Russian strategy and tactics in their next war with the West

War on the Rocks:
To see the future of ground combat, look no further than the tactics of Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine. Full-spectrum electronic surveillance quickly identifies Ukrainian forces by their emitted signals. Once identified, a remotely piloted vehicle or helicopter verifies the Ukrainians’ position. Shortly thereafter, massed artillery and rocket fires destroy the Ukrainian force.

The war in Ukraine is not an aberration. The U.S. Army’s adversaries have carefully prepared to defeat America’s preferred tactics and systems. In the next 20 years, the Army should expect its adversaries to become adept at achieving effects based on fewer intercepted electronic signals, with greater speed and lethality, over greater distances. The old ways of warfare will largely be doomed.

Lately there have been many suggestions for tactical or strategic solutions to challenges like these that the Army will face on the future battlefield. While these are useful, they address only two sides of a three-sided problem — the U.S. military must also improve how it fights at the operational level of war, the critically important time and space in which commanders arrange tactical actions and purposefully align them to strategic objectives. The future is approaching fast, and the Army cannot ignore the challenges and opportunities that divisions and corps are likely to face.

Now imagine the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division two decades from now. Thanks to defense modernization and professional soldiers, the 1st Cavalry Division will be devastatingly powerful, able to deliver massive firepower whenever and wherever its commanding general chooses. The 1st Cavalry Division will find itself standing shoulder-to-shoulder with NATO allies, ready to move into the attack. Their shared purpose: to expel aggressor forces from NATO territory, restore the international border, and save thousands of civilians caught behind enemy lines. On this imagined battlefield, the 1st Cavalry Division must take back a vital transport hub, much like the one in Małaszewicze, Poland[map]. In the process, the 1st Cavalry Division must liberate 4,000 locals in the neighboring village and secure a forward transfer and distribution point to sustain NATO’s push over the remaining five miles to the international border.

Surveying a digital picture of the battlefield updated in real time at the division’s forward command post, the 1st Cavalry Division’s commanding general will put the division in motion. But where, when, and how should the attack proceed? To answer that, we must return to 2014 and 2015, and revisit two momentous and largely overlooked announcements.

First, in 2014, IBM Research revealed a microchip unlike any other in history. We may one day look back through a quarter-century of history and point to the debut of the SyNAPSE chip as the day computing changed forever. Neurosynaptic processors such as the SyNAPSE chip not only pack more transistors into a square centimeter than ever before, they do it without any conventional programming. Instead, neurosynaptic chips learn as mammalian brains do. Someday an enterprising scientist will string together enough of them to create a machine as smart as a human brain. That could unlock deep-learning capabilities beyond anything possible using conventional microprocessors.
There is much more.

The Russians are already planning for their next war with the US and NATO as targets.   The military will need to think beyond just a three-dimensional chess board in order to prevail against an enemy that seeks our destruction.


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