2019-10-07 wolface 12997
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What would a conventional war between the US and Russia look like?

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Mike Page, Born in Alabama. Traveled to every corner of the U.S.A.
Good question. But first - I want to make sure you understand that theU.S. has no vital national security interest at stake in the Ukraine. Goinginto the Ukraine would be just as strategically stupid and fruitless as goinginto South Korea was in 1950. OK - I said my piece.
Ground operations in the Ukraine are affected by the lack of good roadsand by the onset of bad weather from November to April. Rain in the springturns the ground to mud. In the fall - there is another wet period beforetemperatures drop low enough to freeze the ground hard and allow cross-countrymovement. There are several river systems that run generallynorthwest-southeast. The rivers are shallow and surrounded by marshes. All ofthis simply means that the greatest opportunity for ground maneuver is in thelate spring to early autumn. Some ground operations can be attempted in winter- but it is much more difficult to sustain.
Glancing at the map - my thinking is that the most likely scenario involvingmajor U.S. ground forces would be a counterattack into the eastern Ukraine frombases in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and possibly Romania. A ground attack wouldnot go in without air superiority - so the first phase of combat would involveU.S. air assets and long range guided missiles seeking out Russian air defenseand air command & control installations as well as the ships and portinstallations of the Black Sea Fleet. It might take several months or only afew weeks to take these targets out - but preliminary ground operations couldcommence, allowing U.S. ground forces to move to more advantageous positions inwestern Ukraine - perhaps taking Zhitomir and the ground west of the M21highway. The main attack force would remain far to the west where it could beprotected until conditions for a successful eastern thrust are achieved.Through this entire period - SOF are infiltrated throughout the country andinto Russia proper as well as any other neighboring states. SOF teams supportpartisan forces in the enemy rear, attack high value enemy installations, andprovide targeting intel for deep strikes against the enemy's logistics andsupport structure.
The next phase of operations would be to eject enemy forces from in andaround the major cities along the line from Kiev-Cherkassy-Kirovograd-Kherson.You would see lot's of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles racing from onetown to the next to cut off pockets of resistance and then our artillery wouldblast them into submission. All of these maneuvers, of course, would besupported by hundreds of attack helicopters and A-10's taking out any opposingarmor or artillery that exposes itself. There would be some urban combat - butit could be minimized by cordoning off the built-up areas, then dividing thetowns into guarters to be reduced one section of town at-a-time. U.S. infantryis superior at this kind of nasty, close-in fighting - but most of it would bedone by Ukrainian troops. The main force held back at the western border ofUkraine would be given its obxtives and attack to the northeast and southeastof Kiev - clearing the river systems and pushing fast and far towards Kharkovand Donetsk to encircle any remaining resistance. There might be some majortank battles where U.S. brigades run into Russian divisions - if the Russianscan somehow sneak past the U.S. Air Force and get their large formations intothe Ukraine.
With this phase of the operation moving toward a conclusion - theRussians are probably rocked back on their heels and wondering how to stop anenemy that has air supremecy. They might attempt to introduce a major forceheld out-of-theater as a strategic reserve or do something else to raise thestakes. At this point - the U.S. might seek to bring additional forces into theBlack Sea theater through Turkey to seize the Crimean peninsula.



