Thursday, January 26, 2017

One Source of Weakness Down

Despite the imagery of a vibrant blue water Navy that Russia tried to advance with the farcical deployment of their smoke-belching, floating tenement of an aircraft carrier called Kuznetsov that only managed to lose two aircraft in flight operations while supposedly bombing Syrian rebels, the Russians aren't really focused on a blue water navy. Sad.

Russia has different objectives than anything even close to new aircraft carriers that some Russian admirals would love to have--and which got publicity when proposed. No, the Russians are thinking smaller:

The Russian navy still has a lot of Cold War era ships and aircraft in need of replacement or upgrades. The most urgently needed new ships are nuclear subs and coastal and harbor patrol craft. These are being delivered in greater numbers but the need remains urgent. Many coastal areas and naval bases are poorly guarded because of the shortage of modern (or just functioning) patrol ships.

The Russians are being smart. They need smaller combatants for coastal defense and operations in closed waters like the Barents, Baltic, Black, Caspian, and Okhotsk Seas; and the Russians need nuclear submarines, of both the ballistic missile (SSBN) and attack (SSN) varieties.

The SSBNs give Russia a survivable element of their nuclear deterrent force. Which is crucial for such a large country as Russia which has ground forces too small to protect their entire border. Russia relies on nuclear threats more than America, China, India, France, or Britain need to protect core territorial interests.

And Russia needs SSNs and smaller surface combatants to protect the SSBNs in nuclear bastions against enemy SSNs trying to sink Russian SSBNs.

Other smaller combatants are needed to protect ports and operate outside of them in enclosed seas against enemy power projection missions.

Russia could use some amphibious stuff to project ground power around those enclosed seas, too.

But beyond that, a navy is a luxury for Russia. Which is why I was all in favor of Russia spending scarce resources on a blue water navy. By all means, build ships to show the flag in Cuba and Venezuela if it makes the Russians happy!

Sadly, the Russians aren't that foolish, apparently.

If only Russia would be aware that an army and air force capable of taking Poland is also a source of Russian weakness, Russia and the West would be a lot better off.