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Volume 5 - Issue 2 February 2015

NATO’s Readiness Action Plan On February 5th, 2015 the Defence Ministers met at NATO Headquarters to coordinate and reinforce the Alliance’s collective defense. The meeting took place as a response to threats building in Europe’s Southern and Eastern flanks are vulnerable. The results were a reinforcement of the Response Force by creating the Spearhead force, renewed support to Georgia’s military modernization, and the creation of six units that will be deployed to Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Poland. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared that those measures were to “ensure that we have the right forces, in the right place, at the right time.” This is a new step that reinforces what has been put in place at the Wales Summit in September 2014, namely the Readiness Action Plan. NATO seems to be constantly readapting its defence capabilities in order to fight the threats that emerge in our ever-changing security environment.

Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence at NATO Headquarters, February 5th 2015 (Photo: NATO)

Contents: NATO Missions And Operations: Response To The Crises Tamta Lomtadze’s article offers an overview of the various commitments NATO has held since the end of the Cold War. From operation in the Balkans, Libya and Afghanistan to supporting regional organizations and fighting maritime piracy, the Alliance is involved in a wide range of activities to defend its members’ interests. NATO has become a key actor in terms of crisis management.

NATO’s New Readiness Action Plan: Allied Response To Hybrid Warfare Nicholas A. Glavin examines NATO’s response to the changing political environment of the Alliance. NATO is forced to re-imagine its initial purpose: defending the territorial integrity of all 28 Allies. To this end, the RAP and its Spearhead component, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), reaffirms the Alliance’s commitment to

- Flora Pidoux Atlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2

collective defense as threats become more hybrid in nature and yield unprecedented consequences.


NATO Missions And Operations: Response To The Crises By Tamta Lomtadze


he last decade of the 20th century was

landscape by assuming diverse global responsibilities.

marked by dramatic changes, which

Starting from the beginning of the 1990s, NATO en-

resulted in the transformation of the

gaged in a major shift by adopting a new spectrum of

international system. The demise of the Soviet Union

global missions. The rationale was that the European

and collapse of communism across Central and East-

members of NATO would assist Washington in “going

ern Europe led the international community into a

global”, as peacekeeping on a global scale was the obvi-

new era where international or even global problems

ous post-Cold War mission the Alliance had to assert.

prevail. During the Cold War, the North Atlantic

Since then NATO has showcased not only institutional

Treaty Organization was at the heart of the bipolar

capabilities and persistence but has also became an effi-

competition between the West and the Soviet bloc.

cient contributor to the peace and stability of the

The Alliance had been created around the idea of col-


lective defence, a principle which

Currently NATO is pursuing

was expected to triumph against

several missions and opera-

the Warsaw Pact, the defence

tions, including Resolute Sup-

alliance of the communist bloc. It

port in Afghanistan, KFOR in

is commonly believed that collec-

Kosovo, Operation Active En-

tive defense was the basis that

deavour in the Mediterranean,

held the alliance together. Since the end of the Cold War interna-

counter-piracy operations inSecretary General Jens Stoltenberg visits KFOR, January

tional security issues have gained

2015 (Photo: NATO)

a new dimension as the bipolar competition was put

cluding Ocean Shield in the Gulf of Aden, and assistance to

the African Union.

to an end. Dissolution of the Soviet Union preconditioned the modification of the military balance in Europe and the security system was dramatically and unexpectedly altered. Many scholars and policy makers had predicted that because of the disappearance of the USSR and the new world order, NATO would become outdated and irrelevant as its raison d’être had vanished. On the other hand, others considered that NATO

Operations in the Balkans The very first severe security crisis that tested the endurance of the Alliance almost immediately after the disappearance of the USSR emerged in Europe, when the full-scale conflict broke out in the Balkans after the partition of Yugoslavia. The first major crisis response operation conducted by NATO was in Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on the mandate described in the Dayton Peace Agreement. The NATO-led stabilization

had to be persistent and adapt to the new security Atlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2


force (SFOR) operation was completed in 2004. Howev-

the necessary security environment to improve govern-

er, the Alliance did not end its presence in the region.

