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NATO Expansion: Strategic Opportunities and Risks

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When recently appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, named Russia as the greatest threat to U.S. national security during his confirmation hearing this past July, he caught some by surprise.

Russia’s March 2014 annexation of Crimea represented a disturbing shift in Russian foreign policy that sent shock waves throughout the NATO alliance and until quite recently one could have argued that Dunford’s assessment was unduly alarmist. In March, President Obama referred to Russia as a “regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength but out of weakness…” He also went on to say that Russia is not the United States’ top national security threat and that he was more concerned about a nuclear weapon detonating in New York City. With Russia’s surprise military intervention in Syria, it is now clear that Dunford’s assessment was more accurate than some believed. It may be a regional power acting out of weakness, but Russia has demonstrated that it can profoundly alter the geopolitical status-quo not only in Europe, but in the Middle East, too, having built an “arc of steel” ranging from the Arctic to the Mediterranean Sea.

When superimposing this so-called arc-of-steel over a map of Europe, we find that geography still matters, especially when contemplating strategies to counter the Russian strategy of undermining NATO’s influence and credibility. These air, land and maritime spaces are being increasingly contested as Russia increases its operational tempo with the use of conventional and hybrid capabilities. What is likely already obvious to NATO planners is the fact that there are gaps where controlling, or at the least, influencing these contested spaces, could prove exceedingly difficult by virtue of the fact that they are situated in strategically important non-NATO states. Well to the north are Sweden and Finland, both occupying strategically vital maritime spaces and the latter sharing a large land border with Russia. To the south and southeast of NATO’s flanks are Montenegro and Georgia, respectively, the latter having been invaded by Russia in 2008. These states are considering (Sweden and Finland) or actively seeking (Montenegro and Georgia) NATO membership.

For NATO, the question of further enlargement should largely hinge on three considerations: The strategic value of admitting new members – Russia’s potential reaction – and whether systemic problems within the Alliance undermine the strategic value of expansion.

The Strategic Value of New Members

A logical starting point for evaluating the strategic value of new members is to assess the current military balance between NATO and Russia. In recent years Russia has undertaken comprehensive military reforms which are translating into a more active, more battle-ready, and better suited military to support itsincreasingly assertive foreign policy. Although it is believed that Russia’s military can be checked in certain qualitative terms, these advantages apply to only a few European NATO states. NATO’s largest European members – Germany – the UK and France – have militaries with clear qualitative advantages over Russia, but serious questions surround deployability, preparedness and logistics, which could erase any qualitative advantages.

That said, NATO as a whole maintains a distinct quantitative and qualitative advantage in naval forces. Submarine forces aside, Russia does not possess the ability to seriously challenge NATO naval forces at sea. Russia places great value on its strategic ballistic missile submarines, which would require substantial naval surface forces for protection in any conflict. Similarly, Russia would have little capability to disrupt transatlantic logistical supply lines between the US and Europe, but this could change given that Russia has embarked on an ambitious submarine building program that in 2015 added two nuclear ballistic subs, three nuclear hunter-killer subs and two conventional subs.

Assessing the balance of air and land forces is more difficult, particularly for the latter. The British and French have the only European air forces that have demonstrated the ability to carry-out the full range of combat air missions. Other European air forces suffer from a broad lack of capabilities that limit them to narrow roles. Furthermore, Europe has decommissioned most of its land-based air-defense systems and is phasing out aging aircraft over the next decade with no plans for replacement. Although smaller, the Russian air force is a homogeneous force that is accustomed to acting unitarily. Like the British and French, it iscapable of performing all missions and roles of modern air warfare, with the possible exception of precision and deep strike capability. Russian command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) is markedly inferior to US capabilities, but without US expertise and support, European air forces (France and UK aside) also lag far behind.

