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Atlantic Council



How Poland and NATO Should
Counter a Resurgent Russia

Gen. Sir Richard Shirreff and Maciej Olex-Szczytowski

How Poland and NATO Should
Counter a Resurgent Russia

Gen. Sir Richard Shirreff and Maciej Olex-Szczytowski

ISBN: 978-1-61977-474-2

Cover photo credit: 1GNC Munster/Flickr. Soldiers from NATOs Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF)
in Zagan, Poland, on June 18, 2015.

This report is written and published in accordance with the Atlantic Council Policy on Intellectual
Independence. The authors are solely responsible for its analysis and recommendations. The Atlantic
Council and its donors do not determine, nor do they necessarily endorse or advocate for, any of this
reports conclusions.

July 2016

1 Introduction and Aims

1 The Threat from Russia

7 NATOs Strategy and Posture

11 Implications for Poland


as its sphere of privileged interest. Military strength

INTRODUCTION AND and a willingness to use force is instrumental to the

achievement of this ambition. Furthermore, military

AIMS adventures abroad also serve to deflect attention

from Russias ongoing economic meltdown and the
regimes growing repressiveness, and to raise its
The Warsaw Summit is a watershed moment for domestic popularity.
the NATO Alliance. The twenty-eight member
states have a unique opportunity to demonstrate Transatlantic institutions and the entire European
NATOs enduring relevance and ability to defend security architecture stand in the way of fulfilling
Europe and the transatlantic area by laying down Russias main strategic aim, so Moscow is determined
a marker to build strong and effective conventional to undermine and render them irrelevant. Russia
and nuclear deterrence. Poland, in particular, should has thus become the most serious geopolitical and
play an important role in this. military threat to NATO. Paradoxically, Moscow
accuses the Alliance of encircling Russia and
This report examines the threat posed by a resurgent preparing for a military aggression against it,
Russia before considering NATOs strategy and even though NATOs military footprint in the areas
posture, focusing particularly on its Northeast covered by the NATO/Russia Founding Act has
region: Poland and the Baltic states. It then considers been extremely modest, particularly in comparison
the implications for Poland and recommends how with the military assets Russia has directed toward
Polish defense should be reformed to take account Europe.
of the new reality: That NATO now faces a greater
threat of war in its eastern regions than at any time The Kremlin has demonstrated its penchant
since the end of the Cold War. for risk-taking, keeping the West off balance
by continuously scanning for and exploiting its
weaknesses. Moscow is aggressively opportunistic
when advancing its interests, and its modus

THE THREAT FROM operandi is to seize the initiative and achieve a fait
accompli that the West would be unwilling or unable

RUSSIA to challenge. It is weakness rather than a show of

strength that provokes Russia into action, just as
it was in the case of Crimea, where the Ukrainian
Russian President Vladimir Putins regime does state, weakened by domestic turmoil, was unable
not disguise its hostility toward the West and its to mobilize itself to defend part of its territory.
main institutionsNATO and the European Union
(EU). Western values such as democracy, pluralism, However, the regime respects a show of strength
transparency, human rights, freedoms, and the rule and tends to back down to avoid a direct collision
of law are antithetical to a kleptocratic, authoritarian with determined and resourceful opponents. A case
regime. The Kremlin has, therefore, viewed with in point is the swift and determined US response to
undisguised alarm both recent color revolutions Russias invasion of Georgia in 2008, when Russian
in its neighborhood and the uprisings of the Arab troops stopped their march toward Tbilisi after the
Spring. United States deployed its warships to the Black
Sea, while also promising substantial logistical
Fearing that this is what is in store for Russia, the support to the Georgian armed forces.
Kremlin has accused the West of instigating or even
weaponizing those upheavals. Putin has set out to There is no doubt that Russia is prepared and
aggressively delegitimize, discredit, and undermine willing to threaten or even use military force to
Western policies and institutions as well as the exploit weaknesses in the West, as demonstrated
entire post-Cold War norms-based security order. in Georgia in 2008, in Ukraine from 2014 onward
For all intents and purposes, Moscow has declared and, more recently, in Syria. This also involves
the West its chief enemy, as explicitly stated in provocative military behavior to test the responses
Russias revised National Security Strategy signed of the Alliance and individual allies, as in the case of
late last year by President Vladimir Putin. the dangerous overflights of the missile destroyer
USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea in April 2016.
Russias strategic aim is to restore its status as a
great power, allowing it to dominate what it sees


When it comes to the use of force, Moscows aggression among NATOs eastern member states.
decision-making circle has shrunk to just President By initiating a conflict on NATOs territory through
Putin and no more than two or three of the most hybrid warfare tactics, Russia would lose its key
trusted members of his regime. When making advantages of speed and surprise in creating a
decisions, President Putin is not constrained by quick fait accompli. Any signs of such a conflict
constitutional checks and balances or the rule of instigated on the basis of false pretexts as is usual
law. He has the military and security apparatus for Russiawould serve as early warnings for NATO.
ready to execute his will and has their requisite
capabilities available any time. While Moscow recognizes that it cannot match
NATOs military capabilities in general terms, it has
Furthermore, the tools at the regimes disposal are sufficient combat capabilities to create a regional
well-integrated, spanning the military, diplomacy, military balance favoring Russia along NATOs
intelligence, propaganda, civilian emergencies northeastern frontier, which, in combination with
management, military, cyber, and economic realms. the factors of speed, surprise, and lack of strategic
This provides Moscow with great strategic flexibility depth, could allow it to achieve a quick fait accompli.
and agility, as well as the ability to act and achieve Hence the importance of Russias military power
effects across multiple domains. as the hard currency, which underwrites its ability
to pose a serious or even existential threat to the
Russias use of this wide range of instruments in Baltic states and Poland.
its recent conflicts has generated much discussion
within NATO concerning the numerous implications, In this regard, five elements stand out: Russias
not least on how best to deter future aggression. military modernization and build-up (particularly
Hybrid warfare epitomizes Russias approach in in the Western Military District), anti-access/
the West. Russia would likely not dare to attack area denial (A2/AD) capabilities, nuclear strategy,
a NATO member by means of a direct and overt continuous exercises, and the uncertainty
act of military aggression but would rather choose surrounding the Kremlins intent.
an indirect approach as described by its Chief of
the General Staff,1 or hybrid warfare tactics, to Military Modernization and Build-up
challenge the Alliance and its collective defense Russia pursues its most ambitious military
guarantees. modernization program in recent history and has
earmarked a total budget of around 19.3 trillion
However, without credible hard power options at its rubles to rearm its Armed Forces by 2020. Its
disposal, Russias other tools of state power alone priorities are on modernizing nuclear weapons,
could not conceivably pose an existential or grave introducing new hardware and weapons systems
threat to a NATO ally. Russias doctrine invariably into the Aerospace Forces, the Navy, and Ground
envisages the use of conventional military force, Forces, in that order.
without which none of the gains obtained through
the use of covert, indirect, and unconventional This push for military modernization, rearmament,
means can be consolidated. and build-up under President Putin is underpinned
by significant investments into developing,
Furthermore, in the wake of Crimeas annexation, producing, and fielding new weapon systems,
NATO has been sufficiently alerted to Russias or upgrading legacy systems, which are steadily
hybrid warfare approach. Significant effort is giving a new qualitative edge to Russias Armed
being put into bolstering resilience and ability to Forces. Given that rearmament spending has been
respond to and deal with the scenarios of covert ring-fenced against cuts in spite of Russias
significant economic difficultiesand despite
1 The focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the
massive corruption, embezzlement, and the impact
direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, of Western sanctions on the defense industrial
humanitarian, and other non-military measuresapplied in sector of Russiathose investments are yielding
coordination with the protest potential of the population.
All this is supplemented by military means of a concealed
significant results.
character, including carrying out actions of informational
conflict and the actions of special-operations forces. The Although economic struggle might force Russia
open use of forcesoften under the guise of peacekeeping to reassess some of its choices, cuts in military
and crisis regulationis resorted to only at a certain stage,
primarily for the achievement of final success in the conflict.
spending would be considered as a last resort, and
Valery Gerasimov, Tsennost nauki v predvidenii (The value of their effect on the rearmament program would only
science in prediction), Voyenno-Promyshlennyj Kuryer, 2013, come after years of recession. Western sanctions
No. 8, p. 476.


