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S O
S O
October 28, 2015 11:08 pm

Thanks for the link, but few of the usual visitors of MilBlogs will like the way the (im)balance is tilted according the IISS.

All politicians are the same
All politicians are the same
October 28, 2015 11:33 pm
Reply to  S O

Forgive me but numbers are useless without reference to morale, training levels, logistic supplies. It also seems to ignore some pretty crucial stuff like air support. DCA,OCA, ability to resupply, fuel reserves etc etc.
i do not not like I just disregard as useless.

S O
S O
October 28, 2015 11:53 pm

Partial information is not useless information.
Most who have an opinion on the military balance in Europe don’t know these quantitative facts and still already formed an opinion.

Besides, pretty much all of your points favour the same side as the quantitative measurements I used except “fuel reserves”. That’s a 100% irrelevant measurement, this is not fall 1944. Military demand for fuel is dwarfed by civilian demand and civilian stocks. The only fuels in strictly limited supply are liquid rocket fuels, and hardly any of those rockets are still in use.

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
October 28, 2015 11:59 pm
Reply to  S O

i think that unlike you those who are serious about an opinion have looked at these already and like myself are knowledgeable and experienced enough to look beyond them, Something you have not done and try to bluster off.
If you read my posts on here you will see I continually rise against those that over egg the Russian threat. I do however do so taking all theatres and factors into consideration. Your list of simplistic figures and accusations do nothing for the case we try to make.
They simply highlight you as someone with a point to make and not the experience to make it.

S O
S O
October 29, 2015 12:54 am

Seriously, you don’t know what I did and what I didn’t nor do you know my experience, knowledge or range of sources. So all you just did here was expose how quickly YOU rush to judgment.

Besides, you obviously didn’t understand the blog post’s essence.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 9:35 am

The usual Putinbot drivel “Europe strong, Russia weak, you can all ignore Russia and quietly go back to sleep!”

Honestly, your paymasters need to come up with a better narrative now their real capabilities are being put on show for all to see.

So, the reality (not the Putinbot version):

Most of Europe’s defence spending, especially outside France, Germany and the UK (and a handful or other small countries like Norway) is squandered on very large manpower heavy but capability light force structures. These units have virtually no readiness and what equipment they have is often outdated and in poor condition. Give Europe 8-12 months and it could create a vast light infantry Army, ask it to generate heavy forces in a matter of days or even weeks and you will be decidedly disappointed (unless you are a Putinbot).

Pure money figures also hide a host of other unfortunate realities the most significant being Purchasing Power Parity in defence, its difficult to measure but their are some wonderful anecdotal examples; for instance each Su-34 was (prior to the rouble crash) costing the Russian MinDef under US$30 million which means they can by three for every Typhoon or Rafale Europe procures. Similar things can be seen in other equipment as well as pay and pensions for personnel. In short, Russia may spend considerably less but what it does spend goes considerably further.

Key capabilities, I have already touched on readiness and weight of force but this can’t be underscored enough. Europe can not match (or even come close) Russia’s ability to mobilise, deploy and then hold at readiness very large and heavy formations on it’s borders. Added to this Syria has demonstrated a Russian ability to move beyond its borders that many naive people thought Russia had lost.

Then their are key technical capabilities, Russia’s ability to strike deep and precisely is currently unparalleled with the exception of the US and possibly China. And its getting better all the time. Combine strategic aviation, Kalibr in the navy, the Su-34 force and the Iskanders and Russia has the ability to cause havoc in an opponents rear. Conversely it has a rapidly improving air defence capability that would make it very hard for Europe to pull the same trick.

Equally, a lot of European spending that has gone towards equipment-capability rather than just personnel has gone towards things that would be of limited utility against Russia, things like Reapers and Talisman, which further pressures the top-level statistics argument. I love Protector and think its a capability the UK needs but its borderline useless against core Russian military power.

So ignore the Putinbot narrative of poor weak Russia surrounded by high-spending western imperialists and look at the capabilities Russia is actually demonstrating.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 9:51 am

@SO

See now you have attracted an equally uninformed rebuttal. The truth as always lies in between the hyperbole of the 2 opinions

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 10:16 am

APATS,

Quite the contrary, my rebuttal is entirely informed, nothing I have stated is untrue or hyperbole.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 10:28 am

@Hohum

Your assessment of Russian capability is pure press release. A throwback to when the world thought they had super weapons and then we found out they did not.
Your awe of something as simple as an SU34 is nice but irrelevant in the context that it does little new and they have very few operational hardly likely to cause havoc
Many of their cruise missiles used against Syria missed lots landing hundreds of miles away from intended targets. Islander is a good bit of kit but hardly revolutionary.
As for reaching out beyond their borders. A self deployed small air TG to a friendly airbase is hardly revolutionary and their logistics chain is stretched to the max just supporting Ukraine.
Yet you do not compare like for like as we are not going to attack Russia why would we want to move and stage forces.
Your opinion of European capabilities is as bad in one direction as that of the Russians in the other.
You insult Sven by calling him a Putin Bot yet you are just the opposite side of the coin. One is left of arc and one right of arc. Neither anywhere near on target.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 10:39 am

APATS,

What are you babbling on about? My post is all known facts, Su-34 is an impressive deep strike aircraft (and there are actually about 80 of them so far with total orders being for about 120), combined with the known cruise missile capabilities of the Russian Navy and Strategic Aviation as well as Iskanders they can strike deeply and precisely. Thats not a wonder-weapon it is a capability they have deliberately and pointedly developed and demonstrated. The failure rate of Kalibr in the Syrian strike actually wasn’t that far off the one for Tomahawk either.

