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Thought Experiment: Sustainable Russian Military

This is a discussion on Thought Experiment: Sustainable Russian Military within the Geo-strategic Issues forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Here's a thought experiment: How about planning a sustainable Russian Military? The reason I'm pondering this is that there's a ...


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Old November 30th, 2007   #1
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Thought Experiment: Sustainable Russian Military

Here's a thought experiment: How about planning a sustainable Russian Military? The reason I'm pondering this is that there's a gap between Russian military programs and economical realities. Here's my take what Russia might be able to sustain on long term, considering recent build rates.

Air Force:

-Strategic bombing force composed of legacy Tu-160 and Tu-95 bombers will do for decades, force level about 100
-100-200 PAK-FA
-200 SU-34
-Air defence SAM's, which are known for their quality and range
-Paratrooper corps with, say, four Para brigades

Army:
-Four Combined Arms Corps, each with six brigades (an ambitious goal,
considering US Army + NG has 68). One in Europe, two in Urals, one in Far
East

Navy:
-Nuclear deterrent with 4-6 SSBN's
-6 SSN's
-6 AIP SSK's for Baltic
-Surface Action Groups (CV's a waste of money for Russia)
-Marine Brigade for international shows
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Old November 30th, 2007   #2
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I think you need to determine what you see the role of the military is with respect to geo-political aims.

eg:
is it for global reach
is it for parity with the US at a Cold War stance
is it a Cold War revival
is it to pre-empt fears of china moving in to siberia
is it necessary to achieve global political objectives
does the build up of all the services detract from the principal requirement which is to overarching maintain status as a continental power before being a maritime power
whats the time frame?

etc.....
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Old November 30th, 2007   #3
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I think you need to determine what you see the role of the military is with respect to geo-political aims.
Yes, in an ideal world a military would have a mission, a budget to execute those aims and a working MoD/GHQ machinery ensuing distribution of funds to various sectors according to mission etc...

However, I doubt this really happens in any country, certainly not in any country in which military institutions and defence pork is already well entrenched. That's why I'd rather go upwards from the forces.

But let's consider missions, in rather dark humour:

Timeframe: 2020

NAVY: Showing the flag via surface ships, maintaining naval nuclear deterrent, operating submarines in both Baltic and Oceans, maintaining ability to project small scale expeditionary forces worldwide. Maximal number of ships via budget. Ships should be larger than coastal ships, big enough for oceans even though the numbers may lack true combat capability. While CV would be nice, it's such a waste of money I don't know if it can be justified even in prestige sense.

AIR FORCE: Operating as many modern, cool fighter planes as possible in order to lure in foreign customers, maintenance of strategic bombers (for nuclear prestige) and as a long range strike force capable of global power projection against sea and ground targets, operating capability to interdict opponent as budget permits, maintenance of air defense capability. Maintenance of elite paratrooper arm to show the flag and to have international rapid deployment capability.

ARMY: Operating maximal number of modern ground combat forces capable of meeting challenge of a mechanized peer competitor, even if mission of the army is more of counter-insurgency nature. Equipment should be top notch, even if there is lack of training, partially in order to sustain development of ground arms for export.
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Old December 1st, 2007   #4
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By 2020 Russia projected GDP will be only slightly lower than USA ones now. Subtract CBG, foreign bases and some airforce - and you'll understand what Russia will able to support even larger land army than USA. And well, Russia need it too - larger land army.

I'm not fan of CBG, but they are very usefull political instrument. Still i dont think Russia will have money and politcal clout to utilize one in 2020. Some goes for very large missile cruisers - recent advances in missile technology allow to field long range ASM on frigates. Still, 3-4 are needed as flagships. Resources should be concentrated on SSN's and SSBN's for strategic defence and corvetes / SSK for border defence. Number of SSBN's around 12-14.

Border guard maritme aviation - nothing like strategic bombers, just a hybrid recce/attack plane able to lauch guided missile against poorly armed contrabandists boats. Present strategic maritime aviation (Tu-22M3) should join strategic forces, and these (if need) will carry strike mission over water.

Aviation - support and upgrade current park, aquire some mid-size PAK-FA fleet (about 100-150), develop future UCAV's. Stronger point on upgrading transport aviation.

