4 The UK and NATO's capacity to respond |
conventional military threat
The conventional vulnerabilities
of the Baltic theatre
40. Our witnesses consistently
emphasised that there was a low likelihood of a Russian conventional
attack on a Baltic State. However, NATO has an obligation under
Article 5 to protect the Baltics as NATO Member States. And as
Chris Donnelly pointed out, Russian conventional forces, cannot
be entirely separated from its 'ambiguous warfare' technique.
He illustrated how Russians had clearly used military exercises
on the border with Ukraine as an intimidatory tactic working alongside
their asymmetric operations, rushing forces to the border, then
withdrawing. Such military exercises were used to intimidate and
destabilise, ensuring that Ukraine's territorial defence capability
41. Witnesses emphasised that NATO
was poorly prepared for a Russian attack on the Baltic, and that
poor state of preparation might itself increase the likelihood
of a Russian attack. When questioned about the likelihood of a
Russian attack against a Baltic country, the recently retired
Deputy Supreme Allied Commander NATO, General Sir Richard Shirreff
replied that "If NATO is not bold, strategic and ambitious,
the chances are high."
42. The Baltic States are particularly
vulnerable to military attack due to their position, their size
and the lack of strategic depth. They also have limited military
capabilities and both Edward Lucas and Major General (Retd.) Neretnieks
noted that without adequate reinforcements, their territories
could well be overrun within a couple of days.
Major General (Retd.) Neretnieks thought that this may present
problems for NATO
It is doubtful if NATO today has
the capability to launch even a limited military operation in
support of the Baltic States at such short notice. Secondly, NATO
would probably have to launch an extensive air campaign to suppress
the Russian air defence systems (and ground to ground systems)
that cover the Baltic States already today from Russian territory,
before being able to deliver any substantial help, especially
if it is supposed to come from bases in western and central Europe.
Furthermore Major General (Retd.)
Neretnieks has suggested that, should Russia decide to use Swedish
territory, for instance the island of Gotland, then it could effectively
limit NATO's capability to launch an operation in support of the
Constraints in UK/NATO conventional
training, equipment and doctrine
Counter-insurgency versus State
on State threats
43. For more than a decade the
UK and its NATO partners have focused on counter-insurgency warfare
in Iraq and Afghanistan, against a lightly armed insurgent force,
rather than on conventional state on state conflict. This very
different form of warfare, has introduced force profiles, training,
exercises, logistics systems, equipment, and priorities quite
different from those of the Cold War, and quite different to those
that would be required to meet a Russian threat to a Baltic state.
The force structured and trained to engage in an enduring counter-insurgency
operation at medium scale is very different to that required to
counter a large-scale conventional threat.
The latter demands the ability to manoeuvre and fight, and specialist
capabilities such as the ability to build bridges across wide
44. We believe that the Armed Forces needs to
ensure that its training covers all types of warfare and responses
to threats beyond counter insurgency actions. For instance, has
the wide-wet gap crossing capacity been preserved?
LIMITED READINESS LEVELS AND SCALE
OF DEPLOYABLE FORCES
45. A number of witnesses raised
questions about the readiness of NATO forces. General Sir Richard
Shirreff told us that
I think NATO would find it very
difficult to respond sufficiently quickly if, for example, Russia
decided to attack and mount an airborne descent operation, for
example, on Riga, Tallinn or Vilnius. The fact is that there is
a Russian aviation base within 40 minutes' flying time of Riga
so, unless NATO has stationed forces in the Baltic states, I think
it is highly unlikely that NATO could respond quickly to a sudden,
surprise attack. That said, if there was a build-up of tension
and relatively clear indications and warningswhich is,
I think, highly unlikelyNATO could begin the process of
preparing to defend those Baltic states against Russia. However,
the honest answer, as we speak now, is that NATO would be very
pushed to respond sufficiently quickly in the event of a sudden
46. General Sir Richard Shirreff
thought it highly unlikely that the NATO Response Force could
be stood up sufficiently quickly and that it lacked credibility,
because the North Atlantic Council has never been able to agree
on its deployment. A consensus of all 28 nations is required before
it can be deployed.
Lord Richards, former Chief of Defence Staff, agreed, "I
think NATO needs to wake up in terms of its ability to do things
He also pointed to deficiencies in the command and control structures
required for such large scale operations:
They do need to get their command
and control improved. That is a big thing, because you can have
wonderful troops, wonderful aircraft and wonderful ships, but
if you do not get your command and control right, it all comes
47. Dr Robin Niblett highlighted
in evidence to us that the command structures in NATO had been
depleted in recent times. This was done in the expectation that
national military forces would fill the capacity gap, something
which has not happened.
