Military Sociology Homework

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Military sociology class. Needs to be 2200-2500 words. Similarities and differences in Russian and US military. Here is my thesis statement: Two of the dominant worldwide forces in terms of military are the United States and Russia. Though there are many similarities between the two, there are also many differences in the way with which they operate to include technology, training, and warfare.


Title: Similarities between Russian and US military: Technology, training, and warfare


Introduction. 2

Technology. 2

Training. 6

Warfare. 8

Conclusion. 9

References. 11


The United States occupies the position of the world’s superpower. Based on this understanding, one would expect it to be ahead of Russia in terms of military capability. There are many reasons why one may want to compare the military capability of the US with that of Russia. One of them is that during the Cold War, Russia was pitted in an arms race with the US in a bid to determine which country was stronger militarily. Although the Cold War is over, Russia continues to maintain some of the military equipment and infrastructure that it had developed during the arms race.


The aim of this paper is to investigate the similarities and differences between the US and Russian military. The thesis statement for this paper is that two of the dominant worldwide forces in terms of military are the United States and Russia. Though many similarities between the two exist, many differences also exist in the way  they operate, include aspects of technology, training, and warfare.


Today, Russia has made numerous efforts to adopt advanced technology. Similarly, the United States is making major inroads in the adoption of new military technologies to strengthen its strategic positioning at the global level. One example is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones in warfare. The efficiency with which the US has deployed drones to fight terrorism in the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as in Somalia demonstrates its superior military power. In recent times, the US has also showcased its superior military technology through its highly successful aerial campaigns during the Afghanistan war of 2001 and Iraq war of 2003.

Although Russia has not gotten involved in a major military campaign equaling the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent times, its military technology has undergone some major improvements. In fact, the country’s military technology exports are considered a major strategic risk for the United States. Some of the countries that have benefited from Russian military technology include China, Venezuela, and Iran (Donaldson & Donaldson, 2003). Today, Russia possesses technology that is capable of denying access to most US combat aircraft.

Both Russia and the United States continue to face a highly dynamic environment where adoption of new technology is essential for the maintenance of competitiveness and strategic advantage. For the US, the adoption of new technology is a major requirement in efforts to fulfill the country’s stated objective of maintaining its strategic position at the global level. It is against this backdrop that the country is undertaking a strategic reorientation of structural planning for its air force. These efforts are being pursued mainly in the context of the growing need for the US to continue with itsglobal fight against terror.

In contrast, Russia’s efforts to develop new military technologies are not driven by rhetoric on the global war on terror. Neither is Russia fighting to overtake the US as the world’s superpower. This leaves the country with a lot of space to navigate new options, explore diverse military technologies, and pursue efforts aimed at offsetting the existing US-dominated balance of power in different parts of the world. Given the numerous achievements that had been made by the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, Russia finds itself with a strong defense industrial base that can enable it develop advanced military technologies for deployment at the national level. Russia’s military technology is widely being deployed in many Asian countries including India and China (Donaldson & Donaldson, 2003). The country manufactures sophisticated weapons, some of which outperform EU and US designs. This has greatly contributed to a strategic balance in Asia that favors Russia. This strategic balance poses a serious threat to close regional allies of the US especially Australia and Japan.

Some of the high-technology military products that Russia manufactures include laser-guided missiles and smart bombs, land attack and anti-ship missiles, advanced air-to-air missiles, passive radio frequency sensors, counter-stealth radars, and high-power radio-frequency beam weapons. To develop these capabilities, Russia has had to embark on major changes to its Soviet-era, mainly analogue, military technology. These efforts have yielded a new dispensation characterized by mostly digital contemporary products that are normally made using the same technologies as US designs. For example, some of Russia’s missile seekers are built using processor chips that compare closely to their Western counterparts. Similarly, many Russian command posts use LCD display panels and other computer hardware that resemble those of the US military.

