When I first started really paying attention to the Russian navy (I think it was a P3C Orion flight that did it) the Russians had been poking around in this part of the world for years. Sending their subs out into the Pacific and holidaying in Vietnam at Cam Ranh Bay with their warships for more years than anyone except the cash strapped Vietnamese cared for.
Over the years I got to know pieces of equipment like this Delta IV (umm, I think it is a Delta IV, I am getting pretty rusty) (through I had imagery analysts in my team who could discern a shadowy sub hull in the dark on a foggy night as a Type X or Y!) And their weapons. And all sorts of other stuff which seemed terribly important at the time but seems all rather boys own stuff now. As it turned out a lot of these pieces of kit fell apart shortly after Russia did and a few hours can be easily wasted on Google Earth looking at rusty submarines propped up on beaches around Russian naval bases such as that at Vladivostok. Interestingly, as the Empire disintegrated a whole lot of analysts found themselves out of a job and started working on exciting places like,.. ahh Easter Island. I never could understand their moaning about the end of the Cold War. Seemed like a good thing to me. But something about todays news that the Russian navy had successfully test fired one of their intercontinental ballistic missiles gave some clarity to that 1991 perspective. OK, they have been on the ascendancy for more years than even they would like to admit and it is only one in a series of tests. But after all the frustrations felt by Western analysts since a clear and well resolved enemy vanished, and the intervening frustrations surrounding chasing someone as elusive as Osama, a large, visible, roaring ICBM, that lights up every warning screen around somehow seems sensible, predictable, and easily assayed. With the Russians sexing up their navy with missiles that at least have the appearance of working correctly (it was Kissenger that neatly declared Russian rockets sucked rather than blew) I bet there are a bunch of retired analysts wishing it had happened earlier, a few that are being wheeled back into their dungeons and younger ones being briefed that Russia is the enemy. Still. By a few old fogeys/warhorses who never believed the situation had changed one tiny scrap. Count me in the latter group.
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