Measuring the balance of land forces is much more difficult. Indeed, Europe has far more military personnel than Russia, but this is due largely because of Europe’s generously staffed defense bureaucracy. Questions persist pertaining to training and readiness for both European and Russian land forces. Indeed, despite Russia’s massive efforts to reform its military, European analysts estimate that only 65-percent of their new combat brigades are truly combat-ready. Whatanalysts overlook, however, is that the European Defense Agency rated European land forces as 30.9 percent combat ready and 7.5 percent sustainable deployable. While both European and Russian militaries are beset with numerous challenges, they appear to be moving on opposite trajectories.

For an alliance founded on the core concept of collective defense, the notion that prospective member states should be able to contribute to the overall security of NATO seems rather obvious. Even so, NATO has enlarged itself for purelystrategic and ideological reasons during the Cold War as was the case with Greece and Turkey in 1952 and again with Spain in 1982. Arguably none were in any position to greatly add to NATO’s overall security, but this was an era in which the U.S. was perfectly willing and able to cover Europe with a security (conventional and nuclear) umbrella. Similarly, the more recent rounds of enlargement, which included the Baltic States, Poland and others, was politically driven as there was thought to be no serious security threats to NATO at the time, most notably, from Russia. Clearly times have changed. As NATO’s roster has more than doubled from 12 to 28 countries since its founding in 1949, its military capabilities have slowly atrophied over the past 25 years, while its collective security commitments have steadily increased. Consequently, any discussions within NATO about future enlargement must answer this question affirmatively: Will this new country add to the overall security of the alliance? When posing this question to prospective member states Sweden and Finland, a strong argument can be made for why they should be invited into NATO – assuming membership is what they want.

In this context, admitting Sweden and Finland to NATO would shore up the Alliance’s northern flank. In fact, defending the Baltics against a Russian incursion would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, without significant aid from Sweden and Finland, the latter having been attacked by the Soviet Union at the start of World-War II. Controlling the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Finland and the large land border between Finland and Russia would be essential to any campaign defending the Baltics. Moreover, as Sweden and Finland lean more toward NATOthey are apparently asking themselves the same question: Will NATO membership add to our overall security? Increasingly the answer appears to be yes. Nevertheless, NATO membership is far from certain as the Alliance seems to be experiencing expansion fatigue and Sweden and Finland remain reluctant to fully embrace membership.

However, the strategic value of admitting Montenegro and, especially Georgia, is even more uncertain. Even though Vice-President Joseph Biden recently voiced support for Montenegro’s admission to NATO, whether it adds to the Alliance’s overall security remains unclear. Despite being a very small country with few resources, what Montenegro’s membership could do is definitively derail Russia’s plans to construct a naval base there – preventing Russia from gaining greater access to the Mediterranean. Does that add to NATO’s overall security? Perhaps. NATO is scheduled to make a decision on Montenegro’s membership this December.

Georgia, however, is altogether different. On the one hand, Georgia has met virtually every requirement for admission into NATO. It has a very capable military and has actively participated in NATO missions, but because of its 2008 war with Russia, several NATO members are concerned that Georgia’s membership could present a serious security risk. As one Eastern European diplomat put it: “If a country such as Georgia joins NATO, we have to be ready to defend it.” In many respects Georgia would be an excellent addition to NATO, but because of its volatile history with Russia and the very real possibility that it could invoke NATO’s Article V in defense against Russia, membership appears unlikely for the foreseeable future.

Russian Potential Reaction to Enlargement

Any further enlargement must consider how Russia would respond. At play is the classic security dilemma – as one party takes steps to make itself more secure (NATO), the other (Russia) interprets those steps as provocative, leading to the possibility of war. Russia has been unequivocal in saying that it opposes any further NATO enlargement. Precisely how it would respond is unclear, however. Responding directly to Sweden’s consideration to joining NATO, Russia’s ambassador to Sweden, Viktor Tatarintsev, said that “Russia would adopt countermeasures … Putin pointed out that there will be consequences, that Russia will have to resort to a response of the military kind and re-orientate our troops and missiles. The country that joins NATO needs to be aware of the risks it is exposing itself to.” Moreover, Russia’s envoy to NATO, Alexander Grushko, expressed the same view with respect to eastward expansion saying there would be “catastrophic consequences” and “[a]ny political game concerning NATO expansion into Georgia and Ukraine is filled with the most serious, most profound geopolitical consequences for all of Europe.” NATO, therefore, faces the extraordinary challenge of shoring-up its security, while avoiding direct military confrontation with Russia.

