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Opinion: Great Power Competition in the 2020’s – Objectives for the smaller nations

World has moved from the unipolar US Dominated order, that emerged from the Cold War after the collapse of the Soviet Union, into a new great power competition with two major players and multiple smaller powers that aspire to rise to the top tier. China has already successfully challenged USA in the economic sphere. Russia and Turkey among others try to establish a localized area of dominance, while avoiding directly challenging the big dogs. There seems to be a lack of coherent objectives for the US political leadership in this competition. But the minimum viable objectives were well presented by Martin Skold: “The adversary means to either collapse us or coopt us, discrediting our governance model and turning our elites toward it. Any day that doesn’t happen is a good day. Any day we do that in reverse is better.” He also quoted Tanner Greer to explain the issue further: “ As Beijing sees it, China’s success depends on discrediting the tenets of liberal capitalism so that not
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Death from above – Russian ad hoc top attack defenses

T-72B3 tanks with crude top armor cages The recent Russian tank upgrade programs and the ever slower moving T-14 Armata saga, have all had significant portion of the efforts put into improving the survivability of the tank and its crew. Both static and explosive reactive armor (ERA) have been upgraded and small amount of the latest T-90M and T-72B3 tanks have active protection systems that may be able to defeat most of the anti-tank missiles and slower moving HEAT shells. Environmentally friendly T-90M While these programs have put some emphasis on the armor on the top of the turret, the main focus has been in the sides and the front of the hull and turret. Additional ERA elements have been mounted on the skirts of the vehicles and slat-cage type standoff armor has been attached into the rear sides of the turrets and hulls. These modifications however have very little effect on direct top attacks by modern anti-tank missiles such as the American Javelin, that is also in the

The Hammer and the Sickle - Potential Russian Pincer-Offensive

For the past weeks the social media has been filled with sightings of Russian troops moving towards the regions bordering Ukraine. The buildup was initially called an exercise, but in the most recent press releases Kremlin has been rather clear that the troops have been deployed there as an operational deployment, if Russia feels a need to act upon any real or imaginary escalation in Donbass. The troops will stay in the region as long as President Putin sees it necessary. Russia Serna-Class landing crafts of the Caspian flotilla The initial buildup was focused on occupied Crimea that has so far received an additional VDV airborne regiment, multiple mechanized battalion tactical groups and heavy artillery units equipped with at least the enormous 240mm 2S4 Tulpan mortars.  Additional trains and convoys have been spotted in Rostov, Krasnodar and Voronezh regions. The Russian controlled Belarusian military has also been alerted and multiple, very Russian looking units are operating in the

Vantage Point on Gear: Särmä TST Shooter’s Belt

Särmä TST Shooter's Belt with a Ghost holster and my Armscor My old and faithful CR-Speed IPSC belt started to deteriorate after 17 years of use (and occasional abuse), so I needed a new belt for my competitive shooting. After a quick check on what’s available, I decided to buy something that would allow me to have a single rig for both IPSC and its reservist oriented cousin SRA as well as potential 2-gun brutality matches. Being an ethical chap who likes to ride on a very high horse, I decided that I want something  that is local, or at least made in a country that has some basic respect for human rights and workers conditions. I saw that Varusteleka had just released a Shooter’s Belt into their Särmä TST line of combat equipment. I’ve had some good experiences with their clothing, such as the merino hoodies and sweaters and with my wife absolutely loving their windproof jacket, I felt rather confident to try out their belt, that is designed in Finland and manufactured in

An OSINT week in Baltiysk: the Nanuchka class upgrades and a sub visit

 OSINT, and especially social media based OSINT, on military installations can be tricky. But some bases are a lot more accessible than others. The Russian Navy's Baltic Fleet is one of the easier ones. Both of the fleets major bases, Baltiysk and Kronstadt, are popular tourist and outdoor locations with people boating, walking, fishing, ice fishing and filming almost all year around.  An unmodified Nanuchka-class corvette Geyzer and the Swans that hang out along the canal So what kind of information can be derived from the typical weeks worth of digging through the various social networks? The most obvious fact is that a Russian city can have more nail saloons than residents. When it comes to the military side of things, the first one is the locations of the vessels within the port area. This also allows one to observe the ships that are missing from images. But be warned, some ports have more static berthing than others. The Zubr-class LAC:s in their special concrete landing pads

Military readiness during a pandemic: Finnish local defense exercises 2021

  Readiness battalion with their CV9030 (Photo: FDF) The Finnish Defense Forces have put an extra effort to increasing their readiness and capability to counter surprising threats after the Russian invasion of Crimea. This has been possible as the focus of the FDF has remained in the defense of the Finnish territory against the Russian threat and unlike the rest of the European armed forces it still maintains a reserve based army geared for high intensity warfare.   Note the environmentally friendly wooden bullets in use (Photo:FDF) Recent report from the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI) suggests that Russia still has an edge over the NATO forces in Eastern Europe. The Russian forces have the advantage of better strategic mobility, faster chain of command and superior numbers in land combat. This disparity increases the risks of a military conflict in Northern Europe. The FOI estimates that the Finnish and Swedish effort in a fight against a Russian offensive in the Baltic

Russian Battalion Tactical Group southbound from Saint Petersburg

  A social media video of a Russian train loaded with military vehicles surfaced 20.8.2020. The video was supposedly filmed south of Saint Petersburg. While videos of Russian convoys and trains laden with tanks are not rare, there are some interesting features in this one. It seems to feature a fully functional Russian battalion tactical group. The maneuver unit is clearly based around a motorized rifle battalion that is equipped with the venerable MT-LB tracked armored personnel carriers. In the Russian system a Motorized Rifle unit can be classified as either mechanized or motorized in the west depending on the set of vehicles it is equipped with. This battalion has at least 35 baseline MT-LBs, which is consistent with the 3 vehicles per platoon and 3 platoons + ATGM-section per company structure that is typical with the battalions of the motorized rifle brigades.   The battalion also has its integral command and communications assets in the form of two R-149 unified command