RAND has just published a report on a series of war games on the defense of the Baltic States.  - http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1253.html

 

 

NATO does not have the force to defend the Baltic States from a Russian attack.  We have known that.  One would have hoped RAND could have added important insights to that bottom line. 

 

Eighteen months of effort.  Disappointing and way below RAND standards, is my assessment.  There is a serious misrepresentation of the Russian attack.  The games were sloppy in the deployment of NATO forces.  The games neglected a key portion of the defense equation, the Battle of the Baltic.  Although it was a conscious choice, dropping nuclear weapons from the game raises questions about how serious the effort really was.  Finally, the methodology of the games was much too simple for such serious issues.

 

RAND has wasted the Army’s money.  A few people who really understand the situation could have produced a much better product in a two-day workshop.


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Hans Kristensen Did An Analysis of the Same RAND Report.  These are my comments on his analysis.


Here are the important sentences from the RAND report:

"The second option would be for NATO to turn the escalatory tables, taking a page from its Cold War doctrine of “massive retaliation,” and threaten Moscow with a nuclear response if it did not withdraw from the territory it had occupied. This option was a core element of the Alliance’s strategy against the Warsaw Pact for the duration of the latter’s existence and could certainly be called on once again in these circumstances. The deterrent impact of such a threat draws power from the implicit risk of igniting an escalatory spiral that swiftly reaches the level of nuclear exchanges between the Russian and U.S. homelands. Unfortunately, once deterrence has failed—which would clearly be the case once Russia had crossed the Rubicon of attacking NATO member states—that same risk would tend to greatly undermine its credibility, since it may seem highly unlikely to Moscow that the United States would be willing to exchange New York for Riga. Coupled with the general direction of U.S. defense policy, which has been to de-emphasize the value of nuclear weapons, and the likely unwillingness of NATO’s European members, especially the Baltic states them- selves, to see their continent or countries turned into a nuclear battlefield, this lack of believability makes this alternative both unlikely and unpalatable."


As I have mentioned in other places, these RAND guys do not understand NATO's strategy for nuclear weapons in Europe during the Cold War. It never was the case that the Soviets would be allowed to take West Germany, and then NATO would threaten nuclear weapons if they did not pull out.


Nuclear weapons would have been used if it appeared as if the conventional defense were failing. The initial targets were key military targets, in most exercises these were Soviet airbases.

By the way, in their exercises, the Russians used nuclear weapons on military targets outside the Baltic States.

From the RAND piece, Kristensen concludes, "NATO nuclear forces do not have much credibility in protecting the Baltic States against a Russian attack."


These words do not appear in the RAND report.


The sad part of all of this is that there are three "analysts" who are speculating as if they were politicians.


How about this as a credible deterrence announcement, "With the new B-61 12 nuclear weapons (not yet in the program), if the conventional defense of the Baltic States begins to fail, NATO would initially target Russian forward deployed aircraft in Belarus with small yield weapons..."?