ance and socio-economic development. By the end of

Since 1999 NATO has been a leading peace supporter in

2014, Afghan National Security Forces assumed full

Kosovo and today almost 5.000 troops remain under the

responsibility for the country and people and conse-

NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). KFOR continues to

quently, the ISAF mission was put to an end. Accord-

maintain a safe and secure environment, freedom of

ing to official data of 2014, 15.000 troops from 50 dif-

movement of people, and contributes to the reconstruc-

ferent countries (NATO members and partners) were

tion of the country, maintenance of the security and pub-


lic order. As it can be observed, since the beginning of

member countries agreed to continue their commit-

the crisis NATO was the major force that contributed to

ment to secure and improve the security environment

the settlement of the situation

in the country. Nevertheless, before the end of the

During the Wales summit in 2014 the

mission it was highly and heatedly debated whether to NATO Missions in Afghanistan

depart the U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan.

September 11, 2001 was another landmark security

As some scholars and policy-makers argued, there have

challenge that required enhanced

been many reasons to worry

and coordinated actions against the

after the withdrawal of forces.

new security threats. The princi-

The country remains more or

ple of collective defense enshrined

less fragile and the Taliban still

in Article V of the North Atlantic

threaten certain areas of Af-

Treaty entered into force for the very first time in the history of the

ghanistan. In addition, endemic The flag of the International Security Assistance Force

corruption and weak political

Alliance. The threat that was tar-

(ISAF) mission has been brought back from Kabul

institutions hinder the establish-

geted against a single member of

(Afghanistan) to NATO headquarters in Brussels (Belgium),

the Alliance was perceived as a

on 15 January 2015 (Photo: NATO)

threat to NATO as a whole. Since then combating terrorism has been one of the most fundamental security issues on the international agenda and the top priority of the Alliance. Deployed in 2001 in Afghanistan, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had been authorized by the United Nations Security Council to assist the new Afghan government. In 2003, NATO officially assumed the command of ISAF as its first operational commitment outside Europe. The central goal of the mission remained to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan, create conditions whereby the Afghan government would be able to exercise its authority throughout the country and more broadly, create Atlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2

ment of a secure environment. Moreover, building the coun-

try’s security forces to the point where they can operate independently still requires time. For some policymakers and policy analysts, leaving Afghanistan also means the loss of hard-won gains after a twelve-year campaign. Despite the concerns expressed by scholars and policy-makers, ISAF was officially terminated at the end of 2014. Subsequently, a “new chapter” was opened through a new mission, Resolute Support, launched on January, 1st 2015, that will bring together 12.000 personnel from 14 countries to train the local forces. The basis of the mission is the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that defines the terms and conditions under 3

which NATO forces will be deployed in Afghanistan

overall assessment is positive. First, NATO proved to

as well as the activities that they are set to carry out

be efficient in combating international terrorism and

under this agreement, as part of Resolute Support.

implementing peace. Second, it gave the floor to the

Resolute Support will focus on training, advising, and

aspirant countries to turn from international security

assisting Afghan Security Institutions (ASI) (Ministry

consumer to international security contributor. Moreo-

of Defense and Ministry of Interior) and Afghan Na-

ver, due to the scale and scope of the mission, Afghani-

tional Security Forces (ANSF) at the ministerial, insti-

stan hugely benefited from the mission presence in

tutional, and operational levels. Beyond that, allies

terms of development as the National Army and Police

and partner countries are committed to ensure the

now contribute to the country’s security environment.

financial sustainability of the Afghan security forces.

