003, the value of Yukos was estimated at $15 billion.

Unlike the other Russian oligarchs, who amassed wealth in similar ways, however, Khodorkovsky realized that the Russian rules of gangster capitalism had to change if Russia was ever to be a civilized country and he took steps to transform Yukos into a modern Western company. He declared his income and introduced Western standards of accounting and governance. He also began to exercise the rights of a Western businessman, including the right to finance opposition political parties. It was this that set him on a collision course with Putin.

When Putin took power as Yeltsin’s hand picked successor, his first priority was to protect the lives and property of the members of the corrupt Yeltsin oligarchy. Putin, however, changed the rules of the game in one important respect. He was ready to allow the oligarchs to enjoy the fruits of their misdeeds as long as they did not intervene in politics. Putin was to rule alone, without opposition, and the wealth acquired through dishonest means during the Yeltsin era was to be placed exclusively at the disposal of the Putin regime.

From Putin’s perspective, there was never to be any such thing as Russian democracy.  It isn’t just that it’s now dead.  It was stillborn from the beginning.  Our ratification of the New START treaty reflects a stolid and dense understanding of world affairs.

It bought us nothing.  Russia hasn’t exactly cooperated with respect to inspections anyway, so that argument fails.  It restricts the number of nuclear weapons for both Russia and the U.S., but Russia is bankrupt and wouldn’t pursue such an expansionist program anyway.  On the other hand, it does indeed restrict our ability and freedom to develop defensive weapons, and it makes irrelevant the DoD recommendations to pursue the reliable replacement warhead program (and even continue to develop nuclear weapons technology).  Thus is takes a situation of superiority for the U.S. and makes it parity.

Russia fought our attempts to secure the Manas air base for logistics to Afghanistan, and they are even now attempting to reduce our influence in Tajikistan.  They want the U.S. to sell them weapons, but demand that we refrain from aiding Georgia in her fight against Russian hegemony while they also sell weapons to Syria, that apparatchik of Iran.

Returning to New START, Russia is no friend or ally of the U.S.  Mr. Obama read a biography of Ronald Reagan while vacationing in Hawaii.  Under START when Reagan negotiated the treaty, even Time noted that:

Under Reagan’s ceilings, the U.S. would have to make considerably less of an adjustment in its strategic forces than would the Soviet Union. That feature of the proposal will almost certainly prompt the Soviets to charge that it is unfair and one-sided. No doubt some American arms-control advocates will agree, accusing the Administration of making the Kremlin an offer it cannot possibly accept—a deceptively equal-looking, deliberately nonnegotiable proposal that is part of what some suspect is the hardliners’ secret agenda of sabotaging disarmament so that the U.S. can get on with the business of rearmament.

But accept it they did because of SDI.  And thus Reagan negotiated the treaty from a position of strength to preserve superiority, not ensure parity.  We all knew Ronald Reagan.  He was our beloved President, and under his watch I didn’t have to worry with such pedestrian issues as what the New START contains and why a lame duck Congress would ratify such a thing.

Yes, we all knew Ronald Reagan, and Mr. Obama, you sir are no Ronald Reagan.

Obama Administration Allows Russian Inspections of Nuclear Sites

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 10 months ago

Russia gets to count U.S. missiles and warheads according to a recent agreement sponsored by the Obama administration.

Russia and the United States have tentatively agreed to a weapons inspection program that would allow Russians to visit nuclear sites in America to count missiles and warheads.

The plan, which Fox News has learned was agreed to in principle during negotiations, would constitute the most intrusive weapons inspection program the U.S. has ever accepted.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said publicly Tuesday that the two nations have made “considerable” progress toward reaching agreement on a new strategic arms treaty.

The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, expires in December and negotiators have been racing to reach agreement on a successor.

Clinton said the U.S. would be as transparent as possible.

“We want to ensure that every question that the Russian military or Russian government asks is answered,” she said, calling missile defense “another area for deep cooperation between our countries.”

While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and give them our miniaturized nuclear weapons technology from Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories.  Let’s allow them access to Oak Ridge National Laboratory so that they can see how we cascade our enrichment of weapons grade material.  In fact, let’s just give them some of our weapons so that Russian scientists and engineers can study our material purity and weapons designs.

