Russia vs NATO

What’s Russian President Vladimir Putin’s next move, after he’s finished absorbing Ukraine?  I offered some general thoughts here.  Next up, or soon after next, are the Baltics, all of which are NATO members.

General Jack Keane (USA, Ret) had this to say about NATO’s capabilities vis-à-vis Russia:

NATO shouldn’t be taken lightly.  There are 4 million people under arms.  That’s not counting the United States.  With the United States, it’s over 5 million.  And the fact of the matter is the Russians have 1 million under arms.  So at some point, capabilities, quantities, matter.

Indeed, they do.  But what are those capabilities, quantities, really?

  • The UK doesn’t operate any actual aircraft carriers (the closest thing they have now is an assault ship).  An aircraft carrier, or a fleet of them, would only be of sometime use in the duck pond that is the Baltic Sea, anyway.
  • The Netherlands (with its unionized, weekday army) has disbanded its heavy armored division.
  • France and the UK have all of 200 main battle tanks.  Each.
  • Germany is cutting its troops to 180,000.
  • France has cut to 213,000 troops.
  • The UK has cut to 174,000 troops.
  • The US is cutting to 445,000 troops.
  • Poland—the only serious member on the continent (perhaps after the target Baltics)—has 100,000 active duty troops and less than 130 fighter aircraft.  They do have 1,000 aging main battle tanks.

Defense spending is falling off as a per centage of national GDP, too, with most member nations utterly failing to spend as much as 2% of their GDP on defense—nominally a requirement for NATO membership.

The effective force ratio NATO would be able to bring to bear against the Red Army, then, is of a piece with the force ratio a motley gang of Persians had against a relative handful of Greeks some 2,500 years ago, and they still had very much trouble breaking through.  NATO’s effective force ratio is of a piece with that enjoyed by a heavily armored French force that failed to break a relative handful of English archers some 600 years ago.

It’s not confidence inspiring.  Not for our side, anyway.

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