The Best Armed Forces On The Planet? – Opinion

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The Best Armed Forces On The Planet? - Opinion

© Sputnik/ Igor Zarembo

Written by The Saker; Originally appeared at his blog

In my recent article “Risks and Opportunities for 2017” [This article also provoked a wide discussion at southfront.org] I made a statement which shocked many readers. I wrote:

Russia is now the most powerful country on the planet. (…) the Russian armed forces are probably the most powerful and capable ones on earth (albeit not the largest ones) (…) Russia is the most powerful country on earth because of two things: Russia openly rejects and denounces the worldwide political, economic and ideological system the USA has imposed upon our planet since WWII and because Vladimir Putin enjoys the rock-solid support of about 80%+ of the Russian population. The biggest strength of Russia in 2017 is a moral and a political one, it is the strength of a civilization which refuses to play by the rules which the West has successfully imposed on the rest of mankind. And now that Russia has successfully “pushed back” others will inevitably follow (again, especially in Asia).

While some dismissed this as rather ridiculous hyperbole, others have asked me to explain who I can to that conclusion. I have to admit that this paragraph is somewhat ambiguous: first I make a specific claim about the capabilities of the Russian military, and then the “evidence” that I present are of a moral and political nature! No wonder that some expressed reservations about this.

Actually, the above is a good example of one of my worst weaknesses: I tend to assume that I write for people who will make the same assumptions I do, look at issues the way I look at them, and understand what is implied. My bad. So today I will try to spell out what I mean and clarify my point of view on this issue. To do this, however, there are a number of premises which I think need to be explicitly spelled out.

First, how does one measure the quality of an armed force and how can armed forces from different countries be compared?

The first thing which need to immediately get out of the way is the absolutely useless practice known as “bean counting”: counting the numbers of tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry combat vehicles, artillery pieces, aircraft, helicopters and ships for country A and country B and come to some conclusion about which of the two is “stronger”. This is utterly meaningless. Next, two more myths need to be debunked: high tech wins wars and big money wins wars. Since I discussed these two myths in some detail elsewhere (here) I won’t repeat it all here.

Next, I submit that the purpose of a military force is to achieve a specific political objective. Nobody goes to war just for the sake of war and “victory” is not a military, but a political concept. So yes, war is the continuation of politics by other means. For example, the successful deterrence of a potential aggressor should be counted as a “victory” or, at least, as a successful performance of your armed forces if their goal was to deter. The definition of “victory” can include destroying the other guy’s armed forces, of course, but it does not have to. The British did win the war in the Malvinas/Falkands even though the Argentinian forces were far from destroyed. Sometimes the purpose of war is genocide, in which case just defeating a military forces is not enough. Let’s take a recent example: according to an official statement by Vladimir Putin, the official objectives of the Russian military intervention in Syria were to 1) stabilize the legitimate authority and 2) create conditions for a political compromise. It is undeniable that the Russian armed forces fully reached this two objectives, but they did so without the need for the kind of “victory” which implies a total destruction of your enemies forces. In fact, Russia could have used nuclear weapons and carpet bombing to wipe Daesh, but that would have resulted in a political catastrophe for Russia. Would that have been a “military victory”? You tell me!

So, if the purpose of a country’s armed forces is to achieve specific and political objectives, this directly implies that saying that some country’s armed forces can do anything, anywhere and at any time is nonsense. You cannot access a military outside a very specific set of circumstances:

1) Where: Space/geographical

2) When: Time/duration

3) What: political objective

Yet, what we see, especially in the USA, is a diametrically opposite approach. It goes something like this: we have the best trained, best equipped and best armed military on earth; no country can compete with our advanced stealth bombers, nuclear submarines, our pilots are the best trained on the planet, we have advanced network-centric warfare capabilities, global strike, space based reconnaissance and intelligence, we have aircraft carriers, our Delta Force can defeat any terrorist force, we spend more money training our special forces than any other country, we have more ships than any other nation, etc. etc. etc. This means absolutely nothing. The reality is that the US military played a secondary role in WWII in the European theater and that after that the only “kinda victory” it achieved is outright embarrassing: Grenada (barely), Panama (almost unopposed). I would agree that the US military was successful in deterring a Soviet attack, but I would also immediately point out that the Soviets then also successfully deterred a US attack. Is that a victory? The truth is that China also did not suffer from a Soviet or US attack, does that mean that the Chinese successfully deterred the Soviets or the Americans? If you reply ‘yes’ then you would have to accept that they did that at a fraction of the US costs, so whose military was more effective – the US or the Chinese one? Then look at all the other US military interventions, there is a decent list here, what did those military operations really achieve. If I had to pick a “least bad one” I would reluctantly pick the Desert Storm which did liberate Kuwait from the Iraqis, but at what cost and with what consequences?!

In the vast majority of cases, when the quality of the Russian armed forces is assessed, it is always in comparison to the US armed forces. But does that make sense to compare the Russian armed forces to a military which has a long record of not achieving the specific political objectives it was given? Yes, the US armed forces are huge, bloated, they are the most expensive on the planet, the most technology-intensive and their rather mediocre actual performance is systematically obfuscated by the most powerful propaganda machine on the planet. But does any of that make them effective? I submit that far from being effective, they are fantastically wasteful and amazingly ineffective, at least from a military point of view.

Still dubious?

Okay. Let’s take the “best of the best”: the US special forces. Please name me three successful operations executed by US special forces. No, small size skirmishes against poorly trained and poorly equipped 3rd world insurgents killed in a surprise attack don’t qualify. What would be the US equivalent of, say, Operation Storm-333 or the liberation of the entire Crimean Peninsula without a single person killed? In fact, there is a reason why most Hollywood blockbusters about US special forces are based on abject defeats such as Black Hawk Down or 13 hours.