Their logistics are not “stretched to the max” supporting Ukraine, quite the contrary. That small air TG is more than most European countries can manage.

I am not insulting Sven, I am merely pointing out the remarkable resemblance between his outpourings and those of Russian state trolls.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 10:54 am

There is a very serious point here. The Russian military in the early 2000s was on its knees, the narrative of it falling apart was almost entirely true.However, for those who bothered to look things had started changing even prior to the Georgia intervention (the speed at which the Russian forces moved in 2008 was indicative of this). Sure, Georgia revealed a host of problems and acted as a spur to increase modernisation and improvement efforts but the process had already been underway. Those efforts have now been bearing fruit for sometime and have shown themselves in the form of new and modernised equipment, much greater activity and impressive readiness and response times. Unfortunately it has taken the West (Europe in particular) far too long to notice these changes (in part why the Crimea grab was such a shock).

All politicinas are the Same
All politicinas are the Same
October 29, 2015 10:58 am
Reply to  Hohum

I am not getting into and a back and forward with you. At the end if the day you will believe what you want. the fact that it is you read like a Fox News bulletin or a Daily Mail story. Your info on the accuracy and failure rate of the missiles and the logistics in Ukraine is way off by the way but hey ho.
As for the small air TG more than mist European countries can manage. We could but that is not the point, the point is that they would be taking on all of Europe and NATO.
The SU34 is a good fighter bomber, not really designed for low level deep penetration though. Now there are about 80, how many does that give you front line is the question to look at.

I wrote quite a long post on Russian military capability in all 3 conventional environments on here some time ago but not sure where. I concluded that whilst they were modernising they had several areas of weakness and the raw numbers and capabilities were not “100%” correct. Whilst they would require careful monitoring they were a long way away from presenting a credible conventional threat to NATO Europe.

Nothing has changed my mind.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 11:13 am

APATS,

You are “not getting into a back and forward” because you don’t know what you are talking about, instead you have just started throwing out silly statements. My info on their missile accuracy and logistics is spot-on, unlike yours which is invented.

80 now, will eventually be 120, based on current capability levels that gives a very reasonable frontline, not to mention the strategic avaition assets, Iskanders and sea launched Kalibrs, if you want we can throw in the growing Su-30SM force too.

Your mind is wrong, it was wrong then and its still wrong. Russia has demonstrated the ability to rapidly mobilise large and heavy formations supported by deep strike assets that could more than wrong-foot Europe.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 11:15 am

I rest my case. You keep telling yourself you are right. In the meantime the professionals will look at the actual picture, thankfully.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 11:20 am

APATS,

You are resting your case because because you have no case. And indeed, professionals are looking at the actual picture and coming to precisely the conclusion I laid out.

as
as
October 29, 2015 11:44 am

Juging the abilities of the russians seems to be very hard. On one hand looking at some of the operations the can appear highly capable such as the killing of that Chechen leader by tracking his satellite phone.
Yet watch the May Day parade and the SU24 when the showed interior shots of the co-pit the were using hand held Gamin GPS for navigation( the kind of thing you use when hicking) hanging from a piece of wood mounted next to the HUD.
You then have the added difficulty of finding out what is operational and how many trained pilots and crew they have. The Russians are not as open as us about this sort of thing. You have to relay on you inteligence service and roomers.
We have argued about the capabilities of both individual equipent and of the Russians as a hole at length on hear before. The is not really an answer, we just do not know.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 11:54 am

as,

Actually we do know because they show us, its just that some people refuse to see. Multiple large scale Russian exercise, operations in Ukraine and Syria give us an insight into their ability to mobilise and deploy and the availability of key assets and capabilities.

They certainly still have weaknesses though I would caution that these are progressively being removed. They have com on leaps and bounds from where they were even five years ago.

as
as
October 29, 2015 12:06 pm

The other thing people forget is the russias have huge stokes of reserve equipment. Ok this is old but it is still able to be used. There are still T34 in the reserve tank parks.
The russians are trained at school in there citizenship lessons how to use a AK. So every member of the population can use a rifle and fight for the motherland. There is an interschools championship for who can strip and the reassemble an AK the fastest.

S O
S O
October 29, 2015 12:29 pm

They actually scrapped a huge quantity of old equipment, and the ammunition from the 1960’s has either disappeared on black markets or is highly unreliable and inefficient (simple impact fuses, poor penetration etc) by now.
Rifle training takes the equivalent of two or three full-time days in basic. That’s irrelevant for the purpose of mobilization.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 29, 2015 1:39 pm

I will have to side with HH here (not quite 100%). E.g.
“Key capabilities, I have already touched on readiness and weight of force but this can’t be underscored enough. Europe can not match (or even come close) Russia’s ability to mobilise, deploy and then hold at readiness very large and heavy formations on it’s borders. Added to this Syria has demonstrated a Russian ability to move beyond its borders that many naive people thought Russia had lost.” Ed. note: they will lose it with time as the transport planes were made in Ukraine

Readiness and weight of force:
– The last published figures of progress towards 400k pros in the Russian army were at 215k and 40 bdes heavily manned with such a contingent. That is pretty high readiness out of SO’s 52 (you do need training formations as well as conscription has not been abolished)
– further, many formations that elsewhere (like OMON) would be counted as paramilitary are fully battle ready and can step in for manoeuvre bdes that are moved elsewhere (at a moments notice and under the “exercise” disguise… as they went into full swing In Georgia once those fools let themselves to be tempted into a provocation).
– as for the weight, there is considerable emphasis towards medium-weight bdes in Russia, but if you average out the formations they will be heavier than what they would likely meet, while retaining a remarkable mobility (not saying anything about the logistics tail, though).

