Posted Sep 10, 2014 by Martin Armstrong
Many people have written asking about Putin. The pundits are claiming the Russian Army is weak and could not wage war. Russia is actually looking at expanding its military policy re-targeting Europe and the USA as enemies, and rewriting protocols for justification of a defensive first strike with nuclear weapons. The greatest mistake that the West has made so far is to judge Russia through their own eyes based upon themselves with extreme arrogance and prejudice. Just because you would not want war does not mean your opponent has the same view. Additionally, the arrogance of the politicians can force war by their unyielding posture and inability to realize that they have left their opponent with no other option.
The arrogance that Russia is weak and could not afford war is a huge mistake because it is the West who cannot afford war in the middle of an economic implosion where we have a Sovereign Debt Crisis brewing on an unprecedented scale. War also gas been an escape valve for fiscal mismanagement and in this respect, war become desirable as a decoy to hide the inability of politicians to cope with managing the state.
The Russian military forces are composed of 150,000 officers and 766,000 soldiers on active duty. There are about 2,485,000 reservists. The Russian Ground Forces have 15,500 tanks, 27,607 armored fighting vehicles (AFV), 5,990 self-propelled guns (SPG), 4,625 towed artillery guns and 3,781 multiple rocket launcher artillery systems (MLRS), according to reports of the Military portal Global Fire Power. For the Air Force, Russia has about 3,082 airplanes, jets and helicopters. Russia has only about 114 combat helicopters compared to the USA’s 914 attack helicopters – not counting those bought by local civil police as in Florida.
The Russian Navy has 352 ships and boats. However, Russia has only one aircraft carrier – the Admiral Kuznetsov class. This was in the service in 1991. Moscow would like to supplement his holding by two helicopter carrier Mistral class from France.
Moreover, Russia has over 4,600 nuclear warheads ready for use in their collections. Additionally, Russia has 7,300 nuclear warheads in reserve. Furthermore, Russia has about 330 intercontinental ballistic missiles that could be targeted against the USA domestically. In addition, ten nuclear submarines are equipped with 160 missiles and there are another 576 nuclear warheads.
In the next few years, the rocket classes Bulava (SS-N-30) RS-24 Jars (NATO code SS-24) and Iskander-M (SS-26 Stone) are to be built. Russian technology in rocket manufacture is not to be under-estimated. Just in the past decades since the Cold War began, Russia has 117 different missile technologies that have been used. These systems are partly to extensions of older technologies. The missile defense system A-135 (NATO code ABM-3) is in Moscow and is ready for use. It protects the capital and the surrounding area from possible attacks. Unlike Iraq or Syria, the USA cannot simply invade with impunity. This is not a war that could be won in such a manner and the capability of nuclear attacks/defense warn that those levels of warfare are off the table.
In Russia there is conscription or the draft. Military service extends over twelve months. Like the 1960s in the USA, young Russians are trying to escape military service. In 2012, about 245,000 young Russians had evaded military service. Often doctors are bribed paying thousands of dollars to seek confirmation of some health unsuitability. Others have simply just not appeared at the recruiting office. General Nikolai Makarov complained that only 11.7% of Russians are suitable for military service between the ages of 18-27 years. An amazing 60% of the male population was unfit for military service according to the statistics. Either Russia enforces its conscription and uses only military doctors to provide rejection notices, or it moves to a private army.
Part of the problem is known as the “dedovshchina”, which is a rather brutal initiation ritual. The dedovshchina consists of humiliation, rape and torture of conscripts by older servicemen. The rumor that many have even died during such rituals has ironically been a deterrent to increasing the military. In 2010, there were more than 1,700 Russian military dedovshchina victims, reported Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies.
Add to this nightmare, far too many military barracks did not even have showers until the end of 2013. Then there is the notorious problem of Alcoholism, which is a widespread phenomenon throughout Russia. Approximately 40% of all working age Russian men die from the effects of alcoholism, reported the Guardian. There are countless Russian women almost everywhere these days from Tokyo and New York to the cities in Europe. Many are looking for husbands and do not want to have anything to do with Russian men for this very reason. It has been this macho attitude in Russia that creates the problem. The excessive consumption of vodka in Russia is seen as proof of masculinity.
