October 9, 2017

ICDS Contribution to The Riga Conference Papers 2017

ICDS research fellows Piret Pernik, Henrik Praks and Tomas Jermalavičius contributed to The Rīga Conference Papers 2017. Security in the Baltic Sea Region: Realities and Prospects.

Piret Pernik’s article entitled “Militarisation of Cyberspace. Implications for the Baltic Sea region” addresses the challenges related to an increasing exploitation of the cyber domain for military purposes. It demonstrated that in order to integrate cyberspace operations across all military domains, militaries can apply traditional force development frameworks, but more importantly, commanders must have a clear understanding of basic concepts like cyberspace, the nature of cyberattacks and their effects, as well as the relationships between cyberspace, the information environment and other operational concepts. It also highlighted that even though offensive cyber capabilities have been developed and used in the Baltic Sea region, there is a lack of a clear conceptual framework for militaries to guide their actions. The US has the most advanced doctrine for cyberspace operations, but the integration of cyberspace within the information environment, and the consequences of cyber threats are not well explained. Russia fuses cyber operations with electronic warfare and information warfare and has effectively deployed offensive cyber capabilities in Ukraine, Georgia, Estonia and elsewhere. It concludes that the Baltic states and Nordic countries should keep up with developments in this new military domain and develop comprehensive military cyber-doctrines.

Henrik Praks contributed with an article which examined Estonia’s strategy with regard to military aspects of security in the Baltic Sea region. It concludes by saying that the independence of Estonia is now better protected against military threats than ever before in its history. At the same time, as long as Russian ambitions remain revisionist, living next to its eastern neighbour means that security concerns can never be taken lightly. Moreover, as the global security environment remains volatile and its development unpredictable, regional security in the Baltic Sea area can be affected by far-away developments influencing NATO and EU allies. In this context, despite the fact that the development of the EU defence dimension has recently increased pace, there cannot be doubt that the role of the United States, as well as those of the United Kingdom and Canada, will remain indispensable for European and regional security. Any danger, however implausible, of the US turning its back on NATO would result in a catastrophic worsening of the security environment. The strengthening of the NATO alliance both politically, militarily and financially will, therefore, have to remain a key goal.

In his article entitled “Reinstating Conscription in Lithuania: Bringing society back into defence?”, Tomas Jermalavičius analysed the drivers, inhibitors, characteristics and consequences of Lithuania’s decision to resume mandatory military draft. Lithuania’s experience in resuming a mandatory military draft showed that securing societal “buy-in” and participation in the defence model requires a significant adaptation of conscription as an institution to contemporary societal realities. This adaptation makes many of its aspects rather indistinguishable from the all-volunteer force format in terms of principles, policies and daily pressures. The defence organisation has to address a variety of societal concerns and aspire to align its practices with societal trends in order to maintain legitimacy. Equally important is that a country needs a coherent and effective strategy that is well-understood and accepted by society and that explains the need for conscription in broader conceptual terms, not just with the narrow focus on force structure manning requirements. A broad, deep and meaningful defence debate elaborating upon the fundamental strategic and political aspects of the relationship between the state, society and the military is a staple of a mature democracy. Yet the quality of Lithuania’s defence debate – despite its greater intensity in the wake of the conscription decision – leaves much to be desired.

Full publication can be accessed here: liia.lv/en/publications/security-in-the-baltic-sea-region-realities-and-prospects-the-riga-conference-papers-2017-643