Talk about OPSEC (operational security) violations, this must be the mother of all offenses.  The Marines ban twitter, Facebook and MySpace because of just such issues, but Obama lets the Russians investigate and inspect the most significant deterrence to all out conventional war in the last half century.  Is there a problem with this picture?

Counterinsurgency, Brutality and Women in Combat

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 11 months ago

Generally I think that articles which rely on the ideas of other bloggers is to be avoided.  Occasionally however, it is appropriate to respond to critics.  One strength of blogging is the ability to link, criticize, interact, and respond.  I accept that although I don’t want it to dominate my prose.

Now for Gulliver at Ink Spots.

People will use just about anything as evidence for things they already believe.

Case in point: Herschel Smith thinks that the presence of women in Soviet combat formations is one of the top five most important reasons for their failure in Afghanistan.

I think that other things were essential to the loss, including [a] focus on the cities v. the countryside, [b] complete breakdown of the lines of logistics due to [a] above, [c] heavy losses because of Taliban control over the roads due to [a] above, [d] focus on mounted combat and mounted patrols as opposed to dismounted operations, [e] women in combat billets which led to a high number of lower extremity injuries and a high number of combat ineffective units, and a whole host of other things. [emphasis mine]

This comes in the SWJ comment thread about an article on “Sri Lanka’s disconcerting COIN strategy,” as part of a post in which Smith dismisses Soviet “ruthlessness” as one of the primary reasons for defeat in the Afghan war.

So in short, girls in the infantry were more damaging to the Russian war effort than bad counterinsurgency tactics. “There is the thing of testosterone, and it’s different because God made it that way.” Ok? Ok. Glad we cleared that one up.

Let’s think carefully about both my comment and Gulliver’s reaction to it.  Both say something about the commenters and their thought boundaries.  The comment was left at the Small Wars Journal blog in response to an article by Major Niel Smith.  If I may be allowed to summarize the thesis, he posits that the more violent and less population centric counterinsurgency model has its supporters.  He specifically mentions Ralph Peters and Colonel Gian Gentile; I’m not sure sure about Ralph Peters, but I would comment that the inclusion of Colonel Gentile in this category is true to some extent, but somewhat inappropriate given the nuance included in Gentile’s model and also given the use made of this inclusion (for one of the best discussions of Gentile’s position, see The Imperative for an American General Purpose Army That Can Fight, Foreign Policy Research Institute).  His (Niel Smith’s) discussion ranges into the brutality of less population centric counterinsurgency, and in this he should have (in my opinion) focused more on Edward Luttwak.

But getting back to the main point, Niel goes on to grant the assumption that some of the evidence is compelling in favor of this view, but that there is even more compelling contrary evidence – defeater evidence – for the success rate of counterinsurgency focused on heavier combat tactics.  At this point he uses several examples, one of which is the Russian campaign in Afghanistan.

So Niel has written a fairly open minded article positing that there is evidence to support what I will call the Luttwak position, while more compelling defeater evidence.  He then invites critique.  In my critique I didn’t weigh in on the overall thesis, but did essentially state that the Russian campaign was a poor example to support the thesis.  I opined that there were other more important reasons that the Russians lost the campaign.

Enter Gulliver.  He thinks that I have listed my top five reasons that the Russian campaign failed.  Why Gulliver thinks that I have listed my top five reasons is not known.  Gulliver would have to answer that question himself.  If I had been asked to list my top reasons that the Russian campaign failed, I probably would lead with focus on the population centers and relegation of the countryside to the Taliban to recruit, train and raise support.  In second place wouldn’t be U.S. help and assistance, although many would place this one in first or second.  My second reason (challenging for top spot) would be the existence of the Russian made RPG, plentiful to the Taliban for reasons that included U.S. help.  The Russian RPG was the first EFP (explosively formed projectile) used en mass on the battle field.

But no one asked me to enumerate my top five reasons the campaign failed.  I merely included a list of things that initially came to mind.  Let’s deal with women in combat now.  Gulliver’s response drips with sarcasm even after his incorrect assumptions concerning my list of reasons that the Russians lost.  But it remains undisputed that there were women in combat billets in the Russian campaign, and it remains undisputed that there were a large number of lower extremity injuries and that this led to a large number of ineffective units.

Marine in Helmand suffering under a heavy combat load, way more than 100 pounds.