As for US high-teach, I don’t think that I need to dwell too deeply on the nightmares of the F-35 or the Zumwalt-class destroyer or explain how sloppy tactics made it possible for the Serbian Air Defenses to shoot down a super-secret and putatively “invisible” F-117A in 1999 using an ancient Soviet-era S-125 missile first deployed in 1961!

There is no Schadenfreude for me in reminding everybody of these facts. My point is to try to break the mental reflex which conditions so many people to consider the US military as some kind of measuring stick of how all the other armed forces on the planet do perform. This reflex is the result of propaganda and ignorance, not any rational reason. The same goes, by the way, for the other hyper-propagandized military – the Israeli IDF whose armored forces, pilots and infantrymen are always presented as amazingly well-trained and competent. The reality is, of course, that in 2006 the IDF could not even secure the small town of Bint Jbeil located just 2 miles from the Israeli border. For 28 days the IDF tried to wrestle the control of Bint Jbeil from second rate Hezbollah forces (Hezbollah kept its first rate forces north of the Litani river to protect Beirut) and totally failed in spite of having a huge numerical and technological superiority.

I have personally spoken to US officers who trained with the IDF and I can tell you that they were totally unimpressed. Just as Afghan guerrillas are absolutely unanimous when they say that the Soviet solider is a much better soldier than the US one.

Speaking of Afghanistan.

Do you remember that the Soviet 40th Army who was tasked with fighting the Afghan “freedom fighters” was mostly under-equipped, under-trained, and poorly supported in terms of logistics? Please read this appalling report about the sanitary conditions of the 40th Army and compare that with the 20 billion dollar per year the US spends on air-conditioning in Afghanistan and Iraq! And then compare the US and Soviet occupations in terms of performance: not only did the Soviets control the entire country during the day (at night the Afghan controlled most of the country side and the roads), they also controlled all the major cities 24/7. In contrast, the US barely holds on to Kabul and entire provinces are in the hands of the insurgents. The Soviets built hospitals, damns, airports, roads, bridges, etc. whereas the Americans built exactly nothing. And, as I already mentioned, in every interview I have seen the Afghans are unanimous: the Soviets were much tougher enemies than the Americans.

I could go on for pages and pages, but let’s stop here and simply accept that the PR image of the US (and Israeli) military has nothing to do with their actual capabilities and performance. There are things which the US military does very well (long distance deployment, submarine warfare in temperate waters, carrier operations, etc.) but their overall effectiveness and efficiency is pretty low.

So what makes the Russian armed forces so good?

For one thing, their mission, to defend Russia, is commensurate with the resources of the Russian Federation. Even if Putin wanted it, Russia does not have the capabilities to built 10 aircraft carriers, deploy hundreds of overseas bases or spend more on “defense” than the rest of mankind combined. The specific political objective given to the Russian military is quite simple: to deter or repel any attack against Russia.

Second, to accomplish this mission the Russian armed forces need to be able to strike and prevail at a maxial distance of 1000km or less from the Russian border. Official Russian military doctrine places the limits of a strategic offensive operation a bit further and include the complete defeat of enemy forces and occupation of his territory to a depth of 1200km-1500km (Война и Мир в Терминах и Определениях, Дмитрий Рогозин, Москва, Вече, 2011, p.155) but in reality this distance would be much shorter, especially in the case of a defensive counter-attack. Make no mistake, this remains a formidable task due to the immense length of the Russian border (over 20’000km of border) running over almost every imaginable type of geography, from dry deserts and mountains to the North pole region. And here is the amazing thing: the Russian armed forces are currently capable of defeating any conceivable enemy all along this perimeter. Putin himself said so recently when he declared that “We can say with certainty: We are stronger now than any potential aggressor, any!” I realize that for a mostly American audience this will sound like the typical garden variety claptrap every US officer or politician has to say at every public occasion, but in the Russian context this is something quite new: Putin had never said anything like that before. If anything, the Russian prefer to whine about numerically superior their adversaries seem to be (well, they are, numerically – which every Russian military analyst knows means nothing).

Numerically, the Russian forces are, indeed, much smaller than NATO’s or China’s. In fact, one could argue for the size of the Russian Federation, the Russian armed forces are rather small. True. But they are formidable, well-balanced in terms of capabilities and they make maximal use of the unique geographical features of Russia.

[Sidebar: Russia is a far more “northern” country than, say, Canada or Norway. Look at where the vast majority of the cities and towns in Canada or Scandinavia are located. Then look at a map of Russia and the latitudes at which the Russian cities are located. The difference is quite striking. Take the example of Novosibirsk, which in Russia is considered a southern Siberian town. It is almost at the same latitude as Edinburgh, Scotland, Grande Prairie, Alberta or Malmö in Sweden]

This is why all the equipment used by the Russian Armed Forces has to be certified operational from temperatures ranging from -50C to +50C (-58F to 122F). Most western gear can’t even operate in such extremes. Of course, the same also goes for the Russian solider who is also trained to operate in this range of temperatures.

I don’t think that there is another military out there who can claim to have such capabilities, and most definitely not the American armed forces.

Another myth which must be debunked is the one of western technological superiority. While it is true that in some specific fields the Soviets were never able to catch up with the West, microchips for example, that did not prevent them from being the first ones to deploy a large list of military technologies such as phased-array radars on interceptors, helmet-mounted sights for pilots, supercavitating underwater missiles, autoloaders on tanks, parachute deployable armored vehicles, double-hulled attack submarines, road-mobile ICBMs, etc. As a rule, western weapon systems tend to be more tech-heavy, that is true, but that is not due to a lack of Russian capabilities, but to a fundamental difference in design. In the West, weapon systems are designed by engineers who cobble together the latest technologies and then design a mission around them. In Russia, the military defines a mission and then seeks the simplest and cheapest technologies which can be used to accomplish it. This is why the Russian MiG-29 (1982) was not a “fly-by-wire” like the US F-16 (1978) but operated by “old” mechanical flight controls. I would add here that a more advanced airframe and two engines instead of one for the F-16, gave the MiG-29 a superior flight envelope. When needed, however, the Russians did use fly-by-wire, for example, on the Su-27 (1985).

