The Baltic States Ask The US For A Bigger Military Presence On Their Soil

Authored by Arkady Savitsky via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The foreign ministers (FMs) of the Baltic states have wound up their May 16-18 visit to Washington. They asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to reinforce the NATO battalions that have been deployed to their countries with air and naval units. They also want their air-defense capability enhanced. Lithuanian FM Linas Linkevicius emphasized that it’s not just the numbers that are important, but also training exercises, visits, the distribution of equipment, and the establishment of new military facilities. Latvian FM Edgars Rinkevics called for making the US military presence in the Baltic states and Poland permanent. It’s hardly a coincidence that the issue has been raised prior to the NATO 2018 summit that will take place on July 11-12.

The leaders of the Baltic states have always stressed that they see the current military build-up as only the starting point for a larger effort that will include modernized routes and infrastructure sites, as well equipping their national forces with more up-to-date weapons for offensive operations.

NATO has deployed four battalion-sized battle groups (roughly 4,500 troops) to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. The nations that comprise the backbone of this force are the US, the UK, Germany and Canada. Twelve other allies also contribute to the Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP). Eight small staffs known as NATO force integration units have also been established. Common rules of engagement (ROE) are in the process of being hammered out, taking into account regional nuances. In the event of war, the Graduated Response Plan (Eagle Defender) with its own detailed ROE will come into play.

Under the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), the US military has transferred over to Europe a 3,500-strong armored brigade combat team and a 2,200-strong combat aviation brigade that is headquartered in Germany, and a combat sustainment support battalion (750 troops) that is stationed on Polish soil to be used as a logistics hub in Romania. It has also deployed a support team to Lithuania.

In total, America now has three combat-ready brigades stationed in Europe, along with pre-positioned stockpiles of weapons systems and equipment that will allow a fourth brigade to rapidly beef up its forces to launch an attack against Russia. NATO reinforcement would also include the 13,000-strong NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) or Spearhead Force, which is an element of the Enhanced NATO Response Force (NRF) that would join the combat later. The NRF consists of 40,000 troops. All these forces are capable of joining the fight on short notice.

These armed corps possess an attack capability that Russia cannot ignore. Nor can Moscow turn a blind eye to the fact that NATO’s collective military boasts 3.2 million active personnel — compared to Russia’s 830,000 — in addition to the US arsenal of long-range attack systems. Germany, France, and some other allies see that as enough, but no, the Baltic states are never satisfied. They keep on begging for more. They want to fully exploit their status of “frontline states” in order to reap the political benefits.

And not only that, NATO is ratcheting up tensions by holding an increasing number of large-scale exercises right on Russia’s borders. This greatly elevates the risk of inadvertent escalation. For instance, three major exercises are scheduled to be held in the Baltic region this summer.

On June 3-15, the Saber Strike exercise organized by the US Army Europe will encompass the three Baltic states and Poland, involving over 18,000 troops from 19 countries. About 3,000 American soldiers and over 1,500 combat vehicles will travel from Germany to Latvia and Lithuania. Public roads will be used to move heavy equipment. On June 12-13, the soldiers of the US 2nd Cavalry Regiment will construct a bridge in order to cross the Neman River in Lithuania (in the Kaunas district). Their main mission is to ensure that the forces are ready to rapidly advance, not to merely defend their positions.

Eight thousand American airborne troops will land in Latvia during the Swift Response exercise, in order to train alongside Lithuanian and Polish troops. Namejs 2018 will be held from August 20 to September 2 and will involve over 9,200 Latvian forces, including the military, police, border guards, volunteer reservists, and other state institutions. They will be joined by 650 troops from the US, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

All these large-scale intensive training activities will take place in the background of the planning for Trident Juncture 2018, the largest NATO exercise involving about 40,000 troops, 70 ships, and about 130 aircraft from over 30 nations, which will be deployed to central and northern Norway in October for the live portion of the event. A command post phase will be conducted in Italy. Norway does not have a shoreline in the Baltic Sea but it is a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.

