William S. Lind – Russia is Learning While the U.S. is Languishing


Russia under Vladimir Putin has learned from 100 years of defeats and setbacks while the modern American military has learned the wonders of social experimentation.

Mr. Putin . . . began a military modernization program that focused not only on high-profile procurement of new weapons . . . but also on a less-noticed overhaul of training and organization that included reduction in the bloated officer corps and the development of a professional corps of noncommissioned officers.

As any visitor to an American headquarters quickly sees, Russia was not alone in having a bloated officer corps. But ours keeps growing.

We here witness an old military phenomenon: the loser learns while the victor goes to sleep on his pile of trophies. Russia was one of the twentieth century’s big losers, along with Austria and Germany. The defeat in World War I, the Red Revolution, Stalin, Communism’s murder of 60 million Russians, the immense destruction inflicted by World War II, and, with the fall of Communism, Russia’s retreat to roughly the borders she had when Peter the Great came to the throne, add up to a catastrophe Americans cannot grasp.

But Russia is now recovering under President Putin, and her defeats and failures have taught her some things. Among those learning are the Russian military. Several decades ago, the Soviet Army historian John Erickson said to me, “Do you want to understand the Russian army today? Ask yourself what it was like under Nicholas I.” I think that is no longer true.

The laggard now is the U.S. military, happily vegetating in the Second  Generation of modern war, content to lose wars so long as the money keeps flowing, led largely by generals and admirals who are interchangeable in their skills and attitudes with Soviet industrial managers. The quality of the product is not important; what matters is acquiring and justifying resources.

Read more at Traditional Right.

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