Last but not least, the Russian nuclear forces are currently more modern and much more capable than the comparatively aging US nuclear triad.  Even the Americans admit that.

So what does that all mean?

This means that in spite of being tasked with an immensely difficult mission, to prevail against any possible enemy along the 20’000+km of the Russian border and to a depth of 1000km, the Russian armed forces have consistently shown that they are capable of fulfilling the specific political objective of either deterring or defeating their potential enemy, be it a Wahabi insurgency (which the western pundits described as “unbeatable”), a western trained and equipped Georgian military (in spite of being numerically inferior during the crucial hours of the war and in spite of major problems and weaknesses in command and control), the disarmament of 25’000+ Ukrainian (supposedly “crack”) troops in Crimea without a single shot fired in anger and, of course, the Russian military intervention in the war in Syria were a tiny Russian force turned the tide of the war.

In conclusion, I want to come back to my statement about Russia being the only country which now openly dares to reject the western civilizational model and whose leader, Vladimir Putin, enjoys the support of 80%+ of the population. These two factors are crucial in the assessment of the capabilities of the Russian armed forces. Why? Because they illustrate the fact that the Russian soldiers knows exactly what he fights for (or against) and that when he is deployed somewhere, he is not deployed as a tool for Gazprom, Norilsk Nickel, Sberbank or any other Russian corporation: he knows that he is fighting for his country, his people, his culture, for their freedom and safety. Furthermore, the Russian soldier also knows that the use of military force is not the first and preferred option of his government, but the last one which is used only when all other options have been exhausted. He knows that the Russian High Command, the Kremlin and the General Staff are not hell-bent on finding some small country to beat up just to make an example and scare the others. Last but not least, the Russian solider is willing to die for his country and while executing any order.  The Russians are quite aware of that and this is why the following circulated on the Runet recently:

The Best Armed Forces On The Planet? - Opinion

Translation: under both photos it says “private of the US/Russian Army, under contract, deployed in a combat zone”. The bottom central text says “One of them needs to be fed, clothed, armed, paid, etc. The other one just needs to be ordered “this way” and he will execute his mission. At any cost”

At the end of the day, the outcome of any war is decided by willpower, I firmly believe that and I also believe that it is the “simple” infantry private who is the most important factor in a war, not the super-trained superman.  In Russia they are sometimes called “makhra” – the young kids from the infantry, not good looking, not particularly macho, with no special gear or training. They are the ones who defeated the Wahabis in Chechnia, at a huge cost, but they did. They are the one which produce an amazing number of heroes who amaze their comrades and enemies with their tenacity and courage. They don’t look to good in parades and they are often forgotten. But they are the ones which defeated more empires than any other and who made Russia the biggest country on earth.

So yes, Russia currently does have the most capable armed forces on the planet.  There are plenty of countries out there who also have excellent armed forces.  But what makes the Russian ones unique is the scope of their capabilities which range from anti-terrorist operations to international nuclear war combined with the amazing resilience and willpower of the Russian solider.  There are plenty of things the Russian military cannot do, but unlike the US armed forces, the Russian military was never designed to do anything, anywhere, anytime (aka “win two and a half wars” anywhere on the planet).

For the time being, the Russians are watching how the US cannot even take a small city like Mosul, even though it had to supplement the local forces with plenty of US and NATO “support” and they are unimpressed, to say the least.  But Hollywood will surely make a great blockbuster from this embarrassing failure and there will be more medals handed out than personnel involved (this is what happened after the Grenada disaster).  And the TV watching crowd will be reassured that “while the Russians did make some progress, their forces are still a far cry from their western counterparts”.  Who cares?

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  • sólyomszem

    :DDDDDDDDD

  • Barba_Papa

    What makes the US military way more formidable is that its an all volunteer force. The Russian armed forces are in majority still conscripts. The US military can deploy in full. It maintained a 130.000+ force level in Iraq for years. And that was excluding the simultaneous commitment in Afghanistan. It has a massive chain of military bases all across the world that allow such a deployment. And the means to do so and support such a deployment. Russia was and is hard pressed to maintain even a single air group in Syria. I wouldn’t be surprised that the real reason the Khmeimin airgroup was reduced early last year after the initial success was because that kind of force level could just not be sustained indefinitely, to which Putin just put on the spin of ‘making a goodwill gesture’ for PR sake. You talk about Putin’s 80% approval ratings, I’m sure he has, but lets be honest here, the Russian press is strongly controlled by the Russian state. There’s a reason few people believe anything that gets reported by RT. The Russian people do not get the same full information that is needed to make up their own mind. Neither do the people in the West for that matter, but its being done in more subtle ways. Nor as successful, otherwise our governments would have 80%+ approval ratings as well. The very fact that any political leader has such high approval ratings would be suspect in my eyes and proof of media tampering. Either directly via state control or indirectly via good spin.

