Military News

Sunday, September 30, 2018

NATO Moves to Combat Russian Hybrid Warfare


By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WARSAW, Poland -- Russia is disturbing the peace, and NATO countries must combat its hybrid strategy, the alliance’s supreme allied commander for Europe said here today.

Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, who also commands U.S. European Command, spoke to reporters covering the NATO Military Committee meeting here, alongside Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Scaparrotti said Russia already is a competitor that operates in domains “particularly below the level of war,” the general said, but in an aggressive way, noting that the Russians use cyber activity, social media, disinformation campaigns and troop exercises to threaten and bully other countries. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its actions Eastern Ukraine show their determination to continue to intimidate neighboring countries.

Undermining Western Values, Governments

“[They are] operating in many countries of Europe in that way, with basically the common theme of undermining Western values and the credibility of Western governments, in my view,” Scaparrotti said.

Short of conflict, Russia sends money to organizations in Europe at both ends of the ideological spectrum, the general said. “Really, their view is -- I call it a destabilization campaign. That’s their strategy,” he added. “If they can destabilize these governments, if they can create enough questions, then that is to their benefit.”

The Russians’ doctrine looks to achieve their ends without conflict, Scaparrotti said. “They have the idea that ‘I don’t have to put a soldier there or fire a shot, but if I can undermine the government, then I’ve achieved my ends,’” he explained. “That is particularly true of the countries that are in the Eastern part of the alliance that are on their border.”

The Soviet Union subjugated those countries after World War II, and Russia sees those countries as areas where it should still have privileged influence, he said. “They want to keep those governments in the position that they could influence them, and this is a tactic for doing that.”

The environment surrounding t has changed, he noted. “They were ahead of us in terms of changing their posture with respect to NATO,” he said, and the Russians have maintained a purposeful military modernization program that they have maintained even as their economy strains.

“It took us some time in NATO to recognize that [Russia] is not our friend, not our partner right now, and we have to pay attention to what’s happening in our environment and how they are acting,” he said. “Of course 2014 was a real wake-up. Russia violated international law and norms, which I will tell you they continue to do in other ways.”

Scaparrotti said he has no doubt that Russia would repeat its actions in Crimea and Ukraine “if they saw the opportunity and they thought the benefits exceeded the costs.”

This strategy is called a hybrid war, he said, and NATO is coming to grips with the concept. “One of the things about hybrid war is defining it. What is it?” he added. “It’s a lot of things, and most of it is not in the military realm.”

Whole-of-Government Approach

Planners need to determine what the military can do as part of a counter-strategy and what other agencies, branches efforts can contribute, he said. “And then [you must decide] how should you work with them, because we can’t just work on this on our own,” he said. “This really does talk about the whole-of-government approach and bringing others into it and deciding what needs to be done.”

In each NATO nation that approach has got to be different, Scaparrotti said, because the nations themselves have different strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They also must factor in what Russia’s interest or activity is.

“We are working in this realm with military capacity as well,” the general said. “We have special operations forces, and this is their business. They understand it. To the extent that they can identify hybrid activity, they can help our nations build their ability to identify and counter it.”

NATO can, for example, reinforce each nation’s capacity for understanding disinformation and how to counter it, he said, noting that these issues are among the Military Committee meeting’s topics..

The bottom line is that Russian leaders need to understand that a conflict with NATO is not what they want, Scaparrotti said. “We are 29 nations. We’re strong. I am confident of our ability to secure the sovereignty of our nations in NATO,” he said.

Readiness Critical to Deterrence

NATO readiness is crucial to the deterrent success of the alliance, and Scaparrotti now has the tools to work on this aspect. Readiness in NATO means the commander gets a specific capability, and that capability is available on a timeline that’s useful given the environment, he explained.

“Then, of course, [readiness] is a mindset, which is perhaps the most important thing that has changed,” he said. “It is changing now.”

The NATO summit held in Brussels in July gave Scaparrotti the authority and directive to deal with alliance readiness.
“We are back to establishing force where I, as the commander, now have the authority to require readiness of units on a specific timeline and the ability to check them to ensure they can actually do it,” he said. “This all comes together with our ability to move at speed to meet the environment to do what we need to do.”

Chiefs Reaffirm Commitment to NATO Missions, Look to Future Needs


By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WARSAW, Poland -- The NATO Military Committee reaffirmed the alliance’s commitment to Afghanistan and Iraq and moved ahead with plans to restructure NATO to improve its military capabilities, the committee’s chairman said here last night.

This was British Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach’s first meeting of the alliance’s defense chiefs as the chairman of the Military Committee. He said the discussions among the 29 chiefs of defense – including Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – “were frank and thought-provoking throughout.”

Peach spoke alongside Lt. Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak of the Polish army, Poland’s top military officer, who hosted the meeting.

The chiefs have given their guidance on a number of issues facing the alliance, Peach said, and that guidance will be discussed further at the meeting of NATO’s defense ministers in Brussels this week.

The chiefs support current NATO operations and looked for better coherence and coordination with organizations operating in the same regions with similar goals, the committee chairman said.

The chiefs understand that Afghanistan still faces significant challenges, but they still support the fight in that country, Peach said, acknowledging that the Taliban and terror groups continue to visit violence on the people of Afghanistan and continue to challenge Afghan forces.

“But in the face of these challenges, Afghan security forces are doing an outstanding job,” the air marshal said. “They have now been in the lead for three years, and we welcome their determination and commitment to improve their ability to conduct offensive operations, to develop their special forces, their air force and other capabilities -- and above all, to deny the Taliban their strategic objectives.”

Peace Through Reconciliation

The NATO mission in Afghanistan is to support, train, assist and advise Afghan forces. The ultimate goal for the country is peace through reconciliation. “An Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process is essential to a long-term, inclusive political settlement,” Peach said.

The NATO mission in Iraq will be modest and scalable and complement the efforts of coalition nations in the country, he said.

The chiefs looked at current means and capabilities and what will be needed in the future, Peach said. This included a look at the deterrence posture today and what forces in the future will need to ensure security and stability in the future.

“We stressed the need to look to the future, and where possible, anticipate future requirements, based on the analysis provided by our strategic commanders,” he said. “We emphasized that the strategy should guide all current and future military work strands, including emerging domains.”

The chiefs doubled down on support for the NATO Readiness Initiative. This grew out of the alliance’s summit in July, and it looks to increase responsiveness, heighten readiness and improve reinforcement across the alliance, he said.

Wide Range of Threats

The committee chairman noted that the alliance faces a wide range of threats and challenges from existential problems, including Russia, terrorism, criminal gangs and individuals. “The chiefs of defense highlighted the importance of keeping pace with technological advances through a focus on innovation,” he said.

Questions from reporters for the air marshal were all about Russia, not surprising, given where this meeting occurred. Peach addressed the risks emanating from the country, but he noted that NATO is a large and capable military organization.

“NATO has the capability to understand the risk picture it faces, and sometimes those risks can turn into threats, but NATO studies the risks that are out there as they evolve and continues to adapt to them,” he said.

He noted that the alliance’s Enhanced Forward Presence initiative in the Baltic Republics and Poland is a response to Russia illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine and fomenting war in eastern Ukraine. “And in that sense, NATO continues to deter,” the air marshal said.

But there are threats to the south, too, , and there are different threats and perceptions, depending on where one stands.

“We do not have the time to go through all of them, but they will vary with the geography of the alliance,” Peach said. “At the moment, we have a series of risks that we have identified, and we respond with presence, with training, with exercises in order to generate deterrence. … That is what the alliance is for. And that provides the sense of collective security for the people of Poland and the people of the other NATO allies.”