Tuesday, March 29, 2016

NATO's Eastern Flank:Deterrence Strategy Unfolds

At the NATO Wales Summit in 2014,the Alliance's deterrence framework for its Eastern Flank was set forth as the Readiness Action Plan,or RAP.The Baltic States of Lithuania,Latvia and Estonia,who are most exposed to Russian military power,welcomed the plan,and it continues to evolve today.Currently the plan revolves around the trip-wire concept provided by small rotations of Allied forces such as the Baltic Air Policing Mission.Sixteen NATO Allies are participating in this long-running mission,which began in 2004 and is based at Lithuania's Siauliai Air Base.Yet this mission can now be scaled up using the air bases at Amari,Estonia and Malbork,Poland.*
In 2017,the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force,or VJTF,comes into full operation with 5,000 Allied troops.Besides the VJTF,the US is studying the possible deployment of a 5,000 troop combat brigade to continuously rotate through the three Baltic States plus Poland,Bulgaria and Romania.As well,the UK is sending more ships to the Baltic Sea,including a destroyer;frigate;and 3 minesweepers;plus 100 ground troops to the Baltic States.Gemany will also rotate forces through the Baltic States and Poland.*
NATO's relations with its Nordic partners Finland and Sweden have been stepped up in recent years in light of Russia's aggression in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine,accompanied by its bomber flights along Nordic airspace and its unannounced land manoeuvers with thousands of troops.This new closeness between the Nordic Defence Cooperation,NORDEFCO,and NATO involves joint assessment of Baltic Sea Region security;expanded information sharing,including on hybrid warfare;coordinating training and exercises;and developing improved joint situational awareness.*
In another example of the rotational approach to deterrence,Standing NATO Maritime Group 1,with its 3 core vessels,frigate and flagship ESPS Alvaro de Bazan (F-101);combat supply ship ESPS A-15 Cantabria;and frigate HMS Iron Duke (F234),made a port call at Riga,Latvia.Following the visit,during which citizens were invited to tour the ships,they will continue patrolling and exercising in the North and Baltic Seas.Earlier in the mission,they were joined by Norwegian coastal corvettes HNoMs Storm (P-961) and HNoMs Steil (P-963).

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