The Russian army through the eyes of an AUSA expert
The development of the Russian army and the results of these processes invariably attract the attention of foreign specialists. Foreign analytical organizations are trying to study the potential and capabilities of our armed forces and regularly issue reports on this topic. Recently, the report "How to Fight the Russians" from the Association of the US Army (AUSA) received due attention.
Not too new document
The loudly titled "How to Fight the Russians" report was published by AUSA last November in Land Warfare Paper No. 135. For some reason, this publication was noticed only now - and attracted a lot of attention of the domestic press and specialists.
The author of the report is retired Colonel Richard D. Hooker, Jr. In the past, he served in various airborne units and units, in which he participated in several military operations. Then the officer entered the National Security Council and held other positions. R. Hooker specializes in the Russian army, which he considers the main threat to US security.
The 19-page report "How to Fight the Russians" is divided into several parts. After the preface and introduction, the chapter "How Russia Fights" follows, which examines the main features and capabilities of the Russian army. Then comes the chapter "The Warfight" with a scenario of a hypothetical conflict, after which the author moves on to conclusions and conclusions.
R. Hooker believes that at the moment Russia is the most dangerous likely enemy for the United States. Today's Russian army is inferior in its capabilities to the Soviet during the Cold War, but even in this state it is a formidable force. The enemy is well armed and equipped, trained and capable of competently fighting. It will be difficult to fight it, but the United States can emerge victorious from the war.
Of greatest interest in the report is the assessment of the state and capabilities of the Russian army. The composition and various characteristics of the troops are considered, and their strengths are noted, which the United States should pay attention to. The proposed scenario of a hypothetical armed conflict is also curious, but very similar to a fantasy based on well-known stereotypes.
How they fight on earth
According to Colonel Hooker, the Russian army was created for offensive operations. Its commanders at all levels are ready for action, they are taught to attack even on the defensive. In addition, as such, there is no light infantry - motorized rifle and airborne units are equipped with armored vehicles.
The backbone of the Russian army is ground forces, divided into several combined arms armies. The latter are an approximate functional analogue of the US Army Corps. As in Soviet times, armies include several divisions and separate brigades for different purposes.
The main components of the ground forces - tank and motorized rifle formations. In service there are samples of different classes with similar characteristics. R. Hooker notes the presence of apprx. 1 thousand main tanks T-72B3, 350 newer T-90 and 450 gas turbine T-80. These machines are modern and dangerous, but the author of the report does not consider them equal to the best foreign models.
Motorized riflemen generally continue to use the old Soviet BMP-2, although the units also have newer BMP-3s. This is fast, mobile and well-armed equipment, but in terms of protection it is inferior to modern foreign counterparts. Some of the connections are equipped with BTR-80 armored personnel carriers, obsolete but modernized. The Airborne Forces have specialized vehicles BMD-2 and BMD-4.
The Russian army places great emphasis on artillery systems. Artillery maneuver is also envisaged: guns can be transferred to the most important sector of the front for the development of an already begun breakthrough, incl. to the detriment of other areas. To obtain high combat effectiveness, the brigade usually has three artillery battalions, two howitzer and one with MLRS. Such units can combine to strengthen fire in a given direction.
The self-propelled artillery of the Russian army is built on the old 2S3 Akatsiya and the newer 2S19 Msta-S vehicles. The Airborne Forces use self-propelled 2S31 "Vienna" and towed howitzers D-30. The main rocket system is BM-21 Grad. There are also other types of rocket, mortar and howitzer systems. The Iskander missile system is mentioned separately. In recent years, Russian artillery has been actively using tactical UAVs for reconnaissance. Guided munitions have been developed and are in service, but due to their high cost, they are used less often than conventional ones.
R. Hooker believes that Russian artillery poses a particular threat. US tactical commanders should be aware that the enemy has a large number of long-range weapons and missiles. This should be responded to with more effective reconnaissance, maneuver and return fire.