NATO’s Systemic Problems

As the Alliance contemplates further enlargement it must view the strategic value of doing so, along with Russia’s possible responses, through the prism of its existing systemic problems. Simply stated – there are serious questions surrounding NATO’s ability to provide collective defense for its existing 28 members. Spending has fallen to dangerous levels as only 5 members are reaching the 2% of GDP spending target on defense. This does not portray a complete picture, however. Belgium spends about 1.1% of GDP on defense, with nearly three-quarters going to personnel costs, a quarter going to operating expenses and barely 1% to acquiring new equipment and modernization. Elsewhere in NATO, whole divisions and weapons systems have been eliminated over the past few decades. This has led to serious interoperability problems as many NATO members are increasingly unable to operate with U.S. forces, the latter being decades ahead of many European counterparts in defense technology.

Additionally, there is perhaps no greater fundamental problem besetting NATO than a lack of common vision among its members and a lack of consensus on how to address the threats confronting the Alliance. Instead, there is a growing consensus within some member states that is deeply troubling. A recent Pew study exposed potentially deep fissures within NATO. It revealed that “at least half of Germans, French and Italians say their country should not use military force to defend a NATO ally if attacked by Russia.” This is arguably the root cause of NATO’s systemic problems and the reason why the Alliance should not undertake further enlargement for the foreseeable future. Admitting new members to an alliance lacking a common vision and anything less than a full commitment to collective defense would further weaken an increasingly overstretched NATO.

 

This analysis was originally posted on the Streit Council’s blog

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Defense

Agni-V Canister Launch: Facts and Implications

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Three main nuclear players of Asia: China, India and Pakistan have established “triangular” dilemma due to their security concerns. This is manifested through the development of advanced  conventional and nuclear weapon forces.  China is pursuing military modernization program to counter US in Asia-Pacific region, whereas India’s development of sophisticated strategic forces is aimed towards China and Pakistan.  India’s acquisition and development of such deterrent of conventional and nuclear forces is a matter of concern for Pakistan and Chinese security planners. In response, it is inevitable for Pakistan to take measures for its security and safety.

Such dynamics has established multifaceted security trilemma between three Asian nuclear weapon states due to which induction and introduction of any technology in conventional and strategic forces of one state is matter of security concern for other state. This is expressed through the India’s offensive policies and strategies in pursuit of global power projection, and such dynamics has ability to disturb the deterrence equilibrium and strategic stability of the region. In this regard, recent launch test of Agni V demonstrates that India aims to establish credible strategic forces against China, which would not justify its claim of remaining “minimum’ against Pakistan.

Trends in India’s missile testing and acquisition in nuclear technologies demonstrates that India is largely supported in its quest of strategic forces modernization by the states including United States, France, Russia and other European states.  In SIPRI report of 2018, India is ranked as largest arms importer of the world and its technological transfer and foreign acquisitions are running in parallel with its motivation to increase the range, payload, reliability and accuracy of missiles, ICBMs, MIRVs, SLBMs and development of space program.

The United States is supporting the India’s military developments for its own strategic, economic, political and military goals in strategic landscape of Asia. Since US is supporting the India as a Great power in South Asia, the India has been attempting to prove its conventional and nuclear credentials. Therefore, such aspirations demand from India to obtain more resilient and disastrous military muscles. Therefore India’s missile inventory especially canister launch of Indian ICBM Agni-V has played key role in soothing the India’s self-image of a regional power and strategic objective of US.  Moreover, its operational launch has ability to increase security dilemma in South Asia as well as in the whole region as its range makes its capable to hit neighboring states Pakistan, China, and whole continent of Asia: and also parts of other continents such as Europe and Africa.