Pavel Fekula, Professional Russian
In all likelihood, if Russia and the US get into a war, it will be overEastern Europe. When uating wars and battles, the first thing you need torealize is that it is a numbers game. The Russians have 300,000 combat troopsin the European part of Russia. By contrast, the US only has about 12,000 to15,000 combat troops in Eastern Europe. Additionally, Russia has 2.5 millionreserves that it would be able to call up within the span of about a month. Bycontrast, the US could only bring an additional 30,000 troops into combat. Evenassuming that all 77,000 or so troops of the Polish military put up a strongfight, it would be no contest. Russia would win easily on the numbers advantagealone. However, numbers are not the only thing that determines a war.
Wars are often determined by factors like air power, naval power,artillery, technology, etc. The US has historically had to rely on thesefactors to compensate for the fact that it could not bring significant forcesinto combat quickly. However, Russia certainly has a respectable air force, asproved by its intervention in Syria. Additionally, in the event of a conflictin Europe, Russia would maintain a significant numerical advantage in airpowerduring the crucial opening stages. Russia has about 1,250 fighters and attackaircraft and 150 strategic bombers. By comparison, France and Germany haveabout 220 fighters each and 0 strategic bombers. While the US is the worldleader in fighter and attack aircraft with over 3,000, only a fraction of theseare in Europe, and it would take significant time to bring over reinforcementsfrom the mainland. Many may argue that the US has an advantage in that it hashundreds of 5th generation fighters in service, whereas Russia has but ahandful of Su-57s that are combat capable.
Operation Desert Storm was the most successful campaign in the historyof the US Air Force. Within the first few days, the USAF was able to take downthe air defenses of the Iraqi Army. It then spent the next month bombing the4th largest army into submission, before US and allied ground forces drove ademoralized Iraqi Army out of Kuwait in short order. The war send shock-wavesthrough Russian and Chinese defense planners, who would spend the next fewdecades developing counters to the USAF. The Russians and Chinese paidparticular attention to the US’s use of smart weapons or precision-guidedmunitions against the Iraqis. At the time, with a few exceptions, computerswere only powerful enough to guide a missile about 10 or 20 miles accurately.However, as computing power has increased the range that missiles can be guidedaccurately has dramatically increased. The proliferation of these missiles hasresulted in a paradigm shift in warfare. Now if a target can be detected, itcan be destroyed by long range missiles. This results in a competition betweentwo warring parties to detect and destroy each other’s precision-guidedmunition delivery systems before the other one can. Against this backdrop, whatwould be the most vulnerable systems would be the ones that are the easiest todetect. What would those systems be? The very same fighter jets that the USrelied on to secure victory in Desert Storm. Fighters spend only about 2 hoursper day in the air and 22 hours at a base, that is a fixed known location. Bycontrast, truck-mounted missiles would be the most survivable systems.
Russia has spent the past 2 decades developing truck-mounted missiles,air launched cruise missiles and surface to air missiles to counter the USAFand its missiles. In the event of a conflict between Russia and the US, Russiawould likely knock out the US’s airbases in the first hours of a war. However,US cruise missiles would likely be unable to penetrate Russian air defenses andknock out Russian air bases, as demonstrated in Syria. Therefore, the RussianAir Force would be able to quickly gain air superiority in a war with NATO andbomb their forces into submission.
All in all, 30 years ago the US would have probably been able to beatRussia due to its lopsided advantage in precision guided munitions.Nevertheless, times have changed and Russia has done a far better job designingits military around these realities. In the event of a conflict today, Russiawould likely deal the US an unprecedented defeat due to a combination of itssuperior numbers and better designed military.


Giovanni Lim, Animal Lover
Should such a confrontation occur, the main battlegrounds would be inEastern Europe, between NATO & the Russian Federation (Crimea could be oneof the first major battlefields), and in the Asia-Pacific with extremely tenseair & naval warfare or even island-hopping between the USA, Russia andperhaps China. The South China Sea could become a battleground too between theUSA, China, Russia and an ununited ASEAN (the Philippines is a key supporter ofRussia). Proxy wars would undeniably occur in regions such as the middle-east.
Basically, the whole world would be plunged into WWIII as a result of awar between the USA & Russia due to alliances. Surely, a USA backed by NATOagainst Russia would seem too unfair; likely compelling other countries to aidRussia too.
The nuclear option surprisingly may be an unpopular option (althoughit’d be the most convenient and cheapest one) because if either countrylaunches a nuclear strike, alliances have potential to be broken as countries withinboth factions may fear of sustaining a nuclear strike themselves, or simplythink that their faction leader had crossed-the-line. To not risk brokenalliances, nuclear weapons’ usage therefore seem unlikely/unpopular. Afterall,losing military manpower is better than a broken alliance with an impactfulally, or getting an entire industrial & business park destroyed by onenuclear missile.
If you’re worried about Iran and North Korea using missiles, do notworry because I generally believe that the former understands the risks and thelatter may have to seek some sort of “permission” from China and Russia.
If by some miracle both sides’ allies ignore then, the conflict wouldbe minimised to proxy war engagement as similar as Cold War period conflicts.This is unlikely as maritime trade would be affected in the pacific.


Steve Wright, Iowa farm boy in Japanese farm country
Whichever one chose not to try to invade the other. Something like onein three adult Russian men either died or was permanently disabled whiledefending Родину (the motherland) during WWII. In memory, you can still findwrought iron gates all over Russia with the motto “No one, nothing isforgotten” worked into their bars. American invasion forces would relearn thesame lessons of French and Germans over the last 208 or 210 years in a Russianwinter.
For their part, any Russian invasion force anywhere in North America ormany offshore territories would probably have some initial success, but lose awar of attrition after holding any of that territory more than a year or two. Ihesitate to teach military strategy based on Hollywood movies, but I think RedDawn (1984) got the essentials right. Guerrilla attacks on supply lines andammunition depots would quickly make any advances into American territory tooexpensive (in Russian soldiers’ lives) to hold.