Another NATO Reaction Force

In response to the situation in the Ukraine several news outlets have reported that NATO will establish a new expeditionary reaction force od divisional strength.

Comprising approximately 10,000 personnel with the building blocks to grow it is said to be British led with elements from Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway and the Netherlands. Canada has also expressed an interest in joining, apparently.

The force will be modelled on the UK-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF), due to be operational by 2016 and will undertake a series of regular exercises and deployments, ‘out East’

What is interesting is that there is no (as yet) participation from other NATO members like Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. Also notable by their absence, France, Germany, Italy and Turkey.

Details are sketchy so not sure where in the organisation it will sit or if it will dovetail with Eurocorps, the Franco German Brigade, the UK French CJEF or existing NATO Response Force and Rapidly Deployable Corps Headquarters (9 of, including HQ ARRC based in the UK)

It is almost like a return to ACE Mobile Force (LAND) or AML(L) that ran from the sixties until disbanded in 2002, certainly has a whiff of BAOR about it.

A less charitable person might see this as a spot of flimsy window dressing and for those of a cynical disposition, an attempt by the British Army to stave off SDSR 2015 personnel cuts.

We also have to resolve those thorny questions of funding, command slots and locations.

An interesting one to watch though and a measured ratcheting up.

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hohum
hohum
August 30, 2014 8:08 pm

It is fairly obviously the best that can be managed from NATO countries given that some (notably Germany) don’t care and others (most notably Poland) are already on the front line. The Baltic will be involved because they know they are the most easily abandoned.

Germany’s position is disgraceful.

Mike W
August 30, 2014 8:08 pm

TD
I have just posted the following over in the August Open Thread. I don’t know whether we are talking about the same new response force. What the Secretary General was proposing in the article I write about seems to be a spearhead within the present NATO response force, whereas what your post seems to be about a different force again! Anyway, I hope you don’t mind my transferring my contribution from the Open Thread to this one. It might add to the discussion in some way.

My comment follows:

Read in today’s “Telegraph” a piece by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who, as you all know, is the Secretary General of NATO. Entitled “NATO must now increase spending to protect Europe’s borders”, it deals with what NATO’s response should be to Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine and to the crisis in Iraq. He says that they will be “key topics” on the agenda when the NATO organization gathers for its summit in Wales next week.

What intrigued me were his suggestions for looking at the longer term. After asserting that NATO will have a more visible presence in Central and Eastern Europe, he states that they will develop what he would call a “spearhead” within the NATO Response Force. It would be “a very high readiness force able to deploy at very short notice.”

So far so good, but then, I think, it becomes a little more nebulous. Mr. Rasmussen explains that the “spearhead” would possibly include several thousand troops, ready to respond where they are needed and with “air, sea and special forces.” Moreover, and this is what is really interesting, it would be “provided by allies in rotation.” It is not fully clear whether this spearhead would be international in composition or whether it would be provided by one nation when that country’s turn came.

Now what concerns me is whether the UK has the capability to contribute, given the run-down state of our forces. “Several thousand troops” suggest to me something approaching a brigade e.g. 16 Air Assault Bde or 3 Commando Bde. Could we contribute effectively to this “spearhead” idea? Note that he says that the spearhead would be provided by the Allies in rotation” but does that mean that partners in the alliance would chip in with air and sea support when it came to our turn? And would such support be forthcoming? It has been notoriously difficult to elicit such in the past.

Admittedly, the Secretary General does go on to say later in the article that he would expect investment and commitment from every member of the alliance and that it is not enough to rely upon a few strong and ready countries such as the USA, France and the UK. But haven’t we heard all this before?

Anyway, what I wanted to know was whether, with all our commitments elsewhere, we could effectively provide a “spearhead” together with air, sea and special forces support when it came to our turn or would it stretch us overmuch? What kind of contribution could we make?

S O
S O
August 30, 2014 9:57 pm

Rasmussen is an idiot, a primitive , cartoonish hawk. His ‘opinions’ are 100% predictable hawkish. The man doesn’t think – he repeats.

The military spending of European NATO, Non-American NATO (=including Turkey) or EU is fine if not too high. The Russians have little forces in the Western and Caucasus Military Districts.
The hyped concentration of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border a while ago was quite exactly of the size of Bulgaria’s army.
What’s needed is more publc conciousness about the alliance situation (I bet many Americans don’t know Estonia exists) and a nice annual program of deployment and real (not simulated or scripted) manoeuvre exercises in Eastern Poland and Lithuania.
Cancel some naval toys and overseas occupation BS spending and funnel it into kerosene, diesel, ammo and spares purchases for those exercises.

Repeat: Rasmussen is an idiot.

Marcase
Marcase
August 30, 2014 10:06 pm

S O, I disagree whole-heartedly. Rasmusen is no President, but Sec-General, as such “his” position/opinion is more often than not the one from NATO, if not from the main NATO players in general.

Regarding this new NATO task force, it will no doubt be constructed by the age-old trick of “re-flagging”, or more properly “double-hatting” by giving current units an additional job. More often than not certain NATO assigned troops are also on the list to contribute to EU and UN operations, and when these missions overlap it’s up to national governments to pick and choose which mission said troops will be used for.

El Sid
El Sid
August 30, 2014 10:40 pm

I’m reminded of how it works off Somalia – Germany and mates fly the EU flag with Atalanta, which has a narrow role of anti-piracy off Somalia and which tends not to get stuck in unless the cloggies are in charge. We pay lip-service to Atalanta but tend to deploy units under the CTF structure which is US led, and has a much wider scope geographically and in targets.

As such it’s mildly notable that the cloggies have joined the Northern Alliance in this new venture. Although their military have always been pretty sound (albeit not always backed up by their Treasury), you could read this as part of a wider political movement in the north of Europe that feels that the EU isn’t working and needs to change from Franco-German business as usual. The odds are that Cameron will screw it up, but there’s still a possibility that he can get enough countries on board to make significant change – if they can’t get the message now when even the Dutch economy has contracted 2 years in succession and both Germany & Sweden contracted in the last quarter, then you wonder when they will ever get the message. Anecdotally Germany still seems in complete denial that the EU is part of the problem, it’ll be interesting to see that change.

S O
S O
August 30, 2014 10:43 pm

Rasmussen now heads a bureaucracy and is part of a ‘security policy’ establishment – both of which strive to maximise the recognition and funds they get from the societies they’re supposed to serve.

It’s furthermore easy to disprove that he speaks for the NATO member countries (if that’s what you call “NATO players”), since his demands and advice have rarely if ever been heeded by the democratically legitimated legislatures of those countries.
That’s easily explainable once one understands he’s a non-thinking mouthpiece of the ‘security policy’ establishment and actually working against the general population of the member countries by trying to maximise the benefits for said establishment.

Now if you don’t understand what I’m pointing at, please go read up on Niskanen’s bureaucrat and the principal-agent problem.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget-maximizing_model
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principal%E2%80%93agent_problem

all Politicians are the Same
all Politicians are the Same
August 30, 2014 11:00 pm

@SO

Rarely have I seen someone get NATO so totally wrong. The NAC take instructions from their home countries and they direct what Rasmussen says. the simple fact that NATO members via the NAC instruct Rasmussen to make statements you disagree with and the fact that you think you speak for Germany is neither here nor there. That is how it works.

hohum
hohum
August 30, 2014 11:53 pm

SO,

I think you pasted your stand-up routine script here by mistake, its kind of funny if one tries to find it funny but it really needs some work in places. You should try and use the phrase “military industrial complex” that always gets a chuckle out of the ignorant.

Mike W
August 31, 2014 12:07 am

SO

“Repeat: Rasmussen is an idiot.”

You could be right, I suppose. I don’t know the individual, only read what he says in public statements.

However, he certainly seems many times more cognizant of the real dangers posed by the world’s trouble spots today than either Obama or David Cameron, both of whom seem to be blissfully oblivious to the problems, unless of course they are deliberately underplaying matters, always a dangerous game.

S O
S O
August 31, 2014 1:27 am

Apats, Rasmussen has much more freedom of action than that. The man tells his speech writer what to write, then nods the draft and he doesn’t even come close to ask some president, prime minister or chancellor for permission.
The NAC meets only twice a year (once Oct-Dec and once March or April). It’s by design incapable of directing what Rasmussen says now.

Mike W; look up Rasmussen’s previous speeches. He’s a primitive opportunist. He’s not seeing any threat any better than others – he’s merely picking the topic of the day to serve the ‘security policy’ establishment with fearmongering and arrogant demands. And those demands are always the same; more attention and funds for the ‘security policy’ establishment. You can bet the week after an IS incursion into Turkey he’d set all new priorities and suddenly talk about how NATO needs more attention and funds to secure Turkey and stuff.

Obama isn’t a strategic genius, but he’s not as primitive-opportunistic in his behaviour. Obama is much more deliberate and doesn’t respond to every problem with the proposal/demands like an automaton.

hohum; your rhetorical devices are duds here. Condescending talk about “the ignorant” doesn’t convince anybody that “the ignorant” isn’t you. You got to bring forward something of interest to convince.

Observer
Observer
August 31, 2014 3:56 am

SO, I think that in this case you may have let your emotions cloud your logic. With the rise in unrest in Europe, an increase in consideration to defence is pretty much expected. Hardly something out of the ordinary. What did you expect? Budget cuts to the military in response to increased Russian activity? Now that would be strange. “In the light of increasing Russian aggression in Europe, we have decided to cut budgets further.” How is that logical?

Martin
Editor
August 31, 2014 4:44 am

I’m of two minds on this one. EUropean NATO’s military capability is easily sufficent to deal with the threat from Russia. Russian forces of 40,000 on the boarder is nothing. we sent 50,000 of the best trained and equipped troops in the world with USMC support just to take Basra and arguably that was not enough. I seriously doubt Russia’s capability to even deploy its 40,000 troops anywhere beyond its own boarder.

What EU NATO lacks is the political will to deal with Russia and no amount of military spending will change that.

I also think a major part of the probelm is Cameron. He looks foolish when trying to deal on the European stage. He has backed the UK into a corner over Europe. Blair would have done a far better job in rallying EU support much earlier on. Germany and Merkal are too reluctant to assume the leading role they have been placed in and the France is a basket case right now.

Putin knows all this and is exploiting it.

The Army is also using this in a shameful way to try and stave of cuts. Our defence planning assumptions allow for a deployment of 30,000 soldiers almost any where in the world let alone a couple of hundred miles away. we can literally drive from the UK to the Polish boarder in a day. If The army is telling us they are unable to send a force to Eastern Europe despite having virtually no other global commitments then serious questions must be asked.

We are never going to deal with Putin militarily. The guy has 6,000 nukes pointed at us. Sanctions are the answer and we need to move quicker with them. Support for Putin at home will quite rapidly go away once people have to start queuing for bread again.

