News | July 18, 2016

NATO's Land Forces: Strength and Speed Matter

By John W. Nicholson PRISM Volume 6, Number 2


General John Nicholson, U.S. Army, is the Commander of Resolute Support and United States Forces-Afghanistan. During his 33-year career, he has served with NATO in Afghanistan and in Europe, including in the Balkans, and most recently as Commander of NATO’s Allied Land Command.

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. At the strategic level, this calculation evaluates factors such as the size of a country’s armed forces and its composition, military budgets, population, gross domestic product (GDP), and political legitimacy. A comparison of these strategic factors is illustrative of NATO’s strategic strength.

The strategic advantages of the Alliance vis-à-vis Russia are telling: armed forces that are more than four times larger, a combined population more than six times greater, defense budgets that are 18 times larger, and a combined GDP that is 20 times greater. Furthermore, Russia’s downward demographic and economic trends suggest that these ratios will remain for the foreseeable future, irrespective of the current planned modernization of the RF’s armed forces, which does not appear sustainable.6

The one area of strategic parity is in nuclear weapons, which poses an existential threat to Alliance members. The mere possession of these weapons, however, does not translate into strategic leverage unless one believes there is a possibility they might be used. As Henry Kissinger recently observed:

The relatively stable order of the Cold War will be superseded by an international order in which projection by a state possessing nuclear weapons of an image of a willingness to take apocalyptic decisions may offer it a perverse advantage over rivals.8

The Russian Federation would appear to be such a state. Dr. Kissinger’s theory might explain the disturbing nuclear rhetoric emanating from Moscow—an attempt to translate their one area of strategic parity into leverage and a means to fracture Alliance cohesion.

While a detailed discussion of nuclear policy is beyond the scope of this article, a willingness to leverage these capabilities as a form of escalation dominance is relevant to the discussion of how best to prevent conflict. Regardless of whether Russian leaders are bluffing, as some may believe, Alliance military leaders must assess their capabilities and stated intent at face value when planning how to deter and prevent conflict. Based on these statements and more, the risk of the Russians escalating a land war to the use of nuclear weapons is not zero. And if the risk is not zero, it becomes even more critical that we deter conventional conflict as a means to prevent escalation to nuclear conflict. While hybrid operations with ambiguous aggression and plausible deniability are the most likely form of conflict, it is also important for us to deter or deal with the threat or actuality of a conventional attack.

Why Political and Military Speed Matter: Analysis of Tactical Correlation of Forces

In order to determine how best to deter conventional conflict, we must examine the tactical correlation of forces, which is limited in time, scale, and scope. While an adversary may be inferior at the strategic level, as Russia is, they may still be able to generate a positive tactical correlation of forces at a specific place and time for a limited duration.9

Military science uses historical norms to determine what force ratios are required for successful tactical military operations. The chart on the following page comes from U.S. doctrine; however, similar ratios are found in the military doctrine of most nations, including the Russian Federation.

The force ratios depicted here are the minimums necessary to predict success, although they can be improved in one’s favor through the use of joint support, including air, naval, special operations, space, and cyber. If contemplating an attack with less than a 3:1 ratio, a prudent military planner cannot guarantee success. Hence the desirability of NATO’s capability to deliver to any eastern ally a robust defensive force that achieves a 1:3 ratio against potential Russian aggression. Additionally, such a defensive force would not be escalatory in that it does not have favorable force ratios for offensive action.

Along NATO’s northeastern border with Russia, under the existing set of conditions, the Russians enjoy certain advantages that enable them to generate a favorable force ratio for offensive action. If they were to successfully exploit a temporary tactical advantage to secure a gain, and then threaten nuclear escalation to check an Alliance response, they could parlay an area of strategic parity—nuclear weapons—and a limited tactical advantage into an enduring strategic outcome: the fracturing of Alliance cohesion.

What Are The Areas Of Tactical Advantage That The Russians Can Generate?

