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Cold War, The Reimagined Series


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Ideal for the Brits then - fitted for (but not with) any armament.

 

 

That made me smile - how very true !

 

We're an island nation with hardly any navy left, aircraft carriers due to entere service with no airrcraft and now no maritime patrol aircraft. If an airliner went missing in the Atlantic our lack of capability would be there for the world to see !

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The assessment of the respective sides is very worthy and scholarly, but in the end, in the improbable event that it kicks off in Central Europe, it's unlikely to come down to sheer numbers on either side. There are a bunch of other factors.

 

1. How far the Russians are willing to go - do they want to take the Baltic states and leave it at that? Do they want to make more major territorial acquisitions or Finlandise Western Europe? Do they just want to secure their borders?

 

2. What means are they willing to use? Europe for example is painfully dependent on sea trade. A few SSNs hitting LPG shipments to Milford Haven would seriously screw us, likewise cruise missile attacks on critical economic and infrastructure. Would they be willing to risk mass civilian casualties, even directly or indirectly?

 

3. How many munitions do the respective sides have.

 

4. The technological disparity between the two forces - in the recent unpleasantness in Georgia, PGMs were notably absent in battlefield use, partly because the Russians had retired most of their PGM capable aircraft. In the (rapidly declining numbers of) Tornado GR4, we have an aircraft that can take out 12 enemy AFVs in one pass in all weathers. There is no (AFAIK) analagous Soviet system.

 

5. The disparity(?) in training and quality of leadership between the two sides.

 

6. How far would the West go. A few B-2s and SSGNs could take out dozens of airfields, AD sites and command centres in one go across a vast swathe of Western Russia. However, how would the Russians react to strategic systems being used against them to deliver conventional munitions?

 

7. C4i - could one side get inside the other's decision making loop.

 

8. Readiness and alert level on our side vs ability to achieve surprise on theirs.

 

9 to infinity. Many other things I haven't thought of

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I've only taken a very superficial look at air power on both sides so far. At first glance the Russian arsenal looks very formidable, though I have no idea how much of it is really serviceable. Regardless, my point remains that ground-based air defense in the West has been shockingly neglected. Poland, which is one of the few NATO members to retain a classical heavy force, still has AD battalions in every mechanized brigade plus corps-level units, all equipped with fUSSR systems; the Romanians are similar though they have some Western gun systems, including the Gepards Germany apparently considered useless for the future. The Bulgarians are also reasonably well-endowed for their size. Everywhere else, mobile AD is mighty thin.

 

Most countries seem to have subordinated all ground-based assets to their air forces, including France, Germany and Italy. Those are largely either VSHORAD or semi-stationary systems like Patriot - already somewhat rare with a regiment/wing in Germany, Greece, Poland (?) and Spain each plus a Dutch squadron. There is NASAMS in Norway, the Netherlands and Spain, Spada in Italy, Crotale in France and Greece, Roland in Spain and Slovenia, but its all just a couple batteries each. France and Italy are procuring SAMP/T; Hawk soldiers on in Greece, Spain and Romania.

 

Greece has some 39 Osa-AK (ex DDR) and 25 Tor-M1

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The Italian Navy is becoming kinda obsolete, I read that they will have to replace a lot of ships in the next decade, but is the money there?

 

The programs are ongoing, whether the ship won't end up all in mothball after the next round of budget cuts remains to be seen.

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The French are naturally reluctant to forego a € 1.37/$ 1.89 bn deal, and obviously Russia has threatened to sue for damages if it is cancelled. I don't know the contract, but apparently it included an advance payment which they would certainly have to get back.

 

Oh, oh, I know! Since Russia has seized the Ukrainian fleet, Ukraine could have the Mistrals impounded, then give them away as compensation for the Western aid they're to get. When the French get to keep the Russian advance payment, that should make the ships quite a bit cheaper. :D

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  • 1 month later...

Salvaged from the ballooning main Ukraine thread to have it at hand if I ever find time again to look beyond current events. Russian formations include some divisions my earlier OOB suggests were reformed into brigades, but implementation of the new army structure is probably still underway.

 

 

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I've thought in passing about how to re-orient the Bundeswehr more towards alliance defense again without increasing troop strength (since demographics more than all else speak against that, absent re-introduction of the draft) for a long time now. This is how the Heer looks after the 2011 reform:

 

 

The basic idea was to have six identically-structured brigades that could rotate through deployments. Most of the building blocks are there: eleven Panzergrenadier (two inactive), six Panzer (two inactive), six Jäger (one inactive) and three Gebirgsjäger battalions, plus combat support and service units. Airborne troops are in a separate brigade of two regiments (really battalion groups) which is currently forming a joint Dutch-German division with NL 11 Air Assault Brigade and helicopter assets from both nations.