Iskander would put all air bases under threat at 500 km from FEBA and the AA cover for manoeuvering formations and their support would be counted in ’00s of km each way from FEBA. Further, even though operational numbers of airsuperiority or A2G jets are not huge and their forward basing is unlikely to happen, the large numbers of mini-AWACS planes available would make suppressing air defences quickly quite unlikely, and thereby weaken the chances of air immediately tilting the balance on the ground.

Moving on to the Western side of the fence (in want of the curtain), the will (populace at large & gvmnt) and morale (armed forces at the sharp end) can be to some degree approximated by *changes* in defence spending,

Readiness and ability to mobilise need to be looked at together:
– Russia has high readiness, but how much beyond the 52 bdes could they mobilise quickly? They have a standing force of 16.250 for each of those bdes. On par with the land heavy Italian armed forces (11 bdes with 16.000 in uniform needed to support each; I am not even trying to put the UK or France into the comparison, with their emphasis on the air force and navy).

Not many places with bdes in double digits (Switzerland was left out and SO declared the Greek numbers as null and void as their GNP accounting for accession to the EU):
– Poland (defence expenditure also going up!) 11 bdes mobiliseable and for each 9027 permanently in uniform
– Finland 13 and 1707 permanently in uniform

As far as I know we have no one from Switzerland commenting here, but perhaps our correspondent in “Fortress Singapore” can put in some benchmarking numbers from there?

S O
S O
October 29, 2015 2:10 pm

“how much beyond the 52 bdes could they mobilise quickly? ”
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2014/01/european-and-russian-military-capability.html
That was the topic of an earlier blog post, in which I summarised a Swedish report. The question is rather how long does it take to bring the active forces to bear at least. That report’s findings don’t quite fit to this:
“Europe can not match (or even come close) Russia’s ability to mobilise, deploy and then hold at readiness very large and heavy formations on it’s borders.”
——————————————
There was plenty reserves strength listed for the European countries by IISS, but I chose to focus on active strength because reserve formations often are mere paper tigers and most would not ready up and deploy in time for the at least somewhat plausible scenarios.

Also keep in mind that Russian brigades – albeit traditionally heavy in artillery – tend to be smaller than Western ones, just as their battalions tend to be smaller than Western ones.
—————————————
I wrote the blog post for two reasons:

(1) Misconception widespread in America and even Europe that Europeans don’t spend enough for their own security and are freeriding on American efforts. This is nonsense, as evidenced by the budgets.

(2) Former pundits who spent years writing about small wars turned to Eastern Europe, see a seemingly more aggressive and powerful Russia and reflexively call for more military power in NATO/EU (especially the permahawks).
They missed the crucial step of checking whether maybe the Russians despite all the show are still weaker, which they are in budget, numbers, overall manoeuvre forces, particularly Western Military District manoeuvre forces. The air power and naval power comparisons yield similar results, but are less meaningful because training and readiness are big question marks on both sides of the equation. Any attempt to compensate for this could be considered as biased data manipulation.

Now taking into account that there actually still is the ally US, the data rather suggests this is the time for military spending reductions than for increases. I suppose the budget sizes are fine for a reorientation period, but afterwards they could indeed shrink unless Russia vastly increases spending (which is unlikely due to low commodity prices and economic sanctions).

Moreover, if the Western military establishments were lacking in strength despite this relation of budget sizes, one should not give them even more funds to waste, but teach them to spend wisely by cutting their budgets and firing their ‘top management’.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 2:33 pm

Europe is free-riding on US defence spending as is obvious if you use any measure except the narrow one you chose. Just a cursory look at defence spending as a percentage of GDP shows that before we even get to the increasingly limited European military capability set (just compare the change in the UK over the last five years).

As has been pointed out, and as you have failed to counter, Russia has a host of key strengths that Europe lacks, most notably around readiness, weight of force, air defence and deep strike. Instead we have the usual putinbot language, “permahawks” etc.

Now I get that your masters want you to spread the idea that Europe is strong and Russia is weak and that the former has nothing to fear from the latter but the evidence of Russia’s actions tell the opposite story. I did particularly enjoy the line about spending reductions though, that was bold.

Putinbot watching is always amusing, they construct an entirely new reality like “Former pundits who spent years writing about small wars turned to Eastern Europe, see a seemingly more aggressive and powerful Russia” which is complete nonsense. People who have spent their entire lives watching Russia were shouting from 2006 onwards that things were changing but were met with silence from western defence communities obsessed with the Middle East or Asia-Pacific. It wasn’t until the Russians grabbed Crimea then started a proxy-conflict in Eastern Ukraine that people started paying any attention, even then some still tried to ignore it. Little tricks like the Syria expedition and the Kalibr launches are underscoring the point though.

Readiness isn’t just a case of “front line versus reserve”, thats just a label that tells you nothing, unlike a Russian “anti-terror” exercise that mobilises 150,000 personnel- that tells us quite a lot. Almost as much as when they put a balanced 40,000 strong force on the Ukrainian border in a matter of days then hold it there, at very high readiness, for months.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 29, 2015 2:42 pm

@SO, while you did the right thing with your focus on what is (fairly imminently) usable, referring to that Swedish report debases your whole post (I will entertain myself on a cold day by reading the whole thing by a log fire):
FOI, Hedenskog et al, 2013
(the English version used to be here, now one is here)

Some results (page 58):
The Russian army could have in action in the Western part of Russia
in the first week: 5 brigades 1 airborne brigade
additionally after one month: 6 brigades 1 airborne division
additionally after 6 months: 5 brigades 2 airborne divisions

Change the time scales to:
– on the event
– within a day
– and then some
In the nuclear age we are talking about faits accomplis, as you know just too well from the pattern over the last (less than a) decade.