Interior Lines. In the analysis of tactical correlation of forces, we first look at the interior lines10 of the Russian Federation that enhance the ability of the RF to mass troops faster than the Alliance at certain points on its borders with NATO countries, i.e. the Baltics, Poland. The Russians have three armies positioned in the Western Military District that can deploy 13-16 battle groups, totaling approximately 35,000 troops, within 48 hours to the border of the Alliance, and another 90,000 troops within 30 days.

Speed of Decisionmaking. While the outcomes of RF decisionmaking are often criticized as illegitimate for not respecting existing international norms, the Russian Federation’s unitary chain of command enables expeditious action across the whole of government.11 Conversely, while NATO’s decisions possess the legitimacy of 28 nations acting in unison, they require consensus among all 28 sovereign member states, which inevitably takes time.

Tanks in Europe. The Russian Federation’s armed forces, although four times smaller than the combined armed forces of NATO, contain sufficient quantities of armor, air defense, long-range fires, and conscript soldiers to generate numerical advantage at certain points along our common borders before a large-scale NATO response could be launched.12

A comparison of RF and Alliance armor forces is instructive. While the Alliance has reduced its tank forces since the end of the Cold War, Russia has kept much of its force in storage and modernized parts of its active force. Because of improved relations with the RF, the U.S. removed all of its armored forces from Europe by 2013. Therefore, even though the Alliance possesses more active armor forces than the Russians, these tanks are dispersed among the Alliance member states, meaning the Russians can generate a local advantage in armor, in certain areas, for a finite period of time. If they chose (and could afford) to do so, the Russians could restore significant quantities of older model tanks, which could approach parity or even a numerical advantage against Allied forces.

Snap Exercises. Through the use of “snap exercises” and ambiguity, the Russian Federation repeatedly desensitizes and tests for weaknesses along NATO’s boundaries. In concert with their annexation of Crimea and aggression against Ukraine, the RF has reduced transparency with NATO by exploiting provisions within the 2011 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Vienna Document on security and confidence-building measures (see box). Allowing observers at large-scale exercises has been one of the principal ways in which nations have reduced the potential for mistakes or miscalculations that in the past have often led to wars. By classifying their exercises as snap exercises, the Russians invoke an exception within the Vienna document that does not require prior notification of OSCE member states.13 This exception is being used to increase the scale and frequency of these exercises beyond those allowed in the agreement, as well as to limit any observation. In fact, one such snap exercise was used to mask the invasion of Crimea in March 2014, while another was used to rehearse portions of their deployment to Syria.14 These exercises enable the Russians to learn and to improve their ability to conduct large-scale mobilizations and operational maneuvers to generate a tactical correlation of force advantage at key points. In addition, the exercises use scenarios that specifically target NATO, such as their snap exercise in December 2014 in which RF troops deployed into Kaliningrad and moved toward the Lithuanian border.

Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD)15. This military doctrinal term describes how RF forces seek to deny Allied access and freedom of action in key areas bordering the NATO-Russian interface, such as the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Far North, and now the eastern Mediterranean, through the establishment of integrated air defense and missile zones.16 Among the most dense of such zones in the world, these bastions include long-range surface-to-air, surface-to-surface, and anti-ship missile systems. If activated, these networks would extend over sovereign Alliance land, sea, and air space that could potentially set conditions for an invocation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. If such a situation were to occur, neutralization of these networks would require significant Allied land, air, maritime, and special operations forces.17

As one can see by the range rings of RF systems in these bastions, the RF is attempting to recreate the defensive depth they lost with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In so doing, however, they are increasing the potential for mistakes or miscalculations that could escalate into armed attack against Alliance member states. The SS-26 Iskander surface-to-surface missile has a maximum range of 500 kilometers. If fired from the Kaliningrad Oblast, it can reach five NATO national capitals (Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw, Copenhagen, and Berlin) and most airports and seaports within the Baltics with conventional or nuclear warheads. The SA-21 Growler surface-to-air missile has a maximum range of 400 kilometers and extends over the sovereign airspace of half of Poland, the entirety of Lithuania, and more than half of Latvia. The SSC-5 Bastion coastal defense missile system has an effective range of 600 kilometers and is currently deployed in Crimea and Murmansk. From its firing point on the Crimean peninsula, it can target any ship in the Black Sea.

