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RAND: Russia Continues Developing Ground Forces

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U.S. Army
Monday, October 21, 2019

Russia has developed its ground capabilities and the ability to sustain its forces, but it is not likely to initiate a large-scale ground war, according to a recent RAND Corporation report. 

In response, the report recommends the U.S. Army strengthen its regional partners’ security forces and consider how to prepare for potential conflict.

The Russian strategy of deterrence, regional dominance, expeditionary operations and war preparations also includes domestic stability. Other key factors in the country’s ability to sustain military forces “show signs of remaining stable” in the medium term, the report says.

“Since 2008 Russia's military forces have improved substantially, enabling Russia to pursue its interests much more aggressively, including intervening in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria,” the report says.

The RAND report, titled “The Future of the Russian Military: Russia’s Ground Combat Capabilities and Implications for U.S.-Russia Competition,” was compiled and written by 13 co-authors, analysts and researchers.

The key challenge for the U.S. military, according to the report, will be “to develop capabilities that can enable the United States to compete with Russia and achieve U.S. interests across different regions and intensities of conflict without provoking escalation.”

While the researchers do not foresee Russia initiating a conflict with the West, the report recommends the U.S. military “should prepare to counter Russian capabilities that challenge current U.S. forces, including long-range strike, [command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR)], and rapidly deployable forces.”

Russia poses a threat to U.S. partners such as Georgia and Ukraine, and its ongoing expeditionary operations could lead to a direct or indirect confrontation with its partners outside of Europe. The U.S. could improve partner and allied security forces by strengthening niche areas, such as foreign area officers, units focused on providing security force assistance, information operations, and military medical units, the report states.

The full report is available here. For more, the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare is hosting a Hot Topic forum on Oct. 30 titled “Strategic Competition with Russia and China: Implications for U.S. and Allied Ground Forces.” Information is available here.