BTW, there are much more founded reports coming out of an institute in Tallinn, lots of Soviet trained people there, proficient in digging into the real sources of information and some other people who had to do the watching and assessment from the outside (without any openness of information) and thereby accustomed to deception attempts (you say x and do y).

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
October 29, 2015 2:57 pm

“Iskander would put all air bases under threat at 500 km from FEBA and the AA cover for manoeuvering formations and their support would be counted in ’00s of km each way from FEBA. Further, even though operational numbers of airsuperiority or A2G jets are not huge and their forward basing is unlikely to happen, the large numbers of mini-AWACS planes available would make suppressing air defences quickly quite unlikely, and thereby weaken the chances of air immediately tilting the balance on the ground.”

Operating ISKANDER at the FEBA, really? They simply would not do that, too risky as it negates their range advantage and makes them vulnerable to counter battery fire from virtually any system present. What are these Mini AWACS planes you talk about?

“the will (populace at large & gvmnt) and morale (armed forces at the sharp end) can be to some degree approximated by *changes* in defence spending,”

To a very very small degree, if at all. You make no account of the effect that getting attacked has. It tends to focus the mind very quickly.

The other fact is that when we discuss 52 that is including all military districts. So they would have to totally strip the border with China, likely, not so much. Sven also leaves out the Turks who are NATO Allies with not inconsiderable ground forces. They field 15 Mech Brigades and 7 armoured Brigades, I did not count the Motorized Infantry Brigades. This force and whatever the Greeks have (having trained them) they are pretty good Naval wise at least are going to sit opposite the Russian Southern Command so again those forces are tied down and outnumbered by the Turks alone.
These are the sort of reasons when you actually start to look at Geography, Logistics, Politics etc you start to generate real numbers of what the Russians would actually have available,

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 2:57 pm

It’s notable that when the Baltic states get nervous what they call for loudest is American troops. Pretty indisputable that America has the most credibility of the NATO powers. European NATO has credibility too but is clearly a rung or two lower on the ladder and would have a lot of work to do to achieve the same level of conventional deterrence without the US stood behind them. Should we blame anyone for this? I guess anyone would take advantage of a powerful and reliable ally if they could. But that power and amity has limits which seem not to be that well explored. The UK has the privilege of sitting behind the sea, the RN and the RAF. Those services have their challenges of scale and skills but do seem to practise readiness across their whole force. Both the British Army and the continental powers probably need to look a lot harder at the readiness and deployability of their all arms land forces.

If Russia did put 40,000 men in motion on the NATO border, on an ambiguous pretext to do with Moldova or Kalingrad, can we really rely on the French and Germans to stand up in a conventional deterrent force on the “stop line”…?

John Hartley
John Hartley
October 29, 2015 2:59 pm

The stress of the last week, means my memory is shot, but I think I read an interesting piece (Telegraph?) about ten days ago saying Putin had upped the Russian defence budget as a percentage of GDP, but with the sanctions biting & the economy tanking, it was unsustainable. So he either cuts back or goes rogue.

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
October 29, 2015 3:08 pm
Reply to  Peter Elliott

2 points. The first one is that putting US troops on the ground in the Baltic states sends a Political message to the Russians. It says you have to be prepared to take american lives here, therefore you cannot try and limit this to a European conflict. That is why they want them.

The second one is yes, the “stop line” would be at the Polish border and the Poles and germans, Italians and French with other NATO allies more than capable of standing up a conventional deterrent. Then have a look at a map and work out what the Russians would have to do in order to protect the flanks of any such force. Not easy and they would not have many brigades to play with for reasons I highlighted earlier.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 3:12 pm

APATS,

Actually the Russians generally do put Iskander on or near the FEBA. They are shoot and scoot assets.

If necessary they would strip the China border, a large part of the recent changes has been about building regional mobility into the force structure in order to allow for concentration of force.

as
as
October 29, 2015 3:13 pm

On the Antonov issue the Russians will have to do what the did with the Su25.
The Su25 was built in Georgia. So after the little war United aircraft had to set up a production line in Russia.
They will have to do the same with Antonov. The Russians have the plans for all of Antonovs product anyway.
So after a delay while the tooling is built production for the Russian air force will continue.

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 3:16 pm

Interesting APATS. In your scenario if the Russians stopped at the stop line would we be sacrificing the Baltic states to annexation? I guess the geography of Kalingrad makes it all quite problematic unless we can land and sustain reinforcements by sea.

Which I guess is why an American tripwire well forward has such a profound political significance.

S O
S O
October 29, 2015 3:19 pm

:
Political will is not changed by increases of budget. if anything, it’s the other way around. I think there would be a considerable lag between aggression and reaction, and I think the NATO counterconcentration strategy is impractical. The German government would need to declare state of crisis (Krisenfall), also known ass mobilization, in order to allow the military to march quickly and seize required railcars without waiting for several couple dozen bureaucracy permissions. Such a ‘war is imminent’ declaration would likely not be issued in time.

The permahawks with their preference for more military spending in all places and simplistic &GDP demands only offer utterly useless contributions in face of such obstacles.

@ArmChairCivvy
You can change the timescale like that, but then the Russians would have only a Finland-sized military in the theatre unless they did mass troops beforehand. Such a compression of the timescale doesn’t refute anything I ever wrote.

