US Intelligence: Russia’s military is a hollow force
June 21, 2022

It’s been four months since Russia first invaded Ukraine and US intelligence officials have begun to believe that Russia’s long feared military is a hollow force.

Russia’s active military force is the fifth largest in the world and is ranked behind the US as the 2nd of the 140 most powerful military in existence. That Russian military — the one the world thinks of when they think of military might — has been nowhere to be found since their attack on Ukraine. Instead, the military that was once the stuff of legends in film, literature, and political analyses revealed themselves to be logistically and operationally inferior to their smaller neighbor.

Now, the Department of Defense and offices in the intelligence community are acknowledging that they misread the tea leaves and failed to see that Russia’s military’s only strength is their sheer volume of troops.

This faulty assessment of Russia’s military might comes in close proximity to two other thoroughly botched analyses of other world militaries: the intelligence community’s wild underestimation of Ukraine’s military capabilities and resolve against Russia, and the overestimation that the Afghan army’s would be able to stave off a Taliban take over for months following the US military’s withdrawal.

Now the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) — which is “responsible for gathering and disseminating foreign military intelligence across the Department of Defense, including to the Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff and military forces” — is auditing its processes so as to avoid further embarrassments of this nature.

In May, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing at which DIA director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier had to explain to lawmakers why he thought that the Russian-Ukrainian war would only last two weeks, with Kyiv falling in three days.

Berrier said, “We assessed their [Ukraine’s] capacity to face the size of the Russian forces that were amassed on their border was going to be very difficult for them.”

He continued, speaking to the DIA’s assessment of Russia, “What we did not see from the inside was sort of this hollow force.” Berrier cited a lack of clear doctrine, a lackluster NCO corps, and poor leadership and said that “those are the intangibles that we have got to be able to get our arms around as an intelligence community to really understand.”


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