But there is more to discuss on this issue.  As regular readers know, we have followed the dismounted campaign by the U.S. Marines in the Helmand Province.  CBS reporter Lara Logan has seen the Marines in Helmand without an ounce of fat on their bodies, and she has even expressed concern over their health.  When my son deployed to Fallujah he was so slim and muscular that I wondered how he would lose any weight whatsoever, as there was no weight to lose.  The only way he lost 20 or 30 pounds was the same way the Marines in Helmand do it.  The body turns on itself and begins eating muscle for energy.  I am a weight lifter and I know how to avoid this, i.e., I know when to stop my workout because I am no longer helping my body.  It’s actually dangerous, although Ms. Logan doesn’t know how to express it.  The body hurts itself when it begins using muscle and internal organs for energy.

Here is a test question.  We have discussed the Marines carrying 120 pounds on their back in 120 F heat in Helmand, patrolling all day and even conducting squad rushes with this weight.  Now for the question for the readers.  How many of you – raise your hands now – believe that women could carry 120 pounds in 120 F heat all day in Helmand and then conduct squad rushes?  You can answer in the comments – it’s okay.  But if you answer yes, you are also required to tell us what kind of dope you’ve been smoking.  You see, we all know what the honest answer to this question is, even if Gulliver doesn’t admit that he does.

Now let’s close with a little examination of what the Democrats think about special forces, special operations forces, and women in combat billets.  I support women in the military, and one example of such a role would be the use of female Marines to interact with Afghan women after terrain has been seized.  But the Democrats in Congress ( hereafter Dems) wanted something different for the Army.  Hence, women occupy combat billets in the Army.

The Dems want their social experiments and projects, but even they know that there has to be a boundary for this.  Michael Fumento has a good article on the Dems’ love of SF and SOF and their promise to expand the SF.  I have weighed in on the cult of Special Forces, so I won’t reiterate my issues with the Dems’ proposal or Michael Fumento’s prose here.

The point is that SF are deployed all over the globe.  They are involved in black operations that are never seen, never heard of, and are not subject to the Dems’ social experiments.  The Dems know this and they want it that way.  Women are not allowed in combat billets, not in the Special Forces, not in the Special Operations Forces, and not in Marine infantry.  The Dems want their programs, but they also want to know that they can call on infantry to do the job of infantry, so they restrict their own programs to known boundaries.  I challenged those boundaries and believe that they should not allow women in Army infantry.  The Dems include women in Army infantry.  But they stop there.  Not the Marines, and not Army SF.

There you have it.  They are at the best simply not forthcoming, and at the worst, disingenuous liars.  The truth gets spoken in quiet circles when no one but the power brokers are listening.  The public hears what the power brokers want them to hear.  One piece of that tripe is that there is no difference between men and women in the military.  They know better, but don’t want you to know that they know.

Now back to Gulliver … if Gulliver has managed to hang on and pay attention this long.  Is it I who has allowed his bias (presuppositions) to dictate the outcome, or Gulliver?  Note again his comments above.  Gulliver is simply indignant that I have “dismissed” Soviet ruthlessness as the reason for their failure in the campaign.  But isn’t he begging the question?  Has he not even allowed the Niel Smith’s assumptions to dictate the course of the debate?  Niel has allowed that there is evidence that supports Luttwak’s thesis, but believes that there is stronger defeater evidence.  Gulliver doesn’t engage in the debate.  He simply assumes that the Soviets lost due to the reasons he outlines, and then proceeds from there.  Who then is the one who uses just about anything as evidence for things he already believes?

The reader can judge for himself.  In the mean time, I have given you Luttwak, Gentile, Niel Smith, women in combat billets, heavy combat loads, squad rushes, the Small Wars Journal blog, SF and SOF, black operations and the Dems in Congress to think about.

If I ever give you worthless tripe like you read at Ink Spots, you should savage me in the comments.

The Coming War in the Caucasus

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 3 months ago

In It’s Time to Engage the Caucasus we described a potential logistics route through the Caucasus region in lieu of the problematic and troublesome Pakistan routes (especially through Khyber).  The recommended route involved transit from the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosporus Strait in Turkey, and from there into the Black Sea.  From the Black Sea the supplies would go through Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan.  From here the supplies would transit across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.

