Thread: Twilight 2020
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Old 01-03-2019, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ChalkLine View Post
I think it is important to say that the USSR and Maoist China are gone, gone the way of the Aztecs. A Twilight 2020 should look at the modern world and base its models on what actually exists today rather than taking an easy way out and resurrecting old Cold War stereotypes. Yes, Russia may be an adversary of the USA but lets leave the kommissars in their graves.

In fact, Russia has to be an adversary. Every moderate power is going to have to fight the USA to make the scenario plausible, and this should probably include India, China and anyone else with a decent army. This is because in every aspect of military measurement the USA can annihilate any other coalition in a stand up fight. The USA easily outmatches Russia and China combined in the air and especially at sea and is only outmatched by the Chinese ability to muster more infantry, something easily offset by the USA planning and creating an army designed to obliterate any large mass of troops that confront it.

It will probably be easier to say who will fight with the USA rather than who will fight against it as the opposing coalition has to be huge to be a threat. The UK will definitely fight alongside the USA as will Australia. Both have armies inextricably linked to the USA fighting force and their foreign policies are usually exactly the same. Many allied nations might sit out a war until the nukes fly, as this is probably the greatest violation of international customs there is.

Once again, avoiding a 'this is how it happens' scenario we have to think where will the bulk of the war be fought. It really can't be fought in the USA as no one else can get close to it. To the south you have Central America and Mexico and those counties, while possible enemies of the USA, wouldn't invade even if they could and they can't. To the north is Canada which isn't about to, or even be capable of, invading the USA. It will have to be offshore.

Europe would be the best bet. Here the USA has a powerful presence and is creating a new centre of power in Poland. Most of the old NATO countries know Russia isn't an existential threat as Russia can hardly project power into Ukraine let alone Germany, but Ukraine, Poland and some of the Baltic States might be persuaded to go to war with Russia.

The question though is how to stop the USA beating Russia in an afternoon?
As an American, I'm flattered by your assessment, but I think you are overestimating current U.S. military power, and underestimating Russian, and especially Chinese, capabilities.

First off, let's look at Russian and Chinese capabilities.

Just a few years ago, Russia annexed the Crimea, and they recently blockaded the port of Mairupol, impounded Ukrainian naval vessels, and shut Ukrainian traffic out of the Sea of Azov. NATO didn't/won't do anything about it. If Ukraine can't extinguish a long-running ethnic Russian separatist insurgency (which benefits from thinly-veiled Russian military support), how could it stop a full-scale Russian invasion without direct NATO intervention?

Russia could retake the Baltic States in a matter of a few weeks and there's not much NATO could do to stop it. Estonia has no air force. The U.S. simply doesn't have enough pre-positioned heavy combat units in Europe to respond quickly enough and with adequate force, to turn back a Russian invasion. This isn't just some amateur military-buff's assessment- US military think-tanks have concluded as much.

So that's where T2020 could start. The Baltic. Russian retakes Estonia and Latvia and NATO takes a belated stand on the Lithuania side of the Poland-Lithuanian border. Boom! WWIII. With the U.S. embroiled in a large-scale conventional war in the Baltics, China makes its play for Taiwan (and/or North Korea launches a second war of reunification) or, if that's too bold for your tastes, the Spratly Islands, attacking Vietnamese and Filipino navy vessels that arrive to assert their respective territorial claims.

The Chinese navy is growing faster than the USN. The USN is aging and it's newest [littoral combat] vessels have been beset by all sorts of mechanical and systems and structural problems. The Chinese have a large and formidable coastal defense force and are rapidly developing a capable blue water navy. Any naval war fought in either/both of the China Seas will mean that the Chinese have interior lines of supply and access to numerous land-based aircraft. Their new anti-carrier ballistic missile could be a game-changer. In a similar vein, the Russians are rolling out hypersonic SSM/ASMs. Meanwhile, the USN still relies on the 40-year old Harpoon ASM.

I've already touched on some US weaknesses above. Here are some more.

The US still has the largest military budget in the world, but instead of investing in new and improved major systems like replacements for its aging Ticonderoga class guided missile cruisers, or M1 MBTs, or F-16s, most of that money is spent to pay for its long-running "War on Terror"- and most of that is for upkeep and maintenance on old, hard-working systems.

The USAF is currently facing a pilot shortage. The F-35 is a highly problematic airframe/avionics platform and there's not enough money in the budget to restart F-22 production. Instead, the USAF is looking at a program to replace it's 40-year old F-15 fleet with a new, upgraded model, the F-15X. The workhorse of the USAF, the F-16 is also getting old (airframes are approaching the end of their serviceable career). Meanwhile, the Chinese air force is steadily growing and modernizing. It's catching up qualitatively too- they're starting production of their own stealth fighter.

Lots of U.S. tanks and IFVs have a lot of hard miles on them, from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, with replacements nowhere in sight. Thousands of new-ish MRAPs aren't going to help much in a conventional war against a modern foe like China or Russia.

These threads include links to various articles, mostly about Russian capabilities vis--vis the Baltics and NATO, some of which are referenced above:
Dulce bellum inexpertis. - Erasmus
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