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Panel: NATO Unprepared to Defend Baltics from Russian Attack

Estonian army scouts from 1st Battalion practicing their defensive maneuvers during Exercise SIIL/Steadfast Javelin in 2015. NATO Photo

While NATO remains unprepared to defend its most exposed states, positioning three American armored brigades in or near the Baltics would be a good first step in providing more effective deterrence against possible Russian moves, three experts in international security told the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land subcommittee Wednesday.

David Shlapak, senior international research analyst at RAND Arroyo Center, said its war games show a collapse of NATO defenses in 36 to 60 hours of a Russian invasion of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania without new steps being taken to deter Moscow.

The war games projected a seven- to 10-day warning of possible attack.

“Deterrence would be enhanced” if the three armored brigades and four other brigades of lighter forces from a number of NATO countries coupled with necessary artillery and logistics support were equipped and positioned to respond.

Rotational forces and prepositioned equipment are not a credible deterrent against a re-energized Russian threat. Later, in answer to a question, he said, “We’re still forward postured to defend the Fulda Gap” in Germany not the Baltic nations.

The logistics supply link is now 1,000 miles longer than it was when the Soviet Union existed and before NATO’s expansion eastward.

“That respite, ladies and gentlemen, is over,” Shlapak said.

His colleague at RAND’s Arroyo Center, Timothy Bonds said even with prepositioned equipment movement of forces “takes time and requires air, sea” support to a continent engaged in fighting and across a contested Atlantic.

Andrew Hunter, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, added, “The threat is especially potent” from Russia now. In recent years, it has built up Anti Access/Area Denial capability that “is sophisticated, layered and integrated.” Moscow’s ground combat systems also have been modernized, especially in indirect fires and artillery where it has an edge of the United States.

What the United States and its allies would face in Europe, they soon could be facing in other trouble spots. “Russia is likely to export these systems,” Hunter said.

If rotational brigades were to be the deterrent, as current plans exist in the European Reassurance Initiative, it “hit the ground forces hard, both the Army and the Marine Corps,” Bonds said. He said there are now nine armored Brigade Combat Teams in the Army with a 10th about to be fielded. Using the rotational math of the Defense Department that would mean, while that one brigade would be in Europe, a second would have just rotated back to its home station and the third would be training for the deployment.

Bonds said those numbers hold even with the projected growth of the Army to 540,000 soldiers on active duty and 200,000 Marines on active duty. He added it also takes time to train these new soldiers and Marines and requires more funds to ensure the equipment they have is modern and investments are being made in future systems.

Having a heavy armored brigade stationed in Korea and another in Kuwait complicates the Army’s rotational problem.

US Soldiers, assigned to Lightning Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, load Stryker Fighting Vehicles on rail cars at Rose Barracks’ railhead station, Vilseck, Germany, Jan. 7, 2016. US European Command Photo

The Army also has seen the greatest cuts in modernization programs and investments in research and development to field new systems since 2008.

Bonds said some of the shortfalls in deterrence, such as indirect fires and artillery, can be made up by capitalizing on investments European allies and partners have made in niche capabilities.

As for meeting the 2 percent of gross domestic product being spent on security threshold, the allies need “to focus on where that money is being spent,” he said.

Bonds said investments by the United States and allies to meet possible Russian aggression should be directed into precision long-range fires, sub-munitions that can break up mass assaults and short-range air defenses.

The war games had Russian forces advancing at 5 miles per hour. Shlapak said precision long-range fires are needed “to force them to slow down” and “operate in different ways.”

Shlapak also focused on air defenses. American ground forces “have not come under air attack since 1950,” but would face advanced Russian missile systems and “aircraft good enough to stay in the fight” even after a NATO response.

When asked how long the seven brigades could hold out against a Russian attack in the war games, he said 28 days, “sort of Bastogne-like,” referring to the World War II Battle of the Bulge that slowed a German advance until American reinforcements could arrive.

  • Ed L

    Interesting? 28 Days hold out ability of 7 Nato brigades against Russian Forces.

  • Andre

    Yawn. NATO was unprepared to defend West Berlin and much of West Germany during the Cold War.

    How did NATO’s successful defense-in-depth strategy transform itself into static defense? When did Narva become a fortress?

    When did NATO abandon the “backhand” method of 3rd Kharkov for the “forehand” method of Kursk?

    • RDF

      There was plenty of planning and organization dedicated to keeping the WP at bay during the Cold War. One of the many reasons NATO won that conflict. I think NATO nations are waking up again. Leopard 3 is on the way. Bundeswehr has to reactivate some divisions. Wonder how the Poles will feel about that.

      • Andre

        The Poles feel that they may have to go it alone if Russia say storms the Suwalki Gap, given the political and social unreliability of Berlin, Paris, Rome and Madrid, to say nothing of Athens, Lisbon or Prague.

        I agree with planning and wargaming. What I disagree with is dishonesty as part of a negotiation i.e. scare NATO governments to get the funding increases.

        • Duane

          The Germans just forward deployed an advance troop of 500 infantry with armor to Lithuania. The Germans have also announced that they are increasing the size of their army by 20%, and Germany did agree to the NATO guideline of 2% of GDP for defense spending in 2014.

          The German people, however, are fairly pacifistic and do not want to see Germany become a major military power, as arming up twice brought them destruction in World Wars One and Two. So it’s a big of a slog for German leaders to convince their own voters to arm up. There is an election this year, so that will tell us which “side” is winning in Germany.

