Logistics is a key part of how well the military works, and the US military is good at it, while the Russian army is not. The US military can keep fighting everywhere because it has a large domestic industrial base, foreign bases, prepositioning capabilities, and forward-deployed replenishment capabilities. For over 20 years, the United States fought a two-front war half a world away. Media and military analysts have criticised the Russian military for inadequate logistics throughout its invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian military’s logistics are weak because they lack sealift and airlift capabilities, and support for ships and planes outside Russia. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1992, the Russian Air Force had 500 planes that could lift more than 30,000 tonnes. Over 600 tanks might fit aboard 80 Russian amphibious and logistical ships. Today, Russia has fewer than 20 ships and 100 aircraft, limiting its military activities abroad.
The Russian T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks are around 10 feet shorter and 20 tonnes lighter than the M1 Abrams. More temporary tanks take up less space within ships, consume less fuel, and carry more quickly. The Russian navy also has access to a warm-water port in Kaliningrad all year long and has a permanent base in Latakia, which is on the Mediterranean coast of Syria.
These improvements cannot compensate for the Russian military’s logistical deficit. Russia’s military logistics can’t keep up with the US military, and Russia’s land, sea, and air forces haven’t been able to support formations sent out into the field.
Logistics is simply one part of military capability, and the US and Russian militaries vary in other ways. The US military has a bigger budget and better technology, but the Russian military has more active-duty troops and more recent combat experience. The Russian military is more nimble due to its integrated command organisation.
The Russian military has enjoyed recent victories. For example, Russia’s involvement in Syria helped the Syrian government win the civil war and let it keep a permanent military presence there. Despite international outcry, Russia’s 2014 military invasion of Crimea was very easy. Military capabilities go beyond logistics. Strategy, tactics, and leadership also affect combat outcomes.
Considering the Russian military’s geopolitical background, the Russian military has to protect a much bigger area. The US military, which influences the world, has a much easier time than the Russian military because it has a long, open border with Europe, and NATO is stronger in the area.
The Russian economy is weaker than the US, affecting its military capability. US forces are more sophisticated due to their greater resources and technology. The Russian military must be more strategic with its resources since it has fewer. The Russian military has also been improving its logistical skills. For instance, it has built new airports, seaports, and railways. It also modernises its planes and ships for logistics and cargo.
The Russian military’s capabilities are exceptional, but its military logistics are complex. Logistics is crucial, but it’s not the only method to gauge a military’s success. The Russian military’s geopolitical and economic surroundings must be examined.