USTKA, Poland (June 16, 2015) Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel return to the British Royal Navys HMS Ocean as a
Chinook departs the ship. Photo credit: Commander, US Naval Forces Europe-Africa/Flickr.

that restrict access to certain technologies Security Conference Russias Prime Minister Dmitri
certainly act as a factor in slowing down the pace Medvedev accused the West of taking us back to
of military modernization, but they are unable to the Cold War era, it is Russia itself that continues to
halt it completely. move in that direction in terms of ongoing changes
in its military posture.
Russias ability to apply lessons learnt from past
operations, such as the war against Georgia in Some of the most capable formations in Russias
2008, or more recent campaigns in Ukraine and Armed Forces are located in the Western Military
Syria, is also noteworthy. As a result, Russia has District, and in any actions involving the Baltic states
made steady advances in improving command and Poland they could quickly bring considerable
and control, increasing Intelligence, Surveillance force to bear. In addition to the existing maneuver
and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, integrating brigades and the announced formation of new
services, making various units and formations divisions, a number of niche force developments
more cohesive and effective in warfighting, and are especially relevant regarding the Baltic region.
improving logistics. Militarily, Russia is certainly
no longer a decaying post-Cold War power with These include greater focus on the potential use
obsolete or vanishing capabilities. of Special Forces; lightly armed but more rapidly
deployable airborne forces; naval infantry and
Qualitative improvements are accompanied by other specialist units combined with support from
significant quantitative increases. The Ground battalion tactical groups; reformed Aerospace
Forces formed eight new brigades in 2015, and Forces; and the ongoing development of C4ISR.2
in January 2016 Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu This increases the speed, agility, and flexibility of
announced plans to form three new divisions in the forces that can be employed against NATO.
the Western Military District adjacent to the Baltic
states. These changes signal a move back to a
Cold War-like military posture central to which
was preparation for high-intensity, large-scale 2 C4ISR refers to capabilities in command, control,
combined arms warfare. Although at the Munich communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and


Many of these units and capabilities are positioned systems, S-300/S-400,3 which are deployed in
in the immediate vicinity of the Baltic states, the Kaliningrad enclave and near St. Petersburg in
rendering highly visible mobilization, long-distance Russia, and the integration of these systems with
power projection, and force assembly in the area the corresponding air defense systems in Belarus,
unnecessary should the Kremlin decide to launch create an overlapping air defense engagement area
a short or no-notice attack on one or all three of over the Baltic states and eastern Poland capable
the Baltic states. Even if a larger concentration of of putting at risk most, if not all, aircraft flying in
forces is deemed necessary for an overwhelming their airspace.
attack, Russias military campaigns (i.e., Syria,
Ukraine, and Georgia) and exercises have amply Their mobility means that it is very hard to target
demonstrated its ability to move substantial forces and destroy the launchers without the presence of
across vast distances at speed and to sustain ground troops inside Russian territory. Given the
them for prolonged periods of time. Its forces in importance of air superiority in any conventional
the Western Military District can therefore be conflict scenario, this is a very serious impediment
quickly and substantially reinforced by units and to reinforcing and defending NATOs eastern
formations from other parts of Russiaunder the allies. In addition, Russias Baltic Fleet (based
cover of planned or snap military drills. in St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad) is capable of
contesting, if not fully closing, maritime lines of
Anti-Access/Area Denial communication between the
(A2/AD) in NATOs North- Baltic states or Poland and the
east Russias Baltic rest of NATO.
Russia has harnessed an array
of stand-off weapons systems,
Fleet is capable Russias short-range ballistic
including multi-layered air of contesting, if missiles, Iskander (SS-26
Stone), if positioned permanently
defense, mobile coastal defense, not fully closing, in Kaliningrad,4 are capable of
land- and sea-based as well
as air-launched cruise missiles maritime lines of targeting infrastructure, bases,
and tactical ballistic missile communication and troop concentrations in
Poland, Lithuania, and southern
platforms that give it an ability
to implement the so-called anti-
between the Baltic Latvia. In conjunction with the
access/area denial (A2/AD) states or Poland same type of systems based
on the western fringes of the
approach. With the help of such
systems, in conjunction with its
and the rest of Western Military District, this
naval surface and submarine NATO. capability extends to targets in
forces, electronic and cyber Estonia and the rest of Latvia.
warfare, and other capabilities, Such systems can destroy critical
Russia can turn areas falling within range of these nodes (ports, airports) and infrastructure required
weapons into strategically and operationally for the reception, staging, onward movement, and
isolated bubbles. integration (RSOI) of the allied forces deployed
through Poland and into the Baltic states, thus
The A2 element is a strategic and game-changing further complicating NATOs rapid deployment
problem as it means that those bubbles are very operations.
difficult to penetrateby land, sea, or airto deliver
reinforcements. The AD part is the operational Taking into account the air- and sea-launched
side of the problem as it makes it more difficult to cruise missile capability, Russia also possesses the
operate forces inside such a bubble. Countering capacity to seriously impede, if not completely halt,
A2/AD is fraught with a high risk of escalation as and significantly raise the costs to reinforce eastern
well as with significant loss of time and capabilities. Poland and the Baltic states; these capabilities

