has a recent history of jumping into every little
conflict that comes along. Setting aside
the moral or geopolitical strategic considerations, one military benefit of
doing so is that the US military has had opportunities to field test many of
its weapon systems in what amounts to live fire exercises. How many Tomahawks has the US launched over the last few decades? How many F-18 Hornet strikes have
occurred? US submarines have had the opportunity to conduct
submerged cruise missile launches. Out
carriers are constantly conducting strikes.
And so on. US
In fact, the
military is, arguably, the most “exercised” military
in the world (the Israelis would be another well exercised military), to the
point that the military is worn out and desperately in need of an extended
period of disengagement to conduct maintenance and restock, repair, retrain,
and, generally, reset. US
In contrast, the Russians and Chinese have had little opportunity to exercise many of their weapon systems. The Russians, and their navy, in particular, has had no opportunity to try out their cruise missiles, carrier aviation, naval anti-air warfare systems, etc. The Chinese have had even less opportunity. If the Chinese or Russian have to go to war, they will do so with untried systems and many unknowns.
Now, however, the Russians have expanded into the
East. Again, setting aside morals and geopolitical
strategy, the opportunity has allowed the Russians to conduct live fire
exercises and relearn naval combat operations. Their frigates have launched
cruise missiles, their carrier has conducted air operations (and lost
aircraft), they’ve conducted land and naval strikes with aircraft, and they’ve
dropped various types of aircraft munitions.
In short, their Middle
East ventures have allowed
them the opportunity to try out weapon systems, identify the bugs, map out the
limits and constraints of operational weapons use, and see what works and what
This could have the added benefit of enhancing Russia's prospects of foreign arms sales if the various weapons are demonstrated to be successful.
The Russians are realizing a number of benefits from their
East actions in addition to their geopolitical goals.