Sunday, August 31, 2014

Neither Full Nor Operational and Not Much of a Capability

As Putin rattles his nuclear sabre, NATO rouses itself:

Seven NATO allies plan to create a new rapid reaction force of at least 10,000 soldiers as part of plans to boost NATO defenses in response to Russia's intervention in Ukraine, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

The aim is to create a division-sized joint expeditionary force for rapid deployment and regular exercises. The British-led force would include air and naval units as well as ground troops, the newspaper said.

One, if the force includes air and naval units yet is only 10,000 strong, that is not a division-sized ground unit. Maybe we're talking a brigade of ground forces.

Two, what happened to the NATO Response Force that only 8 years ago was declared as having achieved full operational capability?

I'd keep 5 American brigades in Europe plus the ability to fly in troops for several more unit sets of heavy brigades. But nobody asked me.

On the other hand, war in Europe instigated by Russia means nobody needs to ask me to get the idea.

UPDATE: As I suspected, the force will be able to deploy up to a brigade of ground troops:

A senior NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the spearhead force could range from "a very small size up to something potentially as large as a brigade size". A NATO brigade typically numbers between 3,000 and 5,000 troops.

The article notes that the existing NATO rapid reaction force can't react rapidly with a NATO force.

So we'll have a tripwire force designed not to halt the Russians but just to make sure that NATO troops from the western part of the alliance die on the first day of war.

And maybe that will deter Putin--he who has raised the threat of nuclear strikes over the conflict in eastern Ukraine which Putin denies Russia is even involved in--the thinking goes.