The Baltic states, parts of Poland and Finland, and

3 NATO codenames: for S-300 familySA-10 Grumble, SA-
large swathes of the Baltic Sea constitute one such 12 Giant/Gladiator, SA-20 Gargoyle; for S-400SA-21
area under A2/AD threat due to Russias capabilities Growler.
in the Kaliningrad enclave and near Russias border 4 Iskander missiles come in three variants (E, M, and K),
with Estonia and Latvia, as well as Russias alliance including one which can be nuclear-tipped. NATO sources
believe that currently there are no permanently stationed
with Belarus. Russias advanced air defense Iskander systems in the Kaliningrad enclave, although they
are occasionally brought in for exercises.


could further interrupt the free operation of forces On a declaratory level, Russia reserves the right to
already in the region. use nuclear weapons when it perceives that the
existence of the state is threatened, including when
Last, but not least, in the event of conflict, Russian the opposing side is using only conventional forces.
land forces operating from the Kaliningrad enclave It seems, however, that Moscows thinking about
and Belarus could attempt to close the so-called the utility of nuclear weapons extends well beyond
Suwalki gapa narrow land corridor from Poland such extreme circumstances.
to Lithuania. While sharing about 1,000 km of land
border with Russia and Belarus, the Baltic states First and foremost, Russias nuclear arsenal is
are linked to the rest of the Alliance by just a 65 instrumental in its strategy of dissuading its
km-wide gap between the Kaliningrad enclave and opponents from directly intervening in the conflicts
Belarus, which has only two roads and one railway where Russia has important interests at stake (e.g.,
line passing through it from Poland to Lithuania. in Ukraine), or from pursuing policies seen as
Establishing control over this gap would cut the detrimental to Russias geopolitical interests (e.g.,
Baltic states off from the rest of the Alliance and targeting states hosting US missile defense system
turn their reinforcement by land route into an elements or cooperating closely with NATO).
extremely difficult undertaking. Frequent public references to nuclear weapons
by various Moscow officials and simulated nuclear
In the context of A2/AD, it is also worth pointing strikes on such targets as Warsaw, Stockholm, and
out that Russia would be capable of not just sealing the Bornholm island of Denmark demonstrateshow
off the Baltic states in the bubble that covers Russias penchant for using nuclear weapons for
air, naval, and land dimensions, but it also would nuclear blackmail.6
be capable of fiercely contesting other spaces of
critical importance to military operationsin the Furthermore, Moscow claims the political and
electromagnetic spectrum, cyber space, and even strategic value of first use of nuclear weapons
outer space (by using anti-satellite capabilities). as a demonstration strike during an escalating
conflict, in order to de-escalate. Holding out a
Geographically, and farther afield, Russia could use threat of further escalation, such signaling would
its capabilities to cut the flow of reinforcements be intended, for instance, to dissuade NATO allies
from the United States to Europe by targeting them from getting involved or further attempting to
in the Greenland-Iceland-UK (GIUK) gap, where reinforce and defend the Baltic states. The Alliance
NATOs presence and posture have declined over would be confronted with a dilemma of either
the years. This would be combined with a massive honoring its collective defense commitments and
information warfare campaign and psychological thus possibly entering an escalating nuclear war, or
operations to degrade the morale of the forces stepping back and negotiating a settlement under
and populations sealed off in the A2/AD bubble terms dictated by Moscow and thus dissolving the
inside the Baltic states and northeast Poland, as existing European security architecture.
well as to undermine the will of the governments
and populations in the rest of the Alliance. This posture is backed by planning and training
measures as well as capabilities. Russia has
The Nuclear Dimension maintained its arsenal of lower yield sub-strategic
Moscow continues to place great stock in its nuclear nuclear warheads and their delivery means, which
deterrent with long-term plans in full swing to creates for Moscow a range of options well below
modernize its nuclear triad. In 2015, six regiments the level of full-scale strategic nuclear exchange.
of RS-24 Yars (SS-27) Intercontinental Ballistic There are also abundant indications that Russia
Missiles (ICBMs) went into service, and the share integrates nuclear weapons into its overall military
of modern weapons in the Strategic Rocket Forces planning and routinely exercises their possible use.
reached 51 percent. In support of the nuclear triad, Large-scale military exercises featuring offensive
two Tu-160, three Tu-95MS, and five Tu-22M3
strategic bombers were modernized, while the fleet Russian Nuclear Forces, Bloomberg, December 11, 2015, http://
of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines
achieved a modernization rate of 56 percent. In
6 President Putin explicitly referred to Russias nuclear potential
total, the Russian nuclear triad is now 55 percent during the Crimea annexation, in order to keep foreign powers
modernized.5 in check. See, for example, Neil MacFarquhar, Putins Says He
Weighed Nuclear Alert Over Crimea, New York Times, March
15, 2015,
5 Stepan Kravchenko, Putin Tells Defense Chiefs to Strengthen putin-says-he-weighed-nuclear-alert-over-crimea.html?_r=0.


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Andrzej Duda, President of Poland. Photo credit: NATO/Flickr.

scenarios usually involve practicing for a nuclear improving interoperability with the armed forces of
strike and for prevailing in a conflict that has turned Belarus.
The large Zapad (West) 2013 exercise
Exercises demonstrates Russias focus on developing synergy
Russias political-military leadership actively between the various forces under the power
uses military exercises for launching operations ministries, rehearsing joint actions, using modern
and intimidating its neighbors. These exercises technologies including C4ISR, with emphasis on
represent a convenient way of camouflaging intent the experimental use of automated command
should Moscow decide to launch a surprise attack. and control, and combining civilian agencies and
Turning one of these exercises into an operation the military in a mobilized format. The exercise
against one or several of the Baltic states would was staged jointly with Belarus and followed
give very little or no early warning time for NATO. an established pattern by rehearsing offensive
operations in a western direction, including against
The exercise tempo of the Russian military, even the Baltic states.
though it peaked in 2014 and has plateaued since
then, shows that they are continuously readying Above all, Northern Fleet submarine activity timed
themselves for conflicts of varying scale and to coincide with Zapad 2013, in conjunction with
intensity. The scale of some of those exercises is the nuclear forces exercise President Putin ordered
ever greater and demonstrates Russias improving in its aftermath, demonstrate that Moscow includes
abilities to move forces over large distances, first use of nuclear weapons as a demonstration
assemble them quickly in areas of operations, and strike to induce an enemy power to negotiatein
sustain them for longer periods of time. A striking other words, the operational use of tactical or other
feature is that many of the military exercises nuclear weapon types to de-escalate a conflict.
conducted by Russia are organized on the basis
of offensive scenarios, including the invasion of Russias strategic exercises, including Zapad 2013,
the Baltic states and Poland, and targeting the confirm serious planning attention to improving
Nordic countries. A lot of attention is being paid to strategic mobility. This featured prominently during
the Tsentr (Center) 2015 exercise, including