This has left NATO under-staffed, weakening both its capability
and credibility. General Sir Richard Shirreff told us that the
command structure had shrunk dramatically in recent times which
meant that NATO was not always able to carry out the wishes of
allies. He told us that the staff supplied by the UK to the command
structure were extremely competent but he could confirm that as
recently as March "the UK was quite a long way down the league
in manning its posts in NATO."
ABSENCE OF LARGE SCALE EXERCISES
48. The most dramatic gap in NATO
capacity, is illustrated by training. In 1984, 131,565 ground
and air personnel were involved in Operation Lionheart which involved
transporting 57,700 soldiers and airmen from Britain by air and
sea. The purpose of the exercise was to establish a method of
attacking the 'follow-on forces' that would be sent in to battle
after the first wave of Soviet Union attacks. As well as British
Troops, American, Dutch and West German forces are involved in
the exercise, playing the role of aggressor forces. The object
of the exercise was described as being to test land-air cooperation
and the operational compatibility of the national forces involved.
By contrast, the 2013 NATO exercise, Steadfast Jazz which took
place in Poland and Latvia in 2013 involved a force of only 6,000
troops. This was the largest NATO exercise to take place since
the end of the Cold War.
In the same year, the Russian Zapad 2013 exercise mobilised, transported
and deployed an estimated 70,000 troops. Large-scale exercises,
and large scale armoured movements on that scale have simply not
been rehearsed by NATO for over two decades.
49. The importance of large-scale
military exercises has been highlighted by a number of witnesses
to this inquiry as a means of illustrating capabilities and demonstrating
willingness to put them in to action. They are therefore an important
element of NATO's deterrent posture.
50. The failure of national military forces to
provide sufficient staff resources has left NATO command structures
depleted. It is disappointing that the UK is continuing to fail
to fill the posts expected of it.
51. We recommend that the UK (and US) practice
the deployment of forces at least to divisional scale to Poland
and the Baltic States via Germany.
52. We recommend that the NATO Summit sets out
plans to ensure:
improvements to the existing NATO rapid reaction force; and
· the re-establishment
of large-scale military exercises including representatives from
all NATO Member States. These exercises must involve both military
and political decision-makers.
THE NEED TO REBALANCE
53. We have previously drawn attention
to the need for the UK's Armed Forces to be "re-balanced"
following the conclusion this year of combat operations in Afghanistan.
UK operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were focused on counter-insurgency
and training and force structure was inevitably focused on the
skills required for such operations. For example, during the Cold
War, the Armed Forces were accustomed to regular cycles of exercising
at divisional and corps level, but operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
have shifted the emphasis to much smaller scale operations.
54. In 2011, Mark Phillips, Associate
Fellow, Royal United Services Institute noted that
The army recognises that it is
unbalanced as a result of ongoing operations. It also recognises
that the way land forces have specialised must not exclusively
determine the balance of what will be required in the future.
As part of Future Force 2020, the army is therefore structuring
and training itself to meet a wider range of potential adversaries
and types of activities.
55. Chris Donnelly told us that
for 20-odd years the UK and NATO
European partners have based their force structuring, and how
they have developed their armed forces and how they have spent
their money, on the premise that we will not use force in Europe
and we will not use military power for political ends. All our
structures were based on that, and they were based on having Russia
as a partner in that agreement, and Russia has just overturned
that agreement. Russia has sanctioned the use of force to destabilise
neighbouring countries and to change borders. As General Sir Richard
said, that has changed everything.
56. Lord Stirrup, former Chief
of Defence Staff, told us that he did not think that NATO was
sufficiently exercised for the threats posed by both conventional
and asymmetric warfare.
flexibility and adaptability are
keys to your response. To have that kind of flexibility and adaptability,
people have to be used to deploying to different places and to
putting structures together. [...] Clearly the issues are much
more complex today [
] I am thinking of cyberspace in particular,
but also the use of nationalities within other states, as we have
seen in Ukraine and as one can see in other countries in eastern
Europe. There is a whole range of complex issues that NATO needs
to think about. That is why we need much more exercising and war-gaming
that introduce all these elements, so that people can actually
try them out on computersdesktopsgo through the
thought processes, identify the difficulties and think about them
He noted however the difficulty
of undertaking large-scale military exercises when defence budgets
of NATO allies were under strain and were decreasing.
57. In their study of The Defence
Henrik Heidenkamp, John Louth and Trevor Taylor examined the importance
of the strategic relationship between Government and the businesses
that contribute to defence and security. This study examined questions
around the implications of this relationship for operational flexibility.
