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Our purpose is to encourage the knowledge and the debate of issues connected with art and military science. Selection of articles attempts to reflect different opinions. Beyond any ideological ascription. In order to impulse critical thought amongst our readers.

martes, 5 de agosto de 2014

La respuesta de la OTAN al desafío ruso.

NATO Must Adapt to Counter Russia’s Next-Generation Warfare.

By , , Column
A recently released paper of the Defense Committee of the U.K. House of Commons on Russia’s seizure of Crimea and the implications for Western security concludes that “events in Crimea and Ukraine represent a ‘game changer’ [that] will have significant implications for resources, force structures, equipment and training.” In addition to their excellent analysis of Russian strategy and tactics, the authors offered useful recommendations meant to inform both the next U.K. Defense and Security Review and the upcoming NATO summit. The alliance will need to adapt its capabilities and approach to collective defense if it is to avoid being caught off-guard by Russian tactics in the future.

The report reviews the recovery of Russia’s military power over the past decade, but focuses on how the Russians have been increasingly employing more-effective “next-generation warfare” tactics, beginning with the cyber attack on Estonia in 2007 but seen most clearly in the Georgia War of 2008 and the recent events in Ukraine. These tactics are also referred to as “ambiguous,” “asymmetric,” “unconventional” and “nonlinear,” among other terms, with the essential condition being avoiding conventional force-on-force fighting with superior NATO forces.

These tactics are neither new nor exclusive to Russia. In 1939, German soldiers dressed in Polish uniforms and “shot” at German forces to provide Germany with an excuse to invade Poland. Before invading another country, the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin would regularly establish a communist “government” that would invite Soviet troops into the country and legitimize the invasion. The Chinese today are bending and misapplying international law to expand their control of disputed maritime territories in the South China Sea.

But Russian military doctrine has given a particularly prominent role to these next-generation warfare tactics. The Russians have embraced the use of information warfare and studied intensely how social forces can affect security developments. They have also developed a “reflexive control” concept, described as measures designed to lead an adversary to “reflexively” pursue actions sought by Moscow, such as inducing Georgian forces to launch an offensive in South Ossetia that Russia could cite to justify its invasion of Georgia.

What is novel in the Ukraine case, according to the U.K. parliamentary report, is the degree and integrated fashion in which Moscow has been employing “a combination of political, economic, information, technological, and ecological campaigns in the form of indirect actions and nonmilitary measures” that are “designed to slip below NATO’s threshold for reaction. In many circumstances, such operations are also deniable, increasing the difficulties for an adversary in mounting a credible and legitimate response.” These tactics have included cyber attacks against state and private infrastructure networks and websites; information operations to confuse the enemy and influence domestic and foreign opinion; economic attacks such as sanctions and blocking trade flows; and proxy attacks, whether by armed civilians or the use of forces operating without insignia or official affiliation—the so-called little green men.

A natural concern is that Russia might employ these tactics again since they have proved so successful in the past. The report focuses on how to defend NATO members, especially the geographically and ethnically vulnerable Baltic states, from such asymmetric threats. NATO’s own internal studies have concluded that the alliance would take months to mobilize and deploy large conventional forces to defend the Baltic states. From Moscow’s perspective, while attacking a NATO member is extremely risky, if Russia were able to occupy an alliance member without an adequate NATO response, it could shatter the alliance.

The authors offer a series of recommendations for strengthening NATO’s capabilities against further Russian aggression, both direct and indirect, encompassing improvements to equipment, exercises, training and doctrine. They include strengthening NATO’s rapid reaction force and establishing a permanent standing reserve force; holding more and larger exercises with participation of NATO political as well as military leaders; prepositioning equipment in the Baltic states and keeping other members’ troops continuously active on training and exercises in the region; establishing a new command structure dedicated to the Baltic states and filling staffing gaps in all NATO commands; rebuilding Russian language and area expertise as well as using “red teaming” to understand Russian developments and thereby lengthen the strategic and operational warning of an impending surprise attack; developing a NATO doctrine for “ambiguous warfare”; and increasing NATO defense spending, both absolutely and with regard to the capabilities specifically designed to negate Russian threats.

But these enhanced capabilities will do little good if NATO leaders do not employ them. A major concern is that Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that established NATO calls for collective defense against an “armed attack” by another state. But Russia is likely to employ tactics that try to use internal fifth-column allies or other non-Russian actors; psychological warfare, economic pressure and additional offensive instruments that fall below the Article 5 threshold; indirect means of attack such as cyber tactics that obfuscate Moscow’s responsibility for the weakening of its neighbors; and a lengthy campaign, potentially over years and with many steps, such that no single measure is sufficiently grave to trigger a NATO Article 5 response. The cumulative effect, however, will be to weaken the targeted country and make it easier for Moscow to execute the coup de grace at an optimal time of Moscow’s choosing.

One solution would be to lower the threshold for applying Article 5 to counter aggression not involving states or the use of conventional military force. Another is to encourage wider use of the emergency security consultations authorized under Article 4 of the treaty, which Poland applied after Crimea.

The authors of the report might also have emphasized more the need to improve cooperation between NATO and the European Union to enable the Europeans to match Russia’s deft combination of civilian and military tactics. In particular, the EU is better positioned than NATO to counter Russian threats to cut off energy supplies, disrupt local economies and apply other diplomatic and economic coercion. It was the EU’s economic and soft power, not NATO’s military strength, that pulled Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit earlier this year. The two organizations can also profitably cooperate to counter cyber threats, such as by making both civilian and military information networks more resilient against cyber attacks.

The merits of deploying equipment in the Baltic states needs further assessment, however, less for fear of provoking Russia than for concerns about the vulnerability of such stocks to Russian attack or seizure by irregular forces aligned with Moscow. Having them in Poland and Romania might prove safer and enhance alliance flexibility. To this end, the report elsewhere recommends rotating NATO forces regularly through the Baltic states rather than stationing them permanently, reflecting the value of being able to deploy forces rapidly to other locations if the situation mandates it. This allows the alliance to remain flexible for meeting global contingencies unrelated to Russia, which invariably will persist.

Nevertheless, Russia’s new approach to warfare represents a threat to the alliance and Russia’s neighbors so long as Moscow remains hostile to NATO’s presence in its so-called near abroad. The alliance must now adapt to better counter these new tactics.

Richard Weitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a World Politics Review senior editor. His weekly WPR column, Global Insights, appears every Tuesday.

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