rehearsal and active preparations for the air lines

of communication (ALOCs) developed to support
Russian operations in Syria that shortly ensued. The
extent to which force integration and cooperation
with civilian agencies has become a feature of
such strategic exercises demonstrates very serious
efforts to enhance civil-military cooperation in the After the demise of the Soviet Union, the allies
context of regional conflicts in ways that have no assumed that Russia was interested in a partnership
parallels in Western countries. with NATO and therefore sought a dialogue.
However, despite the progress made since 2014,
Intent NATO currently lacks a cohesive strategy and
Even if Moscow currently has no immediate intent suitable deterrence and defense posture to deal
to challenge NATO directly, this may unexpectedly with a resurgent Russia. In particular, the Alliance
change overnight and can be implemented with must address four fundamental challenges.
great speed, following already prepared plans. The
capability to do so is, to a large extent, in place. Strategy
NATOs current Strategic Concept adopted in
It is hard to predict what may trigger Russian action. 2010 (Active Engagement, Modern Defense),
This might come at a time NATO while not perfect, is adequate
and the EU are distracted by in the current environment.
another crisis, or it might relate Furthermore, allies have made
to some particular high profile Even if Moscow it abundantly clear that NATOs
event, the outcomes of which
Moscow wants to shape. It might
currently has no main focus is on collective
defense, further reducing the
relate to political cycles in key immediate intent need to open this document to
NATO countries or to Russias to challenge NATO time-consuming discussions.
own internal pressures. It might NATOs strategy towards Russia,
also result from a misperception directly, this may however, needs revising.
of NATOs activities and a unexpectedly
The Alliance is returning to
miscalculation of the Alliances
resolve. Or it might come as
change overnight the dual-track approach of
retribution for the actions of the and can be deterrence and dialogue
from the Cold War.7 While the
United States in some other part implemented with notion of combining dialogue
of the world.
great speed. . . and deterrence is still valid,
Whatever confluence of the circumstances we face
circumstances might trigger today differ to a significant
the action, Moscow could artificially generate degree. Both deterrence and dialogue need to be
any pretext that suits its propaganda narrative reconfigured to take into account contemporary
from defending the oppressed Russian-speaking circumstances.
population to pre-empting a NATO military
attack or defending access to Kaliningrad. It is In the 1960s, the biggest threat to NATO was the
clear though that Russia is capable of surprising the Soviet Union overrunning the entire European
West as happened with its interventions in Ukraine continent. The biggest threat for NATO today is a
and Syria, and a rapid military action to create miscalculation by Russia that it could outmaneuver
advantageous facts on the ground in the Baltic the Alliance by creating a quick fait accompli inside
states could easily become one such surprisewith NATOs borders that might avoid triggering an
potentially devastating implications for eastern
Poland and fatal consequences to the Alliance. 7 This was first introduced by the Harmel report of 1967. As
explained on the NATO website: The 1967 Report of the
However, Russias intent would not materialize in Council on the Future Tasks of the Alliance, also known as the
the face of a convincing show of strength, cohesion, Harmel Report, was a seminal document in NATOs history. It
reasserted NATOs basic principles and effectively introduced
and solidarity of NATO. Credible deterrence is the notion of deterrence and dialogue, setting the scene
thus key, with the critical question being whether for NATOs first steps toward a more cooperative approach
NATOs deterrence posture is fit for the purpose. to security issues that would emerge in 1991. For more
information, please see


Article 5 response or would render such response Strategic Anticipation

ineffective. This is based on the Russian assumption Worryingly, the Alliance often appears to be
that it has a significant time advantage over NATO surprised by Russias actions, from its 2008
and that the allies could, through intimidation, invasion of Georgia to its ongoing role in the
uncertainty, and disinformation be influenced not Ukraine crisis. This is partly due to the difficulties of
to escalate a limited conflict into a full-fledged one. interpreting the immediate intentions and plans of
the Kremlin regime. But Russia rarely disguises its
The focus of NATO needs to be on deterrence by true intentions. On the contrary, it has proclaimed
denial: Russias military aim is no longer to overrun them very publicly on various occasions, but, in
the entire continent, so todays defense-in-depth/ general, the West has chosen not to believe Russias
deterrence-by-punishment approach has to be declarations and disregards its willingness to carry
adjusted. Due to Russias more limited military aims them out.
compared to the Cold War period, deterrence by
denial is also more feasible today than it was then. The West misunderstands Russia, assuming that
NATOs Russia strategy (as well as the associated it will obey the rules even if we are not willing to
posture and messaging) must address these issues, enforce them. NATO essentially projects onto Russia
leaving no room for doubt that an aggression its own way of thinking about international relations
against a NATO ally could ever be a limited conflict and security. However, Moscows logic is that, when
with quick gains. The centerpiece of NATOs given a chance to further its interests, it will use the
strategy vis--vis Russia must be to ensure that the opportunity to carry out its plans without hesitation.
Alliance is both committed and able to prevent this. Such an approach is, to Russian decision-makers,
entirely rational behavior as long as it can assume
A dialogue with Russia is necessary to communicate that the West will opt for cooperation rather than
the Alliances unequivocal resolve to defend all confrontation. The effectiveness of deterrence
its members. Strengthening deterrence does not depends on the accuracy of allies assumptions. In
automatically require expanding dialogue. The this context, wishful thinking is dangerous thinking.
dialogue must be strictly conditions-based, i.e.
dependent on the behavior of Russia. Dialogue The Alliances shift in priorities away from trying
cannot expand from its current form (ambassador- to understand Russia magnifies the danger of
level discussions in the NATORussia Council and miscalculation. It has become plainly evidentfor
military hotlines) and evolve into cooperation instance, from the number of Russian-speaking
as long as Russia does not return to fulfilling its analysts in the Western intelligence community
obligations under the treaties of the existing that insufficient resources have been allocated to
European security architecture. intelligence collection and analysis in order fully
to understand Russias strategic thinking and
There are fears that strengthening deterrence would intentions and to anticipate its actions.
increase the likelihood of escalation, while history
tells us a different story: weakness emboldens NATOs Hollowed Deterrence and De-
Russia and strength deters. Russia exploits this fense Posture
misperception in its attempts to deter the West. As it stands, NATOs defense posture is not strong
It employs an aggressive anti-Western narrative enough to deter Russia. In part, this is because the
and accuses NATO of escalating the situation and Alliances decision-making will always be slower
encircling Russiaa claim that is unfounded but than Russias. NATO should compensate for this
sometimes effective in influencing some NATO with a larger forward presence, better automated
allies. military movements that do not require prior North
Atlantic Council approval, and adequate delegated
The bottom line is that Russia continues to portray authority to the military commanders, which so far
NATO as its main enemy, which means that tensions has not been carried out at the level required.8
will remain high regardless of what actions the
Alliance takes. The safest course for NATO is to NATO also lacks coherent levels of deterrence;
demonstrate, both in word and deed, its resolve NATO has tied its own hands by declaring that
and ability to defend every ally against every form it would not use all tools available to it, such as
of aggression while remaining open for dialogue.

