NATO Rapid Response Force

A guest post from Mike W…

Last Thursday, the 5th February, NATO declared plans to enhance its The Readiness Action Plan, the purpose of which is to strengthen NATO’s ability to respond quickly in times of crisis. A series of measures was taken to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the Alliance’s forces.

It was announced that the NATO Response Force will be developed into a division-sized formation, consisting of what are described by the Alliances’ Defence Ministers as “highly capable and flexible multinational forces”. The force will be “trained and organized to rapidly respond to a variety of contingencies.” It will be supported by air and maritime elements and Special Operations Forces.

Its centrepiece will be the new Spearhead Force, which has been named the “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).

This will be a multinational land brigade and will include up to five manoeuvre battalions. The lead element of this land brigade will apparently be ready to move within two or three days, with the rest being able to follow within a week, much faster than current NATO response times. It was also announced that France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK will act as “framework” nations, taking turns to command the Spearhead Force. The VJTF will be supported by two more brigades, which will form a rapid reinforcement capability in case of a major contingency. In total, the enhanced NATO Response Force will number approximately 30,000 troops, a considerable increase on the current size of around 13,000.

Moreover, it was decided to establish six NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs), which will be multinational command and control centres, in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and the Baltic states. These elements will assist in the rapid deployment of Allied forces to the region and support the organization of multinational exercises.

On the surface this seems to be an admirable series of moves. However, there are one or two questions that deeply trouble me.

Firstly, I am very much concerned about precisely what kind of formation the Spearhead Force is likely to be. The NATO decisions have obviously been taken in response to the situation in the Ukraine, where in some respects the crisis appears to be deepening. I might be wrong about this but in the case of potentially substantial conflicts, I would imagine that the Spearhead Force is probably intended to be a “holding” force, until heavier forces from the Response Force arrive. Now, I know that towards the end of last year David Cameron was reported as saying that Britain would provide a battlegroup and a brigade headquarters for the new Rapid Reaction Force but those components will be part of the overall Response Force and, as far as I remember, little was said about the formation of the new Spearhead force. If the overall Response Force is to have a “battlegroup and a brigade headquarters”, then presumably that would include some heavy armour units. Moreover, it is expected that NATO leaders will agree to pre-position equipment and supplies, in eastern European countries with bases ready to receive the NATO Rapid Reaction force if needed. Such an arrangement will enable the new force to “travel light, but strike hard if needed” (in the words of former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen)

It is, however, the composition of the Spearhead Force that troubles me. If it is to be able to deploy “within days”, then it is more likely to be constructed around very rapidly deployable forces such as air mobile or air assault units, such as our own 16 Air Assault Bde. Would there not be a danger of an Arnhem-type situation arising, where lightly armed and equipped forces are over-run by more powerfully armed ones before the main force arrives or have I got NATO’s intentions all wrong? Does such a force need Armour, for instance?

Secondly, the question arises as to how easy it will be to get agreement from NATO member states to actually deploy these forces. The political will is not always evident in many countries and, if a crisis arose and the force were to be deployed ,there is always the danger of partners viewing such a move as inflammatory rather than restoring confidence in allies. Such a question is very relevant, as there have been warnings about a possible split between northern and southern NATO states, which seem to be concerned about different matters, one troubled more about Russia, the other more about the Middle East.

So what do people think about

a) what the composition of the Spearhead Force should be. Which elements would it need and should it include, for instance Armour ? and

b) whether the whole concept of the Rapid Response Force will work, given the nature of the differing views among NATO states.

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Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 7, 2015 8:21 pm

It’s way off topic, but the possibility of being dragged into a general European conflict really concerns me. Russia’s forces may be far smaller than they were and in most cases qualitatively overmatched by their western equivalents, but if Putin decided to stick the boot in, a few bombers and SSNs armed with long range conventionally armed cruise missiles could cause a world of hurt. It’s not hard to imagine what a dozen or so near precision strikes by cruise missiles with unitary or submunition warheads could do to our economy if they hit the likes of the London stock exchange, NATS Swanwick, Milford Haven gas terminal or Felixtowe port control.

