Advisers for Pentagon are ready give up Riga and Tallinn without a fight.
Written by Anton Dojdikov; Originally appeared at VPK, translated by James Cooksey exclusively for SouthFront
Think tank analysts are ready to stop a hypothetical Russian aggression in the Baltic States for over 2.7 billion dollars a year. Probably they will agree to lead the next “multinational invasion” for a larger sum.
American research center RAND, which since its creation in 1948 was advising Pentagon and worked for U.S. government agencies, conducting research on national security issues, came to a disappointing conclusion: as a result of a military conflict with NATO, Russian troops will be able to occupy Riga and Tallinn for two or three days.
In RAND report, published on their website, the results of theoretical and modeling exercises are given. Think tank center analysts, civil and military experts, including U.S. army, Department of the air force, Navy and Marine Corps, the American General staff in Europe, the naval command of NATO were involved in the project.
The project goal is to study the form and probable outcomes of the Russian invasion of the Baltic States. The conclusion is clear: currently NATO is not able to protect its participating countries which are most vulnerable to potential aggression.
After the initial tactical defeat of NATO “there are a limited number of responsive scenarios, and all of them are bad”, namely: the counterattack associated with the risk of a nuclear escalation (the probability of success using only conventional warfare is insignificant); the position referring to the “second cold war” with the border between the blocks in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
“The Blues” have no chance
NATO forces and the national armies of States bordering Russia in Europe deployed at the moment are able to contain the pressure for only a few days. In less than 60 hours (depending on the script), Russian troops would reach Tallinn and Riga. This is the result of the series of strategic military games held during the summer 2014 – spring 2015 by the RAND Corporation.
Additionally to Russian numerical advantages besides the Armed Forces (22 battalion, which is significantly less compared to the times of the Soviet Union) “think tanks” add the following:
- the presence of Pro-Russian oriented minority (Russian-speaking population and the so-called non-citizens);
- geographical factor: Tallinn and Riga are closer to the Russian border than, for example, from Poland; impassable marshy terrain, dotted with lakes and rivers that limits the use of wheeled-based equipment;
- the existence of the Kaliningrad enclave, splitting the front line;
- the low probability that local elites in the Baltic States will defend their city to the last man standing.
Forces available for NATO appear rather inadequate, especially based in the Baltic States themselves: mainly lightly armed, without sufficient level of tactical mobility and poorly equipped to fight a heavily armored adversary. The Alliance has no units deployed here equipped with main battle tanks. To counter Russian MBT the “Stryker” type combat vehicle is clearly insufficient. The Kaliningrad region with its powerful air anti-access/area denial capabilities is a tough nut.
Vast firepower, superiority of tactical strike force (ten artillery battalions) leaves NATOs mechanized infantry no chances even for a successful retreat.
A competent adversary
Theoretically NATO’s Air Force is able to take on Russia. But probability is high that Russians as a “competent opponent” will use its own military aviation and effective electronic warfare to negate NATO‘s technological superiority.
Here Russian army “reasonable competence» is the reason for RAND experts to panic. Until now NATO countries have carried out their operations in the face of overwhelming superiority in aviation, the qualitative advantage in controls and electronic warfare, quantitative – in number of combat vehicles, aircraft, ships, and cruise missiles. Now the gap is small and the chances of success are viewed as not overwhelming.
Hence disappointing conclusion: the virtual absence of combined air defense, anti-aircraft short-range capabilities in the counterattacking forces of US and NATO which could strike the flank of advancing Russian army, – will lead to large losses.
Powerful Russian air force, electronic combat means sufficient to suppress NATO for a few days. “Red team” at the end of the simulation were able to create safe territory “bubbles” and has enough time to launch a massive wave of raids against NATO forces. Result – heavy losses in several battalions and probable failure of the counterattacks. Unacceptable losses even in a conventional conflict – is a factor too much for US European cronies.
To avoid such scenario in the Baltic States, according to RAND experts, you need a continuous presence of deployed seven brigades (including three MBT) and a further 2.7 billion dollars a year.
The whole point of a hypothetical “Russian threat” comes down to one phrase: “Show me the money”. Part of these billions will go on these virtual war games, analysis projects and “scientific” development. RAND analysts, equipment suppliers, hygiene and medicine contractors, logistics operators and others are all waiting for their share of the pie. Through their efforts anti-Russian hysteria currently swells.
The RAND analysts assume in their constructions of completely false promises:
- the Baltic States is an object to strike on the part of Russia;
- the Russian-speaking population of these countries are eagerly waiting for the arrival of the “liberators”;
- Russia officially deploys forces to defend Russian-speaking population or will contribute to the creation of local groups of “militants” with their subsequent support.
You can’t blame them, because the excitement of anticipated grants and the notorious “Russian threat”, which had become cyclic cognitive circle of self-motivation, is in their eyes.
Unlike Ukraine, the Baltic States are members of NATO, and the 5th paragraph clearly equates an attack on one country to attack on the entire block. Thus, Russia cannot be the initiator of aggression. Conclusion: our country needs to be provoked into “peace enforcement”. According to Saakashvili’s scenario against South Ossetia.
The Russian-speaking population in the Baltic States is quite used to comfortable conditions. This includes the opportunity to drive around Eurozone and travel to relatives in Russia. They sustain complete freedom to choose their residence. For people accustomed to all this comforts, changing the status quo is undesirable.
So the only option RAND analysts and their followers have is to pour the oil in the fire, spin the russophobic flywheel and hysteria in the media, initiating a radical adoption of discriminatory measures against the Russian-speaking population at the state level, supporting pro-fascist parties like those of Ukraine to create ground for protest and spread revolution.
The third and probably the most important antithesis: RAND recommendations such as “light” /”heavy” units ratio, the need to deploy new air forces on the airfields in Sweden, ensuring military personnel is equipped with short-range air defenses and much more, indicates nothing like a “defensive strategy”.
Taking the initiative
Today, even in a nightmare scenario we can’t imagine Russia initiating attack on a sovereign state. All foreign policy the actions of Russia are purely tactical and situational responses. Whether Crimea, Ukraine or Syria.
We accept the challenge only due to the fact that absence of such response will channel chaos and instability to the territory of our country. This will change the balance of power, Russia will lose its last allies, and the ring of unfriendly regimes around our borders will finally be connected in one.
Asymmetric, medium and long term oriented plans, strategies and actions are needed. At least we can initiate such studies, raise discussion in the media to dissolve and debunk russophobic notions.
Russia needs its own think “tanks” acting faster, more assertive while not as costly as colleagues from NATO. Analytical centers, the media, the blogosphere, political communication informal, network of NGOs, the tools of “humanitarian cooperation”, other structural elements of the Russian world are needed. Area of their responsibilities – whole planet, including the territory of NATO countries.