Friday, January 1, 2016

Military Power (Cont'd-1)

So, as was stated in the previous post--doctrines do matter. Doctrine is a system of views, be it military or economic doctrine. As an example, liberalism is a doctrine, it is both ideological and economic doctrine, so is the Free Trade doctrine--all of them are systems of views. It doesn't matter that none of them really works, what matters that they do represent system of the views. Thus, if we take a look at military doctrines we will be able to relatively easily see what goes behind those views. 

It makes total sense to take a look at the evolution of Russia's military doctrine for the last 10+ years. We start with seemingly unimportant event which took place on 15 February 2015. That day, Vladimir Putin met with the veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War, to commemorate the date of the withdrawal of the Soviet 40th Army from Afghanistan in 1989. 


The significance of that meeting was not in the fact that some social privileges were promised to Afghan vets or that Putin praised the courage of Soviet soldiers and officers who fought there. No, the significance of that meeting was in the re-assessment of the Soviet-Afghan War and of the decision on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This refined position on invasion of Afghanistan was reiterated by Putin recently in his interview in Vladimir Solovyov's documentary Miroporyadok (World Order). This re-assessment marked, hopefully final, break with Russia's "liberal" past in which, despite overwhelming empirical evidence to the contrary, Yeltsin's (that is the US and Europe-manipulated (anti) Russian puppet state) Russia condemned USSR for entering Afghanistan in 1979. Putin, however, largely vindicated the invasion by recognizing real threats to Soviet Union at the time and by....signing the new Military Doctrine Of Russian Federation on 25 December 2014 (PR-2976), which openly states, in pp. 31, that Russia has the right to use her Armed Forces abroad, while pp. 26 establishes the right to use conventional precision weapons in the framework of the strategic containment. 

These two events: signing of the new doctrine and meeting with Afghan veterans, were tightly interconnected. For the first time in 20 post-Soviet years, Russia is getting back to her normal geopolitical, historical and military senses. 

As late Samuel Huntington noted in his seminal The Clash Of Civilizations  And The Remaking Of World Order: "States define their interests in terms of power but also in terms of much else besides.... States respond primarily to perceived threats". There are many things which Huntington got wrong in his magnum opus, not this one, though. Indeed, threat-response dichotomy is a dominant natural factor, which manifests itself on every level, from biological to political. It is not only desirable but entirely natural to react to threats and no threat is more dangerous than the threat to life. In geopolitical terms the threat is an attack on the nation which threatens its survival. Consider 2015 US National Military Strategy, it clearly states that #1 national security interest is survival of the nation, while enduring national interest is the security of the United States and its citizens and allies. 

You can read it here (page 5)  

But this is as far as any similarity between Russian and US military doctrines--defending a nation--goes. To read interconnected US National Security Strategy and Doctrine For The Armed Forces Of The United States you may visit these links:

US Armed Forces Doctrine 



The first thing which strikes any observer when reading US doctrinal documents is.....where are the real threats to the survival of the United States?

While all those listed threats of cyber security or terrorism (among others) are valid threats, and they do require systemic approach to address them, none of those threats is a threat which directly challenges the existence of the United States and its survival. Unless one seriously considers the possibility of the US territory being attacked by North Koreans or imagines an invasion by the mighty armed forces of Mexico, or Canada going rogue and committing atrocities against unsuspecting population of the Pacific North West, it is impossible to shake off the impression that all these strategies and doctrines are contrived from the point of view of fundamental national interest--national survival against valid threats.  The only valid threat to the existence of the United States as a state and a nation is nuclear, but this is beyond the mostly military conventional scope of discussion here. The only conventional one is the salvo of Russian cruise missiles with conventional ordnance against US targets in continental USA, but Russia is a rational player and will not attack first. Thus it is not only warranted but inevitable to state that:

1. NO conventional military threat exists for the United States' territory. In fact, no conventional warfare other than possible, however highly improbable, civil war could be foreseen on US territory, least of all, with the involvement of the hostile external power. 