Mike Crawshaw
Mike Crawshaw
February 7, 2015 8:45 pm

The best contribution the UK could make, regardless of what fancy names are hung on the ‘new’ capability, would be to put back the clock on withdrawal from Germany. Even a single brigade plus force troops slice would say a lot more than ‘a thousand’ light scales bodies. I think it was a soldier of 101st AB somewhere North of al Jubayl in September 1990 who described himself as ‘a speedbump in the road’. And political statements would have more credibility if they were phrased in terms of squadrons, batteries and battalions than numbers of boots.

I also suspect that the equipment of every contingent of the new force will include several decks of red cards…

monkey
monkey
February 7, 2015 9:07 pm

In terms of a response to a Russian escalation of the present Ukrainian situation whether it be their own forces or by proxy using the existing pro-Russian Ukrainians, however unlikely, or by forces from Belarussia the only response is a hammer blow by heavy armour and air-power . Any less is just putting lightly armed troops facing armour in needless danger, OPFOR won’t be leaving the T-72’s in the garage and commandeer as many Toyota Hi-lux’s as they can find like ISIS. The sooner heavy units are prepped for dispatch at short notice the better. In terms of political will there is no hope of such preperations happening even with incontrovertible proof of massing soviet heavy forces :-( Unfortunately the Baltic states and the Ukraine are the trip wires to this conflict, in the past the West German border would have given a very clear signal to Russian aggression now these states will be rolled over with BS coming from the Kremlin about troop incursions being needed to secure their borders or the Kalingrad area and will be limited etc. Shades of eastern Poland in 1939.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 7, 2015 10:09 pm

The likes of Javelin mean light forces really can give armour a bloody nose now. I’m not sure to what extent the Russians equip their remaining tanks with DECM or APS, but I strongly doubt it’s universal issue. Giving the Baltic States’ armies a liberal issue of Javelin and (shock, horror!) area denial munitions might give the Russians second thoughts about mounting such incursions.

Mickp
Mickp
February 7, 2015 10:20 pm

I’d leave forces in Germany. Divisional HQ and an armoured brigade and support. Sure have the rapid reaction force but if it ever deploys good to have heavy back up to hand

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 7, 2015 10:28 pm

The way I see it the lead elements of the RRF would get into position rapidly in a crisis to form a deterrent “trip-wire” that essentially said “If you attack us, you are attacking the whole of NATO” – a bit like AMF(L) used to be back in the Cold War – although it also had significant military capability given its likely areas of deployment.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 7, 2015 10:45 pm

I’m not one for constantly coming up with technological solutions to tactical problems, but something like this would be completely non provocational to the Russians, easy to deploy and again give them something to think about. Too bad it was cancelled…

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/m93.htm

TrT
TrT
February 7, 2015 11:21 pm

The lead elements of the brigade will be ready to move in three days.

Yeah…
The Russians would be in Kiev in three hours.

And that’s not even the division, that’s just the lead elements of one brigade.
God knows how long it would take a dozen participating nations to agree what silverware would be used in the officers mess on what evenings.
Or what battalion gets left behind so the rest can retreat.

Mickp
Mickp
February 7, 2015 11:43 pm

I assume the paras can go in hours and this new spearhead force will be the one that follows within a day or two?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 7, 2015 11:44 pm

A confusing topic (not Mike’s text!).

In Wales, if memory serves, a highly mobile bde for N. Europe and a heavy bde for C. Europe were envisaged.

They seem to have morphed, so that the former is now a lead element for the latter (which has also multiplied, from one to two?).

Good stuff. Now we can postulate whether a 44 or a 58 tank rgmnt should form the nucleus of said bde(s). Depending on the day when you take the count, the rebels in E. Ukraine have 200 to 500 tanks … Not that I say these forces would ever be outside NATO nations’ areas. Just a quick comparison.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 7, 2015 11:47 pm

Kuwait tripwire: 82nd, the lightest US division.