Obsvr
Obsvr
August 31, 2014 5:56 am

This proposal sounds nothing like the old AMF(L) set up in the 1960s, this was a light force designed for operations on the flanks, ie either in Norway or Greece/Turkey. It had almost no armoured vehicles and all the arty was 105mm. Such a force was and is totally unsuited to operations in the Eurasian funnel, ie the region West of the Archangel – Volgograd line where light forces such as cdo and airborne are no more than token bit players and basically irrelevant (as are navies).

My guess is that the new reaction force will be an armoured force within the ARRC with a UK Armd Inf Bde assigned.

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 31, 2014 8:21 am

The polls are saying that Cameron will lose the byelection to UKIP & it will be a bloodbath for the Tories. Maybe Cameron will wake up (GENERAL ELECTION NEXT MAY) & do something that Middle England can approve of. For example, cut foreign aid from 0.7% GDP down to the G8 target of 0.5%. That frees up just over £3 billion a year. Half to defence (& border security). The other half to UK infrastructure (energy, roads, flood defences). My guess is that the smug, complacent Etonian is still asleep.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
August 31, 2014 8:22 am

‘Support for Putin at home will quite rapidly go away once people have to start queuing for bread again.’

Depends on his propaganda machine, it would be very easy for Putin to blame the West for shortages.

“we were only defending fellow Russians and now they are starving us! They can invade countries with impunity but we cannot defend our own Blah, Blah, Blah” I don’t think it would be hard for him to rally Russian nationalism, and with the population behind him the powerful who might want him removed for financial reasons will need to be very very well organised to launch a coup.

Remember how Yeltsin managed to stop the last one and rally the populous?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 31, 2014 8:44 am

@SO

“The NAC only meet twice a year”

The Political side of NATO has a permanent presence in Brussels and all sorts of decisions are batted up to them for approval. From cooperating with non NATO members on excercises to some Port visits.
I know this because I have had to wait on their decisions to finalise plans on several occasions.

S O
S O
August 31, 2014 8:56 am

“SO, I think that in this case you may have let your emotions cloud your logic. With the rise in unrest in Europe, an increase in consideration to defence is pretty much expected.”

Increased spending is intuitive if a new issue arises, but it’s also logically wrong if the spending level is still too high.
The budgets aren’t too small; their poor use is the problem.

@Apats; you don’t seem to see that your point even if true wouldn’t matter; Rasmussen is serving the ‘security policy’ establishment, not the people of the member nations. And he’s in conflict with what the legislatures decide almost all the time. He has the very same reflexive answer to every issue; he always asks for more attention + more money for ‘security policy’.
And to set up a new institution now is merely creating some more staff slots for officers, setting up and operating some staff building with two dozen flags in front of it. Bureaucracy growth.

Rocket Banana
August 31, 2014 9:06 am

“Putin knows all this and is exploiting it.”

Agree. Agree. Agree.

He has poked the sides of the European fattie and found a soft spot.

If allowed he is likely to do the same to just about the entire eastern border of Europe.

The question is: do we yield once Russian states back to Russia or do we hold firm?

If the latter we really need to build up a credible deterrent (I don’t mean the nukes) in the form of large standing armies that are well equipped with armour and air support.

So in a nutshell I think it’s time to increase defence spending (Europe-wide). I like John Hartley’s idea of cutting foreign aid since, quite frankly, it doesn’t seem to work. I think Europe should invest in a much larger reaction force with associated support infrastructure. One that would make any nation think twice about pushing at the fat belly of Europe.

This means a credible industrial base to supply the war machine, which I think Europe as a whole has.

Thomson
Thomson
August 31, 2014 9:07 am

These NATO and EU forces could be really effective all they need is to reform.

Or something bigger where you must be NATO to join the EU and the whole defence element of the EU dissolves but a EU force inside the NATO forces remaines at the command of only the EU.

Right now in Ukraine, it’s too late for a reaction force as it will most likely provoke war but what would be great in the Ukraine crisis regions would reconnaissance and other intelligence drones (rather drones with all them AAMs) patrolling above the crisis regions and possibly research vessels in Ukraineian crisis region waters. This would definitely annoy the hell out of Russia and we will be receiving all that intelligence and heavy drone traffic experience at the same time

Rocket Banana
August 31, 2014 9:14 am

I don’t think it is too late for a “reaction” in the Ukraine.

In fact I’m rather in favour of targeted air-strikes. We could stand on the line that says “troops are one thing for stability, armour is another”. We therefore loiter every Reaper and Tornado we can lay our hands on and continually with impunity take out tank after IFV after APC, etc.

Just get the Brimstone production line on full.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
August 31, 2014 9:15 am

i’d be very surprised if the NRO wasn’t expending a lot valuable satellite vectoring fuel putting birds over ukraine right now, and i’d be very surpised if the Poreshchenko government wasn’t reading an detailed digest of russian/rebel movements shortly thereafter.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
August 31, 2014 9:17 am

Simon

Thats open war and will illicit a response from Russia, unless we give the technology to the Ukrainians to use and then we have a cold war style proxy war. I doubt all of Europe are ready for that.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
August 31, 2014 9:18 am
Rocket Banana
August 31, 2014 9:19 am

David,

I know. But without a proper answer (conceptually and morally) on my previous question (“do we yield once Russian states back to Russia or do we hold firm?”) I think that’s what is going to happen.

It needs nipping in the bud. Otherwise it’s just another Poland.

Wstr
Wstr
August 31, 2014 9:22 am

“…those of a cynical disposition, an attempt by the British Army to stave off SDSR 2015 personnel cuts.”

So how cynical do you need to be, to see it as an attempt to stave off specifically commissioned officer personnel cuts? :)
Nothing like a multi-national headquarters to kick the non-coms out to merely gate guards & official car drivers; with officers handling even the bag-carrying & coffee-fetching duties.

On a plus side though: “..Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway and the Netherlands.” A good Nordic/Baltic-centric block of contributing nations. All with a history of willingness to deploy and not being hamstrung with excessive national overriding rules of engagement, aka will keep my toys at home or within FOB clauses. Maybe for the best that we leave more central & southern NATO members out of this one!

Rocket Banana
August 31, 2014 9:23 am

Jedi,

That sort of answers my question (Do we yield once Russian states back to Russia or do we hold firm?) :-(

Mark
Mark
August 31, 2014 9:23 am

It would be interesting to see what European nations of NATO could actually field today interms of numbers because I’m sure it would outnumber the Russian forces by some margin in a number of areas. Were they may need to look is ensuring the support,spares, readiness and training of those forces is raised and expanded and the fitted for but not withs are fitted.

Mike W
August 31, 2014 9:27 am

Agree with everything that John Hartley says about foreign aid. Spending on that is ludicrously high, given the threat to our own security. How Defence could do with another few billion a year. Has “soft” power worked? Look at number of severe crises in the world today and tell me.

Mind you, you are not likely to get a change in policy with a coalition involving the Lib Dems still in power. Cameron will have to wait until the next General Election and in the meantime stop losing support to UKIP, which is a groundswell movement from the people themselves.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
August 31, 2014 9:27 am

Simon
“do we yield once Russian states back to Russia or do we hold firm?”

In what sense? do we garrison the Baltic states like we did with Germany? and on the political front ignite another cold war and stand firm?

That will take a NATO and European consensus, would you get it? I see no problem with the UK using Poland and the Baltics as training areas on a regular basis, send 3 Cdo and 16 AAB to the Baltic states now and again, and rotate the armoured and mech battle groups through Poland (weve done it before) prior to Canada. But it takes money and how much could the Baltic states realistically contribute bearing in mind their need to modernise their forces as well.

Rocket Banana
August 31, 2014 9:32 am

David,

That pretty much sums up my expectation.

We simply have to see if we can afford it. Say, between France the UK and the USA’s “foreign aid budget” ;-)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
August 31, 2014 9:47 am

Simon,

It would have great training value and publicly show steadfastness in the military sense, but it will not seriously deter the Russians from doing a Ukraine in say Latvia.

They are fermenting discord within the population and then taking advantage of it, we need to combine a bit of the old conventional deterrence and massively beef up cyber warfare, espionage and propaganda to counter the threat.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
August 31, 2014 9:53 am

EU wields Russia sanctions threat but timing vague

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/08/31/uk-eu-summit-idUKKBN0GT2I620140831

‘EU leaders agreed on Sunday to have officials draw up within a week a list of new measures that could hit a range of sectors.

But anxiety about the impact of sanctions on their own sluggish economies – and their access to Russian energy supplies – meant a divided EU could not agree to impose firm deadlines or precise conditions on President Vladimir Putin’

John Hartley
John Hartley
August 31, 2014 10:13 am

Perhaps if the EU was to say that a decade from now, the EU will have brought in the necessary nuclear, coal, biogas, fracking, so that the EU will no longer buy any Russian energy from that date. That might be one sanction that would make a difference.

Chinese Alan
Chinese Alan
August 31, 2014 11:34 am

Part of the problem is that the Germans have become particularly cowardly since the end of the (first?) Cold War.

They were very happy for the western world to help defend them as the main front-line state in the struggle against the Soviet Union.

Now someone else is in the crosshairs, they aren’t interested in helping one little bit. Poland and the Baltics can go hang.

An absolutely disgraceful position to take.

monkey
monkey
August 31, 2014 12:54 pm

Last year in July Putin ordered a ‘snap’ drill.
“160,000 servicemen, 1000 tanks, 130 planes and 70 ships” are participating in the drills.A statement released by Russia’s Defence Ministry said: “The main purpose of the activities is to check the readiness of the military units to perform assigned tasks and evaluate the level of personnel’s training and technical preparation as well as the level of equipment of units with arms and military equipment.”
Many Russian officials emphasized that the participating troops did not know their final destination or explicit objective at the beginning of the drill, in an apparent effort to make the games more realistic.”
Moving that many troops and equipment at just a few days notice is something to take notice off. This particular drill was in Russia’s Far East region that borders on China, Japan and Korea and involved landings on Sakhalin Island to mimic countering US/Japanese forces landing there.
Earlier this year Putin ordered that their Air borne forces are to be doubled by 2019 to 72,000 (how big is the UK,s Army?) equipped with 1,500 new BMD-4M air deployable infantry fighting vehicles, and 2,500 BTR-MD/BTR-D3 air deployable troop transporters.
http://thediplomat.com/2013/07/russia-holds-massive-military-drill-aimed-at-china-japan/
http://www.janes.com/article/41665/russia-to-double-size-of-airborne-forces
Russia has large stocks of equipment and a large weapon manufacturing base all ready in existence which is at any one time producing lots of new equipment for the overseas buyers of its huge weapons export industry. That manufacturing capacity could easily but shifted to domestic production. All of this capability is in the back of Putin’s tiny crazed mind when he thinks of the glory days of the Soviet empire when was a Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB how the West has slowly absorbed the old Warsaw Pack countries into the EU. The Ukraine’s signing of the European Union Association Agreement last year was the last straw and on June 27th this year, the European Union also signed Association Agreements with Georgia and Moldova as well,Bosnia and Herzegovina are awaiting ratification, Armenia ,Azerbaijan and Kosovo are negotiating, if Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko was to bow out they would be asked sign on the dotted line too.
Although fundamentally a free trade agreement it does have a separate political element which Putin sees as the insidious West’s way of expanding their influence to the detriment of Russia in its own back yard.
Putin I think feels he is Russia’s saviour from the forces from the West , the Red Chinese wanting to take control of the far eastern territories (where the oil and gas is) , and the Muslin Scimitar at its belly in Stans to the south. You corner a Bear and will kill you.

