How The Pentagon Is Preparing For A Tank War With Russia

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Patriuck Tucker via,

Reactive armor and cross-domain fire capabilities are just some of the items on the Army’s must-have list.

When Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster briefs, it’s like Gen. Patton giving a TED talk — a domineering physical presence with bristling intellectual intensity.

These days, the charismatic director of the Army’s Capabilities Integration Center is knee-deep in a project called The Russia New Generation Warfare study, an analysis of how Russia is re-inventing land warfare in the mud of Eastern Ukraine. Speaking recently at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., McMaster said that the two-year-old conflict had revealed that the Russians have superior artillery firepower, better combat vehicles, and have learned sophisticated use of UAVs for tactical effect. Should U.S. forces find themselves in a  land war with Russia, he said, they would be in for a rude, cold awakening.

“We spend a long time talking about winning long-range missile duels,” said McMaster. But long-range missiles only get you through the front door. The question then becomes what will you do when you get there.

“Look at the enemy countermeasures,” he said, noting Russia’s use of nominally semi-professional forces who are capable of “dispersion, concealment, intermingling with civilian populations…the ability to disrupt our network strike capability, precision navigation and timing capabilities.” All of that means “you’re probably going to have a close fight… Increasingly, close combat overmatch is an area we’ve neglected, because we’ve taken it for granted.”

So how do you restore overmatch? The recipe that’s emerging from the battlefield of Ukraine, says McMaster, is more artillery and better artillery, a mix of old and new.

Cross-Domain Fires

“We’re out-ranged by a lot of these systems and they employ improved conventional munitions, which we are going away from. There will be a 40- to 60-percent reduction in lethality in the systems that we have,” he said. “Remember that we already have fewer artillery systems. Now those fewer artillery systems will be less effective relative to the enemy. So we need to do something on that now.”

To remedy that, McMaster is looking into a new area called “cross domain fires,” which would outfit ground units to hit a much wider array of targets. “When an Army fires unit arrives somewhere, it should be able to do surface-to-air, surface-to-surface, and shore-to-ship capabilities. We are developing that now and there are some really promising capabilities,” he said.

While the full report has not been made public, “a lot of this is available open source” said McMaster, “in the work that Phil Karber has done, for example.”

Karber, the president of the Potomac Foundation, went on a fact-finding mission to Ukraine last year, and returned with the conclusion that the United States had long overemphasized precision artillery on the battlefield at the expense of mass fires. Since the 1980s, he said last October, at an Association for the United States Army event, the U.S. has given up its qualitative edge, mostly by getting rid of cluster munitions.

Munitions have advanced incredibly since then. One of the most terrifying weapons that the Russians are using on the battlefield are thermobaric warheads, weapons that are composed almost entirely of fuel and burn longer and with more intensity than other types of munitions.

“In a 3-minute period…a Russian fire strike wiped out two mechanized battalions [with] a combination of top-attack munitions and thermobaric warheads,” said Karber. “If you have not experienced or seen the effects of thermobaric warheads, start taking a hard look. They might soon be coming to a theater near you.”

Karber also noted that Russian forces made heavy and integrated use of electronic warfare. It’s used to identify fire sources and command posts and to shut down voice and data communications. In the northern section, he said, “every single tactical radio [the Ukrainian forces] had was taken out by heavy Russian sector-wide EW.” Other EW efforts had taken down Ukrainian quadcopters. Another system was being used to mess with the electrical fuses on Ukrainian artillery shells, ”so when they hit, they’re duds,” he said.

Karber also said the pro-Russian troops in Donbas were using an overlapping mobile radar as well as a new man-portable air defense that’s “integrated into their network and can’t be spoofed by [infrared] decoys” or flares.

Combat Vehicles and Defenses

The problems aren’t just with rockets and shells, McMaster said. Even American combat vehicles have lost their edge.

“The Bradley [Fighting Vehicle] is great,” he said, but “what we see now is that our enemies have caught up to us. They’ve invested in combat vehicles. They’ve invested in advanced protective systems and active protective systems. We’ve got to get back ahead on combat vehicle development.”

If the war in Eastern Ukraine were a real-world test, the Russian T-90 tank passed with flying colors. The tank had seen action in Dagestan and Syria, but has been particularly decisive in Ukraine. The Ukrainians, Karber said, “have not been able to record one single kill on a T-90. They have the new French optics on them. The Russians actually designed them to take advantage of low light, foggy, winter conditions.”