101st, lots of gubbings for doing air assault… Takes forever to move them.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 8, 2015 12:11 am

82nd Airborne.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 8, 2015 12:21 am

4 x M551 Sheridan Light Tanks LVAD C-5B Paradrop: http://youtu.be/50cpPAVoxJQ

The Belgians left tanks at home and 600 paratroopers arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, in one lift.

Obsvr
Obsvr
February 8, 2015 2:29 am

Sounds to me like the re-creation of the AMF(L), which was a light force originally formed in about 1966. The HQ was multi-national and based in Heidleberg, but all units were home based. UK dedicated an infantry bn (which changed every few years), and a permanent arty regt HQ & one battery (105), other btys came from other nations, English was the common language and UK arty procedures used (which were the same as US and CA). Although they were light forces BV 206 were used.

Martin
Editor
February 8, 2015 2:44 am

the issue with propositioning heavy kit in these countries is it’s likely to inflame the situation even more. The main job is to make it clear to the Russians that they will be fighting western NATO forces if they enter the eastern NATO countries. This is especially true of US forces. That way the Russians know we won’t simply be able to turn a blind eye if our own personnel are engaged.

I still think our best bet is making funds available to equip the eastern NATO members, dish out javelin missiles like lollipops and build a very strong regrouped based air Defence system with patriot, Aster and FLAADS. This way we do t have to worry too much about the Germans getting cold feet. weak nations like Greece make NATO politically vulnerable. All it needs is one to veto action to give the likes of Germany an excuse to hold off and the entire thing can be unravelled.

If Putin comes against NATO it won’t be directly with armored divisions but bit by bit and NATO is not ready for that kind of attack.

S O
S O
February 8, 2015 3:36 am

I had meant to write a blog post about these bureaucracy shenanigans of NATO and EU for a long time.
It’s disgusting bureaucratic behaviour; they create extra staffs, extra red tape, extra procedures even though it’s obvious that in case of real need the plans would not be used, but something else would be improvised ad hoc.

A MUCH better approach would be to run deployment and partially free-play cooperation (and confrontation) exercises in which brigades as a whole with ammo and spares would be deployed on very short notice (days) without any prior warning. Mandate that every year one or two Italian brigades will be surprise-deployed to an exercise in Poland, Romania or Turkey and they’ll all be forced to put effort into that kind of readiness.
Make sure that umpires and after-action reports are harsh AND get published, so the national armed bureaucracies have to fear embarrassment or worse.

NATO’s bureaucracies and OOB should really be reduced to a <1,000 heads SHAPE and some multinational support aviation squadrons.

—-
About the tripwire stuff: I'm not a fan.
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2008/08/tripwires.html
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2013/03/tripwire-forces-again.html

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 8, 2015 7:50 am

‘the issue with propositioning heavy kit in these countries is it’s likely to inflame the situation even more.’

We used to train in Poland until quite recently and had a brief gap before the exercise recently, why would this inflame the situation? and if it did is that not sort of the point, we are drawing a line in the sand at NATO’s borders surely it’s no different than BAOR in concept.

If your pre-positioning equipment there is no point using light formations. Is there not a bty’s a worth of AS90 and a sqn of C2in a hangar somewhere? we could move them to Poland and train with them a few times a year, would be good for reservists as well to get their hands on now and again. And if you used a wheeled Infantry formation i.e. foxhound/Mastiff (or maybe FRES UV) you could drive to the borders (civilian filling stations could be used to refuel along the way) of Europe in more or less the same time but be fully loaded and ready as soon as they arrive.

Keep the light formation reaction forces for out of NATO area ops where they could be more useful.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 8, 2015 8:26 am

A Javelin of its time and before standardising on BVs happened:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/Wombat-carrier-variant.jpg

A good idea by SO. However, a bit harsh on the New organisations: they are there to prove procedure, and thereby pave the way for scaleability.

