Is Russia Outpacing the U.S. Military?

Barack Obama, who has spent much of the past two years explaining away the threat posed by Vladimir Putin instead of taking any steps to counter it, said last week that Russia’s military intervention in Syria proved “their strategy did not work.” Much to the White House’s dismay, however, Putin’s Syria campaign has instead become a showcase for impressive new weapons systems, offering a disturbing reminder of the damage Russia could do to the U.S. military and American allies. Obama’s reckless abandonment of U.S. commitments overseas, meanwhile, has left America’s armed forces flat-footed as they try to deal with military advancements abroad.

Russia’s bombardment of Syrian rebels (who, despite Kremlin claims, include anyone but ISIS) have taken military analysts aback with their brutal efficiency. After U.S. Air Force sources claimed Russian planes would probably only be able to fly around 20 sorties per day, the Russian Ministry of Defense instead reported 88 combat sorties that hit 86 targets in the span of one day. Using just four small corvettes deployed in the Caspian Sea, Russia’s navy also launched brand new Kalibr NK cruise missiles at Syrian targets located nearly 1,000 miles away. Those missiles, which give the Russians strike capabilities even the U.S. Navy currently lacks, were only tested for the first time in 2012. Why would the Russians launch cruise missiles from so far away when they already have a fleet off of Syria’s shores? To show Obama -- and potential buyers -- that they can. The new missiles could seriously alter the naval balance of power, transforming even outdated Soviet ships into lethal threats against U.S. carrier groups.

Those missiles, and the ships carrying them, are the fruits of massive investments Putin has made since Russian forces invaded Georgia in 2008. In the past 15 years, the Kremlin has upped its defense budget twentyfold; as of 2015, Russia has 850,000 men in uniform and spends over 20% of the entire government budget on defense. Lest you think the threat is overblown, U.S. military brass have been concerned about weapons like the Kalibr NK for years. In 2013, top Navy brass and members of Congress openly voiced their fears of being “out-sticked” by the Chinese. The Kalibr missiles demonstrate that Moscow now has the same capabilities that the U.S., even with larger and far more expensive ships, still lacks. As Putin himself gloated: “It is one thing for the experts to be aware that Russia supposedly has these weapons, and another thing for them to see for the first time that they do really exist, that our defense industry is making them, that they are of high quality and that we have well-trained people who can put them to effective use.”

The Russians have brought their retooled and refitted military to the rescue of Bashar al-Assad, giving the embattled dictator a new lease on life and helping his regime and the mullahs backing it from Tehran wage a new campaign against opposition fighters and civilians alike. As the Kremlin and the ayatollahs commit their forces to crushing Syria’s rebels, the White House has finally been forced to abandon its bungled lead-from-behind effort to arm the same fighters Putin is now bombing. After much fanfare over their promise to train 5,400 “moderate” rebels to take on ISIS, Obama’s Pentagon trained a grand total of 60 fighters in five months and still managed to spend $10 million on every single one.

While Moscow and Beijing arm themselves for the conflicts to come, modernizing weapons and using their newfound strength to menace America’s allies, the Democrats have opted to go after the U.S. military with a vengeance. Through sequestration, they forced spending cuts that leave American servicemen and women without the tools and support they need to do their jobs. Since Obama took office, Washington has slashed the defense budget, reduced troop levels, and left allies and enemies both wondering whether the United States still has the wherewithal to defend its friends and interests. Under Putin, Russia has thrown itself into building an army, air force, and navy that can match the West pound-per-pound for firepower. The administration, meanwhile, has refused to take the country’s defense needs seriously, twisting Mitt Romney’s legitimate concerns over naval preparedness into the "horses and bayonets" trope Obama's mainstream media lackeys parroted all the way through Election Day in 2012.

Sadly, this contempt for military preparedness appears to be the wave of the future for the Democrats. In the debate between their presidential candidates last week, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both showed they would continue the current administration’s descent into isolationism. Rather than take on any real national security issues, they preferred to argue over Sanders’ socialist fantasies and gloss over Hillary’s flip-flopping over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Regardless of whether it is Hillary or Bernie who reaches the general, the message is clear: like Obama, the Democrats running for office would rather engage in class warfare and assume America’s shores will defend themselves.