What makes the T-90 so tough? For starters, explosive reactive armor. When you fire a missile at the tank, its skin of metal plates and explosives reacts. The explosive charge clamps the plates together so the rocket can’t pierce the hull.

But that’s only if the missile gets close enough. The latest thing in vehicle defense is active protection systems, or APS, which automatically spot incoming shells and target them with electronic jammers or just shoot them down. “It might use electronics to ‘confuse’ an incoming round, or it might use mass (outgoing bullets, rockets) to destroy the incoming round before it gets too close,” Army director for basic research Jeff Singleton told Defense One in an email.

The T-90’s active protective system is the Shtora-1 countermeasures suite. “I’ve interviewed Ukrainian tank gunners,” said Karber. “They’ll say ‘I had my [anti-tank weapon] right on it, it got right up to it and then they had this miraculous shield. An invisible shield. Suddenly, my anti-tank missile just went up to the sky.’”

The Pentagon is well behind some other militaries on this research. Israeli forces declared its Trophy APS operational in 2009, integrated it onto tanks since 2010, and has been using it to protect Israeli tank soldiers from Hamas rockets ever since.

Singleton said the United States is looking to give its Abrams tank the Trophy, which uses buckshot-like guns to down incoming fire without harming nearby troops.

The Army is also experimenting with the Israeli-made Iron Curtain APS for the Stryker, which works similarly, and one for the Bradley that has yet to be named. Raytheon has a system called the Quick Kill that uses a scanned array radar and a small missile to shoot down incoming projectiles.

Anti-Drone Defenses

One of the defining features of the war in Eastern Ukraine is the use of drones by both sides, not to target high-value terrorists but to direct fire in the same way forces used the first combat aircraft in World War I.

The past has a funny way of re-inventing itself, says McMaster.

“I never had to look up in my whole career and say, ‘Is it friendly or enemy?’ because of the U.S. Air Force. We have to do that now,” said McMaster. “Our Air Force gave us an unprecedented period of air supremacy…that changed the dynamics of ground combat. Now, you can’t bank on that.”

Pro-Russian forces use as many as 16 types of UAVs for targeting.

Russian forces are known to have “a 90-kilometer [Multiple Launch Rocket System] round, that goes out, parachute comes up, a UAV pops out, wings unfold, and they fly it around, it can strike a mobile target” said Karber, who said he wasn’t sure it had yet been used in Ukraine.

Karber’s track record for accuracy is less than perfect, as writer Jeffrey Lewis has pointed out in Foreign Policy. At various points, he has inflated estimates of China’s nuclear arsenal from some 300 weapons (based on declassified estimates) to 3,000 squirreled away in mysterious tunnels, a claim that many were able to quickly debunk. In 2014, he helped pass photos to Sen. James Inhofe of the Senate Armed Services Committee that purported to be recent images of Russian forces inside Ukraine. It turned out they were AP photographs from 2008.

“In the haste of running for the airport and trying to respond to a last-minute request with short time fuse,” Karber said by way of explanation, “I made the mistake of believing we were talking about the same photos … and it never occurred to me that the three photos of Russian armor were part of that package or being considered.”

No Foolproof Technological Solution

All of these technologies could shape the future battlefield, but none of them are silver bullets, nor do they, in McMaster’s view, offset the importance of human beings in gaining territory, holding territory, and changing facts on the ground to align with mission objectives.

As the current debate about the authorization for the use of force in Iraq shows, the commitment of large numbers of U.S. ground troops to conflict has become a political nonstarter for both parties. In lieu of a political willingness to put troops in the fight, multi-sectarian, multi-ethnic forces will take the lead, just as they are doing now in Iraq and Syria.

“What’s necessary is political accommodation, is what needs to happen, if we don’t conduct operations and plan campaigns in a way that gets to the political accommodation,” he said. “The most important activity will be to broker political ceasefires and understandings.”

Sometimes that happens at the end of a tank gun...

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Bank_sters's picture

Might as plan for trench warfare.  Tanks are so... yesterday. Unless you are the zionazi Crown family of General Dynamics.  


