Gen. Raymond Odierno, who is leaving his post, estimated that only a third of U.S. brigades are capable of operating at the level of the hybrid warfare Russia is undertaking there. And he worries that Russia could next intervene in NATO allies like Latvia or Estonia.
"They are more mature than some other of our potential adversaries, and I think they have some stated intents that concern me in terms of how the Cold War ended," Odierno said of Russia when asked by CNN. "They have shown some significant capability in Ukraine to do operations that are fairly sophisticated, and so, for me, I think we should pay a lot of attention."
Odierno explained that he was concerned that Russia underestimated the extent to which NATO partners would defend the Latvians and Estonians, a miscalculation that could lead to conflict. The solution, he argued, would be to increase response capabilities in order to deter any possible Russian aggression.
"We have deterrent there and I think we're doing a good job with that," he said. "What we have do in the next several years is continue to increase that so the risk goes up for anybody who might consider operations in Eastern Europe."
Earlier, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Philip Breedlove reiterated his position on the fact that Russia was a major global threat. He also stressed the revanchist nature of the Russian policy.
U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Jones said July 9 that she considers Russia to be the biggest threat to American national security, according to Reuters. Tensions have risen recently in light of what Washington views as an increasingly confrontational Kremlin.
"I do consider Russia to be the biggest threat," Jones told Reuters after a series of meetings and visits with European allies, including Poland. The U.S. is urging its NATO allies to commit to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic products on the defense, though the countries doing so have been slow to make the commitment. "This is no time in any way to signal a lack of resolve in the face of these Russian actions."
Earlier the U.S. Committee on Armed Services called Russia a strategic nuclear threat.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly stated that NATO and the European Union work together to confront the hybrid war waged by Russia, and called the statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin on nuclear missiles one of the reasons for increasing the combat readiness of the NATO armed forces.
Stoltenberg announced that the Spearhead Force deployed in Eastern Europe will be extended to 40,000 troops June 24. The United States reaffirmed its commitment to deploy additional weapons in Eastern Europe June 23. Meanwhile, the US announced its intention to provide NATO Response Force with special forces, intelligence, and sophisticated military equipment in order to prevent possible aggressive actions of Russia June 22.