@Hohum
No, Europe is not free-riding. You’re refusing to acknowledge reality.
In order to free-ride, one cannot spend anything. Europe spends almost four times as much as the only somewhat realistic threat and about half as much as the Americans, who no doubt project the majority of their military power outside of Europe. That’s not free-riding, that’s excessive spending.
Meanwhile, what the Americans do in regard to military spending is a colossal, utterly insane waste of resources – particularly so in the context of a USD 100 bn infrastructure investment shortfall and an approx. USD 600 bn trade balance deficit.

All politicians are the Same
All politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 3:23 pm
Reply to  Hohum

@Hohum

If they do they are very stupid and they certainly will not do so vs NATO. Iskander is a Ballistic missile and we have the means without naming systems if detecting their launch almost before it happens. If you are on the FEBA then you are dead, you simply cannot scoot in time from a SRBM launch.
Strip the Chinese border :0 Of course they will. Of course they will. As Yoda would say trust the Chinese the Russians do, learned nothing from WW2 the Russians have not (sarcastic Yoda).

Also there is mobility then there is mobility. it is 6000km from the Chinese Russian border. they have 1 rail line across the country. Logistics, surprise, vulnerability, inability to move fdorces rapidly back. it ticks zero boxes.

To misquote. Amateurs talk about numbers, but professionals study Logistics, Geography and Politics.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 3:27 pm

Putinbot,

blah, blah, “permahawk” blah, blah “simplistic” etc.

You continue to deliberately understate known Russian mobilisation capabilities and overstate that of Europe. It is tiresome because Russian actions prove you wrong.

Yes Europe is free-riding. As has been pointed out to you spending more in nominal terms does not equate to getting more. And just a cursory glance of actual European military capability (not the fictional version your Moscow paymasters have given you to spread) demonstrates Europe is reliant on the US for a host of key capabilities. European under-spending elsewhere has noting to do with it, as you well know.

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 3:28 pm

The politics worries me most. tbh. In a complex situation with plenty of Russian denial and disinformation sloshing around I can forsee a fatal hesitation from Paris and Berlin in ordering the deployment of their nominally “Rapid Reaction” forces. A chunk of the Baltic States could be gone before we get there and leave us sat on the Polish border looking very sheepish.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 3:37 pm

APATS,

You have no idea what you are talking about. ISKANDER is a tactical asset on an all-terrain platform designed for shoot and scoot operations, the Russians have stated they will be deployed in Kaliningrad by 2018. Equally, yes, they would strip the Chinese border and others, if you knew anything about Russian military policy you would know that rapid brigade redeployment within Russia is key to it and has been for some time.

Amateurism is the one thing I would expect you to have knowledge of.

All politicians are the Same
All politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 3:39 pm
Reply to  Peter Elliott

Anything is possible but if you look at the scenarios of recent NATO exercises i think and this should come as no surprise but we have ran this through a full estimate process.

as
as
October 29, 2015 3:41 pm

Russia had deployed Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad. So they have a short range ballistic missiles behind forces that were deployed to the Baltic states. Kaliningrad is a real problem.

S O
S O
October 29, 2015 3:43 pm

@Hohum,
I’m not impressed by you. You call me Putinbot even though I have an eight-year track record of calling for attention on collective defence in Eastern Europe instead of on small wars?

And if you really think European military estbalishments are worth less than Russia’s despite receiving more than three times as much money, then how could you possibly oppose my opinion that money isn’t the problem, but waste thereof it?
Do you think Europeans are stupid subhumans who cannot compete with Russians in military efficiency?

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 3:44 pm

APATS but these have been tabletop exercises…? When did NATO last demonstrate the logistic capability actually to deploy the ARRC on a short timescale in the European theatre? Bosnia? A lot of enabling capability has gone since the 1990s :/

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 29, 2015 3:50 pm

This is starting to look like a good check on anybody here (joke-joke!) knowing what they are talking about. APATS goes “Operating ISKANDER at the FEBA, really? They simply would not do that, too risky as it negates their range advantage”
– did you notice that the unit of account I was using was 100 km (and multiples)
– have to turn it into fractions now (just to be pedantic with your point): take the 1st operational bde, NW of St. Pete; take the second operational bde (yes, the call them that, not rgmnts, and have correspondingly more “tubes” in each as well) in Kaliningrad. Pls draw the circle and report back what fraction of the 100 km to the circle and nearest border crossing… or are we in the Cold War mindset here, that you cede ground at first, to be able to strike back?

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 3:52 pm

SO – what is the real deployability of the European combat brigades?

Do they all have modern armour, engineers, artillery? Do they have and train with modern ISTAR? Are they all backed by tactical Intel analysis? Do they have the logistic assets to sustain them away from their home bases? I just worry that a lot of European NATO states (UK included) have perhaps 1 or 2 truly deployable formations and the rest are paper tigers that can’t actually go anywhere or do anything without a long period of reconstitution and regeneration.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 29, 2015 3:54 pm

RE “can be to some degree approximated by *changes* in defence spending,”
To a very very small degree, if at all. You make no account of the effect that getting attacked has. It tends to focus the mind very quickly.”
– I am sure it s electrifying… but somewhat too late, would you not say?

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 3:54 pm

Putinbot,

Let me be clear, I do not call you a Putinbot as an insult, it is a statement of my genuine belief that you are a Russian state sponsored disinformation agent. I believe this because your narrative accords almost exactly to that of Russian trolls. You misuse of statistics (comparing nominal without taking account for real) assumptions around readiness rates and refusal to confront actual Russian operations all point to someone deliberately spreading false information to perpetuate at a false narrative.