Martin
Editor
February 8, 2015 9:36 am

@ David Niven

It will inflame the situation with Russia because we have an agreement not to permanently station forces in east NATO countries with them.

We might not see that as a reason not to station equipment there but the Russians won’t see it that way. The Russians are still quite paranoid of NATO and given the overwhelming strength NATO has in comparison to them moving forces closer to their boarder will unnerve them even more. This paranoia is half the reason we are in this mess in the first place.

If the Russians do try to enter NATO territory it will be the same tactics as in eastern Ukraine, using proxy forces. Light forces should be able to stand against this in conjunction with heavier forces supplied by the host nation.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 8, 2015 9:54 am

‘It will inflame the situation with Russia because we have an agreement not to permanently station forces in east NATO countries with them.’

Where was this written, or is it just a gentlemans agreement? station them in the eastern part of Germany then.

‘Light forces should be able to stand against this’

I don’t see the logic in that as the equipment the Russians have been supplying to the separatists would hardly be considered light and they have been making gains against an army with some fairly substantial equipment. Putting light forces into the mix would not be suitable IMO, countries such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia only have light forces it’s the heavier stuff that NATO can bring to their assistance.

WiseApe
February 8, 2015 10:38 am

“It will inflame the situation with Russia…” – Would that be the same Russia that is seeking to overthrow one of its neighbours? Well, we wouldn’t want to inflame them, would we.

Why not redirect some of our massive foreign aid budget to where it could, you know, aid foreigners?

http://www.armyrecognition.com/february_2015_global_defense_security_news_uk/ukraine_would_like_to_boost_production_of_main_battle_tanks_by_2300_percent_in_2016.html

AndyC
February 8, 2015 10:51 am

For those who argue leaving forces in Germany I think you need to look at exactly how far the Polish/Baltic States eastern national boundaries are from the Rhine. Even if our forces were located there they’d still need airlifting to get anywhere near to where the Russian forces would be. Bearing in mind how stretched our troop numbers are I would rather have more forces with them all in the UK, than fewer but some in Germany.

As to what forces:
1. forward air bases to allow for the very rapid deployment of fast jets loaded up with Brimstone, SPEAR and Storm Shadow with air defence and the RAF Regiment to protect them;
2. light but powerful anti-tank forces such as Apache helicopters and lots of Javelin equipped troops so that does mean 16 AA Brigade and SAS.

Don’t also forget the need to defend Norway which would still come under the Royal Marines mandate.

These forces would have to hold until heavier elements could be deployed and that’s what they should be being trained for.

Dan
Dan
February 8, 2015 10:55 am

The point of a tripwire force is not to fight and win.
The point is to die or at least be prepared to die.

The Berlin Brigade could never successfully defend Berlin but if enough died public opinion would not allow politicians to just look the other way.

The not deploying permanent foreign NATO forces in the new NATO members is a function both of a gentleman’s agreement at the time of accession of the new countries and of the CFE Treaty.

The reality is if we are defending against full frontal assault via the Third Guards Tank Army coming over the hill, then at present we will have a few days as they fight through Belarus and Ukraine first. If we see ad hoc cyber attacks and protest by Russian speakers in the Baltic states then a Tank Division is not the response.

The idea that NATO is going to move into Ukraine to fight is simply nonsense, if Putin sent the Russian Army all the way to Kiev and Odessa we would impose sanctions, but we are not going to risk a single British or French soldier for territory which was Russian going back to the time of Catherine the Great.

Chris
Chris
February 8, 2015 11:00 am

WiseApe – as reported in the linked page, “Russia has over 2,750 tanks in active service, with more than 18,000 in storage” – that’s one bear we really shouldn’t be prodding with a pointed stick. As a comparison their reserve pool of armour has twice as many MBTs as the entire production of the US Abrams, all types and for all customers. UK thinks it will be able to field 227 Challenger II CLEP (although rumours are strong that numbers will fall: http://www.janes.com/article/40057/dvd-2014-uk-challenger-2-lep-numbers-may-drop) or less than 10% of Vlad the Bad’s active armour force. While some of the 21,000ish Russian tanks might be old technology or in poor running order, and Chally-CLEP might be the bee’s knees, I doubt a toe-to-toe confrontation would be the walk-over that the force-multiplier weenies would be sure to assure MOD strategists.

