29.09.2022

Can NATO improve its combat readiness in Europe?

According to NATO plans, by 2020, the European members of the Alliance must be able within a month to bring into full combat readiness are about 15 000 soldiers. Is it realistic?11-12 July in Brussels will host the NATO summit. Eve between the foreign Ministers of the European countries and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with new force has inflamed debate on the issue of creating a military-transport corridors designed to ensure the free movement of NATO forces across the EU.

At the same time, this question is not the most difficult, given the goals of the new NATO initiatives, dubbed “four on 30”. It provides that by 2020, the Alliance must have 30 mechanized battalions, 30 squadrons of aircraft and 30 warships, which could lead to full combat readiness within 30 days or faster.

Bureaucratic barriers and narrow roads on the way to NATO

The project was developed and prepared by the Washington and agreed at the meeting of defence Ministers of NATO countries in early June. In the modern, increasingly unpredictable world of high combat readiness becomes an important task for NATO, said Jens Stoltenberg. He stressed that “it is not about creating or deploying new forces, and the preparedness of existing”. The NATO Secretary General also expressed confidence that NATO members will be able to implement a new initiative within the specified period.

Optimism Stoltenberg, however, is not shared by all. The deployment of 30 battalions, whose number varies from country to country, in essence, means that the conflict zone should be rapidly deployed over 15,000 troops. However, while this is no appropriate transport infrastructure: the military may not be able to reach their destination because of bureaucratic barriers within Europe, narrow roads and bridges not strong enough.

Expert British non-governmental research center of the European Leadership Network (ELN) Alice Billon-Galland set up very skeptical. “Not even considering how it would be difficult to move troops around Europe, the question arises, what exactly they want to move. Does not make sense to build a bridge that can withstand the weight of the tank, if you have no tank, which could manage it”, – said the expert. Today, most armies are not in the condition that to ensure the effective implementation of collective defence, says Billon-Galland.

30 battalions of the Alliance for 30 days – an impossible task?

In his article on the subject of whether the British, French and German troops, if necessary, to form and to keep the armored brigade in the Baltic States, a political scientist from the American non-governmental research center RAND Michael Shurkin outlined the main weaknesses of the Alliance that may well bring a new initiative to nothing.

While the team typically includes from three to six battalions, the plan of NATO suggests for a month to bring to a state of readiness from 5 to 10 teams. In the opinion Churkina, none of the aforementioned countries cannot provide such a number of troops in such a short time.

While it is best prepared by the UK: apparently, London has been able to provide a fully staffed team for a period of 30 to 90 days and maintain its combat readiness. In turn the France is extremely limited. Although Paris may be able to form one brigade for a few weeks this would require that the French authorities are very much effort. “Soldiers may not be ready to fight Russia”, – said the expert.

As for Germany, then, according to Churkina, Berlin could provide only two modern equipped battalion capable of resisting Russia. Although they could be put in readiness during the week, the vehicle would have to partially borrow from other units, thereby limiting their ability to simultaneously carry out other operations.

The new initiative of NATO – a risky move

In turn, Alice Billon-Galland wondered why Washington now acted with such initiative-taking with the European members of the Alliance pledge to implement it in such a short time. In the quest for the White house to push the Europeans to become more active in deploying quick reaction forces in General, is not unusual: this problem must somehow be addressed, the expert said.

At the same time, this initiative NATO would have seemed extremely risky. “If by 2020, NATO will be able to lead in combat readiness only 10 battalions of 45 days, it will look ridiculous and will put the Alliance in the best light,” says Billon-Galland.

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