The Shifting Military Balance in Europe

The United States’s airpower advantage over Russia “is shrinking,” US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Commander Gen. Frank Gorenc told reporters Sept. 14 at ASC15. After Russia’s August 2008 invasion of Georgia, Gorenc noted, “they didn’t like what they saw from the air.” Since then, a modernization and capacity building effort has taken place. Gorenc said Russian air defense and air forces have become more professional, received modernized equipment, and adapted to counter US and allied strengths. “The more alarming thing is their ability to create anti-access and [area-denial]? threats is a challenge that we are all going to have to face up to and train to,” Gorenc said. He noted two examples that are clear illustrations in Europe: the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad and Crimea, both of which are locations where Russia is deploying surface-to-air missiles in order to create “layered” defenses. “Some of the array in Kaliningrad extends into Poland today,” Gorenc noted. “That’s a fact.” The US and its partners are going to have to develop tactics, techniques, and procedures to address these potential challenges.