NATO Operation in Libya

Notwithstanding the existing

In 2011, the NATO-led op-

institutional drawbacks and inter-

eration in Libya brought up inter-

national debates regarding the

national controversy on the legiti-

internal stability of Afghanistan,

macy of the engagement of the Al-

the whole responsibility for the

liance in the conflict as well as on

security environment on the

the issue of humanitarian interven-

country is left to the Afghan Army

NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan,

and Police. Created in 2002 the

Ambassador Maurits R. Jochems and Afghan President

Afghan National Army has grown

Ashraf Ghani signing the Status of Forces Agreement

to more than 189.000 personnel

(SOFA) in Kabul, September 30, 2014 (Photo: NATO)

tion as a whole. The case of Libya highlighted the internal fragility of the Alliance regarding the presumption of legitimacy and prefer-

with developing and enabling capabilities. In 2007,

ences of the member states. NATO’s operation Unified

the Afghan Air Force was created as a part of Afghan

Protector sourced much of the international criticism

National Army, which was considered a substantial

as it outlined the lack of consensus within the Euro-

advancement. The airlift and air power, in combina-

Atlantic Alliance. However, the scale of the regional

tion with the helicopter gunship, are essential ele-

and global security threats outweighed the internal in-

ments of the Afghan counter-insurgency. Close air

stitutional impediments and NATO intervened in the

support and fixed-wing capability will allow Afghan

Libyan conflict. The involvement of the Alliance in Lib-

security forces to conduct independent operations.

ya demonstrated that intervention was essential and

Additionally, the major function of the Afghan Na-

that NATO remains an essential source of stability

tional Police (ANP) was shifted from countering in-

thanks to its political cohesion and shared capabilities.

surgency to a more civilian policing role.

More importantly, this was a truly collective effort.

The operation evolved out of NATO’s immediate

France and Britain played an extraordinary part in the

response to the terrorist attacks against the United

operation, providing air and naval assets and striking

States of America that appeared as a turning-point in

over 40 percent of all targets. Italy too made an out-

21st century international security politics. ISAF was

standing contribution to the operation. Not only was it

accompanied by international controversy; however,

the fourth largest contributor to the strike mission, it

Atlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2


was an indispensable host to the hundreds of aircrafts at

US-led maritime forces, EU naval forces and other re-

its airbases. The Alliance responded rapidly to a deterio-

gional actors. Since 2009 NATO warships and aircraft

rating situation that threatened hundreds of thousands of

have been patrolling across the area greater than 2 mil-

civilians rebelling against an oppressive regime. It suc-

lion square miles, including the areas off the Horn of

ceeded in protecting those civilians and in providing the

Africa (the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian

time and space necessary for local forces to overthrow

Ocean up to the Strait of Hormuz). NATO vessels

Muammar al-Qaddafi.

conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The mandate of the Ocean Shield operation

NATO and the African Union NATO has also put in place the Assistance operation to the African Union (AU). It was the Alliance’s first effort on the African continent, as decided by the North Atlantic Council. This mission was launched in 2005 at the request of the African Union itself. The former, established in 2002, is one of the largest regional organizations in the world as it brings 54 countries together. The AU first asked NATO for assistance to their mission in Darfur, African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), soon after its establishment. The mission was terminated in

has been prolonged till the end of 2016. The official data showcases the efficiency of NATO as an active contributor to international efforts to counter maritime piracy. For instance, in January 2012 there were four unsuccessful pirate attacks and almost 80 pirates were captured by counter piracy forces, 59 of which were captured by NATO. In 2013 there were no pirate attacks, approaches or disruptions in the area guarded by NATO ships. Conclusion

2007 when AMIS was successfully completed. Currently

It can be assumed that since the end of the Cold

NATO is providing planning and strategic air-lift and

War NATO has been evolving in a dramatically new

sealift, to develop long-term peacekeeping capabilities of

security environment. The Alliance therefore had to

the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Plus, under Op-

adapt, alter its policies to assume its global responsibili-

eration Active Endeavour, NATO ships are patrolling in

ties. Notwithstanding the dissolution of the Soviet Un-

the Mediterranean and monitoring shipping to help to

ion and disappearance of the major threat, NATO had

deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorist activi-

to remain politically coherent and militarily efficient to


assert its peacekeeping mission. As past and ongoing

NATO and Counter Piracy NATO has been an efficient international actor in terms of fighting against maritime piracy, particularly Somalia-based maritime piracy and acts of robbery within the territorial waters of Somalia. In this regard, NATO has launched operation Ocean Shield in full accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions concerning Somali-based maritime piracy. The operation has been conducted in close cooperation with

Atlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2

missions showcase it, the Alliance is one of the major contributors to the peace and stability of many regions. Yet some internal impediments and political entanglements remain, which put the Alliance into a fragile position on various security issues. However, NATO still maintains relative strength and institutional persistence. It still remains the most enduring military Alliance in history, as illustrated by its many successful missions.