SAM's - upgrade current forces and aquire new technic. Pretty vital part.

ICBM's - same here. Maintain current numbers.

Tanks and other vehicles - current numbers are ok, need only upgrade. Land army in general need everything upgraded, but i would give it less priority than strategic forces. It is impossible to to have compact "professional" land army due to need of maintaning mobilization reserves and larger territory. So there will be always "full-ready" units and "part-strength" units with reduced manpower and technic on conservation. Jon K numbers are ok for full-strength units, but i think Russia addidionally need about same sized part-strength units.

SSK's for Baltic - given very long range coastal ASM's and Tu-23M's any number will do. 6 or 12 - doesnt matter much here.

Last edited by Chrom; December 1st, 2007 at 04:21 AM.
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Old December 1st, 2007   #5
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By 2020 Russia projected GDP will be only slightly lower than USA ones now. Subtract CBG, foreign bases and some airforce - and you'll understand what Russia will able to support even larger land army than USA. And well, Russia need it too - larger land army.
Hmmm.

US GDP 13.2 trillion USD
Russia GDP 1.0 trillion USD

Time 14 years (2020-2006)
Expected US growth 3% (perhaps a bit conservative)

Growth rate needed of Russia to catch up: X

1.0 x (1+X)^14 = 13.2 x 1.03^14

X = 23.9%

To catch up with the US GDP wise, Russia would need growth rates of 23.9%.

It has been somewhere between 7-9% the past years.

Remember growth rates does not apply to PPP as they are index numbers, and also converge with nominal GDP through adjustment in RER as nominal GDP grows.
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Old December 1st, 2007   #6
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By 2020 Russia projected GDP will be only slightly lower than USA ones now. Subtract CBG, foreign bases and some airforce - and you'll understand what Russia will able to support even larger land army than USA. And well, Russia need it too - larger land army.

I'm not fan of CBG, but they are very usefull political instrument. Still i dont think Russia will have money and politcal clout to utilize one in 2020. Some goes for very large missile cruisers - recent advances in missile technology allow to field long range ASM on frigates. Still, 3-4 are needed as flagships. Resources should be concentrated on SSN's and SSBN's for strategic defence and corvetes / SSK for border defence. Number of SSBN's around 12-14.

Border guard maritme aviation - nothing like strategic bombers, just a hybrid recce/attack plane able to lauch guided missile against poorly armed contrabandists boats. Present strategic maritime aviation (Tu-22M3) should join strategic forces, and these (if need) will carry strike mission over water.

Aviation - support and upgrade current park, aquire some mid-size PAK-FA fleet (about 100-150), develop future UCAV's. Stronger point on upgrading transport aviation.

SAM's - upgrade current forces and aquire new technic. Pretty vital part.

ICBM's - same here. Maintain current numbers.

Tanks and other vehicles - current numbers are ok, need only upgrade. Land army in general need everything upgraded, but i would give it less priority than strategic forces. It is impossible to to have compact "professional" land army due to need of maintaning mobilization reserves and larger territory. So there will be always "full-ready" units and "part-strength" units with reduced manpower and technic on conservation. Jon K numbers are ok for full-strength units, but i think Russia addidionally need about same sized part-strength units.

SSK's for Baltic - given very long range coastal ASM's and Tu-23M's any number will do. 6 or 12 - doesnt matter much here.
Most optimistic projections of Russian GDP for 2020 are 6,3 trillion USD, roughly close to today's combination of UK, France and Italy, or about half of the US GDP of today. Consider that under current programs for land forces UK is planning to buy 700 FRES vehicles, France too has 700 VBCI in it's order books with both countries not having a future tank even on their drawing boards.

Italy, France and UK have a total of 18 mechanized brigades now, relying much on Cold War legacy equipment. Larger Russian spending combined with fact that it's a single country with emphasis on land forces, might give Russians somewhat more troops, that's because of my optimistic estimate of roughly 25 mechanized brigades.

For navies, UK, France and Italy combined in 2020 will probably have 4 large aircraft carriers, 1 small one, about 13-20 SSN, 8 SSBN's. The carrier battle groups will not have sufficient escorts, though, they're suitable for international flag waving and low intensity conflicts. If Russians wanted to have an operational carrier battle groups by 2020 they would be already busy constructing them. There's no signs for this.