Barack Obama, who has spent much of the past two years explaining away the threat posed by Vladimir Putin instead of taking any steps to counter it, said last week that Russia’s military intervention in Syria proved “their strategy did not work.” Much to the White House’s dismay, however, Putin’s Syria campaign has instead become a showcase for impressive new weapons systems, offering a disturbing reminder of the damage Russia could do to the U.S. military and American allies. Obama’s reckless abandonment of U.S. commitments overseas, meanwhile, has left America’s armed forces flat-footed as they try to deal with military advancements abroad.

Russia’s bombardment of Syrian rebels (who, despite Kremlin claims, include anyone but ISIS) have taken military analysts aback with their brutal efficiency. After U.S. Air Force sources claimed Russian planes would probably only be able to fly around 20 sorties per day, the Russian Ministry of Defense instead reported 88 combat sorties that hit 86 targets in the span of one day. Using just four small corvettes deployed in the Caspian Sea, Russia’s navy also launched brand new Kalibr NK cruise missiles at Syrian targets located nearly 1,000 miles away. Those missiles, which give the Russians strike capabilities even the U.S. Navy currently lacks, were only tested for the first time in 2012. Why would the Russians launch cruise missiles from so far away when they already have a fleet off of Syria’s shores? To show Obama -- and potential buyers -- that they can. The new missiles could seriously alter the naval balance of power, transforming even outdated Soviet ships into lethal threats against U.S. carrier groups.

Those missiles, and the ships carrying them, are the fruits of massive investments Putin has made since Russian forces invaded Georgia in 2008. In the past 15 years, the Kremlin has upped its defense budget twentyfold; as of 2015, Russia has 850,000 men in uniform and spends over 20% of the entire government budget on defense. Lest you think the threat is overblown, U.S. military brass have been concerned about weapons like the Kalibr NK for years. In 2013, top Navy brass and members of Congress openly voiced their fears of being “out-sticked” by the Chinese. The Kalibr missiles demonstrate that Moscow now has the same capabilities that the U.S., even with larger and far more expensive ships, still lacks. As Putin himself gloated: “It is one thing for the experts to be aware that Russia supposedly has these weapons, and another thing for them to see for the first time that they do really exist, that our defense industry is making them, that they are of high quality and that we have well-trained people who can put them to effective use.”

The Russians have brought their retooled and refitted military to the rescue of Bashar al-Assad, giving the embattled dictator a new lease on life and helping his regime and the mullahs backing it from Tehran wage a new campaign against opposition fighters and civilians alike. As the Kremlin and the ayatollahs commit their forces to crushing Syria’s rebels, the White House has finally been forced to abandon its bungled lead-from-behind effort to arm the same fighters Putin is now bombing. After much fanfare over their promise to train 5,400 “moderate” rebels to take on ISIS, Obama’s Pentagon trained a grand total of 60 fighters in five months and still managed to spend $10 million on every single one.

While Moscow and Beijing arm themselves for the conflicts to come, modernizing weapons and using their newfound strength to menace America’s allies, the Democrats have opted to go after the U.S. military with a vengeance. Through sequestration, they forced spending cuts that leave American servicemen and women without the tools and support they need to do their jobs. Since Obama took office, Washington has slashed the defense budget, reduced troop levels, and left allies and enemies both wondering whether the United States still has the wherewithal to defend its friends and interests. Under Putin, Russia has thrown itself into building an army, air force, and navy that can match the West pound-per-pound for firepower. The administration, meanwhile, has refused to take the country’s defense needs seriously, twisting Mitt Romney’s legitimate concerns over naval preparedness into the "horses and bayonets" trope Obama's mainstream media lackeys parroted all the way through Election Day in 2012.

Sadly, this contempt for military preparedness appears to be the wave of the future for the Democrats. In the debate between their presidential candidates last week, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both showed they would continue the current administration’s descent into isolationism. Rather than take on any real national security issues, they preferred to argue over Sanders’ socialist fantasies and gloss over Hillary’s flip-flopping over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Regardless of whether it is Hillary or Bernie who reaches the general, the message is clear: like Obama, the Democrats running for office would rather engage in class warfare and assume America’s shores will defend themselves.