The land and seascapes make these models incredible.
MOSCOW — “Gentlemen. You can’t fight in here. This is the war room!”
It could have been a scene straight out of “Dr. Strangelove” when President Vladimir V. Putin stepped into the Russian Ministry of Defense’s brand new, three-tiered, multibillion-dollar control center this week, for a war briefing that had its fair share of movie-like pageantry.
The fortified National Control Defense Center was Putin’s first stop after officials confirmed that the Russian charter jet crash that claimed 224 lives last month was the result of an act of terror.
On movie-theater-size screens, live broadcasts showed long-range strategic bombers taking off from Russian air bases to fly sorties over Syria. Putin instructed commanders in Syria to “make contact with the French and work with them as allies” as Russia seeks a central role in a proposed anti-terrorist coalition.
But the real star of the show may have been the building itself, which is designed to be a new nerve center for the Russian military that will coordinate military action around the world, including ballistic missile launches and strategic nuclear deployments.
The building is roughly the equivalent of the U.S. National Military Command Center used by the Pentagon, but as one Russian state news agency noted in a breathless headline this week, “Russian Defense Data Center Outperforms US Facility Threefold: Official.”
The center, which is fortified and said to sit on top of a maze of underground tunnels, is on the Frunze Naberezhnaya on the left bank of the Moscow river, a little over two miles from Red Square.
It was finished in 2014 and is part of a massive, decade-long modernization of Russia’s army, which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but has also produced noted improvements, from the expertise of Russian troops deployed during the Crimea operation to the recent cruise missile strikes launched from the Caspian Sea.
The new national defense center also includes a helicopter pad that was deployed on the Moscow River late last year and can accommodate Russia’s Mi-8 transport helicopter. In case of a war, it would be the country’s premier communications center, and one Russian commander compared it to the military headquarters of the Soviet Union during World War II.
Another room with a large round table and more giant monitors.
Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu said that the center is a step toward “forming a single information space for solving tasks in the interests of the country’s defense.”
As Worldviews noted during Russia’s International Army Games in August, Russia’s military has sought to raise its public profile through savvy media branding.
At the briefing, army personnel sat in color-coded rows with matching headsets and water bottles bearing the Russian army brand (their flagship store recently opened on Tverskaya Street here, Moscow’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue). The briefing was covered on Russian national television from at least four distinct camera angles.
Andrei Kolesnikov, a reporter who has covered Putin for the past 15 years and is known for his lyrical, fawning reports of the Russian president, waxed introspective as he covered the briefing Tuesday.
“When this building and this room were opened a year ago, I was somewhat perplexed: Yes, it all looks very persuasive, and the Pentagon might even only dream of something like this, if only in a nightmare. But why? Who will need these screens the size of small soccer fields with grandstands for viewers?
“And here was the answer. Every spot was filled. Russia’s entire high army command were the viewers. Or was it like the warming bench, and at any moment everyone was ready to go on the field …”
Later in the piece, he added: “My soul of course was not filled with delight and trembling at the hellish power of this armada. But I was perturbed, yes, I was.”
The War Rooms from the movies take a backseat to this giant high-tech cavern.
‘You Only Live Twice”, James Bond.
The internet really has radically defined the ways military and security forces, as well as defense contractors, can promote themselves, while also giving journalists and researchers copious amounts of extra material to pore over when looking for new and interesting tidbits. Case in point, a recent and slickly produced music video from Azerbaijan’s State Border Service, featuring a former contestant on The Voice of Azerbaijan, along with a full band, performing around tanks, armed helicopters, and patrol boats. It even includes the launch of Israeli-made suicide drones.
Azerbaijan’s border guard posted the music video, titled “Ways of the Queen” and staring Narmin Karimbayova and Nur Group, on its official YouTube channel, which is a thing that most definitely exists, on April 11, 2018. Joseph Dempsey, a defense researcher with the International Insitute for Strategic Studies, was among the first to notice that, in addition to a catchy song, the full production offered an unusually detailed look at some of the small Caucasus country’s most advanced weaponry. It also prominently features clips of dictatorial President Ilham Aliyev, who has run the country since 2003, when his father, Heydar Aliyev, died.
Switzerland is a politically neutral country, yet it has a strong military. All across the Swiss alps are military installation and bunkers carefully hidden so as to blend into the surrounding landscape. Some of them are camouflaged as huge rocks, others as quiet villas or barns that could open up in the event of an emergency to reveal cannons and heavy machine guns that could blow any approaching army to smithereens. Enormous caverns are dugout on the mountain side to function as ad-hoc airbases with hangars. Every major bridge, tunnel, road and railway has been rigged so they could be deliberately collapsed, whenever required, to keep enemy armies out. Highways can be converted into runways by quickly removing the grade separations in between the lanes.