On January 18, 2018 first “Pre-induction” successful test of Agni-V was conducted.  Agni V is three stages, solid fueled, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The range of the Agni V is 5,500-5,800 KM, it is capable to carry warhead of 1,500 Kg.  Later in June 2018, canister-launch test of Agni V was carried out.  The canister-launch version of the missile enables the quick transport of the missile and provides the capability to launch it anywhere. Canister launch of the Agni-V will lower the nuclear threshold in the region and increase the crisis instability. Consequently, according to the report, India is working to incorporate MIRVs technology with Agni V for its credible second-strike capability.

The objective of first three nuclear missiles (Agni-I, Agni II, Agni III) was to counter Pakistan, whereas the other missiles of the series (Agni-IV, Agni-V) are capable to hit the China due to the longer ranges. The successful canister launch test of Agni V demonstrates that the soon nuclear capable missile will be inducted into Indian Strategic nuclear command. The Canister-launch of the Agni-V will reduce the launch time and pairing it with MIRV technology will have destabilizing effect on the deterrence and strategic balance of Asia. The induction and introduction of operation ready Agni-V will have serious repercussions for geostrategic landscape of region.

India’s latest developments and missile proliferation indicates the India’s shift to acquire more offensive capabilities. Presently, India’s focus to increase the range of its missiles and shift from liquid to solid fueled missiles to enhance the level of readiness  and tri-service operation of nuclear-tipped missile. These developments are providing pre-emptive capabilities to the India that is inconsistent with the India’s nuclear posture of “Credible Minimum Deterrence”.  India’s offensive conventional and missile capabilities deterrence stability negatively influence the security architecture of region. Therefore, canister launch of Agni-V; marked by advance range, accuracy, payload and higher level of readiness has not only increased the security dilemma and instability in the region but it is also threatening its’ neighboring states with its military buildup.

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U.S. divorces Europe

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Europe is in the anticipation of NATO summit which will take place on June, 11-12 in Brussels. Before this meeting the Pentagon thoroughly analyzed all allies’ expenses on collective defence. It turned out that NATO members’ defence budgets don’t reflect real needs of the Alliance. Among the twenty-nine members, only the United States is really serious about its obligations, spending approximately $700 billion or 3.5 percent of its GDP on defense. No other NATO member comes close to this proportion, and the vast majority fail even to meet the self-imposed requirement to devote at least 2 percent of GDP to defense.

Donald Trump repeatedly warned the member states that America is not going to carry the main burden any more. It is time for Europe to pay for itself. “I’ll tell NATO, you got to start paying your bills,” Trump told a wildly cheering crowd in Montana on July, 5. And he is ready to begin with Germany. The president pondered aloud about the value for the US in paying for the collective defence of Germany. Now the US is analyzing the cost and impact of a large-scale withdrawal or transfer of American troops stationed in Germany. No doubt, the Baltic States are the next.

It is clear that Trump begins the process of limiting America’s role in NATO. For a long time NATO members have been promising, but did nothing to increase defense spending. Weak attempts of some countries to meet requirements did not save the situation.

If NATO reduces its huge financial injections in Alliance’s budget, the whole system of European defence, and the Baltic States’ defence in particular, will become illusive and unattainable. The Baltic States’ worst nightmares become true. It is not a secret that keeping a large army abroad is already draining the nation’s treasury, stationing many soldiers in numerous strategic foreign nations costs huge sum of money. While the Baltic States and Poland ask for more and more US and NATO troops and bases, the US is not about to satisfy their every whim. It is enough, patience is over, and pragmatism defeated compassion.

Being highly dependent on US financial support, NATO turns to be on the verge of collapse.
It became quite obvious that Trump behaves more as a businessman than a politician. He has received success in his business and transfers his behavior model to politics. The more so, Donald Trump keeps his word and the major theme of his administration “America first” at least really works. The US does not want any more to throw out money, doesn’t want to believe in Europe’s “sincere will” to be on equal footing in NATO. Trump-businessman prevails over Trump-politician. We are on the eve of global political change. Like “it’s every man for himself in business”, America will not pay for weak partners. Trump: “Dear Baltics, nothing personal, it’s just business.”