Needless to say, NATO asserted its “global” responsibilities and diversified it policies towards regional and non-regional threats to bring stability to various areas of the world. Overall, NATO was and still is a central peacekeeper in Afghanistan, provided logistical assistance to the African Union and launched a mission as part of the international effort against maritime piracy. One must admit that due to its diversified, effective and efficient presence, cooperation with NATO also became attractive for many countries particularly from the former communist and Soviet bloc. Aligning with the Alliance in different operations allowed them to prove they are “security providers” and promoters of values such as democracy, human rights, or the rule of law.

About the author Tamta Lomtadze is a graduate student at Tbilisi State university, MA in Diplomacy and International Politics. Simultaneously, she works at Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS), a think-tank focusing on foreign policy, security policy, EuroAtlantic Integration etc. She has graduated from Tbilisi State University, BA International Relations and as an exchange student studied at Vilnius University, Institute of International Relations and Political Science. Her previous experience includes internships/traineeships at Information Center on

ghanistan after 2014, what happens? An interview with Janine Davidson, Senior Fellow for Defense Policy, Council on Foreign Relations, February 3, 2014 -troops-afghanistan-after-2014-happens/p32320 Websites and articles: Developing Afghan security forces, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, natohq/topics_92726.htm Ivo H. Daadler, James G. Starvidis, NATO’s Victory in Lybia, The right Way to Run Intervention, Fireign Affairs, March/April Issue, 2012 Ivo H. Daadler, James G. Starvidis, NATO’s Success in Lybia, The New York Times, October 30, 2011 NATO Ends Combat Operations in Afghanistan, The Guardian, December 28, 2014, http:// North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Backgrounders, Council on Foreign Relations, http:// -nato/p28287 Official webpage of North Atlantic Treaty Association Maritime Command (MARCOM): http:// Official webpage of Operation Resolute Support, Official webpage of North Atlantic Treaty Association: topics_49198.htm topics_8191.htm topics_7932.htm topics_52060.htm

NATO in Tbilisi Georgia and Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament of Georgia.

Bibliography Interviews: A Conversation with Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO is Back, Foreign Affairs, March 21, 2014 interviews/nato-is-back If there are no U.S. or NATO troops in AfAtlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2


NATO’s New Readiness Action Plan: Allied Response To Hybrid Warfare By Nicholas A. Glavin


onflicts at the peripheries of the Alli-

The evolution of the NATO Response Force began

ance, most notably the Russian Federa-

at the Prague Summit in November 2002. Then-

tion’s use of hybrid warfare in eastern

Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR),

Ukraine and the Syrian Civil War’s regional spillover,

General James Jones (Ret.), argued that “NATO will

inaugurate a new security environment for NATO to

no longer have the large, massed units that were nec-

operate. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary Gen-

essary for the Cold War,” transitioning instead to

eral, inherited both conflicts occurring simultaneously

smaller, high-readiness forces “that will better pre-

which, if left unchecked, could spell unfathomable

pare the Alliance to meet any threat that it is likely to

consequences for the Alliance. The Russian Federa-

face in this twenty-first century.” Nearly thirteen

tion had annexed a portion of

years later, that initial assess-

Ukraine, a previously non-

ment is prompting NATO to

aligned state, and militants

yet again adjust its force pos-

from the so-called Islamic

ture for collective defense,

State of Iraq and the Levant,

crisis management, and co-

commonly referred to as ISIL

operative security.

or Daesh, are fighting just miles away from Turkey’s borders.

