APAC Vice President Testifies before Congress, Lays Out Requirements for NATO Deterrence


Two weeks before Warsaw’s NATO summit, Vice President of the American Polish Advisory Council Ian Brzezinski testified before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to assess potential outcomes of the 2016 summit.

Brzezinski subsequently published an assessment of that outcome in an opinion piece on CNN.com defining the requirements for successful implementation of the alliance’s commitment to beef up its presence along its Eastern Flank. (See: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/12/opinions/nato-summit-responds-to-russia-brzezinski/)

Brzezinski called Russia’s increasing assertiveness and military power a "growing challenge" referring to Russia’s $700-billion-dollar modernization of its armed forces and large scale exercises, some including up to 160,000 personnel and stimulating attacks on NATO members.

"The alliance today is confronted by Russia’s ability to suddenly size limited swaths of territory along its periphery, including that of the Baltic states and Poland", said Brzezinski in his testimony. Brzezinski later praised NATO’s commitments made at the Warsaw summit to deploy battalion level forces to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia but pointed out that the battalions, consisting of 800 to 1,00 troops are "small units compared with the divisions of airborne, mechanized and tank units deployed in Russia’s Western Military District and their supporting air and naval forces".

In order for these battalions to effectively counter any aggression aimed at an alliance member, they need to have the capacity to survive, impose high costs on the aggressor and be reinforced, according to Brzezinski. In his commentaries, Brzezinski laid out the following requirements for NATO to effectively deter further Russian aggression:

  • Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Assets: these help mitigate the danger of surprise by a nearby aggressor, giving NATO forces time to move to defensive positions.
  • Air Defense: Russia's airpower and missile threats are significant, requiring air defense and possibly missile defense capabilities to protect NATO battalions.
  • Lethality: If NATO forward-based units are to impose costly losses on an aggressor, they must bristle with firepower, including robust anti-armor capabilities, and perhaps even their own artillery and tanks.
  • Integrated NATO-Host Nation War Plans: The war plans that guide these NATO units should be integrated with those of their host nations to ensure full synchronization of efforts by NATO and national forces in time of crisis and conflict.
  • Reinforcement: The alliance must be postured to reinforce on short notice its forward-based assets. With this in mind, the alliance will have to launch in the near future its own division-level exercises focused on the logistical and combat challenges of this mission.
  • NATO Command Authority: When confronted by an aggressor whose advantages include proximity, speed, and massive firepower, NATO must delegate to its commanders the authorities necessary for them to marshal in real time alliance military assets in the event of provocation and/or aggression. The reality is that there may be no time for North Atlantic Council deliberations.

"NATO made an important and needed decision in Warsaw. But, its ultimate effect will be determined by how that decision is executed," said Brzezinski of the commitments made by alliance members earlier this month.

APAC President General Edward Rowny praised Ian Brzezinski’s assessment of NATO’s challenges as it faces with escalating Russian aggression. "APAC steadfastly supports NATO’s commitment to a greater presence in Poland and the Baltic States and understands that the level of deterrence will ultimately depend on how these commitments are implemented," said Rowny. "Poland’s geography makes it a prime target as tensions between Russia and the West escalate. At the same time, Poland’s geographic location also makes it a key strategic component of any attempts to thwart that threat," added Rowny.

The American Polish Advisory Council remains committed to NATO’s successful and timely implementation of its plan to beef up its presence in Poland and the Baltic States and its continuous efforts to thaw relations with Russia through diplomatic means.


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