Lo pensa il generale Hodges, comandante in campo dell’Esercito americano in Europa. Lo ha affermato nella sua intervista dello scorso venerdì al Wall Street Journal.
Il generale non afferma che la Russia si stia preparando ad attaccare. La Nato o altri. Ritiene (o comunque afferma) che la leadership russa stia modernizzando le proprie forze armate in quanto ritiene che entro 5 o 6 anni dovrà affrontare un conflitto. Qui di seguito alcuni estratti dell’intervista:
‘I believe the Russians are mobilizing right now for a war that they think is going to happen in five or six years—not that they’re going to start a war in five or six years, but I think they are anticipating that things are going to happen, and that they will be in a war of some sort, of some scale, with somebody within the next five or six years.”
So says Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe. It’s Monday evening at the Army’s Lucius D. Clay garrison near Wiesbaden, a small town in southwest Germany. […]
The U.S. military presence in Europe is more vital at this moment than it has been in many years. American engagement is essential if the West is to deter a revanchist Russia that has set out to “redraw the boundaries of Europe,” Gen. Hodges says with a native Floridian’s drawl.
He points to the recent increase in violence in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin forces in January assaulted the Black Sea port of Mariupol, killing 30 civilians, and are now consolidating their gains.
“What’s happening in eastern Ukraine is very serious,” the 56-year-old West Point alumnus says. “When they fired into Mariupol that got my attention. Mariupol is an important place, city of 500,000 on the Black Sea. Russia has to resupply Crimea by sea or air, and that is very expensive, so obviously they would like to do it overland. Mariupol sits right in the way. They would really like to drive right through there.”
What Russian President Vladimir Putin “has done in Ukraine,” he says, “is a manifestation of a strategic view of the world. So when you look at the amount of equipment that has been provided, and the quality and sophistication of the equipment that has been provided to what I would call his proxies . . . they clearly have no intention of leaving there.”
The new weapons Mr. Putin has supplied to these proxies include “some of the latest air-defense systems,” says Gen. Hodges. “They also have brought in some of the latest, most-effective jamming, what we would call electronic-warfare, systems.” This level of assistance suggests Ukraine “is not a foray, not a demonstration. They are deploying capabilities way above and beyond anything that any militia or rebel organization could ever come up with.”
The fact that the political class in the West is still splitting hairs about the nature of the insurgency in Ukraine is testament to the success of the Kremlin’s strategy of waging war without admitting it. “When you saw video of the Spetsnaz [Russian special forces], the so-called little green men” in eastern Ukraine, the general says, “unless you absolutely know nothing about military stuff, how they carry themselves, the fact that they were all perfectly in uniform, that’s hard to do. It’s hard to get soldiers to stay in uniform and everybody carrying their weapon the right way all the time. That’s how you tell the difference between a militia, or rebels who have a variety of uniforms, and this group who are all perfectly in uniform.”
Gen. Hodges then strips his own Ranger badge from a Velcro patch on his uniform sleeve, just as those well-organized soldiers aiding the Ukrainian insurgents are badgeless. “I can take my patch off my uniform and say I’m not in the Army anymore,” he chuckles. “So there’s a reluctance to acknowledge it. I can understand that. This has huge implications. But that’s what so-called hybrid warfare is all about. It’s about creating ambiguity, giving people who don’t want to believe it an excuse to not believe. Or to create enough uncertainty so that the responses are slow, delayed, hesitant.”
Such hesitation has already worked for Mr. Putin, and contrasting Russia’s military buildup with anemic military spending in the West gives the general further reason for concern.
“What’s more important is this,” he says. “We have to have a strategy. Just military aid is not a strategy.” Western leaders should first determine what outcome they’d like to see emerge in the region, he says, and then apply a “whole-of-government” approach, including a military dimension, to achieve it.
Inoltre, sull’overstretching dell’Esercito americano e sulla riduzione delle risorse:
Nor can the U.S. project national power world-wide, as it has since the end of World War II, with an overstretched Army. “There are 10 division headquarters in the Army,” he says. “Nine of them are committed right now. I’ve never seen that. I don’t think at the height of Iraq and Afghanistan you had nine out of 10 division headquarters committed against some requirement.” That leaves little in reserve if another conflict breaks out.
To a commander like Gen. Hodges, the strain on the Army caused by budget sequestration is palpable. “With the possibility of sequestration hanging over our head, the Army will have to go to 420,000” personnel, he says. “That’s about another 80,000 below where we are now. . . . The strength of the Army at the height of the buildup was about 560,000.”
What Gen. Hodges fears is a “hollow” Army, in which commanders will have to forego a capable and sufficiently large personnel, readiness or modernization to meet budget requirements. To serve its purpose, however, an Army needs a depth of resources at its disposal.