NATO Military Focus and Capabilities must Evolve and are Evolving

Despite their overall strategic inferiority to NATO, given the Russian Federation’s capability to generate local advantage in terms of the tactical correlation of forces and to leverage its nuclear capabilities in a form of escalation dominance, how should Alliance military forces contribute to deterrence?

Deterrence is ultimately a political outcome achieved in the mind of a potential adversary by convincing them that the costs of an action outweigh the benefits. The military supports the ability of political leadership to deter in multiple ways. The assurance measures in place contribute to deterrence through the presence of small Alliance forces conducting training and exercises with our eastern Allies. Their presence demonstrates Alliance resolve and commitment to collective defense. In the event of an armed attack, an adversary would be attacking multiple Allied forces, thus potentially bringing to bear the full weight of the Alliance in response. The downside of this “tripwire” approach is that these forces are not of sufficient strength to defend against a short-notice Russian offensive, therefore necessitating a campaign to retake Alliance territory after it has been seized. The costs of such an offensive campaign in terms of lives, materiel, time, and money would greatly exceed the costs of defending that ally and preventing the loss of territory in the first place.

An alternative to tripwire deterrence is deterrence through a forward defense. Positioning strong forces to achieve a favorable tactical correlation of forces for defense (1:3) would raise serious doubts in the mind of the Russian leadership that they can achieve their objectives. Reducing the chances of an armed conventional attack reduces the potential that such a confrontation could escalate to the nuclear level, a desirable outcome given that the risk of nuclear escalation by the RF is not zero. Although militarily effective in deterring aggression, this course of action would potentially violate the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act and invite escalation by the Russians. For these reasons, and given the additional costs associated with forward defense, Alliance members have shown little appetite for this option.

This leads us to a hybrid option in which we sustain tripwire deterrence while simultaneously improving our ability to rapidly reinforce and establish an effective defensive posture as conditions warrant. Deterrence can be achieved in this option by demonstrating the Alliance’s ability to quickly move strong forces to defend any threatened state within the Alliance. In short, we deter through a combination of strength and speed.

NATO possesses the forces and capabilities to deter in a hybrid manner, but they must be used in different ways than they have been since the end of the Cold War. What are the adjustments the Alliance must make—and is making—to deter conflict in this manner?

First, we must start with an understanding of collective defense within the Alliance. The operative portion of the Washington Treaty, which established collective defense within NATO, is detailed in Article 5.

Indicators and Warnings (I&W). First and foremost, the Alliance’s intelligence enterprise must provide adequate indicators and warnings of possible aggression that would result in the potential for an “armed attack” as per Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.18 These are essential to achieving the speed necessary to prevent war by enabling political-military dialogue regarding timely deployments of the NATO Response Force and the high readiness forces of the Alliance. I&W are not solely a covert intelligence function. They also involve the use of both open source and diplomatic assessments. Without adequate I&W to initiate timely decisions, it is possible that there could be no options other than war. A NATO Response Force that arrives early may still be able to deter, but one that arrives late, after an armed attack has occurred, will surely have to fight.

High Readiness Forces (HRF). Next we must address the gap in current NATO Rapid Response timetables. The NRF, described above, can respond to a unanimous resolution of the North Atlantic Council, the Alliance’s principal political decisionmaking body, by commencing the deployment of the Spearhead Force, the VJTF of 8,000 troops, within 5-7 days. The remainder of the NRF would begin to move in 30-45 days. The main bodies of NATO militaries would follow afterward. There is thus a window of vulnerability in the early days and weeks of a crisis. This gap can be filled with other NATO forces.

