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Conventional Deterrence and Landpower in Northeastern Europe

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Abstract

The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) face daunting challenges in the Baltic region. Russia is behaving aggressively. Its military is more capable than it has been at any point since the end of the Cold War. More importantly, Russia is finding creative ways to subvert the status quo and to sow discord without triggering Article 5 of NATO, which declares that an attack against one member is an attack against all. These problems are formidable, but we have reason to be optimistic. Far from shattering NATO’s cohesion and undermining its resolve, Russian aggression has reinvigorated the alliance. Nor is Russia an unstoppable adversary. It has many weaknesses. Indeed, Russian fears over those vulnerabilities might be driving its aggressive foreign policy. Even if this is not the case and Russia is indeed a relentless predator, it is nevertheless a vulnerable one. The United States and its NATO allies can take advantage of these vulnerabilities. After assessing Russian intentions, capabilities, and limitation, this monograph recommends a hedging strategy to improve early detection capabilities, enhance deterrence in unprovocative ways, and improve regional defenses against a hybrid threat. Achieving these goals should help the United States deter Russia and reassure regional allies more effectively while managing our own worst fears.
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... Even Poland's formidable ground forces will be hard pressed to delay -let alone stop -the three armies that Russia can draw upon from its Western Military District alone. 19 Second, US and NATO will face an uphill fight to reinforce and resupply BG POL. Russia will likely use its long-range precision weapons to interdict attempts to resupply and reinforce BG POL. ...
... For example, operating in the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) or counter unmanned aerial systems (UAS) training was absent, not because we were not cognisant of the threat but because we did not have any TTPs to train to, other than micro-tactical actions (camouflage and concealment, etc.). 19 The pre-deployment training experience could thus be improved by relocating a period of the training -not least the MST phase -from Warminster, UK, to the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Bavaria, Germany. As the largest NATO training facility in Europe -which the UK Army already uses -it offers a closer theatre-specific training experience for UK troops deploying to Estonia. ...
... Ensuring a greater NATO presence has been a priority though, so Latvia invests heavily in HNS despite the opportunity costs. 19 The public visibility of the eFP battlegroup has also been a concern. 20 Public opinion in Latvia has been mostly favourable towards the presence of NATO troops, although Latvians and Russian-speakers are divided on most questions related to national security. ...
... Even Poland's formidable ground forces will be hard pressed to delay -let alone stop -the three armies that Russia can draw upon from its Western Military District alone. 19 Second, US and NATO will face an uphill fight to reinforce and resupply BG POL. Russia will likely use its long-range precision weapons to interdict attempts to resupply and reinforce BG POL. ...
... For example, operating in the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) or counter unmanned aerial systems (UAS) training was absent, not because we were not cognisant of the threat but because we did not have any TTPs to train to, other than micro-tactical actions (camouflage and concealment, etc.). 19 The pre-deployment training experience could thus be improved by relocating a period of the training -not least the MST phase -from Warminster, UK, to the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Bavaria, Germany. As the largest NATO training facility in Europe -which the UK Army already uses -it offers a closer theatre-specific training experience for UK troops deploying to Estonia. ...
... Ensuring a greater NATO presence has been a priority though, so Latvia invests heavily in HNS despite the opportunity costs. 19 The public visibility of the eFP battlegroup has also been a concern. 20 Public opinion in Latvia has been mostly favourable towards the presence of NATO troops, although Latvians and Russian-speakers are divided on most questions related to national security. ...
... Large-scale territorial aggression against Latvia or the Baltic states, in general, is unlikely. Russia would face serious challenges to go about such a military operation, the most serious of which could involve provoking escalatory dynamics with the United States and NATO which it would not be able to handle (Lanoszka and Hunzeker 2019). The most likely scenario involves what has been happening already: Canada and its partners in Latvia being subject to an intense disinformation campaign by Russia that aims to sow discord and to dampen public trust (Giles 2016). ...
