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Red Metal, by Mark Greaney & Lt Col. H Ripley Rawlings IV.

What is it about?

War between the West and Russia.

Who wrote it?

Mark Greaney, a military thriller author who was written some of the newer Tom Clancy franchise books.

Lt Col. H Ripley Rawlings IV. Former US Marine, came from a family of academics and authors. Wrote this book and has been signed to write a series of military fiction.

What can we learn from it?

Russia is a huge threat to the West and as the US pivots to the Pacific and the Chinese threat Europe is exposed to a determined and militarily advanced Russian adversary.

European underinvestment in defense spending and cohesion would make opposition to a Russian advance very difficult. Real Russian territorial gains could be achieved with great speed which would force Europe's hand to negotiate before the US could swing into action, especially if timed to coincide with a Chinese distraction (entirely possible).

Without satellites and air cover Western forces have forgotten how to fight. Twenty years of anti-insurgency has created a Western military that hasn't given much thought to high-tech high-end warfare and as a result is highly vulnerable.

Interesting that the Germans (Leopard tanks), French (Dragoons) and Polish (militia units) are featured heavily assisting US tanks in Europe and Marine Expeditionary forces in Africa - but the British and other NATO al

lies aren't mentioned at all (I count mention of a Norweigian submarine that fails to track a Russian sub and a passing mention that a British tank regiment was beginning to move up behind the American and Germans in support but they never make it to combat). British Naval and air assets not mentioned even once, even though the fighting is in Kenya which hosts a UK forces training base.

While cyber operations and anti-satellite operations quickly blind the West the book does focus greatly on the land forces and doesn't feature much in the way of airpower, especially in Europe, where you'd imagine there would be some incredibly intense air to air dualling with NATO nations and Russian jets. This doesn't happen and forces on both sides seem to be able to move mostly unmolested from the air - which doesn't sound quite right to me.

However, the second major theatre is in Africa and a clash between essentially an American Marine force and a Russian Spetsnaz and parachute expeditionary force, both with very limited air support. It allows the Lt Col to indulge in his real passion of small-scale infantry engagements, with men plastering on the camo cream and crawling around the grasslands lobbing grenades at each other. He had to fabricate this environment to achieve that narrative, although mobile anti-air units from the Russians appea

r to be devastatingly effective. This came as a surprise to me as I always felt a modern war would be fought mostly by aircraft or ships firing supersonic missiles at each other from beyond the horizon and most anti-air systems, especially mobile ones, would prove ineffective.

There is an interesting chapter that portrays an Arleigh Burke getting very easily blown to pieces by a torpedo, despite their best efforts and technologies used for evasion. A similar chapter showing a flight of B1 Lancers getting blown to pieces by (Iranian deployed) Chinese anti-air is equally worrying.

Drones are mentioned as being used for reconnaissance and targeting for artillery but not as weapons in their own right. Not one mention of swarms or any of the drone v tank lessons that seem to have been observed in the recent Azerbaijan v Armenian conflict.

The importance seems to be in forward positioned and ready to respond military units, which the authors seem to suggest Europe lacks in any significant number. Probably true. Surely easily fixed.

Just need some political will...

As ever.


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