8 While the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) has

the right to stage and prepare forces, authority to deploy and
commit those forces has not been granted.


refraining from using offensive cyber operations. in response to the potential use of nuclear weapons
Holding back from offensive cyber operations is by Russia. Given that the DCAs would be unable to
tantamount to removing kinetic options from a penetrate an A2/AD zone, the only response option
battlefield commander. for NATO to Russias limited nuclear de-escalation
strike would be to use strategic nuclear forces. This
The prevailing assumption that Europe was safe from lacks the credibility needed to serve as a deterrent
war, has resulted in reduction or loss of significant to Russias nuclear blackmail. In addition, nuclear
capabilities for high-end combat operations, both deterrence is undermined by some European
nuclear and conventional. As a result, the Alliances nations insisting on the complete removal of US
range of options has shrunk and its ability to tailor tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.
its approach to respond to Russia has decreased.
NATO members are not spending enough on
NATOs recent operations in Afghanistan and Libya, defense to rebuild the range of capabilities
where Alliance air superiority was a given, have necessary to deter a resurgent and aggressive
resulted in reduced capabilities as Alliance air power Russia. Consequently, there is a tendency in
has been allowed to atrophy relative to Russias air some parts of NATO to make the threat fit the
power and air defense. Only limited numbers of air Alliances existing posture and capabilities. This is a
defense systems remain in the inventories of NATO dangerous path. NATO must look at the adversary
military forces. While NATO has no general shortage as objectively as possible and make its posture fit
of tactical fighter aircraft, skilled personnel, and the threat, not the other way around.
basing infrastructure, the number of fighter aircraft
available for missions at any particular time is just a While the tasks of the NATO Command Structure
fraction of the total pool. have proliferated since the end of Cold War, its
size has shrunk drastically. It
The Alliance is also hamstrung once comprised around sixty-
by critical shortages of aircraft
for strategic and tactical
Alliance nuclear five headquarters, but today
has only two strategic and two
airlift, air-to-air refueling, ISR, deterrence suffers operational level headquarters,
maritime patrol, electronic from a capabilities with component commands that
warfare, suppression of enemy
air defense (SEAD), and anti- deficit. only in exceptional cases run
combined and joint operations.
submarine warfare missions,
all of which are essential for its Given a resurgent Russia and
ability to project its military power to crisis regions various asymmetrical threats, the Command
and operate there successfully. Structure is not large, sustainable, or responsive
enough to conduct exercises and face challenges
The decrease in allied Land Forces has been from both the south and the east. It is not
particularly significant. Combat forces with sufficiently manned even for peacetime tasks and
sufficient firepower have been replaced with light would certainly be unable to cope with the tasks
capabilities better suited to expeditionary crisis associated with a large-scale war. Furthermore, it
response and counter-insurgency operations. is too top-heavy, and questions remain about its
NATO has limited capacity to conduct a combined deployability.
arms battle at brigade level, let alone divisional or
corps level. NATO exercises are focused more on assuring
nervous allies, rather than on deterring potential
NATOs maritime efforts have been refocused to the adversaries. The forces in the exercises are not
southern flank, while all commands dealing with the adequately integrated and coordinated across
northern part of NATO have been abolished. NATOs various domains and capabilities, and they do not
maritime component is routinely undermanned include enough high-end capabilities and large-
and also lacks capabilities that would be needed to scale formations employed in non-permissive
counter Russias A2/AD strategy. environments. Furthermore, SACEUR lacks the
authority to conduct snap readiness exercises
Alliance nuclear deterrence suffers from a
without the approval of the North Atlantic Council
capabilities deficit; B-61 gravity bombs delivered
(NAC), which reduces the deterrence effect that
by increasingly aging dual-capable aircraft (DCA)
could be achieved from conducting such exercises.
and strategic nuclear missiles limit NATOs options


Due to the focus on waging counter-insurgency force and inflict unacceptable damage on it. This
campaigns and conducting crisis response or force is not required to win the war, but it must be
peacekeeping operations, NATOs ability to wage able to fight alongside the host-nation forces to
large-scale, high-intensity conventional war has buy NATO more time for reinforcement. NATOs
decreased, as marked by the decline of relevant presence in the region is currently not large enough
military capabilities and the lack of appreciation to achieve this.
among many in NATO for the threats it faces. Unlike
in Russia, there is no evident psychological readiness The length of the shared border between Russia
for war in Europe, however unlikely it may be. and the Baltic states offers Russia the possibility
to claim territory without even having to fire a
Last but not least, deterrence depends on shot at NATO forces, thus rendering the current
communicationsignals, messages, and forward-based forces worthless. Another factor
information campaigns to continuously reinforce undermining the deterrent value of these forces
the image of resolve, capability, and credibility. is the fact that most of them do not constitute a
Russia is waging a full-scale information campaign fighting force but are meant, rather, for peacetime
against the West and persistently trying to activities and training.
decrease the legitimacy and credibility of NATO
and its actions. Meanwhile, the Alliances efforts Given its current reliance on the reinforcement of
to counter this vicious campaign are modest, with the region, Russias A2/AD capabilities and its ability
all the attendant consequences to the deterrent to block or severely impede these reinforcements is
value of what NATO is doing or a complete game-changer for NATO. The problem
is planning to do on its eastern of A2/AD is neither new nor
flank. unique to northeast Poland and
NATO has not the Baltics, but nowhere else on
NATOs Posture in the paid enough NATOs territory is it as acute.
Northeast (Poland and NATO currently does not have a
the Baltics) attention to what strategy to counter this threat.
Combined host-nation and the Russians might Consequently, the current
allied forces in the Northeast are reinforcement-based strategy is
currently far inferior in numbers do to pre-empt not credible.
and firepower to Russias forces or forestall the Further complicating this
in the Western Military District.
The region lacks the strategic
Alliance. problem is the underdeveloped
and operational depth that state of quick-reaction forces,
makes giving up space for time prepositioning, and follow-on
impossible. A limited incursion creating a quick fait forces. NATOs quick reaction spearhead force,
accompli in the Baltic states, and therefore directly the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF)
threatening Poland, could be undertaken by Russia is not large enough or fast enough, and might be
with the forces already stationed in the vicinity unable to enter or operate effectively in a non-
of their borders and with extremely limited early permissive environment. Any plan for its use must
warning. This becomes an ever bigger problem be driven by the capability and intentions of the
during exercises where the real intent (operation or enemy if it is to be credible.
exercise) is not known.
NATO has not paid enough attention to what the
Without a robust and adequately postured forward- Russians might do to pre-empt or forestall the
based conventional force, NATO is presently Alliance. The timelines for getting the VJTF to full
unprepared to prevent or counter such an incursion. operating capability take no account of what Russia
Indeed, the Alliances conventional weakness in might do, now or in the immediate future. Both
its Northeast enables Moscows strategy of using notice-to-move timelines (from forty-eight hours
quick military action to create beneficial facts to seven days at brigade level) and notice-to-effect
on the ground, then using a nuclear deterrent to timelines (at least fourteen days, not counting the
protect its position. delay caused by A2/AD) are too long.

