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Category Archives: NATO

NATO North? Building a Role for NATO in the Arctic – War on the Rocks

Posted: November 7, 2019 at 3:50 am

Russias growing military assertiveness in Ukraine, Syria, and beyond has sparked fears over its intentions in the Arctic. The pace of Russian bomber patrols, submarine expeditions, and firing exercises in the Arctic are all at levels not seen since the depths of the Cold War. A growing chorus is calling forNATO totake on a greater rolein the Arctic to counter Russian aggression.

But the gathering storm over the Arctic is not just about Russian military activity, and framing it as such is dangerously short-sighted. Unfortunately, just as relations between Russia and the West are deteriorating, the Arctic region is undergoing a terrifying physical transformation. Arctic warming is racing ahead of our best models, burning through the system at a pace that is hard to comprehend. Parts of coastal Alaska are eroding 20 meters per year; the center of the pollock fishery in the Bering Sea is moving north 18 miles annually; and mass die-offs of seabirds, fish, and marine mammals are occurring. The Arctic is undergoing jarring changes in environmental, political, military, and economic domains all at the same time. This transformation threatens to upend decades of stability. In this state of flux, any mishap or misunderstanding could generate enough friction to spark a serious crisis or even conflict.

Involving NATO in the Arctic, in the context of rapidly deteriorating stability, could be very dangerous. I agree that NATO should play a larger role, but this role must be carefully calibrated.NATO wears two hats: It is an operational military alliance, but it is also a formalized structure for dialogue among states, including with Russia. Increased NATO operations in the Arctic are likely to exacerbate the growing security dilemma. Instead, using NATO channels to open dialogue with Russia on Arctic security issues could add an important and badly-needed source of stability. Using the NATO-Russia Council to close the Arctic security dialogue gap through the creation of an Arctic security working group would be a prudent first step. However, drawbacks of greater NATO involvement should be carefully weighed. This article will explain the profound changes wracking the Arctic, sketch the security dynamics, and parse NATOs role.

Whats New in the Arctic

The Arctic is undergoing transformative physical-environmental changes. Sea ice, the dominant organizing characteristic of the region, is in sharp decline. There is about half as much ice coverage in the Arctic now as the historic average, and the total ice volume has dropped by three quarters.

Economic changes are also taking place, although there is more anticipation than actual development: Russia, for example, has struggled to drive business along its Northern Sea Route (NSR). Economic transformation of the region is possible, but remains an open question tied to global market forces, technological developments, and continued environmental change. However, the Arctic remains one of the last relatively untapped resource reserves on the planet. This includes the growing and colorful business of iceberg water.

Changing physical characteristics and anticipated economic interests have seized the attention of political, military, and economic leaders from the eight Arctic states Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the UnitedStates as well as some non-Arctic states including China. While the Arctic has long been militarized, new technologies and new considerations are altering the composition and behavior of Arctic forces. Political change has also been occurring in the region, transforming the set of actors who shape debate and decisions. Increasing political participation by indigenous communities and organizations (given formal impetus by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007) has contributed to political change in the Arctic region at national, regional, and circumpolar levels.

The intersection of change in the physical, economic, political, and military domains creates complexity and great uncertainty.

A Delicate Balance of Power

No single country dominates the Arctic. For decades, the United States and Russia maintained a delicate balance of power. But in the context of the changes now occurring, that balance of power is precarious. While a dominant regional hegemon would manage change and provide some type of stability, the Arctic lacks that center of gravity, and instead faces multiple possible outcomes (as flagged in the 2009 Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment).

The two major Arctic powers the United States and Russia differ strongly on key issues that pertain to the future of the Arctic, including the legal status of the Northern Sea Route. Both identify as being in a competitive dyad: As part of that competition, Russia and the United States have been increasing their security presence in the Arctic. Russian fortifications on their Arctic islands have been widely analyzed: They include the construction of bases as well as installing advanced radar systems and missiles. The U.S. military will shortly be stationing F-35s at Eielson Air Force Base and work is underway to expand missile detection capabilities at Clear Air Force Station and ICBM interceptor missile defenses at Fort Greely all in Alaska.

Therefore, in a region wracked by profound change and balanced between opposing great powers, there is potential for destabilization and a dangerous security dilemma. Where might stability and norm-setting emerge to counteract growing militarization? Could NATO serve as a source of stability?