  • I am fully expecting to see Rooskies in Western Europe …

    ————- (by the end of August)

    • RDF

      so, in Paris? that far west? and what is the reason for your crystal ball activity? anything?

      • If you pay attention to the news, the conclusion is inescapable. tump has decided that he has more in common with Rooskie Oligarchs – than he does with U.S. He admires them, and hopes to become one of Pootin’s lapdogs.

        • RDF

          I will have to disagree with you on this one.

          • You’re entitled to your opinion.
            ==============================================

            Pootin wishes to reestablish the power and glory of USSR. He would like to reclaim all the Baltic states. He wants what Russia has always wanted, a warm water port. Pootin has invaded Ukraine, and looks south towards Turkey and Syria. He looks north, as global warming opens the Barents Sea. He looks west, towards Scandinavia – and why not Western Europe?
            — Pootin need not limit his goals and ambition, but rather explore them; what are the limits of what he might accomplish? To further his agenda, it is necessary to neutralize any opposing force. Russia has long wanted, and still would see the demise of western power, and of Democracy. He should investigate. – The United States, Mr. Bannon, and Dear Mr. tump are merely pawns in a global game of chess. They are fun to play with. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
            — Meanwhile, tump admires and emulates Pootin. So much the better for him.

          • RDF

            You need to catchup. He has Kaliningrad. He has latakia. Not enough Russian navy at the moment to necessitate more. Just compare the national GDP or per capita GDP and them come back and tell us how afraid we should be of Russia.

          • Seriously though, on a different tack.

            In the history of man, we have always been governed by a Monarch, Religious Rule, or Tribal Law. Ours has been called, “The Great Experiment”. Can man govern himself through a body of constitutional law. There are many who would have our experiment fail. We are not even 250 years into the experiment. There is no guarantee of success. There are not very many such democracise in the world today; most would love to see U.S. fail.

          • RDF

            There are some. Many in fact.

          • Just compare the national GDP or per capita GDP.
            ——— JUST LOOK AT THE WEALTH GAP.
            1% owns 95% of the wealth.
            Money is power.
            The wealth gap is growing; we are concentrating more and more power into fewer and fewer hands. (Pootin is the richest man in the world) (tump admires Pootin)


            Why would the powerful consent to be governed by a body of constitutional law? They wouldn’t. They don’t. They won’t – unless we control them. GDP means nothing, if all wealth goes into a few, – or one pocket.

          • RDF

            But that is a digression from the starting point of this conversation.

          • Pootin hates NATO.
            Dear Mr. tump, good little lap-dog that he is – hates what his master hates.
            NATO defends western democracy. Pootin and tump want Oligarchy … monarchy … Dictatorship.

          • RDF

            Putin and Mr. Trump are oligarchy.

          • yes. & pootin is the richest man on earth.

          • Andre

            It’s as ridiculous as NATO wanting Crimea when it has too few assets to meet current obligations…

          • RDF

            NATO doesn’t want crimea. Ukraine does. Place is a dump.

          • Duane

            NATO without the US still is several times larger and much more modernized than the Russian military, on the ground, in the air, and on the sea. With the US, NATO is more than 10 times the size of Russian forces, and many more than 10 times as capable.

    • Duane

      You’re trolling dude.

  • Andre

    Yes, the Russian Army has an advantage over the U.S. Army with respect to artillery, indirect fire and organic fires. But why is that?

    It is because the Russian Air Force is incapable of mass precision-strike or close air support, and is at least 25 years behind American aviation. Their air operations in Syria were a very poor man’s Desert Storm, and they actually inflicted more collateral damage than Assad’s forces, which have been shelling, bombing and gassing rebel-held areas with wild abandon.

    The U.S. Army is designed as an expeditionary force which cannot drag huge self-propelled and rocket artillery pieces around the world on short notice.

    There are enough Tomahawks available on relatively short notice to saturate all of Russia’s anti-air, anti-sea and land-attack missile batteries, with enough to spare for the Russian Army’s staging areas and concentrations. In addition, NATO has air superiority at the start and will have air supremacy once the door has been kicked down…

    • Aubrey

      Tomahawks run about a million dollars a piece. What does a 155mm shell run? About $1000?

      Relying solely on cruise missiles will very quickly see you (a) run out of missiles and (b) run out of cash. Well, unless you want to put nukes on the end of that missile. Are you arguing for using nuclear-tipped Tomahawks from the get-go?

      • Andre

        No, I wouldn’t suggest that. What I would suggest is using stealth platforms and/or Tomahawks to kick down the door with respect to Russian SAMs, which will allow 4th Generation NATO aircraft to go to work with JDAMs. Even if the SAMs are distracted by a relatively small amount of cruise missiles, non-stealth platforms can strike them with bombs and missiles.

        • RDF

          JDAMS are not too effective against movers. Laser guided mo bettah.

          • Andre

            I would suggest JDAMs for fixed targets or slow movers and ASMs against fast movers. This is after the SAMs have been knocked out by the Tomahawks…

          • RDF

            Sams have to be taken out with ew, tomahawk, HARM support and suppression. JSOW makes a mess of a sam site, or a tank brigade for that matter.

          • Duane

            We already have all weather GBUs capable of taking out moving targets using tri-mode and dual mode plus seekers, including SDB II and the new LM “Paragon” dual mode plus bomb. The SDB II can be glide-launched from up to 43 nautical miles away.