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The Islamic Republic of Iran and Security Discourse

Sajad Abedi

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The fact of security discourse has entered a new era in the next Cold War has a general consensus. Accordingly, security studies, in order to continue to maintain their position, have been compelled to avoid the traditional focus on threats, use and management of the military, by experiencing some fundamental changes, with new dimensions and considerations. Define security. At the same time, we are witnessing security issues and the emergence of new issues such as acid rain, AIDS, ozone depletion, drug trafficking, destruction of natural resources, warmth of the earth, population explosion, pollution of the air and so on.

Although the security image presented seems fresh, it is believed that there is no fundamental change beyond the scope of the topic, and the essence of security remains the same. Nevertheless, there have been positive and significant developments in this period. ; Such as the release of the “militaristic” one-dimensional approach, and the turning of attention to the sinister category of “conflict” and “conflict,” and ultimately to the fact that security has a multidimensional face and cannot be restricted to the next military unit. The rule of this new insight is that it produces a significant amount of texts related to national security studies, in which economics, the environment, cultural and intellectual, political, geographic and etc. issues are considered as new dimensions of national security.

The national security considerations of the Islamic Republic of Iran have undergone many changes during the years after the Islamic Revolution. The country’s security considerations are divided into three “axis expansion”, “axis retention” and “growth-driven” discourses. In each discourse, four basic variables, namely, the goals and principles of national security, national strength, threats and vulnerabilities of national security, and ultimately national security policies, have been considered.

The expansionist discourse; in the national security considerations of the country, the “expansion-oriented discourse” in the early years had a new military discourse. In these years, despite the fact that the religious revolutionaries did not have all the formal political structures, they gradually managed to dominate all the declared and effective policies of the system, and in fact their ideas were the main guide to domestic and foreign policy. In the eyes of the revolutionists, the concept of national security did not enjoy intrinsic credibility, even in the face of any national burden, such as national identity, national interests, and national security, a kind of hatred and pessimism. Accordingly, the concept of security in the form of a macro was worthy of value and instead of national security, such as the security of the system, the security of the Islamic Ummah was considered. Such a definition of security also meant that it would spur the nature of the expansion of the revolution. Accordingly, revolutionaries, in addition to focusing on the improvement of the individual and social life of the nation, felt the expansion of Islamic values beyond national boundaries as part of their primary duties. On the one hand, they wanted Iran for Islam, and on the other hand, they considered the role of Islamic Iran as a pole and axis for the Islamic world.

From the results of the national security considerations in the expansionist discourse, one can mention the following: “the boundaries and frontiers of nationalism were abandoned”, “followed by a revolutionary pattern”, “national security considerations did not follow the pattern of civilization,” “various dimensions in considerations The security of the country, including its goals and principles, national achievements, threats and vulnerabilities and national security policies, began at a zero point “,” the security objectives were subject to revolutionary macro policies, following the ideals and principles of human and Islamic, which reflected the nature of the software of national security ” “Revolution and the system were vulnerable to threats,” “Raid.” Political militancy was the priority of other dimensions, such as social, cultural, economic and security. ”

Conservative Discourse; the occurrence of war was a turning point in national security considerations. In a situation where many of the concepts of the revolution were still being defined, and yet the pivot of the revolution was unfolding, the imposed war began. In fact, existing political forces had not yet reached a consensus in many areas, and political transformations could be expanded. That is why, even in the first year of the war, the revolutionary community was involved with issues that were not so in tune with the conflicting communities. Only after the decline of political inflammation after the dismissal of Bani-Sadr and the summer of 1981 and the achievement of a political unity between revolutionary officials, the war was at the forefront of national security. From the beginning of the second year of the war to the end, it was dominated by national security considerations. Obviously, the fundamental distinction of this period with the previous period was the limitation of the circle of fundamental security problems of the system in a fundamental factor, namely war and its affairs. Therefore, preserving the territorial integrity of the country and securing the system against the Iraqi objective threat is at the core of the system’s attention. Nevertheless, the new era is in line with the ideological aspects of the past period. The evolution of war and the type of resistance created by the armed forces even increased the ideological impact at some time on the security considerations of the country. However, the realities of warfare were decisive in controlling many ideological and ideological goals of the past.