To cope with these problems, Putin is actually looking to alter the entire system by adopting the privatization of the military sector. Yes – you read correctly! During the next few years, we will see the rise of private armies taking over tasks of the defense. This will break-the-back of the problems with the Russian military and propel it into a new era.
The largest private army in Russia’s Federal State is the Unitary Enterprise Okhrana. This was launched in 2005 by the Home Office and has proven to be a tremendous success. It now has more powers as regular security forces. Competitors in the market complain about the state privileges enjoyed by Okhrana, for it is becoming far more responsive than standard military units and has set the tone for a crack military force. Russia will cut its government military forces in half by as early as 2020 (war aside) and it will replace this with private armies consisting mostly of Russian ex-soldiers. This is the new Russian formulated Military Strategy. Most in the West do not even comprehend that this is a major trend.
This trend of altering the structure of the Russian military forces must be understood within its proper context. This has added to the Strange War that the West cannot quite grasp which has been going on in Ukraine. We have referred to these Russian soldiers without insignia as “Russian Tourists” with weapons. Our sources in the East even posed with one to provide direct evidence that they were in fact there (pictured to the right with our source cropped out).
This idea is not unique for Russia. The critics call Putin a liar and he has troops there in Ukraine. He has troops in Crimea yet can deny that they were there. Is Putin a liar, or just copying the USA in its use of private military units in Iraq? Nobody paid much attention to the privatization of the military even in the USA. However, if a head of state is then asked, are your troops there in someplace, they can SAFELY and HONESTLY deny that “their” troops are even there. Is Putin merely copying the USA, yet the Western press fail to make the connection to the fact that during the Iraq War, there were times when private armies for the USA had in fact outnumbered “official” troops on the ground. OOPS! It seems nobody wants to make that connection or comparison.
Nevertheless, let us look at this issue with unbiased eyes. The Iraq war just might best be remembered as America’s most privatized military engagement to date, with contractors hired by the Pentagon actually outnumbering troops on the ground at various points. That is CORRECT!!!!
This might come as a total shock, but mercenary armies are not new. The Hessians were 18th-century German auxiliaries contracted for military service by the British government. Britain found it much easier to borrow money to pay for their private armies than to recruit its own soldiers. The Hessians took their name from the German region of Hesse. The British used the Hessians in several conflicts, including in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, but they are most widely associated with combat operations in the American Revolutionary War.
The US moved to private contractors for the same reason. It was far easier to pay for private armies than to re-institute the draft for a war that was unpopular and undefined to begin with. The sheer number of private contractors used during the Iraq War was often overshadowed by events and the press did not comprehend this important trend shift. By 2008, the US Department of Defense employed 155,826 private contractors in Iraq – and 152,275 troops. This degree of privatization is unprecedented in modern warfare. It has been overlooked by just about everyone while Putin is being called a liar for troops without insignia that are in military uniform and are highly trained. Are they “official” Russian military or private contractors/combatants?
When the real history books are written, the most important lesson of the Iraq War will be the realization that this was the test case for a military privatization on an unprecedented scale. Large-scale use of private military contractors may relieve the government of pensions while it also entails risks for responsibility of private troops and raises the question are they even subject to the same standards of war crimes that would be committed by a government soldier?
Recent US experience with private security contractors, in particular, holds several critical lessons for the future.Private contractors have long been used in war in modern times, but they provided logistical support in Vietnam, the Balkans, and Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. However, the expansion into actually mercenary forces has reemerged on a wide-scale level. The US Army spent approximately $815 million ($163 million per year, or about $200 million per year in 2012 dollars) to employ contractors under its Logistics Civil Augmentation Program between 1992 and 1997. But between 2001 and 2010, that expenditure grew to nearly $5 billion per year. Of course, this latter cost coincides with US involvement in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. What sets the Iraq war apart in this evolutionary process of the military has been the growing role of these private civilian contractors in providing troops.