    You talk about the lack of successes of the US special forces, I’d say we don’t know about them because only the failures make the headlines. To which I could counter that the Russian military has had its failures in recent years too. The storming of the Russian parliament and the 1st Chechen wars weren’t exactly shiny examples too. And the storming of the Moscow theater occupied by Chechen terrorists saw way too many hostages killed as well. If that had happened in the West it would have been deemed a massive failure. You said China countered the USSR in the Cold War with a fraction of the cost of the US, the Chinese were never at risk of facing the vast bulk of the Red Army storming across the Yalu river.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the Russian armed forces have done very well in recent years and overcome a lot of the neglect that they suffered after the fall of the USSR. The world needs some balance against US military hegemony. I welcome the improvements to the Russian military. But the current Syria deployment is more akin to the adhoc ‘scraping the bottom of the barrel to make it work’ British operation to retake the Falkland Islands then an actual Russian Desert Storm or Iraqi Freedom. The Americans enjoy numerical superiority (quantity is a quality of its own) and a very good qualitive edge. Yes, there is massive corruption in the military procurement system and the JSF program is a joke. But the US budget is so damn bloated it can afford to waste this much money.

    Overall I’d rank the Russian armed forces as akin to the British military during the Cold War. Nowhere near the US in force levels and capabilities, which is still in a qualitative and quantitative league of its own. But capable of intervening in far away places in its own rights and not to be dismissed. And deadly along its own borders.

    • Bob

      With all due respect, the US military’s current preference for an ‘all volunteer force’ comes with two caveats you neglected to mention.
      The first is, this is a relatively recent development, the US forces that were in major conflicts from Civil War to Vietnam were essentially conscript forces. The end of this long term pattern really occurred as consequence of Vietnam. Wherein conscription became a major political issue and a near fatal drag on the US armed forces as both morale and the chain of command began to falter – US infantrymen shooting their own lieutenants (if perceived as reckless or ambitious) in the field was not a rarity by 1970. In aftermath of Vietnam experience the US military in mid 1970’s was in low morale, and concluded it needed to be contract force to rebuild its operating values and reset confidence in chain of command.
      The second is that volunteering in US forces is often not the straight forward choice it may superficially appear. That is; whilst there are many enthusiastic dedicated recruits, there are also many who take get out of jail sentence by joining military option, many whose prospects for college education are low due to astronomical US tuition fees and who see military as primarily a college education path, and likewise many for whom low social strata limited employment options mean that the military is a get out of poverty option. The point of this, is that these are recruits, who are technically volunteers, but whose choice to join military is often primarily means of personal advancement or economic necessity. Now, quality training and discipline can ultimately iron out many social issues and create coherent military unity, but the fact remains, that US social and economic conditions make the term ‘volunteer’ a relative term for many participants in the US military services.

      • Arthur Smith

        There is also a point of ex-conscript masses being able to oppose totalitarian government like the one currently present in USA to a degree unprecedented here in Russia.

      • Barba_Papa

        The poorer classes, for lack of a better word, have always been the main recruitment ground for professional armed forces. The formed the core of the Roman legions after the Marian reforms, they were the backbone that conquered the British Empire, the are the backbone of most professional armies nowadays. Because people with economic options tend to not join the military in the first place.

        The point remains though, the US military is all volunteer, it can be deployed en masse to any place in the world for a long time without much political fall out, and as a side bonus, when the body bags start coming home, they will arrive mostly at the homes of people with few political clout that most people don’t give a f*** about. After all, who cares about poor people? Not even the Western socialists any more. Also, the US military has always been mostly volunteer, it was only the sudden onset of total war in the Civil War, and the world wars that necessitated a change to conscripts. The period after WWII, where the US retained conscription was an aberration, brought about by the need to maintain large forces due to the Cold War.

        The Russian military is mostly conscript. It cannot deploy in full to any place in the world for any long time, for not even the Russian governments control of the media can stop the political fall out, as the pain will be felt across the entire Russian society. It therefore maintains two kinds of forces, the large conscript army for the defense of the homeland, and smaller more professional forces that can be used abroad. But as its a smaller force Russia cannot hope to deploy anything remotely similar to the US. And that’s why I rank the Russian army as lower then the US.

        • Alexander Smythe

          What is this stereotype nonsense you keep posting about the Red Army’s alleged superiour numbers in 41/42? In most cases during that period the Axis enjoyed not only an experience advantage, but also a numerical advantage.

          When the Axis invaded USSR, they did so with some 3.6 million troops, most of whom have seen two years of war already, while the Red Army only had 2.6 million troops on the front lines, most of whom have not seen any combat yet.

          The winter battle of Moscow saw the Axis attack with nearly 2 million men, while the Soviets defended with under 1.5 million, won the defence and even counterattacked and pushed the Germans back.

          In the Siege of Sevastopol, the Axis were attacking with 200K troops and the Soviets were defending with 118K.

          At Stalingrad the Axis attacked with 270K, while the Soviets defended with 190K in late ’42. Later both pumped more men into the grinder, but at the time of the Soviet counter-offensive and encirclement in early ’43, the Axis had over 1 million troops available, and the Soviets about 1.1 million.

          Only after 1943 and Stalingrad did the Soviets enjoy a numerical advantage and won pretty much all the battles.
          – 800K Axis vs. 1.9 million Soviets at Kursk,
          – 600K Axis vs. 1.6 million Soviets in Operation Bagration,
          – 700K Axis vs. 1.5 million Soviets in the Baltic offensive,
          etc.

          But how does this compare to the western front operations? Did Allies fight the Nazis one on one?

          – Battle of France in 1940, 3.35 million Axis vs. 3.3 million Allies, for an Axis win.
          – First El Alamein 90K Axis vs. 150K Allies for a stalemate.
          – Second El Alamein, 110K Axis vs. 195K Allies, for an Allied win.
          – Kasserine Pass 30K Allies vs. 22K Axis, for an Axis win.
          – Italian Campaign, 1.3 million Allies vs. 1 million Axis (more than half of them demoralised Italians), for an Allied win.
          – Normandy Invasion, 1.3 million Allied vs. 380K Axis, for an Allied win.
          etc.

          So, in total, the Soviet ratio of troops in various battles weren’t at all that much different from the ones in the West. It was far from 10 Soviets vs. 1 German, as this whole “Soviets had quantity” narrative is trying to have us believe.