Next, no I don’t think European military establishments (in general) are worth less than Russia’s or that Europeans are “stupid subhumans” which has to be one of the more stupid things you have stated. What I do think is that many European defence establishments took far to long to wake up to the revival of Russian military power and the willingness of the Russian state to use it. I also think that many European states are essentially wasting their defence spending by using it maintain what in reality little more than gendarmes which offer little if any military capability. Additionally even major European states have seen sharp contractions in capability in the last 15 years and the continent lacks key ones that Russia currently has and is improving.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 3:57 pm

So has the C2 element of what is now the High Readiness Force Land. it is the HQ functions that are permanent and deploy. Assets are assigned dependent on geographical location and mission. These are drawn from nominated high readiness forces. This allows nations to switch in and out readiness forces to suit unit training and readiness cycles.
C4ISTAR and command structure miles ahead of the 90s. As for deploying within Europe the transport infrastructure allows that pretty easily.
BALTOPS this year had its largest ever amphibious phase as well.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 29, 2015 4:01 pm

I did notice that omission by Sven and was wondering if any skew was being built into the argument. However, RE
“Sven also leaves out the Turks who are NATO Allies with not inconsiderable ground forces. They field 15 Mech Brigades and 7 armoured Brigades, I did not count the Motorized Infantry Brigades. This force and whatever the Greeks have (having trained them) they are pretty good Naval wise at least”
– yes, the Greeks *must* be good Naval wise as that is their front line with Turkey, and that is all they think about (if not moaning about the other half of Macedonia, or at least the naming of it)
– the real question is a history question, though (where is Gloomy?): What was the latest army successfully invading across the Caucasus? It would be a balance and a stale mate in that direction, or what would you say, ?

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 4:05 pm

APATS,

Most European high-readiness units are very light and small, their actual impact in the field against a large and balanced force would be negligible. The next question is what is the definition of “rapid response”, using the label doesn’t mean you are actually doing it.

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 4:10 pm

If reinforcing the Baltics by sea is now a key NATO mission it will be interesting to see what shape RN emerges from the SDSR.

Will the second LPD stand up? Will the Point Class be key ships? Or will we rely on French and Spanish Amphibs with the RN focusing on combat ships, subs and Carriers to secure the sealane? ABMD on T45 and both QEC tooled up ready to fight…?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 29, 2015 4:11 pm

It ” a colossal, utterly insane waste of resources – particularly so in the context of […] an approx. USD 600 bn trade balance deficit.”

Handy, though, that the deficit is financed by the Chinese Gvmnt and Russian Oligarchs? Rome only fell because they debased their currency (and did not invent a reserve currency instead, that you could print at will).

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 4:13 pm

ACC

Yes but even balance or stalemate ties down the entire Russian southern Command which is the point I was making when talking down the mythical 52 Russian Brigades. Not to mention that Southern Command is pretty heavily involved in the Ukraine, massive logistical effort.

Whilst SO was quick to discount the Greek Army, it should be noted they do field 350 Leopard 2 MBTS.

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 4:13 pm

Also can we really rely on Turkey? Edrogan has been a pretty flaky ally recently following his own authoritarian agenda rather than following the western internationalist script…

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 4:16 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

Too late for resolve and morale, never too late for that bud, never too late.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 4:17 pm
Reply to  Peter Elliott

You worry about an awful lot of things it seems.

as
as
October 29, 2015 4:19 pm

Interesting article on the Russia forces deployed to Kaliningrad.
http://thesentinel.ca/kaliningrad-russias-first-line-of-defence/

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 4:20 pm

Hohum

The light rapid reaction forces have to be considered as political tripwires. Not insignificant but not a showstopper to an opportunist like Putin.

I agree that the readiness and deployability of the armoured brigades is of equal interest and greater cause for concern.

In our case how many days to get our armoured brigade from Salisbury plain to Estonia and without the ships running over a Russian sub?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 4:22 pm
Reply to  Hohum

I have a very good idea what i am talking about. Unfortunately you do not. Strip the Chineseborder leaving themselves wide open to attack and move multiple brigades 6000Km on a single railway line, just quit digging :)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 4:25 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

You used no fractions when you stated that airbases were under threat 500km from the FEBA. Also those units are not in what i would call the FEBA, when I see FEBA i think “The foremost limits of a series of areas in which ground combat units are deployed, excluding the areas in which the covering or screening forces are operating, designated to coordinate fire support, the positioning of forces, or the maneuver of units”

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 4:28 pm
Reply to  Hohum

They are actually at all levels of weight. The simple fact is that the lighter units have seen more use recently due to the nature of the threat and the cost and time in which they can be deployed. Rapid response is defined by NATO as 24 hrs to 5 days. Plenty of time to notice the Russians stripping troops from china (still cannot believe you believe they would).

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 4:30 pm

PE,

Exactly. And when certain countries have tried in recent years to start moving their heavy units again they have found things not working. Nothing that can’t be sorted with a bit of effort and cash but humbling nonetheless.

APATS,

No you don’t know what you are talking about and you are just embarrassing yourself. Iskanders are deployed forwards (will be deployed to Kaliningrad, and Russia has planned for years to relocated brigades from different regions.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 4:31 pm
Reply to  Peter Elliott

He has been sorting out some “internal” issues. turkey are generally one of the strongest NATO Allies at providing assets etc.

