Friday, July 08, 2016

NATO Air Superiority is NATO Troops Standing in Kaliningrad

Russia is beefing up air defenses and offensive missiles in their Kaliningrad Baltic coast exclave that is surrounded by NATO territory. Tellingly, Russia is not wasting valuable combat brigades to really hold the enclave.

This Russian initiative will hurt our ability to quickly reinforce Poland and the Baltic states in the early part of a war with Russia:

Reuters was able to see only a glimpse of what the Russian military is doing in Kaliningrad. ...

But much of the activity tallied with what military analysts and Western diplomats say Russia is doing: preparing to station new missiles in Kaliningrad and build a web of anti-aircraft systems that could challenge NATO aircraft over the Baltic states and parts of Poland.

Yet this build up is limited:

Moscow's plan for Kaliningrad is not to flood it with troops and firepower, but to modernize its military infrastructure, said Vladimir Abramov, a Kaliningrad-based analyst[.]

So apparently, the ground force garrison is not being reinforced. If memory serves me, that's three combat brigades. Which isn't a lot. And with their backs to the water, they lack depth to maneuver.

So rather than viewing the Suwalki Gap as ground to hold in order to isolate Kaliningrad, that type of hard shoulder should be held to enable other NATO forces to capture Kaliningrad and then used to counter-attack north into the Baltic states to eject Russian forces from Putin's invasion force.

I'm assuming that by the time we decide that we have to take Kaliningrad, the Russian military as a whole is in the war rather than just Putin's personally loyal army and attached aircraft (plus the Baltic Sea fleet?).

If the fight is "just" against Putin's aggression against Narva, Estonia, then we'd need to leave the Russian regular forces alone in Kaliningrad lest they decide this is a Russia-NATO war rather than a purely Putin adventure.