When the construction is over, Powidz, a Polish village with a population of 1,000, will have become a NATO hub for the Baltics and all of Northern Europe. That will be the control center for the operations in the region.

Anakonda 2018, the largest event ever staged by NATO since the end of the Cold War, involving 100,000 troops, 5,000 vehicles, 150 aircraft and helicopters, and 45 warships will be hosted by Portugal this summer. This particular event will be held outside the Baltic Sea region, but it’s an important part of the bigger picture because the training activities of the bloc have been incorporated into a unified plan. It’s the vast scale that is so impossible to ignore.

All the exercises are being staged to allow the forces to hone their skills for conducting offensive operations against Russia, not for fending off attacks from trenches dug along the lines of defense. All these events are large-scale and the operational tempo is unprecedented, all of which makes the security status of Europe extremely precarious.

Nothing is working to ease the tensions. The agreement on the Prevention of Incidents at (INCSEA) and the Agreement on the Prevention of Dangerous Military Activities (DMA) seem forgotten and dust-covered. No one appears to remember they even exist. Incidents and dangerous activities take place regularly, especially during exercises. The agreements do nothing to prevent them.

In 2016, then-German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier proposed arms control discussions to defuse tensions. Russia welcomed the idea but the initiative ended up more or less swept under the rug. Moscow has proposed updating the risk-reduction procedures envisaged under the Vienna Document (Chapter III), but the alliance rejected the idea of direct Russia-NATO talks. It wants discussions to be held under the auspices of the OSCE, which makes no sense. It’s NATO, not the OSCE, that Russia has security problems with. It’s the North Atlantic Alliance, not the OSCE, that holds provocative military exercises near Russia’s borders while painting it as the state that harbors aggressive intentions. NATO has rejected Russia’s initiatives to reduce the risk of incidents, including in the Baltic region.

These exercises, which are in truth provocations, in addition to the longing of the Baltic nations to acquire the status of “frontline states,” the absence of any Russia-NATO dialog aimed at addressing security issues, the creation of the bloc’s infrastructure to launch offensive operations (an issue that has been kept out of the media spotlight), and the growing American presence inside states that share with a common border with Russia — all these developments are fraught with dire consequences. To a large extent, NATO is responsible for the present state of affairs and the Baltic states have greatly helped to turn northern Europe into a real hot spot.

Comments

Debugas Tue, 05/22/2018 - 02:03 Permalink

i live in Lithuania - one of the baltic states

every single day we are bombarded with propaganda that russians are going to attack us so we need to buy more weapons and invite more NATO troops in.

Nobody believes that.

in 1990 total population of Lithuania was 3.6 mln today it is less than 3 mln

That is the reality - enemy number one is poverty

Joe Trader olibur Tue, 05/22/2018 - 02:58 Permalink

but no, the Baltic states are never satisfied. They keep on begging for more. They want to fully exploit their status of “frontline states” in order to reap the political benefits.

There's no "begging" going on. Article 5 was activated and NATO is required to protect all members. The real internal issue within NATO is that there's 1st class and 2nd class members - the 1st get permanent NATO bases, and the 2nd class on the east & Baltics don't have permanent bases, whereas they need it the most.

In reply to by olibur

land_of_the_few Joe Trader Tue, 05/22/2018 - 03:18 Permalink

You mean like UK was trying to activate article 5 and gin up a war with the Skripal farce?

The Balts are also trying to use the discredited, collapsed US Russiagate and Skripal affairs to inflate a fake "hybrid cyber threat" because the Russians are very obviously not invading.

It seems they never expected those inventions to collapse so quickly in the West.

 

In reply to by Joe Trader

Teja land_of_the_few Tue, 05/22/2018 - 06:20 Permalink

Ah yeah? The affairs are not discredited, at least not in the eyes of anyone with some brains.

But independent from that, it is sufficient to look at the numbers to see that the threat to the Baltics is more real than the threat to Russia.

4'000 troops stationed, with maybe 15'000 available on short notice? If you check out the state of some NATO armies, their commanders will have to beg and steal to equip any expeditionary force properly.