S O
S O
October 29, 2015 4:32 pm

Elliott

“Do they all have modern armour, engineers, artillery? Do they have and train with modern ISTAR? Are they all backed by tactical Intel analysis? Do they have the logistic assets to sustain them away from their home bases? I just worry that a lot of European NATO states (UK included) have perhaps 1 or 2 truly deployable formations and the rest are paper tigers that can’t actually go anywhere or do anything without a long period of reconstitution and regeneration.”

Organisations are incredibly diverse in Europe. I counted brigades, and counted some Russian divisions and several bunches of suitable battalions (in armies with no brigades) in brigade equivalents, favouring neither East nor West. Details are in the XLS, which is available to the public.

Some countries have ISR organic, others have it at division level, others again have a dedicated ISR regiment (I didn’t count those as manoeuvre brigades). The same applies to artillery.

I suppose the state of ground forces readiness across Europe is unsatisfactory considering the spending, in part due to wasteful attention to occupation campaigns. Still, one ought to keep in mind the Russian army is in poor shape itself. The modernisation was largely about training and very little about replacing unreliable and obsolete hardware. Much of the extra funds for military reform went to the strategic forces and R&D, while the army was neglected and is only beginning with a postponed hardware inventory overhaul.

BTW, logistic assets for long-range deployments do not belong to the brigade level at all. That will be commandeered or chartered civilian trucks under dedicated logistics HQs or corps HQ control. There should be no logistics capacity shortages save for the infrastructure bottlenecks which I mentioned on the blog before.
Germany allowing lorry traffic on Sundays would on its own already free up enough logistics capacity to supply NATO in WW3 without trouble for the economy.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 29, 2015 4:35 pm

A good misquote “To misquote. Amateurs talk about numbers, but professionals study Logistics, Geography and Politics.”
– over the years (here) I have been calling for more attention/ discussion of the latter two.

I’ll try a couple of authentic quotes:
“Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat.
Hermann Goering”
“To the meaningless [French] idealisms, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, we oppose the [German] realities, Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery.
Prince Bernhard von Bulow”
… and for balance
“The problem is that the East is producing missiles and the West is producing pacifists.
Francois Mitterand”

S O
S O
October 29, 2015 4:40 pm

“Whilst SO was quick to discount the Greek Army, it should be noted they do field 350 Leopard 2 MBTS.”

That’s enough for six tank battalions, and the Greek army does appear with its nominal 21 brigades in the list, does it?
I merely commented below the sums that the real brigade equivalent figures would be approx. 20 lower for all of Europe than the nominal strength. Some other countries (Finland, for example – but their mobilization would be very quick) have quite a “paper tiger” characteristic in their nominally active forces.

In the end, the real brigade equivalents as estimated (approx. 100 in Europe, approx. 40-70 for the whole of Russia+Belarus) are more realistic than the nominal quantities.
The ratio of strength on the ground without USA, Turkey and Canada is approx. 2:1 in favour of the Europeans. The European superiority is obvious in the air and at sea as well.
That’s no freeriding at all.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 29, 2015 4:41 pm

I think reality has bypassed that announcement “the Russians have stated they will be deployed in Kaliningrad by 2018” and there is a deployed bde in the enclave. They did up the production tempo, as well as now working 3 shifts on the precision air-launched weapons as quite a few are being expended in Syria (and it was not that long ago when the new versions only entered into service).

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 4:41 pm

SO and APATS

The doubts on deployability and credibility of European NATO heavy forces will probably not go away until it is demonstrated at scale.

Expensive? Yes.

Critical learning experience? Yes.

Most meaningful investment in conventional deterrence we could make? Absolutely.

as
as
October 29, 2015 4:46 pm

The rail network is Europe’s one trump card for rapid transport of equipment.
The Loading guage for the channel tunnel is 3.15 wide by 4.65 high.
Most of the french and german network is the same but one you reach the polish border your going to have problems.
Its not wide enough for tanks anyway but alot of the other kit can get there that way.

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 4:51 pm

Rail will be great for general supplies in ISO containers. But how many heavy flat wagons for armoured vehicles do we actually now have? Where are they and who maintains them fit to run? Do we practice getting vehicles on and off at unprepared locations? And glancing back to WW1 have the timetables and rosters been written for how a mass movement east would be achieved?

I don’t deny the capability of our rail infrastructure. But like anything else if you want it to work without fuck ups it probably needs to be practised.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 4:57 pm

@PE

Whose doubts though? Deployability you can prove if you do it but are you achieving anything other than breaking kit and infrastructure to achieve what you know you can achieve already?
As for credible, I think performance in hot and sandy locals has proven that in a conventional sense at least it works (COIN a separate issue).
deterent value, totally agree.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 4:58 pm

S.O is a Putinbot, the very last thing he wants is a credible deployable balanced European fighting force. That is why he is arguing that the current situation is actually overkill despite the glaring evidence to the contrary.

Counting tanks is fun but it actually tells us nothing. What condition are those tanks in? Is there an available mechanism for their deployment? Can they be sustained at range, etc, etc.

The sort of shallow number games this blog post uses are disingenuous because they are intended to be.

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 4:59 pm

APATS – yes no need to prove anything to armchair sceptics like me.