In addition to this region being a potential viable alternative to Pakistan, we noted this region as being an up-and-coming economic power due in part to the massive quantities of energy buried beneath its soil.  The engagement of the Caucasus region would potentially lead not only to logistics routes, but political and energy partnership as well.  But the darker truth that accompanies this potential is that Russia is also interested.

Russia is interest for several reasons, including the fact that Russian bases in Armenia have no viable land resupply and logistics route except through Georgia.  Recent NATO exercises in Georgia infuriated the Russian administration, causing the Russian ambassador to say that “Differences between Russia and U.S. on a number of issues still persist. The most recent example is NATO maneuvers in Georgia. It disappoints us as it assures Georgian government that regardless of what it did towards Russia, it will gain NATO membership. Unfortunately, no lesson was drawn from August events,” referring to their 2008 invasion of Georgia.

This is the first admission of the real reason behind the invasion of Georgia, veiled though it was.  It was all about “lessons” for the U.S. and Georgia.  The most recent warnings are less veiled.

A Kremlin policy paper says international relations will be shaped by battles over energy resources, which may trigger military conflicts on Russia’s borders.

The National Security Strategy also said that Russia will seek an equal “partnership” with the United States, but named U.S. missile defense plans in Europe among top threats to the national security.

The document, which has been signed by President Dmitry Medvedev, listed top challenges to national security and outlined government priorities through 2020.

“The international policy in the long run will be focused on getting hold of energy sources, including in the Middle East, the Barents Sea shelf and other Arctic regions, the Caspian and Central Asia,” said the strategy paper that was posted on the presidential Security Council’s Web site.

“Amid competitive struggle for resources, attempts to use military force to solve emerging problems can’t be excluded,” it added. “The existing balance of forces near the borders of the Russian Federation and its allies can be violated.”

Medvedev’s predecessor Vladimir Putin, who is now Russia’s powerful prime minister, often accused the West in the past of trying to expand its clout in the ex-Soviet nations and push Russia out of its traditional sphere of influence. The Kremlin has fiercely opposed NATO’s plans to incorporate its ex-Soviet neighbors, Ukraine and Georgia.

Russia currently controls most natural gas export routes out of the former Soviet region, but that grip is coming under growing pressure from China and the West.

The European Union, which depends on Russia for about one-quarter of its gas needs, has sought alternate supply routes, including the prospective Nabucco pipeline that would carry the Caspian and Central Asian gas to Europe but skirt Russia.

Intensifying rivalry for influence in the ex-Soviet region fomented tensions and helped stage the ground for last August’s war between Russia and Georgia, which sits astride a key export pipeline carrying Caspian oil to Western markets.

The war erupted when the U.S.-allied Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili sent troops to regain control over the separatist province of South Ossetia, which had close links with Russia. After routing the Georgian army in five days of fighting, Russia recognized both South Ossetia and another Georgian rebel province of Abkhazia as independent nations and permanently stationed nearly 8,000 troops there.

President Barack Obama’s administration has sought to rebuild ties with Moscow, which plummeted to a post-Cold War low under his predecessor and focus on negotiating a new nuclear arms control deal. Medvedev and other Russian officials have hailed what they called the new administration’s constructive approach and voiced hope that Washington will drop plans to deploy missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic — a top irritant in U.S.-Russian relations.

Reflecting the Kremlin’s hope for better ties with Washington, the strategy paper said Russia will seek “equal and full-fledged strategic partnership with the United States on the basis of coinciding interests.”

But it warned that missile defense plans and prospects to develop space-based weapons remain a top threat to Russia’s security, and said Russia will seek to maintain a nuclear parity with the United States. However, it added that Russia’s policy will be pragmatic and will exclude a new arms race.

The Captain’s Journal has recommended engaging the Caucasus by means of friendship, assistance and special dispensation for business partnerships.  This remarkable admission by Russia, signed by Medvedev, directly admits that war is possible over energy.

The romantic notions of influence in its so-called near abroad has been dropped in favor of more honest but crass verbal bullying and threats, targeted at an administration which wants to press the “reset” button with them.  The team of Putin and Medvedev intend to bloat the cash flow directly into Russia in payment for energy, this very energy being extorted by force if necessary.