NATOs conventional military posture in Poland and Furthermore, it is impossible to pre-position VJTF
the Baltics should be capable of convincing Russia equipment in the region due to its multinational
that it is able to delay and bog down an invading nature; contributing nations, which may differ in


173rd Paratroopers march in formation with Polish soldiers, April 23, 2014. Photo credit: US Army/Flickr.

each force generation cycle, use different types a conflict in the Baltics, NATOs response options
of equipment. The VJTF is not regionally aligned, would be limited even further.
so if a conflict in NATOs northeast area erupts at
the same time as another crisis requiring a NATO
response, the VJTF might be unavailable.

Land forces must also acquire the necessary IMPLICATIONS FOR

permits to move between countries on the transit
route (although this might be less of a problem
during times of crisis) and would likely be slowed
down by infrastructure-based constraints. The US Given the nature of the threat and in line with the
Administrations current plan, whereby equipment need for NATO to build a credible deterrence in
for one brigade would be pre-positioned about the region, there is an urgent need to strengthen
1,600 km from the potential front line, is far from Polands defense capacity in order to reduce the
ideal as it cannot be quickly deployed to the region. temptation for Russia to spring a surprise attack.
First and foremost, this requires the ability to defend
NATOs air presence in the region is meant only for against asymmetric interventions in the Baltics or
a peace-time missions (air policing) and exercises. out of Kaliningrad. In addition, it requires the ability
In the maritime domain, the allies lack a persistent to deter a full spectrum surprise conventional
combat-capable presence in the Baltic Sea.
The stance of non-NATO countries in the region The required moves fall into two categories,
Sweden and Finlandmatters, too. The uncertainty those for immediate action, where effects can be
surrounding their decisions and actions complicates
expected to materialize over an eighteen-month
NATOs plans and response options in the region.
period, and longer-term measures, principally
Without these two countries in NATO, the Alliance involving rationalization and acceleration of the
lacks strategic and operational depth as well as the major modernization program for the Armed
ability to exercise greater control of maritime and Forces, which was initiated in late 2012.
air space in the Baltic Sea. Should Russia be able
to compel Stockholm and Helsinki to stay out of


For immediate action Poland should announce that it reserves the right
There is a need for policy declarations and political to deploy offensive cyber operations (and not
action, as well as for specific military preparations necessarily in response just to cyber attacks).
to be effected promptly. The authorities could also suggest potential
targets, which could include the Moscow metro,
Policy declarations the St. Petersburg power network, and Russian
Poland should make clear policy declarations state-run media outlets such as RT.
regarding its behavior in the event of Russian
incursions and on targeting within Russia. For Poland should declare that, if attacked, it reserves
example: the right to dispatch Special Operations Forces
(SOF) into Russian territory such as Kaliningrad,
A statement is needed that Poland will in order to help destroy high-value targets, e.g.
immediately and unilaterally come to the aid the Pantsyr and other missile batteries, which
of the Baltics (and Romania), should they be may be difficult to disable by methods such as
attacked in any way, pending a NATO-wide jamming.
decision on Article 5. It should seek analogous
declarations for itself, the Baltics, and Romania Poland should demonstrate the ability
from the United States, the independently to target
United Kingdom, and other weapons and to launch these
forces and capabilities. It
allies, and reciprocity from
Romania, as well.
There can be no should also show the ability to
credible defense, move forces into the Baltics
Poland should say that it
will not give in to nuclear
and therefore and possibly Romania, in the
process demonstrating joint
blackmail, and that in deterrence, without action with relevant elements of
response to the Russian an effective joint US and other allied units.
doctrine of nuclear
de-escalation, it reserves defense plan that There can be no credible
the right to attack Russian unifies military defense, and therefore
targets conventionally, deterrence, without an effective
including in Kaliningrad.
capabilities joint defense plan that unifies
Poland should aim to join the from across the military capabilities from across
the maritime, land, air, cyber, and
tactical nuclear capability
scheme within NATO, so
maritime, land, air, space domains. NATO is clearly
enabling its F-16s to be cyber, and space best placed to conduct and,
carriers of tactical nuclear domains. if necessary, implement such
a plan at the operational level
under strategic direction from
Poland should declare that it NATOs military headquarters,
reserves the right to make counterattacks deep Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
into Russian territory if Russia ever attacked (SHAPE). Furthermore, such a plan will require,
Poland, notably with the long-range JASSM air- certainly on land, an army group concept that
launched cruise missiles it will receive from the unifies the forces and capabilities of Poland and the
United States later this year. This applies also to Baltic States, together with such NATO forces as
the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) coastal missiles it are committed, into a unified whole.
possesses (capable of hitting onshore targets),
together with the Guided Multiple Launch Such a concept, while militarily essential, will have
Rocket Systems (GMLRS) it plans to acquire. significant implications for national sovereignty, as
well as command and control. Political issues aside,
Poland should publish a potential list of Poland is well-placed, by virtue of the size of its
targets, for example in the Kaliningrad Oblast. armed forces, to act as lead nation for a Baltic
Kaliningrad city itself is less than 30 km from division under command of NATOs Multinational
Poland, while the Pionerski strategic radar is Corps Northeast.
some 60 km distant.


