Since the fall of The Wall, the Russian military has seen better days.  It went from a force of four million men and $400+ billion budget, to 1.5 million active and a $90 billion budget today, but Russia has consciously invested in raising the quality of its forces over the last decade.

This year has demonstrated some of the most extensive exercises since the Cold War, portending new Russian capabilities and the will to flex them.  The event that brought this to the forefront of my attention was the troublesome response by Russia to NATO joint exercises in Poland and Latvia.

A 7,000-man joint NATO exercise in Poland and Latvia has irked Russia because it’s happening in former Russian client states.Exercise Steadfast Jazz tests how the Western alliance could deploy rapid reaction forces to its eastern flank an area that has had a couple of Russian exercises this year.  The NATO Rapid Reaction Force made up of land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces is slated to participate in the exercise.

Consider this…