I’d have probably gotten more attention if I had put “Ukraine” in the title but then every other piece on the internet is using that this weekend.  Anyone following the story may have noted that even in that venue, the military operation has been all about mobility and special operations forces.  The early photos of swarms of Russian Hind transport and gunship helicopters plus the quickness of aerial insertion illustrated that.  Not the classic “tanks formations across the border and into the streets” Soviet era blunt force of the past – although certainly some Russian light armor had made its way in the the Crimea.

Of course that’s all easy given Russian bases just across the border; it demonstrates how readily Russia has and will continue to treat its borders as simply staging areas in forward defense.  After centuries of invasion and the losses of the Nazi offensive, it seems its been genetically infused into their leadership, of whatever political flavor.  I imagine this much be a surprise for those who have not been following the aggressive Putin era rearmament and return to cold war intimidation practices against their neighbors – including such things as repeated and obvious bomber exercise up to and on times a bit across their Scandinavian neighbors.

For those who would like to get one of the better strategic takes on the current confrontation and Putin’s tactics (its hard to say if they are really Russia’s but they are most definitely Putin’s personal style, you can tell by the harsh flavor of elevated testosterone levels) I would recommend the following:


Now, for a few comments on the actual topic of the post.  I was doing another interview with Jeff Bushman last week, on Shadow Warfare, and we began a discussion of the dramatic evolution of the American military since the attacks of 9/11, focusing on special operations, JSOC and the global anti-terror task forces. That began to lead us into the recently proposed new military budget cuts and the changes in contemporary challenges beyond the war on terror.

One of the real financial challenges of budgeting for the U.S., which although its been decreasing military spending vs Russian and China, is still relatively at the very top of the heap in military spending, is that we have – unlike say China – been forced to deal with a much broader set of demands. Those demands range from maintaining superpower nuclear parity with the Soviets (who are developing a whole suite of new long range missiles and at least to some extent cheating in minor areas of the START treaties) to dealing with potential access denial in the South and East China Seas as well as the Arabian Gulf.  China is focusing all its spending into long range ballistic “carrier killer” missiles, localized stealth air and hypersonic missile capabilities defense and a medium range naval force – and we are forced to match it if we are to maintain our strategic position with our other Asian allies who want access to the same Ocean routes – and resources.

Three years ago the military buzz was special operations, for the last year or two its all about Access Denial in the Pacific and starting a few days ago, its back to classic Soviet era territorial incursion and possibly occupation.  Talk about budget challenges…

About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

4 responses »

  1. Jim Stubbs says:

    Hi Larry! Been following Russia on/off for quite awhile. Russia under Putin may surprise some. But Russia has not been, and will not accept, being a second rate world power. Russia has been pushing to regain its international prominence for a long time. That means keeping as much of the old states as close as possible (and controlling their resources), and maintaining the ability to intimidate and influence other countries nearby. It also means quashing too much dissent, as some have found out by meeting sudden painful ends.

    • Hi Jim, to me one of the most depressing things is that Russia was well on the way to becoming a responsible international power – compared just to being a nuclear superpower, not necessarily one in the same thing. And Russia and the U.S. have so many points of mutual interest that it is tragic that Putin is bypassing it all for a classic old Soviet style power play. He seems not at all as skillful as some of the Soviet grand masters; they were superior at fomenting political chaos at a distance, with a great deal of “deniablity”. Putin is seems to be much more of the “godfather” style – heavy intimidation and everyone knows it. Not a sane move in a global economy.

      I’m at work on a new book dealing with surprise attacks on America/Aericans, having just written the following conclusion to a chapter – “In reality, as of 1947, American atomic strike capability was virtually non-existent – and so was American continental air defense, even for its most vital atomic facilities. The key questions were, how far were the Soviets prepared to go and could we tell when and if Soviet military action was imminent?”

      You would really have hoped, given the political progress in Russia during the period BP, Before Putin, that Russia it wouldn’t have gone back so far, so quickly – once again positing itself as unpredictable and threatening. Rather sad, Larry

      • Jim Stubbs says:

        It is sad. I think that what helped undermine the whole business is that the fall came as a surprise to everyone. In the fallout and scramble afterwards, a lot of KGB types, military people, etc. seem to have made connections with organized crime. I think that stunted the new nation’s growth. It had no history of anything but strongmen and had no way of dealing with the monumental corruption. My feeling is that Putin arose out of that. He’s a well dressed thug.

      • It may be much worse than that Jim, I’m tending to believe that he’s somewhat “delusional” as Madeleine Albright described him this morning. Just saw an interview moments ago with him speaking about anti-Semitic NAZI’s as a major threat in the Crimea, justifying Russian military action. What I’m equally afraid of is that he is trapped in a world view which is drifting away from reality. One of the related dangers there in that is who he is relying on for local intelligence – and their agenda. He truly seems to be misinformed about the situation on the ground…but if he is getting it from Crimean separatists and simply accepting it because it fits his fundamental worldview and agenda, like any other leader, he can be played.

        Getting information from separatists and exiles is a huge risk, with what we know now that particular intelligence practice (and getting stuck in your own world view with no sanity checking) led to Bush’s horrible mistake in Iraq. I’ll be mentioning a few other similar mistakes in an upcoming post on dealing with the Russians. In that regard, anyone who is truly interested should read Dean Acheson’s “Present At the Creation”. He had far more experience in negotiations with the Russians than anyone in our generation and he fully understood that their culture drove their approach and you simply had to deal with them in their own terms/worldview. It is always an exercise in power politics and more precisely a calculus of forces, whether it be the Czars, Stalin or now Putin.

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