 

Unlike in some other recent European reforms, the division level was retained despite the brigades being mostly self-sustained, in part because the German commitment to alliance defense calls for deploying a division HQ with two brigades, division troops and the capability to integrate forces of fellow NATO/EU members. Divisions also lead the sparse artillery assets (four battalions, each with one MLRS and three, one with four PzH 2000 batteries).

 

As you can see, peacetime structure does not really implement the "identical brigades" approach, mostly due to basing politics; all three mountain battalions are in Gebirgsjägerbrigade 23, but Gebirgspanzerbataillon 8 is in the neighbor brigade. The two Jäger battalions of the French-German Brigade would have to go 10th Panzerdivision to make its mechanized brigades identical to those in 1st Panzer Division, which tells you a lot about how serious the FGB is taken as a bi-national deployable combat formation.

 

My most immediate beef is the lack of artillery. I would

 

- replace two of the brigade engineer battalions with artillery battalions for a total of six identically-structured (though I would entertain the thought of equipping one "light" with the PzH 2000's little brother Donar if we had to buy new pieces anyway, which could support the FGB and Gebirgsjäger respectively; but I believe we still have all originally procured 185 PzH 2000 in stock, sufficient for 18 batteries of eight);

 

- disband two more to form brigade engineer companies, and make the last two division troops;

 

- return Flugabwehrraketengruppe 61 (Ozelot) from the Luftwaffe to form a divisional air defense battalion, and replace a Panzergrenadier battalion with a second, to be equipped with SysFla in the future;

 

- use one Jäger battalion to reform parachute regiments into four airmobile battalions and the slots of the two disbanded engineer HQ companies to reform regimental into brigade support troops;

 

- use slots of extra artillery battery to form heavy company for Jägerbattalion 291 in the FGB, currently a strange hybrid of two infantry, one recon and one HSS company.

 

There, I neatly re-arranged everything at least down to looking at company boxes. The revised OOB, streamlined for deployments, thus:

 

 

1st Panzer Division

- HQ/Signals Company

- Support Battalion

- Armored Engineer Battalion

- Heavy Engineer Battalion

- Air Defense Battalion

 

3 x Mechanized Brigade

- HQ/Signals Company

- Armored Engineer Company

- Panzer Battalion

- 2 x Panzergrenadier Battalion

- Jäger Battalion

- Artillery Battalion

- Reconnaissance Battalion

- Logistics Battalion

Note: one maneuver battalion in each brigade is inactive.

10th Panzer Division

- HQ/Signals Company

- Support Battalion

- Armored Engineer Battalion

- Heavy Engineer Battalion

- Air Defense Battalion

 

2 x Mechanized Brigade

- HQ/Signals Company

- Armored Engineer Company

- Panzer Battalion

- 2 x Panzergrenadier Battalion

- Artillery Battalion

- Reconnaissance Battalion

- Logistics Battalion

Note: one maneuver battalion in each brigade is inactive.

Gebirgsjägerbrigade 23

- HQ/Signals Company

- Mountain Engineer Company

- Mountain Panzer Battalion

- 3 x Gebirgsjäger Battalion

- Mountain Reconnaissance Battalion

- Mountain Logistics Battalion

Division Schnelle Kräfte

- HQ/Signals Company

- 2 x Light Transport Helicopter Regiment

- Attack Helicopter Regiment

- KSK

 

Airborne Brigade 1

- HQ/Signals Company

- Airborne Engineer Company

- Airborne Medical Company

- 4 x Airmobile Battalion

- Airborne Reconnaissance Battalion

- Airborne Logistics Battalion

French-German Brigade (German parts)

- HQ/Signals Company

- Armored Engineer Company

- 2 x Jäger Battalion

- Artillery Battalion

- Logistics Battalion

Edited by BansheeOne
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  • 2 weeks later...

The following may be a little dramatized; I got the feeling "Spiegel" wanted to re-enact their glorious moment of 1962 when they reported on a lack of preparedness of the Bundeswehr to defend against the Red Hordes, got accused of treason by the government to the point of their editor-in-chief being jailed, and subsequent public outrage about that defined freedom of the press for the FRG. However, the concern about reaction time to any major threat to the Baltic states in particular is certainly valid.

 

Unprotected in the East: NATO Appears Toothless in Ukraine Crisis

 

By SPIEGEL Staff

If Russia were to engage in military aggression in the Baltics, NATO would be unable to defend the region using conventional means. An internal report highlights weaknesses in the alliance.