          What about casualties? Does the narrative “Soviets had 10 times more casualties” hold?

          Soviet military losses were about 12 million (some sources also say 11, others 15). 3 of these millions died in POW camps (so not in combat). Leaves 9-10 million combat dead. Germans lost about 4-5 million. Japs against Soviets in the east about a half a million. German allies and Nazi collaborators from all over Europe (including ex-Soviet anti-communist volunteers) lost another 1-2 millions. So we’re at about 9 vs. about 6 millions killed which is about 1.5 Soviet for each 1 Axis enemy killed in battle.
          Did western Allies fare much better?
          – In North Africa Allies had over 50,000 dead vs less than 20,000 Germans. That’s 2 for 1.
          – On Omaha Beach Allies lost 3000, Germans 1200. Better than 2 for 1.
          – At Cassino Allies had nearly 60,000 casualities, Germany under 20,000. So 3 for 1.
          – In Dieppe Allies had 900 dead vs. 300 Germans. Thats 3 for 1.
          – At Kasserine it’s 10,000 Allied losses vs. 2000 German. That’s 5 to 1.

          So, the consensus is, that all Allies suffered bad losses when the Nazis were well dug in and when the Nazis had the veterancy advantage they were mostly winning, but once their opponents gained veterancy, the Nazis were mostly losing. Which makes sense.

          Read David. M. Glantz, a US Colonel, Vietnam veteran, and a respected military historian who wrote “The Soviet-German War 1941-1945: Myths and Realities”. You can download the book for free online. It’s worth the time and deals with many of the nonsense stereotypes peddled by the Cold War anti-Soviet propaganda.

          The only time Soviets and Americans clashed directly was in the air in the Korean War. Soviet MiG’s vs. US Sabre Jets. Only a few MiGs were actually flown by Soviets there, most were flown by Chinese or North Koreans. The top three flying aces of the Korean War were all Russian. Nikolay Sutyagin claimed 21 kills, including nine F-86s. Yevgeni G. Pepelyayev was credited with 19 kills and Lev Kirilovich Shchukin was credited with 17 kills. Top US ace Joseph Mc Connell had 16 kills. Best Chinese aces Zhao Baotong and Wang Hai had 9 kills each and best North Korean Kam Den Dek had 8. Of the over 566 MiGs that were destroyed over Korea, only 49 were flown by Soviets. So their top 3 aces alone shot down more than all Soviet losses combined.

          Not that I think WW2 or Korean War figures are all that indicative of the Russian military strength today, but please don’t draw on false stereotypes about Soviets, to make a point about Russia’s current capabilities.

        • Arthur Smith

          Do you consider 384 thousands of professional soldiers small? Because that’s the number of active contracts in russian military.

    • Jesus

      First of all, the Russian moral compass is superior to the western moral compas.
      Second of all, military prowess is defined by tangible results. US has a poor record starting from Vietnam.
      Who cares how many troops they deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously ? What is the result today? 8 trillion dollars spent and what are some of the tangible benefits?
      US likes to fight wars that resemble video games, they like to fight wars without casualties, their corrupt moral compass is a major factor to this mindset. They do not understand what sacrifice means.
      As far as Syria, with all the US bases in UAE, KAS, Qatar …etc and the aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian gulf, Russia IMPOSED a no fly zone with four or five squadrons of various aircraft. Of course, the technological superiority and the stealth myth came to a standstill when faced with some real adversity. It is like the saying, money talks ….bs walks. Yes, Russian aircraft and air defenses did the talking while the US did the walking away from the challenge.
      In 2020 I would like to see a nice battle between 4 Russian armored divisions equipped with T14, T-15, Terminator 3 and related other weapons built on the Armata platform, as well T90 and BMP 3 equipped with Kryzantema missiles, and 4 US, British, German and Polish divisions equipped with M1, Bradleys, Leopard and challenger tanks…etc. on the plains of Poland and see the NATO forces take a beating like never seen before.

      • Barba_Papa

        Who cares about moral compass? God is on the side of the bigger battalions. Quantity is a quality of its own, remember? That’s how the Red Army beat the Wehrmacht in the first place. You mention Vietnam, and then conveniently forget that in that war the US easily won almost every battle. Just like they did in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the latter two conflicts they did way better then the supposedly much lauded British military, because unlike the British the Americans were actually willing to sustain losses. Unlike most of their Western allies the Americans went out, to seek and fight the enemy. Talk about moral compass and willingness to take sacrifices.

        How many troops the US could and can deploy matters because it is still WAY much more then the Russians could hope to match on a foreign deployment. Henceforth my statement that the Russians were not able to sustain their initial Syrian airgroup. The same kind of deployment which is peanuts to the US Chair Force.

        The Russian imposed no fly zone over Syria is dubious. It helped deter actions by US Chickenhawk neocons, but it also remains to be tested. Any deterrent is only as good until it gets tested. I doubt that it would have deterred the US if it had been a Syrian or Iranian SA-400 battery because those countries do not have the means to follow up the destruction of their batteries with nuclear weapons. Also note that the SA-400 battery did jack shit against the US Chair Force bombing Deir Ezzor for 45 minutes. Because attacking assets of a nuclear armed power works both ways.

        As for the US unwilling to project military power against a nuclear peer, that works for all nuclear powers. Russia will not attack US forces for those same reasons, nor will China. India and Pakistan have so far similarly refrained from full scale war, and I daresay that the main reason why Israel so vehemently wants the US to attack its nuclear program is not because of Iranian statements that it will wipe Israel of the map, all Middle Eastern countries have made such statements in the past, but because it would put Iran and potentially its proxies on the off limits list whenever Israel fancies another round of airstrikes.