... Large-scale territorial aggression against Latvia or the Baltic states, in general, is unlikely. Russia would face serious challenges to go about such a military operation, the most serious of which could involve provoking escalatory dynamics with the United States and NATO which it would not be able to handle (Lanoszka and Hunzeker 2019). The most likely scenario involves what has been happening already: Canada and its partners in Latvia being subject to an intense disinformation campaign by Russia that aims to sow discord and to dampen public trust (Giles 2016). ...
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Arctic foreign policy, in relation to Canadian foreign policy overall, has not been unlike the relationship of the Arctic to Canadians generally: the subject of polite curiosity, but peripheral. Throughout the twentieth century it was viewed mostly as an exposed flank, as a place where the Canadian government’s hold was more tenuous than desired. It was only in 2000 that Canada first put forward a dedicated Arctic foreign policy to promote its interests at home and abroad—where the Arctic region became a subject rather than a mere object of Canadian foreign policy. More recently it has been consigned as an extension of the nation’s domestic northern policies, under both the Harper Conservatives (2010) and now the Trudeau Liberals (2019). Throughout, the main themes have remained consistent across parties, though their relative degree of prioritization has changed. Canadian Arctic foreign policy has been domi- nated by: sovereignty and security; engagement with Indigenous peoples; environmental protection; sustainable development; and science.
... Yet, many question the immediate deterrent value of the arguably costly signalling by the forward posture of Allied conventional forces in the Baltic region in symbolic rather than actual numbers necessary for thwarting a full-scale Russian attack, given Russia's time and space advantage over NATO in the region and the ability of its A2/ AD capabilities to obstruct the access of the allied reinforcement forces in case of an actual crisis (Halas, 2019;Lanoszka and Hunzeker, 2019;Zapfe, 2017). While nested in NATO's overall deterrence and defence posture, including nuclear deterrence and missile defence, eFP remains mostly a symbolic commitment on NATO's part due to its light and rotational 'mini-coalitions of the willing', rather than permanent presence that is deemed insufficient for striking back should Russia actually seek to test NATO's resolve in the Baltic region (Shlapak and Johnson, 2016;Stoicescu and Järvenpää, 2019). ...
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How can ritual help to understand the practice of deterrence? Traditional deterrence scholarship tends to overlook the active role of deterring actors in creating and redefining the circumstances to which they are allegedly only reacting. In order to address the weight of deterrence as a symbol, collective representation and strategic repertoire, this article proposes to rethink deterrence as a performative strategic practice with ritual features and critical binding, releasing and restraining functions. I posit a ritual account of deterrence to better grasp the performance, credibility and the presumed effect of this central international security practice. An understanding of deterrence as a ritual-like social practice probes the scope of rational deterrence theory, replacing its ‘I think, therefore I deter’ presumption with a socially and politically productive ‘I am, therefore I deter’ logic. Drawing on the example of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s enhanced Forward Presence, the proposed conceptualization of extended deterrence as an interaction ritual chain in allied defence, solidarity and community-building offers novel insights about the deterrence and collective identity nexus. Extended deterrence has much more than deterrence at stake: how an alliance practices deterrence tells us more about the alliance itself than about the nature of threats it responds to. The tripwire posture of the enhanced Forward Presence highlights the instrumentality of ritualization for mediating ambiguity in extended deterrence.
... Indeed, there are a plethora of reports and wargames on how to protect the Baltic states and the Suwałki Gap in particular, which is on the border of Poland and Lithuania (Petersen et al. 2018;Shlapak and Johnson 2016). But although it is easy to group Poland and the Baltic states together, given the acute threat from Russia that they face, their defense capabilities are vastly different (Lanoszka and Hunzeker 2019). The Baltic states have smaller economies and populations, resulting in modest defense budgets and armed forces with limited size and equipment. ...