          • RDF

            Must be dropped at Angels 40 to go 43 miles slant range. Thank you for the info. We modified the Skipper II LGB to keep track of quadrant hits and if we got three in the same quadrant we started correcting above LOS. Bought us some range. not a great deal of flexibility in Paveway II guidance. All bang-bang.

          • Duane

            The official range of the SDB II glide bomb is 43 nm, to be dropped from any of our attack aircraft from up in the flight levels where they normally operate anyway.

          • RDF

            But of course you know no laser in the military would be effective at those ranges. So it must be navigating to some acquisition basket where it can start looking for reflected laser energy. So, for moving targets the range is probably,much less. Much less.

          • Duane

            The SDB II is datalinked with the aircraft that launches it, allowing continuous updating of target info from the launch aircraft. A laser is not necessary at all given that it is a tri-mode seeker (mm wave radar, IR, and laser), but if lasing is used it would be used during the terminal phase.

          • RDF

            So if not laser then ineffective against movers.

          • Duane

            Not ineffective without laser, just more pinpoint precision on movers with a laser designator on the target. The mm wave radar can still provide guidance on movers, just less precision. Again, the designator need not be the attack aircraft … it could just as easily come from a high flying (60,000 feet) loitering GlobalHawk, Predator, or Reaper.

            With an SDB you don’t have to actually hit the target to destroy or immobilize it. The 200+ pound warhead can take out a group of infantry, a battery of SAM launchers, or a squad of tanks, or much of a truck column. The warhead can be either HEX, or cluster munitions, or the new “alternative warhead”, which releases about 10,000 high energy supersonic tungsten projectiles that will liquify any living thing within a 200 foot radius.

          • RDF

            There are the targets that s300 400 can reportedly detect and track. Especially at Angels 60

          • Duane

            Not if the radars are kaput because our F-35s, F-22s, and Growlers destroyed them. Which will take place in the opening hours of the conflict. Radars are easy targets – they give themselves away every time they are fired up. And though most SAM radars are mobile, in the sense that they are truck mounted, they cannot operate on the run.

            We have by far the most capable SEAD forces in the world … and with the F-35 joining the air fleets of our AF, Navy, and USMC, as well as many of our key allies (like Norway, Italy, the UK, Japan, and Australia), the expected lifetime of an S-400 SAM radar is going to measured in hours if not minutes.

          • RDF

            Wasnt that easy in Vietnam, and they werent the most technological savvy AD crew. There are lots of deception and tricks that the ground based forces can use. I think with the new radars, anything above the Radar Horizon had better stay on their toes. Which complicates your scenario a lot.

          • Duane

            You do realize that the Vietnam war was fought half a century ago?

            We didn’t even start the Wild Weasel missions until 1965 using F-100 aircraft, and the first and very crude anti-radiation missiles didn’t come into use until a year later with the F-4F. The first such missile was the AGM-45 which was a “dumb” missile, so all the SAM operator needed to do was cycle the emissions off and then on, fooling the missiles. The more advanced AGM-78 didn’t show up til near the end of the war. And the first models of the current, but much improved AGM-88 didn’t show up until more than a decade after the Vietnam war.

            And of course today, our ECM are far more sophisticated than in the VN war days. And now finally we also have stealthy aircraft that can also perform SEAD, including both the F-22 and the F-35.

          • RDF

            I flew both agm45 shrike and agm78 standard arm missiles with the awg21 system. I am familiar with HARM also. I am suggesting to you, that no one with the professional officer corps of the Russians, would leave these sorts of holes you seem so smug and sure about. Not one Russian would do so. So what do they know, that you do not?

          • Duane

            There is nothing smug about F-35s, F-22s, and Growlers taking out Russian SAMs … that’s precisely what they were designed to do, that’s their function.

            It was just reported today by Agence France Presse (Franch media) that Israeli F-35s successfully carried out an attack in Syria a few days ago, first taking out a Russian S-300 SAM system (radar and launchers) in Damascus, then destroyed a warehouse in Damascus that contained a large number of Russian Pantsir S SAM launchers that had been positioned for transport to Lebanon for use by Hezbollah.

            And then on their way back out of the country after successfully wiping out their targets, the Israeli F-35 pilots low level buzzed Bashir Assad’s personal residence as a big fat juicy eff you. Not a bad result for the F-35’s first use ever in battle!

            Not to mention the irony that their destroyed target was itself an advanced Russian SAM launcher warehouse.

            Oh, and it is highly likely that your much-respected Russian officer corps were operating the Russian S-300 system when it was taken out, as the Russians are heavily mobilized within Syria to protect their puppet Assad.

            Keep in mind that the IDF didn’t even receive their first F-35s until just a couple months ago, at the end of 2016.

            Our own military commanders have reported 100% success rates in attack sorties by both our F-35Bs and F-35As in war exercises against our own SAM systems. The only way our SAM operators knew they’d been “destroyed” was when our F-35s turned on their transponders after the attack was over.

          • RDF

            I just spent about 20 min trying to find anything concrete backing up your agence France press reference. Let us know if you have any source other than wishful thinking. Thank you.

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        A tomohawk is very cheap compared to the target it would be destroying.

      • RDF

        Tomahawks against located SAM assets is a well spent cost.

        • Duane

          Much more cost-effective to use AGM-88 HARMs or equivalent to take out the targeting radars, and other munitions to take out the SAM launchers, including a wide variety of precision air dropped bombs (re: various GBUs) that can be launched from BVR by virtually any of our attack aircraft, ranging from A-10s to F-15s, F-16s, F-22s, F-35s, F/A 18s and drones including the Reaper and others in development.