A change of focus from relatively small scale counter-insurgency
operations, as in Iraq or Afghanistan, to a much larger scale
enduring conventional conflict on NATO's borders would have very
substantial implications for this relationship. This in turn raises
questions as to whether the Government's contracts for logistic
support and supply of goods and services are sufficiently flexible
and adaptable to make such a change.
58. Finally, significant concerns
were raised about the ability to respond to the potential threat
of Russian nuclear weapons, and in particular public willingness
to reinforce a 'trip-wire' force, with nuclear strikes. Andrew
Wood emphasised that there was a degree of political consent for
the use of nuclear weapons in Russia which is not perceived by
the Russians to be reflected in NATO.
By contrast, in the recent past, several countries in Europe have
called for the reduction in the number of tactical nuclear weapons
The German coalition governmentspurred
by the Free Democratic Partystated that it would pursue
the withdrawal of the remaining nuclear weapons from Germany.
This received a qualified endorsement from others, and led to
Germany, the Benelux countries, and Norway collectively calling
for an open discussion of ways of further reducing the role of
nuclear weapons in NATO.
What NATO needs to do
59. General Sir Richard Shirreff
highlighted that NATO needed to have credible conventional deterrent
forces as the alternative was to rely upon the nuclear deterrent.
This would be politically difficult for many NATO allies and would
lack credibility in response to all but the most serious of attacks.
In our report on Deterrence in the twenty first century, we highlighted
the fact that the credibility of the nuclear deterrent relied
on credible conventional forces to deter lesser threats.
60. Dr Robin Niblett informed us
that in his recent meetings with the group of policy experts,
there had been a high degree of consensus amongst experts and
academics across Europe about the need for "pre-positioning
equipment, proper exercises, snap exercises, command and control
General Shirreff emphasised the importance of such exercises involving
all levels of decision-making.
It is not just exercising soldiers;
it is top to bottom. It is politicians to troopers. It is going
back to the days, for example, when, on a regular basis, NATO
would exercise WINTEX and Governments got involved. Mrs Thatcher
got involved, [
] If we can do that, we can develop a muscle
memory of political leaders who have to make some really tough
61. As well as large-scale exercises,
the possibility was raised that NATO could position troops and
equipment in the Baltic states to ensure that they were not viewed
as an easy target by Russia. Edward Lucas thought that in order
to defend the Baltic States, it would be vital to pre-position
troops and materiel there, noting that it would be much less expensive
to base troops in Eastern Europe than in, for instance, Germany.
Both he and James de Waal, Senior Consulting Fellow at Chatham
House, thought the deployment of troops to the area also increased
Sir Andrew Wood agreed that there was a case for basing NATO troops
in Eastern Europe, suggesting that they could be pre-positioned
The UK should reconsider whether to retain staging and training
rights in Germany to facilitate deployment.
62. Although Lord Richards did
not believe a permanent British base was required in the Baltic
States, he thought regular exercises taking place in the area
would be beneficial to UK armed forces.
Lord Stirrup also counselled against permanent basing arguing
the chances are that if you did
deploy forces, or station forces in peace time, you would be stationed
in the wrong place, because as I said, what comes around next
nearly always surprises you. I would prefer to have a system that
is exercised regularly.
63. In a recent speech, Anders
Fogh Rasmussen emphasised that NATO needed to be ready to respond
quickly when and wherever it was required and so an Alliance Readiness
Action Plan was being prepared for the summit which was examining
how we can best deploy our forces
for defence and deterrence. This includes force posture, positions,
and presence. We are considering reinforcement measures, such
as necessary infrastructure, designation of bases and pre-positioning
of equipment and supplies. We are reviewing our defence plans,
threat assessments, intelligence-sharing arrangements, early-warning
procedures, and crisis response planning. We are developing a
new exercise schedule, adapted to the new security environment.
And we want to further strengthen our NATO Response Force and
Special Forces, so we can respond more quickly to any threat against
any member of the Alliance, including where we have little warning.
64. General Shirreff thought that
NATO needed a standing reserve force which was capable of being
deployed throughout the NATO area.
He suggested that something similar to the Allied Command Europe
Mobile Force - Land which involved all NATO allies and was a standing
force would give the Alliance greater credibility. He told us
It bound all the allies in from the very start
and it is exactly the sort of reserve capability that I think
the alliance needs in this very dangerous time.