Russia has advantages over the United States in the field of electronic warfare. Each ground brigade has its own electronic warfare company, and at the army level there are entire brigades of this purpose. At the same time, the bulk of the brigades is concentrated in the Western Military District. All of these formations and units are capable of disrupting communications and control of the US Army, as well as interfering with the use of modern weapons. The answer to this should be active counteraction and destruction of electronic warfare systems, as well as the creation and deployment of control loops that do not depend on the situation on the air.
R. Hooker calls Russian attack helicopters a serious threat to the enemy. There are several types of such vehicles in the ranks with different characteristics, but all of them are well protected and armed. Organizational army aviation is part of the VKS. Each military district has one army aviation brigade with 88 helicopters; each army is supported by one regiment with 66 units. technology. The ZVO army aviation is reinforced by three squadrons of Su-35 fighter-bombers.
The main attack helicopters are the Mi-28 and Ka-52, equipped with built-in 30mm cannons and carrying various missiles. It is especially noted that Russian helicopters are not armed with fire-and-forget anti-tank missiles. However, their ammunition load includes an R-74M air-to-air missile, which allows them to attack enemy helicopters. At the same time, as expected, during the battle, strike aircraft will focus on ground targets.
The author of the report calls the US Air Force "the pearl of the armed forces." Considering the potential of this type of troops, Russia pays great attention to the development of its air defense. As a result, the Russian ground forces have a well-developed echeloned air defense system with high performance. Tactical units are armed with portable air defense systems of various types, including the newest Verba. The artillery systems, such as "Shilka" and "Tunguska", remain in service. At the operational-tactical level, there is an air defense facility based on the S-400 systems with a range of up to 400 km and an altitude of more than 18 km.
The commanders of the US ground forces must be prepared for the fact that they will have to fight in the area of the Russian air defense, with all the negative consequences. Suppressing such defenses is an extremely difficult task associated with losses. Accordingly, both at the beginning of the operation and in the future, the ground forces will not be able to count on massive and effective air support.
While acknowledging all the advantages of the Russian army, the AUSA report points to problems. So, a significant part of the personnel are conscripts and serve only a year. The training programs are probably inferior to the American ones. Most of the hardware is outdated and lags behind the equipment of the United States. The "non-commissioned officers" of the Russian army do not have much experience. At the same time, in recent years, commanders have become more literate and ready for more flexible actions.
In the course of a hypothetical conflict of high intensity, according to R. Hooker, much will depend on the issues of strategic planning. At the same time, the effectiveness of US tactical units will also make a significant contribution. Accordingly, the commanders in the tactical echelon will bear great responsibility.
The report recalls that the US Army has not faced a truly developed and powerful adversary for a long time. Recent conflicts did not require the massive involvement of artillery, air defense and electronic warfare, which led to negative consequences in these areas. At the same time, the army is almost completely manned, and it consists of soldiers and officers with good training and real experience.
Commanders should prepare for battle in conditions of disruption of communications and control, under heavy artillery fire and little or no air support. In such circumstances, the skills of commanders at all levels are of particular importance, as well as their willingness to act decisively and aggressively. This will allow the US Army to use its qualitative advantages over the enemy and turn the tide of battles in its favor.
Despite the release date, the AUSA report "How to Fight the Russians" remains relevant. It shows the views of the American military analytical community and partly reflects the views of the military leadership. On the whole, the military and specialists from the United States admit that in recent years the Russian army has come a long way and has become a dangerous adversary. Confrontation or open confrontation with it is associated with the most serious difficulties and risks.
At the same time, there are ambiguous and biased assessments. In particular, R. Hooker's thesis about the offensive nature of the Russian army raises questions. Our doctrine provides only defensive measures, although it does not exclude the introduction of hostilities into enemy territory. It is also not clear on the basis of what conclusions were drawn about the lagging of Russian methods of training personnel and materiel.
It should be borne in mind that reports of this kind do not simply show current opinions. They can be used as a reference and analytical material for further military planning in real Pentagon agencies. Therefore, such documents are of interest to our army as well - with their help, you can predict the actions of a potential enemy and prepare in advance for them.
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