Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters at the Pentagon today that Russia is the “most dangerous” military threat to the United States.
“First, they are more mature than some other of our potential adversaries, and I think they have some stated intents that concern me, in terms of how the Cold War ended. And so for me, I’m concerned,” Odierno said.
“And they have shown some significant capability in Ukraine to do operations that are fairly sophisticated. And so for me, I think we should pay a lot of attention to that.”
Asked if a fear is that Putin will pull a Ukraine-style invasion in Estonia or Latvia, Odierno noted that “Russia’s constantly assessing the reaction of NATO to any of their actions.”
“And based on how — what I worry about is miscalculation that they perceive that, maybe that NATO is not — might not be as concerned, and they make a mistake and miscalculate, and do some thing that would violate Article V of our NATO agreement. So, that’s something that greatly concerns me,” he said. “I would say that what we have to do is continue to — we have to continue to refocus NATO, and our interoperability within our military with our NATO partners to build capability. We are on our way to do that.”
“We have a long way to go; I think there’s — we have to continue to increase our ability to move quickly there. I think we could do that by pre-positioning equipment, we can do that by helping to increase interoperability between NATO forces to have an understanding of what NATO capabilities are available. And we have to keep working, because a true deterrent is one where people are worried that if they do conduct operations, there will be some level of response. We have to continue to improve what that level of response might look — so we can deter any further action.”
Odierno said that over the “next several years” the deterrent must continue to increase “so the risk goes up for anybody who might consider conducting operations in Eastern Europe.”
“In the last 18 months, we have really started to train for what we call hybrid warfare, which actually the warfare I consider Russia is, in fact, conducting,” he added.
The general also stressed that “we can’t be naive” when it comes to Iran.
“We must understand that Iran is conducting operations in several different countries, whether it be Yemen, whether it be Syria, whether it be Iraq. And we must be aware of that, and we must assume that some of the money they get if the sanctions are lifted will be used to continue some of this activity,” he said. “And I think we have to be very aware of that and watch it very, very closely.”