          In the opening hours of a conflict between NATO and Russia, our Growlers will team up with F-35s and F-22s to destroy the S-400 system and Russian fighters … then the rest of our aviation fleet will do the cleanup on the undefensible Russian armor and infantry forces.

          NATO’s forces are both vastly larger than the Russian forces, and much more modernized and capable. The Russians are nowhere close to fielding a fifth gen fighter, they only have small handful of flyable prototpes. The Russians simply cannot afford to develop a system remotely close in capability to our fifth gens and SEAD forces.

          • RDF

            Ok Duane. You want to be the first attack bird in after HARM detonations to make sure we got all The real S300/400 emitters? Who or what lases for all these BVR LGB launches? Someone has to stick their snouts up and lase. I think those systems will be more difficult to overwhelm than you think. They will spoof and bounce up and down. The HARM have to keep coming while the Tomahawk or JSOW ingress. Then after impact and drone and EW BDA go Rockeye their acc and get all the secondaries off those canisters.

          • Duane

            The current generation of multi-mode seekers don’t depend on ground based laser designation. They use some combination of laser (which can be air born), mm-wave radar, IR, and GPS/inertial nav systems. That is what is on the SDB II with its tri-mode seeker, or the new Paragon GBU which is a dual mode plus seeker. An F-35 or Reaper can lase a SAM launcher from up in the air.

          • RDF

            Well someone, something has to stick its snout up and lase.

          • RDF

            I assume airborne laser. Ground is uncertain.

          • Duane

            The SDB II can use either ground based or air based lasing, from either the launch aircraft or another, such a loitering Predator or Reaper drone, or some other drone, or some other aircraft in the area.

          • RDF

            All of that added complexity makes successful delivery more problematic. We always found the dropper needs to be the laser. All the fancy stuff goes to HIAHB once the ALR goes off.

          • RDF

            No-one said ground lasers. They are unsatisfactory for power output and plain coordination issues.

      • Duane

        You don’t need Tomahawks to take out artillery, or SAMs. We have a host of munitions that are vastly cheaper, launched from all of our attack aircraft, and NATO air forces positioned in central and eastern Europe, the North Sea, and Med that vastly outnumber the Russian air force, mostly consisting of old Soviet era airframes. The first targets to fall with be the S-400 SAM radars and launchers and old Russian third and fourth gen fighters, then the rest will be easy pickings.

        Putin knows all of that, of course. He has no plans for a mass invasion of eastern Europe and of NATO … he only hopes to play his game of fake war with his little green men and easy pickings. Ukraine is not a member of NATO and so does not enjoy Article Five protection. NATO is not going away and is in fact now up-arming to discourage Putin from thinking that there are any low hanging fruit left to plunder without risking the destruction of his armed forces and his regime.

    • RDF

      The Russian preference and emphasis on indirect fires has been around since Peter the Great. They like artillery. Of all kinds. They love mortars. cheap weapon with cheap rounds and can be taken organically almost anywhere. Anywhere the Russian Ground Forces assault, will have lots of indirect fire support. We will have to use counter battery and Air to offset and degrade that capability.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Open to correction, but from looking at the army reorganisation wiki there will be (or already are) just 10 armoured BCTs….. so, given training and rotation needs, this hypothetical deployment of 3 would amount to ALL armoured BCTs available at any given moment!?

    Is this not a ridiculous notion?

    *edit…. having watched the video the fellow said just that.

    • Aubrey

      The trouble with trying to use “modern” numbers is that our current force structure is, basically, designed around asymmetric conflicts and COIN.

      A real shooting-match with a peer opponent? We got a lot o’ re-organizin’ to do…

  • Bhess

    What is Russia’s capability to sustain an invasion of the Baltic states? How long could they maintain operations before they degrade severely? I don’t doubt that NATO would be hard pressed especially at the beginning but I have more doubts as to Russia’s ability to keep up with NATO.

    • Abdullah_Mikail

      Crimea. Need I say more?

      • Bhess

        Actually yes, you do have to say more. Do you know how to analyze the military situation and compare Crimea and the Baltic states? You think Russia can just waltz on in fairly unopposed as they did in Crimea?

        Go peddle your Russian trolling elsewhere.

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          You are right, the two are not comparable at all seeing as the loyalist Ukrainian forces were ordered to confine themselves to barracks & were eventually expelled without violence.

          To answer your question (which was also posed in the committee video above) Russia would have no problem with sustainment for the obvious reason of both geographic proximity and overwhelming military power to begin with.

          Simply put, the 3 Baltic capitals would be conquered by the time NATO leaders decide their dessert option at the summit to determine a response….. then Russia sues for peace and the allies accept knowing that the alternative is far worse.

          They mentioned 45 days as the length of time it would take for a single German brigade to ready itself for a counter attack….. I presume it would be similar or worse for other allies (the few that would be willing to help).
          That would be 40 days too late.

          • Bhess

            I have serious doubts as to Russia’s ability to sustain operations. The munition stores they have are mostly old Soviet stock. Their A2A missiles are mostly also Soviet era. They’d have to hit hard and fast. Combat attrition would hurt their air force badly, Their naval assets would be outmatched, and their army is not on par with the US army. Like I said earlier Poland isn’t going to sit around. There is a good chance that neither is Finland and maybe Sweden. Not saying it would be easy by any means but I think the deck is stacked against Russia in this scenario. Even if they do overrun the Baltics if their casualty rate is high it could be big trouble politically for Putin back home.