Rocket Banana
August 31, 2014 1:20 pm

John,

You certainly have a point regarding the energy sanctions. They are probably the only ones that matter. I live the world of Mr Clancy (as many point out) but I would wager that IS is being funded by Russia in order to create oil/energy unrest which means an energy sanction on Russia is even less likely by the EU. The Spice is the worms, the worms are the Spice.

Europe (in fact the UK too) needs to be more self sufficient. It (and we) are far, far, far from it.

And along comes SPECTRE to take advantage of the easy extortion options ;-)

Mike W
August 31, 2014 1:28 pm

@SO

Thanks for the reply.

In some respects, you know, Mr. Rasmussen’s solutions are not so far removed from yours! In the article from which I quoted, he suggests that the “spearhead” concept would require “reception facilities on NATO territory and pre-positioned equipment and supplies.”

Not so far from your proposal below, is it?

“. . . a nice annual program of deployment and real (not simulated or scripted) manoeuvre exercises in Eastern Poland and Lithuania.
Cancel some naval toys and overseas occupation BS spending and funnel it into kerosene, diesel, ammo and spares purchases for those exercises.”

@All

I think one of the most sensible suggestions comes from DavidNiven:

“I see no problem with the UK using Poland and the Baltics as training areas on a regular basis, send 3 Cdo and 16 AAB to the Baltic states now and again, and rotate the armoured and mech battle groups through Poland (we’ve done it before) prior to Canada.”

And Simon seems to agree. Anyway, this week in Newport and Cardiff will be interesting but maybe the sceptics among you will be right and we shall see next to nothing materialize.

Rocket Banana
August 31, 2014 1:35 pm

Ah ha. Found it. Replace my A330 statement above with the A310.

So that’s an A310 based AEW, MPA, AAR (already exists) and SIGINT platform.

Commonality = VFM

S O
S O
August 31, 2014 3:18 pm

@Chinese Alan; it’s not that stark at all. Germany participates in the Baltic Air Patrol and nobody in NATO does really more than that. The Americans treated the new NATO members as a pool for auxiliary occupation troops, for example. AFAIK they did not move a single brigade for defensive purposes to Poland or the Baltics – just as no member has so far.

@Mike W: No, it’s not similar. I was writing about bringing the air and ground forces up to speed so they can credibly secure the Eastern Frontier. Facilities and prepositioned material are a typical bureaucratic solution and the less-costly version of permanent garrisons.
More importantly, Rasmussen would NEVER call for cuts to useless great power gaming assets; he always calls for additional attention and funds.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 31, 2014 5:00 pm

Our new contributor CA makes an interesting point about rapid movement of troops: Russia’s army modernisation targets hundred bdes. I think they have got about halfway.

From the hundred it is estimated that 40 could be thrown about and their 4 military commands (districts) could still manage. Can’t take40% of the existing 50 or so as standing tasks would require basically what is in place and ready.

Just some orders of magnitude, to compare if an armoured reaction force with its size, composition and rotation emerges.

Phil
August 31, 2014 6:16 pm

There’s absolutely no point banging on about Russian conventional forces in the context of a show-down with NATO.

It goes nuclear or it goes home.

Simple as that.

This new formation is useful as a political and diplomatic weapon and also as a trip-wire. It doesn’t matter if Russia modernises 300 brigades: it won’t survive a confrontation. Things are creeping back, the vacation is over, continuity beckons perhaps? Or is it all really far too early for that sort of talk? Perhaps we can go back to having a focused and existential threat and then go back to building lots of war toys we can mentally masturbate over on the internet – what a wonderful world it will be…

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 31, 2014 6:29 pm

I remember those tripwire guys only too well: we will build this tripwire, and then this… And we can cut down on the conventional forces.. And altogether now:it will be so much cheaper!

So where are the tripwires when you had /have 20kt charges everywhere?

Phil, are you trying to get SO interested? The small ones used to be targeted for his back garden.

Rocket Banana
August 31, 2014 6:44 pm

It goes nuclear or it goes home.

Simple as that.

Phil,

So with reference to my question above (“do we yield once Russian states back to Russia or do we hold firm?”) you’re saying that Russia can more or less just take back their former provinces because we simply wouldn’t go nuclear over just East Ukraine, or just Moldova, or just Latvia, etc…

I thought the whole point of MAD was that it renders “going nuclear” a little less likely?

S O
S O
August 31, 2014 6:51 pm

Even WW3 would probably not have gone nuclear in the 70’s or 80’s.

“By 1975, and probably earlier, the Soviet General Staff had already received an “instruction” from the leadership that Soviet forces were never to be the first to use nuclear weapons.”
(“The Renaissance in American Strategy and the Ending of the Great Cold War”, Gordon S. Barras, Military Review Jan-Feb 2010, p.103)

The 50’s emphasis on nuclear battlefields had gone, Red Army generals didn’t believe a nuclear war was winnable any more.
Remember, most people expected WW2 to be about phosgene first and foremost, but even Hitler didn’t use any gas – and he had nerve agents!

The maximum escalation stage for a NATO-Russia conflict in the 2010’s is in my opinion repeated B-2 overflights knocking out almost all Russian electricity powerplants and thus forcing the Russian economy (and much of the railway traffic) to collapse.

A direct NATO-Russia conflict is most unlikely, though: Probable is merely a Korean War-like confrontation on/over proxy territory. Even air strikes wouldn’t extend beyond the proxy territory in this case – even if S-300 and S-400 missiles and artillery were fired from Russian territory into proxy territory.

@Simon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX_d_vMKswE

Rocket Banana
August 31, 2014 7:07 pm

S O,

Oh dear.

Salami tactics :-(

Conscription is indeed very courageous and a better approach than this silly reserves concept… all the way up to the idea of my own son having to do it.

Obviously they totally missed the point but very entertaining all the same. :-)

Nobby Stiles
Nobby Stiles
August 31, 2014 7:13 pm

SO:
@Chinese Alan; it’s not that stark at all. Germany participates in the Baltic Air Patrol and nobody in NATO does really more than that. The Americans treated the new NATO members as a pool for auxiliary occupation troops, for example. AFAIK they did not move a single brigade for defensive purposes to Poland or the Baltics – just as no member has so far.

Blimey. I can see why the US is a bit peeved at their European “partners”.

So the US has to act first? Even though Germany is NEXT DOOR TO POLAND !!

In military terms, the Germans look like the Saudis now – loads of excellent high-tech gear, but are scared to use it (even to back up their allies). Which is ironic bearing in mind how good they looked during the Cold War. I wouldn’t have fancied being any WP unit that had to face up against a West German one. And doubly ironic when you consider how much was invested by other NATO partners to defend West Germany, particularly the US and the British.

I think Chinese Alan is right – it’s downright cowardly.

monkey
monkey
August 31, 2014 7:24 pm

and Phil
Recently the Russians fought a gloves off war in Chechnya ( at one point the launched half a dozen SS21’s on a market place and the adjoining hospital) , a small land locked country of 1.5m people spread over 7000 sq miles or so , that’s 70 miles wide by 100 miles long. They really, really struggled to win back control despite using every weapon at their disposal short of nukes. This was a wake up call for not fighting the West, but securing their own territorial claims and the rights of ethnic Russians where ever they may live and their inability to suppress insurrection quickly and decisively with out getting imbedded into a protracted fight. Russia sees the rise of Muslim fundamentalism on its Southern flank as well as within its own borders and the increased militarisation of an reborn China on its Eastern border as potential long term threats. Putin wants to be in a strong conventional military position when having ‘talks’ with his neighbours , kind of “we ‘must’ be friends for our mutual benefit ” type meeting. Russia has the second longest land border in the world of over 20,000km and to cap it all its once impregnable northern flank is now devoid of ice for 5 months of the year.
It has land borders with Finland, Norway, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, North Korea. How many of these would Putin honestly call allies.
Russia sees it self surrounded by adversaries , one nation (I posted on another thread) has more VSL tubes in its warships than the rest of the next largest TWENTY navies put together and if they get Arclight working well .. same nation is build 2500 fifth generation stealth fighter bombers , also has 8,000 world class MBT’s at its disposal, the most experienced combat troops by numbers in the world , should Russia be a little bit paranoid?
Of course Russia could Nuke the world back into a radioactive stone age if it wanted but would it? Are they that crazy?

Phil
August 31, 2014 7:33 pm

@SO

That’s why there weren’t no Dubya Dubya Three. We represented something of a massive threat to Soviet Russia, ideologically, politically and geopolitically. If they could have had us they probably would have. Except they knew where that road would lead. It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg scenario. If they invaded they’d never be sure that we wouldn’t start shooting nukes at them so they planned to use them as integral weapons and use them first. If they ever did indeed make a wholesale decision to never use them first then they effectively made a decision that GSFG would never go west.

And the same reality applies today. There’s no way its worth going nuclear over Russia stomping around her back yard and Russia knows this. It is entirely sensible. But if she decided somehow to have a go at modernising her forces to the ends of having a direct confrontation with NATO she’d have to prepare for nuclear war. Modernising only her conventional forces would be a direct and easy to read sign that they weren’t being serious.

Also, the whole knocking out electricity thing and the enemy folding is bollocks. As has been proven since 1914, the enemy is always more resilient to air strikes than imagined. But if you want to attack strategic targets in Russia and expect them to answer back with a conventional response then I’d suggest you were completely delusional.

@Simon

We’d go nuclear if they attacked and were going to over-run a NATO nation. That’s the whole point of NATO. It’s not worth sabre rattling with nuclear weapons over Russia playing in her backyard. Who really cares enough? We never threatened them with nuclear annihilation for 1956 or 1967 or 1981. Why would we suddenly lose our minds now?

Phil
August 31, 2014 7:34 pm

Are they that crazy?

