Defence Policy & Strategy

Military Tension Increases in the Baltic Sea Region

On 24 August, the Swedish Armed Forces issued a press release stating that they were stepping up military readiness because of Russian and Western military activity in the Baltic Sea region of an intensity not seen since the Cold War. The press release raised the interest of the media and was reported by various outlets, including the Financial Times and the Washington Post.

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NATO Will Suffer as Allies Quarrel in the Eastern Mediterranean

The credibility of NATO’s deterrence posture rests heavily on the solidarity and cohesion of the Allies. A potential adversary is more likely to refrain from aggression if he believes—as Article 5 of the Washington Treaty states—that the Allies will indeed consider an armed attack against one or more of them to be an attack against them all.

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Reducing US Military Presence in Norway

The news that the US Marine Corps is ending continuous troop rotations to Norway and effectively withdrawing 700 troops should be seen in conjunction with the more significant reduction in Germany (11 900) announced only a week earlier. Both weaken European security and the credibility of the United States.

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US Troop Withdrawal: Politics Trumps Strategy

The Pentagon has released some details of its plan to withdraw forces from Germany. The headline figure is now 11 900 troops (coyly described by the Pentagon as “more than 11 000”) compared to the total of roughly 9 500 discussed when the plan was first announced in June. Of these, around 5 600 will be redeployed In Europe, mostly to Belgium and Italy, and around 6 400 returned to the US.

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Reducing US Troop Numbers in Germany Would Undermine NATO’s Capability and Credibility

President Donald Trump ordered preparations for reducing considerably US troops numbers in Germany. A formal decision has not been made yet, and Trump may ultimately decline to sign it due to mounting political pressure, including in the Republican Party, but political damage to NATO’s credibility has been done. The whole construction of collective defence would be significantly weakened because of less rapid reinforcement capability from Germany to NATO’s eastern flank.

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Pompeo vs Patrushev

The Kremlin decided to scare the US with the “Patrushev doctrine” and animations of Russia’s “miracle weapons”, and Washington finally did take fright and embarked on a real arms race.

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