Tuesday, October 20, 2015

USAREUR intel chief Potter assesses Russia's military might - Europe - Stripes

USAREUR intel chief Potter assesses Russia's military might - Europe - Stripes: Col. Laura Potter, deputy chief of staff for intelligence for the Army in Europe based in Germany, said she talks to a lot of Americans who, while smart and generally well-informed, don’t really grasp all that’s happening in Russia as President Vladimir Putin grows increasingly bellicose along his borders and in the Middle East.

His military invaded Ukraine last year, he annexed Crimea, he has threatened many of his neighbors and he now appears to be using the civil war in Syria as a proving ground for his modernized military in support of his ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

What is his ultimate goal?

“That’s a good question,” said Col. Potter, 48. “He’s a hard guy to predict.”

She said that while Mr. Putin will not risk a fight with the U.S. or NATO by such bold measures as, say, massing tanks on a NATO country’s border, “there are things he can do to destabilize nations” short of direct confrontation.

And that’s what he has been doing with a continual pattern of saber rattling, from issuing a threat of nuclear retaliation against Sweden if it joins NATO to conducting unannounced combat exercises across the region to test military readiness for his resurgent forces.

“One of his goals is to establish Russia as a global power,” Col. Potter said. “The Russians also see themselves as a regional power in the Middle East. And they clearly see NATO as a threat. We believe he would like to fracture the alliance.”