They’re not crazy. They never have been.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 31, 2014 7:47 pm

ref the notion of airstrikes etc. Classic mistakes being made of comparing apples and pears. In other words looking at the results of actions in small limited post WW2 conflicts and attempting to transfer the results to something like WW3.
The simple facts are that we do not know how modern weapons attacking modern strategic in infrastructure would affect a “total war” that went on for long enough to necessitate the use of such infrastructure to support the conflict. Both weapons and vulnerabilities have evolved massively since this was tested. The guys who get paid to plan such things are not sure so how we can be is beyond me.

@ phil
We would not go Nuclear over one country, it would depend completely on the overall strategic position and outlook, not a possibly temporary withdrawal.

monkey
monkey
August 31, 2014 7:54 pm


I think so too.
@S O
I love Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister
Wonderful writing and actors , shame they plagiarised the lot from ‘Hansard – the unpublished volumes – a secret history of Parliament’ and why they were never sued for blatantly developing characterisation of real life MP’s and civil servants I will never know :-)
Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran The New Statesmen with Rik Mayall wasn’t bad either.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
August 31, 2014 8:02 pm

@ SO – “More importantly, Rasmussen would NEVER call for cuts to useless great power gaming assets”

To be fair, we can afford those useless great power gaming assets. We spend 2.1% of GDP.

If NATO Europe (with honourable exceptions) did the same, then maybe they could complain about what we choose to blow our defence budget on.

Phil
August 31, 2014 8:19 pm

@APATS

It’s pretty easy to extrapolate probable results. As I have said, societies and people are more resilient than we give credit for. That has repeated constantly. The only time air power has lived up to its grander expectations was in 1945 and that can’t be separated from its context. The classic mistake is imagining bombing electricity supplies and then, because we couldn’t go ten minutes without checking our FB, would collapse in mass surrender and march on London to demand peace. Certainly not a given.

Also, you are saying that we’d allow a NATO country to be invaded and conquered? If that was really the policy position NATO wouldn’t exist would it. It would be utterly and entirely useless and pointless.

McZ
McZ
August 31, 2014 8:20 pm

@monkey
“Earlier this year Putin ordered that their Air borne forces are to be doubled by 2019 to 72,000 (how big is the UK,s Army?) equipped with 1,500 new BMD-4M air deployable infantry fighting vehicles, and 2,500 BTR-MD/BTR-D3 air deployable troop transporters.”

Yeah, another bombast statement to make Russians think about their military grandeur, while effectively designed to shuffle billions of defence rubles into black channels.

Today, there are more or less exactly 70 BMD-4 in service, a production rate of less than 10 a year. The earlier plan was to reach 1000 vehicles in 2020.

In 2006, the Russian Air Force had over 200 IL-76, this has dropped to 97. 97 easy targets, constrained in range due to the fact that the Russians have poor AAR capabilities.

All this at a time, when new aerial and naval asset will cost a fortune to replace (the backbone of the AF are still the hard-worked Su-27, TU-22 and Su-31 of the soviet era). The replacement PAK-FA has still the final development of the airframe to be negotiated, planned with $6b, now estimated $11b, which excludes engines and sensors. Plan was to have them in service by 2016.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
August 31, 2014 8:29 pm

Russia will not openly confront NATO (in a sane world) the two NATO states at risk now are Estonia and Latvia, both of whom have sizable ethnic Russian populations so will be vulnerable to the Russians provoking unrest as seen in Ukraine. No amount of garrisoned NATO troops can stop the Russians trying this and if they succeed it will be an internal political matter for the states themselves to deal with. Thats not to say we cannot offer covert help but unless genoside is instigated or an overt invasion we will not act militarily, if it turns into a civil war it would probably play like the Balkans.

Poland, Romania and to a certain extent the Baltic states are safe from invasion. NATO could not stand by and allow it to happen, even the reluctant members would be dragged into the fray.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 31, 2014 8:33 pm

.

It is anything but easy to extrapolate results for the reasons I outlined in my post. We have not fought a conflict that required the infrastructure to support the war effort for almost 70 years and in that time technology and the reliance upon it has changed along with the ability to damage the same. i never said it was a given i actually said “the guys who get paid to plan such things are not sure”.

“Also, you are saying that we’d allow a NATO country to be invaded and conquered? If that was really the policy position NATO wouldn’t exist would it. It would be utterly and entirely useless and pointless”

I never said conquered so stop twisting my words. I said and I will quote myself here “We would not go Nuclear over one country, it would depend completely on the overall strategic position and outlook, not a possibly temporary withdrawal”

We are not going to go nuclear because we had to withdraw beyond the borders of one member state in an ongoing conflict.

Simon257
Simon257
August 31, 2014 8:46 pm

Putin has managed to drag this out all summer. This is to his advantage. Autumn is now here, soon the first Frosts will arrive in Eastern Europe. Soon after that the first snowfalls.

If the EU decides to increase Sanctions. He will slowly turn off the Gas to Europe! Now I know that some here will point out that this will only hurt Russia in the long term. But in the short term how much damage will this do to the EU and to Merkel.

S O
S O
August 31, 2014 8:46 pm

Nobby Stiles: “So the US has to act first? Even though Germany is NEXT DOOR TO POLAND !!”

The “next door” thing is exactly WHY Germany doesn’t need to act first (other than do its homework on getting its army up to speed, which all countries with an army should do).
We’re already there. You can fly CAP over Poland from Berlin’s airports. German Leopard 2 can (if railway is no option) do an administrative march to Eastern Poland or Lithuania on their own power, and 90% would arrive in acceptable condition there before a single American airborne brigade could claim the same.

The German foreign policy is rigid pro-cooperation and contra-provocation. I criticised this at times myself, but it’s disingenuous to put the blame on Germany alone or especially on it.
Most of the alliance did nothing in regard to Eastern frontier defence in ages, and the anglophone members were especially responsible for this, focusing on bullshit invasion and occupation adventures overseas and treating the Eastern European members of NATO as auxiliary occupation troops pools. Thus both the USA and the UK occupy a very, very low moral ground in regard to Eastern NATO defence. The Baltics and Poland foolishly and stupidly hugged GWB, trying to be ‘New Europe’ and to buy security by turning themselves into auxiliary troops providers for a while.

Nobody in NATO has been really serious about Eastern frontier defence; even mere plans were apparently not drafted until 2009.

And let’s face it; almost no member has much self-interest in securing the Eastern border. Only the three Baltic countries (especially Estonia, which is somewhat provocative itself), Poland and Romania are somewhat involved. The right wing Hungarian government could even gain some border communities if the Ukraine fell apart. The Southern members are concerned about migrants and stuff, not about Donetsk.
The opportunist ‘security policy’ people like Rasmussen should have dealt with such fundamental issues long ago, instead of playing occupation games in Asia and creating/bloating staffs as much as possible.

Phil
August 31, 2014 8:59 pm

@APATS

Not twisting your words. I talked about being invaded and being over-run. You then replied to that point. We both know that ideas about abandoning a country and coming back (4 years later?) would have been and still are unacceptable, especially politically. Nobody joined NATO on a promise of “we’ll be back”. Forward defence was militarily dubious but politically it was the only game in town which made it policy.

Has reliance changed? Could any of the war factories have produced anything without electricity in WWII? The experiences I’d bet are isomorphic – in other words more similar than we might give credit for. Reliance I imagine on electricity is precisely the same, ie it is fundamental to the war effort. But that is not to say that it is an easy thing to shut down. I believe we attacked the electricity infrastructure of Serbia in 1999 which again did not bring her instantly to her knees because states are surprisingly and no doubt often vexatiously resilient.

Russia has a potent IADs which would need defeating before we got anywhere near the position where we’d be able to invest enough bombs to ensure continuous power outtage. And then you’d be in the position of attacking strategic targets of fundamental importance to the war effort – you should then expect Russia to respond in kind and it won’t be with unreliable conventional weapons…

Rocket Banana
August 31, 2014 9:14 pm

Strewth,

Fortunately I don’t believe the people in charge are stupid enough to “go nuclear” over anything other than a NBC strike against NATO. That is fundamentally how salami slicing is so sneaky “The slow blade penetrates the shield”.

It’s also fundamentally what is happening in Ukraine.

I don’t see the nukes flying.

S O
S O
August 31, 2014 9:19 pm

:
To spend does not equal the ability to afford.
The UK had a trade balance deficit for 16 years.
http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/balance-of-trade
The extra mil spending reallocated to public infrastructure investments or other productivity-enhancing approaches would probably have closed that gap.
The UK as is is unsustainable, so it’s incorrect to claim any national policy is affordable, for the whole is unsustainable.

The problem isn’t the below 2% GDP mil budgets; it’s the above 2% GDP mil budgets.
1% of the EU’s GDP would be plenty to face off Russia and Belarus and North Africa combined without any American help.
Do the math yourself!
(CIA World Factbook data only, rounded to billion:)
EU GDP in 2013: $ 15.85 trillion
Belarus mil spending = 1.2% of GDP, PPP GDP of $ 150 billion
Russia mil spending = 4.47% of GDP, PPP GDP of $ 2553 bn
That’s about 115 bn combined, and North Africa hardly has any aggressive capabilities.
Much of the Russian military is furthermore tied down in Asia permanently.

15,850 divided by 116, how many % is that? Have fun, calculate yourself!

The “2%” talkers are detached from reality and talking nonsense, not caring about the real world.
They don’t propose a solution for a problem, but the generation or amplification thereof.

monkey
monkey
August 31, 2014 9:31 pm


“while effectively designed to shuffle billions of defence roubles into black channels”
By black channels you mean syphoned off into personal bank accounts for Oligarchs to enjoy.
Agreed I am sure to an extent it happens everywhere even here. But in the end someone will notice it has not happened i.e. no armoured buses turning up so you can only play that game so long , we do it in the west by coming up with a figure for x units a y price then as the delivery schedule goes on the units drop and the price goes up , there is your ‘skim’ off to Swiss bank accounts etc. I am sure Russia is the same but even they will have to deliver some kind of numbers. Regarding the BMD-4M I did not think they hade received even that many but by 2019 I am sure they will have enough to go around. Its not FRES they will have to supply something even if there isn’t actually 72,000 paras in reality (just 72,000 names drawing pay and supplies) eventually people do notice.
http://rbth.co.uk/defence/2014/08/14/russian_army_receives_new_bmd-4m_airborne_assault_vehicles_39027.html

Phil
August 31, 2014 9:38 pm

Except salami slicing doesn’t work. Sooner or later you slice something important. Ukraine is Russia’s back yard. She’s not a NATO member so let’s make some noise, get upset and carry on normal jogging. Nothing to get excited about.

