The US Army’s rapid reaction force stationed in Europe is not prepared for a possible confrontation with Russian military forces, according to an internal study.
The report by the Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade, a bulwark of the NATO alliance, warned that the force was “under-equipped, undermanned and inadequately organized,” Politico reported Sunday, after viewing a copy of the assessment.
The brigade’s commander admitted in their analysis that their unit did not have the “essential capabilities needed to accomplish its mission effectively and with decisive speed.”
The American forces’ joint drills with their Ukrainian counterparts have shown time and again that there exists a series of “capability gaps” between them and Russian military units, the assessment added.
Lack of air defense and electronic warfare units coupled with over-reliance on satellite communications and GPS navigation systems were the main disadvantages the brigade had acknowledged in the report compared to Russian forces.
“The lessons we learned from our Ukrainian partners were substantial. It was a real eye-opener on the absolute need to look at ourselves critically,” said Colonel Gregory Anderson, who commissioned the report earlier this year when he led the brigade.
Based in Vicenza, Italy, the brigade has around 4,000 troops and parachuted into Iraq in the early days of the 2003 US-led invasion. It has also taken part in US military operations in Afghanistan.
The force is also considered as a primary element in NATO military alliance’s front against what the US and its allies call “Russian aggression.”
The report warned that years of combat with untrained groups of militants in Iraq and Afghanistan has degraded US Army troops’ skills in the type of higher-end combat that a military confrontation with Russia would look like.
The paper names Russia’s jammers and other electronic warfare tools as another crucial challenge that American forces needed to address.
It noted that an enemy “equipped with these “could effectively neutralize a GPS system from 50 miles away using one-fifth the power of a tactical radio.”
Much to Washington’s embarrassment, the unit has called in Latvian military specialists to help it counter Russian jamming methods in case of a battle.
“These ideas and proposals are potentially useful for all airborne brigades, and for the Army writ large,” the report stated.