Best hope the bear is still sleepy.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 8, 2015 11:16 am


‘Even if our forces were located there they’d still need airlifting to get anywhere near to where the Russian forces would be’

Travemünde is the largest German ferry port on the Baltic with links to Latvia and Estonia (a NATO fleet of a fewJHSV?). Poland is a drive away from Germany, we used to drive and train to it for every exercise. Lübeck is close to Travemünde with good road and rail links to the rest of Germany and by default Europe. As the Baltic states are most at risk from the same sort of events that have happened in Ukraine by virtue of having a % of ethnic Russian’s within their populations I would say we plan from there.

‘lots of Javelin equipped troops so that does mean 16 AA Brigade and SAS.’

16AAB and the SAS cannot physically carry lots of Javelin, they weigh 20 odd KG with the firing post. How many vehicles are in a Para btn?

‘The idea that NATO is going to move into Ukraine to fight is simply nonsense’

Who has even suggested that? NATO is a collective defence organisation.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
February 8, 2015 11:35 am

Sod that, will never happen.

Buy lots more boats, and make sure we’ve got something expensive to fly off them. Nigerian pirates are a far more existential threat.

Mickp
Mickp
February 8, 2015 11:51 am

There might be some additional travel from Germany to the Eastern NATO borders but not withdrawing from Germany is less inflammatory than deciding to base an armoured battle group in Poland. It to me sends the right message that we are taking things seriously without upping the ante from what we effectively have now. I am not suggesting Cold War type panic but halting the draw down and keeping our heavy forces at decent strength with decent kit. Can we re look at the fudge of the adaptable brigades and form another fighting reactive divisional structure at medium weight.

Observer
Observer
February 8, 2015 12:24 pm

The best “holding force” is the armed forces of the country being attacked.

Most people don’t notice it, but the citizens of a country can massively outnumber any invading army easily. They should be the ones holding ground while the rest of NATO gets sorted out into offensive units, not defensive ones.

Case in point, what is the total number of UK servicemen? 200k? 250k? Compare it with your total population. And imagine what would happen if even a quarter of all the males in the UK took up arms and fought against the Army.

WiseApe
February 8, 2015 12:32 pm

“Best hope the bear is still sleepy.” – What exactly does Russia have to do to be awake – Crimea and Ukraine not enough?

Repulse
February 8, 2015 1:55 pm

Whilst I agree that the Eastern boarders should be defended and a rapid reaction force is prudent, let’s face it anything near EU / NATO territory is going to be more bluster than actually dangerous. For me the next stage of the “Cold War” will be in the seas around the Artic or even into the Atlantic (excuse the pun). Having a RN ASW group operating in the area is where the UK could make a difference rather than a few defensive light land forces.

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
February 8, 2015 3:38 pm

I think there are valid points being made about the delay resulting from political shenanigans in our less robust NATO capitals, but from a purely military perspective, there should be plenty of time to respond to any significant conventional threat because the sensors available to NATO would give adequate notice of the necessary build-up to mount and sustain any incursion into the Baltic states.

However, the threat will not be from Javelin bait T-90s rolling across the fields, but from the cyber and proxy thrusts used so professionally in Ukraine. As another commentator has already said, NATO is not yet geared to handle this as effectively as it might, through aggressive proxy counter-attack. The cyber reaction could be managed competently by – for example – the UK, but NATO as a ‘whole’ would struggle to co-ordinate and implement this. Assuming though that the UK – on a relatively non-attributable basis – took down Kaliningrad’s networks, the Central Library of St Petersburg, and the Moscow Metro on a Monday morning, you’re looking at the Estonians as your NATO proxy response, and for this task they’d need equipping appropriately. As pointed out already, despite the desire to willy-wave, the answer is NOT to antagonise Russia by basing MBT divisons in Eastern Europe. This would be dangerous and counter-productive, at least at this stage in the developing scenario. The answer is to attack aggressively, like Putin, in a proxy manner, and in so doing, cause him pain (= body bags), money, and loss of face through no progress. He has to experience – and be surprised by – a sharp and aggressive difference to the muted mumblings so far.