Nuclear weapons exist essentially to safeguard the existence of the state. Firing them doesn’t mean you have been hit by one. It means something fundamental to the states existence is being attacked. That includes nuclear weapons and anything else such as vital bases and electricity.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 31, 2014 9:45 pm

@ phil

You yet again make assumptions. I talk about an ongoing campaign and you decide to use the word conquer and assign it an arbitrary figure of 4 years. I talk about an ongoing conflict and trust me not many countries are going to find it more acceptable to launch a Nuclear War than to simply carry on the conflict. We have been pushed past the border of country X but will regroup on the river crossing hold them there and counter attack once Y corp is in position. Sorry says PM/President of country X i want you to nuke them. Just not going to happen and nobody I know within NATO from OR6 to 3 star would think so.
Also how dare you be patronising enough to assume that I do not know what Isomorphic means whilst assuming I did know what vexatiously meant :)

Phil
August 31, 2014 9:54 pm

I had to look up isomorphic when I came across it!

The four years was taken as an example of how long regrouping can take when you don’t have a reserve. 1940 to 1944 in fact.

The trouble is your sound military logic was simply not politically acceptable because West Germany was not prepared to give ground and trade space for time. Military logic would have dictated a posture similar to the Soviet Union with BAOR and USAREUR based well to the rear and sacrificing West Germany for time. But that was not politically acceptable then and won’t be now because nations are selfish and you won’t convince one to be the sacrificial state and that it will be alright on the night we promise we’d come back. Strategically sound in abstract but not in a real world context.

That state expects you to advertise you will strike precisely so it never gets over run. Nobody joins a defensive alliance to act as its speed bump or covering force. The way to defeat NATO is to undermine the confidence its states have in how far collective defence will go. The best way to defend NATO is to agree and set policy that collective defence goes all the way for every member state.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 31, 2014 10:07 pm

Someone once used isomorphic in a staff paper so I had to look it up. The V word i just looked up.

We will never know what west Germany would or would not have accepted but we are talking the 21st century and you use a pretty extreme example where we did not lose just one country but actually the whole of mainland Europe. At no point did I say we would not go Nuclear if we lost the whole of mainland Europe.
Why would military logic have decided we should give the Soviets free miles, you trade space for time but defending the space helps slow the enemy down.
Nations may be selfish but they are run by humans and very very few humans are stupid enough to make a decision to start something that will cost hundreds of millions of lives just because their country is temporarily occupied. After all the chances are they would not even have a country a couple of days afterwards. Humans have shown a remarkable unwillingness to use Nuclear weapons and that is unlikely to change over something as small as a temporary campaign reversal or a an electricity exchange being blown up.
From a NATO stand point and real world context neither ourselves the French or the US are going to fire a Nuke just because we had to retreat beyond county x borders for a short time anyway.

Phil
August 31, 2014 10:15 pm

But APATs if a state doesn’t think the alliance will guarantee its integrity what’s the point of joining that alliance? Better to do what France did and go wild card. A defensive alliance at its brass tacks is the joint understanding that the others will do their best to defend you. There’s no guarantee that anyone will come back for you. Especially if the enemy threatens nuclear release if you were to try and come back. Everything has to be front loaded to ensure the alliance is never tested like that because as soon as that happens its been defeated.

Soviet dispositions had their best forces deep inside Russia. Two groups of tank armies. They would have been the backstop. The counter attacking force which strikes when the enemy is most extended. Our whole AFCENT disposition made no conventional military sense. Everything was forward deployed a days drive from the border. But it made political sense.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 31, 2014 10:26 pm

Sorry but that is wrong. Nuclear weapons are a weapon of last resort and to be used when there is no conventional hope of success. Now that point can come at very different points in a campaign but whilst you may not get that I guarantee you 21st Century NATO both at NAC and military level does. If there was absoloutely no other way to retain or regain territorial integrity nuclear weapons would be considered. Many countries within NATO are fundamentally opposed to Nukes and may well say, no thanks to hundreds of millions of casualties.
The Soviets had enough forces to keep their chosen army groups to exploit a breakthrough, we either fought them forward and traded ground for time whilst slowing them down or let them take 36 hours to cover ground we could have defended for weeks and still be fighting them anyway.

Phil
August 31, 2014 10:42 pm

Whose last resort? Because to the country about to have its capital occupied its time for the last resort. Everyone knew this was NATOs weakness, the perception it would abandon allies to live another day. This was why we purchased Trident, its why France pissed off and its why forward defence was the stated policy. Nuclear weapons were considered to be legitimate weapons of war at tactical and strategic levels, especially at the tactical level. Now if push came to shove who knows what might have happened but the perception of complete collective defence had to be maintained and must still be maintained. WW3 would haver been decided on the IGB

Phil
August 31, 2014 10:46 pm

Also West Germany, the country most in danger and the least keen to engage in international conflict since 1989 allowed the basing of thousands of warheads, operated nuclear delivery systems under dual key arrangements and insisted that defence forces engage the enemy as close to and over the border as possible. Germany knew her best defence was to lock in her fate with everyone else. She certainly was not prepared to be a speed bump. That’s simple fact.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
August 31, 2014 10:55 pm

@Thread – Surely the issue is that Czar Putin is testing out new forms of state-to-state asymmetric warfare…”Cossack Volunteers protecting Russian Speakers”…and we are struggling for an effective response thus far without finding one; but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to, or that there will not be bad consequences if we fail…the slowly boiled frog is no less dead, and our overall position will certainly not be improved by our being knee-deep in frog soup over the next ten or fifteen years….we either devise a role for NATO short of an existential life or death struggle, or accept that it is a dead duck and go home, surely?

GNB

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 31, 2014 11:02 pm


It is hardly the last resort for a country about to have its Capital occupied. So the Governmnet has nowhere to go to work for a while so they decide to kill a few million people from the country who has occupied their capital. That country then kills a few million people from the country that fired the Nuke at them and all of a sudden we have a few hundred million dead and a ruined eco system.
Not many people are going to buy into that, even the Government who had to find somewhere else to go to work for a while. Now things can change the situation such as treatment of even a temporarily occupied territory or the use of chemical or biological weapons but this is the 21st Century and we are not going to go Nuclear first unless every possible conventional option has been exhausted. It is simply not black and white in the real world.
China and India have a no first use Policy. The main aim of US Nuclear weapons is to deter the use of WMDs agains the US or their Allies. They have already declared that they will not use Nuclear weeapons against non Nuclear states.
France pissed off due to issues over Nuclear weapons control, we bought Polaris and Trident for the cold war. Trident is now effectively a guaranteed second strike weapon to deter a first strike.
Given its enormous conventional advantage NATO would only deploy Nuclear weapons in response to the use or imminent use of WMDs.
I never said WW3 would have been decided on the IGB just that it would be less than cunning to let them have a few hundred miles for free.

Obsvr
Obsvr
September 1, 2014 1:28 am

@ Phil – “Soviet dispositions had their best forces deep inside Russia. Two groups of tank armies. They would have been the backstop. ”

Fiction. The Second Strategic Echelon was equipped with antiques. The Second Tactical Echelon wasn’t a lot better. The best equipped forces were in GSFG. The Second Strategic Echelon was also highly dependent on mobilisation of reservists (hence having older equipment that they were familiar with).

Latvia, etc, are in the Eurasian funnel where light forces are merely duty targets and serve no military purpose.

Martin
Editor
September 1, 2014 1:44 am

NATO is not politically able to deal with the types of Asyametric threats Putin is using nor will it ever be. The only sure way for nations in Eastern Europe to be sure of their own defence is to do it themselves.

The forces that Putin is using are relativly small and not that well equipped by western standards. Ukarain should be able to defend against them. The baltics and Poland should do the same. we should certainly look to help especially with training and equiptment. Maybe even set a a special EU fund for boarder nations to buy EU equiptment. Plenty of spare tranche 1 typhoons in Europe that could be put to good use. Plenty if spare Lepoards and Challengers as well.

@ Moneky

I am not too worried about Russia’s snap drill with 170,000 troops in his own country. The US and the UK sent a force of nearly 300,000 half way around the world and invaded a country with one of the largest army’s in the world in less than 3 weeks. That’s what real military power looks like. NATO has been able to maintain a force of over 100,000 men for a decade in arguable the most logistically challenging spot on the planet.

Russia has always had a large paper military force but I struggle to remember a war they actually ever really won. Retreating into the interior of your country and sacrificing vast amounts of population is not really winning in my mind. Every time they come into contact with a significantly smaller better equipped and motivated force they seem to get their arses handed to them 1812, 1853, 1905, 1917, 1940, 1941-1942. Even in 1944 they had to rely on grinding the Germans down who were under a protracted allied naval blockade and air attacks.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 1, 2014 5:35 am

Quite agree with Gloomy’s assessment. There seems to be, at a different level, a revival of brinkmanship by Putin, trying it out, quickly softening the stance, then trying again…

Maybe there has been a crash course about brinkmanship introduced at the Uni, in response, as comments about present and past seem to have that flavour.

The EU fund raised, a new Lend&Lease sort of, sounds like a good idea. DIY defence for non-NATO members but with unlimited hardware?
– Ukraine’s finances were”shot” even before all this started. With the winter coming, it would equate to a humanitarian relief effort to put such a facility in place, and alleviate the cross-pull that their leaders must be facing in decision making (and Putin counting o it).

The Limey
The Limey
September 1, 2014 7:42 am


The UK could start with that by letting the Ukrainians have lots of the original single-mode Brimstones. They’re perfect for taking on the sort of armoured columns that appear to be going in (e.g. the satellite shots of self-propelled guns).

Four major reasons why I suggest these:
1) They have no or limited utility against civilians so are politically low risk.
2) The originals are not insensitive munition compliant, so may as well use them up now.
3) It’s unlikely that UK armed forces will be able to use them without a dual-mode conversion due to ROE limitations.
4) A very good way to show off their utility, given they are UK built and MBDA are looking for sales.

Big problem would of course be integration – but if this would not be the time to cut a few corners to get missiles in the air I don’t know when would be.

Phil
September 1, 2014 7:47 am

@APATS

I think we’re arguing past each other here. I’ll explain why when I get home from work and have a keyboard. If you can stand the anticipation and excitement that is.

Martin
Editor
September 1, 2014 9:51 am

@ The Limey

Only conceivable way to get Brimsetone to the Ukranians would be to give them GR4 Tornado. That being said we have dozen sitting around I am sure so maybe its not such a big problem. This conflict is likley to be over long before we could train their pilots on them though. That being said I would love nothing more than seeing a Russian armoured convoy getting whacked by a full load of Brimestone as it crossed the boarder.

Might be easier to integrate the American Sensor Fused Munition on existing Ukranian aircraft as its only a bomd and does not require the radar.

@ TD – The maths test finally asked me 7X8 which even our Finance minister is unable to answer. Not sure where all this will end but I have a horror image of having to do calculus to comment on the site in a few months time :-)

The Limey
The Limey
September 1, 2014 10:05 am


Yes, integration is probably insurmountable unfortunately. I really hope there’s push coming on standardised frameworks making this simpler in the future – with far fewer platforms we need to be able to use all of them to their full ability.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
September 1, 2014 10:11 am

– don’t complain – @Mike Wheatley reckons it’s toying with random binary systems on the “Sea Fort for Sale” thread!

