The current NATO force structure in Eastern Europe couldn't withstand a Russian invasion into neighboring Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, a new study concludes.
After conducting an exhaustive series of war games wherein "red" (Russian) and "blue" (NATO) forces engaged in a range of war scenarios over the Baltic states, the Rand Corp. report, "Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO's Eastern Flank," concluded a successful NATO defense of the region would require a much larger air-ground force than what's currently deployed.
In particular, the study calls for NATO to adopt a similar strategy to the Cold War-era "AirLand Battle” doctrine. During the 1980s, the U.S. Army stationed at least several hundred thousand troops in Europe as a strategy to deter a potential Russian invasion. There are currently about 30,000 American soldiers in Europe.
The report argues that, without a deterrent the size of at least seven brigades, fires and air support protecting Eastern Europe, Russia cold overrun the Baltic states within 60 hours. "As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours. Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options," it states.
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