Is that a rock?
The country has nuclear fallout shelters in every home, institutions and hospitals, as well as nearly 300,000 bunkers and 5,100 public shelters that could accommodate the entire Swiss population if required. Switzerland also has one of the largest armies on a per capita basis, with 200,000 active personnel and 3.6 million available for service. Every male citizen under 34 years old (under 50 in some cases) is a reserve soldier. Soldiers are even allowed to take all personally assigned weapons to home. If anyone were to invade Switzerland, they would find a nation armed to the teeth.
In his 1984 book, La Place de la Concorde Suisse, acclaimed New Yorker author John McPhee quoted a Swiss officer as saying: “Switzerland doesn’t have an army, Switzerland is an army.” Indeed, Switzerland’s powerful citizen army has helped preserve the country’s neutrality and keep neighboring countries from invading Swiss territory. The country hasn’t been involved in any military conflict for 200 years.
A bunker disguised as a house.
Fortification of the Swiss alpine region began in the 1880s. They were intensified and modernized during the World War and again during the Cold War period. But today, as a neutral country with no immediate threats to its borders, most of the bunkers lie empty and many are falling into disrepair. Some have been converted into shelters for homeless people, others house things like museums and hotels.
The Swiss government considered closing them down but the cost of decommissioning — an estimated $1 billion — far surpasses what it takes annually to maintain them. While the matter is still debated, the bunkers are likely to stay because they still provide use as fallout shelters. “Neutrality is no guarantee against radioactivity,” they say. In 1978, a law was passed requiring all new buildings to incorporate a shelter. If a family decides against building a shelter, they must pay for a place in the public shelter. Switzerland is the only country in the world that could provide protection to its entire population of 8 million, and more.
Another bunker disguised as a barn.
A show of force aimed directly at that lunatic dictator in North Korea.
Three U.S. Navy carrier strike groups are operated alongside one another in the Western Pacific through November 14th, 2017. The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), USS Nimitz (CVN-68), and the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), along with the Japanese helicopter carrier Ise and its destroyer escorts, are training to work cooperatively as a single punishing force.
With Trump on his extended Asian tour the geopolitics of the region is at the forefront. Especially the Korean military dilemma. Below is a report on US overseas military deployments.
U.S. and South Korean forces during joint exercises
There was no shortage of cuts proposed in Trump’s budget for 2018, which was released earlier this week.
However, one of the few departments that did not receive a haircut was the Department of Defense.
If the proposed budget ultimately passes in Congress, the DoD would be allocated an extra $54 billion in federal funding – a 10% increase that would be one of the largest one-year defense budget increases in American History.
To put the proposed increase in context, the United States already spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined.
Meanwhile, the additional $54 billion is about the size of the United Kingdom’s entire defense budget.
With over half of all U.S. discretionary spending being put towards the military each year, the U.S. is able to have extensive operations both at home and abroad. Our chart for this week breaks down military personnel based on the latest numbers released by the DoD on February 27, 2017.
In total, excluding civilian support staff, there are about 2.1 million troops. Of those, 1.3 million are on active duty, while about 800,000 are in reserve or part of the National Guard.
On a domestic basis, there are about 1.1 million active troops stationed in the United States, and here’s how they are grouped based on branch of service:
Internationally, there are just under 200,000 troops that are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world.
Here are the top 20 countries they are stationed in, as well as an “Other” category that represents the rest:
In 2015, Politico estimated that there are 800 U.S. bases abroad, and that it costs up to $100 billion annually to maintain this international presence.
As if the world needs more killing machines.
The TIKAD drone, which won an award for security innovation from the US Department of Defense, has been hailed as an important new tool in the war against terror.
Capable of being fitted with either a gun or a grenade launcher, the drone can be remotely controlled from a safe distance so that it can enter dangerous combat scenarios without risk to its operators.
But just how safe is a drone like this and what would happen if it fell in to the wrong hands ?
“Big military drones traditionally have to fly thousands of feet overhead to get to targets, but these smaller drones could easily fly down the street to apply violent force,” said Professor Noel Sharkey, a robotics expert from the University of Sheffield.
“This is my biggest worry since there have been many legal cases of human-rights violations using the large fixed-wing drones, and these could potentially result in many more.”
There are also fears that ISIS could copy this technology and create their own killer drones.
“We already know that Islamic State is using drones laden with explosives to kill people,” said Prof Sharkey. “What’s to stop them from getting their hands on this ?”