GNB

Observer
Observer
September 1, 2014 10:20 am

Martin, Windows comes with a calculator under accessories. Now if only I can figure out where the accessories file is in all this newfangled tablet layouts. :)

Might I point out that the solution to Ukraine is not NATO, but actually training and equipping of “Home Guard” forces to defend the country? Russia isn’t invading, at least not outright invading, they are just sponsoring and supporting a separatist faction of Ukraine, which should be the responsibility of local defence forces and maybe even the constabulary to handle.

I almost called the separatist faction “rebels”, but unfortunately, the term “rebels” could also be used for the current Ukrainian government since they got in via a coup. What a mess.

I wonder if the best solution to this is to just give the separatists the damn land and fence it off ala the Berlin Wall redux, redraw the line and separate East and West again. At least if there is a new hard and fast border, it would mean that Russia can never claim Ukraine ever again.

The Other Chris
September 1, 2014 11:07 am

The mathematics queries for commenting have nothing to do with GCHQ recruitment. Nothing.

Martin
Editor
September 1, 2014 11:34 am

@ The Limey

I am not sure any level of standardisation would help. The Ukranians are flying around in clapped out soviet fighters from the 70’s and 80’s. we got as much chance of integrating Brimestone in it then as we do with the Sopwith Camel :-)

@ The Other Chris

It’s certainly not about recruitment for the treasury or the Conservative party. otherwise there would be no candidates.

@ Observer

I am inclined to agree about partishoning Ukraine but the though of that smug bastered Putin getting away with it is too much to bare. I would much rather spend money and give the Ukranians all the weapons they need to give the Russians a good kick in.

Observer
Observer
September 1, 2014 12:15 pm

Martin, I know, but kicking his teeth in or deporting all his Russians back across the border doesn’t solve the problem, no fixed border, which means that he can keep making the line creep west. A firm demarcation pulls that rug out from under him. “Past this line is an invasion.”

It sits badly in my stomach to suggest it, shades of Chamberlain and all, but at least it pacifies the region temporarily to allow Ukraine some breathing room to fortify and rearm and partitions the 2 parties enough so that there isn’t any more room for doubt as to who is responsible for any future conflict.

observer
observer
September 1, 2014 12:33 pm

From Wiki a map of the results of the 2000/2001 census in the Baltic states of percentage of ethnic Russians.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b8/Russians_in_Baltic_states.png/450px-Russians_in_Baltic_states.png
How soon will it be before Putin cries foul over the treatment of his poor down trodden Russian brothers trapped in the pitiless Baltic states crushed under the heel of the Western Jackboot.
This will not stop here.

El Sid
El Sid
September 1, 2014 1:09 pm

Wasn’t the thing that really scared the Soviets, that we only had x days of supplies in Germany, which implied we would be going nuclear after that time? Can’t remember what x was – 10 or 21 days?

It’s interesting watching NATO/EU face the same dilemmas that Rome had 2000 years ago. In the early years of the empire they used defence in depth – let the local auxiliaries defend their homelands and with a handful of mobile imperial troops held in reserve with good road links. As time went by and the border lands were upgraded from associate status to full members of the empire and became richer, it became politically unacceptable to use them as battlegrounds. So to stop the enemy taking a single yard of imperial territory they spent big sestercii on hard defences like Hadrian’s Wall manned by imperial troops. Trouble is this needs a lot more of the expensive troops strung out along the border, and eventually the combined demand of capex and wages exceeds what the economy of the interior can support leading to “managed withdrawal”. Sound familiar? You can see the US’ current efforts to forward base eg USMC in Italy and LCS in Singapore as part of this general trend as well.

@Observer
My Logitech “media” keyboard has a hardware button to bring up the calculator…

Observer
Observer
September 1, 2014 2:09 pm

Aww, someone plopped a reply to me in the name field again. :(

The lowercase observer isn’t me.

monkey
monkey
September 1, 2014 2:26 pm

@Observer with a capital O
Whoops don’t know what happened there

WiseApe
September 1, 2014 3:52 pm

Indeed it would take time to train the Ukrainians in the use of Tornado and Brimstone. Of course, the commies (Russian and Chinese varieties) long ago cottoned on to the fact that the best way to train someone is to actually show them. What are the hotels like in Ukraine? :-)

Phil
September 1, 2014 4:28 pm

@APATS

I am arguing from the point of view of the requirements of a defence alliance and NATOs dispositions in the Cold War. You are arguing from an abstract operational perspective.

I argue that collective defence clearly needs for each country to have assurances it won’t be abandoned. As evidence, NATO dispositions in the Cold War clearly back this up. That assurance is what binds NATO together – why on Earth would any country be a part of it just so their territory can be used as manoeuvre space? How do you sell that to your domestic opponents?

Trading space for time, yielding any territory at all, was completely politically unacceptable. It will still be just as unacceptable. The message was clear – NATO would and will defend the territorial integrity of its members and not use those members as mere manoeuvring space.

This was why forces were deployed to within a ridiculous distance of the IGB and not far further back. Even the Netherlands and Belgium forward deployed forces when it was clearly not to their military operational advantage. It was in fact not at all to the operational advantage of NATO to be so far forward deployed. But the grand strategic picture required this because it left no doubt in anyone’s mind (not least NATO members) that all NATO members would be defended vigorously.

NATO projected, and still must if it is to have any use at all, a united we stand, united we fall attitude. Make those attitudes tangible by structuring your forces in such a way as to lock everyone in and you’re golden. You have an alliance which MUST engage in total collective defence no matter how small or shit you are as a country.

Furthermore, with regard to nuclear weapons, West Germany had on its territory thousands of battlefield nuclear weapons along with Pershings, Lance and TLAM. All again forward deployed. This clearly shows they were intended to be used before WG was over-run, despite in a purely military operational context, West Germany being over-run not being a big deal.

WG locked in NATO to its territorial integrity by basing on its territory nuclear weapons and showing willing to fire nuclear weapons if it was going to be over-run. It was simply completely politically unacceptable to be an alliance’s speed bump.

The same applies today. The grand strategic picture must be one of total unity and locked in defence which translates words into action. Or NATO is useless.

Also, nuclear release does not have to be total. There’s a myriad of theories out there mostly relying on game theory but my gut feeling tells me that humans being humans we’d make a nuclear show of force before firing anything at the Russians and you’d still be able to justify that as more of a test than a first use.

The minute you suggest that a state will be left behind the minute you undermine the alliance. The Germans realised this and locked us in and we all allowed ourselves to be locked in because in the bigger picture that was safer – sure BAOR was dangerously exposed but it was dangerously exposed to it never had to be used. Just like again we locked in the United States by buying Trident so she couldn’t just piss off if the war got to tasty in Europe.

You simply cannot separate the operational military imperatives from the wider strategic picture like you are arguing. Cold War strategy got this SO right. Operationally you trade space for time and hit an over-extended enemy. In the big picture you avoid ever having to do that by projecting an air of total, interlocked forward defence where if one goes, everyone goes.

Alex
Alex
September 1, 2014 4:58 pm

That said, forward defence with heavy anti-tank weapons (milan or swingfire/88mm) and big tanks in hull-down defence (Chieftain or Challenger/Tiger or Jagdpanther) worked pretty well for the Germans vs. us in Normandy, and in some ways the situation would have been similar with the big difference that we would have had air superiority or at least airspace denial.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 5:13 pm

@ Phil

The Cold war is over, we live in the 21st century which kind of makes the rest of your post pretty much history. Your last paragraph makes some sense but it does not indicate a Nuclear response at all. By your thinking we would have nuked Iraq in 1990 if Kuwait had been in NATO whilst what actually happened is far closer to what a modern 21st century NATO response would be.
This is the 21st Century and NATO has evolved both militarily and Politically past the simplistic Cold war thinking that sufficed in a Black and white bi polar world.

Phil
September 1, 2014 5:20 pm

@APATS

It’s not history though is it. It’s how you structure collective defence. The international system is still anarchic and full of fearful sovereign states looking for security. The props have moved around, the scenery may have changed, but it’s still the same stage.

Nobody at the moment is talking about nuclear weapons because Russia is not an actual threat to the west at the moment. It’s a lot of blustering and getting stroppy because we do what we want and won’t let them do the same in their backyard. But mark me if somehow this all escalated and a new arms race somehow came about you’ll see the continuity with the Cold War very starkly.

You can’t get a collective defence alliance to work if your policy is to abandon member states. The whole thing unravels.

Phil
September 1, 2014 5:20 pm

That said, forward defence with heavy anti-tank weapons (milan or swingfire/88mm) and big tanks in hull-down defence (Chieftain or Challenger/Tiger or Jagdpanther) worked pretty well for the Germans vs. us in Normandy

The Germans lost the battle for Normandy.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 5:32 pm

“Nobody at the moment is talking about nuclear weapons because Russia is not an actual threat to the west at the moment. It’s a lot of blustering and getting stroppy because we do what we want and won’t let them do the same in their backyard. But mark me if somehow this all escalated and a new arms race somehow came about you’ll see the continuity with the Cold War very starkly”

No Phil what we would see would be a sensible change of posture and planning to deal with the new threat just as the current one has sensibly changed to deal with current threats and why a Kuwait style response would happen rather than a Nuclear holocaust thank fuck.

Nobody abandoning anyone just a simple before we set events in motion that could end the human race lets work through the options.

Phil
September 1, 2014 6:36 pm

@APATS

If you say so. I doubt it though. Nobody wants to be anyones “option”.

The Cold War solution worked. The world is no different, it’s even largely the same actors this time. So it will work again. I’m not arguing however that there would have been a nuclear holocaust in the Cold War, our sensible and pragmatic posture was never put to that test because it did its job.

But then I doubt that Russia is interested in tormenting the West beyond throwing wobblies that we get to invade sovereign states at whim and she can’t even play in her backyard.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 6:53 pm

Even less want a Nuclear Holocaust when there is zero requirement.
Would love to have seen you pitch your understanding of NATO Nuclear use in the 21st century to the Command Group in my last NATO staff job :)

Phil
September 1, 2014 7:39 pm

@APATS

The command group which existed in a different context not only from current events but also far from the context which I am referring to? Yes I’m sure they’d have been very amused at it all. Let’s hope they’d be just as amused in 5 years.