In addition to the NATO Response Force, most nations of the Alliance maintain national high readiness forces. These forces are retained as national reserves and are not offered to NATO on a standing basis, but could be offered in the case of a potential Article 5 scenario. Additionally, they could deploy based on determination by a member nation that an Article 5 obligation has occurred. In either case, these HRF can deploy in a matter of days or weeks. Combined, the NRF and HRF of the Alliance are equivalent to up to four divisions, consisting of approximately 50,000 troops, primarily the professional airborne and marine infantry forces of each nation. The rapid deployment of these forces to threatened areas would achieve the correlation of forces required to defend (1:3) within days or weeks and thus counter any RF tactical advantage. The speed with which these forces can deploy enables the Alliance to counter, in part, RF interior lines and their streamlined political decisionmaking system.

These are also “forcible entry capable” units in the event certain airports or seaports are unavailable. This rapid reinforcement capability was exercised in August 2015 when the NRF and HRF of nine Alliance nations conducted exercise Swift Response 15. After assembling at a base in Germany, they conducted numerous special forces and airborne operations in a simulated reinforcement of threatened Allies. This forcible entry capability enables the Alliance to respond to multiple threats simultaneously, such as the RF attempting horizontal escalation across multiple areas (the High North, the Black Sea, and the Baltics, for example). Given that these HRF are light forces, they do not constitute an offensive threat to the RF and are therefore non-escalatory; they are effective in defensive operations when they enjoy local air superiority. However, at the upcoming Warsaw Summit, NATO Allies could consider a mechanism to make these forces available in extremis as an adjunct to the NRF capability, thereby closing the aforementioned window of vulnerability.

This capability was most recently demonstrated on November 4, 2015, during exercise Trident Juncture when the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division was alerted and deployed directly from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and jumped into San Gregorio, Spain, just 7.5 hours later. As a further demonstration of Alliance capability, the brigade was preceded by U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers deploying directly from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

Pre-Positioned Forces and Equipment. While the Alliance can move light forces quickly, heavier forces have a greater defensive capability against heavy Russian Federation forces. Their longer deployment times (30-90 days), especially from the continental United States, lessens their deterrent effect early in a crisis. However, by pre-positioning tanks and other armored forces, the Alliance can counter RF interior lines, more rapidly deploy heavy deterrent forces to threatened Allies in Europe, and buy time for diplomatic resolution of a crisis. The decision to pre-position a U.S. set of heavy equipment in Europe significantly enhances the deterrent capability of Alliance land forces by enabling a more rapid reinforcement of early-arriving light forces with heavy combat capability.

Neutralizing A2/AD. To retain freedom of action within Alliance territory and the surrounding air and sea space, the Alliance must develop effective counters to evolving Russian A2/AD capabilities. While the RF may contend that these are defensive capabilities designed to protect them from NATO intrusion on their borders, they must also understand with certainty that any lethal use of these systems over Alliance territory would constitute an armed attack, which would invoke Article 5. Neutralization of these systems would be accomplished by Alliance joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and joint fires.19 These Allied capabilities exist but have not yet been arrayed against the RF A2/AD sites. Continued RF expansion and the deepening of these systems require that the Alliance develop plans should it become necessary to defend ourselves. For example, the recent establishment of SA21 radars and missile infrastructure in eastern Syria extends Russia’s air defense coverage over sovereign Turkish (NATO) airspace, including Incirlik Air Base, from which U.S. aircraft operate against terrorists in Syria.

Fill Specific Gaps and Equipment Shortfalls. The end of the Cold War and the conduct of a ten-year campaign in Afghanistan understandably led to the optimization of Alliance armies for the prosecution of counterinsurgency operations, not for inter-state, high-intensity conflict against a symmetrical opponent. As a result, despite NATO’s overall strategic advantage in the size of armed forces and defense budgets, there are certain gaps and shortfalls that exist in some Alliance conventional capabilities. These need to be considered in the context of the latest Alliance defensive planning, the Graduated Response Plans. To enable rapid reinforcement and deterrence, these capabilities include: strategic lift, anti-armor systems for light forces, armor, air defense, long-range artillery, ISR, and electronic warfare, among others. The Secretary General’s encouragement of the 2 percent spending goal, if met, would go a long way toward filling these gaps and shortfalls.