The price of arms is set to rise, Russia cannot escape this fact. The current armaments program 2007-2015 is clearly unrealistic and cannot be attained, thus my very rough prediction. Soviet equipment will be totally outdated by 2020 except for modernised strategic bombers and perhaps for some modernised tanks (such as T-80). Furthermore, Soviet equipment has not been stored properly, which lessens it's value for future Russian army.

Strategic bombers with cruise missiles are a good Russian asset for offering long range strike capability, and they are already existing, so under no conditions I would disassemble that force.

And we must remember that the GDP projection is extremely optimistic and propagandistic, and it is not widely accepted. It's simply taking into account Russian economic growth from post-Soviet collapse low and predicting it to continue until 2020 without taking into account possibilities of oil price changes, demographic crisis etc. Additionally, as Russian GDP per capita grows, effects of PPP factor will decrease, even though I don't think it's important in military procurement.
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Old December 1st, 2007   #7
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Hmmm.

US GDP 13.2 trillion USD
Russia GDP 1.0 trillion USD

Time 14 years (2020-2006)
Expected US growth 3% (perhaps a bit conservative)

Growth rate needed of Russia to catch up: X

1.0 x (1+X)^14 = 13.2 x 1.03^14

X = 23.9%

To catch up with the US GDP wise, Russia would need growth rates of 23.9%.

It has been somewhere between 7-9% the past years.

Remember growth rates does not apply to PPP as they are index numbers, and also converge with nominal GDP through adjustment in RER as nominal GDP grows.
If we use nominal currency GDP instead of PPP, then russian GDP may indeed grow at 20-30% PER YEAR. In last 8 years russian (nominal) GDP have increased almost 4 times, while PPP only 1.5-1.6 times. Figure growth percent...

To be more exact: 2002 GDP - 10500 billions RU ~ 362 billions $.
2007 GDP is projected to about 27000 billions RU ~ 1.1 billions $.
5 years...

Same goes for China - while nominal currency GDP is pretty low, real GDP is already higher than USA ones. China already produce almost half world's steel, almost half world's basic buildings materials, largest electro-power producing country, etc. Remember, real industry is BASIS for everything - be it military or civilian. NOT services. I dont think USA advocates or brokers can contribute much in tank or food production if needs arise.

P.S. Realise, what producing 1000 tanks for country with 50% industrial share in GDP is much cheaper than for country with 20% industrial share in GDP. Even IF these countries have very same PPP...

Last edited by Chrom; December 1st, 2007 at 09:56 AM.
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Old December 1st, 2007   #8
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...

Remember growth rates does not apply to PPP as they are index numbers, and also converge with nominal GDP through adjustment in RER as nominal GDP grows.
Growth is measured in domestic currency. Recalculated at PPP would be slower, but not so much slower that it would make the use of PPP GDP & domestic currency constant price growth less suitable for the comparison than the use of exchange-rate-converted GDP & domestic currency constant price growth.

If you use exchange-rate-converted GDP, you should use predicted nominal growth rates for both countries, i.e. allow for price convergence.
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Old December 1st, 2007   #9
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Same goes for China - while nominal currency GDP is pretty low, real GDP is already higher than USA ones. ......
Not according to any calculations made by anybody. The World Bank this year estimated Chinas GDP at 69% of the US level in 2005, & that's based on an estimate of Chinas GDP at PPP for 1986, made in the early 1990s (Ren Rouen & Chen Kai, “China’s GDP in U.S. Dollars Based on Purchasing Power Parity", 1995*), & extrapolated forward to the present using Chinese official growth rates in domestic currency. Due to the very different weights of the PPP & domestic price GDP, the PPP growth rate would be different - and probably lower - and in the official domestic currency growth rate is also disputed, being widely thought to have an upward bias.

The preliminary figures published for the new officially-backed estimate made by the International Comparison Project (Asia co-ordinated by the Asian Development Bank - see their website for the figures) suggest that published estimates of Chinas GDP at PPP will soon be reduced somewhat. One academic has taken the preliminary figures & come up with a 40% reduction. Others have pointed out that he's made certain assumptions to come up with that figure, & different assumptions would produce lesser reductions.

