Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new $5 billion weapons deal with India — a key American ally — to sell an advanced S-400 air defense system is just the latest open challenge by Russia to US defense dominance.
The move comes as the Pentagon is trying to reshape its own military priorities to deal with both Russian and Chinese military advances — countries the Pentagon says are now “near peer competitors” with the US military under President Donald Trump.
The S-400 is one of Russia’s premier air defense systems, which it is also trying to sell to Turkey, another key US ally. The spread of the S-400 capability underscores the type of worry US commanders have. In the field, it functions with a virtual umbrella of radars and missiles that can limit the ability of the US military to operate freely and without restrictions in combat.
That reshaping to focus on Russia and China by the Pentagon is moving forward on several fronts. The Pentagon is soon expected to issue an updated military strategy report further focusing on that re-shaping of US forces.
The finishing touches are also being put on recommendations by Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to shift US troops and equipment around the world from an almost sole focus fighting terrorism in the Middle East to a greater focus on countering those two nations.
That could shift US efforts back toward training more for potential armored conflict rather than small-unit counter-terrorism operations.