            I’m not as skeptical as you are as to the speed of NATO’s decision process if the Baltics were invaded.

          • Abdullah_Mikail

            And yet, Crimea still stands as the trump card…and it’s not a comparison to NATO states proper, but a real world example people need to consider.

            Smoke and mirrors, the arm chair warrior that you are, is what you speak of…you have to see the elephant in the room for what it is. Crimea fell without even a whimper from the world.

            The people have to have the stomach for the fight, and, face it, the most that the EU has to offer is probably keyboard warriors like you.

            The conflict in Ukraine and the Crimean annexation were both responses to the West, us, poaching a former Soviet state…that has been an unwritten rule since the wall came down…it kept the peace. We deposed a Russian aligned popularly elected president in Ukraine and installed a pro Western puppet…look what followed, Criemean annexation and war in East Ukraine.

            “Russian trolling”… idiot, I am a disabled US service member. Go peddle your arm chair warrior strategy elsewhere.

          • RDF

            Poland, Estonia, will fight. We will fight. Is it enough? Not enough for a sure thing, but enough to make very serious casualty lists on both sides. I am not at all sure that there are enough troops on Russian side to occupy the landmass in question. Not at all sure. It would take over 50 divisions to take and occupy that area. They have not got them. Can they take critical points and settle in for a bit? Yes. They would pay a serious cost. Did you notice the MG that the Estonian Scout is holding? Look Familiar? :-] . good designs stay around.

          • Abdullah_Mikail

            And yet I still raise Crimea. They are holding onto that just fine.

            It is Russia, and there are a lot of idle hands that could be put to work.

            That MG didn’t do Hitler and company any good against Soviet factory output, did it?

          • RDF

            Still a fine design. Fine design.

          • Abdullah_Mikail

            The MG is nice isn’t it. : ) I am however more fond of the Barret Arms M107 A 1 …I was never one to be kicking in doors or laying down supressive fire…more of the over-watching eye and far reaching arm that reaches out and touches someone….once.

          • RDF

            Not for me any of the crawl around in the mud stuff. I launched, flew, dropped, return. Rinse and repeat.

          • Boomersquid89

            I was the ultimate over watching eye, missile technician nuclear weapons, submariner.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            Check your history Abdullah.

            Petro Poroshenko was elected by his people 3 months AFTER the Russian annexation of Crimea.

          • Abdullah_Mikail

            Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych was the Russian aligned President elected popularly that was “ousted” from office in 2013 by Western meddling and a puppet was installed, then they held “free elections” and a pro Western puppet was elected.

            Only after the ousting of the Pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych did Russia seize Crimea…a move any world power would have made seeing that they had a critical Naval base thereon and what happened in Ukraine could happen there next.

            Study your history a little further than the last election, okay?

          • old guy

            You are right on. Please see my comment above.

          • Duane

            old guy – I didn’t notice until now that you’re a Russian troll, or else you’re one of what the Russians call their “useful idiots” whom they routinely co-opt in the West to do their ugly work.

            Thanks for identifying yourself.

          • old guy

            !. My dad came over from Kiev in 1915 and fought in WWs1&2. I fought in WW2. Believe me, I know the difference between Red and White Russians,
            2. I meant my comment below.
            3. I was in Russia to fly their Beriev BE2000, a water bomber. We have nothing like it (The Interior Dept. backed out).
            Had we bought it you wouldn’t be hearing about all of these horrible forest fires.
            4. The Canucks have one and so do the Japanese, which accounts for their low forest fire rate.

          • Duane

            Nobody meddled in the Ukraine. The Ukrainian people forced the Russian puppet out of power, defeating Putin’s plan to re-incorporate the Ukraine into the Russian Federation. And rightfully so! Thank god the Ukrainians had the good sense to defeat your mother Russia.

            The UN and NATO fully condemned Putin for his Crimean invasion and annexation, and also his incursions with his faked up “little green men” in eastern Ukraine, and imposed sanctions on Russia as a result.

            You know only the “alternvative facts” of Putin’s propaganda machine.

          • Boomersquid89

            I am Moldavian by ancestry, not Russian. I fully agree with the East Ukrainian freedom fighters.

          • Duane

            Then you disagree with most Ukrainians, NATO, the UN, and the official policy of the United States of America … and with anybody who understands that an expansionist Russia led by the murdering despot Putin is the greatest threat to world peace on the earth today.

          • Boomersquid89

            I have family in Ukraine, and yes, we disagree. East Ukrainians want to be aligned with Russia…Kiev is the entity keeping the killing up…they are invading, they are the “bad guys” Self determination of a people is paramount in democracy and East Ukraine wants independence and I support them in it. Anyone can be an assclown and cry vermilions of war…Kiev is making war, East Ukraine is not invading Kiev. Realities on the ground…like I said, you know nothing about what is happening in the field.

          • Duane

            The Ukraine is an ancient and sovereign nation that was forcibly and bloodily incorporated into the Soviet Union twice, both before WW Two and immediately after WW Two. The Soviets purposefully imported ethnic Russians into eastern Ukraine along with the forced collectivization of Ukrainian farms in their colonization of the nation … much as the Brits purposefully settled Protestant Scots in northern Ireland, stealing the land from the native Irish Catholics in the six counties of the north. The Russians did the same in the Baltic states, importing Russians to live there and displace native Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians, and the Russians are again attempting to recreate what they did in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine in order to steal back the Baltic states

            If your family are eastern Ukrainians, then you are likely a Russian by descent. I feel no sympathy for you or your family if you literally stole Ukrainian land from the natives in the 20th century.

