New national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is no patsy of the Russians

President Trump's choice for his national security adviser is winning bipartisan support.  Unfortunately for the Democrats, he also vitiates one of their fantasy talking points against the president he serves.  In April of last year, Bryan Bender of Politico laid out the general's role in assessing and responding to threats from Russia:

[A] decade ago, McMaster fought a pitched battle inside the Pentagon for a new concept of warfare to address the threat from Islamist terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan, Iraq and other trouble spots. Now, his new mission is more focused. Target: Moscow.

POLITICO has learned that, following the stunning success of Russia's quasi-secret incursion into Ukraine, McMaster is quietly overseeing a high-level government panel intended to figure out how the Army should adapt to this Russian wake-up call. Partly, it is a tacit admission of failure on the part of the Army – and the U.S. government more broadly.

"It is clear that while our Army was engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia studied U.S. capabilities and vulnerabilities and embarked on an ambitious and largely successful modernization effort," McMaster told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. "In Ukraine, for example, the combination of unmanned aerial systems and offensive cyber and advanced electronic warfare capabilities depict a high degree of technological sophistication."

In Ukraine, a rapidly mobilized Russian-supplied rebel army with surprisingly lethal tanks, artillery and anti-tank weapons has unleashed swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles and cyberattacks that shut down battlefield communications and even GPS.

The discussions of what has been gleaned so far on visits to Ukraine – and from various other studies conducted by experts in and out of government in the U.S. and Europe – have highlighted a series of early takeaways, according to a copy of a briefing that was delivered in recent weeks to the top leadership in the Pentagon and in allied capitals.

U.S. military and intelligence officials worry that Moscow now has the advantage in key areas. Lighter armored vehicles like those the Army relied on heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan are highly vulnerable to its new weapons. And main battle tanks like Russia's T-90 – thought to be an anachronism in recent conflicts – are still decisive.

McMaster added that "Russia possesses a variety of rocket, missile and cannon artillery systems that outrange and are more lethal than U.S. Army artillery systems and munitions." Its tanks, meanwhile, are so improved that they are "largely invulnerable to anti-tank missiles," says retired General Wesley Clark, who served as NATO commander from 1997 to 2000 and has been sounding the alarm about what the Ukraine conflict means for the U.S. military.

Also on display in Ukraine to an alarming degree: Moscow's widespread political subversion of Ukrainian institutions, part of what experts are now calling "hybrid warfare" that combines military power with covert efforts to undermine an enemy government. Russia has since then also intervened with ground forces and airstrikes in Syria – apparently somewhat successfully – and flexed its muscles in other ways. This week, two Russian fighter jets and a military helicopter repeatedly buzzed a U.S. Navy warship in the Baltic Sea, despite radio warnings.

Anyone worried about the threat from Russia should welcome General McMaster in his new role.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

President Trump's choice for his national security adviser is winning bipartisan support.  Unfortunately for the Democrats, he also vitiates one of their fantasy talking points against the president he serves.  In April of last year, Bryan Bender of Politico laid out the general's role in assessing and responding to threats from Russia:

[A] decade ago, McMaster fought a pitched battle inside the Pentagon for a new concept of warfare to address the threat from Islamist terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan, Iraq and other trouble spots. Now, his new mission is more focused. Target: Moscow.

POLITICO has learned that, following the stunning success of Russia's quasi-secret incursion into Ukraine, McMaster is quietly overseeing a high-level government panel intended to figure out how the Army should adapt to this Russian wake-up call. Partly, it is a tacit admission of failure on the part of the Army – and the U.S. government more broadly.

"It is clear that while our Army was engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia studied U.S. capabilities and vulnerabilities and embarked on an ambitious and largely successful modernization effort," McMaster told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. "In Ukraine, for example, the combination of unmanned aerial systems and offensive cyber and advanced electronic warfare capabilities depict a high degree of technological sophistication."

In Ukraine, a rapidly mobilized Russian-supplied rebel army with surprisingly lethal tanks, artillery and anti-tank weapons has unleashed swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles and cyberattacks that shut down battlefield communications and even GPS.

The discussions of what has been gleaned so far on visits to Ukraine – and from various other studies conducted by experts in and out of government in the U.S. and Europe – have highlighted a series of early takeaways, according to a copy of a briefing that was delivered in recent weeks to the top leadership in the Pentagon and in allied capitals.

U.S. military and intelligence officials worry that Moscow now has the advantage in key areas. Lighter armored vehicles like those the Army relied on heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan are highly vulnerable to its new weapons. And main battle tanks like Russia's T-90 – thought to be an anachronism in recent conflicts – are still decisive.

McMaster added that "Russia possesses a variety of rocket, missile and cannon artillery systems that outrange and are more lethal than U.S. Army artillery systems and munitions." Its tanks, meanwhile, are so improved that they are "largely invulnerable to anti-tank missiles," says retired General Wesley Clark, who served as NATO commander from 1997 to 2000 and has been sounding the alarm about what the Ukraine conflict means for the U.S. military.

Also on display in Ukraine to an alarming degree: Moscow's widespread political subversion of Ukrainian institutions, part of what experts are now calling "hybrid warfare" that combines military power with covert efforts to undermine an enemy government. Russia has since then also intervened with ground forces and airstrikes in Syria – apparently somewhat successfully – and flexed its muscles in other ways. This week, two Russian fighter jets and a military helicopter repeatedly buzzed a U.S. Navy warship in the Baltic Sea, despite radio warnings.

Anyone worried about the threat from Russia should welcome General McMaster in his new role.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

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