Chiefs of Defense discussed the RAP at the 172nd meeting of the NATO Military Committee. (Photo: NATO)

The Wales Summit proved to be a make-or-break moment for the Alliance to effectively respond to these grave threats. The dangers at Europe’s peripheries prompted the launch of the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), a commitment to increase military exercises, reorganize the NATO Response Force (NRF), and preposition logistical equipment in Central and Eastern Europe, among other critical defensive measures. “The Readiness Action Plan,” according to Secretary General Stoltenberg, “is the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War. And it is my top priority to implement this plan in full and on time.” Through measures of assurance and




time, & Land To reassure its eastern Allies,

NATO’s Readiness Action Plan provides increased military activity to ensure interoperability and readiness. With over 200 NATO and national exercises conducted in Europe in 2014, bolstered by the United States’ Operation Atlantic Resolve and its $985 million European Reassurance Initiative, the continuous air, maritime, and land military presence in NATO’s eastern territories will continue for “as long as necessary,” according to Secretary General Stoltenberg. Defensive air patrols, naval deployments, and ground force postures will occur on a rotational basis to reaffirm NATO’s commitment to an Article Five collective defense scenario.

adaptation, NATO’s strategic and operational changes are strengthening the Alliance for swift responses to current and future threats to Euro-Atlantic security. Atlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2

Over the past year, relations between the West and the Russian Federation continued to deteriorate 7

to levels resembling those of the Cold War. Allied

In response, NATO ramped up the frequency of

aircraft intercepted Russian military aircraft on over

scheduled port visits and multinational exercises to

400 different occasions in 2014, including 150 inter-

strengthen interoperability and reaffirm its commit-

cepts by NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission.

ment to crisis response capabilities. One such exer-

NATO swiftly quadrupled the size of the BAP from

cise, Noble Justification 14, simulated asymmetric

four to sixteen fighter jets. Personnel from Italy, Po-

multi-threat and conventional maritime warfare oper-

land, Spain, and Belgium serve as its current rotation-

ations with twenty-three warships from fourteen Al-

al deployment.

lies and two partner nations. The exercise also certi-

NATO’s increase of its air policing patrols in the Baltics are a response to flyovers by Russian aircraft, sometimes without their transponders turned on, which pose a risk to civilian aviation. With Russian aircraft having been tracked near Canada, off the coast of California, and in the Gulf of Mexico, the presence of bombers, fighter jets, and tankers near NATO territories have caused the Alliance to expand its air presence as part of the RAP. In addition to a fourfold increase to its BAP mission, NATO began surveillance

fied the Spanish Maritime Forces as the NRF’s maritime component for 2015. Stationed in Rota, Spain, this provides the SACEUR with a high-readiness NATO naval task force comprising of dozens of warships. With NATO ships like the USS Donald Cook recently buzzed by Russian fighter jets, the increase in maritime interoperability provides NATO and the NRF with steadfast capabilities amidst a new regional security landscape. The Baltic Sea region will see an increased frequency of NATO maritime exercises to counter the destabilizing actions

flights by Airborne Warning and Control


of large numbers of sorties by


Russian maritime and air forces.

over Poland and Romania.

“[T]he reality of bad Russian

Strengthened maritime capa-

behavior in Europe...[poses]

bilities in the Baltic, Black, and

serious security issues to face

Mediterranean Seas are also an

with our NATO Allies,” ac-

integral component of NATO

cording to former SACEUR

Maritime Command’s contribu-

A Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bear strategic bomber intercepted

tion to the RAP. Six countries

by a Norwegian F-16 fighter jet. (Photo: Reuters)

contribute to a Standing NATO Mine CounterMeasures Group to patrol the Baltic Sea, while a Standing NATO Maritime Group comprised of five countries conducts similar patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The Russian Federation’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula enhanced its Black Sea Fleet already being stationed in the city of Sevastopol. Moreover, the annexation severely disrupted the Ukrainian Navy’s operations, impeding its maritime operations and taking control of bases where the majority of the Ukrainian Navy were garrisoned. Atlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.). As an integral component of the