NATO in the Arctic: Pros and Cons

Given its role as the cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security, it might seem natural to think that NATO involvement would stabilize the Arctic. While Russia understandably views NATO as a threat, the mechanism of collective defense and the structural process-based system built by NATO provide more predictability for Russia than ad hoc arrangements. NATO could therefore be seen as a stabilizing institution that might exert a beneficial influence on the Arctic region as it undergoes profound change. Some experts have, indeed, called for NATO to take on an expanded role in the Arctic, including bringing the Arctic into NATOs holistic security approach and conducting a joint threat assessment, or by conducting surveillance and disaster-response operations.

However, two serious issues would complicate NATOs ability to provide stability and norms in the Arctic. First, NATOs involvement could dilute the influence of Arctic states. NATO is a large organization with a remit far larger than the Arctic region, and greater NATO involvement therefore risks drawing in outside states. This has traditionally been avoided by Arctic states, including both the United States and Russia. Arctic stability, and Arctic decision-making, may not benefit from the addition of the other 25 NATO states, especially those from eastern Europe, whose interests are quite different.

Second, greater NATO involvement in the region could contribute to escalation and security-dilemma dynamics. NATO is, after all, a military alliance. As NATO increases its capabilities to act in the Arctic, its capacity for interoperability, and its regional familiarity for example, through exercises like last years TRIDENT JUNCTURE it will signal that it is more of a threat to Russia. Russia is most likely to respond by stiffening its own military posture. Tit-for-tat dynamics could lead to escalation, especially in the case of accident or mishap.

A Path Forward for NATO in the Arctic

If we think of NATO as serving essentially two functions, it becomes easier to parse NATOs possible role in the Arctic. NATO is both a military-operational concept and a political-organizational concept. As a military alliance, NATO plans and exercises in order to achieve and maintain operational readiness. It also, however, structures and maintains political relationships by formalizing interaction among states, both inside and outside the alliance. Through NATO dialogue, allies speak to each other, as well as partners like Finland and Sweden and they also speak to Russia, through the NATO-Russia Council.

The NATO-Russia Council, established in 2002 by the Rome Declaration (replacing the Permanent Joint Council), serves as a forum for consultation and joint action between NATO members and Russia. The Council is seen as having an important role in reducing misunderstandings and increasing predictability. In July 2019, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the conclusion of a NATO-Russia Council meeting, Our discussions are not easy. But they are important, especially when tensions are going up . . . they help to limit the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation. While the secretary general was referring to discussions over Ukraine and the INF treaty, his words could also be applied to the Arctic.

The NATO-Russia Council could be a useful forum for dialogue on security topics in the Arctic, perhaps through the formation of a new working group on Arctic security. Currently, there is no security forum for the Arctic that includes Russia (the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable and the Arctic chiefs of defense (CHODs) meetings have excluded Russia since 2014). The regions governance forum, the Arctic Council, does not address security matters per its founding charter. The absence of a security forum for the Arctic creates space for misunderstanding and mistrust, the accelerant of a security dilemma.

The NATO-Russia Council could be a good choice for discussing security topics in the Arctic because it is a proven, established structure that is part of a 70-year-old institution, and is therefore more familiar and predictable than a new, untested forum that would be subject to intense shaping efforts by both sides of the U.S.-Russia dyad. On the other hand, as mentioned above, NATO includes countries far away from the Arctic. Some non-Arctic countries may have a strong interest in the region like the UK and France and might be important to include in an Arctic-focused security dialogue. NATO partners Sweden and Finland should be included. But not all NATO members and not all partners would have relevance.

NATO Has a (Carefully Tailored) Role in the Arctic

A greater role for NATO in the Arctic should be deliberately calibrated to build stability and positive norms reaching back to core NATO values, and the role of NATO as a value and norm-building institution. It should be carefully constructed to avoid contributing to escalation or the development of a security dilemma. While a greater operational NATO presence in the Arctic is likely to increase tension, NATOs organizational function might serve a useful role in filling the dialogue gap on Arctic security.

The Arctic is undergoing profound environmental, geopolitical, and economic shifts. If NATO can establish its values, like the rule of law, as Arctic norms, that could help stabilize the region. In a time of complex change, the familiar, predictable NATO institution might be a good choice to begin building towards a more stable future. NATOs role in the Arctic must be shaping, not escalating.

Dr. Rebecca Pincus is assistant professor in the department of Strategic and Operational Research (SORD) at the U.S. Naval War College. The views and opinions presented here are her own and do not represent the official position of the Naval War College, U.S. Navy, or Department of Department. This article refines ideas first presented by Dr. Pincus at Emory Law Schools Center for International and Comparative Law conference, NATO @ 70, 1819 September, 2019.