2. NO amphibious threat exists for the United States mainly through:

a) Overwhelming might of the US Navy capable to prevent ANY such threat, should it ever materialize, but then again--I am not privy to Hollywood schedules and screenwriting process;
b) Most importantly--NO other state has any plans for amphibious invasion of the United States. 

3.  In general, US military posture CAN NOT be defined in terms of a defense of a nation because: 

a) It is overwhelmingly extra-territorial;
b) It is globalist and universalist (read the passage on "human rights" as one of the founding principles of US strategy, as an example);
c) It is highly aggressive and exceptionalist:

"Any successful strategy to ensure the safety of the American people and advance our national security interests must begin with an undeniable truth—America must lead. Strong and sustained American leadership is essential to a rules-based international order that promotes global security and prosperity as well as the dignity and human rights of all peoples. The question is never whether America should lead,but how we lead."    
National Security Strategy, page 1.

4. Most importantly, US military doctrines (and strategies) overwhelmingly are defined in terms of Power Projection, also known among laymen as blowing shit up in some places other than US proper. Those doctrines (and strategies) are openly offensive across whole political and military spectrum. Enough to take a look at the US Armed Forces' posture, both in terms of force structure and in terms of number and location of military bases.

Why is it possible? Because the military calculus, both on strategic and operational levels, of a continental power and that of the US as "world's island", as defined by Admiral Zumwalt, are two very different things and are incompatible on a a fundamental, "genetic", military level. The difference between the two can easily be illustrated, yet again, when one asks the question of how many armored brigades and Air Force squadrons are required for a defense of....Chicago or Phoenix. The obvious answer is ZERO, because no one in the world has or develops any contingency planning for conducting combined arms operations on US territory. The picture changes dramatically when one begins to view the numbers required, for example, for the defense of  Rostov-on-Don or, even, of Dushanbe, once the hell completely breaks (and it will) loose in Afghanistan. Those numbers are real numbers of military equipment and personnel which will carry out the complex of operations designed to prevent, in case of Rostov-on-Don, penetration of enemy forces both on the ground and in the air, and, in case of Dushanbe, to prevent terrorist groups from operating on Tajikistan territory and spreading their warfare further inland of what is left of USSR, including the territory of Russia proper. 

Arthur J. Alexander in his "Decision Making In Soviet Weapons Procurement" came up with this quantification of what he called "classes of forces" (or constants) influencing aggregate defense expenditures for USSR. This quantification remains virtually unchanged for modern day Russia. I quote here two of the most "heavy" constants he mentions: "History, culture and values--40-50 percent. International environment, threat and internal capabilities--10-30 percent". Taken by their maxima, 50+30=80%, we get the picture. 80% of Russia's military expenditures are dictated by the REAL military threats, which were, time after time over centuries, realized for Russia and resulted in the destruction and human losses on a scale incomprehensible for people who write US military doctrines and national security strategies. Well, United States simply does not have this type of the military history as well as values and culture which are produced in the defense of own nation. This difference is perfectly reflected in the US and Russia's doctrines and answers explicitly the question of WHAT FOR military power.  For United States the military power is merely an instrument of power projection, which has no real utility in defense of a nation since no real external threat was ever realized against US in modern history and none realistically exists today. In case of the US, 80% shrink to a much smaller number.

As James Madison wrote in Federalist #41: "America united, with a handful of troops or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited". The similar sentiment was followed 50 years later by Abraham Lincoln in his address before Young Man's Lyceum: “At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide”.

Lyceum Address

Well, considering how history is taught or, rather, ignored in the US, geostrategic dictums by two brilliant American statesmen have been discarded and the genie was let out of the bottle. It is easy to do when you have no real threats. But this conclusion leads us to the necessity, when speaking of military power to consider different frameworks in which this power can be realized and it is realized differently in defensive (Russia) and offensive (US) postures, both strategically and operationally. Only then some comparisons could be made. 

To be continued......

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