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In the 1990s and 2000s, as NATO enlargement became a reality, scholars commented on the socializing influence of NATO, predicting a transformation of security identities. Was NATO successful in institutionalizing self-restraint and cooperative security among its new members and partners? We contend that it was successful so long as threats to transatlantic security remained low. When states perceive that the threat is increasing, however, more traditional conceptions of national identity displace the cooperative security model. While a great deal of institutional learning happened through the process of NATO accession and partnership building in the past two decades, the socialization process stopped short of transforming new members’ security mindsets. Our main contribution, then, is to provide an accurate picture of NATO’s influence in terms of reshaping the transatlantic security community and to analyze the different versions of NATO that were proposed in the post-Cold War era.
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Much ink has been spilled on Russia's alleged anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy in the Baltic region. 282 According to many observers of Baltic security, Russia has acquired in the last two decades a sophisticated suite of missile capabilities that it now deploys in the exclave of Kaliningrad and its Western Military District. These missiles are aimed not only at strengthening its defences, but also at improving its wherewithal to perform offensive functions. More specifically, by being in possession of various missiles that could be delivered from the ground, at sea, or in the air, Russia could significantly complicate efforts by the United States and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members to enter and to move around in the Baltic region should they try to defend their Baltic allies in case of Russian attack. The high price that NATO would have to pay to overcome this so-called A2/AD bubble thus means that the security guarantees that benefit the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania become much less believable. To be sure, some critics are sceptical whether Russia has an A2/AD strategy. Regardless, the evolving missile balance benefits Russia and creates fears of European allies' being decoupled from one another, and from the United States. This problem was further compounded by the termination of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019. In this essay, we argue in favour of ground-based, land-attack, theatre-range missiles in Europe. This has several benefits. First, so long as these missiles were not nuclear-armed, such deployments would help produce stability by dampening fears about decoupling in the European context. Second, they would help strengthen conventional deterrence in NATO's northeastern flank-that is, Poland and the three Baltic countries-by holding at risk Russian military assets in Kaliningrad and elsewhere. Third, they could encourage Russia to make costly 281 A longer version of this contribution has previously appeared with the Texas National Security Review: https://tnsr.org/2020/05/the-post-inf-european-missile-balance-thinking-about-natos-deterrence-strategy/ 282 Stephan Frühling and Guillaume Lasconjarias, "NATO, A2/AD, and the Kaliningrad Challenge," Survival 58, no. 2 (2016): 96; Luis Simón, "The 'Third' US Offset Strategy and Europe's 'Anti-access'
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President Donald Trump has provoked U.S. allies into reevaluating their own national strategies and position within the international order that the United States purportedly fashioned and has sustained since 1945. This essay looks at Poland. Like other treaty allies such as Germany and Japan, Poland has maintained – even deepened – its security relationship with the United States in order to manage Trump. What distinguishes Poland, however, is that it more explicitly supports the military basis upon which U.S. global leadership rests. Because the United States is offshore, its preponderance helps Poland balance against Russia and head off potential security dilemmas within Europe. This essay contextualises the Polish-American relationship and explores how the United States has played in Poland's national security strategy. As Poland values the military primacy associated with the United States being a unipolar power, it is increasingly confronting geopolitical challenges for which U.S. support can only provide partial solutions.
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Dealing with the challenges of military movement into the Baltic region during times of crisis
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The Baltic States are once again worried that their security is under threat. The US and NATO have responded with air patrols, joint exercises, and battalion-sized ground-force deployments. As important as these efforts have been, they do not fully address Russia’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) and precision strike capabilities, both of which undermine NATO’s stratagem for deterring aggression in the first place. Alexander Lanoszka and Michael A Hunzeker assess the current military imbalance and describe two conflict scenarios to show how A2/AD and precision weapons threaten extended deterrence. They conclude with a discussion of the policy implications.
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The revival of Russian military power poses certain challenges to NATO and to the West. However, the exact nature of these challenges is not straightforward. This article discusses why Russia is reviving its conventional military power and argues these developments are not limited to the intention of preparing for offensive action. NATO’s and the West’s policy responses to recent changes in Russian defense policy need to be based on a realistic and nuanced understanding of Russian motivations because ill-considered responses could have serious unintended consequences.
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