Image: U.S. Navy (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael H. Lee)

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Russia’s ability to hold and capture territory in Europe threatens US and NATO forces – Military Times

Posted: at 3:50 am

Russian investments since 2000 into ground, missile, artillery and electronic warfare capabilities has modernized the Russian military into highly mobile force capable of capturing and holding territory in Europe, according to a RAND report.

The report titled Trends in Russias Armed Forces detailed that Russias experience fighting in Ukraine has shown the countrys ability to effectively employ battalion sized elements on the battlefield.

Russias operations in Syria have afforded its military valuable knowledge in expeditionary warfare, but the report cautioned that Russias military forces were more potent operating on the periphery of its border, and had yet to display the ability to conduct large scale division sized operations. Meanwhile, nearly two decades of fighting insurgencies has degraded the U.S. militarys ability to fight near-peer competitors, the report stated.

And it also warned that Russias modernization effort poses a serious challenge to U.S. and NATO forces in a conventional fight, and the alliance should continue to study and monitor trends in Russias growing military capabilities.

Of great concern to Russias neighbors and to NATO are Russias enhanced capabilities to invade and hold territory in neighboring countries on short notice, the report reads.

Russian capabilities have improved to the point that a hypothetical Russia strike against the Baltic states or other U.S. NATO allies would pose a serious challenge to NATO, the report stated.

Key investments in lighter and more mobile armor, ground based missile and long range fire systems, and electronic war and cyber capabilities have turned the Russian military into a highly mobile unit in Europe capable of conducting combined-arms maneuvers at the formation level that pose serious challenges to U.S. or NATO units in a conventional conflict, the report said.

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In short, Russian Ground Forces place greater emphasis than NATO forces on ground-based fires, including at extended ranges, the report said.

The report detailed that Russian tank, motorized rifle, and airborne units have opted to focus on mobility while sacrificing survivability on the battlefield.

Units fielding light armored personnel carriers or infantry fighting vehicles boast just enough armor sufficient to repel small arms, but not much more, the report explained.

While the vehicles are packing lighter armor, they have excellent off-road mobility and are fully amphibious and can be airdropped or in some cases internally transported by helicopter.

Air defense, electronic warfare, and indirect fires capabilities stand out as the areas where the Russian military has emphasized both quality and quantity," the report reads.

Russias fight in Ukraine has been a litmus test for its modernization effort for the military.

Russia and Ukraine are currently engaged in a high-end fight involving electronic warfare, cyber and long range fires, while the U.S. and NATO watch from the bench.

The RAND report warned that the U.S. has dismantled many of the forces and tools needed for the near-peer fight in Europe as America has focused much of its attention on low-intensity conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa.

Russia has rotated over 30 Brigades and regiments through the Donbas in the last few years, and they have gained valuable combat experience, retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the former commander of U.S. Army Europe, told Military Times in an emailed statement.

And that is a different kind of experience than the US Armys 31 Brigades have learned rotating through Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two decades, he explained.

Donbas refers to the region and conflict in east Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists.

Speaking at a symposium for the Association of Old Crows an electronic warfare nonprofit Col. Ivan Pavlenko, deputy chief of combat support units of Joint Staff Armed Forces of Ukraine, told audience members Oct. 29 that Ukraine had lost nearly 100 drones to Russian electronic attacks on navigation systems through a tactic known as GPS spoofing.

Russia has also been really effective at finding and jamming Ukrainian counter artillery batteries, Pavlenko said. Russian forces will blind the radar systems and then shell Ukrainian forces, he explained.

Hertling said that Russias electronic warfare capabilties in Ukraine were interesting, but he explained that indicators of improved Russian force mobility, siege warfare technique, artillery strike capability and use of proxy forces are things that we need to examine.

Increasing numbers of contract soldiers, a more professional NCO corps, improved training, more exercises and, increasingly, combat operations in Ukraine and Syria, have resulted in broad improvements to the quality of Russian units, the Rand study reads.

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NATO gave Russia’s stealth fighter a codename that’s straight out of a Tom Clancy novel – Business Insider UK

Posted: at 3:50 am

It couldn't be better even if the late Tom Clancy were to have written it, and we have to believe he is smiling down from the tactical high ground of the afterlife. The latest Russian-5th generation "stealth" combat aircraft, the Sukhoi Su-57, was assigned an official NATO reporting name this week: "FELON"

NATO Reporting names provide a convenient and recognizable English language moniker for communicating Russian aircraft types. The names are assigned to equipment including weapons systems, ships, ground vehicles and aircraft by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). These code names or reporting names are used in radio communication and in common usage among westerners, including enthusiasts.