They were big words, spoken almost as if they had been written in stone. "Our commitment to collective defence is rock solid, now and for the future," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said more than a week ago, first in the Polish capital Warsaw and then, on the same day, in the Estonian capital Tallinn. Before that, the US ambassador to Latvia, speaking to local and American soldiers at a military base in the country, had sounded equally forceful when he insisted that the NATO partners and Latvia are standing "shoulder to shoulder."

 

Rasmussen's remarks were well intentioned but relatively toothless -- little more than whistling in the dark. The Balts and Poles sense it, and the NATO secretary general knows it.

 

At its core, the Western defense alliance consists of a promise that the 28 member states make to each other in Article 5 of the NATO treaty: An attack against one or several members is considered as an attack against all. The article states that if the so-called mutual defense clause is applied, each member state, to the best of its ability, must rush to the aid of the NATO partner under attack. Most recently, Turkey considered invoking Article 5 and requesting assistance after several rocket attacks from neighboring Syria in late 2012. Since then, two German batteries of Patriot air defense missiles have been stationed in Turkey as protection.

 

So what happens if the Baltic nations invoke Article 5? What if Russia attempts to destabilize the Baltics with threatening military gestures? And what if it violates its borders with Estonia and Latvia?

 

These scenarios are currently being discussed at length in NATO and at the German Defense Ministry in Berlin. According to information SPIEGEL obtained by SPIEGEL, a draft version of a comprehensive, restricted internal NATO assessment of the situation reads: "Russia's ability to undertake significant military action with little warning presents a wider threat to the maintenance of security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. Russia can pose a local or regional military threat at short notice at a place of its choosing. This is both destabilizing and threatening for those allies bordering or in close proximity to Russia."

 

Outdated Defense Plans

 

Six months ago, such words would have been inconceivable in a NATO document. But the crisis in Crimea and now in eastern Ukraine has called many certainties into question. One of these is that there will never be another armed conflict in Central Europe.

 

Military and political officials at NATO are currently drafting various documents, some of the reportedly classified as top secret, sources say. The reports will be submitted to the NATO political leadership in Brussels early this week, and the alliance defense ministers will meet on June 3 and 4, followed by a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. Even though the documents will likely be softened and couched in more diplomatic terms, they remain as sobering as they are alarming. They presumably represent the first stage of a lengthy debate over NATO's capacity to take action, its strategic orientation and the levels of national defense budgets.

 

Underlying the debate is an assessment of the situation on which NATO and government officials generally agree, namely that the alliance currently feels incapable of defending the Baltic countries with conventional means, that is, with tanks, aircraft and ground troops. When asked about the situation, a NATO spokeswoman said: "We are reviewing and updating our defense plans and considering other longer-term measures."

 

Elmar Brok, a member of Germany's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and a longstanding expert on European Union foreign policy, puts it more directly: "When the Baltic countries were accepted into NATO, Russia did not pose a military threat. The alliance complied with the agreement with Russia and did not station any troops east of the Elbe River. But now that Putin's policy seems to be changing, NATO must come up with a response. At present, the alliance could not protect the Baltic countries with conventional military means."

 

That is the most important sentence, and officials at the German defense and foreign ministries in Berlin agree. It would take about half a year before the members of the alliance would be capable of mustering a suitable response, if at all. "We wouldn't even show up in time for the Russians' victory celebration," says a government expert, who points out that the existing, vague deployment plans are "all outdated." The German military's joint operations command is now in close contact with NATO, with the aim of developing an emergency plan as quickly as possible.

 

On the political side, however, the German government dreads a discussion of new Western military plans. Both the chancellor and the foreign minister prefer a more cautious approach to diplomacy in the conflict with Russia. Officials in Berlin say that actions that Russia could interpret as the West flexing its muscle would lead "directly to disaster." In addition, German public opinion is extremely opposed to upgrading NATO under the premise that the West must arm itself for a military conflict with Russia. Chancellor Angela Merkel is unwilling to consider an increase in defense spending, and she is certainly not interested in setting off an uncontrollable German debate over the notion of German soldiers potentially risking their lives for the Baltic countries.

 

At the Mercy of Moscow

 

This doesn't change the problem. If NATO, despite the solemn obligation enshrined in Article 5, were incapable of reacting on a par with Moscow in the event of a Russian incursion into the Baltic countries, the alliance could disintegrate as a result, because it would be breaking the very promise that justifies its existence.

 

German government officials wonder whether this is precisely what Russian President Vladimir Putin envisions. From his standpoint, NATO's expansion into the territory of former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries was deeply humiliating and a provocation for Russia. It triggered a series of real or imagined fears of being surrounded by enemies. In Chancellor Merkel's assessment, Putin would reverse NATO's eastward expansion if he could.

 

The chancellor has repeatedly stated in public that the security guarantee of Article 5 is valid. But because she too has played out the scenario of an attack on the Baltic countries to the bitter end, she is deeply concerned about the possibility of a dangerous escalation. Even Merkel doesn't know what Putin's limits truly are.