65. The willingness, ability and readiness to
act against common threats are vital for the future existence
of NATO. This requires a collective view of Russian actions and
possible responses should the situation in Ukraine worsen or repeat
itself in a NATO country. The absence of a collective view risks
perpetrating the Russian perception that NATO is divided and lacks
the political will to respond to aggression, undermining NATO's
66. We recommend that the NATO Summit sets out
plans to ensure:
pre-positioning of equipment in the Baltic States;
· a continuous
(if not technically 'permanent') presence of NATO troops, on exercise
in the Baltic.
· the establishment
of headquarters structures, at divisional and corps level to focus
on Eastern Europe and the Baltic
of the reestablishment of a NATO standing reserve force along
the lines of the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force-Land, involving
all Member States.
The Next Generation Military
The vulnerabilities of the
Baltic States to asymmetric warfare
67. The ethnic composition of the
Baltic States makes them particularly vulnerable to asymmetric
attacks from Russia. As in Eastern Ukraine, the Baltic States
have substantial ethnic Russian populations, particularly Latvia
(which is 26% Russian) and Estonia (which is 25% Russian).
68. In the eastern Estonian county
of Ida Viru over 70% of residents are ethnic Russian.
This county lies on the Russian border and has the greatest industrial
and energy capacity of any Estonian county.
The region of Latgale in Latvia has a Russian ethnic population
which makes up 39% of the total population and 54% of the population
speak Russian at home.
69. In Latvia, we were told of
the influence of Russian language channels upon the Russian-speaking
Latvian population. The Latvian Government has decided to set
up a Latvian Russian-language channel but it is unlikely to have
the same reach as the Russian channels which have larger production
budgets for entertainment shows. Local polling had found that
43% of Russian-speakers in Latvia support the annexation of Crimea.
Sir Andrew Wood told us that although the BBC Russian Service
was available, it was only online and was in no way a counterweight
to the propaganda channelled through Russian Television.
The combination of substantial Russian minorities (which constitute
a majority in some areas) and the influence of the Russian media
could make Estonia and Latvia in particular vulnerable to the
type of information warfare and inciting of disturbances that
have caused such chaos in Ukraine.
70. Although Lithuania has a significantly
smaller ethnic Russian population (around 6%), it is considered
militarily attractive for Russia as it would create a link through
Belarus between mainland Russia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
Both Latvia and Lithuania have both confirmed that they believe
their citizens have been subject to information operations. In
a paper produced for the US Army War College, Dr Steve Tatham
At a NATO PsyOps Conference held
in Vilnius, Lithuania, in the fall of 2012, Lithuanian and Latvian
IO [Information Operation] officers provided the conference with
a detailed presentation on how, in their view, Russia was proactively
seeking to discredit the idea of Lithuanian (and Latvian) national
identity. This, they demonstrated, was being undertaken by a series
of concerted and organized IO activities, notably in the cultural,
television, sporting, and performing domains. They also highlighted
how Lithuania's Special Forces, Artivas, and their operations
in Afghanistan had become the subject of concerted public exposure.
71. The Baltic States are vulnerable
to Russian pressure over trade and energy supplies to varying
degrees. Russia is Lithuania's largest trading partner and accounts
for roughly 25% of total trade. Although the figures for both
Estonia and Latvia are 10%,
Russia is Latvia's second biggest trading partner.
72. In terms of energy, all of
the Baltic States' gas is supplied by Russia and there are currently
no gas interconnectors between the Baltic States and the rest
of Europe (although one between Germany and Lithuania is due to
be completed by 2018).
Edward Lucas highlighted the actions that Russia might undertake
when trying to destabilise a Baltic State.
One thing we should be on the alert
for, for example, would be Russian attempts to destabilise the
Baltic States' economies. Are we ready to come in, protect trade
and investment there and counter that? That is not really a NATO
task, but the first thing to do if you were weakening the Baltic
states would be to attack one of them with trade sanctions, blocking
the east-west transit flows or things like that, knocking a few
percentage points off GDP, sending unemployment up and putting
them in a recession. [
] On energy security, we are doing
quite well in building resilience into the European gas grid,
but there is still no gas interconnector to the Baltic States
from the rest of Europe. They are dependent on Russian gas.
73. Pressure may be exerted on
the Baltic States and other countries by Russia in a number of
ways which fall well outside of NATO's remit, including over trade
and energy supplies.
CONSTRAINTS IN UK/NATO NEXT GENERATION
TRAINING AND DOCTRINE
74. As Chris Donnelly noted, one
feature of the types of ambiguous operation evident in Ukraine
has been that they appear below a threshold of response and are
designed to create uncertainty about whether a military response
would be proportionate or legitimate. In the event of such an
attack being perpetrated on a NATO Member State, the Secretary
of State acknowledged that such action would not necessarily invoke
an Article 5 response. He told us that he thought such an attack
was unlikely however.