United Aircraft Corporation

There is a system to NATO reporting names.

If the first letter of a reporting name is an "F," or "FOXTROT" as pronounced in the military phonetic alphabet, this designates the aircraft as a fighter. For instance, the MiG-25 is the "FOXBAT,"the Su-27 is the "FLANKER" and the MiG-29 is the "FULCRUM."

Suffixes are often added to NATO reporting names to denote a significantly different variant of the original aircraft. For instance, the new Su-35, an entirely updated version of the original Su-27, is referred to as the "FLANKER-E." You likely recall from Tom Clancy's "The Hunt For Red October" references to Russian long-range maritime patrol and strategic bomber, the "BEAR-FOXTROT," or "BEAR-F" for the Tupolev Tu-95.

Officially, in NATO definition from section 1.1 of "NATO Reporting Names for Aircraft and Missiles":

"Reporting names for aircraft are selected by the ASIC (Air and Space Interoperability Council; renamed in 2005 from ASCC, Air Standardization Coordinating Committee member states are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA and UK), but names for missiles (and other systems like radars etc.) are created by other organizations. However, all reporting names are eventually forwarded to NATO in a single list."

The specification for reporting names goes on to define that:

"Fixed-wing aircraft are designated by reporting names beginning with code letters designating the aircraft's mission. Propeller-driven planes are designated by single-syllabic words (e.g. 'Bear'), and jets by multi-syllabic words (e.g. 'Backfire'). Helicopters and guided missiles are designated similarly, but the length of a word is not defined."

United Aircraft Corporation

Interestingly, Russians, especially aircraft spotters, tend to not use any of the NATO reporting names in conversation.

In our visit to MAKS 2019 earlier this year, Russian aircraft experts, photographers and enthusiasts most commonly referred to the Su-57 by its pre-production designation as two spoken words. The Russians would most commonly identify the new Sukhoi Su-57 as by saying the words "Pahk-FAH". They also called the aircraft the "Sue-fifty-seven," speaking a word for the acronym "Su" that stands for "Sukhoi" in the aircraft's name.

Whoever at NATO ultimately wound-up selecting "FELON" as the new NATO reporting names for the Su-57 did a great job using what little creative license they are afforded in the process. It's safe to say that aircraft spotters in west will be excited to see and chat about Russia's impressive new Sukhoi Su-57 "FELON" for years to come.

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NATO’s assessment mission arrives in Kyiv – Ukrinform. Ukraine and world news

Posted: at 3:50 am

An assessment mission from NATO will stay in Ukraine on November 6-8 to prepare a report on the implementation of the 2019 Annual National Program, the press service of the Mission of Ukraine to NATO has reported.

"Following the NATO North Atlantic Council's visit to Ukraine, a NATO delegation is back in Kyiv, now at expert level. On November 6-8, NATO's assessment mission will meet with representatives of almost all central executive government agencies involved in the implementation of the 2019 Annual National Program under the aegis of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which is Ukraine's main instrument in preparation for NATO membership," the report reads.

During the visit, the assessment mission will make recommendations for the 2019 ANP implementation report that will be presented to NATO member states for consideration.

According to the press service, on December 11, NATO Headquarters is to host this year's last meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission to present the 2019 ANP assessment and discuss the preparation of the 2020 ANP. The meeting will be attended by Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba.

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NATO recognizes Israel as key medical-assistance partner as it seeks to expand cooperation – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted: at 3:50 am

NATO has recognized the Israeli Navy as a key medical-assistance partner in the Mediterranean following a drill held last month practicing emergency evacuations of personnel.

During the drill, dubbed Crystal Sea 2020, held from Oct. 13-23, NATO vessels from the United Kingdom, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria simulated medical emergencies at sea with the Israeli Navy.

It was an example of partnership between the Israeli Navy and NATO. This is the second joint exercise of its kind between NATO maritime forces and the IDF, said Capt. Yuval Ilan, who heads the Planning and Organization Department in the Navy.

Two NATO helicopters practiced flying personnel from ships at sea to Haifas Rambam Hospital, said Ilan. In addition, an Israeli Navy traveled to a NATO ship to practice providing medical treatment to onboard personnel.