Political action to bolster strategic deterrence and tactical

Poland should be more vocal in the EU on defense preparations.
and security matters, as well as on economic and
social matters that impact defense. Poland should move forward expeditiously
with procurements and not progress these
Poland should undertake firm opposition to any acquisitions at the pace of its Technical
EU plans (such as may be contemplated in the Modernization Plan (TMP). Promulgated in 2012,
new Global Strategy on Foreign and Security the TMP is a ten-year, $34 billion road map for
Policy) envisaging an EU military force. Any re-equipping the armed forces. The TMP is now
weakening of NATO cannot be countenanced, subject to review and extension. Some US $26
especially at this political juncture, and billion might be added for the 2020s.10
particularly with a putative British exit from the
EU weakening the Unions collective military Still, core elements of the original TMP are
posture outside of NATO. unlikely to change, and many are suffering
chronic delays. Poland should undertake these
The Polish government should find new urgent procurements using radically different
incentives for its citizens to remain in Poland methods to overcome the systemic delays in
rather than emigrate to other EU countries. Over the past.
eight million people from Central and Eastern
Europe have moved elsewhere in the EU, which Many of the urgent changes are relatively cheap
has important social, economic, and political to implement. In aggregate, the cost of these
ramifications that impact defense. Emigration requirements does not appear excessively
has reduced Polands defense capacity by burdensome (this years budgeted expenditure
draining people of military age, often with the on the TMP is US $2.5 billion).
technical and information technology (IT) skills Further, payments would, in the normal course, be
that Polands forces require. spread over multi-year delivery periods. Some could
Military preparation also be extended over ten to fifteen years or longer
Polish decision-makers such as Pawel Soloch, the via financing from sellers, leasing, or using other
head of the National Security Bureau, have stressed financing solutions. With interest rates at current
the need to re-expand the Armed Forces to lows, the incremental cost is also very low. Polands
150,000 (from around 100,000 today).9 Regular governmental debt is modest by international
forces must be structured and equipped to fight. standards (around 60 percent of GDP), so the
On land, this means regenerating the structures macroeconomic consequences are bearable.
and capabilities for major combined arms combat Command and control
operations at brigade and divisional level. This The previous government introduced two separate
requires action across all lines of development: hierarchies, one for peacetime and one for war. The
education of personnel, training, equipment, and mechanisms for defining a state of war, and for
sustainability. The same is true for air and maritime appointing the combat commander, are imprecise;
forces. simplification and clarification are required.
To complement regular forces, the military should The General Staff was demoted to an advisory
rebuild regular reserves (as distinct from a territorial body and duplication with Ministry of National
force, addressed below). Defense departments has led to some
These changes should be set in motion promptly, confusion in threat assessment, in planning, and
even though they will take years to complete. in specifying and procuring weapons and other
As for immediate needs, Poland should improve
the overall command and control of its forces, Radical streamlining is needed, with a particular
plus undertake a number of urgent acquisitions focus on eliminating redundant postings and

9 For example, Marek Kozubal, Szef BBN: Armi trzeba

powikszy, Rzeczpospolita, November 29, 2015, http://www. 10 In this paper, the US Dollar has been assumed to be worth PLN
powiekszyc.html. 3.8.


Formation of aircraft including US, German, Polish, and Swedish jets over the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2016.
Photo credit: US Air Force/Flickr.

Poland should ensure that all battlefield radios are ground-station access and later use of NATOs
digital and encrypted. Indeed, it should ensure that five Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles
all Ministry and Armed Forces communications are (UAVs or drones) based in Sicily.
secure, as many doubts on this matter persist. This
can be done quickly and cheaply by outsourcing: Poland should plan and train for the dispersal of
contracting with NATO-member militaries and the F-16s and weaponry to temporary, random
civilian companies to work in Poland, develop airfields and roads in Poland itself, in the Baltics,
capabilities, and train Polish personnel. and Romania.

Urgent strategic measures A related challenge is to raise the availability

Polands primary strategic deterrent is the American of the F-16s, reported to be at only 50 percent
Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) availability at any given time. This is partly
cruise missiles, to be carried by Polands forty-eight Polands responsibility, both via its Maintenance,
F-16s. Poland only contracted forty AGM-158As Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) resources and
(JASSMs with a 370 km maximum range), with also because pilot training is in flux (Leonardo
delivery starting late in 2016. A follow-on order for M-346 Trainer aircraft, plus simulators etc., are
twenty-eight more is under way. being brought into service).

Poland has been contemplating the Extended However, the US producer of the F-16, Lockheed
Range (900 km) JASSM cruise missile. If it Martin, should redouble its support to facilitate
places an order, it will be the first US ally to adequate MRO resources to sustain Polands
operate the Extended Range variant. Poland Air Force.
should expedite this procurement, mobilizing
The Naval Strike Missile (NSM) coastal missiles
the support required in the US Congress.
launched from two batteries of onshore mobile
Poland should address its capacity for launchers serve primarily to interdict surface
independent targeting of key weapons, JASSM shipping, but can also have a strategic dimension.
missiles, and others. The JASSM missiles will With a 185 km range, if properly targeted they can
initially be targeted using Italian satellites. By also destroy onshore targets, say in Kaliningrad.
next year, Poland will have improved satellite


