Thursday, November 24, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

So I mentioned that our friends the Russians apparently are really keen on maintaining their ability to nuke Europe without losing a small percentage of their short-range nuclear arsenal to our planned missile defenses against Iran's smaller developing capabilities. Waste not, want not. This isn't the first time the Russians have expressed this goal.

This author thinks that we should explicitly target some of our nuclear missiles at Moscow and watch them sober up. I disagree. We can quickly target them if needed. If the Russians are dumb enough to think our missile defenses threaten them, they're dumb enough to think that targeting Moscow is serious. If the Russians are just paranoid, then obviously targeting Moscow doesn't help us with that problem. And if Russia is cynically portraying a non-threat as a threat? Well, we've helped them out and done nothing to really check the Russians. Not that the Russians don't do fine without our help by just lying, mind you. It's the failure to check them part that bothers me.

So let's take advantage of Russia's provocative statements by reassuring our eastern NATO allies cursed by geography to lie too close to Russia. Let's redeploy some of our ground forces to Poland. This should be a NATO-wide program. Oh, not a lot, mind you. I don't want to rattle an obviously disturbed Russia. And Russia had trouble pounding Georgia despite lots of advanced planning and Georgia's failure to build more than a peacekeeping army. So we don't need to recreate our Fulda Gap defenses on the Bug River.

But why can't we deploy air defense and advanced elements (with local security MPs) for a division-sized force to southern Poland? We can set up equipment depots for the brigade sets of stuff and supplies they'd need. So just in case, we can fly (or drive or train) in the troops to draw the equipment and take the field. We have this in Germany (REFORGER: or REturn of FORrces to GERmany) and around the globe. Why not REFORPOL? Have a US division headquarters with an aviation and fires brigade plus a couple heavy brigade combat teams, supported by 1 German (or the Franco-British) and 1 British combat brigade (perhaps with another NATO country providing one of the battalions of the Brigade--the Dutch would be a good candidate).

This is the kind of reassurance our newest NATO allies would appreciate and one that doesn't play with nuclear brinkmanship to make a point. I'm really not keen on returning to the days when I knew our and their CEPs and all that. I'm perfectly content to look at the world's military issues in conventional arms terms. Our Cold War strategic situation wasn't really simpler back in those days. It was just that the nuclear issue was so freaking huge that it dwarfed all the other issues that we focus on today, now that we aren't fixated on global nuclear destruction.

Lets show the Russians there is a price for rattling their nuclear sabres at a non-threat to score points at home. And lets show our allies that we are serious about defending all of NATO. But don't raise the issue to nuclear levels. Don't waste this opportunity.