        • Bob

          ‘Who cares about moral compass?’
          Whilst from military command point of view you are absolutely correct – there are actual long term and low level political consequences to this attitude. Amongst US post-2003 returned active servicemen, there are relatively high rates of depression and suicide. As they experience cognitive dissonance as result of exposure to these battlefield environments. In short, for some what they were told and what they see don’t correlate, causing them long term psychological disturbance. That is not necessarily of concern to active US military command, but it is a political reality and also a social cost to US society – should any politician choose to adopt the cause.

        • Jesus

          Moral compass does matter, because you have certain values you observe, and God is for those that uphold His values, unlike the secular atheists where anything goes. I see as a distinct reality where conventional forces of nuclear peers could tangle without escalation. The Russians defined their position very clearly, they would shoot down anything threatening Syrian and Russian installations……without qualifying, if we suffer casualties we will launch some SS18 or Topol missiles. The reason US chose not to challenge the Russian no fly zone is because they did not have confidence in their air power.
          What happened at Deir Ezzor, I do not have many details, I do not know where the closest S300 battalion was deployed, and the F16, A10 attack was a sneak attack, I am not sure if the S300 was even deployed, I think they were deployed after this attack, prompting the Russians to provide air cover all over Syria.
          As far as Russia not beefing up their forces on the ground and air, you take as a sign of weakness and limited resources, Russia’s primary goal was to rejuvenate the Syrian army, reequip it and assist it as it got improved traction.
          If Russia itched to have a major war in Syria, Putin would have sent a couple of airborne divisions and several armored and mechanized brigades and possibly would have established another A2/AD bubble in Syria.
          He had the manpower and the means to deploy such a force.

    • chris chuba

      The conscripted U.S. military did well in WW2. It all depends on where the U.S. and Russia engages in combat. It’s the parable of the Tiger vs. the Shark. In South America the U.S. wins 10/10 times. In eastern Europe or Syria? It’s up for grabs.

      The U.S. volunteer force or any conscript force is subject to morale issues if they believe that their cause is just or if their cause is dubious. So both Russia and the U.S. have to use their assets wisely.

      Technically, I cannot think of any area where Russia is behind the U.S. in the theaters where they want to fight except possibly that their air defenses have not been tested against a large operation of U.S. stealth aircraft and combined missile attack. I’m not saying who would win, I’m just saying that this nightmare scenario has not been tested.

      • Jesus

        The nightmare scenario and ensuing casualties would refrain US in trying to find out how well their stealth works.

        • Arthur Smith

          https://southfront.org/trump-let-it-be-arms-race/
          Deescalation instead of rearming nuclear forces, you sure?

          • Jesus

            In business the bottom line counts, if he can spend the trillion dollars on more meaningful projects benefitting the country, and have the Russians scale back their program…..why not? The globalization gurus wanted national identities eventually dissolved; Trump wants national identities bound together in various deals that mutually benefits.

          • Arthur Smith

            “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear
            capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding
            nukes”
            He isn’t going to free any trillions, because he basically declared nuclear arms race with China.

          • Jesus

            Trump is not going to waste trillions of dollars on weapons that are not going to be used in a full scale war. China is strengthening and enlarging its nuclear arsenal, soon there will be MAD between China and US. If you see a war between US and China will be an economic war……involving dolllars and yuans, natural resources, technologies, capital flights, currency manipulation ….etc.

          • sólyomszem

            naiv! :DDD

        • sólyomszem

          jesus, you are extremly wrong.

          you will cry because of trump.

          • Jesus

            How about waiting and see?

      • Barba_Papa

        True, neither army has been tested against an actual 1st world army. The Americans have fought incompetent Arab armies and insurgents mostly since the end of the Cold War. Similarly the Russians have fought Chechen insurgents, the incompetent armies of Georgia and Ukraine and Jihadists in Syria. A true test to see which is better has still not emerged.

        And let us hope it never will.

    • Jesus

      Here in the US, the millennial generation which would make up the volunteer recruits is unlike previous generations that volunteered or conscripted in the armed forces. It has been brainwashed by leftist propaganda, they have an entitlement mindset, they are selfish and not very motivated. I do not consider them viable soldiers, they look at the military as a job opportunity and not much else. There is very little patriotism, a lot of idiotic bravado, social experiments with women, homosexuals and transgenders. These discrepancies do not make for a cohesive fighting force, it is merely obfuscated by political correct lingo. The reality of the matter is found on the battlefield when these various groups cannot naturally function as a cohesive group. Also the military leadership being undermined with yes men and political opointees that follow a left wing agenda and mindset.
      I personally cannot see a company made of women, transgenders and men fighting in hand to hand combat with a company of Russian or Chinese soldiers.

      • Barba_Papa

        Thing is though, the US armed forces are MASSIVE. In the past you had armies that were either good, or they were big. Rarely if ever you had both at the same time. In general well trained soldiers will always defeat poorly trained soldiers. That’s how the Romans and British conquered their empires. You either have to swamp the better trained smaller army with MASSIVE amounts of poorly trained soldiers, but that is no guarantee, as the Red Army learned the hard way in 1941/42. A massive army that is reasonably well trained and superbly led, that’s how the Red Army defeated the Wehrmacht. And I rate the US army as above reasonably well trained. So massive army, above reasonably well trained, above reasonably military leadership, I would not put any money on a Russian force defeating an American force. Even with the political correct nonsense being imposed on them by Washington. Which may even be lessened now that Trump is in charge, the anti-PC president. And let us not overexaggerate the number of transgenders that are in the US army, or assume that all women are poor soldiers. Many armies have used female soldiers with good result, including the Russians.

        You are right though that the US military is overreliant on technology. They are addicted to gadgets. On the other hand it pays never to underestimate the problem solving capability of the American soldier. Germany and Japan did and they paid dearly for it.

