More Bang for the Buck
By F. William engdahl
30 October 2016
More bang for the buck is the most apt description when we compare spending of the United States Government with that of the Government of the Russian Federation on its defense sector and military technology development. A closer look at the two budgets reveals the huge fault line that cuts across the entire US economy today. It also mirrors the true collapse of the American hegemon as a world power. It need not have been.
In the official Fiscal Year 2017 the US Department of Defense officially requested $523.9 billion in what they call “discretionary funding,” as in, “we use it as we please, no independent audit allowed.” Another $58.8 billion was requested for so-called Overseas Contingency Operations, typical Pentagon-speak for wars everywhere from Afghanistan to Syria to military operations around the South China sea. That made an official total of $583 billion requested and granted by a docile Congress.
On October 13, the Russian wire-service Tass.ru reported that the Russian government is set to spend 948.59 billion rubles on national defense in 2017, according to the draft federal budget posted. It sounds like a lot, almost one trillion rubles. If we convert at the current dollar exchange rate, this translates into a mere $15 billion. Of that 793.79 billion rubles or $12.7 billion is planned to be spent on the Russian Armed Forces. In 2015 the Russian Federation spent $26 billion on the state military-industrial complex development program will reach 1.67 trillion rubles.
That total for military industry investment and maintaining Russia’s armed forces, some $49 billion, equals 8.4 % of the dollar amount the United States Defense Department plays with annually. To that must be added the separate amount of $400 billion for modernization of Russian armed forces military capabilities by 2020. That’s roughly another $80 billion a year.
Now the relevant question at a time when Washington-led NATO forces are aggressively moving to the borders of the Russian Federation, when US Pentagon Special Forces and mercenaries like Blackwater aka Academi are mucking around Ukraine causing mischief, destruction and murder, is which country is getting better defense or military capacities for every dollar spent.
The answer came following the September 30, 2015 Russian announcement that it had agreed to respond with military support to the call of the legitimate government of Syria. What Russian military efforts have accomplished with meager resources, has astonished most western military experts.
Far from being the dilapidated, technologically obsolescent Soviet-era military that many US planners reckon, Russia’s armed forces have undergone a quiet and impressive modernization ever since it became clear around 2007 that Washington was intent on pushing NATO to Moscow’s front door in Ukraine and Georgia as well as threatening with US missile “defense” in Poland, Czech Republic and now also in Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shiogu is a remarkable organizer who is known for reorganizing large Russian government departments. Before becoming Defense Minister he was head of the large Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, responsible for emergency situations, such as floods, earthquakes and acts of terrorism.
The result of Russia’s military modernization, partly demonstrated in the military intervention in Syria, has been a strategic shift in the global military balance of power that Washington’s neo-conservatives, none of whom have served in active duty military theatres, did not reckon with. Russian science and engineering have accomplished astonishing results with minimum investment. Just a select glance at what is being developed is instructive.
Hypersonic nuclear missile
On October 25 the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau published the first image of the newest heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, the RS-28 Sarmat known under NATO’s reporting name SS-X-30. It will replace its predecessor, the R36M2 Voyevoda or NATO reporting name SS-18 Satan. It is now in test phase and will enter service at the end of 2018. The SS-X-30 will replace the world’s most powerful strategic missile, the SS-18 Satan. One reason Washington pursued the Start-1 strategic arms reduction treaty with Moscow was because the Pentagon estimated that the SS-18 with its multiple warhead consisting of ten independently targetable re-entry vehicles each having a yield of 750 kilotons was a serious threat. Now, the new successor, SS-X-30 according to Tass military analyst, Viktor Litovkin, is far more threatening.
While specific details are top secret, according to Litovkin, the new ICBM will evade any missile defense arrays Washington can install. It has far smaller liftoff mass and a greater range of flight up to 17,000 kilometers, able to reach virtually any target in the Continental USA. It is designed to go on flight paths crossing the South Pole, from where they are least-expected and where no missile shields are being created. Each missile will carry between 10-15 independently targetable nuclear warheads, in a “grape cluster” able to separate from the cluster one by one when a pre-loaded program issues the order to attack the selected target, Litovkin adds.
He says that the SS-X-30 re-entry vehicle, called by Russian media Yu-71, and by its developer ‘object 4202′, or Aero-ballistic Hypersonic Warhead, will fly at hypersonic speeds of Mach 17, roughly 4.3 miles (7km) per second, with flight path’s altitude and direction constantly changing all the time making it immune to any missile defenses the Pentagon has deployed in Poland or South Korea, even those relying on space-based elements. “For the SS-X-30 it makes no difference if there is a missile defense or if there is none. It will slip through unnoticed,” says Litovkin.
The new missile is capable of wiping out a country the size of France with nuclear explosions 2,000 times more powerful than the bomb used at Hiroshima in 1945 by Washington.
Pentagon bucks go to waste
The SS-X-30 development is but one of numerous game-changing weapons technologies Russia has been combat testing in Syria. Another is the cutting-edge Russian T-14 Armata tank that has no western competitor. Russian fighter jets have demonstrated their value in Syria and Russian anti-missile Contrast this with the colossal waste of US defense budget spending. Washington is used to fight wars, like the school classroom bully, only against tiny unequipped enemies like Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi in Libya.
Granted US defense giants like Boeing or Lockheed Martin are working on hypersonic jets and other classified new weapons. However, the efficiency of every dollar spent on US military hardware is overshadowed by the effective of Russian defense spending.
A recent US Defense Department report stated that the budget controls of the pentagon are non-existent. Alone the US Department of the Army cannot provide an audit trail for a cumulative $6.5 trillion of expenses.
There are deep cultural and historical reasons why Russia has responded to the actions of Washington and NATO since 2007 as they have. They are deadly serious about defending the Russian Motherland as they term it. Washington politicians, regardless who is President, would do well to take this into their calculations when they egg on European NATO partners to provoke Russia in every way imaginable. Europeans would also do well to reconsider whether being Washington’s front line in NATO is worth the price of possible nuclear pulverization. I think not personally.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”