 

According to a senior government official, the current situation is reminiscent of the climax of the euro crisis in 2012. At the time, a breakup of the euro zone was considered as unlikely as a Russian military attack on the Baltic countries is today. Nevertheless, the German Finance Ministry took the precautionary step of calculating the consequence of a collapse of the euro. Today, the same considerations apply to the Western defense alliance, with one key difference: In 2012, governments and the European Central Bank had the capacity to save the euro. But in the Ukraine crisis, Russia is in charge, leading the Balts and the Poles to feel at the mercy of Moscow.

 

[...]

 

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/ukraine-crisis-shows-up-cracks-in-nato-a-970248.html

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Russian formations include some divisions my earlier OOB suggests were reformed into brigades, but implementation of the new army structure is probably still underway.

 

In fact I have found that 2nd Guards Motor Rifle and 4th Guards Tank were reformed as divisions last year to uphold the famous tradition of those names, both of two brigades. The current conflict also has brought some other information about the current Russian OOB into easy access, though naturally some is contradictory. For example, the chart on top of this page shows a separate 5th Motor Rifle Brigade though Wikipedia says it is part of 2nd Guards Division; also a 39th Motor Rifle Brigade missing from the Wiki OOB of the Western Military District, which however has a 138th supposedly based roughly in the same region.

 

OTOH Wikipedia is also missing various formations showing up in the chart like two different 13th Motor Rifle/Motorized Brigades, a 216th Spetsnaz and 218th Reconnaissance Brigade; I left those out since I suspect the 13th may have become part of 4th Guards Division which used to have a 13th Tank Regiment and have no corroborative information of the other two, but included the 31st Air Assault Brigade which is specifically denoted as having been activated. The thusly revised table, with asterisks indicating maneuver formations fully or partially deployed to the Ukrainian border during recent events:

 

 

Western Military District (St. Petersburg)

 

- 76th Air Assault Division (Pskov) *

- 98th Guards Airborne Division (Ivanovo) *

- 106th Guards Airborne Division (Tula) *

- 27th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade *

- 2nd Spetsnaz Brigade *

- 16th Spetsnaz Brigade *

- 45th Spetsnaz Airborne Regiment *

- Operational Group of Forces in Transnistria

 

6th Army (St. Petersburg)

- 25th Motor Rifle Brigade

- 138th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade

- 9th Guards Artillery Brigade

- 268th Guards Artillery Brigade

- 26th Missile Brigade

- 5th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade

20th Guards Army (Mulino)

- 2nd Guards Motor Rifle Division (Kalininets) *

- 4th Guards Tank Division (Naro-Fominsk) *

- 6th Tank Brigade *

- 9th Motor Rifle Brigade

- 288th Artillery Brigade

- 448th Missile Brigade

- 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade

Kaliningrad Region

- 7th Motor Rifle Brigade

- 79th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade

- 336th Naval Infantry Brigade

- 244th Guards Artillery Brigade

- 152nd Guards Missile Brigade

Murmansk Region

- 61st Naval Infantry Brigade

- 200th Motor Rifle Brigade

- 25th Coastal Missile Brigade

Southern Military District (Rostov-na-Don)

 

- 7th Guards Airborne Division (Novorossiysk) *

- 10th Spetsnaz Brigade *

- 22nd Spetsnaz Brigade *

- 56th Guards Air Assault Brigade *

- 33rd Reconnaissance Brigade (Mountain) *

- 100th Reconnaissance Brigade

49th Army (Stavropol)

- 8th Motor Rifle Brigade (Mountain)

- 20th Motor Rifle Brigade *

- 34th Motor Rifle Brigade (Mountain) *

- 291st Artillery Brigade

- 439th MLRS Brigade

- 1st Missile Brigade

58th Army (Vladikavkaz)

- 17th Motor Rifle Brigade

- 18th Motor Rifle Brigade *

- 19th Motor Rifle Brigade

- 136th Motor Rifle Brigade (Dagestan)

- 205th Motor Rifle Brigade *

- 693rd Motor Rifle Brigade (South Ossetia)

- 67th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade

102nd Military Base (Armenia)

- 73rd Motor Rifle Brigade

- 76th Motor Rifle Brigade

- 998th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment

Crimean Region

- 810th Naval Infantry Brigade *

- 11th Coastal Missile Brigade

Central Military District (Ekatarinburg)

 

- 3rd Guards Spetsnaz Brigade *

- 24th Spetsnaz Brigade

- 31st Air Assault Brigade *

 

2nd Army (Samara)

