Saturday, August 23, 2014

Stop. Don't. Come Back

Russia wants to build up their fleet. Oh, please, let it be so.

Just as NATO is worrying that Russia is developing into a regional (nuclear over-armed) land power able to throw their weight around in Europe, Russia throws us a life line:

Russia announced plans Tuesday to bolster its navy with more advanced weapons in response to NATO's vow to halt the Kremlin's push into Ukraine and feared expansion into eastern Europe.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told a general security meeting that he expected to hear a detailed report from Russia's navy commander about how this could be achieved efficiently over the coming six years.

So Russia is going to sea and I'm supposed to retire to my fainting couch?

This makes no sense from Russia's point of view.

One. The Soviet Union couldn't build an army, navy, and air force to support both. In what world will Russia be able to build both a navy and army without making each insufficient for their missions?

Two, what is their mission? Repelling NATO navies? Please. NATO navies are disappearing. Even Britain's navy is tiny these days.

Russian ships able to reach western NATO nations will finally give those NATO navies a reason to exist other than sending occasional ships off the coast of Somalia to look for pirates.

A Soviet navy made sense in the situation where their army was lunging west to the Rhine River and the Russian fleet was needed to slow down our reinforcements and supply enough to allow the Red Army to reach the Rhine River.

If I may be so bold, whatever threat Russia poses it is not driving on the Rhine River.

Russia is a massive land power. Russia needs an army and air force. Right now they have so little of those that Russia relies on the threat of nuclear retaliation to defend against invasion along their long frontier. Think China and not NATO as the real threat to Russian territory.

Moscow needs a navy of ballistic missile nuclear submarines with enough ships and subs to protect SSBN bastions near Russia; amphibious warfare ships to project land power ashore around their periphery (thank you, France); small ships to guard the coast; and small numbers of blue water ships to show the flag abroad and be in the position to rescue Russian citizens actually endangered abroad.

In short, Russia needs sea power to support their land power and not one that reduces their ground forces in a competition for scarce resources.

So you go, Minister Shoigu. Teach NATO a lesson in sea power. Rebuild the Russian fleet.

UPDATE: And a late update to offer true thanks to France, which cancelled the sale of Mistral amphibious warfare ships to Russia over Ukraine.