On the Ukraine, please, forget all about any European and NATO response to this, short of perhaps some murky, medium-tech arms shipments through third countries to cause irritation to the Russians. It is not our fight, they are people of the same race and culture and it is their own matter. The Ukrainians are a difficult lot at the best of times, and I wouldn’t fret about their position. Punish Putin through more sanctions and economically only for this transgression. To try a half-way house response weakens NATO’s credibility. It should be made clear that militarily, NATO will not respond to Ukraine matters, but most definitely will to the Baltics etc.

I sort of get RT’s thrust over many posts about the floaty boaty expenditure, but despite Libya, despite Ukraine and despite Baltic threats, the maritime environment will represent the theatre in which the reduction of USN superiority will yield the most risk. But that’s another story…..

monkey
monkey
February 8, 2015 5:08 pm

“should such units have “beefed-up” air defences?”
The Egyptians in their Sinai campaign in the Yom Kippur attack left light forces to their own devices untill they could bridge the canal for tanks. Conventional weaponry teams combined with the then new Saggar ATGM teams and a AAM shield stopped the very well trained Israeli tank forces. A modern version of such defences could hold up briefly Russian armour IF they are unwilling to take heavy casualties.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 8, 2015 5:36 pm

Were things to kick off with the Russians, there is a good chance it would be premeditated on their part. if so. Were that the case, there is every chance that they would target prepositioned equipment and barracks etc. with cruise missiles, rocket delivered mines, submunitions etc. Ditto every military airfield within hundreds of miles. Were they to get really serious, they could hit miltary instllations in the UK and key civilian or dual-use infrastructure with A/SLCMs and sortie SSNs and SSKs out into the Atlantic. They could really mess us up. The last time we got sucked by a treaty obligation to come to the defence of an Eastern European country it didn’t end happily for our expeditionary force and that country ended up in the hands of one of the invaders for another 44 years.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 8, 2015 5:41 pm

The quick learners have been
A the IDF, and
B Russia.

Both world leaders in putting active defences – to test – and then – in rolling them out.

AAM shield on the other hand, applies to
1. Using it to counter the expected inferiority in A2A (not expected in the argument made)
2. Using them from home soil, not needing to be moved (thus preserving the surprise element; again does not apply in the argument made)
3. The calculation of bridging to be effected, to bring tanks to bear, could be done fairly accurately (as the other side would have to mobilise… Again does not apply, as the argument goes the other way around)

as
as
February 8, 2015 5:44 pm

Putin is behaving like a ‘mid 20th century tyrant’ in Ukraine and must pay the price, warns Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2944613/Putin-behaving-like-mid-20th-century-tyrant-Ukraine-pay-price-warns-Foreign-Secretary-Philip-Hammond.html

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 8, 2015 5:58 pm

Was sad to see the previous Foreign Affairs Minister step down, but it seems to me that the new trio (Def. & Chair for Parliamentary Oversight included) are actually pulling it together (and puĺling together, too, more or less).

The 100 day honeymoon on the unusual side of the GE??

TrT
TrT
February 8, 2015 9:06 pm

What happens if Russia calls the bluff, surrounds the light first response battalion with a heavy armoured brigade? Do they surrender and Russia returns to the table with 500 enemy combatants held on a knife edge? Or does Russia kill them all with an artillery barrage?

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 8, 2015 9:18 pm

Or James Blunt refuses to open fire on the Russians….

MSR
MSR
February 8, 2015 9:38 pm

Why do some think that Reapers would not be effective in eastern Ukraine? The Georgians had drones and used them, and the Russians complained mightily that they couldn’t counter them, nor had anything equivalent in their own ORBAT.