However, a significant reduction seems very likely. And since the raw data underlying the new estimate are of much higher quality than the previous estimate, the methodology is better (largely because of the availability of more information enabling more direct & less indirect estimation, not due to faults in the earlier work, which is generally recognised as very good), & 19 years of disputed growth estimates removed from the equation, the new estimate will have much greater credibility.


*http://econ.worldbank.org/external/d..._3970311121418

Last edited by swerve; December 1st, 2007 at 07:40 PM.
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Old December 1st, 2007   #10
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Goldman Sachs did a study of what countries would have the world's largest economies in 2050. It factored in the slowdowns that will occur later on and wasn't a just taking the growth rate this year and assuming the country will always grow like that. China was first with over 40 trillion. The United States was second with near 40 trillion. Then came India, Japan, Brazil, and then Russia. Although Russia's economy will continue to grow well, Russia will never get as powerful as it once was. Russia's population is shrinking by almost 1 million people every 2 years. And in a democracy, you can't spend all the money on the military as the Russians did in the cold war. Most of the military equipment Russia has now was bought during the cold war. Russia could never afford to replace and upgrade all the weapons it has now. They always plan for great things, but as of now, none of those glorious plans have become reality.
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Old December 1st, 2007   #11
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military as the Russians did in the cold war. Most of the military equipment Russia has now was bought during the cold war. Russia could never afford to replace and upgrade all the weapons it has now. They always plan for great things, but as of now, none of those glorious plans have become reality.
While i agree what Russian miltary will be never as large as USSR miltary - but same will go for most other Cold War armies, including USA one.

Remember, Russia have half USA population, and at least equivalent natural resources. Ergo - Russia can support an army at least half USA strength. By that, note notorious ineffectivty of USA army per resource spend, note very large (not needed for Russia) naval share, some other cutable expences, possibilty to spend slightly large GDP share on army, etc..

All that point to potencial ability field a land army of comparable strength with USA.

As for China... better look not at PPP, but at same more basic and verificable facts. I already pointed to some - abilty to produce steel, ability to produce power, building industry, etc. China already have stronger industry than USA. Of course, China have less brokers, lawers or managers - but these dont really produce much, dont really increase national wealth, and dont really count in military balance. Funny, they contribute to PPP the most...
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Old December 1st, 2007   #12
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I wonder if Russia will shift from it's conscription based army to a professional one? It seems wasteful to train a conscript to do a job which he will only perform for a short time then abandon when his term ends.
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Old December 1st, 2007   #13
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I wonder if Russia will shift from it's conscription based army to a professional one? It seems wasteful to train a conscript to do a job which he will only perform for a short time then abandon when his term ends.
Most european countries still have conscript-based army. Even USA army is partially conscript-based, with all these National Guards and other traditions...

In some sence Russian army is already professional - a large part of most units is already manned with professional soldiers. For example, the russian army is about 1.2 millions mans, while less than 200 thousand conscripts are drafted every year.

Last edited by Chrom; December 2nd, 2007 at 06:20 AM.
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Old December 2nd, 2007   #14
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Most european countries still have conscript-based army. Even USA army is partially conscript-based, with all these National Guards and other traditions...

In some sence Russian army is already professional - a large part of most units is already manned with professional soldiers. For example, the russian army is about 1.2 millions mans, while less than 200 thousand conscripts are drafted every year.
What - could you elaborate a little more on your reasoning in regards to the U.S using conscripts.
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Old December 2nd, 2007   #15
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What - could you elaborate a little more on your reasoning in regards to the U.S using conscripts.
National guards and american army system in general is sort-of conscript army, where many soldiers serve 3 or at most 5 years and never return again. Members of National Guards reserve can be drafted to real service against they will - true, they signed an agreement with such possiblity in mind earler - but nonetheless...

True, such "conscripts" initially go to army willingly due to various preferences. But such system still do not make them professionals much faster than true conscript learn in other armies - after all, he still need 1-2 years to master the basics. And then after 3-4 years he is back to civilian life... How is it THAT different from conscript system in Russia, where only 15% jungs are drafted?
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