And that against a good part of the 800'000 strong Russian army, which is, according to ZH, equipped with lots of wonder weapons? LOL.

By the way, remind me from which nation the occupying or "stabilisation" forces come in parts of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova?

In reply to by land_of_the_few

land_of_the_few Teja Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:10 Permalink

4000 is not even a division, more like a brigade. If they were to roll into a foreign city, each individual soldier would each be surrounded by hundreds of locals, and no doubt some military forces as well. There are probably more armed civilians than that in a typical city.

 

In reply to by Teja

rgraf Teja Tue, 05/22/2018 - 13:06 Permalink

The affairs were not only discredited, they have been thoroughly debunked, you bankster stooge troll. Only imbecilic bootlickers like you keep spewing the nonsense. Your entire reply is fatuous, nonsensical blithering. You're just an incoherent chicken little.

In reply to by Teja

not dead yet Joe Trader Tue, 05/22/2018 - 04:37 Permalink

After the war the allies sent in people to try to figure out why the Germans followed Hitler into the abyss. You are a perfect example of those Germans. Instead of a Hitler most Americans, who have been propagandized from birth, would follow any American leader to war as they believe in the American exceptionalism bullshit and superiority over the rest of of the world that in their mind is populated by inferiors. In the next war major death and destruction will come to the shores of the US and Americans will finally get a taste of what the US has been dishing out to other countries. When 9/11 happened the media was full of video of Muslims and others dancing in the streets celebrating. The government and the lapdog media claimed these people hated us for our freedoms. Complete bullshit propaganda. They were celebrating because for the first time ever the US got a taste of it's own medicine and the population finally knew what it was like to be on the receiving end even though it was but a pinprick. After the initial shock wore off life for the vast majority went on. It will be different story when cities get leveled.

In reply to by Joe Trader

ConnectingTheDots RedBaron616 Tue, 05/22/2018 - 10:31 Permalink

Redbaron616 says: "Let's face it, does anyone honestly believe we are going to full nuclear war over Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania? Get real".

 

This is happening right in Russia's backyard and it could easily be taken as an existential threat. What would the US do if Russia placed missiles and military bases in Mexico? What if they overthrew the government of Puerto Rico, kind of like where we overthrew the government of Ukraine?

These types of events can and do very easily spiral out of the control of those who conceived them.

In reply to by RedBaron616

anachronism Joe Trader Tue, 05/22/2018 - 07:28 Permalink

If war actually broke out, the Baltic States will be incinerated by the Russians and overrun in 3-4 days. It makes no tactical sense to position maneuverable formations any closer to the front than the Lithuanian-Polish border. NATO is practicing offensive operations, which is an acknowledgement that it will have to retake the Baltic states from the Russians at some point.

Personally, I think this "Baltic" orientation is all a smoke screen. NATO is really preparing for an offensive campaign to retake eastern Ukraine. Eventually, the Russians will be provoked into a military operation to secure the Donbass and Crimea.

Russia may also be provoked into taking the Baltic states in order to secure Kalingrad - its territory on the Baltic Sea- from an assault by NATO.

In reply to by Joe Trader

Teja anachronism Tue, 05/22/2018 - 08:09 Permalink

Interesting analysis. So you don't believe (counter to Russian propaganda) that NATO troops in the Baltics are there to prepare an attack on Russia.

But then you believe in NATO preparing to help Ukraine retake the Donbass and possibly to conquer Kaliningrad? Ukraine is no NATO member, and the Donbass is of low value to the west as a whole. Coal... only ripe for subsidies. Got enough of that stuff. And Kaliningrad is a run down piece of real estate of very doubtful value, protected by nuclear arms.

Very strange. At least proves you are thinking yourself and not following the party line.

In reply to by anachronism

anachronism Teja Tue, 05/22/2018 - 08:27 Permalink

Thanks for your comments.

Economics is not the primary concern of either USA/NATO or Russia, when it comes to the Baltics and Ukraine.

NATO is preparing for a counteroffensive against Russia. It will not initiate the military part of this impending conflict; it will leave it to the "Ukronazis" to do that for them.

