Saturday, June 24, 2017

... From the Small Sea

Russian aggression has turned the Baltic Sea from a post-Cold War sleepy backwater into a renewed potential theater of war. NATO exercises in the first half of the month show the change.

NATO forces in the Baltic Sea have returned to preparing for major fighting:

[Russia-NATO friction] has brought the BALTOPS exercise back to preparing Alliance navies for high-end maritime warfighting. And while fighting off small boats is still part of the exercise, the fifty ships, roughly fifty aircraft, and 4,000 personnel from twelve NATO nations, are really in the Baltic to sharpen their skills in anti-submarine warfare, air defense, amphibious landings, mine hunting, and the integration of air and maritime power.

Those skills would be useful to contain and crush Russia's Kaliningrad exclave and to support NATO forces in the Baltic states--whether in falling back, in defended enclaves, in irregular warfare, or in a counter-attack--should Russia invade.

In related news about the Marine gear stored in Norwegian caves, this would be a good idea:

As the world changes and more attention shifts to Europe, planners are exploring the possibility of expanding the gear cache stored in the caves — possibly even doubling or tripling its capacity.

A Marine Expeditionary Brigade's worth of equipment and supplies to sustain them until supply lines can catch up would be very useful for Baltic scenarios.

And no, extending the presence of American Marines in Norway won't harm Norwegian-Russian relations:

Norway's decision to extend the presence of U.S. Marines on its soil will worsen relations with neighboring Russia and could escalate tensions on NATO's northern flank, the Russian embassy in Oslo told Reuters on Saturday.

The Russians being aggressive a-holes already soured relations. The Marines are a reaction to those poorer relations.

We're no longer in the placeholder "post-Cold War" era. I hope historians won't name it some type of "pre-war" era.

And no, I don't assume Putin--for all his bluster--will drive the naming of this era.