From an article in Defense News by Hans Binnendijk, Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council and former National Security Council Senior Director for Defense Policy, and Julian Lindley-French, chairman of The Alphen Group. Summary is abbreviated for reasons explained yesterday.


Prioritize NATO’s core task: collective defense

…Since the 2016 Warsaw Summit, NATO has deployed 1,000-person Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battle groups in the three Baltic states and in Poland.

The U.S. deploys a brigade-sized force in Poland and battalion-sized forces in Lithuania and Romania…[Although] These forces could be overrun quickly by a determined Russian onslaught given its time and distance advantages, but as was the case in the city of Berlin during the Cold War, eFP does provide a useful tripwire.

[M]ore can be done to complicate a Russian invasion and buy time to engage NATO reinforcements….NATO could deploy some regional air defenses, long range artillery, anti-tank equipment, armed drones, and additional special forces to the Baltic states to slow down an onslaught. The U.S. could also make its periodic deployments “persistent” and promote a stronger naval posture in the Black Sea.

NATO reconstituted its NATO Response Force (NRF) and added to it a 5,000-person joint spearhead VJTF [Very High Readiness Joint Task Force ]. [I]n 2018, NATO agreed to a 4×30 readiness initiative that would have 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 major naval combatants ready to employ in 30 days.

[Recommends building on] the NRF and [creating] a NATO Allied Command Operations Mobile Heavy Force (AMHF). The AHMF would be a European-led force (possibly commanded by the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps) that would consolidate all allied rapid-response forces into one single pool. It would be a high-end, first responder NATO Future Force able to act from seabed to space and across the multi-domains of air, sea, land, cyber, space, information and knowledge.

The third pillar of NATO deterrence is based on the existing Military Mobility Initiative designed to reduce red tape for transiting troops across national borders and to smooth logistic hurdles. The EU will fund the initiative at a fairly robust €1.7 billion level.

…American, British, and French strategic nuclear weapons all underwrite NATO nuclear deterrence but Russia’s dominance in tactical nuclear weapons….Moscow might be the first to use a nuclear device to freeze a conventional conflict that they are losing….NATO’s handful of nuclear gravity bombs delivered by allied dual capable aircraft (DCA) is the best answer NATO now has….