- 119th Missile Brigade

- 297th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade

41st Army (Novosibirsk)

- 7th Tank Brigade

- 15th Motor Rifle Brigade *

- 21st Motor Rifle Brigade

- 23rd Motor Rifle Brigade *

- 28th Motor Rifle Brigade

- 32nd Motor Rifle Brigade

- 35th Motor Rifle Brigade

- 74th Motor Rifle Brigade

- 201st Motor Rifle Brigade (Tajikistan)

- 120th Artillery Brigade

- 385th Artillery Brigade

- 92nd Missile Brigade

- 28th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade

- 61st Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade

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I have centered thoughts on the Baltic states as the most obvious frontline for some time, starting with a look at their own meagre military capabilities. First, Estonia:

 

 

This is the current peacetime organization of the Estonian army. The only real active maneuver element is the Scouts Battalion, which is a a motorized infantry unit equipped with XA-180/188 APCs, a total of 139 of which are on the books; 100 Bv 206 are also listed as being held. The other infantry battalions are however just training conscripts in peacetime; the Guard Battalion apparently does mostly the same, though it has an infantry and MP company each for security purposes. The artillery battalion has two batteries equipped with FH-70 and Finnish-made D-30/H63 howitzers; holdings of the former are listed as 24, the latter 42. The Air Defence Battalion uses ZU-23-2 and Mistral.

 

In addition to the regular forces, there is a homeguard-type organization called the Estonian Defence League consisting of 15 regional units of battalion to regimental size. Estonia retains conscription and used to have a rather ambitious mobilization plan to form

 

- four infantry brigades

- three artillery and air defence battalions each

- two engineer and CSS battalions each

- two scout, anti-tank and signal companies each

 

in wartime, supposedly incorporating homeguard personnel. Estnian Wiki instead speaks of two or three of each type (six or nine infantry battalions), which might be in reference to a reorganization planned after the 2008 war in Georgia, supposed to be implemented from the second half of this year and finished by 2018. As far as Google Translate tells me, this will abolish the defense districts and establish two brigades in peacetime, one in the North based on current 1st Infantry Brigade, and a 2nd in the South centered around the Kuperjanov (and likely including the Viru) Infantry Battalion.

 

They have also been looking for new equipment and are currently in negotiations with the Netherlands about purchase of 44 CV 9035 in 2015; an interest in Dutch PzH 2000 and possibly Fenneks has also been reported as well as in actual tanks, though the latter seems to be particularly doubtful due to cost. That goes even more for recent reports that they are thinking of getting an actual air force with some Gripen; earlier they were looking at getting NASAMS, which seems a much more sensible air defense capability for them. The navy, currently running three British Sandown-class minehunters and some support vessels, wants some fast multirole patrol boats.

 

Purchase of CV 9035 would seem to make them a good partner for the Danish in case of NATO reinforcements under MNC Northeast logistics-wise.

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Next, Latvia. They have an integrated force structure, but their capabilities are overall rather similar to Estonia's, with one regular infantry brigade and three National Guard defense districts. The main difference is no conscription, so what you see in the peacetime organization is what you get when the balloon goes up.

 

Equipment-wise, they're rather lighter; the only "combat vehicles" currently in service, other than three old T-55s used for training, are again the Bv 206 and some armored HMMWVs. However, they just have bought a total of 120 CVR(T)s from the UK to be delivered until 2016, including Scimitar, Sultan, Spartan, Samson and Samaritarian; not sure how they are supposed to be employed. Their only real artillery listed are Czech 100 mm M53 (BS-3) field guns. Air defense is by Bofors 40 mm and again by Mistral. The navy is slightly stronger though with five ex-Dutch Tripartite minehunters and German-designed SWATH multirole patrol boats plus coast guard and support vessels; however, they retired their Norwegian Storm-class missile FACs in 2012/2013.

 

I have found no definite modernization plans; they would require a lot to stiffen against a major threat, possibly a German division per previously outlined plans, if for no other reason than that the G 36 is their standard rifle and HK also supplies a lot of their other infantry weapons.

 

Finally, Lithuania. Unsurprisingly they're not too different from the other two; again a regular infantry brigade backed up by a homeguard-type organization, though the latter is much smaller; no conscription either since 2008, though a new plan proposes to make all males between 18 and 24 undergo seven weeks of military training and place them in the reserves. I find no plans for a larger wartime structure though.

 

 

The Iron Wolf Brigade is probably the single most capable of its kind in the Baltic states as it is a fully formed mechanized formation, though without tanks. In contradiction to the above chart, the English Wiki article on it adds the separate Mindaugas Battalion as a mechanized and the Birute Battalion as a motorized unit, downgrades the Kestutis Battalion from mechanized to motorized, and turns the Vaidotas Battalion into a CSS unit; the Lithuanian Armed Forces website doesn't bear that out though and indicates the separate battalions will support home defense operations or foreign deployments as ordered, mostly by training in peacetime.