NATO cannot ignore Kaliningrad.

In reply to by Teja

bshirley1968 anachronism Tue, 05/22/2018 - 08:52 Permalink

Right. The US must maintain a "righteous" position to keep the evangelical, onward-christian-soldiers sheeple on board with the war machine. It is important for them to always believe they are the "good guys" fighting the "bad guys".

That is why they need to supply Ukraine and convince Ukraine to provoke bad guy Russia. Then NATO (the US) will put on their white hat and ride to the rescue like the heroes they all imagine themselves to be.

In reply to by anachronism

flapdoodle anachronism Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:50 Permalink

Exactly correct, but none-the-less given their proximity to St.Petersburg Russia need to pay attention to whatever NATO troops are positioned in the Baltics.

If (((NATO))) lights off a serious push into Ukraine, I think all hell will break loose. I just hope the Russians fire a Kalibr right up Poroshenko's ass, along with the other Ukrainian (((oligarchs))).

In reply to by anachronism

rgraf anachronism Tue, 05/22/2018 - 13:54 Permalink

The banksters need the distraction of war, and they have created so many conflicts worldwide that the plurality for any particular conflict is insignificant. Divide and conquer is a failed methodology. BDS has gained traction from individuals and very small groups, which are too costly for the banksters to counter. Black Lives Matter had to be defunded, when the protestors expressed unity with the Palestinians. The usual bankster approach is start a massive fire, and then claim heroism for putting it out. The problem now, is that it is a billion candles that they must extinguish, and trying to put a candle out with an industrial sized firehose just leads to failure due to falling behind. Too many candles too far apart.

In reply to by anachronism

Jack Oliver Joe Trader Tue, 05/22/2018 - 03:39 Permalink

Where is YOUR source ????

CNN ???? 

Yemen has pleaded for a halt to their own countries genocide !! 

But hey - their pleas fell on deaf Zio FUCKING ears !!!

Because the Zio’s are the ones financing the whole FUCKING thing !! 

Putin is too kind to make an example of Lithuania for being so FUCKING stupid ! 

A clear message to these bent over FUCKING cowards in Lithuania would be!!

NATO are NOT going to save you if Russia decides to get serious !! 

 

^ ^わ

In reply to by Joe Trader

not dead yet Jack Oliver Tue, 05/22/2018 - 04:49 Permalink

In the overall scheme of things the Baltic's are a nothing burger. Same with Poland. The Soviets and Russia gave up them and the rest of Europe they controlled because they were more trouble than they were worth. The Soviets kept them around as a buffer but finally realized that buffer would only marginally slow any NATO advance and wasn't worth keeping. The best thing Putin could do is ignore them as they aren't worth a single bomb. If the festivities do come to pass they will get nuked for having bases on their land not because Russia wants them back.

In reply to by Jack Oliver

Teja skeelos Tue, 05/22/2018 - 08:15 Permalink

Not afraid? Maybe a question of who you ask. Normal people tend to ignore threats they can't do about much anyway. But better informed people or such in a responsible position may see it differently.

http://www.itv.com/news/2018-03-23/fears-of-russian-aggression-increasi…

Estonia, e.g., has built up a volunteer force. They know what occupation means from the 1940's when the USSR occupied the Baltics.

http://www.kaitseliit.ee/en/edl

In reply to by skeelos

Jack Oliver Debugas Tue, 05/22/2018 - 02:12 Permalink

I know - they invite themselves in like they have here (in Australia) and everywhere else ! 

Their secretive base here is ( Pine Gap) located on indigenous land and is meant to be a ‘joint’ venture !!! 

Of course we are not even FUCKING allowed in there ! 

There were a couple of Prime Ministers who objected to it in the early days - one disappeared completely and the other was overthrown ! 

Being ‘lashed’ to the Zio/US economic umbilical cord is how they ‘leverage’ these countries !! 

I say ( like Russia) just CUT the FUCKING thing !! 

It’s just prolonging the inevitable !! 

 

In reply to by Debugas