          • Boomersquid89

            Keyboard warrior, He wasn’t a puppet, he was freely elected before Western meddling forced him out.

            You lack clear vision and understanding of what is going on in the field.

          • Duane

            You clearly are a tool … of Putin.

            I understand perfectly that the Ukrainians did not want the Russians enslaving them, starving them, imprisoning them, and murdering them by the millions all over again as the Russian Bolsheviks did in the 20th century.

          • Duane

            Ousted by the Ukrainian People, you Russian propagandist. Peddle your Russian propaganda elsewhere. Oh, and go back and report to Vladimir that you completely failed as a Russian troll .. the most effective such trolls are at least a little bit subtle and restrained in their cheerleading for a murderous dictator and his kleptocratic despotic regime.

          • Duane

            If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is more than likely a duck … or substitute Russian troll and the outcome is the same. Not to mention your screen name.

          • RDF

            Sweden and Finland will violently respond to stay NEUTRAL, and uninvolved. To think otherwise is to dream. They have a long history of cooperation, and living next to the bear.

          • Duane

            The Swedes are not BFF with Russia .. they are independent, and have vigorously gone after Russian subs and aircraft whenever they invade Swedish waters and airspace, including attempts to destroy the sub invading their waters.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            You give Russia too little credit Bhess.

            So what if some of Russia’s equipment is soviet?
            That was 25 years ago…… guess when the mainstays of US land power were made (Abrams/Bradleys etc)…. yes… 25+ years ago!

            And much of Russia’s equipment is greatly modernised.

            The video states clearly that US equipment is very much outranged, outgunned & out-tec’d when it comes to howitzer & rocket artillery, ballistic missiles, SAMs and especially electronic Warfare which the US army have been warning about ever since Russia’s E/W effectiveness was deployed against the overmatched Ukrainian forces in Donbass.

            Russia has new Panstirs, and updated BUKs across their fleet.
            The US has some stingers on the back of a humvee….. wow…..

            The US has to move supplies from a continent away…. Russia from commuting distance.

            And no…. I’m not unkind to NATO.
            The multi national brigade deploying to the Baltics, led by the UK and Canada took 3 YEARS to assemble!

            And no, Sweden & Finland are both constitutionally neutral.
            Their commitments under the EU’s common defence treaty will oblige them to assist only as much as their neutrality allows….. ie: not at all.

            So, that leaves the Russian Baltic fleet facing Poland alone.
            (The German Baltic flotilla is 5 x K-130 corvettes of which only 1 is operational!)

            The video also states that while NATO would seek to attain air superiority, but acknowledges that this will take time and in that time the forces already in and around the Baltics would be devastated by the Russian air force.

            You may or may not be aware that the NATO Baltic AIr Policing mission comprises (as of January) of 4 x Dutch F-16s & 4 x German Eurofighters)….. This is of no real threat to Russia.

          • Jim DiGiacomo

            I have to agree with everything you said about the military situation there. NATO shouldn’t have expanded to include the Baltic countries unless it was willing to provide the necessary forces.

          • Duane

            It IS providing the forces, the US, Germany, Norway are providing ground forces with armor now, and of course we maintain our air force and navy force in the frontier, both of which are vastly superior to the Russian forces. And weapons too, including the F-35.

          • Duane

            You’re being ridiculous about relative US military superiority over Russia, it’s not a near thing at all. Russia spends only 10% on defense of what the USA does, and of that 10%, probably half of it ends up in the numbered Swiss bank accounts of Putin and his cronies, who operate the world’s most extensive kleptocracy (Putin himself is reported to be worth $100B, all on a government salary – the richest man on the planet).

      • old guy

        I was in the Crimea, several years ago for a seaplane conference., before Putin moved. Everybody there acted as if they were, already, a part of Russia. I was astounded.

  • Bhess

    If the Russians did it they can kiss their Far East goodbye. The Chinese hawks will want to make some moves there.

  • WRBaker

    Latvia and Estonia have borders with Russia and Lithuania can be reached easily. Since Russia is their neighbor and the Baltic Fleet roams the waters nearby, as well, the ease of movement of men, equipment and supplies greatly favor it. How many Russian divisions lie opposite or nearby, against how many brigades that will be on their own?
    What of a Bolt from the Blue? Reaction time would be counted in minutes. This is a far worse scenario than the Fulda Gap, especially since we had divisions and tactical air positioned to rapidly engage, but no naval warships in the Baltic. Any thought of a REFORGER-like reinforcement would seem highly unlikely, too.

  • Michael D. Woods

    Why American brigades? Why not Polish, German, French, Romanian, you name it? Well, OK, I know for now, but these other guys have to gear up. President Trump is right about that one thing anyway.

    • I would like it if tump is for gearing UP NATO.
      I’m afraid he’s talking about stripping it down …
      He LIKES pootin. What’s to defend? — Western democracy? … nah … get real.

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        What part of Trump’s job requires him to make European NATO members stronger?

        Is he the president of those nations too?

        • Is the U.S. the leader of the free world?

          • Donald Carey

            The rest of the “free” world don’t seem to think so…

          • Well put it a different way.
            There are not very many successful democracies.
            Most are in Western Europe, and North America.
            NATO is designed to protect those Democracies.
            ———- if that’s not important, we should dissolve NATO.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            No.

