Let's recall what Colonel Douglas Macgregor, whose professional background is absolutely undeniable and he IS a real military expert, said about real war 8 years ago in his Time magazine piece. I quote:
In 110 days of fighting the German army in France during 1918, the U.S. Army Expeditionary Force sustained 318,000 casualties, including 110,000 killed in action. That’s the kind of lethality waiting for U.S. forces in a future war with real armies, air forces, air defenses and naval power. Ignoring this reality is the road to future defeats and American decline. It’s time to look beyond the stirring images of infantrymen storming machine-gun nests created by Hollywood and to see war for what it is and will be in the future: the ruthless extermination of the enemy with accurate, devastating firepower from the sea, from the air, from space and from mobile, armored firepower on land.
That, folks, is a real professional speaking, not some media clowns and self-proclaimed "experts" akin to permanently butt-hurt David Axe or his ilk. The reason I use Macgregor's quote is not because it tickles Russian rah-rah but because decision makers in the US, most of them with law and political science backgrounds, have no a faintest clue on how REAL war of the 21st century will look like between peers, let alone against power which is above peer level in some key technological issues of warfare.
So, it is one thing when people with no academic and service military background sell military porn to teenagers, totally another when people, who usually stay behind the curtain, come out and say things which matter. So, couple of Ph.Ds in military science and associate professors (and senior officers) of Air Force Academy (Air War College) of Zhukovsky and Gagarin published the article in service magazine:
A war between Moscow and the West might start on the ground, but it would be settled in the air. That’s the verdict of two top Russian military strategists, published in a new analysis of how a putative conflict might play out.Writing in a new edition of the Air and Space Forces Journal, two associate professors at Russia’s pilot-training academy set out how any invasion launched against the country by NATO allies would depend on a massive aerial bombardment with warplanes and missiles. Vladilen Stuchinsky and Mikhail Korolkov say, however, that the approach isn’t foolproof.In order to disrupt the bombardment and frustrate ground-based operations, the analysts say, Russia should launch a colossal counter or pre-emptive strike to wipe out enemy hardware. This could be achieved, they argue, with the combined use of drones, missiles, cyber warfare and new weaponry, destroying Western equipment before it can even get airborne.
To understand what I am talking about, here is a link to a previous--free access--issues of this magazine and, yes, this is not some political BS or fashion rag. It is in Russian but has English summaries to many of its articles. People without physics and mathematics background may find the magazine intimidating. Here is December 2020 issue. This is a type of a magazine serious intelligence analysts are paid to read. So, when these professors talk, we better listen. The summary of their article is rather simple: any NATO target will be detected, tracked and annihilated in case US and NATO decide to do a stupid thing. Hm, this is not the news, really, because when even RAND and its aerospace experts arrive to the same conclusion one has to think that, yeah, they have a point. Remember?
Of course, the US is not fighting on its own turf here. Neither do the RAND team explain exactly how America ended up fighting a hypothetical war thousands of miles from home. But defense money is defense money, and the researchers were keen to paint an apocalyptic picture, no doubt timed to coincide with the 2020 military budget, released on Monday. “We lose a lot of people. We lose a lot of equipment. We usually fail to achieve our objective of preventing aggression by the adversary,” RAND analyst David Ochmanek told a security conference on Thursday. “In our games, when we fight Russia and China, blue gets its ass handed to it.”
It is very reassuring that professionals on both sides arrive to the same conclusion and it is especially significant against today's statement by Russia's Defense Minister that:
Translation: In the foundation of the Russian forces of non-nuclear containment will be hypersonic weapon complexes of different basing.
This is what Shoigu told to the participants of the operational-mobilization meeting of the command corps in Moscow. Now, the mathematics of the conventional war in Europe (and against the US proper) in case US and NATO decide to suicide themselves was in place for years. And it changes non-stop towards dis-balancing constantly, because Russia's Armed Forces are in a perpetual technological and operational evolution, which is the first sign of a healthy and cutting edge military. So, can Russia deliver an Alpha-strike at any combination of NATO forces in Europe? Evidently she can, since stand-off high precision weapons are being delivered and deployed constantly and, given those systems very long ranges and very high probabilities of acquiring targets and "leaking" through NATO's air/missile defenses, one can, with a solid reliability predict that on the modern battlefield, survival of the stationary targets (such as airfields, troops assembly areas, field HQs etc.) without top level integrated air/missile defense is getting exceedingly low.
NATO doesn't have air/missile defense which can handle massive cruise missiles salvo, let alone any hyper-sonic weapon. Even considering the inevitable degrading of the C4ISR, including low-orbit space recon assets, modern means of detection, air defense and targeting allow Russia to see aircraft at the runways as far away as Netherlands. What could be a result of such an "Alpha-strike"? It is easy to predict--a massive loss in personnel and hardware. How massive? Let me get out on a limb here and give the order of magnitude of personnel losses--many thousands from the first strike. Those air assets which will manage to get airborne will have to fight in the environment they never experienced before: aggressive ECM-ECCM, multilayered Air Defense, including AD ambushes and, in the end, facing off with a world-class RuAF operating from well defended airfields. Yes, folks, Russia is not Iraq. She is not even Iran. Moreover, she is not even China. That is a whole other level of military preparedness and firepower. And then, of course, there are naval assets of NATO. What would NATO do if it loses a division-size force (across all domains) in a first strike? Your guess is a good as mine.
The importance of this article, however, is in fact that it is a warning, primarily. A very professional one, from people who are actual, active experts capable to speak from the background which involves also the highest level of clearance, which also tells us that by far not everything is articulated. But what is, is enough to give a pause to NATO and that is good enough for Russia. I go back to Elmo Zumwalt, again, and will continue to do so. As early as 1970 he was forced to contemplate the scale of the crisis if the US Navy lost one of its CVNs. Hence Project 60 and ideas on Sea Control Ships to screen US Navy's carriers from what already then was fast evolving anti-ship missile technology. Today? You all know what is today. Tomorrow? The end of a warfare as we know it by means of AI-driven, new sensors and combat networks equipped, delivery with precision of a massive conventional firepower to the ranges which ten years ago seemed inconceivable. Recall this? It is all in serial production. This also explains why China may really want to get into the military alliance with Russia. The tray of goodies is simply too tantalizing to bypass. But we knew this all along.