Well known international publications on military affairs and not only them, but global conflict scenarios are also increasing in number. There was no lack of them even before, but it was mostly either discussed by journalists or experts, typically retired military officers. In order to not frighten the public or due to diplomatic concerns, “those in office” would stay silent Mečys Laurinkus writes in lrytas.lt
But now, mentions of threats and conflict scenarios are being also voiced from the official tribunes. Is this a preventative measure for potential future military catastrophes or is it an effort to indicate what actually awaits us in the future?
Admiral Philip S. Davidson declared at the US Senate that “China could try to take control of Taiwan in the next six years.” Furthermore, China has proclaimed its rights to almost the entirety of the South China Sea and even the US-controlled island of Guam is at risk.
Of course, Beijing was quick to react, describing the statement as artificial inflation of China’s powers and calls for rocket defence systems to be deployed on the island of Guam – a traditional clamouring for larger budgets.
Of course, this is a reasonable explanation, but if we are to look at China’s growth and rising appetite, the admiral’s insights contain much truth. If Admiral Davidson’s words were to become a reality, it is not difficult to fathom what sort of scale such a military conflict could reach. Talks are surfacing even of the use of nuclear weapons.
Admiral Charles A. Richard writes in the publication Proceedings: “There is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state. Consequently, the US military must shift its principal assumption from ‘nuclear employment is not possible’ to ‘nuclear employment is a very real possibility,’ and act to meet and deter that reality.”
This is a significant statement by an admiral, who was one of the formers of US strategic doctrine, a statement that should be heeded by both Russia and China, as well as society in general.
For a number of decades, the statement that nuclear warfare is impossible because it would be the end of humanity was undisputed. But after the Crimean annexation, the situation began to change.
Thirty years ago, no one could have even fathomed that in the most rational of all of humanity’s centuries, the XXI c., information flows will require a competent companion to sift the wheat from the chaff in the sea of words. One must admit – such companions are necessary in order to not drown in the fake news, scares and bluffs of the information sea.
Initially, it was philosophical, but over the past three years, the change has been drastic. The word “war” has surfaced again. That said, for now, it is only information war, sometimes economic, fluctuating political warfare, but still not some “acute discussion.” Military terminology comes up as well, “information attacks” being an example.
Most often, the role of such wise guideposts is shouldered by honest specialists, academics who do not exploit their knowledge to earn on the propaganda front.
My eye was caught by an article by Polish General W. Skrzypczak on the publication Defence 24 – The Kaliningrad Bluff. The Suwalki Gap has no military operational significance. For a Lithuanian reader, the title might seem questionable, perhaps even provocative because where, but in our country, this topic has had a great deal of coverage “from the correct viewpoint.”
The general prefaces the article with a focus on information warfare. According to him, Russia has made major strides here and has even surpassed the West. Russia was able to mobilise its wide propaganda front, attracted communication specialists, high-class propagandists, diplomats, politicians and businessmen who do not repeat stock phrases about the “rotting West” and instead tailor their arguments to each individual country.
Russian propaganda functions purposefully, to the point that even a bubble being inflated will appear convincing. The general views Kaliningrad Oblast (the name he uses) as being one such bubble. The main attention is focused on Russian armed forces gathered there.
Kaliningrad Oblast was crucial for the former USSR and even now, it’s significance has not decreased. For Russia, it is a gateway into the Baltic Sea and through Poland into Europe. Meanwhile, the military purpose of Kaliningrad is for landings in the Jutland peninsula. Of course, comprehensive control of the Baltic as well.
When the Soviet empire fell, restructuring of the armed forces in Kaliningrad was also due. Russia set clear goals – during wartime, if it so happened, to seek an advantage on the Baltic Sea, on land and in the air. Another goal – by all means to block NATO in the Baltic States and support the Russian 6th army, which is even beyond Belarus.
Kaliningrad, the Russian 6th army and inevitably Belarus, the general believes, will be superior to NATO in Eastern Europe. Efforts to at least create parity are complex and perhaps not even purposeful. According to the general, in any case, Russia could take over the Baltic States within a few days and the Suwalki Gap is apparently pointlessly emphasised by NATO experts because it is only a path of tactical significance. Russian generals will not look at the map when making moves, they’ll just proceed wherever is most convenient for them.
I would expect that W. Skrzypczak is in favour of modernised US weaponry in Poland itself.
Nevertheless, the Polish general is convinced that the military significance of Kaliningrad is exaggerated and artificially maintained by Moscow’s propaganda. Considering Russia’s economic troubles and massive expenses in other regions, optimistic military prospects for Kaliningrad seem dubious.
He advises the West to look reality in the eye and create an effective information system instead. Perhaps he’s right.