Among the capabilities we established is a surgery room on one of our major ships, Ilan stated, speaking to journalists by conference call. We in the Israeli Navy and IDF [Israel Defense Forces] welcome cooperation with NATO. I am really happy to say that NATO sees the Israeli Navy as a partner in the eastern Mediterranean, in this case, for medical aid.

Israeli Navy personnel participate in simulated medical assistance treatment. Credit: IDF Spokespersons Unit.

During the drill, the commander of NATOs Allied Maritime Command, Vice Admiral Keith Blount from the Royal Navy, visited Haifa Naval Base, where he met with senior naval officials, including the Rear Admiral David Saar Salama, Israeli Navy Chief of Staff.

The goal of the visit was for NATO to understand the Israel Navy and the IDF better. We discussed with him how to deepen cooperation on various topics. The visit was excellent for both parties, said Ilan.

The last such visited occurred a few years ago, he added, and its really important that it happened here. It shows a desire to continue and even expand cooperation with the IDF.

Relations between the Israel Navy and NATO have grown stronger after the drill, the officer said, adding that in our arena, its really important that we all understand each other, especially in a medical situation. If someone at sea needs assistance, we want to and we can give them aid.

Asked by JNS whether this cooperation could expand in the future into ways to deal with common threats, Ilan said it was a possibility. He stressed that medical assistance was the basics when you work at sea, emphasizing that knowing how to communicate, maneuver and land helicopters between ships were key tools for saving lives.

A similar exercise could take place next year.

We learned from others and passed on our knowledge

In 2017, the Israeli Navy took part in a two-week NATO drill hosted by the Greek Hellenic Navy. Three Israeli missile corvettes took part in that drill, sailing to Greece and joining crews from that country, the United Kingdom, Italy, Romania and Bulgaria.

The crews practiced sea-based counter-terrorism operations, strikes, dealing with enemy swarm boats laden with explosives, aerial threats, and practiced how to rescue stranded vessels and provide medical attention to the injured.A helicopter onboard the Israeli INS Eilat took part in a search-and-rescue drill with the NATO forces.

We learned from the others, and we passed on our knowledge. We are improving all of the time, a naval officer told JNS at the time.

Cooperation between the Israeli Air Force and the Hellenic Air Force of Greece has also been steadily growing in recent years, with several joint exercises conducted by both air forces.

The post NATO recognizes Israel as key medical-assistance partner as it seeks to expand cooperation appeared first on JNS.org.

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Celebrating 70 years of NATO – Troy Tropolitan

Posted: at 3:50 am

by

Lirona Joshi

Staff Writer

Top diplomats, policy makers, military experts and academics convened at the Montgomery campus for Troy Universitys NATO at 70 conference on Nov. 1 and 2 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of NATOs creation and discuss the past, present and future of the Atlantic alliance. The program included speeches from major high-profile speakers, including current and ex-United States NATO representatives and representatives from Romania, Poland, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia and more. The two-day event featured four panels examining different aspects of NATO and expounded on its strategic importance as an international alliance for the Western sphere.

The first day of the conference commenced with a panel discussing the significance of NATOs 70th anniversary with panelists including John Schmidt, Troys senior vice chancellor, scholars from Air University and diplomats. This was followed by a tour of the Rosa Parks Museum by the guests with the day concluding with a speech by Robert Hunter, an ex-U.S. ambassador to NATO.

In 70 years of NATO, the point is whether it continues to have a set of purposes, ambition, ideals and views with the facts of power and the facts of security, said Hunter in his address. NATO has been the lead agency for America to continue commitment and engagement in Europe.

NATO is robust and will continue. NATOs job is to in regard to the North Atlantic Area is to lead and promote security, stability and confidence among our allies.

The second day of the conference saw three more panels where scholars, international diplomats and military professionals discussed their scholarship and experience on a range of topics which included hybrid and cyber threats to NATO, NATOs current regional operations and future threats.

It was eye-openingto find out how much countries want to be a part of NATO, said Charles Edward Stringer, a graduate social science student from Brantley. They really see NATO as being a vital part of their protection against other nations,particularly Russia and China, which was brought up a lot, and then they also want that because of the United States being in there.

The event ended with a keynote address from the Romanian ambassador, who stressed the importance of the alliance, especially for the Eastern European countries.

According to Michael Slobodchikoff, associate professor of political science, the event was an excellent opportunity for Troy students and faculty as well as community members to meet policymakers affecting NATO and the U.S.

The event gave a unique perspective on world events that we wouldnt get otherwise from reading books or from a general scholarship, Slobodchikoff said. We go to hear first-hand accounts of what happened and that was incredible experience for everyone in the audience.

