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03 April 2016


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505th PIR

The psychological (nationalism will be huge) and material investment in the 1st Guards Tank Army along with its historical role 43-45 and throughout the Cold War will make it hard not to use, especially in a Neo-Con driven, myopic, "Borgist" world. Superb and thoughtful post Mr. Armstrong.

Could the upcoming election be more important? By the time 1GTA becomes fully operational, the next president and his/her first term/foreign policy will be up.

Gheese, what formation are these headed to: http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/04/russia-ramping-up-full-mass-production.html ?? It will be a qualitatively better unit as well as possessing shorter lines of communication and relative home turf. A political accommodation with the Chinese will be a strategic win for Russia as well, but I digress.

Chris Chuba

Thank you for such a detailed post, I did not know about the CFE treaty. If people in the U.S. read your summation about how the Russians reacted to it versus the U.S. and other NATO nations I would imagine that our narrative of having Russia as the big bad aggressor would not hold. We do not analyze things in terms of how military organization can telegraph a countries future intentions, instead we look at multiple headlines on Freebeacon like how Russian Jets flew in the direction of the U.K. and shriek in horror at the newly resurgent Russia.

Now thinking out loud, what type of thing could NATO actually attempt to do against a nuclear armed Russia assuming that the had this intention?
1. Encourage Ukraine to break Minsk 2 and attack the tiny Donbas enclave, yeah, this is plausible. This would be perfect, a proxy war that does not invite direct retaliation by Russia. In fact, retaliation by Russia to protect the DPR itself would be portrayed as aggression. My heart sinks, there is a high probability of more needless and unnecessary death in Eastern Ukraine because of imbeciles in the West encouraging it. How would Russia respond?

2. I can't see NATO doing anything other than stirring up trouble in the neighboring Republics or in the internal Muslim population as a direct attack on Russia would be too insane, even for a Breedlove. The indirect way seems to have a better risk / reward. Still I suppose that it is prudent of Russia to have a large Tank Army just so that they don't have to go from zero to using Nukes in the event of an attack.

Babak Makkinejad

I think what is insane is the inclusion of the 3 Baltic Republics in NATO.


Thank you - excellent briefing.


Excellent piece, Patrick. The division structure was coming one way or another once the cabal of the military "reformers" either died out or was removed.


Excellent post. One of my history professors said that the West always makes the mistake in counting Russia down and out and she always comes back. Now she has a formidable leader in Putin after that Western backed buffoon Yeltsin. We live in interesting times

Patrick Armstrong

We live in stupid times. I'd say. The interesting bit (in the Chinese curse sense) is yet to come.


Has the USA been organized for a big war all along?



This is a useful post in many ways. I am reminded of a meeting in the Pentagon during the Rumsfeld era, a meeting of military people who might pass on a message. There were various generals, colonels, the odd sergeant major(SOF). The generals said nothing of course. As a group they do not generally share their wisdom with the masses and they might be caught out in a disagreement with policy. Rumsfeld presided. The main briefing item was the transition of the US Army from division based structure to one in which the brigade would become the basic structure for overseas work, but in which division headquarters would be retained to oversee training in US garrisons, for the obvious purpose of having "head room" into which those with sponsorship could be promoted to general officer ranks and in which the division headquarters itself (as well as corps headquarters) would serve as a deployable command and control module for expeditionary purposes. it was clear from this that small wars on the model of COIN were anticipated. I asked Rumsfeld what would happen if the US had to fight a big war against a determined opponent who possessed a lot of good equipment. After an embarrassed moment during which Rumsfeld's retired GO counselors (different for the attendees)stared hostily, Rumsfeld said of them "well,these guys told me this would work." I was not invited again. pl


A good article, but one major correction- NATO countries DID ratify the CFE Treaty- they had to for it to enter into force. That isn't why it fell into obsolescence - and the Russians denounced it. It was because the former Warsaw Pact countries- and even former Soviet Republics (i.e., Baltics) had joined NATO. To the Russians, the entire purpose of the CFE Treaty- and the Vienna Document (OSCE)- was now a one-sided instrument aimed against Russia.
Patrick is correct in that the CFE Treaty declarations and inspections showed us where the Russians deemed the threat to themselves- from the South. And perhaps give reasons for the Russians going into Syria to attack ISIS.

A listing of the ratifiers of the CFE Treaty:

Patrick Armstrong

CFE Treaty went through several interations. What you're talking about was the original NATO-WTO agreement. That was ratified all round but soon became obsolete as first the WTO and then the USSR broke up. What I'm talking about was the revised treaty which was negotiated a decade later. NATOland kept sticking conditions on it and eventually Russia gave up.

William R. Cumming

A useful post and thread. Part of the Brigade focus IMO was unit cohesion. My basic problem with the U.S. is that military doctrine and strategy no longer aligns with the tenets of U.S. FP. Part of my long advocacy of withdrawal from NATO is that it is largely a way for the U.S. to interfere in EU politics without being a member of the EU. And the pressure to have NATO participate in out of area ops without considerations of long term deployments by all parties has led to tragic results for the alliance.

And the notion that HELP WAS ON THE WAY by the civilian leadership of the U.S. for the military was a fictional notion allowing for self-deception by all. The understanding of the military/civil interface in the U.S.A. is IMO at its lowest level [by both] since 1945.

And with the erosion of a uniformed military [in part caused by an unaccountable civilian nuclear priesthood and an expensive one at that] is rapidly leading to dissolution of the nation-state system which has to some degree maintained world order [not always successfully clearly] since 1648!

