Intelligence: Cold War American Tactics Return


February 23, 2024: Ukrainians not only received weapons from NATO countries, but they also have since 2014 learned much about current NATO, especially American tactics. These new tactics, which were very different from the tactics Russian and Ukrainian troops used then, were introduced to Ukraine by NATO military advisors arriving in 2014. These novel new tactics began emerging in the late 1970s when NATO’s most powerful member, the United States sought to develop a new combat doctrine to make the best use of new weapons, an all-volunteer force, and its growing air superiority. The impetus for this was West Germany urging the Americans to adopt tactics that would mean losing less German territory in the opening stages of a war. The Americans had already adopted an active defense doctrine in 1978 but by 1982 this led to the American AirLand Battle doctrine, which emphasized meeting a Russian led Warsaw Pact invasion by attacking as well as defending. This evolution in American army and air force doctrine began with studies of the 1973 Arab Israeli war in which a surprise attack by Egypt and Syria was quickly defeated by an Israeli active defense that emphasized attacking as well as defending. The Russians interpreted AirLand Battle as the result of how much post-Vietnam military reforms had turned NATO defense plans into an offensive opportunity for NATO that made any Russian attack less likely to succeed and vulnerable to a NATO invasion of East Europe. The 1991 Iraq war certainly confirmed it, but Russians attributed that to poor quality Iraqi officers and troops.

After the East European Soviet satellite governments collapsed in 1989, it was revealed that the Soviets had become less confident of the ability and willingness of East European Warsaw Pact armies to assist Russian forces in attack or defense. Part of this was due to the aftereffects of the crackdown in East Europe after the uprisings of the 1950s and 60s. Western intel officials interviewed many of East European civilians getting out and thought the refugees were exaggerating the impact of those uprisings and the timid Russian reaction. They weren’t and that became obvious in 1989 plus two years later when the USSR itself collapsed. Once the Ukraine War has ended, the Russian military may accept that the NATO tactics were a major reason for their failure in Ukraine. Russia would have a difficult but not impossible time implementing a version of the NATO tactics for their forces. It would mean changing how their officers are trained and finally getting serious about reviving the use of NCOs, something the communists eliminated in the 1920s to prevent a counter-revolution against communist rule. The major obstacle here is that imperial, communist and post-communist Russia has never even tried to train its armed forces well.

As long as Ukraine continues to receive adequate military aid from NATO countries, they will be able to handle the Russian aggression. President Vladimir Putin of Russia claims that he will eventually defeat and absorb Ukraine back into the Russian empire. Putin considers the dissolution of the Soviet Union a major disaster and is determined to put the Soviet Union back together, under a new name and with new management, that will still be Russian. NATO nations oppose the revival of a Soviet style Russian superstate and are backing Ukraine to try and prevent it. Since NATO is a defensive organization, they cannot go to war with the Russians unless Russia attacks first. Russia realizes that and does not want to take on the 31 NATO nations. NATO members account for 38 percent of the $100 trillion global GDP and over half the global defense spending. If Russia wants to revive the Cold War, they will be up against a more powerful NATO coalition than they faced the first time they did so over 70 years ago.




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