 

At any rate Lithuania received 361 M113A1/2G and 42 M1064 mortar carriers from Germany between 2000 and 2006, some as spares. Also again there are Bv 206 and armored HMMWVs. The artillery battalion currently uses M101 howitzers, 72 of which including spares were received from Denmark in 2002, but is supposed to get the M119 Light Gun. Air defense is again by Bofors 40 mm and Mistral, operated by an air force battalion. The air force actually has three Czech Albatros trainer/light attack jets (they crashed one in 2011) in addition to the usual light transports; the navy runs two ex-German Lindau-class minehunters to be replaced by British Hunt-class vessels, two of which are already in service, plus four Danish Stanflex and one Norwegian Storm-class patrol boat.

 

They have been looking for a replacement to the M113, but seem to not even have made their minds up yet whether it should be wheeled or tracked. I guess the Rosomak would be a good choice for them to achieve commonality with their immediate Polish neighbors, though there is a lot to be said for joint procurement of all three Baltic nations. Obviously they're co-operating a lot already, and in fact there has been a proposal to merge their national forces, but not much love for it; as of now there is only BALTBAT, a tri-national battalion based in Latvia.

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for any real comparisons, you could check their budgets. after conscription ended, lithuania currently uses 80% of their budget on personnel...

 

besides lithuania seems to have rather big (for it´s size) SF, latvian brigade is basicly military police unit , both suffer reportedly seriously from the end of conscription

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How prepared are the baltics to fight a defensive war against Russia? I mean, all those reserve infantry battalions, how ready are they and how well are they equiped? What is the situation with AT weapons? Are there defences? The Baltic armies are obviously incapable of waging a maneuver war, without tanks or SP artillery, and dubious air defence.

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I have no idea about readiness of reserves or prepared defenses. As for AT weapons for the infantry, while there's older stuff including RCLs, Estonia has Milan and MAPAT (Israeli laser-guided TOW development), Latvia has Bill and Spike-LR (though apparently just twelve launchers of the latter) in addition to their BS-3, and Lithuania has Javelin (40 launchers listed). I agree that armor and mechanized artillery seem the most badly needed reinforcements.

 

However, before I get to full-blown REFORGER-type deployments of NATO forces or even permanent basing of same, I was looking for a more politically-minded intermediate step. After all the most immediate function of forward-based allied forces is as a practical token of solidarity, putting them in the way of possible harm so any possible attacker must realize he is not just invading the nation in question, but that there will be third-party troops in the line of fire which will mean hostilities with those other nations too. As a political deterrent, such a force would not need to be as big as it would for a fully prepared defense; of course if deterrence failed, it would at best be a tripwire until meaningful reinforcements arrived.

 

Another consideration is that NATO agreed to not permanently base major forces on the territory of the new Eastern European members in the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act. Of course since Russia changed the basic rules of business in post-1945 Europe with the annexation of Crimea, suspending the act seems like an appropriate reply, but would mean a further escalation that might be counter-productive for common security. I have thought about rotating deployments that would bring various NATO members into the Baltics on, say, three-month turns, technically not based permanently, but forming maybe a brigade-sized formation at any time. I heard similar thoughts from SACEUR this weekend, modeled on the Baltic Air Policing scheme.

 

My idea would be a multi-national brigade formed by different member nations at any time to drive home the point of "attack one, attack all". Moving multiple national battalions back and forth each year with all their gear would be a rather expensive exercise though, so I thought of major systems being left in place for the next contingent to fall in on; this strains the "non-permanent" principle further, and all sorts of cost-sharing issues will arise, including who gets to pay for broken stuff, but I believe this is a rather practicable way if the basic agreement is the Balts shouldn't be left hanging out to dry.

 

A major issue would of course be multiple national crews using the same equipment, considering the diversity in NATO. Even where a system is rather far-spread like the Leopard 2, different national standards abound - though this might be overcome with appropriate training as part of working up for deployments. Maybe you could even design the whole thing as a big cross-training scheme where the training is in the deployment, also making it sound less confrontational and more attractive for NATO members. Because I could see some cash-strapped southern nations being rather lukewarm about sending a battalion up north to stare down the Russians for three months at a time.

 

Outside tanks, commonality gets even worse; no more than three NATO members operate the same IFV, and that's counting all CV 90 variants including the Norwegian 9030 with the Dutch and Danish 9035s. I guess you could make it a PfP project to get the Finns and Swedes aboard (technically they have a EU defense obligation under the Lisbon Treaty anyway), but then all the Nordic countries might rather want their sparse forces to watch their own territory in any situation where this Baltic Brigade may find itself in harm's way. There is little sense in augmenting a purpose-designed mechanized force with light infantry, which is the one thing the Balts are not short of; the Piranha/Stryker might be the best compromise if any common ground can be found between both variants (would give the US a shot too).