Although Russia has made excellent use of emerging technologies, the US continues to maintain a lead in many key military technologies. The best examples in this respect include stealth shaping, X-band module technology, and stealth materials. Sometimes, these leading-edge technologies tend to be overshadowed by a highly commoditized market that gives the Russian military industry numerous opportunities to close gaps across numerous basic technologies. For example, the Su-35BM, a Russian-made fighter, outperforms its US equivalent, the F-15E. This is because the Russian multirole fighter incorporates newer, more advanced basic technologies ranging from electronic warfare equipment to cockpit displays.

A major strategic advantage for Russia is that the country’s defense industry is the only high-profile technology industry in the country. In contrast, the US industry is always in competition with the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley in efforts to retain talent. This may explain why the Russian military is able to deploy weapons that pose a major threat to naval surface fleets as well as cruise missiles with the ability to defeat US air power.

Nevertheless, the task of defeating US air power by Russian technology may not be as easy as it sounds. The US military successfully carried out air campaigns in 1991, 2001, as well as 2003. These campaigns proved that the US remains the undisputed leader in terms of military might. Unfortunately, this demonstration of technological advancement also triggered flurry of activities by the Russian military industry to defeat US technologies. These efforts are being made at a time when the sense of confidence and superiority in Washing is unnecessarily high. This overconfidence has triggered a trend whereby the US is downsizing defense departments that handle the gathering and analysis of technical intelligence.

In the post-Cold War era, the US has emerged as the pacesetter in military technology. This is because of it has continued to be in possession of several key capability advantages. In some cases, these advantages have been cemented by a monopoly in the use of the technologies involved. Since Russia is traditionally unaligned to the United States; it has been struggling to establish a multi-polar world by attempting to defeat core US capabilities. This creates a situation where many Russian weapons resemble those of the US. It is also responsible for a few developments whereby some weapons are designed to deny the use of some of US military technologies. This phenomenon can be discerned in regards to Russia’s efforts to develop long-range missiles that are specifically intended to deny the use of critical US defense platforms or to destroy them altogether.


In terms of training, Russian and US militaries share many characteristics. For instance, both countries adopt training practices that embrace the notion of permanent readiness. The concept of permanent readiness is used to denote the notion that combat operations may be commenced within several hours. With the adoption of such an approach to military training, the need for the mass mobilization of reserve forces tends to arise.

In the US, the concept of mass mobilization is being promoted through the training being provided to the Guard and Reserves. In this regard, emphasis is on the kind of training that will enable the Guard and Reserves prove their capability during wartime deployments. For this goal to be attained, this division is being taken through rigorous training to ensure that it meets the standards being maintained by their fulltime counterparts. During this training process, significant efforts have been made to reshape their arsenal while at the same time enlightening them on the dynamics of contemporary world. For instance, plans are underway to transfer the Apache attack being used by the Guard to the country’s active-duty army in exchange for the latter’s Black Hawk helicopters.

Both countries have also been making numerous reforms in terms of military training in recent years. The objective of these reforms is to ensure that the training rendered reflects the evolving security environment in the current world. For instance, military training must always be changed in line with the introduction of new military equipment and technologies. In some cases, the changes tend to necessitate the closure of some higher educational institutions targeting the military and the establishment of new ones. For example, in July 2008, Russian President Medvedev issued a decree directing the closure or consolidation of the country’s 65 military institutions of higher learning into 16 large learning centers spread across the country (Mankoff, 2008). The 16 institutions include 2 military universities, 11 military academies, and 3 military training centers for each branch of the country’s armed forces (Mankoff, 2008).

Both the US and Russia have embraced the concept of reducing the number of personnel serving in their militaries. For instance, following the consolidation of  military institutions of higher learning in Russia, thousands of military officers had to be relieved of duty. However, they have been retained in a reserve pool, such that the possibility of reassignment remains open. For this same reason, there is a sharp decline in the number of people being admitted as officer-candidates in the country’s military training institutions.