Training and Doctrine. Shifting focus from a decade of counterinsurgency to readiness for a high-intensity collective defense against a symmetrical opponent necessitates an ongoing re-examination of existing doctrine and training. For example, hybrid warfare is the subject of intense study on how military forces best support the responses of Alliance governments to hybrid threats20; it encompasses border control, law enforcement, intelligence, and strategic communications challenges, to name a few. These considerations are being integrated into NATO exercises at all levels.

For the rapid deployment of light forces to successfully deter against hybrid threats, the creation of reconnaissance and security zones in support of national home defense forces is key. If those light forces must deter against an armored threat, they must transition to a light anti-armor defense with local air superiority, which necessitates neutralization of any A2/AD threat and sufficient fires and anti-armor capability within the light force. Additionally, to ensure they are able to integrate with heavy forces deployed to conduct a forward defense of alliance territory, those forces must be trained in combined arms defensive operations. The unique requirements of this defense must also be included in training: fighting within sovereign Alliance member states, and protecting civilians and infrastructure to the maximum extent possible.

The Baltic Scenario

One hypothetical scenario that combines Russian use of a tactical COF advantage with escalation dominance is the defense of the Baltic States. Some argue that such a scenario has a low probability of occurring, but it is unquestionably of very high risk for the Alliance. Such an occurrence would involve a rapid mobilization in the Russian Federation’s Western Military District to seize all or parts of the Baltic States, ostensibly to protect ethnic Russians.21 (There were approximately 30 million Russians outside of Russian Federation borders when the Soviet Union disbanded.22) In reality, such a seizure would recreate strategic depth lost by Russia with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Using the tactical COF advantage generated by a rapid mobilization of the 6th and 20th Combined Arms Army and the 1st Tank Army, the RF could hypothetically seize parts or all of the three Baltic States and northern Poland. Such an attack would include activation of their dense A2/AD network to isolate the area, prevent the introduction of reinforcements, and then threaten nuclear escalation to “freeze” the conflict. This would confront the Alliance with the dilemma of responding to a clear violation of Article 5 in which the Russians would threaten nuclear escalation—a prospect the Russians hope would fracture Alliance cohesion and change the global security architecture in their favor.

The NATO military response to this prospect mandates detailed plans for the maintenance of freedom of action in Alliance and international air, sea, land, and space by countering RF A2/AD zones and by meeting their tactical forces with sufficient strength to defend against an armed attack of an Alliance member. We must then rehearse these plans in a transparent manner to clearly convey Alliance capabilities.23

In this scenario, the speed of Alliance response in the first critical days and weeks would be vital to deterrence and conflict prevention. The chart on the following page highlights the necessity of using rapidly deployable, high readiness forces to achieve the correlation of forces necessary to adequately defend and, therefore, deter any Russian attack. The introduction of high readiness forces early in a crisis enables the Alliance to achieve a 1:3 COF within two weeks and a 1:2.5 COF ratio soon thereafter. RF forces would thus be incapable of achieving a fait accompli. This is critical to preserving the time and space needed to resolve any crisis through diplomatic means.

In addition to military speed, we must also consider the speed of political decisionmaking. Political speed is required to preserve options short of war. A decision not to immediately act is a decision to forfeit certain military options, such as deterrence or defense, and might leave NATO with no other option than a costly campaign to retake Alliance territory.

Expeditious political decisions therefore help preserve political options at a smaller military cost. Military leaders can contribute to expeditious political decisionmaking through detailed military planning in advance of a crisis. Detailed planning informs the dialogue between military and civilian leadership regarding options, and enables interoperability between military forces, which likewise creates options for political leaders. Thus, NATO’s strength and speed generate political options short of war. If deterrence fails, however, strength and speed enable us to prevail in conflict.