Thanks again for the excellent post Patrick! BTW Patrick what would be your guess as to active service flag rinks that have held a divisional command or higher in actual combat worldwide?

Patrick Armstrong

How many active? I imagine you're about to tell me, but my guess would be that the pool of US from the two Iraq wars are mostly retired. And unless you want to include the Russian commanders in 2008 or in Syria, I suppose there aren't many anywhere still serving. But, with a look at Wikipedia, neither Breedlove nor the guy commanding the US Army in Europe (Hodge?) look a bit like corridor generals to me.


It makes perfect sense if the goal is to maintain a potential stranglehold on St. Petersburg. No doubt that's how Russians view it and they have every good reason under the sun to suspect it.


An excellent overview Patrick. Slightly OT but I found a free PDF at wikipedia on a little-known (outside of Russia) war of Soviet and Japanese forces in Manchuria in August 1945. The Soviet forces showed in this short clash (it was over in two weeks) a mastery of modern warfare which has never been equalled. I started looking for other books about this war and came across some freely dowloadable PDF files of books by a David Glantz - just enter his name in the search box at wikipedia.

August Storm: The Soviet 1945 Strategic Offensive in Manchuria
David M. Glantz
Combat Studies Institute
Fort Leavenworth
February 1983

I’m only halfway through August Storm but I’m staggered by the detail this author provides before the reader ever gets to the actual battles and maneouvres - structure of Soviet forces, Structure of Japanese forces, climatic data, terrain and a host of other detail. The maps and photos are very poor quality in the PDF I downloaded but the text and commentary is excellent, as are the tables of data. Do the US still provide this high level of material for their staff officers?

Anyway, what particularly struck me were the opening Preface remarks by the author bemoaning the fact that the overall contribution of Soviet forces in defeating Nazi Germany had been seriously downplayed by Western authors and, in particular, by the surviving German generals in their memoirs in which they claim the Soviets were “artless” in warfare and that the Germans lost due to geography, climate and sheer numbers. The author strongly disagrees with this belittling of the Soviet war machine.

His concluding remarks in the Preface: “Our neglect of Soviet operations in WW2, in general – and in Manchuria, in particular – testifies not only toward history and the past in general, but also to our particular blindness to the Soviet experience. That blindness, born of the biases we bring to the study of World War 2, is a dangerous phenomenon. How can we learn if we refuse to see the lessons of our past for our future?”

The author’s remarks in 1983 show that this downsizing of Soviet achievements in WW2 is not of recent origin.

These are the other PDFs by this author on wikipedia –
(1) August Storm: Soviet Tactical and Operational Combat in Manchuria, 1945 by LTC David M. Glantz
(2) The Soviet Airborne Experience by LTC David M. Glantz
(3) Soviet Defensive Tactics at Kursk, July 1943 by COL David M. Glantz

Patrick Armstrong

I knew Glanz. Very serious guy. He headed an outfit at Leavenworth that did really first class studies of the Soviet Army. I once asked him how he had ever been able to get such a thing up and running. He said he had a real protector in the Pentagon who absolutely left them alone for 3-4 years so they could get up to speed. He also insisted in hiring historians -- no IR or Poly Sci types. Don't know what's become of it.


Fascinating and clarifying post, thanks. Would you have any idea if the new tanks were used in Syria? Based on


There is a clear need for Russia to field test these in action somewhere, but presumably without the risk of escalation to full scale nuclear war- hence probably not Ukraine

If not Syria, then Iraq, perhaps Kurds against Turkey in Iraq?

Since Russia did not under shock therapy lose its armaments industry, I am guessing that their production costs are a relatively small fraction of US costs, normalized to say the price of oil, creation of the tank army is feasible (and per wikipedia ) by 2020. In the V-day ceremony, US media was filled with how one of the tanks got stuck.




Dave Glantz and I were in the same cadet company at VMI. He graduated in '63 and I in '62. pl


Would you say that the brigade structure worked satisfactorily over the last decade and a half?



Yes. It has been adequate in wars fought against what are really minor opponents. pl

Patrick Armstrong

Apparently they did supply the latest T-90s to the Syrian Army. As the Armata "breakdown"it was at the rehearsal; I think I recall that the official explanation was finger trouble by the driver (can't find it on the Net). On The Day, several performed quite normally.

Ishmael Zechariah

"There is a clear need for Russia to field test these in action somewhere, but presumably without the risk of escalation to full scale nuclear war- hence probably not Ukraine

If not Syria, then Iraq, perhaps Kurds against Turkey in Iraq?"

A few questions based on this bit of prose:
1-Do you really think that the most modern Russian armour would be given to kurds without oversight?
2-Which kurds might these be?
3-Who would be the overseers?
4-Who would provide air cover?
4-If the situation spirals out of control w/ the TSK crushing these Russian-aligned kurds in Iraq (as TSK well can; we are a real army-very much as described above), can anyone guarantee that there will not be escalation?
It might be best to think twice before posting.

Ishmael Zechariah


Links are nice.

Glantz got heard here because the person who was supposed to lecture on "Women in WW2" couldn't get there. He was a substitute. Wondered why.


it is less obscure - discovery Battlefield series had a section on Manchuria 1945 suitable and USEFUL for domestic (non professional) consumption.



A similar observation applies to Kaliningrad.


To say that three Baltic states have a strangle hold on St. Petersburg is just laughable.

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