Yesterday while out in a beautiful mountainous college town far away from the urban nonsense, I saw a fucking cop tank car.  WTF.   Really?   Do we really need to go into debt to fund this militarized shit.

santafe's picture
santafe (not verified) Bank_sters Jun 26, 2016 9:29 PM

The TRUTH about the CONFLICT with Russia NO ONE dares to reveal.

Tom Servo's picture

Tank wars are so 20th century... glad we're investing in horses and bayonets when everyone else is working on cyber-warfare...


Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

Just another Pentagram shill talking about the 'missile gap'.  Fuck em all.  The US needs to get the hell out of military intrigue and get about solving its structural economic issues.

greenskeeper carl's picture

Literally none of this makes any sense. Show us the pictures and evidence of massive amounts of Russian forces fighting in the Ukraine. Don't have any? Then this is bullshit.

Another point - let's take it at face value, take his word for it: the Russian army is fighting heavily against the Ukrainian army over there. They are engaged with a lot of troops, and are using their latest advanced weaponry and tactics. How is it that the Ukrainian military hasn't been completely wiped out and pushed out of those contested regions yet? If they can't even handle ukraines third rate army using aged ex soviet equipment, how are they going to stand a chance against the ultra modern, highly trained US military? Unless we are even worse that the Ukrainian military? Is that what we are saying?

Smells like a bunch of bullshit, these guys are really saying "we need more money. The nearly trillion a year isn't enough"

ACES FULL's picture

Nukes would affect the elites. They want another big war without nukes. Between people waking up and the rest too lazy to get off their ass has thrown their plans off.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

That's why you take out the Elites in their fave mink-lined foxholes with Asymmetric means, using a dynamic combo ABC arms, that attacks them, their infrastructure and environment.  And their holiest of ancient buildings, making them inaccessible to all mammalian life forms for 10,000 years.  That's how you "play for keeps".

monk27's picture

The IQ of our generals of late seems to be in free fall. We better not start any wars, or we'll get into trouble very fast...

HowdyDoody's picture

Its not only their intelligence, it's their allegience. The current head of the USAF is (ex-)CIA. Both he and the previous incumbent are Tribe - which might explain the USAF lack of success in bombing ISIS.

SWRichmond's picture

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that a Pentagon General advocates buying new weapon systems.  He wouldn't be where he is if he didn't advocate exactly that.

Cloud9.5's picture

This is what you get after a purge, Generals fighting the last century’s wars.

Neither Russia nor China can invade the United States.  The only countries that have successfully invaded the U.S. are Latin American.  We have neither the man power nor the industrial base to fight a land war in Europe.  It is time to pick up our marbles and come home.  As for tanks, I love tanks.  I have always wanted one, but the real truth is they are not worth a damn in urban warfare.  At the cost of a few hundred dollars, a RPG-7 turns that million dollar chariot into an oven.


The way to end the United States is not with some grand battle on the plains in Europe.   The way to end the United States is with an EMP pulse.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


The nearly trillion a year isn't enough

It doesn't matter.  It is just a couple of key strokes.

The current war is a financial and propaganda war being fought with keyboards.

If things turn muddy and bloody in Europe, again, the Russians will have an advantage.

The Russians know this, and will make damn sure things do turn muddy and bloody, if they are attacked.

Another advantage is that in their rear, the East, the Chinese and Russians have a what should be a lasting peace of practical convenience in Asia.

I think this is all optics, and war has become Orwellian, as in 1984.


8.  Read 1984, by George Orwell.

greenskeeper carl's picture

I agree with what you say. I actually have re read 1984 within the past year for the first time since high school. I don't think war has 'become' Orwellian recently, I think it's been that way for far longer than any of us have been alive. It is, after all, a racket, as a wise old general once said. I'm just tired of living around so many brainless fucks that still fall for this kind of shit every couple years. It's getting old.

undertow1141's picture

For what its worth, they do spend a fuck ton on their brainwashing program. And admitting that everything you were told was a lie to control you, is rough. Most people would take the blue pill and be blind. I don't understand it either. But remember, most revolutions only need 15% of the population to work. Blue pill works against TPTB here. Just keep stacking and prepping and wait for the trigger event. We'll know know it when it comes.

Took Red Pill's picture

If that's correct, we've got to be getting close to 15% already or one out of seven people awakened.

