All military services have a tendency to fight the last war and be unable to understand the real challenges of the next one. That is understandable because those challenges can’t be understood until it happens. The ones who adapt most quickly and adapt their tactics have the best chance. For reference, various estimates suggest that 300 – 500 strategic nukes will cause a nuclear winter and kill any remaining humans. The US has a military presence on every continent and in every ocean.
The best strategy against the US in a nuclear war is to detonate only ONE 1.3 megaton nukes 400 km over Kansas. (More is always better but one is enough). It would destroy the US electrical grid (which could not be replaced), our entire infrastructure, every computer and cellphone and every plane, train and automobile. There would be no electricity, communications, water, food, transportation, emergency services, fuel, gas, money, TV, radio, Internet…nothing.
Military rankings are from : https://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing.asp
US: The #1 ranked military in the world. Our forte’ is technology. Make a few do the work of many.
We want computers and satellites to do the heavy lifting. But technology is fragile and satellites are vulnerable. Our F-35 Turkey is a prime example along with our useless Littoral combat ships, which are no better than towed targets. Neither present a threat, so we will have to fight with last generation aircraft. However, we have hundreds more of them than Russia and China combined and 19 aircraft carriers. Russia has none and China only has one but will have two pretty soon. The US no longer has sufficient heavy industry to go on a serious war footing. Our main problems are overconfidence, commanders who care more about their careers than their mission, information overload, and a requirement for highly skilled people who cannot be replaced quickly. We can take out all Chinese and Russian satellites but they won’t care too much. American citizens are much less willing than in the past to fight and die in foreign lands where the people hate us and in wars they feel are unjust. The US has about 1,700 strategic nukes online and another 10,000 or so in storage and the US has military bases ringing both Russia and China except on their mutual borders.
Russia: the #2 ranked military in the world. Reliability and quantity.
Russian weapons systems work in any weather and on any terrain. They are relatively inexpensive because they are designed to be used in combat and heavy losses are expected, so they can be mass produced quickly and used by less skilled people in some cases. In the worst case, Russia has the will to send as many people as necessary to win by sheer numbers. Russia is ahead if the world in aircraft and missile technology and their S-400 and SW-500 systems can take out stealth aircraft but because they have no carriers they can’t project power anywhere in the world and they have only a few advanced aircraft. Russia is focused on a defensive strategy.They have never won a naval engagement. Russia can take out our military, communications and GPS satellites in hours. Russia gas about 1,800 strategic nukes online, an effective delivery system and ~10,000 in storage. Russia has leased ONE small military installation in Tartus, Syria.
China: the #3 ranked military in the world. Win by Sun Tzu’s tactics.
China builds to the points of US weakness in order to be competitive in the military arena. China is more than willing to trade diesel-electric subs or hyper-sonic missiles for US carriers. China will try to fight a conventional war over Taiwan but the US may not want to play nice if we lose a couple of carriers. The best way to prevent that would be to have them patrolling somewhere other than the South China Sea, ya think? In any case, China outnumbers our workforce (and our military personnel) 6 to 1 and has a huge excess in heavy manufacturing capacity. China can defend against stealth aircraft and can take out all of our satellites in hours but China has only one small carrier, basically as a test bed. However, they have at least half a dozen unsinkable islands in the South China sea they can use to interdict US carriers and aircraft, but they are vulnerable because they are fixed in place and they have very few advanced aircraft. They can win in Taiwan because they have more, newer and better missiles of all kinds than the US and more, better and newer smart torpedoes an mines than we can deal with. But they can’t project power and have never fought a naval or air battle. China can lose one BILLION people and still have a larger population than the US. No one mentions it but China NEEDS to lose 500 MILLION people and would gladly do so to solve its overpopulation problem, re-energize the country and take over the world. It’s a win-win for them. China has about 300 nukes online, (about the same number as Israel) and has effective delivery systems that we can’t stop. The the US has military bases ringing both Russia and China except on their mutual borders. China has leased land for ONE small military installation in Djibouti, Africa.