The cohesion and competence of NATO’s land forces have never been higher. Our armies are composed mainly of volunteer professionals who have served alongside one another for ten years in Afghanistan. This high level of professionalism and combat experience is unprecedented and far exceeds that of any other alliance or individual army on the planet, to include the RF. Our soldiers are led by exceptional leaders who are intensely studying the emerging challenges we face and preparing their forces to meet those challenges. Alliance members should take heart from the quality of their armies. Despite over a decade of combat, they are not tired—they are ready.

Managing Uncertainty, Creating Options, Avoiding Mistakes or Miscalculations

We must be alert in order to reduce the potential for mistakes or miscalculations that could lead to a military confrontation, which could then escalate. These are reduced through increased transparency and communication with the Russian Federation’s political and military establishments. Transparency existed during the Cold War24 but due to recent Russian actions, it has been greatly reduced. There have been numerous calls to reestablish transparency through the proper notification and observations of exercises as recommended by Secretary General Stoltenberg and through reinvigorated maritime talks, air talks, ground exercise observers, and other means to enable de-escalation in a crisis.25


NATO’s first goal is conflict prevention. Military forces contribute to this by deterring conventional conflict. Conflict prevention is ultimately a political or diplomatic endeavor that is supported by the military’s readiness to defend our vital interests. We deter through our strength and our speed, which are delivered through readiness. Military readiness costs money, but the costs of readiness pale in comparison to the human and material costs of war.

Ultimately, we hope for a time when we can work together with the Russians in our areas of common interest.26 Until that time comes, we in NATO’s military structure must contribute to the prevention of a conflict by increasing our strength and speed in order to provide options short of war. If deterrence fails, the strategic advantages that NATO enjoys mean that we would prevail, but our mandate is to first and foremost prevent any conflict that threatens the ability of Alliance member states to live “whole, free and at peace.”27 PRISM


1 NATO, “Lisbon Summit Declaration,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, November 20, 2010, para. 23, <>; NATO, “Chicago Summit Declaration,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, May 20, 2012, para. 36-38, <>.

2 Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Munich Security Conference” (Speech, Munich, Germany, February 13, 2016), NATO, <>.

3 NATO, “Wales Summit Declaration,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, September 5, 2014, para. 5-9, <>; Diego A. Ruiz Palmer, “Back to the future? Russia’s hybrid warfare, revolutions in military affairs, and Cold War comparisons,” NATO Defense College, no. 120 (October 2015): 11-12; Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “Defence Ministers agree to strengthen NATO’s defences, establish Spearhead Force” (Speech, Brussels, Belgium, February 5, 2016) NATO, <>.

4 NATO, “Wales Summit Declaration,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, September 5, 2014, para. 9, <>.

5 NATO, “NATO’s Readiness Action Plan – Fact Sheet, North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” NATO, May 2015, <>; Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “Opening remarks by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the ceremony inaugurating the headquarters of the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Lithuania” (Speech, Vilnius, Lithuania, September 03, 2015), NATO, <>; Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “Press statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the inauguration of the headquarters of the NATO Forces Integration Unit Romania (NFIU)” (Speech, Bucharest, Romania, July 02, 2015) NATO, <>; Alexander Vershbow, “NATO and the New Arc of Crisis” (Speech, Fundación Botín, Madrid, October 28, 2015) NATO, <>.

6 Matthew Bodner and Anna Dolgov, “Putin Warns Russian Defense Industry Not to Fall Behind,” The Moscow Times, July 19, 2015, <>.

7 All graphs and data in this article are based on unclassified information from NATO Allied Land Command (LANDCOM).

8 Henry Kissinger, World Order (New York: Penguin Books, 2015): 338.

9 Keith A. Dunn and Stephen J. Flanagan, NATO in the Fifth Decade (Philadelphia, PA: Diane Publishing Company, May 1990): 242.