According to the results of this study, the results of the national security considerations in the persistent discourse include: “national security considerations were centered around national boundaries”, “greater use was made of elements of spiritual power”, “the continuation of the revolution through war Was insured “,” the ability of the Iranian community to mobilize and integrate to face the crisis of extermination was proven “,” the necessity of military empowerment “,” the economic backwardness of the country was reduced as the main negative changes “,” to prevent unrealistic considerations in foreign policy “,” Aspects of pragmatism in outside politics ” was imposed. ”

Growth-focused discourse; The war focused on security considerations at the edge of the national borders, but the end of it and the beginning of widespread developments in the country, above all else, centered on these considerations into national borders. The end of the war was accompanied by other changes at the national, regional and international levels. At the internal level, by reforming the constitution and centralizing power in the presidency, the areas of possible controversy in the executive branch of the country were resolved but this did not mean the end to political rivalries in the great collection of politicians in the country. During this time, one can see three important points in relation to the supreme elite of the country regarding national security. First, a view based on economic growth. Second, an ideological perspective and third, a view based on political cultural development.

In addition to these internal changes, regional and international changes have also been effective in shaping new national security considerations. The decline of the role of ideology in the international system after the collapse of communism and the establishment of a new order in this system that led to the growth of the monopolistic behaviors of the powers, and especially the United States, have had a decisive impact on the national security of the country. In addition to these developments, trends such as the escalation of internationalization and the evolution of the globalization process have also been effective factors. At the regional level, the effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of new states in the northern region, as well as the continuation and progression of the regional Middle East crises, created many engagements for the statesmen.

In the context of the country’s national security considerations, the following results can be reached in the growth-driven discourse: “Inflammation of the past two periods and relative introversion in the security considerations” was reduced, “there is still a vacancy in a systematic and all-rounder vision in the country’s security considerations,” ” National welfare is becoming more and more emphasis on national security “,” The creation of a strong and prestigious Iran instead of the physical exodus of the revolution “,” Elements of national power have been given a more objective quality “,” The threats have become more widespread “,” Necessity Multilateral vision is felt in politics “,” a tangible change in the amount of attention to the public L environment has been found. ”

On this basis, in general, it can be said that “security policy” has a different meaning from whatever has been, including two fundamental principles. On the one hand, political planners, diplomats, such as jurists and intellectuals, have to come up with a collective agenda in order to find a place for small and ultra-national actors in politics and the administration of society. On the other hand, the global arena represents new areas where governments alone are not “non-governmental”. So, while identifying the realm of government influence, a particular kind of problem arises that the government does not necessarily find the right solution for them. The understanding and accepting this separation is an important consideration in the security equations. Accordingly, a new study program is being developed, the nature of which is not only the elimination of threats, but also the creation of opportunities and the realization of requirements that are in keeping with the capabilities of a political system. In this framework, new thinkers in the field of security studies are divided into two state-oriented and non-government-oriented approaches, thus defining and identifying new actors in the national security equations, which were not so important for analysts before. At the same time as developing national security studies, the category of “threats” has also evolved, and we are witnessing the emergence of new threats that are largely nongovernmental and, in contrast to the Cold War, are in the two “national” and “supreme” spaces of the national government.

In addition, Iran’s national security considerations have been varied in various ways; in summary, the evolution of “outsourcing to introspection” from the “ideological approach and pure commitment to more realism”, from “universality to Iran”, from “simplicity to complexity”, and from the “Threat of Thought as an Intentional Threat in the International System.” In these developments, we are paying more attention to the need for a balance between the limits and limits of national security considerations.

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