        Damn, now I sound like some macho American. That’s the last thing I want to sound like, as I’m a proud European.

        • Jesus

          US forces are not massive, they are large in context of reduced armies fielded by various countries, hence the fall of Soviet Union and the unipolar world power. US being the policeman of the world requires larger troop levels, however the emergence of Russia and China as major world powers, makes US troop levels average; Russia can easily outnumber them in Europe, without major mobilization, and China can overwhelm them in the Pacific area.
          Yes, you can have large powerful armies that have been defeated by smaller and more compact armies through superior tactics and better trained troops.
          I can give you many examples, suffice to say that Alexander the Great with an army of about 40,000 defeated 3 times the Persians forces that greatly outnumbered him at Grannicus, Issus, and Arabella, conquering the Persian empire.
          Also I can point to Hannibal who with a force of half what the Romans had won a resounding victory ar Cannae.
          Also, since you are European, (me too) German panzer divisions bypassed the Maginnot lines outflanking the French and trapping the British at Dunkirk.
          How about Rommel with a couple of divisions and a ragtag force of Italians made fools of the British in N. Africa. Had Hitler sent him sufficient reinforcements, Rommel would have taken the Suez Canal and shut off the British supply line from Asia.

          The bottom line is, if you have capable and visionary leaders with disciplined troops introducing advanced weapons and tactics, they can defeat armies that are many times larger…….and supposedly superior.

          If US was to deploy 500,000 troops in Europe to fight against the Russians with existing equipment they have, they will get a severe whipping.
          I can just see, T90 and BMP-3 equipped Kryzantema along with T-14, T-15 and Terminator 3 inflict the same carnage Hannibal inflicted on the Romans at Cannae.

    • You are obviously uninformed, that’s a lot of talk for an ignoramous

  • christianblood

    Glory to holy Orthodox Russia! Jesus is Lord!

    • Arthur Smith

      Russia is neither holy, nor orthodox. Never was, never will be. Claiming any country to be “holy” or essential to christianity is idolatry. Just take a look what great results Byzantium achieved being all “faithful” and “symphonic with church” – they ostrasized monothelites, corrupted clergy with avarice and homosexuality, ALLOWED MUSLIMS TO EMERGE AS A HISTORIC FORCE BY NEGLECTING APOSTOLIC DUTY and kept praising their hypocritical katehon-caesars until turks took the cursed Сonstantinople.

      • Jesus

        The same can be said of the crusades, however, the reality at hand is that 40-50 years ago Soviet Union was officially a atheistic society and US was a Christian society, lately the roles have reversed. Putin considers the church as a viable reality in the Russian society, while Obama perverted the US society with his anti church agenda.

        • Arthur Smith

          It doesn’t matter what Putin “considers” – the church-wed mother of his two daughters divorced him and Patriarch Kirill is a laughing stock. No pious christian in Russia can trust Putin in matters of faith.

          And USSR was atheistic only on paper, while in reality it’s ideology was just a twisted version of early christian views. Christian devotion of US and other western countries is also debatable, many would call them “serving Mammon” even then.

          Oh, and what crusades have to do with all of that?

          • Jesus

            What early Christian views do you consider twisted? Communist Russia did not believe God. How do you correlate that with some early Christian views you consider twisted. All early christians believed in Jesus Christ.
            As far as Putin and the Patriarch, I do not know anything about them personally, I will leave judging their character to God.
            Do you see a correlation between true communism and early church life? Have you read the Book of Acts? Did the Catholic Church become as derelict as you describe the Byzantine church? The crusades and the holy wars of the 16th century are a lesson in depravity.

          • Arthur Smith

            Communistic ideals and metaphysics majorly mimic those of early christians, that’s the main reason people in Russia supported them – they were familiar. Communists may have not believed in God, but they believed in unified Humanity and victory over death. They strived to build a society where people wouldn’t exploit each other and seek transcendence instead of earthly comforts. Still unfamiliar?

            >Do you see a correlation between true communism and early church life?
            It isn’t about what church life was, but what it should be. Attachment to wordly stuff is inappropriate for christians in any age.
            >Have you read the Book of Acts?
            Sure.
            >Did the Catholic Church become as derelict as you describe the Byzantine church?
            I wasn’t talking about eastern christians, just government and clergy. Caesaropapism is as lethal as popecaesarism.

          • Jesus

            I lived in a communist country, those communist ideals and metaphysics were not known to us, I studied through high school.
            Communism is ideal as a philosophical topic of discussion, when applied to sinful natures of mankind, it does not work unless mankind has a complete inner supernatural transformation. That is why in communist societies you had various classes even though everyone was considered equal, however for Christians in the first century, the object was Jesus Christ and everyone was content in social status they found themselves in.
            Government and church can work when the church has an allegiance to God, and serves as a light to guide the affairs of the government. The church the not get involved in the affairs of the government, it shines divine light to repel darkness.

          • Arthur Smith

            >I lived in a communist country
            It was probably just socialist.

            >it does not work unless mankind has a complete inner supernatural transformation
            I didn’t imply that it works, but it can get you pretty far.

            >Government and church can work when the church has an allegiance to God
            No government will ever have enough patience to tolerate church majorly sticking to it’s principles.

            >everyone was content in social status they found themselves in
            I don’t see how there can be “social status” for a christian at all, because it means accepting social system other than the Church itself. Nevermind. We russians historically had monks as a role model.

          • Jesus

            You need to have Jesus Christ as your model.

          • Arthur Smith

            Oh? And who had better practical expirience accomplishing anything close to Jesus’s perfection if not ascetic saints? Or maybe you are arrogant enough to disdain any stepping stones?