 

Otherwise I was thinking of making this a pure tank brigade with appropriate artillery and support units. Again, it might be better to e.g. settle on M109 rather than PzH 2000, if cross-training between the vastly different versions of the former could be practically handled. Obviously burden-sharing and reliable rotation rosters would be crucial; I'm not yet done with looking at what nation could afford to deploy personnel for what category how often, including how much units of system shared with others they have, and if the commitments for members whose main orientation is towards NATO's southern flank should be lessened (or the Greek with their vast Leopard 2 fleet could find themselves deploying more than Germany), etc.

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How prepared are the baltics to fight a defensive war against Russia? I mean, all those reserve infantry battalions, how ready are they and how well are they equiped? What is the situation with AT weapons? Are there defences? The Baltic armies are obviously incapable of waging a maneuver war, without tanks or SP artillery, and dubious air defence.

badly.

the most basic equipment came from sweden, when they disbanded one defence region and donated all it´s equipment to baltic states, a brigade set each. and that includes tents,trucks, webbing etc, large amount 120mm mortars too. plus swedish 90mm rcl, demolition equipment, etc..

the mapats estonia has, is little in numbers and old - currently 19 years. due to small numbers, will probably dropped soon. milan ought to be upgraded. and new atgm is in plans, latest by 2017 iirc.

 

i seriously doubt i will ever see a fighter plane in our colours, nasams is in the wishlist. but the problem is that while we´ve kept us percentagewise on not too bad level , the real gdp has shrunk during the crisis, so our def. budget took a huge loss 2008 and is struggling upwards. the cancellation of previous def. plans, incl. 4 defence regions (practically large inf. brigades+ spt) , and trying to raise the standing second inf. brigade is purely monetary issue

 

 

the real problem is not only the atgms or manpads, which is problem that can be solved relatively quickly- 1-2 years, but the differences that make us not very compatible. if estonia trains 2500-3000 men yearly and has technically reserve that approaches 80-90000 (technically only!) and we here are largerly arguing about technicalities, how to clobber together quick-reaction units - second professional batallion? or volunteers of Defence League? , then latvia and lithuania are in deep confusion about their choices , have no internal consensus about the future or spending .

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I've been identifying reasonably far-spread common equipment within NATO members and trying to develop a rotational scheme for that multi-national Baltic Brigade of mine, based more upon how many active units in various armed forces use it rather than total system numbers since the basic idea is to have as many nations as possible contribute.

 

Obviously this makes the Leopard 2 the most commonly used MBT. As a bonus, there are still enough extra stocks around in various countries to store two battalion sets in the Baltic countries for crews to fall in on during their nation's rotation.

 

- Canada: Out of the various vehicles they acquired, apparently the plan is to have 40 A4M CAN and 19 A6M CAN deployable by three squadrons. Call it a battalion's worth for comparison purposes.

 

- Denmark: 57 A5 DK partially equipping two combined arms battalions; again, a battalion's worth for our purpose.

 

- Norway: 52 A4 NO being upgraded to A 5 standard, equipping another single battalion.

 

- Portugal: 37 A6, a rather weak additional battalion.

 

- Germany: 225 A6 will remain to eqip four active battalions (plus two reserve, but not counting those here).

 

- Poland: 128 A4 currently equipping two battalions with another 14 plus 105 A5 coming in, all to be brought to a common PL standard. I understand another brigade will be equipped with those for a total of four battalions.

 

- Spain: 108 A4 and 219 A6+ equipping four battalions, and partially equipping two cavalry regiments; make it five battalion's worth.

 

- Greece: 183 A4 and 170 A6 HEL equipping six battalions as far as I see.

 

- Turkey: 354 A4, so make it another six battalions.

 

We can thus assign the one-battalion nations a basic rotation factor of one deployment per cycle, the four-battalion forces of four, etc.; however, as mentioned other factors come into play. It makes little sense for the Norwegians to deploy all the crews of their only tank battalion to the Baltics with the expectation to deter possible Russian action when they're sharing a border with Russia themselves. The Greek and Turks have the largest tank fleets mostly because they're staring at each other, so they're probably not willing to take the largest share of deployments at the other end of Europe.

