As noted in the U.S. Army Operating Concept,1 senior leaders and planners face a very complex, unpredictable world. Witness for example, Russia entering the fight against the Islamic State, and then its subsequent alleged withdrawal of forces from Syria. Russia’s actions certainly caught many by surprise—but should they have? Predicting Russia’s actions is indeed challenging, and the task has been made more so since many Russian experts, linguists, and scholars have left government service in recent decades. This post Cold War trend may be changing though, as Russian actions are becoming increasingly important to policymakers, strategists, and military leaders. Some leaders have gone as far as saying that Russia is the only existential threat to the United States—mostly due to its nuclear arsenal. Nevertheless, Russia’s actions over the past few years have shown that the United States needs to devote greater attention to Russia, its intentions, and its leaders.
This monograph is one small—but important— step in that direction. In direct support of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR), six U.S. Army War College students from the resident class of 2016 spent much of this past academic year investigating whether and how the U.S. Army is prepared to respond to various forms of aggression from Russia. Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, USAREUR Commander, Mr. Michael Ryan, EUCOM Director for Interagency Partnering, and their staffs in Wiesbaden and Stuttgart, Germany, gave generously of their time, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to support them through scholarship. In conducting research in Washington, Brussels, Mons, Stuttgart, and Wiesbaden, the student research team confirmed that, in fact, the United States has implemented a wide range of actions to counter Russia’s actions. Yet their research brought to light questions over whether those actions are properly focused, particularly as it pertains to deterrence, as well as against a threat not entirely like that faced during the Cold War. This monograph seeks to flesh out the answer to these and other questions by exploring Russia’s intentions, laying out a more modern approach to deterrence, and presenting recommendations and policy options for senior leaders within the Department of Defense (DoD) and across the interagency.
The Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) is pleased to publish this monograph. We are confident that the research, analysis, and recommendations expressed within will contribute importantly to the ongoing debate over national security and America’s role in Europe.
DOUGLAS C. LOVELACE, JR. Director Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press
ENDNOTES – FOREWORD 1. Department of the Army, U.S. Army Operating Concept, Win in a Complex World, TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, Fort Eustis, VA: U.S. Department of the Army, October 31, 2014.