Battlefield Russia is the fifth of the “Red Storm” series by James Rosone and Miranda Watson. Preceded by Battlefield Ukraine, Battlefield Korea, Battlefield Taiwan, and Battlefield Pacific, in that order, it returns from its immediate predecessor’s focus on naval combat to a land combat-centric story that discusses what the end stages of a massive, mechanized land war with Russia might look like.
As always, the combat scenes are top notch and brilliantly describe what such a massive, horrific war might look like. Drones and special forces raids, air combat and anti-air missiles, tank battles on the plains of Eastern Europe and infantry combat in the trenches of everywhere from Ukraine to Taiwan show how such a war might be fought and what the horrors of that war might be.
More than all the others, Battlefield Russia shows how close a war like the one with Russia described in it might come to full-scale thermonuclear combat. While Battlefield Korea does, to some extent, cover the topic of nuclear war, it is only Battlefield Russia that goes into what the considerations of sane leaders might be and how a Putin-like figure could try to turn a conventional conflict nuclear as a way to preserve his regime. I’ll avoid digging any deeper into that topic so as to avoid giving away plot details, but the potential for nuclear combat keeps the reader interested and stressed, especially toward the end of the novel.
Additionally, Battlefield Russia digs into cyberwarfare somewhat more than the others. Russia goes after US military equipment, China goes after our banking sector, and we go after civilian infrastructure with a vengeance, doing with a few strokes on a keyboard what the massive bombing raids described in The Creation of Armageddon could not.
Overall, it’s a well-thought-out book and brings the concept of modern warfare to life in way that some other books do not. For example, I had thought of the concept of cyber warfare but hadn’t really developed any ideas on what a cyber campaign might look like or just how destructive, especially to civilian life, such a war might be.
Furthermore, the campaigns against Russia are novel. Unlike Clancy’s Red Storm Rising, which is terrific but largely confines a NATO-Soviet war to the fields and cities of Germany, Battlefield Russia contains innovative campaigns in which US and British troops land in areas I would have never thought of in order to attack Moscow. Shock after shock follows those campaigns, battles, and innovative ideas about how NATO might make the final push to take down the Russians.
One other theme of Battlefield Russia, and the Red Storm Series as a whole, that I found interesting is the idea of the tides of war. In the first few books, the war goes firmly toward one side. By the time of Battlefield Russia, the war is gradually turning against the initial victors as certain tactics and warfighting tactics come into play.
I think that is a lesson Americans need to learn. We’re so focused on the initial, “shock and awe” parts of warfighting that we quickly tire of the routine, grinding sort of combat that warfare often turns into. I’m not justifying the endless wars our leaders have gotten us into, and Battlefield Russia certainly isn’t about them, but it is interesting to see how America as a nation might respond to a multi-year major war in the modern era and how the tides of war can shift over time.
Finally, Battlefield Russia shows the importance of having an end goal. In the series, the US president, who is modelled after President Trump, has clear objectives for the end of the war. Instead of mindlessly sending more and more troops to fight, as past president like W Bush and LBJ have done, the US and its allies in this novel instead settle on a goal for the war and fight to end the war in that manner. Few people think of such things, but the end goal is just as important as the tactics and equipment used. The fact that Rosone and Watson thought of that and make it a central part of their book is terrific and makes the novel all the more believable.