Lore's picture

I like how the study is called "secret," and yet everybody knows about it. And touting "Clear, Hold, Build" as innovative?  Hello?!

It's comedic that such articles are written at this juncture to rationalize continued astronomical military spending, when the host nation sits on the verge of outright collapse and civil war due to the cosmic-scale blind spot where problems in one's own back yard are concerned -- problems to do with organizational behaviour, ethics, pathocracy, dynamics of systems, infrastructure, debt, capital formation, and the basic social contract.  The priorities seem upside down.  Be a better trading partner, and international affairs will go more smoothly.  Washington needs to change its reputation for being the "taker." It requires fundamental re-alignment of culture and values.

Has it occurred to the already-victimized sheeple in all the nations of Europe who are presently attempting (stupidly and futilely) to accommodate hundreds of thousands of Soros-sponsored "migrants" that they are concordantly playing host to the next phase of American proxy warfare?  Call it Al Qaeda 3.x. 

The migrants have been injected, like a contaminated vaccine designed to permanently compromise the subject's immune system.  Literally, it's biological warfare intended to poison and weaken and spoil European nations and prevent them from mounting meaningful opposition.  Without drastic and immediate action, Europe is destined to become a great big perpetual Lebanon. 

HowdyDoody's picture

Meanwhile the Russians are making a deal with the Nicuraguans to host a Glonass GPS ground station there. That could be used to improve the accuracy of GPS location in that area. I wonder why they would want higher resolution GPS in that part of the world.


Lore's picture

I see that the Ortega government is also buying tanks and warbirds.

It's not hard to imagine alternate uses for this GLONASS thing. Ortega may just be trying to head off "regime change."  The name "Ortega" brings to mind all sorts of related history.  There are reports of massive, massive drug-running operations. 

Ignatius's picture

This dire warning sounds like it's going to cost us all more money that could be invested in useful enterprises for the people at large.  I have more respect for common pick-pockets than the peddlers of these MIC narratives.

greenskeeper carl's picture

I know. At least the pickpocket doesn't pretend he is doing anything other than rob you. He doesn't wrap his criminality in a flag.

RevIdahoSpud3's picture

The criminals are doing it for freedom and democracy and protecting our way of life.

Manthong's picture

Some interesting .mil porn there, but…

There will never be a tank war between superpowers.

And don’t expect to be using those aircraft carriers very long, either.

any_mouse's picture

Someone is thinking there will be massive tank battles. I have been watching tank destroyers, woodland and desert, sans the BFG, heading south on US 95 in Nevada for sometime. I assume they are coming out of mothballs and heading to be readied for the war they thought they would fight in the Fulda Gap in the last century.

Peace Out!

Moe Howard's picture

It's called training at the NTC.

HowdyDoody's picture

A-10s are practising landing on roads on an Estonian highway near the Russian border. Lets hope they have their transponders on.

Mile High Perv's picture

Actually, for all the fear-mongering, I seriously doubt that nuclear cruise missiles will fly at the outset of hostilities. The nuke option would make sense in only two cases:

(i) guaranteed assurance that your enemy cannot retaliate with nukes (the US knew this when they nuked Japan)

(ii) no other viable options left and you're feeling suicidal and want to inflict maximum damage on the enemy before you go (if the Allies and Axis were both nuclear capable like the US and Russia of today, Hitler would probably let the nukes fly just before the fall of Berlin or before he lost his own nukes)

The true potential of strategic nukes in the MAD sense is in the second-strike capability.

So, traditional war is coming sooner or later (no other way for the elites to cull the herd and still have some serfs left around to slave for them). There is a simmering anger within the population and too many jobless males that can be mis-directed toward any perceived enemy.

Long-time lurker, first-time poster. Would like to thank the innumerable ZH masterminds who have helped open my eyes to the truth since 2009.

conscious being's picture

I found the article revolting. None of these people have a moral compass, including General whata-his-face that talks like Patton. Kill! Because the Banksters say Kill!

Why not stop provoking the Russians for starters? The RAF looks more like the force supporting the free people of the world than the US armed forces. Solduers realize this and off themselves. What's your fix for that General KissAss?

