The Washington defense establishment has largely dismissed Russia as a long-term threat to U.S. and NATO security. In their minds, Russia has not only lost the war in Ukraine, but has been so ground down by Ukraine’s resistance that it will not pose a threat to NATO for years to come. This view does not match the reality on the ground. Current U.S. discussions of strategy, force structure, and procurement programs focus obsessively on China. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is considered an aberration, a one-off version of World War I. Only one scenario matters: Beijing’s attempt to seize control of Taiwan. Consequently, many of the capabilities that are dominating the Russia-Ukraine conflict – tanks, armored fighting vehicles, artillery, and rockets – are being disparaged. But would be a mistake to count Russia out. Moscow has the financial resources, population, and industrial base to replace its current losses, rebuild its military, and outlast Ukraine, even if the latter continues to receive Western support. Any attempt to make U.S. Army force structure the “bill payer” for additional capabilities to fight China needs to be resisted. This is likewise the case for efforts to curtail upgrades to current platforms such as the M1 Abrams main battle tank, the Stryker, the Paladin self-propelled howitzer, and the Apache attack helicopter. I have written more on this subject here.
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