It’s all about proving it to uncle Vlad.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 5:00 pm

APATS,

Putting small amounts of men and material in sandy locales after lots of preparation is one thing, rapidly mobilising and deploying a large balanced force in a matter of days is something else entirely.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 5:05 pm
Reply to  Hohum

yes, easy to deploy and sustain a Division over 3000 miles away or a brigade plus by air (Afghanistan). far more difficult to notice the build up of Russian forces which will take a fair amount of time. Look at the combat indicators and muster forces a few hundred miles up the road utilising the worlds most efficient rail and road network. Totally more difficult.

as
as
October 29, 2015 5:06 pm

On the September 7, 1914 the french used 600 taxis to transport troops the 50km to the Battle of the Marne.
With that as an idea how many london black cabs are there?
Plus we could use London buses like BEF did.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 29, 2015 5:07 pm

“Yes but even balance or stalemate ties down the entire Russian southern Command which is the point I was making when talking down the mythical 52 Russian Brigades. Not to mention that Southern Command is pretty heavily involved in the Ukraine, massive logistical effort.”
– other than Georgia and Azerbaijan, the Caucasus and near Caucasus states are fairly Russia-friendly, and make up a nice buffer zone (OMON will see to the rest, as I stated somewhat earlier)
– the 52 might be mythical, but following up with the right sources research, 40 is the number for this discussion (again stated earlier, and at the same time acknowledging that Sven’s 52 is useful for comparison purposes)

Russia made a massive error in making Ukraine into a foe. Look at the border they had to secure before, and how much longer it is now. Everyone talks about Russian-speakers in Ukraine; the 2-3m Ukrainians living / working in Russia are seldom mentioned.

“Whilst SO was quick to discount the Greek Army, it should be noted they do field 350 Leopard 2 MBTS.”
– yep, and US gave them more (M1s) for free
– do you think those tanks will ever go beyond Greece’s borders?

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 5:13 pm

In terms of credibility how many European brigades are kept at “Theatre Entry Standard”?

Europe is now a Theatre of armed conflict.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 5:21 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

40 still requires all the Southern Command Brigades that are going to be tied down. If they are not then we free up 15 mech brigades and 5 armoured Turkish brigades. The motorised infantry more than overmatches OMON.
It would also require all the central command brigades.
Yes if required they would.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 5:22 pm
Reply to  Peter Elliott

LOL

as
as
October 29, 2015 5:24 pm

Maybe TD could do a separate thread on how Russia uses propaganda.
The FSB and its web brigades.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_brigades
There are Putin bots out there but whether they are on here who knows.
Well TD might know I presume he can see where people are posting from?
Look on the newspaper and other media comments sections and they are easy to spot.

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 5:25 pm

as,

Whats the survivability rate of a Black cab versus a modernised T-72?

APATS,

The thing you missed was that the Russians can mobilise fast, and have proven it. You shouldn’t have missed it as this point has been made multiple times.

S O
S O
October 29, 2015 5:28 pm

@ArmChairCivvy;
ask me for the XLS file and you’ll see in some more detail how I counted to 52 brigades.

About logistics, moving troops et cetera; history has hinted at what incredible rapidity is feasible if only the top brass wants to be quick:
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2012/07/difficult-logistics.html

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
October 29, 2015 5:29 pm

“far more difficult to notice the build up of Russian forces which will take a fair amount of time.”

Zapad and Vostok are held at up to 150,000 troops (not all ground troops) level, and interestingly often very close in time, so massive troop movements become “routine”
– when is a troop concentration “a concentration”? Over how wide an area?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 5:30 pm

@Hokum

Think you missed the joke in the black cab post.

They can conduct exercises that they declare as short notice quickly, unopposed and with lots of pre planning.
Slightly different from a rapid surprise assault on Western Europe. Just slightly different.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 5:32 pm
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

There are lots of combat indicators but of course we would be too stupid to notice them whilst the mighty Russians would get it perfectly right would they not?

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 5:34 pm

APATS,

This is getting tiresome now. Russia frequently hold snap exercises to demonstrate readiness, these are unprepared and undertaken at very short notice. Then there was the reaction time in Crimea and on the Ukrainian border- far faster than Europe could manage at the time.

You obviously know nothing about the Russian military so its probably best if you keep an observe and learn status on this one.

as
as
October 29, 2015 5:36 pm

@PE
British armour is kept in sheds with no equipment on board. So you have to get all the equipment like cammo nets ect that the vehicle uses in the field from a different shed. They are kept empty of fuel so you then have to do that.
Some of the units in German needed over a week to get ready so not a 24 hour type thing. I think the shortest notes that any unit can deploy is three days and when they get to where there going they would discover half there equipment was still at home and might get there in a month or so.
This is how you end up with equipment shortages.
Trying to get one brigade deployed quickly must be a nightmare let alone multiples of them.

J
J
October 29, 2015 5:41 pm
Reply to  Hohum

HH you sound a bit like one of them putinbots you mention! Are you trying to a are us into submission
I do think Europe is lacking in the tactical missile defence/offense area compared to russia

J
J
October 29, 2015 5:42 pm

*scare

Hohum
Hohum
October 29, 2015 5:47 pm

J,

Not at all. I actually think Europe could sort itself out without spending too much more. There are difficult areas, deep strike and air defence in particular that would cost money but much of that could be found by getting certain countries to invest less in salaries for light infantry and more in equipment. Other countries need less focus on subsidising the technological fantasies of their industries and more about keeping forces at readiness.

Peter Elliott
October 29, 2015 5:49 pm

And that’s in the “Reaction Force” ;)

Begs the question (again) what the point is of those “Adaptable Force” skeleton brigades that lack: numbers, mobility, CS, CSS, a deployable HQ and support from an equipped and mobilisable Army Reserve.

I doubt such brigades make the Russians quake in their boots. How many of Europe’s brigades are similarly hollow?

The evolution of FF2020 in SDSR 15 will be fascinating.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
October 29, 2015 5:53 pm
Reply to  Hohum

And let you spout your nonsense unchallenged Ithink not.

Hohum