75. Concerns have therefore been
raised that Article 5 may be of limited utility in response to
ambiguous attacks of this nature. Sir Hew Strachan raised the
possibility that a cyber-attack may not constitute an Article
The 2007 cyber attack against Estonia did not elicit an Article
5 response. The Secretary of State acknowledged the difficulty
of invoking an Article 5 response following an asymmetric attack
where it is difficult to prove a state actor is responsible.
This is an emerging challenge,
not just for NATO but for all nations, to define the boundaries
of warfare in an era when it is becoming ever more complex. We
have seen cyber-attacks on many nations, and defining the point
at which a response is triggered in the way that a conventional
military attack would have triggered a response is challenging.
It is challenging ethically; it is challenging legally.
76. General Sir Richard Shirreff
told us that there needed to be a discussion about how NATO responded
to asymmetric attacks on a Member State.
what Article 5 means in the 21st
century, because we still look at it through Cold War spectacles.
Where is this irregular capability? At what point is a threshold
being crossed? Is cyber a threshold? I am sure that the way to
think this through is by setting up proper exercises and proper
training, which trains not only forces at the sharp end but the
political leadership as well.
77. Both Lord Stirrup and Edward
Lucas saw difficulties in invoking Article 5 in response to the
sort of operations seen in Eastern Ukraine in which groups of
civilians, allegedly accompanied by Russian Special Forces, took
over Government buildings.
Chris Donnelly recommended that the Washington Treaty be amended
to remove the word 'armed' in order to counter this problem.
He warned that
We are no longer just interested
in the kineticthe tanks, ships and planesbut in
how Russia and other countries are using these new tools to achieve
their political objectives. It is warfare below our threshold
78. A number of witnesses have
suggested that there may be a lack of political will in NATO to
support an invocation of Article 5 in the event of an asymmetric
attack, even where it might be proportionate and legal.
Ambiguous operations against NATO Members would be likely to be
designed to exploit division in the Alliance.
79. The question of public support
for NATO's collective defence guarantee is also one Member States
have yet to address. The diverse nature of NATO operations (in
Afghanistan and Libya for instance) have led to confusion around
the purpose of NATO. Public opinion research in 2008 (following
the Russian military action against Georgia) found that, should
a similar attack have taken place on a Baltic State, less than
50% of the populations in several leading NATO states (US, UK,
Spain, Italy, Germany and France) would have supported a defence.Table
1: Defending Baltic States from Russian attack, 2008
|Neither support nor oppose
Source: Q1255, http://www.harrisinteractive.com/vault/HI_FinancialTimes_HarrisPoll_September2008_Tables_EU.pdf
James Sherr questioned the effort
that was put into explaining the role of NATO. He asked
What effort is put into the Atlantic
Council of the United Kingdom? Who is funding it? Has anyone heard
He suggested that it was the duty
of political leaders to educate the public about the purpose and
benefits of NATO.
80. Article 4 of the Washington
Treaty provides for NATO Member States to request consultations
in the event that the "territorial integrity, political independence
or security" of any Member State is threatened. This Article
was invoked by Poland on the basis that events in Ukraine represented
"a threat to neighbouring Allied countries and [had] direct
and serious implications for the security and stability of the
Euro-Atlantic area". The North Atlantic Council met on 4
March 2014 and agreed that
Despite repeated calls by the international
community, Russia continues to violate Ukraine's sovereignty and
territorial integrity, and to violate its international commitments.
These developments present serious implications for the security
and stability of the Euro Atlantic area. Allies stand together
in the spirit of strong solidarity in this grave crisis.
This was only the fourth occasion
on which Article 4 has been invoked since the signing of the Treaty.
81. The ability to counter asymmetric
warfare will be a vital tool for NATO allies in the near-future.
The recent report by the Group of Policy Experts (chaired by Dr
Robin Niblett) concluded that
The crisis in Ukraine has revealed
the threats to NATO members from 'non-linear' forms of aggression,
which combine mass disinformation campaigns, cyber-measures, the
use of special forces, sometimes disguised as local partisans,
mobilization of local proxies, intimidation through displays of
strength, and economic coercion. NATO needs to develop the doctrines,
instruments and techniques to be able to defend its members against
these threats. Rapidly reconstituting command and control, ensuring
the resilience and continuing interoperability of cyber systems,
counter-propaganda and defining the role of special forces are
just some of the challenges ahead for NATO members.
