With Russian involvement in both Syria and Ukraine, the U.S. needs to reorient its outlook to see Russia as an adversary as opposed to an ally and increase its intelligence capabilities, an American military official said Friday. The U.S. has lacked the capability to “see into Russia” due to its posture toward the Kremlin in recent years, said Philip M. Breedlove, the head of the United States’ European command, Defense News reported.
“We are not where we need to be now, and the IC [intelligence community] is addressing it,” Breedlove continued at a Pentagon briefing. “The IC has already made some fairly dramatic changes in the last several months in how we use our analysts, and they are beginning to look at reprioritizing assets, as well.”
With the U.S. focusing on the Middle East in recent years, less attention had been placed on Russia. Breedlove said the U.S. now sees that “we didn't have the partner we thought we had” with Russia.
The U.S. force in Europe was not “adequate” when compared with the challenge presented by Russia, said Breedlove, who did not disclose any details about how the intelligence community would increase its focus on Russia.
The U.S. has already reworked its defense budget for the next fiscal year to reflect the greater role of Russia with concerns over cyberespionage. The U.S. implemented a “reset” policy with Russia during President Barack Obama’s first term in 2010. With Vladimir Putin returning to the Russian presidency in 2012, the policy was largely seen as a failure.
Russia began airstrikes in Syria Sept. 30 and has long supported the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. More than 200,000 people have died and millions have fled since the civil war began in Syria in 2011. In Ukraine, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in March 2014 and has supported separatists in the Donbass region who have fought Ukrainian government forces since April 2014. More than 8,000 people have died in the conflict and more than 1.4 million have been displaced. Russia has continued to deny any direct military involvement in the conflict.