 

So I thought the Danes and Norwegians might get a joint factor of one while swapping some companies between them; i.e., if the Danes deploy, they get a Norwegian company attached, and in turn a Danish company is sent to Norway for some joint exercises. The same could be done between Spain and Portugal for a joint factor of six, bringing them on par with Greece and Turkey; then we roundly reduce all the southern members to a factor of two each, half that of the big northern members, since their traditional role is on NATO's southern flank anyway. We therefore get:

 

Germany - 4

Poland - 4

Greece - 2

Spain/Portugal - 2

Turkey - 2

Canada - 1

Denmark/Norway - 1

 

Total of 16 deployments, which with two battalions on three-month tours at any time makes for a nice round two-year cycle. This means Germany and Poland each send personnel twice a year, the southern members once, and Canada and the Scandinavians once every two years, which sounds doable.

 

Now for some mechanized infantry. After some deliberation I found that if you consider the Stryker a variant of the Piranha III, it becomes a rather common system, particularly since it gets the US involved in a big way. I would have preferred an actual IFV, but types are very insular, and this is a mostly political exercise anyway; so this will be rather basic APCs with .50/40 mm OWS plus mortar carriers etc., which should be familiar enough for the personnel of various nations to fall in on:

 

- Belgium: The Piranha IIIC will equip four mechanized infantry battalions.

 

- Canada: As far as I can see, the LAV III equips four active infantry battalions. Though it has a 25 mm turret, adaption should be little problem.

 

- Denmark: The Piranha IIIC and H is partially equipping another four mechanized infantry battalions; while those also use the CV 9035 and M113, internal cross-training of personnel in preparation of deployments should be doable.

 

- Romania: They are listed with about 30 Piranha IIIC, but my Romanian is not good enough to see what they're used for; the number is too low for even a battalion of APCs, and apparently they have a domestic 8x8 development program to replace their fleet of locally-built BTR variants - though that might in fact be Piranha-derived.

 

- Spain: 39 Piranha IIIC are partially equipping a mechanized amphibious battalion of their Marines.

 

- US: After the current drawdown, there will be eight Stryker BCTs with a total of 24 infantry battalions.

 

Obviously as soon as the US gets in, they blanket everybody else with unit numbers. Assigning the four-battalion forces a deployment factor of one, Spain and Romania don't even show up while the US gets a six. With a single infantry battalion in the brigade, that means a cycle of 9 x 3 = 27 months, but it might be better to conform to the two-year cycle of the armor units. That would mean:

 

US - 5

Belgium - 1

Canada - 1

Denmark - 1

 

There is the minor question if Canada and Denmark would deploy their armor and infantry contributions together for greater coherence and easier logistics, or if more importance is put on having as many different nations present as possible at any time. So far we have left out several major NATO members anyway due to lack of common equipment; of course artillery and various support troops are still missing, but it gets rather worse with commonality there. Contrary to my first thought, the M109 is not more widely-used than PzH 2000, it's just that the former has higher numbers in service - again with the US, but also Greece and to a lesser extent Spain and Italy, while many other nations have phased out their SPHs completely.

 

- Norway: 14 A3, a single battalion's worth.

 

- Portugal: 14 out of 18 upgraded to A5, another single battalion's worth.

 

- Italy: After 2016, 64 domestic L variants remain in two battalions.

 

- Spain: 96 A5 are equipping four army battalions, plus six A2 in the Marines.

 

- Greece: 84 A2, 273 A3 and 12 A5 are equipping at least ten, possibly twelve battalions.

 

- US: After downsizing, ten HBCTs with one battalion of A6 each remain; I also find two additional battalions in III Corps Artillery.

 

Variants are widely disparate; I'm not sure the US A6 could even be called the same system as the A3 anymore. It might be possible to agree on a battalion set of A5s to be stocked for the Baltic Brigade, but after discarding the idea of one battery each of either, overall I tend towards PzH 2000 not just because it's more capable, but because it would bring some additional nations in rather than taxing some of the small and southern members above even more:

 

- Croatia: Currently negotiating about 18 to be delivered starting this year, one battalion's worth.

 

- Netherlands: one active battalion of 18.

 

- Greece: 24, one battalion's worth.

 

- Italy: 70 equipping two battalions.

 

- Germany: four battalions by current plans; if we follow my earlier revised OOB, it would be six, though one might be inactive.

 

Fitting that into our two-year cycle might look like this:

 

Germany - 4

Italy/Croatia - 2

Greece - 1

Netherlands - 1

 

Again, the Greeks and Germans could rotate at the same time as their tank contributions, or not. Finally, a battery of MLRS is never amiss, fairly easily distributed and at last bringing in the British and French who hold the most after the US and, with some distance, Germany:

 

US - 5

UK - 1

Germany - 1

France - 1

 

We're still lacking some stuff like engineers, reconnaissance, air defense and logistics, but those are the major building blocks. I might look at the rest later.

Edited by BansheeOne
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