Can anyone think of an example in which prepositioned kit was of any use by the time it came to use it? All the ones I can think of suffered from one or more of the following: they had their equipment vandalised by locals, or stolen by their own caretakers, or were simply “maintained” into useless piles of scrap through the dutiful following of maintenance regimes.

The Other Chris
February 8, 2015 10:01 pm

Hang on a minute, nobody mentioned there was an opportunity to send James Blunt out to Ukraine… let’s not be hasty with ruling this possibility out.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 8, 2015 10:38 pm

Never to my knowledge heard a James Blunt song…but I confess that I am much in favour of his willingness to take on all comers on line; especially hypocrites drawn from the political class…

GNB

Observer
Observer
February 8, 2015 11:20 pm

Russia won’t go beyond their borders, they did that in the Cold War and historically have never been able to hold their conquests. They learned from that. Unfortunately, that leaves a lot they can do within what they see as their “territory”.

I don’t think they are out to conquer Ukraine, just to cause a lot of trouble and if they get lucky, set up another puppet government, but the odds of that are very, very low, hence their hands off approach using rebel proxies. Face it, if they wanted to, they could have used their army and gone into Ukraine the instant ex-President Yanukovych gave them Caucus Belli when he ran to them. In a strange way, I guess you can say Russia is trying to stabilize the situation too, by building a buffer zone between it and NATO.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 9, 2015 1:24 am

“Can anyone think of an example in which prepositioned kit was of any use by the time it came to use it?”

In GW1 the US made massive use of prepositioned equipment sets. I’d guess they did to a lesser extent in GW2, but the scale of land forces used in that operation was far smaller.

tweckyspat
February 9, 2015 8:59 am

No doubting the Very high readiness Bdes are more of a political act … nevertheless a major change in NATO thinking which should not be dismissed.

Steve Saideman’s recent book on NATO in Afghanistan highlights many of the issues which will come to the fore in any use of a multinational force in the future.

I am surprised that so many people on this site thinka return to AMF(L) or BAOR structures will solve the current crisis. Russia has changed (its tactics at least), the political landscape has changed , NATO at 28 nations, post Afghanistan, is a very different animal, why on earth would rebuilding The Broadway club at JHQ solve anything ?

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 9, 2015 4:15 pm

I wasn’t slagging off James Blunt. I really like him. I was referring to this:

http://www.anorak.co.uk/366170/celebrities/how-james-blunt-prevented-world-war-iii-but-not-how-you-think.html/

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 9, 2015 4:39 pm

It is a good story; even better with live delivery by JB

monkey
monkey
February 9, 2015 4:43 pm


I too see a response to Russian expansionism needing to be countered by a more Eastern version of BAOR more of the Don and Vistula than the Rhine. I agree Putin will be more subtle than to roll his present out of date and ill equipped forces (however much they still are quite significant) westwards and in all likelihood he is wishing for such a NATO response to justify his rearming programme but I think he will go ahead come what may and we will have to do it anyway. Much of the Warsaw pact is now arranged against Russia with the NATO border a 1000km closer to Moscow than in 1989 and Putin et al must be feeling hemmed in by Nations who have not a lot of love lost for the old heart of the Soviet Union. The Russian Tsarist Empire and the following Soviet one had a habit of encouraging ethnic Russians to migrate to new areas of empire and has little enclaves all over Asia and eastern Europe how would call themselves Russian. Chetneya , Georgia , Armenia , Crimea have all flared up on this one aspect and will continue to do so. Moscow being a 1000km further way is how I like it , well away from our shores .

S O
S O
February 9, 2015 4:58 pm

“Why do some think that Reapers would not be effective in eastern Ukraine? The Georgians had drones and used them, and the Russians complained mightily that they couldn’t counter them, nor had anything equivalent in their own ORBAT.”

???