            Not sure what the “free world” is either?
            Sounds like something yankess come up with to justify a sense of exceptionalism…

            Again… why is it Trumps job to make the militaries of Europe stronger?
            And seeing as you agree that this is so, what do you think that Trump should do to make European health services better?
            How do you think Trump will improve england’s congested rail services or the poor Spanish road network….

            He is (according to you) their leader after all.

          • You are correct. I should be more clear:
            Not sure what the “free world” is either?
            (Functioning Western Democracies)
            —————————
            It is tump’s job to protect The Constitution, which is the first and oldest of its kind.
            Western Democracies emulate what we have done.
            NATO was designed for the protection of Western Democracies, and thus for the protection of U.S.
            Protecting NATO, protects The Constitution.
            ——————————————————-

          • RTColorado

            Wow, that’s some leap of logic. Defending the US Constitution in no way relates to defending foreign nations or treaty obligations. The US has no jursidiction over foreign governments, not legally anyway. The US has treaty obligations which is different from constitutional requirements. Treaties can be changed by agreement between the treaty partners or nullified by lack of participation by one, both or any of the treaty partners. A majority of the NATO members have violated the terms of the treaty agreement and hence the treaty could be abated or amelorated or abandoned altogether. Approving a treay by Senate vote is a constitutional requirement…making a treaty is not nor is acting on a provision of a treaty.

          • Not foreign nations.
            Functioning Democracies. … There are not that many of them.
            Also, not defending nations, (directly) but participating in NATO.
            Not defending The Constitution (directly) but keeping allies.

            ie … Lock Shields.
            ——–
            Yes. The treaty could be abated or ameliorated or abandoned altogether, but that doesn’t do U.S. any good. We stand together, or surly we shall be defeated piecemeal.

          • RTColorado

            It goes to your previous statement about there being a “constitutional” requirement, which there is no constitutional requirement to defend anyone other than the United States. You may want to defend “functioning democracies” as a personal opinion, you might even believe it’s necessary from an ethical point of view…but opinions do not constitute mandatory or constitutionally required obligations. It’s an important distinction when American lives, treasure and effort are involved.

          • I don’t think I said, there is a constitutional requirement for tump to Support NATO; I said:
            It is tump’s job to protect The Constitution, which is the first and oldest of its kind.
            Western Democracies have emulated what we have done.
            NATO was designed for the protection of Western Democracies, and thus for the protection of U.S.
            Protecting NATO, protects The Constitution.
            ———————-
            Our constitution is not even 250 years old.
            There is no guarantee it will make it.
            Man has always, throughout history been governed by Monarchy, Religion, or Tribal law.
            Ours has been called “The Great Experiment”.
            Can man govern himself through a body of constitutional law.
            Jefferson proposed we should try to spread Democracy, and we have, but there are relatively few well functioning democracies based on a constitution.
            We have always had enemies who would see our experiment fail.
            NATO represents U.S. and our friends.
            Russia doesn’t want U.S. constitutional government to be successful.
            Constitutional Democracy is a threat to Russia (Pootin)
            Pootin resents U.S. and NATO.
            Protecting NATO – IS – protecting U.S. AND Western Democracies. Protecting U.S. IS protecting The Constitution.
            —————–
            Whose side are you on?
            Russia’s?
            Whose side is tump on?
            His? – Pootin’s?
            ================================
            We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.
            ~ Benjamin Franklin

          • RTColorado

            Okay, whatever makes you feel better.

          • Glad I could help.

          • Duane

            No, you’re wrong again RT. It is NOT a treaty requirement to spend 2% of GDP or more on defense. That was a guideline mutually agreed to by the NATO members in 2014, after considerable debate beginning in the mid-2000s following the massive drawdown of forces by everybody in the alliance, including the USA, after the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991. The 2% spend is NOT enforceable treaty law.

          • RTColorado

            No, I believe I’m correct. All NATO members agreed to the 2% assessment in 2006. As far as enforceable…yeah, it is. It’s enforceable by participation, members failing to meet the obligation can be asked to leave NATO, no one has “pulled that trigger” yet because the US is too concerned about being popular. It’s like the War Powers Act, it’s on the books, but no one has invoked it because they don’t want to hamstring their party leaders when they get the White House, so there it sits…the law of the land, but no one wants to enforce it. The NATO 2% rule is like that, it’s on the books but no one wants to invoke it…yet.

          • Duane

            You’re not getting it. NATO members can all agree to say this or say that, or do this or do that, but it does not amend the Treaty itself.

            Just like Congress votes to authorize this or authorize that, to fund this or to fund that, all without amending the US Constitution.

          • RTColorado

            Yeah, I got it…at the NATO Summit in 2006, each NATO member pledged 2% of the GDP would go towards defense spending. They also agreed to a percentage of the NATO budget (the US pledged something like 22%). They also agrred that each member who joined was bound by the same obligation. If your argument is that the 2% pledge isn’t part of the original NATO treaty, I’d say yes. But to put into an example that might help explain it better…there are lots of things that are not written into the US Constitution, not even as amendments, but they are still part of the constitution due to jurisprudence and legislation law not in the constitution itself. So, when NATO agrees to a 2% GDP commitment to Defense spending, that makes it binding on all of the members.

          • Duane

            It’s not an argument. You claimed not spending 2% of GDP on defense was a, and I quote you, “treaty violation”. It’s not.

          • RTColorado

            yeah, it is.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            lol….. that didn’t answer the question.

