Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Giving Russia What They Want

Russia insists NATO is their foe. I guess we need to act like it.

NATO says it will react to Russia's conclusion that NATO is its adversary:

"We must adapt to the fact that Russia now considers us its adversary," Rasmussen told El Pais newspaper.

He said NATO was preparing an aid package to present to its members' foreign ministers at the end of this month that would include help for Ukraine to reform its defence sector and modernise its armed forces.


I think Ukraine has plenty of weapons. They may not be the most modern but they are good enough if maintained, supplied, and used by troops skilled in maneuver warfare.

Ukraine, I think, needs help with training, organization, and logistics. Plus some rebasing of troops to face a Russian threat from Belarus all around their eastern frontier and then back west to Odessa and the border with Transdniestria (I probably spell this differently every time I type it).

NATO needs to build logistics and basing infrastructure into eastern NATO to support the movement of troops there and into Ukraine if necessary.

The United States needs to move ground power east, too:

The preferred solution would be to keep matters simple: move at a minimum one American brigade combat team, preferably two, into Poland; and one into the Baltic States. The total troop commitment could be kept at about 15,000, or possibly 20,000, should the Administration decide to augment its deployments with one or more units going to Romania to offset rising Russia activity in the Black Sea. But in the current climate we may need to get creative and consider other options and configurations.

This is a fine basis for discussion.

As long as Ukraine is not controlled by Russia, air power and naval power in Romania would suffice to put Russia's Black Sea fleet at risk.

We should definitely move a heavy brigade to Poland. Maybe two. But absolutely we should add at least a couple heavy brigade sets to Poland. And ask our German and British allies to add one set of equipment each to Poland. I've called for this since the Russo-Georgia War of 2008.

The Baltic states are a problem. I've suggested moving the equipment set we have for a Marine brigade from Norway to one of the Baltic states--in Riga for example. The idea would be to hold a perimeter until we can counter attack north. I'd rather not have lots of troops up there since the Russians could make their main effort into Poland and potentially cut off any troops in the Baltic states.

I admit we'd have better air and naval power to cope with that situation. I'm counting on that to sustain a bridgehead in the Baltics wherever we move in the Marines.

But still, if we are to put a brigade into the Baltic states, I'd rather reconstitute a real Army armored cavalry regiment skilled in making a fighting withdrawal south while attriting the attacking Russians.

Our main effort should be to hold in Poland; conquer the Russian Kaliningrad pocket; smash any Russian effort to rescue Kaliningrad; and prepare to advance north to relieve the Marine pocket (and whatever Estonian and Latvian forces retreat to that refuge) and drive out the Russians.

Poland is stepping up to defend with us rather that just let us do it on our own:

Alarmed at the recent surge of in Russian aggression against its neighbors (namely in Ukraine), Poland is trying to speed up its long range (2013-2022) military modernization plan. This effort is to cost $43 billion and accelerating some of the purchases means borrowing more money or making cuts in the non-defense parts of the budget. Given the popular fear of Russian aggression, it looks like the money will be found.

Russia has spend a decade or more demonizing NATO which couldn't care less about Russia until Putin wrecked the post-Cold War peace by victimizing Ukraine and seizing Crimea in violation of the UN charter and the Budapest Memorandum under which Russia promised to defend Ukraine's territorial integrity.

We need to give Russia reason to worry about NATO again. If we don't, Russia will push as far west as resistance allows.

I hope Russia enjoys getting what they want. Although they might regret that in 2021.