We got to hear narratives from Balkans, Poland, and it was an opportunity to engage with policymakers, diplomats and official representatives on a level that would have been impossible had we not had the conference, said Doug Davis, assistant professor of political science.

The event was free and open to the public. It drew a significant crowd on both days where the community and students also got to engage in conversation with the distinguished guests.

The speakers were very humble people andvery down-to-earth and open to questions, said Stringer. Being astudent and knowing that a person of that caliber was at reachand knowing from them that their achievement wasnt something that was unattainable was something of an experience.

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Admitting North Macedonia to NATO brings more risks than benefits to the US | TheHill – The Hill

Posted: November 2, 2019 at 9:43 am

While most Americans are consumed with the debate over President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump singles in on 'Sleepy Joe Biden' at campaign rally Trump at rally says impeachment an 'attack on democracy itself' GOP lawmaker says House impeachment rules vote 'doesn't change anything for me' MOREs withdrawal of troops from Syria and ongoing impeachment investigations, their elected leaders are in the process of quietly adding another burden to the long list of U.S. defense obligations.

The Senate voted on Tuesday 91-2 to extend NATO membership to North Macedonia, a small, landlocked nation in southeastern Europe.The only nay votes came from Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTrump plans to name DHS undersecretary as agency's acting head: report Admitting North Macedonia to NATO brings more risks than benefits to the US Graham: Trump's ATF nominee 'very problematic' MORE (R-Utah) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulAdmitting North Macedonia to NATO brings more risks than benefits to the US Trump's criminal justice reform record fraught with contradiction Senate rejects Paul effort to cut spending MORE (R-Ky.), both of who also opposed the previous round of NATO expansion to Montenegro in 2017.

For small countries like Montenegro or North Macedonia, the benefits of joining NATO are obvious. North Macedonia has a population of slightly more than 2 million with the 128th largest GDP in the world. NATOs Article 5 provides for the collective defense of all members, so the North Macedonian government and its estimated 13,000-person military will have the support of significantly larger militaries, including the worlds only superpower, through ascension into the organization.

But for the United States and other member countries, the benefits of expanding NATO are neither obvious nor quantifiable. With the most formidable and technologically advanced military in the world, the U.S. gains essentially nothing from the addition of such a small forceeither peacetime orcrisis.To their credit, the Macedonian military provided military support that served honorably inAfghanistanandIraq, but objectively this had little impact on the outcome of either conflict.

Furthermore, many larger NATO members already fail to take their defense obligations seriously.American policymakers from both sides of the aisle have acknowledged this serious issue for over two decades, but continue to prioritize expansion over concerns about alliance functionality and the commitment of existing members.

Such supportersin the United Stateswillstress the geostrategic importance of the alliance over the actual addition of military support. After all, NATO was conceived as a post-WWII military alliance to prevent the Soviet Union from dominating strategically important but defenseless Europe. It is one of the external forces that helped break the Soviet government.

But North Macedonia occupies a part of Europe with little strategic and even less economic importance to the United States. Its location in the historically volatile Balkans region carries a serious risk for any country with whom it shares a defensive alliance, as we are hardly two decades removed from a major armed conflict in that area. Increased involvement in the Balkans is not something policymakers in the United States consider a strategic imperative, and rightly so.American voters would likely reject the notion, as well.

What other impetus exists for Western leaders to continue such unquestioning support for NATO expansion? Advocates cite countering and deterring Russian aggression as the primary justification. As Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischMcConnell sends warning shot on Turkey sanctions after House vote Van Hollen urges Senate to take up House-passed Turkey sanctions bill Admitting North Macedonia to NATO brings more risks than benefits to the US MORE (R-Idaho), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who helped steer North Macedonias NATO vote through the full chamberstated afterwards, The Russians hate this sort of thing, they hate an increase in the size of NATO, but we want the Europeans to be encouraged.

Russian frustration with NATO expansion is not a new issue, andit shouldntbe the lynchpin that decides U.S. foreign policy. Soon after the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO members quickly set about on the first round of expansion while Russia was weak andthe post-Soviet government wasmore amenable to integration into the free world.

That expansion did not ingratiate the West to new Russian leaders nor prevent the rise of an authoritarian-style government under Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinAmerica's dual foreign policies collide Aramco attacks remind us about 'defense in depth' Russia is still a threat, despite what Washington thinks MORE. The subsequent rounds of expansion into the former Soviet zonesdid not deterRussian aggression in Georgia and Ukraineas Western leaders desired.