82. Lord Richards told us that
NATO must understand how a future war would be fought, noting
that whilst NATO had a large military capability, there was every
chance that it could be defeated by asymmetric tactics.
Cyber attacks are a common occurrence, and in Ukraine Russian
information operations have suggested that NATO is using Ukraine
as a base from which to launch an offensive against Moscow.
Events in Eastern Ukraine have seen the use of proxy groups to
seize public buildings and declare independence from the Ukrainian
state and economic attacks have been mounted against the Ukrainian
Keir Giles noted that NATO allies have been slow to challenge
Russia's version of events in Ukraine, even when it could be proven
to be untrue.
83. Dr Igor Sutyagin, research
fellow at RUSI and Major General Neretnieks told us that we needed
to be able to understand such measures and counter them if we
wished to maintain effective defence.
All agreed that more analysis and understanding was required,
a view shared by Sir Andrew Wood who pointed out that these were
not just tactics adopted by the Russians-they were also used by
Keir Giles told us that one solution lay within the Alliance,
looking to the expertise and understanding of NATO allies in Eastern
There is a rule of thumb that the
closer a country is to Russia, the more resources and clever people
they throw at understanding Russia. We have a lot to learn from
Russia's neighbours, and we always have had. We can use their
help in building up our capability.
During our recent visit
to Latvia and Estonia we met with Jânis Bçrziòð
of the Latvian Defence Academy who authored a paper
on Russia's New Generation Warfare In Ukraine: Implications
For Latvian Defense Policy
and Martin Hurt of the International Centre for Defence Studies
who authored a paper on Lessons Identified in Crimea: Does
Estonia's national defence model meet our needs?
which examined the Russian use of asymmetrical tactics. Both papers
have helped to frame our thinking on this subject.
84. We asked the Secretary of State
whether the UK had the capability to deal with asymmetric warfare
and were told that many of the tactics used in Ukraine were well
understood by the Ministry of Defence and that, whilst some fine
tuning of responses might be needed, those events were not as
revolutionary as they first appeared.
When we asked about the MoD's ability to counter information warfare,
we were told that the Department had considerable expertise in
strategic communications and that they were currently providing
support to the NATO Centre of Excellence for Strategic Communications
(where best practice is shared amongst experts from NATO allies).
When we asked whether there was a permanent UK permanent presence
there, we were told that there was not currently but that there
were plans to have one in place by January 2015.
85. NATO also has a Cooperative
Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), which was founded
and accredited by NATO in 2008, which has a permanent UK member
of staff. The Centre has several tasks including the development
of doctrine, cyber awareness and training, the generation of lessons
learned, and research and development. However, the Centre is
understaffed with a number of key roles to be filled. Although
NATO doesn't carry out 'offensive' cyber operations, some NATO
allies are now publicly admitting that they do so on a national
86. We recommend that NATO is tasked and mandated
to plan, train and exercise for a cyber attack to ensure the necessary
resilience measures are in place. The use of asymmetric warfare
tactics present a substantial challenge to a political military
alliance such as NATO. These tactics are designed to test the
lower limit of the Alliance's response threshold, are likely to
involve deniable actors, and work to exploit political division.
They also bring in to question the operation of Article 5 of the
Washington Treaty, NATO's cornerstone.
87. Russia's actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine
illustrate the immediate (although not the only) reasons for reconsideration
of Article 5 in relation to'deniable' actions. Cyber attackswhere
attribution is often difficult but of central importance before
any offensive targeted responses are consideredwill increase.
The use of airliners hijacked for attacks in New York and the
Pentagon in the USA in 2001 were considered sufficient to invoke
a NATO Article 5 response, even though not immediately attributable
to any nation state but to non-state actors. That NATO Article
5 declaration (the only one since the inception of NATO) was used
in conjunction with Chapter 7 UN Resolutions to form the ISAF
missions and take military action against the nation state of
Afghanistan for harbouring those non-state actors and their promoters.
Attribution thereforeeven if of vicarious or 'deniable'
promotion by nation states, such as in the situation in Ukraineillustrates
the developing need for NATO to re-examine the criteria and doctrines,
both legal and military, for the declaration and use of Article
5 for collective defence and the declaration and use of associated
Article 4 (itself only invoked four times) for collective security.
88. In particular, NATO must resolve the contradiction
between the specifications in Article 5 that a response should
be to an "armed attack" and the likelihood on the other
hand of an "unarmed attack" (such as a cyber attack
or other ambiguous warfare). NATO must consider whether the adjective
"armed" should be removed from the definition of an
Article 5 attack.