Between 1985 and 2000, the number of armed forces personnel in the US decreased by 37 percent while that of Russia decreased by 71 percent (Shanker & Cooper, 2014). These statistics indicate that Russia has taken more drastic changes that led to a dramatic reduction in the number of people joining the armed forces. They also indicate that unlike the US, Russia is facing a serious problem of a long-term shortage of military recruits. These military changes mostly occurred in the wake of the post-Cold War decay that greatly reduced the level of efficiency in the country’s military. One of the challenges encountered during this period is the quality of training provided in military schools. It is against this backdrop that reforms in the country’s military training institutions were introduced in 2008.

In the US, reductions in the number of new recruits joining military training institutions are also being experienced but not in a scale as high as that of Russia. In the US, these changes are part of a long-term strategy of reducing the number of land forces. Instead, focus is on increased air power. Consequently, the training being provided is ideal for defeating an adversary within a short time but is incapable of propagating long-term foreign occupations. In contrast, Russia has not shown any intentions of reducing its land forces, meaning that it is keen to keep the prospects of long-term foreign occupations alive.


There are some similarities as well as differences in terms of aspects of warfare in the US and Russian militaries. In the US military, warfare in recent times is best understood in the context of the post-September 11 global war on terror. This phenomenon greatly informed the decision by the United States to wage a controversial war in Afghanistan in 2001 and another one in Iraq two years later. In contrast, the Russian military has not been to war in the recent past except during the brief Georgian war of 2008.

Both countries are immensely powerful in term of both air power and armies. However, whereas Russia is keen to increase the capacity for new occupations by land forces, the US is doing exactly the opposite. The lessons learned during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have brought the US in touch with tough economic realities. Consequently, the country intends to reduce its army and capitalize on enhancing the capabilities of its air force to enable it to win decisive wins against adversaries without necessarily becoming an occupying force.


During the Cold War, both the US and the former Soviet Union were gearing up warfare tactics that would enable the two competing powers stage two successful wars in different parts of the world. Today, the Cold War is over and this is no longer the case. For the US, for instance, the idea is to ensure that the land forces available are strong enough to repel the advancement of an adversary in one war while buying enough time to enable the air force achieve a decisive win in another war before being redeployed to provide reinforcement to these ground forces. Such a strategy is not only cost-effective but also enables the US military to win two simultaneous wars without having to deploy a mammoth army. Things may be a bit different in Russia, where warfare strategies are not built around the global war on terror or the need to maintain global dominance in terms of defense capabilities. To meet its goal of altering the balance of power being maintained by the US, the Russian military does not need to prepare for a win in two simultaneous wars; rather it only needs to be thoroughly prepared to win one war at a time in a decisive manner. On this basis, it makes sense for Russia to continue pursuing a warfare strategy and force structure that emphasizes on rapid deployment of the army over a long duration.


This paper has demonstrated that the United States and Russia are two of the dominant worldwide forces in terms of military capability. It is also evident that there are numerous similarities as well as some notable differences between the two militaries. These similarities and differences can be seen in the areas of technology, training, and warfare. Both countries continue to pursue new technologies as a way of enhancing the efficiency of their militaries in dealing with emerging threats. Similarly, both countries have been reducing the number of people being trained to join the armed forces. Moreover, both militaries have rich legacies arising from wars fought during the Cold War.

In terms of differences, the US military is more experienced in wartime operations. It has fought numerous wars in the post-Cold War era, unlike the Russian military whose only major engagement was the 2008 Georgian war. The US military has proved its ability to use the latest technologies efficiently and defeat adversaries within a short time. In most of these wars, the US military is being driven by the rhetoric on the global war on terror. In contrast, the Russian military is being driven largely by the need to alter the global balance of power being maintained by the US.


Donaldson, R. & Donaldson, J. (2003). The Arms Trade in Russian–Chinese Relations: Identity, Domestic Politics, and Geopolitical Positioning. International Studies Quarterly, 47(4), 709–732.

Mankoff, J. (2008). Russian Foreign Policy and the United States After Putin. Problems of Post-Communism, 55(4), 42 – 51.

Shanker, T. & Cooper, H. (2014). Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army to Pre-World War II Level. The New York Times, 23 February 2014, retrieved from  on March 3, 2014.

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