As NATO expanded since the end of the Cold War, Russia has become exactly what supporters of NATO expansion claimed they were seeking to prevent:a destabilizing force in the region as it seeks to push back against perceived threats to its interests. The Russians have not been deterred from anything; instead their aggression has been, in their view, justified and necessary.

There is every indication Trump will sign off on the pending membership of North Macedonia into NATO, and their membership, while of little benefit to the United States, does not carry near as much risk as the possible membership of nations like Ukraine or Georgia.But its' membership will do nothing to address NATOs long-standing burden sharing problems and adds one more obligation to an already overcommitted U.S. defense structure.

When considering the possible extension of current defense agreements or creation of new ones, the United States should look primarily at how such agreements will benefit or risk our national security and economic interests, not their appeal for antagonizing geopolitical rivals or whether extension is deserved by strategically unimportant countries. A policy driven by a desire to annoy our only nuclear peer is not a sound basis for defense strategy.

RobertMooreis a public policy advisor for Defense Priorities Foundation. He previously worked for nearly a decade on Capitol Hill, most recently as lead staffer for Senator Mike Lee on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Prystaiko: NATO developing action plan in case of Russias military attack on Ukraine – Ukrinform. Ukraine and world news

Posted: at 9:43 am

Cooperation at the level of the military leadership of Ukraines Armed Forces General Staff and the NATO Military Committee is quite active.

"The task of this military unit of the Alliance is to make a plan in case of aggressive hostilities... There is a special headquarters located in Mons where action plans in case of aggression are being planned, including direct aggression. Ukrainian military are not only involved, they serve directly in Mons, there are several people whose task is to bring all the information for the Alliance's military action planning in case of aggression anywhere in the world, but of course, the Ukrainian direction is the priority now," Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko announced at a briefing, an Ukrinform correspondent reported.

According to Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine cannot rely on NATO's direct support in case of open Russian aggression but the Alliance is doing its best to prepare Ukraine for a possible attack.

"If Ukraine were a member of NATO, then Article 5 on collective defense would be used and NATO would defend Ukraine as one of its allies with every means possible. Actually, we are strategically striving for NATO membership. But since we are not a member of NATO yet, the Alliance can only provide assistance to strengthen the security and defense sector of Ukraine. In this regard, we have an absolutely agreed vision with our partners," Kuleba stressed when asked about NATOs stance in case of open Russias aggression against Ukraine.

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Prystaiko: NATO developing action plan in case of Russias military attack on Ukraine - Ukrinform. Ukraine and world news

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Would Trump Really Push NATO to Help Confront Iran? – The National Interest Online

Posted: at 9:43 am

Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper was recently in Brusselsfor a meeting of NATO defense ministers, with the Turkish incursion and related events in Syriafiguringprominently in the discussions. But Esper hadanotheritem on his agenda that stems from the Trump administrations obsession with confronting Iran: getting the allies to contribute more to the defense of Saudi Arabia. Esper already hadraised at a meeting with his NATO counterparts in June the administrations request for more contributions to meet what it describes as an Iranian threat in the Persian Gulf, and he was met with a lack of enthusiasm for the idea.

NATO is no stranger to out-of-area operations.The purposes of those operations have generally been easy to understand from the alliances point of view, even when they have gone far afield from NATOs original purpose of meeting conventional military threats in Europe.The alliances significant effort in Afghanistan, for example, has been seen as a counterterrorist operation.Another activity aimed at non-state threats that could affect the economic and security interests of member states has been an anti-piracy operation off the Horn of Africa. As for the Persian Gulf region, the U.S.-led operation in 1990-1991 that reversed Iraqs aggression against Kuwait was not conducted under NATO auspices but did include all major members of the alliance.

No such circumstances apply to the current U.S. attempt to get the allies involved in its face-off against Iran.Neither Iran nor any other Persian Gulf state has committed aggression as naked as what Saddam Husseins Iraq did to Kuwait.The European allies see that it was the actions of the United Statesits reneging on the agreement restricting Irans nuclear program, and its initiation of unrestricted economic warfare against Iranthat led directly to this years heightened tensions and risk of war in the Persian Gulf.They see that it was the United States that began a campaign to take oil from the Persian Gulf (i.e., Irans oil) off the market.More broadly, the allies see no reason to take sidesespecially to the extent of weighing in with their own military resourcesin regional quarrels and competitions such as that between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Pressing for greater European involvement in that dispute is thus probably a poor way to spend whatever political chits Esper may be spending with the allies on this subject.The United States also could benefit from learning a lesson or two from the allies, in that rigid side-taking in regional quarrels in the Gulf does not benefit U.S. interests any more than it benefits European interests.

