Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Beginning of Seriousness

NATO is finally stirring a bit from its post-Cold War slumber.

Romania has decided to meet, by 2017, the 2% of GDP threshold on defense spending that NATO would like its members to bear in the common defense:

The proposal was made by Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, who, in an official statement on 12 January, firmly pointed to the Ukraine crisis and Russian action as being behind the move.

"Europe and NATO must face the biggest security challenge since the end of the Cold War," said Iohannis. "For the first time, a state is using force in order to redraw its frontiers. All these serious things are happening near our border and cannot be ignored."

"We are NATO members, but this does not mean we have to stay idle and wait for the others to provide us security, paying from their national budgets for us. We have the duty to treat with maturity the situation in the region and to demonstrate that we are a responsible nation. Therefore, I have considered we have to ensure all necessary means to the Romanian Army in order to benefit of all necessary funding for training and for procurement programmes," said Iohannis.

This is good. With an aggressive Russia just one country (for now) away, the need seems more important.

Speaking of Russian aggression:

Over at Quartz, Steve LeVine points to news of Russia and South Ossetia signing an integration treaty. Thomas de Waal of the Carnegie Endowment explains at Carnegie’s website that much of this is formality: Russia was already effectively in control of South Ossetia. And as I’ve pointed out in the past, Russia had staffed key posts in the breakaway provinces and even distributed Russian passports. Nonetheless, this is clearly an escalation in the “frozen” conflict.

Russia may move slowly because they lack (for now) the military power to impose their will in a lightning blow, but they advance.

NATO as a whole has made a start, too:

NATO's interim agile expeditionary force is now active but planning continues for a permanent "spearhead" unit, the alliance's chief said Wednesday.

Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands are the main contributors right now. I assume units rotate into and out of it over time.

Of course, this unit is really just a mobile Berlin Brigade (from Cold War days) designed to make sure that multiple nations see their troops die early in a war should Russia advance west into NATO.

A tripwire force is better than nothing. But it either deters Russia or gets wiped out if the Russians aren't deterred.

So let's hope NATO seriously works on making its forces capable of fighting and winning in NATO's eastern border regions rather than just going there to die.