RAP, high-profile ground exercises will continue in the eastern territories as NATO and partner-nation troops will deploy on a rotational basis. Additionally, bilateral deployments by NATO Allies, such as the United States’ Operation Atlantic Resolve, will enhance training and exercises. Several company-sized temporary deployments throughout NATO’s Central and Eastern European territories will strengthen Allied interoperability and conduct exercises against hybrid threats.


primarily from Germany, Norway, and the Nether-

Adaptation: The ‘Spearhead Force’ The highlight of the Wales Summit included the deci-

lands. Additionally, the United Kingdom, France,

sion to restructure the NATO Response Force with a new

Spain, and Belgium, among others, will provide the

rapid-reaction Very High Readiness Joint Task Force

maritime and air capabilities. This Interim VJTF “is

(VJTF), commonly referred to as the “Spearhead Force.”

proof we are implementing our RAP sooner than ex-

Able to deploy within several days’ notice, this will be an

pected,” according to Secretary General Stoltenberg.

elite force of several thousand ground troops partnered

The swift implementation of the RAP showcases soli-

with air, maritime, and Special Operations Forces. The

darity throughout the Alliance that NATO must re-

VJTF is expected to reach initial operational capability by

main vigilant to defend its territories as the crisis in

the fall of 2015, followed by its full

Syria deteriorates and as Mos-

readiness in early 2016. Additionally,

cow supports pro-Russian sepa-

it will augment NATO’s capabilities

ratists in eastern Ukraine with

to respond to a “little green men” sce-

financing, training, and sophisti-

nario, similar to what occurred in

cated weaponry.

Crimea in March 2014. Using troops

At the February 2015

bearing no insignia, targeted disinfor-

Greek and Portuguese submarines taking part in NATO

meeting of NATO Defense

mation campaigns, and under the

Maritime Command’s Noble Justification 2014.

Ministers, the approximately

pretext of protecting ethnic Russians

(Photo: NATO)

5,000-strong Spearhead Force

abroad, these state-to-state hybrid techniques by the Rus-

was approved and chosen to be led on a rotational basis

sian Federation pose significant risks for NATO’s eastern

by France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the


United Kingdom. NATO expects the VJTF to be fund-

The Spearhead Force’s initial readiness will be about

ed through a combination of NATO’s budget and con-

seven days using prepositioned materiel. However, it will

tributions from individual nations. Sharing the burden

“have an adjustable response that could go as low as two

financially is key for the Alliance to maintain unity.

days based on intelligence and warning,” according to

The same is true from an operational perspective. The

SACEUR General Philip Breedlove. NATO Force Inte-

United States will provide the initial capabilities, ac-

gration Units will provide command and control (C2)

cording to SACEUR General Breedlove, but it will

equipment and personnel teams in six of NATO’s eastern

“mentor, coach, and train other forces...[to] create

territories. To bolster the RAP, NATO’s Multinational

more capability,” ensuring the burden-sharing is Alli-

Corps Northeast Headquarters in Szczecin, Poland ex-


pects to hold some of the VJTF’s C2 elements and will be led by Denmark, Germany, and Poland. It is also doubling its personnel levels from 200 to 400 to raise its readiness capabilities.

Baltic Defense Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, all staunch NATO Allies since joining in 2004, face the greatest threat from hybrid warfare. Lithuania, in particular, is posi-

On 2 December 2014, NATO foreign ministers ap-

tioned to the east of the Russian Federation’s Kalinin-

proved an interim force to reassure its eastern Allies

grad enclave and allows Russian military trains to trav-

ahead of the Spearhead Force’s full implementation. The

el through its sovereign territory. Noticing the ripe

Interim VJTF is currently active and consists of the NRF

conditions for Moscow to mount a possible Crimea-

2015’s Land Component, integrating 3,000-4,000 troops

style incursion, Lithuania is already taking unilateral

Atlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2


measures to defend against a hybrid infiltration. Its

Europe “is not just bad weather, this is climate

armed forces have created a rapid-reaction force of

change.” Modern threats to NATO Europe are ensur-

2,500 military personnel- over 25 percent of its entire

ing that renewed calls for increased defense expendi-

active duty forces- with the task of defending against

tures are not falling on deaf ears.

hybrid warfare. This will serve as a first line of defense to be supplemented by NATO’s VJTF.