          • Jesus

            You do not need to be ascetic to come close to Jesus’ perfection, Jesus was not ascetic, he ate and drank with sinners and enjoyed life without sin. Being ascetic is a way of alienating yourself from physical temptations and worldly comforts. The disciples of Jesus in the Book of Acts lived life in Jerusalem, and then scattered all over the world…..they did not isolate themselves in communes. To know the Son of God means acceptance of Him by faith, that leads to a supernatural sanctification of your person, receiving the Holy Spirit allowing you to live anywhere in the world and having power over sin.

          • Arthur Smith

            So, basically, you are saying that you don’t need any help in achieving all of that and it’s more practical to rely on yourself having same personal strength as apostles had than to refine theology over ages? Are you a charismatic/pentecostalist?

      • Bob

        However, Russia, and other Slavic countries – Serbia – still retain the Byzantine double headed eagle as their national symbol and military chevron. Never sure why muslim Albania does though – their black version is quite sinister looking with its blood red background. Always assumed the Byzantine double headed eagle meant look west and look east vigilantly – Byzantines needed to always guard against both the Teutonic tribes out of central Europe and the muslims out of Asia Minor.

        • Arthur Smith

          >However, Russia, and other Slavic countries – Serbia – still retain the Byzantine double headed eagle as their national symbol and military chevron.
          What’s your point?

  • Hisham Saber

    I read once that Russian special forces (Spetznaz?) new recruits ; as far as their final graduation, are dropped off in a far, very remote part of Siberia with nothing but the clothes on their backs; they are required to survive in the elements for 30 days. If they survive, they are accepted and graduate. If they don’t, oh well, they all knew the consequences and signed a paper saying that they know of this.

    I agree with the Saker. Russia is in-conquerable. Simply because of the spirit, will and resolve of the Russian people, which is legendary.

    If NATO/U.S. decide to get suicidal and silly, and attack Russia; it will remain a conventional war. Russia will repulse such an attack and go on the offensive. Russian airborne, armored divisions; covered by the best anti-air weapons in the world, would go straight to Lisbon and Paris within 4 weeks. The only thing that would slow them down is the condition of the shitty roads in Eastern Europe, but once they hit Western Europe, where the roads are great(see. Autobahn) its all over.

    The Russian military is a cohesive force, while NATO is not, but a force of many countries and thus fragmented and unreliable.

    If the west(U.S. , Britain and/or Israel ) decide to go for annihilation through nuclear means, Russia only has to detonate their nuclear arsenal on their own territory and the only living things left on Earth would be cockroaches. Their heavy ICBM’s don’t even need to be launched. That is why I say it will remain conventional.

    God bless Russia and her Eastern Orthodox Church, and I hope the moderate Islamic world(overwhelming majority, not the brainwashed fanatics who somehow missed the big white elephant sitting in the living room-Israel, and decide to attack their own kind in Syria and Iraq; ridiculous btw, and they number in the thousands, while 1.7 billion Muslims know who the real enemy is) make an alliance that would blossom in the 21st century and put the evangelical western Christians and world Jewry(seems like the Hindus are allied with this groups as well, since they have an all-out hatred for all things Islamic; mostly because they have been messing around with Muslims and thus have been conquered and defeated, too many times to mention here, by Islamic armies for 1000+ years). They can take the flip-flopping , backstabbing Kurds with them.

    Actually, Islamic eschatology and some verses in the Quran hint and vaguely tell of an alliance between the Eastern Orthodox Church(true Christianity) and the Islamic world, and defeat the sowers of discord on Earth. China, which is keeping the ‘Trojan horse’ India at bay, is welcome in this alliance.

    The main story line of the 21st century will be about these two camps, in a multi-polar world.

    Eastern Orthodox, Islam and Buddhism (vs.) Evangelical and Catholic Christians, Jewry and Hinduism.

    The forces of peace and harmony, against the forces of hegemony, aggression, belligerence, ancient ideologies and anarchy.

    We will prevail. The ‘writing is on the wall’.

    • Arthur Smith

      Sorry, but you have absolutely no clue about what Eastern Orthodoxy is. If you return from a conflict and there was possibility you are responsible for someone’s death, even if you protected innocents – you are getting banned (penance) from church for several years. But you probably don’t care about responsibility for taking another person’s life, however atrocious they may be, and prevent any chance for their salvation. Nah, it’s much more funny to jerk off to eschatology.

      • Hisham Saber

        You have a np idea what your blabbing about. Leave this subject to people who know. In the meantime stick to your porn, in between Southfront.

    • sólyomszem

      what are you smoking?

      • Aquartertoseven

        He called Islam a force of peace and harmony haha.

        • Hisham Saber

          That’s right, as soon as Israel is no more. Which it will be you Zionist pos.

          • Aquartertoseven

            Ha, so Jews took over one country (and made it a civilised democracy as opposed to your Muslim sharia dictatorships; no wonder you’re resentful!), do you not realise that Islam is and tries to take over every single nation on the planet?! How, to have as many Islamic countries as it does currently, it SLAUGHTERED and enslaved the peoples of those very countries? Look at Europe now, Muslims have made many areas, even in capitals, no-go zones to infidels, they’ve literally taken over.

            With Israel, you Muslims are getting a taste of your own medicine, and shockingly, you don’t like it! Well tough.

      • Hisham Saber

        juvenile fool. Your the none whos on the magic mushrooms by your silly posts here.

        • sólyomszem

          :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

    • John Whitehot

      large numbers of Catholics and Evangelists are actually on Russia’s side as they rightly perceive it as a Christian power. Don’t be that quick in generalizations.

      • Hisham Saber

        Evangelists on Russias side?Idiocy.

        • John Whitehot

          lololololol

  • Pave Way IV

    My vote goes to the Houthi flip-flop army. Those guys are becoming legendary – with or without shoes.

  • Urix