Not really addressed my argument about getting around having a collective defence agreement where a state which joins it for its security has to accept maybe being thrown to the dogs. Just why do you believe that doesn’t undermine it? And what exactly was West Germany trying to achieve up to relatively recently forward deploying it’s Army and the armies of its Central European allies.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 7:52 pm

I think I may have pointed out once or twice that the threat has changed as had the posture. e.g it is 2014 and we have a huge conventional superiority.
Also your description of being thrown to the dogs unless Nuclear weapons are used is ludicrous.
It took less than 6 months to get the Iraqis out of Kuwait with the distances involved yet you seem to believe a similar conventional response for a NATO ally is ” throwing them to the dogs” and we should instead start a chain of events involving Nuclear weapons as a first option.

Rocket Banana
September 1, 2014 8:01 pm

Phil,

On the sideline here but it isn’t just the nuclear deterrent that NATO states buy into is it?

There’s no reason why there isn’t a collective conventional force and a distinct lack of a nuclear one. Otherwise why the hell should the UK and France foot the bill for the whole of Europe?

Phil
September 1, 2014 8:10 pm

@APATS

I’m surprised you don’t see the implications of a defence alliance which abandons a policy of forward collective defence and decouples it’s defences from one another.

Because there’d be no chance then of anyone suing for peace on their own terms rather than waiting to be occupied and damaged. Better to let the enemy roll in quietly than fight a war you stand no chance of winning.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 8:24 pm

Nobody is talking about abandoning collective forward self defence. what we are talking about is not risking a Nuclear holocaust the first time we have a set back. That seems pretty bloody sensible. We can fight on an liberate countries, take back what we have lost or we can risk annihilating the human race because we have had a set back?

Think about it? Nuclear weapons are a last resort not a first option.

What would you even gain? You lose a line on a map the Government loses its offices and instead of fighting on you drop a Nuclear weapon on the enemy from a Vanguard Submarine who in response drop one on Faslane and one on Aldermaston. They still have the country.

Phil
September 1, 2014 8:36 pm

Yet you expect states to take seriously and be committed to an alliance that would not guarantee their territorial integrity? How on earth could any state trust the others? Either the smaller state to trust the larger state to defend it or the larger state trusting the smaller state not to sue for peace or fold and invite them in?

Nobody will ever know what would have actually happened had Ivan decided to march West. Perhaps the Germans might have actually said better red than dead and asked NATO to evacuate its territory. That decision never had to be made because NATO projected a will of iron that it would fight and die in place in West Germany and to prove that it structured its forces so. It walked the walk instead of just talking the talk.

The West Germans locked NATO into that state and NATO members accepted being locked into that structure because together NATO members were strong, and together they deterred. If you remove that iron will to fight and die in place and the pledge to defend each state you undermine deterrence, you undermine that strength and you end up with a loose conglomeration of suspicious states ready to fuck the others over at a moments notice perfectly ready to be Denmark in 1940 rather than Germany in 1945.

Alliances are useful because they are a remedy against the anarchic and distrustful nature of the international system and the resulting attitudes states have toward one another. If you don’t lock in your forces with those of others your iron will is nothing more than words, no state will trust that when push comes to shove you’ll put up a fight. West Germany and the UK knew this which is why Germany wanted forward defence and we purchased Trident because nobody would have known if it was a Stars and Stripes or a Union flag on the nose cone. We committed others to fight for us and with us.

The moment you allow operational military matters to usurp such a grand strategy and the remedy of an alliance for the nature of the international system you leave yourself vulnerable.

NATO is more than the sum of its parts but when you de-couple forces and / or show a lack of will it just become 28 insecure, suspicious states out to realise their interests how they see fit and never mind anyone else. You have a recipe for being defeated in detail.

Who knows if we’d ever in some fantasy future launch nuclear weapons against Russia if she over-ran Estonia or Poland. Fact is one must be prepared to say you’ll do it and generate a force posture that matches that policy or you weaken yourself through weakening the alliance. Operational aspects must be subservient to grand strategy. Withdrawing and considering options is fine in abstract operational terms but its poison to an alliance based on projecting a resolute will of collective, vigorous, forward defence in order to stop the great test ever coming about.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 8:45 pm

“Yet you expect states to take seriously and be committed to an alliance that would not guarantee their territorial integrity?”

Nobody expects their “territorial integrity” to be defended with Nuclear weapons as the first choice and that is what you are seriously advocating. Nobody rules out the use of Nuclear weapons but the simple fact is that NATO nuclear weapons today exist as a means of ensuring that our overwhelming superiority in conventional forces can be deployed whilst the enemy knows that any resort to WMDs can be met with massive Nuclear retaliation or a preemptive strike.

As I pointed out in my last post, we are no longer in a Cold war situation facing a massive foe with both sides prepared to use Tac nuclear weapons so it would not even gain you any advantage beyond 10-15 million dead people in a couple of countries which you deem worthy to save an ongoing conflict or a slight delay in a conventional response like Kuwait.

Phil
September 1, 2014 8:48 pm

On the sideline here but it isn’t just the nuclear deterrent that NATO states buy into is it?

When you’re dealing with Russia you can’t just wave away the issue of nuclear weapons. It shows a lack of serious thought and recognition of reality. Nobody likes to talk about nuclear weapons because they rob us of our supremacy in the operational level of warfare or at least stymie thinking in that area because success on the battlefield isn’t going to be worth much in a nuclear holocaust so it all gets a bit boring for the Generals.

Phil
September 1, 2014 8:56 pm

@APATS

As I have said many times I don’t say we’re that position at the moment, and I sincerely hope we never are in that situation again. But if NATO is a serious alliance it needs to make that collective defence pledge. And I never said nuclear weapons would be a weapon of first resort, I imagine any re-thinking of doctrine would see a return to notions of flexible response and nuclear weapons being touted as a weapon of last resort. But that moment of last resort will, if any country on the frontier is sensible, be linked to its own inevitable demise which is what West Germany did.

Whether when push comes to shove it would happen and we’d launch I have no idea, as I have said I imagine an air burst or some such over water would be used as a signal to back the fuck off. We certainly didn’t completely trust the Americans to take the plunge on our behalf and the West Germans likewise didn’t trust anyone else to take the plunge and so NATO collective defence was overlaid with force structures that locked everyone in. It suited everyone because rather happily the result is an alliance where nobody has to trust anybody because force structure imposes its own influences on available options and you have a solid, largely immovable alliance that thus acts as a deterrence and is acceptable domestically because its safe and equitable and shares burdens.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 9:06 pm

@ Phil

I have been saying they would and are a weapon of last resort for 2 bloody days :) However the moment of last resort is not when a Government temporarily loses its place of work. It is much easier to have an inter locking force structure that includes Nuclear weapons when everyone has a single enemy they are scared of.

you then get into scary territory. all an airburst over water actually proves is that you have a functional warhead and delivery system. Everyone knows that we do. So you would actually have to use one and that is where the “fun and games” begin. Shockingly enough this country that may get over run does not want them dropped inside her borders so you Nuke somewhere in the enemy country. they then Nuke somewhere in the firing country. Millions dead military situation completely unchanged. tactical Nuclear weapons and limited exchanges had a purpose in the Cold war it is far more difficult to see one in todays world.
The exception of course being as I posted earlier that if anyone uses WMDs against NATO then we reserve the right and the capability to turn them to glass.

Phil
September 1, 2014 9:23 pm

However the moment of last resort is not when a Government temporarily loses its place of work.

Operationally I agree. But in terms of presenting an alliance for collective defence, then yes it is. Especially as any country worth its salt will make sure that force posture matches that assumption. As I have said the evidence for that is found in West German behaviour and our own behaviour during the Cold War. We explicitly purchased Trident so ensure that if we launched, the Americans couldn’t sit it out and thereby locked the US into our defence. Estonia etc will seek almost by instinct to lock NATO into its defence in a similar way and it will suit NATO to be so locked. BUT as I have also said I really don’t see that international context developing – it would take some very big changes and I don’t think Russia is interested in it.

you then get into scary territory. all an airburst over water actually proves is that you have a functional warhead and delivery system. Everyone knows that we do.

Don’t read too much into that example I’m just throwing that out there. A few other serious thinkers have suggested the same thing, that a demonstration would be useful. Others have just argued that if you launch a nuke, you launch to fight. Hope we never know. I just argue we’d might look for excuses not to launch a full on strike initially.

Shockingly enough this country that may get over run does not want them dropped inside her borders so you Nuke somewhere in the enemy country.

But historical evidence shows otherwise. West Germany had ADMs and understood that nuclear weapons might be used on its territory and accepted NATO exercises where this happened.

It is much easier to have an inter locking force structure that includes Nuclear weapons when everyone has a single enemy they are scared of.

Certainly don’t disagree. That’s why NATO has had such a crisis of purpose since 1989. Without an existential threat that was focused against it, countries have been freer to do as they please and take as much or as little of NATO as they please. There’s no imperative for interlocking defence beyond buying into the idea of it and talking about it – you can’t lock in defence is nobody is threatening to come to you. So everything became much looser and dissent greater, its raison d’etre was undermined and states could no longer trust the level of support each other would give.

Now with us getting our cage rattled by Putin it’s noticeable just how belligerent the member states have become again and how focused minds have become. The Germans have had a personality transplant. Real, palpable and clear interests are being tickled here and it shows in the rhetoric being fired back at Russia.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 9:36 pm

@ Phil

We purchased trident as the Polaris Chevaline update was not going to cut it. The rest of your post is pure Cold war thinking. I point out that in the 21st century a country may not want a Nuke dropped on it. You cite germany during the Cold war as evidence it would. well during the Cold war was going to suffer, it had massive history with the Soviets and the occupation would be brutal and the chances of re taking it would be far less.
A completely situation than the one we find ourselves in today.

Also even the serious “thinkers” have struggled to come up with a credible theory for the scenario I described. That does not spiral.

You see NATO as weaker without your “interlocking defence theory with Nukes”. It is not but it is different, it does far more now than it ever did before and has become far more agile and responsive.

Phil
September 1, 2014 9:55 pm

Yes it was a progression from chevaline but it is a matter of historical record that the fact it would lock the US into our defence was a factor in the purchase of that particular system. Peter Hennessy’s book is the source for that.

I never said NATO was weaker in the way you state. Russia has not been a massive factor for some time and so it’s only right that NATO diversified as it were. But against a threat to real interests that is focused like a potential Russian scenario, then indeed it is far weaker if defences are not interlocked. Horses for courses. If NATO wants to put pressure on Russia it can continue vaguely as it is. If NATO wants to defend against Russia then the old solutions will come about because they work.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 10:03 pm

Massive difference between a factor and the factor. most of the cabinet did not want to buy C4 and indeed Thatcher agreed the deal and then told them.
There are no time for old solutions. Do not make the mistake of thinking that an emergent Russia would require the same defensive profiles as the Warsaw pact did. So much has changed. I had several people working for me who could remember Blue being the bad guys as serving personnel. the geography, the politics and the context has changed forever. Any future threat has to be treated as new and tackled as such not simply as a return to old school Cold war thinking.