NATO’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence located in Riga, Latvia, the Alliance’s first

Furthermore, Lithuania’s contingency planning

institution dedicated to information warfare, has

does not stop there. The Ministry of Defence issued a

warned that Russian media uses historical narratives

nearly 100-page manual enti-

and Soviet nostalgia to exe-

tled “How to Act in Extreme

cute Kremlin foreign policy

Situations or Instances of

and appeal to Russian com-

War,” addressing the threats

munities. Russian President

posed by Moscow’s hybrid

Vladimir Putin has constantly

warfare. Lithuania’s fears

called for the protection of

stem not only from threats

ethnic Russians in the Near

outside of its national borders; after members of the

Strykers from the US Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Division arrive in Lithuania. (Photo: Gražina Lukauskienė)

Abroad to justify Moscow’s actions, most notably in

Lithuanian Armed Forces stationed at NATO’s

Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and eastern

Zoknai Air Base were caught spying for a “foreign in-

Ukraine. In Latvia, where roughly one-quarter of its

telligence service,” Vilnius is worried that subversion

population speaks Russian, serious concerns arise as

campaigns may seek to destabilize the Baltic States

Kremlin-backed media may target individuals to reso-

just below an Article Five threshold. For these rea-

nate with Moscow’s narratives. To prepare for anoth-

sons, the RAP provides the Alliance with the most

er “Crimea-style” hybrid attack, unilateral measures

highly-capable identification, deterrence, and re-

and the RAP are staying ahead of these contemporary

sponse measures for this new era of conflict.


In the event of a territorial incursion, the Baltic


States are bolstering their own national capabilities to

The restructuring of NATO’s Response Force

fend off an attack until the VJTF deploys. Estonia

through the Readiness Action Plan’s adaptation and

inked its biggest military procurement in the nation’s

assurance measures address a multitude of threats that

history at a price tag of €138 million, acquiring 44

face the 28 Allies. Increased capabilities by land, air,

CV90 combat vehicles and six Leopard tanks. Latvia

sea, and Special Operations Forces will identify, de-

purchased 123 combat vehicles from Britain and 800

ter, and respond to conventional, unconventional,

anti-tank weapons from Norway, while Lithuania ac-

state, non-state, Article Five, and non-Article Five

quired a GROM air defense system from Poland,

crisis response scenarios. The RAP ensures NATO

bringing the Baltic States’ total military spending to

can effectively address hybrid warfare’s fusion of con-

€300 million in just the last six months of 2014. As

ventional, covert military, paramilitary, and disinfor-

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas stated, Russia’s

mation campaigns from any adversary that seeks to

contribution to the deteriorating security situation in

undermine Euro-Atlantic security.

Atlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2


With conflicts becoming more decentralized, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force and the comprehensive Readiness Action Plan provide NATO with a clear, multifaceted approach to address current and future challenges. Alliance-wide strategic, operational, and financial contributions will ensure this effort is “28 for 28.” As ISIL and pro-Russian separatists demonstrate, non-state actors possessing capabilities traditionally reserved for states must be dealt with strategic and operational prowess. In addition to Syria and Iraq, ISIL’s presence in Libya, just 325 miles from Sicily, pressures NATO to take the lead on its territorial defense. New security situations at NATO’s southern and eastern peripheries are testing the Alliance’s abilities to re-imagine its commitments to Euro -Atlantic security. The RAP is precisely what NATO requires in order to maneuver through current and future periods of global conflict and cooperation.

About the author Nicholas A. Glavin assists civilian and military staff with research at the United States Naval War College’s Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups. He is currently supporting the implementation of an educational partnership program between the USNWC and Afghanistan’s National Defense University. Prior to assuming this role, Mr. Glavin worked for Capitol Hill and local governments. He is completing a degree in International Relations (BA) from Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI, USA. Mr. Glavin’s research focuses are NATO operations, irregular warfare, and strengthening civil-military relations. He tweets at: @nickglavin.