            Again…. what makes it Trumps job to been up the defence capabilities of other nations?

            What makes it Trumps job to make sure the bins are collected in Italy?
            What makes it Trumps job to keep parks clean in Portugal?

            If it is Trumps job to run one area of another nations governance (as you falsely claim) then it logically holds that he is responsible for other areas too.

          • Kapricorn4

            The US Constitution was written to protect the slave owners from the black slaves and indentured servants. They had already exterminated most of the Natives.

    • Duane

      As for Poland, their current armed forces, mostly Army, numbers about 140,000 active duty troops, plus another 100,000 in reserve. And Poland spends at or above the 2% of GDP guideline for NATO nations. Poland is also in the process of increasing the size of its armed forces, with a declared goal of doubling their army forces in the short term. So they’re a pretty formidable force.

      The French aren’t far behind the Poles, proportionally, with total active armed forces about double the size of the Polish forces, and spending about 1.8% of GDP on defense. Estonia, though a very small population state, also spends above the 2% of GDP guideline, with a total armed force of 12,000 and reserves of 30,000. The UK is also a very formidable force with 154,000 active duty troops and 82,000 reserves, and also spending above the 2% guideline. Even Greece (!) spends above the NATO guideline, with its force of 114,000 active duty personnel. Norway, another very small country (population a little over 5 million), is spending about 1.5% of GDP, with total armed forces of 18,000 and reserves of 45,000.

      Germany, Italy, and the rest of NATO are slacking, however.

      We have approximately 30,000 Army troops in Europe now – the equivalent of about 8 brigades, mostly in Germany, which is a long way from the front which is now along the frontier between Russia and the Baltic states, including Poland. It would seem that basing most of our troops in Germany probably has less to do with military strategy than it has to do with geo-political and financial factors (i.e, supporting the local economies in German towns with large NATO deployments). I know that sounds a bit cynical, but it’s politics.

      It seems that we would not need to add a bunch of new forces to Europe, but rather reposition them much further east where they matter. If Germany complains, well, they’re one of the worst offenders in terms of under-spending below NATO guidelines (they currently spend slightly over 1% of GDP, about half of their share of the burden). So let’s move the troops east to Poland and Estonia, who are spending at or above the 2% guideline … and then Germany can put up or shut up. Either boost their spending to 2%, in which case we can forward deploy a few more brigades from stateside, or they can shut up.

      • RTColorado

        France has failed to live up to their obligations per the NATO treaty. Interestingly Estonia and Poland are two of only five nations that meet the treaty obligation of setting aside 2% of their GDP for defense spending. I like the French well enough and the French armed forces aren’t as bad as some folks like to make out, but the French government has been deficient in maintaining their end of the NATO alliance.

        • Duane

          To be fair, the French are only 0.2% lower than the guideline of 2.0% of GDP. They need to do a little more. The Germans need to do a whole lot more – like double their current spending.

          • RTColorado

            To be fair, the French have to meet their obligations under the NATO treaty. The Germans are as close as the French in regards to percentage of GDP. The Canadians on the other hand are less than half at 0.9% of GDP. The point is, I don’t know about you, but I pay my fair share of taxes, I owe it so I pay it. NATO membership comes with an obligation, NATO countries owe it, they must pay it. If we’re going to use words like fair, then let’s be. Personally, I think NATO could be abolished. The EU can take care of itself, I for one am tired of being held captive and paying randsom for European defense. I’m all for maintaining our treaties with the UK and Norway, the rest of Europe can fend for themselves.

          • Duane

            No, the Germans aren’t close – they’re at only 1.1% vs. 1.8% … only half of what they should be spending. And the Germans are quite a bit closer to Russia than are the French, so the slacking off by Germany is even more galling.

            I’m not arguing that NATO members don’t need to spend the 2%. Some are, a few more are reasonably close (France and Norway) and should be able to get there without a major financial disruption, but the majority of the NATO membership are far below the minimum, with the worst offenders being Germany, Italy, Spain, and Canada – all relatively large and wealthy nations. I’m not real upset that some aren’t spending a lot, those that are both very small and very poor … like Albania, which has a national average income only 1/3 that of Germany.

            My personal opinion is that NATO needs to be structured into a two-tier organization. The upper tier members would be all those that meet the minimum spending guideline, and as a result are fully entitled to full Article Five mutual protection. The nations that are less willing to spend could then be enrolled in the lower tier, where they are NOT entitled to Article Five protection, but would still be allowed to coordinate with NATO, participate in NATO exercises, and purchase NATO weapons, and link into the NATO planning and communications systems.

          • RTColorado

            You’re correct. Germany only devotes 1.2% of GDP and contributes approximately 14% of the NATO expenditures…most assurdly Germany can and must do more.

  • RDF

    That look like a MG-42 to anyone else?

    • Ctrot

      That’s basically what it is. It’s an MG-3, a 7.62 NATO version of the 7.57 Mauser chambered MG-42.

  • This suks.
    The U.S. is weak.
    NATO is weak.
    ………………. Who is in charge?

  • SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

    Provocation and lies. The American way of war./ S//

  • old guy

    I do not believe that there is any such plan. The land already acquired is, in fact, pretty much Red Russian. Not so the Ukraine. In the face of a tough like Trump, I believe Putin will sit back and consolidate his gains. The same with the PRC. They both moved after Obomination proved to be a paper tiger.

  • Ed L

    In reading this, Makes me wonder if America is really committed to NATO then Maybe America should have 10 heavy brigades based in Europe.