Small Wars Journal has featured the U.S. Army's new Capstone Concept, the Army's top-level doctrine for how it will prepare for conflict over the next two decades. The Army Capstone Concept calls for full-spectrum capability. But it also emphasizes the need for "high touch" skills, the language, cultural, historical, population, and personal skills required to be effective in low-intensity and irregular warfare environments.
It seems as if Russia's military doctrine is going in exactly the opposite direction, if a recent article from Defense News is any indication. Some excerpts:
Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the powerful security council, said the conditions under which Russia could resort to atomic weapons are being reworked in the main strategy document and will be reviewed by President Dmitry Medvedev by the end of the year.
"The conditions have been revised for the use of nuclear weapons to rebuff an aggression with the use of conventional weapons, not only on a massive-scale but on a regional and even local level," Patrushev told the Izvestia newspaper.
"Variants are under considerations for the use of nuclear weapons depending on the situation and potential of a would-be aggressor," he said.
"In a critical situation for national security, a preventative nuclear strike on an aggressor is not ruled out."
One could call "a preventative nuclear strike on an aggressor" the Bush Doctrine on Steroids.
Russia is finding itself resorting to a nuclear-centered military doctrine because it is finding it more and more difficult to maintain adequate conventional military capabilities. 20 years ago Soviet conventional forces were massive and frightening -- it was the U.S. and NATO that required a large inventory of tactical nuclear weapons to deter the Soviet armored behemoth in eastern Europe. Today, the situation is reversed -- it is Russia that needs its remaining nuclear weapons to compensate for its conventional weakness.
Naturally, any country that has a declared or undeclared "no first use" policy can instantly drop that policy during a stressful moment. The problem with Russia's doctrine is that it is doctrine -- it is what Russia will plan for, prepare for, train for, and as a result, make more likely to occur.
President Obama (as did President Reagan) dreams of a world free of nuclear weapons. Strategically, no country would benefit more from this dream, at least at this moment in history, than the United States. That is the single most powerful reason why this dream will not come true.