89. The breadth of the Russian unconventional
threat, stretching into economic and energy policy makes it clear
that NATO cannot counter all of the specific threats posed by
Russia. Responding to these specific threats will be a matter
for national Governments and the EU. However, NATO must ensure
that its response to any such operation perpetrated against a
Member State is timely and robust. This also requires investment
in new capabilities to address the new threats.
90. We recommend that the NATO Summit also address
the Alliance's vulnerabilities in the face of asymmetric (ambiguous
warfare) attacks. In particular it should consider
steps it needs to take to deter asymmetric threats;
· How it should
respond in the face of an imminent or actual such attack;
· The circumstances
in which the Article 5 mutual defence guarantee will be invoked
in the face of asymmetric attack;
· How it can,
as a matter of urgency, create an Alliance doctrine for "ambiguous
warfare" and make the case for investment in an Alliance
asymmetric or "ambiguous warfare" capability.
Weak Russian assessment capacity
91. Sir Hew Strachan, Chichele
Professor of the History of War, All Souls College Oxford, believed
that the annexation of Crimea had been predictable and he questioned
whether the level of shock expressed indicated shortcomings in
the UK Government's ability to analyse Russia.
Indeed four days prior to the start of the Russian annexation
of Crimea, the former Foreign Secretary (following a conversation
with the Russian Foreign Minister) reassured the House of Commons
that Russia was unlikely to intervene militarily in Crimea.
My hon. Friend will be pleased
and somewhat reassured to hear that Mr Lavrov did not raise the
issue of military intervention in Ukraine. My hon. Friend was
right to point out that the Russian Black sea fleet is based at
Sevastopol, but it is clear, as I said on the television yesterday,
that any notion of this kind is manifestly not in the interests
of Russia or Ukraine.
92. Keir Giles, argued that there
was a need for an improvement in the Government's analytical capability
noting that there had previously existed an analytical unit which
had been very successful at predicting Russian actions. He told us that this unit
warned of the armed conflict in
Georgia and predicted the Putin-Medvedev presidency swaps both
times. That was shut down in 2010. Defence intelligence had two
individuals studying Russian military policy. Their augmentees
amounted to three; that was scaled back to one a couple of weeks
ago. The Ukraine desk officer post was chopped two years ago,
so when they wanted to have someone covering Ukraine specifically,
they brought in the south Caucasus desk person in the hope that
nothing would kick off in the south Caucasus at the same time.
93. Although he suggested that
there may be a need to increase the number of Russian-speakers
employed by the Department, Peter Watkins, Director General of
Security Policy of the Ministry of Defence, did not see the need
to reconstitute the Advance Research and Assessment Group. Instead
he suggested that the Ministry of Defence had
an array of other sources of advice
and information in the Department, whether from our own defence
intelligence staff or from academia, think-tanks, etc. Therefore,
we are not deprived of input on the sorts of issues you raised.
94. The former Defence Secretary
rejected the idea that the MoD had been taken by surprise by events
He told the Committee that although events might seem dramatic
to the outside observer they were less so to those who were monitoring
the situation within the MoD. He added that strategic and military
colleagues were inclined to see events as "an evolution of
something that we've been very much aware of for a period of time,
and the roots of which we can trace."
95. Chris Donnelly told us that
the use of asymmetric tactics
isn't new as far as the Russians
are concerned, but I think it's new to us. I think we have forgotten
the experience that you have just pointed to. I think historians
are aware of it, but if you walk around Whitehall today, you don't
get a sense that we understand how important this is. I think
we have lost our collective memory about it.
As referenced above, Chris Donnelly
summarised the nature of the new forms of warfare that were being
adopted by Russia, added that Russia was employing "a form
of warfare that is operating under our reaction threshold."
96. Sir Andrew Wood told us that
the understanding of this sort of warfare is lacking within the
something which the Ministry of Defence denied. The former Secretary
of State told us that
This is an area where the key factor
is expertise, not big battalions, and we do have considerable
expertise within the Ministry of Defence
We are surprised by these assertions
which are not in line with the evidence we have received on the
significant reduction in British capacity for intelligence and
analysis of Russia and the consequences for preparedness for the
events in Crimea and Ukraine. If indeed the MoD was aware of the
evolution of Russian military tactics, we remain to be convinced
that any preparations were made to counter this new threat.
97. Given questions raised by Russian actions
in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, we recommend that the Government
fundamentally reviews its priorities as defined in the National
Security Strategy. In particular, we note that state-on-state
conflict was designated a low, tier 3, threat. We therefore suggest
that substantial reworking of the National Security Strategy is
98. The nature of the reappearance of the threat
from Russia, and its likely manifestation in asymmetric forms
of warfare underline the importance of high quality, independent
analysis of developments in Russia and in Russian military doctrine.
