Just a few years ago, Western military leaders were all but certain that the era of the tank was over. As a result, they unwisely did away with the world’s foremost armored fighting force. But now Russia is back and building a formidable conventional military capability that can threaten its Western neighbors. In order to deter Russia from attempting to use its large and well-equipped ground forces either to intimidate its neighbors to the West or to conduct a lightning war against the Baltics, Poland, Ukraine or Romania, NATO must have a strong conventional capability deployed in Eastern Europe. In addition to increasing the number of NATO armored formations confronting Russian forces, it is also important to improve their fighting ability. The U.S. has programs in place to upgrade its major ground combat systems, the Abrams, Bradley and Paladin. The obsolescent M113 armored personnel carrier is being replaced with the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. A Stryker Lethality program is underway. The effort to increase the deterrent effect of U.S. Army armored forces is limited by the pace of current modernization efforts. Simply put, so little funding is available that it will take decades to bring the armored combat platforms in the ABCTs and the Strykers up to the desired levels of effectiveness and lethality. I have written more about this issue for RealClearDefense here.
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