Bibliography Allied Command Operations. “The NATO Response Force.” http:// Allied Maritime Command. “NATO Response Force Exercise NOBLE JUSTIFICATION Concludes.” 27 October 2014. http:// Allied Maritime Command. “NATO’s Response Force (NRF) tests its crisis response capabilities at Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic.” 13 October 2014. 20Release%20Documents/141013_MARCOM_NR_NEJN1401_NATOs%20NRF%20tests%20its%20crisis%20response% 20capabilitie s%20at%20M e dite rr ane an%20S e a%20and% 20Atlantic_PAO_NU_Final.pdf. Atlantic Voices, Volume 5, Issue 2

“Baltic states spend big on defence as Russia buzzes borders,” The Telegraph, 13 December 2014. news/worldnews/europe/latvia/11291713/Baltic-states-spendbig-on-defence-as-Russia-buzzes-borders.html. Eckardt, Andy. “NATO Aims to Be ‘More Responsive’ in Wake of Russian Aggression.” NBC News, 14 December 2014. http:// -wake-russian-aggression-n266956 “Interim NATO ‘Spearhead’ Force of Several Thousand Is Active.” ABC News, 14 January 2015. International/wireStory/nato-interim-rapid-response-force-nowoperational-28219629. Kirschbaum, Erik. “Rising Russian tensions put lonely NATO base in Poland on Map,” Reuters, 12 September 2014. http:// Lyman, Rick. “Ukraine Crisis in Mind, Lithuania Establishes a Rapid Reaction Force.” The New York Times, 19 September 2014. lithuania-assembles-a-force-as-it-readies-for-whatever-russia-maybring.html. McCulloh, Timothy and Richard Johnson. “Hybrid Warfare.” Joint Special Operations University Report 13-4, August 2013.,Johnson_Hybrid%20Warfare_final.pdf McDonald-Gibson, Charlotte. “Battle in cyberspace: NATO plans to help the West win the information war with Russia.” The Independent, 14 January 2015. life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/battle-in-cyberspace-nato-plans -to-help-the-west-win-the-information-war-with-russia9978581.html. “NATO’s Priority in 2015: Setting Up Reaction Force in Europe.” The Alpena News, 6 January 2015. http:// NATO-s-priority-in-2015--Setting-up-reaction-force-inEurope.html?isap=1&nav=5014. North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “Joint Press Point Following 172nd NATO Chiefs of Defence meeting.” 22 January 2015. opinions_116738.htm. North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “NATO Response Force: At the Centre of NATO transformation.” 2 October 2014. North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “Statement by the NATO Defence Ministers on the Readiness Action Plan.” 5 February 2015. official_texts_117222.htm. North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “The Secretary General’s Annual Report 2014.” 30 January 2015. cps/en/natohq/opinions_116854.htm. North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “Wales Summit Declaration.” 5 September 2014. official_texts_112964.htm. “‘Russian Spies’ Detained Outside NATO Air Base in Lithuania,” International Business Times, 3 January 2015. http:// Sharkov, Damien. “Lithuania Publishes Survival Manual in Case of Russian Invasion.” Newsweek, 7 January 2015. http:// -how-respond-russian-invasion-297347. Tigner, Brooks. “NATO Approves Interim Rapid Response Force for 2015.” IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, 1 December 2014. Tilghman, Andrew and Lars Schwetje. “EUCOM base closures will not affect force levels.” Military Times, 9 January 2015. pentagon/2015/01/08/eucom-base-closures-will-not-affectforce-levels/21453321/. “US Army Field Manual 5-0: The Operations Process.” US Army Training and Doctrine Command, March 2010. https:// Vandiver, John. “NATO: 2014 was a ‘black year’ for European security.” Stars and Stripes, 30 January 2015. http:// -european-security-1.326745. 11

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Atlantic Voices Vol 5, No. 02 (February 2015)  

NATO's Readiness Action Plan

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