The closure of the Advanced Research and Assessment Group has
led to a drastic denuding of capability in this area. The MoD
needs a new Conflict Studies Research Centre (which ARAG subsumed).
99. There may be an argument that lack of MoD
capacity doesn't matter given Foreign and Commonwealth Office's
presence in the region. However, given cuts in the budget of the
FCO; the level of ambassadorial representation in the Baltic States;
the lack of designated language posts (and therefore a lack of
language speakers in the Baltic region); and the minimal size
of the FCO desk dealing with Ukraine before the conflict, we believe
that this capability gap is not unique to the MoD but represents
a significant strategic gap for the Government.
100. We recommend that the Ministry of Defence
address, also as a matter of urgency, its capacity to understand
the nature of the current security threat from Russia and its
motivations. Ensuring that there are sufficient numbers of Defence
Attachés to provide the analysis and expertise required
is one measure which would help to address this issue. In particular
we recommend the appointment of additional Defence Attachés
to cover the Baltic States and in Central and Eastern Europe and
reverse the cutbacks in Russia and Ukraine. We further recommend
that the Government ensure that there is adequate representation
in Poland which may be of critical importance in the future. We
also recommend the creation of a "red team" in the Ministry
of Defence to provide a challenge to existing orthodoxy from a
specifically Russian perspective.
101. We recommend that the NATO Summit also address
the Alliance's vulnerabilities in the face of asymmetric (ambiguous
warfare) attacks. In particular it should consider:
to establish the intelligence processes and an "Indicators
and Warning" mechanism to alert Allies to the danger or imminence
of such an attack
59 Q304 Back
Q164; 180; Major General (Retd.) Karlis Neretnieks (TND0019) Back
Major General (Retd.) Karlis Neretnieks (TND0019) Back
Major General (Retd.) Karlis Neretnieks (TND0019) Back
The Army has progressively reduced its wide-wet gap crossing capacity.
It can no longer bridge the river Weser, for example, without
bringing equipment out of war reserve. Back
British Start War Games on Continent, New York Times, 18 September
Andrew Cottey, The European Neutrals and NATO: Ambiguous Partnership,
Contemporary Security Policy, 34:3, (2013) 446-472, Back
Defence Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2013-14, Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part One,
HC 197, paragraph 18. Back
, Mark Phillips, Exercise Agile Warrior and the Future Development of UK Land Forces,
RUSI Occassional Paper, May 201,1 P 15 Back
Henrik Heidenkamp, John Louth and Trevor Taylor The Defence
Industrial Triptych, RUSI Whitehall Paper 81, 2013 Back
Defence Committee, Eleventh Report of Session 2013-14, Deterrence in the twenty-first century,
HC 1066 , paragraph 36 Back
Q163-4; 187;31 Back
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General, NATO 'The Future of NATO: A Strong Alliance in an Unpredictable World',
Chatham House 19 June 2014 Back
Statistics Estonia statistical database: Population indicators and composition
Foundation Ida-Virumaa Industrial Areas Development (IVIA) Back
Latvijas Statistika, Population database Back
Dr Steve Tatham, U.S. Governmental Information Operations And Strategic Communications: A Discredited Tool Or User Failure? Implications For Future Conflict,
Strategic Studies Institute, December 2013, pg 57 Back
Echoes of the Sudetenland,The Economist, 29 March 2014 Back
Conscious uncoupling, The Economist, 3 April 2014 Back
Q58; 158 Back
Q166, 296 Back
Statement by the North Atlantic Council following meeting under article 4 of the Washington Treaty,
4 March 2014 Back
The three previous occasions all followed requests by Turkey (in
2003 on the outbreak of the Iraq war; in June 2012 after the shooting
down of a Turkish military jet; and in October 2012 after Syrian
attacks on Turkey. Back
Group of Policy Experts, Collective Defence and Common Security.
June 2014,.p 3, Back
US is Militarizing Ukraine to Invade Russia. Sergei Glazyev, RIA
Novosti, 10 June 2014 Back
Q203; 210 Back
Jânis Bçrziò, Russia's new generation warfare in Ukraine: Implications for Latvian defense policy,
National Defence Academy of Latvia:
Center for Security and Strategic Research,
April 2014 Back
Martin Hurt, Lessons Identified in Crimea: Does Estonia's national defence model meet our needs?,
International Centre for defence Studies, April 2014 Back
Ministry of Defence, (TND0017) Back
HC Deb, 24 Feb 2014, col. 35 [Commons Chamber] Back