By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, March 23, 2015 – NATO is responding to Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory with the largest reinforcement of collective defense since the end of the Cold War, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said over the weekend in Brussels.
Since the early 1990s, the alliance has tried to establish a cooperative environment with Russia, Stoltenberg told the Brussels Forum, but Russia has violated the rules.
“Russian troops have crossed the borders of its neighbors,” the secretary general said. “They have annexed a part of another country and that is the first time since the end of the Second World War that that has happened in Europe.”
Russia also has troops in Moldova and Georgia, and Russian forces are working to destabilize Eastern Ukraine.
Russian Actions Spur NATO
Russian actions have spurred NATO to make sweeping changes. “The adaptation that is taking place now is a very big and fundamental adaptation of the NATO defense posture,” Stoltenberg said.
The alliance is doubling the size of its response force, the secretary general said. Once finished, he said, the lead elements of this force will be able to move in within as little as 48 hours.
The alliance, he added, is establishing command and control units in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
This is just a start, the secretary general said.
“NATO is ready to defend all allies against any threat, and we see now an increased threat stemming from the concept of hybrid warfare,” Stoltenberg said.
Hybrid warfare is not new, he said. It is basically the combination of military and non-military means applied toward a strategic goal. “It’s about covert and overt actions, it’s about deception,” he said. “The new thing is its larger scale, and it’s taking place close to our borders, so we have to focus more on the concept of hybrid warfare.”
Hybrid Warfare Lessens Warning Time
Hybrid warfare means less warning time, said Stoltenberg, noting NATO has emphasized the importance of readiness and preparedness.
“Deception also increases the need for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,” he said. “That’s the reason why one important element of the readiness action plan is to increase our intelligence capabilities, and special operation forces might be extremely important in a hybrid situation. So this is part of the adaptation which we are now undergoing, is to also increase our ability to fight hybrid warfare.”
The alliance’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances has impressed Stoltenberg, who took over late last year. NATO remains the strongest military alliance in history, he said, and the end of the Cold War demonstrated NATO’s ability to change, adapt and operate.
“The basic message is that NATO is ready to defend all allies against any threat and … an attack on one ally is an attack on all 28,” the secretary general said.
Stoltenberg said there is no contradiction between having a strong defense and having a dialog. NATO is responding to Russian actions and that response is designed to change Russia’s behavior. Russia is a part of Europe and a neighbor. NATO provides the basis “to be able to re-establish some kind of cooperative relationship with Russia,” he said. “To increase our collective defense is not a contradiction … . It’s a way to establish the predictability the trust which is needed for a more win-win situation in the future.”