Zip_the_Zap's picture

I agree with your sentiment but:
1) They are not our leaders they are our rulers, peasants do not have leaders;
2) They are not fighting wars for us, nor defending us, they are using military intimidation to coerce 3rd world countries to allow American Companies and certain foreign companies unfettered access their resources and markets.
3) The purpose of a new weapons system is to increse the 1% 's dividend flow.
4) The #1 priority of the US military is to use its undemocratic top down culture to force social change deemed expediant by elites upon a once Chtistian nation.
5) The most powerful position in the US military is not a 5 star general, but a contracting officer. Yet, not 1 in 10,000 peasants know this. They, the peasants, have no clue how well someone lives when they controll $100,000,000 in DOD or DARPA procurement moneys. I know, as a fact, a mid level contracting officer told an appropriations chairman to get lost.
6) The point of #5 was to show the massive amount of corruption in the DOD.
7) The DOD, in its current form will never ever have enough money. Eisenhower was the last president to stand up to this criminal cabal.
8) Hold onto your defense industry ETF.

juangrande's picture

Based upon what Christ supposedly said, the US has never been Christian in regards to policy and action. Otherwise I agree with you.

Zip_the_Zap's picture

I agree, but we once pretended. But I think I was more thinking about those families that tried to do the right thing.

hestroy's picture

What frucking Khazars downvoted this?

AdolphLustig's picture
AdolphLustig (not verified) Bank_sters Jun 26, 2016 9:29 PM

Its for your own good, goyim.

Rusty Shorts's picture
Russian BMP 3 the nightmare of the M2 Bradley (2016)

HowdyDoody's picture

From Iraq, it seems that RPGs do a good job of taking out Abrams.

Max Steel's picture
Javelins, those mythical wunderwaffe that have been used only twice against active Tanks... Javelin is useless against MODERN Russian tanks or equivalent. People have to point a laser beam to the target for Javelin to follow. However, modern tanks "know" that they are pointed and where the beam come from. That means, Shtora on, smoke screen, or in worst case, the tank turns the cannon to the javelin launcher and KABOOM.

Javelins are only fire and forget when they have a lock on a target before launch.

During tests they used banks of hair driers heating up tank chassis so they appeared on the thermal sights of the launchers.

wizteknet's picture

Them BMP 3's drink twice as much fuel also, means they have to have a fuel truck follow them on the front line.

Freddie's picture

More on the Crown_Krinsky family friends of Meyer Lansky.  Supporters of LBJ and Obola.  Very close to RFK and JFK murders see the F-111 scandal.

The M-1 is pretty much junk.  The Houthi/Yemenis have been taking out Saudi M-1 with old 1970s Soviet era anti tank missiles.  The Saudi stuff may not have upgraded armor but the Russian MLRS mentioned in the video can clear a battlefield of tanks in minutes.

I am not being anti American just do not want American kids getting murdered in more mindless bankster wars.

The USA or joke NATO better not think they can fight a war with the Russians.  It will not end well. 

Cop tank car in Bozeman?  I bet the locals could take that piece of junk out quickly. 

fockewulf190's picture

The short term answer is the CHAMP EMP.  The US has already announced it has been developed and is already deployed.

  I´m sure the Russians and others have been working on developing these class of weapons for themselves as well.  Once they become mainstream, they will explode the costs of waging war simply because the only real countermeasure is the hardening of all electrical systems against EMP....and that doesn´t come cheap.

We will all be back in the Stone Age soon enough.


fockewulf190's picture

PS: Regarding the General, it´s obvious he wants new toys.  The Air Force has a new goodie, but the Army doesn´t (yet).  This shit has been going on ever since the Air Force split from the Army back to just after WWII.  The Navy will be crying soon enough as well.

fockewulf190's picture

Question is, how will EMP weapons be classified.  If they are ranked as being as destructive as a tactical nuclear weapon (not in physical destructive force per se, but in it´s capability of reverting whole areas back to the Dark Ages) the consequences of their use may be catastrophic. 


juangrande's picture

EMP's don't destroy minds. The dark ages were a mental phenomena.

fockewulf190's picture

Oh you´ll see people lose their minds after an EMP attack alright.  Thats guarenteed.

wizteknet's picture

Molotov cocktail is all thats really needed...

Cynicles's picture

I saw a fucking cop tank car.  WTF.   

"Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry."
-Thomas Jefferson