Throughout the Iraq War, the majority of contracted jobs of 61% continued to be base-support functions. The next-largest group of Department of Defense contractors (18%) were security contractors. They provided security services, such as guarding installations, protecting convoys, or acting as bodyguards. This outsourcing trend continued in Afghanistan, where there were 94,413 private contractors in 2010, compared with 91,600 US troops. This is a trend that seems to be overlooked. The British are also moving to privatization of military operations.
The lobbying of private military contractors is a completely new segment that NEEDS war to make money. Any assumption that this was some trend that was used only for the Iraq War is totally unrealistic if not naive. The private military and security industry is now incredibly large, powerful, and is entirely adaptable going with the flow of events. During the late 19th century, war was needed by the media to sell newspapers. It was Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911) who was the father of Yellow Journalism making up stories that the Spanish Attacked the USA to create the Spanish-American War that was totally untrue. We are entering into a new era that nobody is paying much attention to these days and it is the private contractors who need war to exist.
There will be no scaling back of this industry. It is now broadening its territory, expanding into maritime security, providing security to business and governments in Africa, and exploring other new markets. We have returned to the age of roaming mercenary armies.
Merely disparaging Putin as a liar and using troops without insignia to pretend they are not Russian soldiers is missing the entire point. Putin was so successful in the Crimea and can also post the ceasefires in the Eastern Ukraine as a success of his policies, yet nobody seems to grasp the underlying trend that is NOT UNIQUE to Russia..
We must understand that this is a conflict between Russia and the United States. The German states are not allowed to maintain armed forces of their own, since the German constitution states that matters of defense fall into the sole responsibility of the federal government. At the federal level, Germany’s military expenditures have amounted to only 1.35% of the GDP (2012) making it among the lowest budgeted military forces in the entire world in terms of share of GDP. As of June 2014, the Germany military (Bundeswehr) has a strength of roughly 183,000 active troops giving it a rank of only 30th in the world and the fourth largest in the European Union. France, Italy and the United Kingdom all have larger forces because of WWI and WWII. In addition the Bundeswehr has approximately 144,000 reserve personnel (2010).
The real trend of military forces in the future is moving toward privatization to eliminate pensions. The greatest danger lies in the weakness of the political leaders in East and West to even negotiate no less communicate. There is no moral responsibility left within society any longer. So this is not a valid tool to say someone would not invade only because you would not. We cannot judge others by ourselves, nor can we ignore the trend to privatization.
The sanctions against Russia embolden Putin – they do not weaken him. They allow Putin to shift the blame to the USA and that fuels the seed for war. The only resolution is to provide economic opportunity for the average Russia and encourage Putin to move his nation away from Oligarchy and into a real economic trend of expansion. Oligarchy is merely the privatization of government industry – it was not a move toward economic freedom for the Russian people. Unless this trend can be set in motion, then we are headed into a very dark period with rising privatized armies that NEED war to survive. This is the very precise way Roman fell – its military needed civil war to gain economically.
History is composed of only patterns of human behavior. Like an onion, history is constructed from patterns laid upon patterns that then affect yet other patterns cascading through politics, economics, and society. Patterns can be in plain view, yet hidden by still other patterns within patterns. This is the structure that results in history doing nothing but repeating itself like a Shakespeare’s play where the story-line and plot are always the same, only the actors come and go with the march of time.
This inability to see the dynamic structure of the world leads the linear thinker to simply call it all just chaos for they remain blind to complex analysis of how interconnectivity creates patterns that simply mask the layers hidden beneath. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher and then what we can’t understand we call nonsense and a foreign language sounds like just gibberish. We cannot comprehend the present no less the future until we pierce the layers of patterns that mask everything. Life is one giant masquerade and if you turn around, there is simply another with a mask behind you.