Zapad exercise brings Western generals valuable intel

NATO military commanders gained valuable insights useful in case of possible confrontation from an analysis of the September Russian-Belarussian Zapad exercise, according to statements by several military experts published on Defence News on 22 November. The scope of deploying simulated electronic warfare within individual operations was particularly surprising. 

Former Pentagon expert Jim Townsend, along with military experts from Poland and the Baltic States, said that Russia did not present any surprising defence capabilities but the sophistication of its electronic warfare tactics, as well as the reaction to similar enemy practices, was carried out with the utmost consistency. Russian electronic warfare equipment is therefore at a higher level than previously assumed. The second major finding was the speed of reaction and shifts of Russian troops, which NATO forces might not be able to respond to quickly enough in a real collision in the Baltics. The last important finding was the importance of Belarus as a Russian ally, not only militarily but also geopolitically, as it is an important buffer zone. Yet, Russia's new arming program for 2018-2027, which anticipates a stronger focus on nuclear weapons, air defence and its submarine fleet, is expected to face financial difficulties amid defence budget cuts.

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