10 The U.S. Army defines “interior lines” as lines on which a force operates when its operations diverge from a central point. Department of the Army, ADRP 3-0, Unified Land Operations (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, May 2012): glossary 4.

11 Andrew Roth, “Vladimir Putin’s massive, triple-decker war room revealed,” The Washington Post, November 21, 2015, <>.

12 Fires are defined as: “The use of weapon systems or other actions to create specific lethal or nonlethal effects on a target.” See: U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Joint Fire Support,” Joint Publication 3-09 (December 12, 2014): GL-7, <>.

13 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, “Vienna Document 2011 On Confidence – And Security – Building Measures,” 2011, Ch. V Prov. 41, Chap. VI Prov. 58, <>; Damien Sharkov, “Russian Snap Military Drill ‘Could Turn Into Assault on Baltic Capital,” Newsweek, February 23, 2015, <>; Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “Adapting to a changed security environment,” (Speech, Washington, D.C., May 27, 2015) NATO, <>.

14 Johan Norberg, “The Use of Russia’s Military in the Crimean Crisis,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 13, 2014, <>; Newsmax Wires, “U.S. Intelligence Lapse on Russian ‘Surprise’ Moves in Syria Probed,” Newsmax, October 8, 2015, <>.

15 Anti-access: Those actions and capabilities, usually long-range, designed to prevent an opposing force from entering an operational area. Area-denial: Those actions and capabilities, usually of shorter range, designed not to keep an opposing force out, but to limit its freedom of action within the operational area. Definitions found in: Department of Defense, Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC) (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, January 2012): 6.

16 “By the early 1990s the Russian air defense paradigm was mature and well-studied, both by the Russians and their former opponents in the West. Several basic principles were implicit and well implemented in Russian designs, especially in the later generation of radars and missile systems:

1. Diversity in SAM [surface-to-air missiles] systems and search/acquisition radars.

2. Geographically overlapping coverage by search/acquisition and engagement radars.

3. Networking of SAM systems and acquisition radars, using fixed lines and wireless radio links.

4. Increasingly, the deployment of highly mobile SAM batteries and radars.

5. Integration of passive Emitter Locating Systems (ELS).

6. Layered coverage with long range area defense SAMs and short range point defense SAMs and AAA [Anti-Aircraft Artillery].

7. The wide use of emitting decoys to seduce anti-radiation missiles.

8.  A hierarchical C3 [Communications, Command, and Control] system based primarily on mobile command posts at battery, district and regional levels.

Systems built around these eight ideas are now in production and being actively exported by Russian industry on the global stage. Therefore any IADS [Integrated Air Defense System] which a Western air force must defeat post 2010 may be constructed in part, or wholly, around the fusion of the Soviet era and post-Soviet era IADS concepts.
Since 1991, Russia’s industry and research institutes have invested much intellectual capital and effort to ove
rcome remaining weaknesses in the inherited Soviet model. These are reflected in a range of increasingly frequent design characteristics and deployment techniques in more recent Russian designs:

1. Mobility has improved, to the extent that many systems can “shoot and scoot” inside 5 minutes, to make lethal suppression extremely difficult.

2. Search/acquisition and SAM system engagement radars are to be actively defended against missile attacks by the use of point defence missiles, or AAA, the former independent or integrated into the area defence SAM battery.

3. Surveillance and acquisition radars are shifting to the L-band, UHF-band and VHF-bands, reversing the trend to shorter wavelengths, and making stealth design increasingly difficult.

4. SAM batteries are increasingly designed for autonomous operation, decoupling them from the rigid hierarchical command model of the Soviet era.

5. Wireless radio networking of SAM batteries, search/acquisition radars, and command posts, is now almost universal.

6. Most contemporary Russian radars are fully digital, frequency agile, and increasingly, advanced processing techniques such as Space Time Adaptive Processing (STAP) are employed.

7. Most new Russian radars are solid state designs, and electronically steered phased arrays are preferred due to their agile beam steering and shaping capabilities, and high jam resistance.