Phil
September 1, 2014 10:18 pm

I’ll make one more post on this point and then I think I’ll be repeating myself.

I am not arguing for dusting off the old NATO structures and organisations as they were in 1989. Everything has to be contextualised at the detailed level.

But the nature of the international system remains the same and thus the solution will remain, broadly speaking, the same. Which is a united front, public commitment to forward defence and interlocking defensive structures that transform pledges into reliable capabilities.

We still exist in an international system that is virtually the same as 1989. The system is still anarchic and the intra state organisations designed to mediate that effect all still exist in the west as they did in 1989. States are still untrusting, deceitful and crave their own security.

Waving away ‘cold war thinking’ is disingenuous. Any serious student of history sees continuity thoughout. There’s been no fundamental change to the international system and thus no change in its nature. NATO Cold War thinking respected that nature and it was successful. In future in similar contexts any solution that ignores the nature of the international system because it’s old fashioned Cold War thinking is no solution at all.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 10:30 pm

“Waving away ‘cold war thinking’ is disingenuous. Any serious student of history sees continuity thoughout. There’s been no fundamental change to the international system and thus no change in its nature. ”

Have you not looked out your window in the last 23 years? We have had huge changes and massive shifts in military and geo political power bases. Huge differences between now and 1991. We have moved from a Bi polar world to a single super power towards another possibly bi polar possibly multi polar world. We have see the rise of Islamic international Terrorism. The challenge of global resource management, the evolution of new tech and new resources. The evolution of the EU and Europe. The problems in Africa. The integration of the former Warsaw pact States, the actual strategic impact of global warming etc etc
It is not just waving away cold war thinking, it is about the ability to assess and grade the amount of importance that previous behaviour and history should have in a professional assessment and that is difficult to explain.

Phil
September 1, 2014 10:49 pm

Can you see the wood for the trees?

The international system is fundamentally the same. Sovereign states existing in an anarchic context pursuing their own perceived self interest, only coming together when it is that same self interest.

Stage is the same. The system is the same. If you don’t acknowledge that the nature of the problem is the same then any cutting edge posture or position paper or policy is probably not going to work. Any analysis will be flawed. The trimmings are different certainly I’ve never argued otherwise but you’re still dealing with predicting the behaviour of states that exist in precisely the same system as four hundred years ago.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 1, 2014 11:00 pm

@ Phil

The system is the same as in we still have a world and countries but beyond that so much has changed. I illustrated several of them you hark back to the old sovereign states still exist. Of course they do but look at how many of them have split up, look at where alliances have changed, resources have been discovered, others discarded. Threats have merged, others have receded.
The stage and the system it employs may be the same but the actors the script and the interests and influences have changed massively,

Martin
Editor
September 2, 2014 9:34 am

@ Observer – My concern with giving in to Putin on Ukraines boarder is that it will never stop. we are not talking ethnic people here but just simply those who speak Russian. This includes a sizeable chunk of the baltics and much of West London.

If the guy gets it for free as with Hitler he will only want more. Much better to cripple his country with sanctions and arm his potential targets all of which exerts an increasing cost the more he asks for.

Phil
September 2, 2014 5:31 pm

The system is the same as in we still have a world and countries but beyond that so much has changed.

I don’t disagree. But as you agree the system is the same. Systems influence or even determine behaviour. States will still seek security by either being prepared and able to defend themselves or seek collective defence against a common foe with other states – this is because the international system is still anarchic. States engaged in collective defence will still not trust one another and so will seek assurances and wish for the alliance to be structured in the manner that suits their interests and commits others. This is again because the international system is anarchic.

The article posted by ACC would back that up – that some states within NATO seek security through collective defence but remain suspicious of the commitment of others because there is no structure to lock in the rest of us. This is not surprising seeing as we agreed not to do such a thing in 1997 or so and that probably shouldn’t change unless it really has to as an arms race of some size is the only result that can come of it.

Collective defence changes the system locally for states engaged in it effectively and thus this changed system determines behaviour. Collective defence agreements where force is locked in and the alliance is united means that the system is no longer practically anarchic for those states. There is a higher level of assurance (if not trust per se).

Just to kick it off again and bore everyone to death.

Mike W
September 2, 2014 6:30 pm

Apologies if someone has already reported this (I have only checked so far back in the thread). It looks if I was right way back at the beginning of the thread when, in response to TD’s original post, I speculated that there might be two different response forces being proposed.

The plan to form a joint expeditionary force (British-led, working with the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and with the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark) is confirmed as being separate from the NATO alliance’s plan to forge a very high readiness force to act as spearhead for its response force. (See reports on “Defense News”).

The British-led force would apparently be separate but complementary to the NATO very high readiness force outlined Sept. 1 by NATO Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The former would comprise “approximately 10,000 personnel with the building blocks to grow”, while the latter “could include several thousand troops, ready to respond where needed with air, sea and Special Forces support.”

Hope this clarifies at least some points. It very much looks as if Marcase was right when he suggested that the new NATO task force ‘will no doubt be constructed by the age-old trick of “re-flagging”, or more properly “double-hatting” by giving current units an additional job’. How can it be anything else give our many other alliances and commitments to other formations, all with a decreasing Army?

monkey
monkey
September 2, 2014 7:17 pm

Poland have asked for 10,000 US troops to be permanently stationed on their soil as a deterrence against aggression on their borders. Poland joined over a 10 years ago (along with Hungary, the Czech Republic followed by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia a few years later) or were asked to join at least. I cant seem to find how many non-Polish troops are permanently there but should it of occurred to somebody at NATO that moving all bases from Germany forward into Poland was a logical step. Poland has Russia (Kalingrad) , Belarus and the once not pro-western Ukraine on its Western border, not the best neighbours I would of thought. Did NATO think that an aggressor would cross Poland without firing a shot with just a ‘passing through old chap, no need to worry , be gone in jiffy , just off to bash up the Huns’ .The same surely goes for the new members.
I know we have huge infrastructures well establish in West Germany dating back to the Soviet era but something smells a bit here , if policy was not to give an inch of ground i.e. German ground, what changed? We could of easily of taken of existing ex-Soviet bases in the new member states and adapted them to our needs. What was the reluctance to leave Germany , money , inertia , the brothels ?

El Sid
El Sid
September 3, 2014 2:48 am

@monkey
You are aware of the NATO-Russia Founding Act (http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_25468.htm ) ??
prevent any potentially threatening build-up of conventional forces in agreed regions of Europe, to include Central and Eastern Europe….the Alliance will carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.

It’s always been interpreted as “no permanent bases east of the Iron Curtain” – hence this talk of high-rotation of forces so that none will actually be permanently based there, although it’s fooling noone. Broadly the Anglos are in favour of permanent NATO bases in the East, Club Med are against, Germany is sitting on the fence desperate not to upset Russia.

martin
Editor
September 3, 2014 6:31 am

@ Moneky – As El Sid points out the reason for non permanent NATO forces in Eastern Europe was to calm the Russians nerves.

Also with forces stationed in Western Germany they could be moved relatively rapidly into Poland. However the UK and the USA have now removed most of those forces from Germany. With current Russian behaviour it may well be time to re examine this issue of basing in Eastern Europe. Maybe not a US force but certainly an European NATO force. If the Russians have a problem with Europe guarding its own boarder then they can f**k off. Its interesting to note that despite being best buddies now with China that the bulk of the Russian land forces are still out in Asia.

That being said I still don’t think NATO forces can ever be the answer to the type of A symmetric forces Putin is using. Countries need their own defence to stand up to this and we should make every effort to support nations like Poland and the Baltic’s.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 3, 2014 7:45 am

Phil, a key distinction “There is a higher level of assurance (if not trust per se)”.

Mike W, so that would be the AMF re-born for the flanks, just that you would now have those flanks exclusively up in the North. RE
“The British-led force would apparently be separate but complementary to the NATO very high readiness force outlined Sept. 1 by NATO Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The former would comprise “approximately 10,000 personnel with the building blocks to grow” [“]

El Sid, Poland was very angry when Romania got troops and basing when they agreed to the anti-missile radars, whereas Poland got neither, but rather anti-missile missiles without warheads instead. RE “It’s always been interpreted as “no permanent bases east of the Iron Curtain” – hence this talk of high-rotation of forces so that none will actually be permanently based there, although it’s fooling noone.”
– and though Romania basing was more about the M.East (since 1999), the basing has been expanded since April. as in a notification to the the R. Parliament ” “The U.S. embassy in Bucharest has asked for support from Romanian authorities to expand current operations at the Mihail Kogalniceanu base,” Basescu said in a letter of notification to the speaker of Romania’s lower house of parliament.

The U.S. request would add up to 600 U.S. troops to the roughly 1,000 currently stationed in Romania and would also increase the number of military aircraft there, the letter said.

– a Reuters report on 1 April, not April Fool’s stuff, though

ArmChairCivvyrmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvyrmChairCivvy
September 3, 2014 11:30 am

Been a bit brief in my commentary – lack of time, not words – but here are words around the central messages I have been trying to post:
http://nationalinterest.org/feature/limited-war-back-11128?page=show

monkey
monkey
September 3, 2014 12:29 pm

@El Sid
Thanks for the update on the NATO-Russia Founding Act
Looks like we will have to be as legally ‘inventive’ as Putin’s been in terms of moving his forces westwards.

“If the Russians have a problem with Europe guarding its own boarder then they can f**k off.”
Here Here .
Time to renegotiate or tear up the founding act if you ask me , Russian troops on foreign soil pulling triggers or pressing buttons and downing Airliners smacks to me them tearing it in half , pissing on one half and wiping their collective arses on with the other.
I bet it was the Russians who suggested said Act in the first place , shades of the
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact if you ask me giving Russian time to rearm and retrain its forces.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
September 3, 2014 12:55 pm

The GWB Chair Professor’s article I linked to starts and ends with the usual free-rider argumentation. However,the bits and pieces fitted in-between have a valid argument, and do not relate solely to formal defence unions.

Although territorial defence is used in the civvy (dictionary) meaning, and not relating to an articulated doctrine as adopted by (i.a) the Former Yugoslavia, Finland and, in a partial-form, Switzerland, the point is made. As have I and others made it here already.

Let’s recap. Early on in the Balkans conflict Belgrade sent the Serb-dominated federal divisions to terrorise/ subdue Slovenia. Slovenia mobilised its territorial defence forces. The Feds, who had always trained to be the counterattack force fully understood what they were up against and said”can we leave safely,please “.
– in no time at all Slovenia was A peaceful, B prosperous and C got into the EU plenty quick as the modal pupil in the class.

Peter Elliott
September 4, 2014 8:23 am

BBC piece mostly abuot NATO Exercise Unified Vision.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29032969