Friday, November 04, 2016

A Faraway Country

Estonia is planning to resist a Russian occupation. NATO can't let that kind of spirit down if Russia tests the West.

This is both heartening and depressing:

As the New York Times reports today, tens of thousands of Estonians are roaming their country’s forests taking part in war games—games that are largely predicated on the notion their country will be invaded by Russia in spite of America’s obligation under the NATO treaty to come to their defense.

We simply can't put enough NATO troops in Estonia (or Latvia) to stop a Russian offensive. The only hope is that we hold the line in Lithuania and then counter-attack north:

If we put enough force into the Baltic states to hold the ground, Russia will simply advance through Poland and cut off our troops in the Baltic states, as the Russians did to the Germans in World War II, and leave them to rot away and surrender when the war in Poland is decided.

Much like NATO would have lost large chunks of West Germany in a war against the Soviet Union--before we counter-attacked, we will lose ground if Russia invades NATO.

The key is to survive the onslaught, inflict losses on the Russians as they advance, and then counter-attack.

As I wrote, I'd give good money for an old-fashioned armored cavalry regiment to screen the Baltic states.

With our special forces working with Baltic state irregulars to harass the Russian occupiers and United States Marines prepared to hit the coasts up there, I'd clean up the Russian Kaliningrad outpost and then counter-attack into the Baltic states to liberate them when we gather enough NATO heavy forces from further west.

During peacetime, NATO special forces need to plan to work with a resistance. During peacetime we have to work to keep the Russians from infiltrating such resistance forces.

And during war, we'd have to rescue these fighters who can only raise the cost of Russian occupation and divert Russian resources to internal security, making it a bit easier for NATO forces to liberate them.

The Estonians should take some comfort that the Russians might be deterred from invading if the cost of occupation is calculated to be high enough. Russia is no longer the nation that can endure 25 million dead in a war. While Russians like the image of a resurgent Russia scaring the West, even in Syria the Russians are afraid of admitting their casualties and use Russian mercenaries ("ghost soldiers") to further hide their losses.

The Russians should contemplate their willingness to fight America. We are the nation supposedly afraid of casualties. Yet we endured to win in Iraq once--and have returned despite our losses; and we still fight in Afghanistan to get some sort of victory in that backward land. And Russia is too worried about their citizen's reaction to losses to openly fight for causes that the Russians are proud to fight for (as long as they don't know they pay a price).