8. Radar range against conventional aircraft and missile kinematic range have virtually doubled since the early 1980s, in order to deny the use of support jamming aircraft.”

Dr. Karlo Kopp, “Assessing Joint Strike Fighter Defence Penetration Capabilities,” Air Power Australia, January 07, 2009, <>.

17 J.Hawk (translator), “What You Need to Know About the Russia’s Air/Space Defense System Concept,” Southfront, September 8, 2015, <>. Article, which is by Andrei Mikhailov, originally appeared in Russian on <>; Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “Adapting to a changed security environment,” (Speech, Washington, D.C., May 27, 2015) NATO, <>.

18 The North Atlantic Treaty Article 5, April 4, 1949, <>.

19 “Joint fires are fires delivered during the employment of forces from two or more components in coordinated action to produce desired effects in support of a common objective.” See: U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Joint Fire Support,” Joint Publication 3-09 (December 12, 2014): I-3, <>.

20 The U.S. Army defines a “Hybrid threat” as the diverse and dynamic combination of regular forces, irregular forces, terrorist forces, and/or criminal elements unified to achieve mutually benefitting effects. Department of the Army, ADRP 3-0, Unified Land Operations (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, May 2012): 1-3.

21 Timothy M. Bonds, Michael Johnson, and Paul S. Steiberg, Limiting Regret: Building the Army We Will Need (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2015): 7, <>; Christopher S. Chivvis, “The Baltic Balance – How to Reduce the Chances of War in Europe,” Foreign Affairs, July 1, 2015, <>; Terrence Kelly, “Stop Putin’s Next Invasion Before it Starts,” US News & World Report, March 20, 2015, <>.

22 On October 24, 2015 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov published a detailed article in the official “Russian Gazette” titled “The Russian World on the Path of Consolidation,” in which he stated that “providing overall support to the Russian World is an unconditional foreign policy priority for Russia, which is embedded in the Russian Federation’s Foreign Policy Concept.” He concluded by expressing confidence that the Congress will “successfully solve the task that lies ahead of us in the interest of unveiling further the colossal potential of the Russian World.” In it he discussed Russia’s plans of using its diasporas, numbering approximately 30 million according to Lavrov, to support their efforts to expand Russian influence and to further Russian goals internationally. The original article in Russian can be found here: <>.

23 Carmen Romero, “Statement by NATO Deputy Spokesperson Carmen Romero on NATO military exercises,” (Speech, Brussels, Beligum, August 12, 2015) NATO <>; Drew Brooks, “Russians keep eye on European training; Swift Response underway with hundreds of Bragg soldiers,”, August 27, 2015, <>.

24 Examples of Cold War procedures which provided transparency include: the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (1972), the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (1972), the Peaceful Nuclear Explosion Treaty (1976), the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (1988), the Conventional Forces in Europe (1990), the Confidence and Security Building Measures (Vienna Document) (1990), the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (1991), the Open Sky Treaty (1992), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (1996), and the OTAN RUSSIE (2002). Examples were cited from: Allan Krass, The United States and Arms Control: The Challenge of Leadership (Wesport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1997): 29-67.

25 Agence France-Presse, “NATO To Russia: Be Transparent on Military Drills,” DefenseNews, May 19, 2015, <>; Fydoor Lukyanov, “U.S. and Russia Back to Cold War Diplomacy,” The Moscow Times, May 26, 2015, <>.

26 NATO, “Wales Summit Declaration,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, September 5, 2014, para. 21-23 <>; NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, interview by Alexey Venediktov and Lesya Ryabtseva, November 29, 2014, <>; Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “Adapting to a changed security environment,” (Speech, Washington, D.C., May 27, 2015) NATO, <>; Peter Zwack, “It’s High Time for  U.S., Russian Militaries to Start Meeting Again,” Defense One, November 19, 2015, <>.

27 NATO, “Wales Summit Declaration,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, September 5, 2014, para. 1, <>.