Given the predisposition of the current administration to negotiate, talk, bargain and expect only the best of our supposedly erstwhile enemies, it isn’t apparent that Georgia, the Ukraine and other regional countries have any hope of continued sovereignty as it currently exists.  If extortion and threats don’t pave the way towards a re-emergence of the old Soviet style government, then they have made their only other option clear.  War is coming to the Caucasus.

Prior:

Mutiny in Georgia

Obama, Russia and the Future of Georgia

It’s Time to Engage the Caucasus

Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy

Mutiny in Georgia

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 3 months ago

We have previously predicted a war between Russia and Georgia, or better described, a Russian invasion and rapid takeover of Georgia.  The casus belli will be political instability, or cross border shooting at each other, or some other absurd smoke screen.  The real issue will be the Russian bases in Armenia and inability to reach them without passage through Georgia.  That, combined with Russian hegemony in its near abroad, will be the impetus for renewed military action.  But the method in which is almost began is interesting.

Georgian police officers are seen in a truck body at a road outside Tbilisi today. Georgian troops staged a mutiny on the eve of NATO exercises in the ex-Soviet republic, which the government said it ended without violence but accused Russia of backing the rebels (Vano Shlamov / AFP / Getty Images).

Reporting from Moscow and Tbilisi, Georgia — Georgia’s president, a post-Soviet darling of the Bush administration, is already struggling with a buildup of Russian troops in breakaway territories and an angry opposition movement intent on driving him from power. Suddenly, the integrity of the armed forces is in doubt as well.

The short-lived mutiny of a tank battalion today was another reminder of the instability that has racked Georgia since it was defeated last summer in a war with Russia. President Mikheil Saakashvili rushed to negotiate with the mutineers. And he took to the airwaves to accuse Russia — whose leaders loathe him and are bitterly opposed to his hopes of joining NATO — of trying to organize a coup.

“What happened today is just a signal that the war has not ended yet,” said Alexander Rondeli, president of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies.

The flare of insurrection was over in a few hours. The commander of the 500-member tank battalion was in custody, the base was calm, and the government had turned its attention to circulating a news release describing “the failed military mutiny.”

But the uprising further pressurized politics in the small republic in the volatile Caucasus region.

The government accused Russia of orchestrating the uprising in an effort to undermine NATO war games set to begin in Georgia on Wednesday.

Saakashvili called the uprising “a serious threat and a serious challenge,” but said it was isolated. He also said the mutineers had “connections with special forces in a specific country known to us.”

“I am asking and demanding from our northern neighbor to refrain from provocations,” Saakashvili said in a televised address.

This mutiny is thuggery, the actions of criminals.  It’s tailor-made and just perfect for Vladimir Putin and his lap dog Dmitri Medvedev.  Money has been pouring into Georgia to support the forces of unrest, and it’s quite the wonder that Georgia has held on as long as it has.  But while the U.S. is glad-handing, or hand-slapping, or fist-bumping, Russia, and hitting the rest button in our relations, Russia is flipping the U.S. the bird.  The Russian ambassador to the U.S. has given a stern warning on what the invasion in the August of 2008 really meant.

Russia deplores the NATO decision to hold military training in Georgia. It shows that the alliance did not draw right lesson from the developments in the Caucasus in August 2008, RIA Novosto quoted Russian ambassador the United States Sergey Kislyak a saying in New York.

Corporative Longbow 09 /Corporative Lancer 09 multinational training is expected to begin on May 6 and run through June 1 in Georgia. As many as 1,300 military men from 19 alliance member states and partners will participate.

“Differences between Russia and U.S. on a number of issues still persist. The most recent example is NATO maneuvers in Georgia. It disappoints us as it assures Georgian government that regardless of what it did towards Russia, it will gain NATO membership. Unfortunately, no lesson was drawn from August events,” Russian ambassador said at Carnegie Council in New York.

Lessons.  That was the point of the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008.  Apparently we (and Georgia) didn’t learn them the easy way, and with the fist-bumping and smiles being the order of the day, The Captain’s Journal wonders if Georgia regrets sending its sons to fight alongside U.S. troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Some ally we turned out to be.

Prior:

Obama, Russia and the Future of Georgia

It’s Time to Engage the Caucasus

Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy

Will Russian-Afghan Logistics Dictate Foreign Policy?


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