U.S. military think tank says Russian forces would defeat NATO in less than three days should a war break out in the Baltics region.
Transitions Online 5 February 2016
Russian tanks could roll past outgunned and outnumbered NATO forces into Tallinn, Riga within 60 hours, warns a report by the Rand Corp based on war games carried out by the think tank with U.S. military officers and civilian officials.
“The games’ findings are unambiguous: As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members,” said the report by Rand’s David Shlapak and Michael Johnson. (Report available here: http://www.rand.org/pubs/resea... )
“Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals … is 60 hours,” it said.
“Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad.”
The war games also illustrated preemptive steps the U.S. and its European allies could take to avoid a catastrophic defeat and shore up NATO’s eastern defenses.
“A force of about seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigades — adequately supported by airpower, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities — could suffice to prevent the rapid overrun of the Baltic states,” the report said.
The report’s 2 February release coincided with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s unveiling plans to add heavy weapons and armored vehicles to prepositioned stocks giving the Pentagon two brigade sets worth of heavy equipment on NATO’s eastern frontier, Foreign Policy magazine said.
Carter said Washington was more worried about Russian actions than at any time since the Soviet Union’s collapse, The Telegraph reported, noting spending on military deployments to protect Eastern European countries will jump from $789 million to $3.4 billion, according to a 2017 budget proposal.
“As it stands now, there are two U.S. Army infantry brigades stationed in Europe — one in Italy and the other in Germany — but they have been stretched thin by the constant demands of training rotations with allies across the continent,” FP said.
On 4 February Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the country will take “compensatory measures” in response to U.S. plans to expand its military presence, The Moscow Times reports.
• The $3.4 billion plan outlined by Carter would add another brigade to the mix, but it would be made up of soldiers from the United States, rotating in for months at a time, FP said.
• Estonia’s volunteer militia has grown 10 percent since Russia annexed Crimea, and support for Ukrainian separatists raised concerns in the former Soviet republic.
• Fellow Baltic countries Lithuania and Latvia are also preparing for potential Russian aggression, Lithuania reintroducing the draft in 2015 for men aged 19 to 26.
• Poland plans to add 50,000 soldiers as its $40 billion military buildup continues under a new government that has made clear its antipathy toward Russia. The military will create three part-time territorial brigades on its eastern borders.
• Sweden has re-militarized a frontier base on Gotland Island in response to a perceived rising threat from Russia, the BBC reports. Up to 20,000 military personnel were stationed there during the Cold War.
Russian Tanks Would Defeat NATO in Baltics (3)