This topic represents a subset of a more general U.S. tendency, not limited to the Trump administration, to assume that other states see threats and lines of conflict the same way the United States does, or to insist that other states see the threats that way and that they respond the way the United States wants to respond. This myopia underlies the current administrations failure to get traction for its idea of a NATO-like alliance of favored Sunni states in the Middle East. Disputes among the Gulf Arabs are a major reason for this failure. The failure is fortunate, in that the division between those who are in or out of the proposed alliance does not correlate with any division between those who are or are not destabilizing the region, and such an alliance would be another instrument for dragging the United States into other peoples quarrels.

This type of myopia also is involved in a contretemps involving the redeployment of U.S. troops being evacuated from northeast Syria.Esperannounced that those troops would be going to western Iraq and would use that as a base for continuing to fight ISIS, but the government of Iraq evidently didnt get the memo.That government, which has sound security and political reasons to minimize any U.S. troop presence on Iraqi soil,stated that the troops can redeploy via Iraq but are not welcome to stay there.This is another example of how U.S. foreign relations would be smoother and more effective if those running it would devote more effort to understanding how other states and other people perceive their problems and perceive the world.

Paul R. Pillar is Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University and Nonresident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. He is a contributing editor toThe National Interest.

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NATO Code Name FELON: Russian Su-57 Gets Its Reporting Name, And It Couldn’t Be Better. – The Aviationist

Posted: at 9:43 am

Bogdan's Su-57 leaps into the air on full afterburner in front of huge crowds at MAKS 2019 on the final day of flying. (All photos: Tom Demerly/TheAviationist)

It couldnt be better even if the late Tom Clancy were to have written it, and we have to believe he is smiling down from the tactical high ground of the afterlife. The latest Russian 5th generation stealth combat aircraft, the Sukhoi Su-57, was assigned an official NATO reporting name this week: FELON

NATO Reporting names provide a convenient and recognizable English language moniker for communicating Russian aircraft types. The names are assigned to equipment including weapons systems, ships, ground vehicles and aircraft by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). These code names or reporting names are used in radio communication and in common usage among westerners, including enthusiasts.

There is a system to NATO reporting names. If the first letter of a reporting name is an F, or FOXTROT as pronounced in the military phonetic alphabet, this designates the aircraft as a fighter. For instance, the MiG-25 is the FOXBAT, the Su-27 is the FLANKER and the MiG-29 is the FULCRUM. Suffixes are often added to NATO reporting names to denote a significantly different variant of the original aircraft. For instance, the new Su-35, an entirely updated version of the original Su-27, is referred to as the FLANKER-E. You likely recall from Tom Clancys Hunt For Red October references to Russian long-range maritime patrol and strategic bomber, the BEAR-FOXTROT, or BEAR-F for the Tupolev Tu-95.

Officially, in NATO definition from section 1.1 of NATO Reporting Names for Aircraft and Missiles:

Reporting names for aircraft are selected by the ASIC (Air and Space Interoperability Council; renamed in 2005 from ASCC, Air Standardization Coordinating Committee member states are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA and UK), but names for missiles (and other systems like radars etc.) are created by other organizations. However, all reporting names are eventually forwarded to NATO in a single list.The specification for reporting names goes on to define that:

Fixed-wing aircraft are designated by reporting names beginning with code letters designating the aircrafts mission. Propeller-driven planes are designated by single-syllabic words (e.g. Bear), and jets by multi-syllabic words (e.g. Backfire). Helicopters and guided missiles are designated similarly, but the length of a word is not defined.

Interestingly, Russians, especially aircraft spotters, tend to not use any of the NATO reporting names in conversation. In our visit to MAKS 2019 earlier this year, Russian aircraft experts, photographers and enthusiasts most commonly referred to the Su-57 by its pre-production designation as two spoken words. The Russians would most commonly identify the new Sukhoi Su-57 as by saying the words Pahk-FAH. They also called the aircraft the Sue-fifty-seven, speaking a word for the acronym Su that stands for Sukhoi in the aircrafts name.

Whoever at NATO ultimately wound-up selecting FELON as the new NATO reporting names for the Su-57 did a great job using what little creative license they are afforded in the process. Its safe to say that aircraft spotters in west will be excited to see and chat about Russias impressive new Sukhoi Su-57 FELON for years to come.

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