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Research Report


Franklin D. Kramer
Bantz J. Craddock
Copyright Date: May. 1, 2016
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 18
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 2-2)

    Effective defense of the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—and deterrence built upon such defensive capabilities—is one of the key challenges facing NATO and its member nations. Russia’s actions, geopolitical rhetoric, and geographic proximity to the Baltics have generated the requirement for a significant defense capability. NATO thus faces a major challenge to its core purpose of collective defense. NATO needs not only to be able to win a war, but also to deter one, as the failure to do so would be devastating even if fought conventionally and would be catastrophic if such a war escalated...

  2. (pp. 2-3)

    Conventional defense of the Baltics is one of the significant challenges NATO faces. NATO’s capacity to undertake such a defense has been seriously questioned by respected officials and analysts. NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, wearing his US European Command hat, has testified to the need for the “development and fielding of credible and persistent deterrent capabilities.”² More recently, he said, “the strategic threat presented by [Vladimir] Putin’s Russia requires we readdress our force allocation processes to provide … credible assurance.”³ A recent RAND study stated,

    As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members....

  3. (pp. 3-13)

    Despite the significant issues for collective defense raised by the Russian actions noted above, an effective defense of the Baltics is nonetheless well within NATO’s capacity. The RAND analysis makes an important, but relatively obvious, point: larger, heavier forces generally will prevail over lighter, smaller forces especially in meeting engagements with no other significant defensive capabilities available. But the calculus can be turned in NATO’s favor.

    There are five key steps NATO should take:

    1. Enhance capacity for warning and analysis to increase NATO responsiveness.

    2. Provide direct defense capabilities for the Baltic nations

    3. Enhance forward presence and reinforcement.

    4. Establish an effective...

  4. (pp. 13-13)
    Franklin D. Kramer and Bantz J. Craddock

    The defense of the Baltics is a challenging proposition, but one well within the capabilities of the NATO nations. The steps outlined above would allow for such a defense in the face of Russian hybrid and/or conventional aggression. By taking such steps, NATO would not only ensure its military effectiveness, but increase deterrence, and therefore contribute significantly to stability in Europe....