Kent
Kent
February 9, 2015 4:58 pm

@Observer – “Case in point, what is the total number of UK servicemen? 200k? 250k? Compare it with your total population. And imagine what would happen if even a quarter of all the males in the UK took up arms and fought against the Army.”

UK gun laws make that scenario unlikely to be effective. On the other hand, there are around 100,000,000 gun owners in the United States, many of them veterans with a significant proportion of combat veterans. Since the French admitted post Charlie Hebdo that their restrictive gun laws were ineffective in preventing such attacks, EU countries might want to reconsider their gun laws. Right now, a levee en masse might end up armed like many of the Irish in 1916: pikes against rifles and machine guns. http://thumbs1.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/mpCimKctOD5d7RiXnYpFTdg.jpg

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 9, 2015 5:44 pm

@Kent “Like the Irish in 1916″…I think you might have 1798 in mind old chap…the Emerald Isle was very well equipped with modern firearms well before the outbreak of the Great War, mostly in the hands of what I think you chaps would refer to as (a number of) “well regulated militias”…and our near-ban on the private ownership of guns is of comparatively recent date, although gun ownership was not very widespread even before the 1968 Firearms Act.

You are, however, perfectly correct as to the practical implications of the current arrangements with respect to any idea of a “Levee en masse”…we couldn’t even beat the French… :-(

GNB

Kent
Kent
February 9, 2015 7:13 pm

@GNB – I’m afraid you’re right. The French could arm millions with stale baguettes! On second thought, they wouldn’t even have to be stale to be deadly.

Observer
Observer
February 9, 2015 8:54 pm

Kent, I love guns, I really do. But I see widespread gun ownership as a solution to terrorist attacks a situation similar to flooding your house to put out a stove fire. You get terrorist attacks once in a blue moon. You get normal crimes daily.

Personally, if I had access to a firearm, I doubt I could resist the temptation to remove the heads of a few of my more annoying colleagues. Right about now, if a few of them died, I’d be celebrating, so don’t tempt me!

High stress environment + guns = more people going over the edge. I’ll probably be one of them. If one of my “colleagues” don’t do me in first, but at least it’ll settle the shit once and for all. Some times, I find it a pity dueling was abolished.

MSR
MSR
February 9, 2015 10:36 pm

@ Chris Werb

[Quote]
“Can anyone think of an example in which prepositioned kit was of any use by the time it came to use it?”

In GW1 the US made massive use of prepositioned equipment sets. I’d guess they did to a lesser extent in GW2, but the scale of land forces used in that operation was far smaller.
[End Quote]

I remember that. I was living nearby when they emptied the warehouses at what was left of the former RAF Burtonwood. Very large quantities of the stuff they dragged out was junk. During and after GW1, when the decision was made to empty the place and sell it (was subsequently used by Kellogs, among others, until demolished for housing) they dug very big holes and dumped tons of kit (including lots of smaller stuff that wasn’t actually broken, and this was often enough to bring a tear to the eye to see it all going in). Burtonwood suffered quite badly from maintenance-itis, rather than the theft and vandalism problems I mentioned, earlier. What was really annoying was that the powers-that-be knew this, and planned around it rather than trying to fix it!

There are still one or two places where houses have not yet been built and where an athletic chap with a strong back, stout shovel and a full moon might score himself a few interesting items, if he can dig like one of the old pioneers!

MSR
MSR
February 9, 2015 10:40 pm

@ S O

Didn’t say drones were bullet-proof. I said reports from the conflict regarded them as effective and a problem for the Russians.

Clearly Mig-29s are also effective, hence their use in the destruction of drones.

Edit: my earlier use of ‘counter’ was inaccurate.

Delta Whiskey
Delta Whiskey
February 12, 2015 7:06 pm

Observer, it’s one thing to talk about it but if I really gave you a handgun with loaded mags you’d probably think twice before putting your finger on the trigger!

Gun ownership generally shouldn’t be demonized in and of itself, there’s a lack of empirical fact in public debate, not that there’s much of that outside the US.

Don’t mean to derail the discussion anyway.