Academic journal article Prism : a Journal of the Center for Complex Operations

NATO's Land Forces: Strength and Speed Matter

Academic journal article Prism : a Journal of the Center for Complex Operations

NATO's Land Forces: Strength and Speed Matter

Article excerpt

NATO's strength and speed-both military and political-generate political options short of war. Both of these elements are necessary to counter the limited tactical advantages of Russian Federation forces and prevent further conflict.

The risk of war-of either a land war or a nuclear escalation-is not zero, but with its strength and speed, NATO is generating the necessary options to prevent conflict. If deterrence fails, NATO will prevail.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is one of the most-if not the most-successful military alliances in history, having helped to ensure nearly 70 years of peace in Europe. It was central to ending the Cold War, an event which brought freedom to tens of millions of people in Eastern Europe. The Alliance contributed to preventing further conflict in the Balkans and led a 50-nation coalition in Afghanistan that helped stabilize the country for over a decade. NATO accomplished this by adapting its enormous strengths to the circumstances of each crisis.

As NATO's campaign in Afghanistan came to an end and its Heads of State discussed the future security environment at their summit meetings in 2010 and 2012, they envisaged a strategic partnership with the Russian Federation (RF).1 However, in early 2014, after the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the RF's aggressive actions in Crimea and Ukraine revealed a disturbing new evolution in its behavior and narrative.2

As a result of Russia's actions, NATO Heads of State at the Wales Summit established the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), including the enhanced NATO Response Force (NRF), to adapt NATO forces to deal with the threat posed by Russian aggression.3 This action included the creation of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).

The RAP is composed of two main elements: assurance measures and adaptation measures. The assurance measures include, on a rotational basis, "continuous air, land, and maritime presence and meaningful military activity in the eastern part of the Alliance," while adaptation measures are designed to increase the capability and capacity of the Alliance to meet security challenges.4 Since adopting the RAP, NATO has maintained a continuous presence in eastern member states by conducting exercises and training among Allied forces. Adaptation measures include increasing the size and capability of the NRF and the establishment of NATO Force Integration Units (NFIUs). Six NFIUs have been established in eastern NATO states and are designed to facilitate the planning and deployment of the NRF and additional NATO forces. NATO has raised the size and readiness of Multinational Corps North-East in Szczenin, Poland, in order to maintain constant oversight of the northeastern border. It has also established the Multinational Division Southeast, which is tasked with maintaining constant oversight of the southeastern region of NATO's border nations. In addition, NATO is prepositioning military equipment for training in the territory of eastern Alliance members; improving its ability to reinforce eastern Allies through the improvement of infrastructure throughout the Alliance; and improving its defense plans through the introduction of the Graduated Response Plans. Each of these adaptation measures was designed to ensure that NATO has "the right forces, in the right place and with the right equipment," and that "they are ready to move at very short notice to defend any Ally against any threat."5

The resulting "adaptation" of NATO's land forces over the last year has resulted in strong, fast land forces that can generate options short of war. Should deterrence fail, these same measures will enable NATO to prevail decisively.

Strength Matters: NATO Enjoys a Significant Strategic Correlation of Force Advantage Over Russia Which, If Applied, Will Be Decisive

Military planners analyze the correlation of forces (COF) at the strategic and tactical levels to determine relative strengths between potential adversaries. …

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