Poland should rapidly augment its targeting Poland should develop an information warfare
radars for longer distances. capability using social media and other
channels, to counter Russias active propaganda
It should also order more of these NSM missiles campaign, which uses overt methods and its
and launcher. Its two batteries cost $132 million numerous trolls. Given the IT skills of Polands
in total. Incremental missiles were recently population, plus its large number (more than
reported to cost somewhat over $2 million each. one million) of Russian-speaking immigrants
from Ukraine and elsewhere, both goals are
Deterrent, as well as tactical, potential is also
achievable in a relatively short period.
offered by mobile Guided Multiple Launch Rocket
Systems (GMLRS). Poland has been deliberating a Other urgent procurement
purchase of three GMLRS battalions (with perhaps Recent experience from Ukraine and elsewhere
eighteen launchers each) for over two years, and indicates that there are a number of areas where
decisions are urgently needed. Poland and other allies require urgent procurement
(or augmentations of currently-envisaged
The Polish government should prioritize any
mobile artillery rocket systems that can be
procured and deployed quickly. Combat in the Donbas has shown that Poland
needs more tandem-warhead Anti-Tank Guided
A production model is under consideration
Missiles (ATGMs) capable of penetrating
whereby Polands governmental defense
reactive armor, and also anti-aircraft (including
industrial champion, known by the acronym PGZ,
anti-helicopter) and anti-UAV missiles. The
would be lead contractor, with Polish private
number of launchers and missiles in hand and
firms and US providers in sub-contracting roles.
currently envisaged is insufficient.
PGZ would lead the production in Poland of the
Poland should seek to accelerate licensed
Launcher-loader module, most missile components
production of the 1,000 Spike ATGMs, ordered
with assembly, the fire-control system, and the
from PGZs Mesko plant for delivery in 2017-
vehicle chassis. If decisions were needed quickly,
20. It currently holds 2,675 with 254 launchers,
Poland could supply rocket systems to Romania,
ostensibly 14.5 missiles per launcher.
Bulgaria, and other users. A package of 7 launchers,
360 GMLRS missiles, and 60 ATACMS, plus vehicles Some of its 670 Rosomak wheeled Infantry
and fire-control systems, was recently reported to Fighting Vehicles can transport Spike-equipped
cost $460 million. troops (and 307 more Rosomaks are on order).
If needed, Poland should order rival ATGM
The industrial solution fits the governments
systems for faster delivery.
plans for development. The PGZ-dominated
defense sector is, correctly, highlighted as a Also needed are more Man-Portable Anti-aircraft
major potential driver of growth. Defense Systems (MANPADS, hand-held missiles)
for close anti-aircraft and anti-UAV defense.
Financing of equipment and working capital
for PGZ (and other Polish and non-Polish firms) Poland should immediately order an adequate
could come from the new consolidated State number of the new Polish Piorun missiles, to
Development Fund (its Polish acronym is PFR) supplement the approximately 2,000 Polish
under the Ministry of Economic Development. Grom missiles currently held (400 launchers,
PFR is empowered to provide both debt and with only 5 missiles per launcher).
equity capital.
Orders for missiles could be filled urgently
Finally, gaining a strategic cyber capability, both via contract or licensed manufacturing in
defensive and offensive, can be very cheap. The Poland or abroad. Financing of equipment and
same applies to an information warfare capability. working capital could again come from PFR.
Alternatively, crash orders for rival systems
Poland should contract with NATO-member
could be placed abroad.
militaries or civilian firms to develop cyber
capabilities and train Polish cyber troops, Another critical requirement is for attack
complementing measures already underway. helicopters to replace the thirty-one aging Mi-24s.


Procurement has been in process for more than various paramilitary organizations, and many show
two years and needs to be accelerated. an enthusiasm to join. Ultimately, the force could be
expanded to 75-90,000, when money, training, and
The contract is for thirty-two helicopters and other resources permit.
should be increased to approximately fifty-sixty.
If making this procurement urgent means paring According to Polands National Centre for Strategic
back ambitions for maximum local production, Studies (NCSS), three operating models are under
then other offsets for Polish industry could be consideration.
The first is for light infantry brigades raised on
Poland must also accelerate its UAV programs for the basis of the countrys sixteen provinces. The
reconnaissance and target acquisition. six or eight larger cities could also ultimately
raise a unit each. Based somewhat on the
While some of the UAV programs appear well Swedish model, the brigades would be tasked
advanced, the numbers envisaged may be too with independent reconnaissance, delaying
low and require revision. action, and behind-the-lines resistance. They
would be equipped and structured as infantry.
There are quite satisfactory and economically-
priced, domestic light UAV models and The second variant is closer to the US National
emergency production available via the PFR Guard system: fully mechanized forces capable
and other sources of finance. of reinforcing regular units. The equipment in
this case would initially include redundant or
Urgent procurement: methods obsolete Soviet-era armor and artillery, such as
The Ministry of National Defenses self-created
T-72 and derivative main battle tanks (Poland
internal rules and conservative culture impede
has some 580, of which 360 are in service);
decision-making. For critical requirements
BWP Tracked infantry vehicles (Poland has
therefore, Poland should outsource procurement.
about 1,300, with some 800 capable of use);
This encompasses the negotiation of sophisticated
and Gozdzik 122 mm tracked artillery.
contractual arrangements and financing with
suppliers, an area of expertise most lacking among The third variant is for a militia-type force,
Polish officials. See below for further discussion lightly-armed units that, from the outset, would
of the need for radical changes in procurement adopt a guerilla role along the lines planned by
practices. Estonia for its militia forces.
As Poland has already taken second-hand materiel Of the three options, the first has the widest
from the United States and Germany, residual support among experts. It is optimal in terms of
prejudice against the stopgap use of second-hand its low cost and speed of implementation. It adds
equipment must be quashed. Second-hand or most in terms of effectiveness, as light infantry are
leased kit may be needed, pending the freeing-up capable of being deployed against hybrid (Green
of fully booked production lines, and stocks held by Men) incursions as well as complementing regular
suppliers or allied forces should be tapped where units in the event of full-scale penetration.
needed and feasible.
As for the second option, much of the obsolete
Any EU Commission reservations regarding equipment has limited capability in contemporary
directed purchases (i.e., those that avoid protracted combat (the BWPs are equivalents of the Soviet
and leaky Europe-wide tenders) should be rejected Armys armored personnel carriersBTRs), while
by reference to Article 346 of the EU Treaty. Article training recruits in their use would be costly and
346 gives Poland full national sovereignty over vital time-consuming.
defense matters.
Poland should promptly initiate the raising of a
Territorial forces territorial force on the light infantry model, but with
Territorial forces are potentially a very useful a major proviso.
addition to Polands deterrence. A 35,000 strong
force, consisting of seventeen brigades is initially
envisaged.11 Poland has over 400,000 people in the Plenipotentiary for the force appointed by the Minister of
National Defense. On April 25, the Press chief for the Ministry
spoke of seventeen Brigades initially (one province to have
11 This number was quoted in Parliament on March 11, 2016 by two) each between 1,500 to 2,500 strong.


A network of all-weather shelters should Railways, aircraft from the national carrier
be constructed, with stores of food, fuel, LOT and other sources, civilian road vehicles,
weapons and ammunition, medical kit, and and Polish and non-Polish ferries should all
communications gear. Forests and other difficult be included, in addition to the militarys own
terrain should be favored: Poland is about 30 resources.
percent forest. Wooded areas and post-glacial
lakes predominate in the north and east near Transport for the Territorials should include
Kaliningrad, the Suwalki Gap, and Belarus. use of local civilian 4WD and other vehicles.
Mobilization and transfers east from the center
This shelter or bunker network, built with and west of the country should be planned and
significant redundancies, would facilitate the publicly rehearsed.
deployment of stay behind units. Polands
military tradition in forest-based guerrilla Radical change is needed to the archaic culture
warfare dates back to the 1830s. More recently, regarding MRO, which calls for most of it to be
forest units resisted the Germans and Soviets done by Polands military. Civilian contractors
from 1939 to the 1950s. should be brought in to replace over-stretched or
badly run military servicing units. This would free
To the extent elements of up manpower, reduce costs, and
the territorial force would increase front-line availability.
assume a harrying guerrilla
role, the operating model
Poland should The Technical Moderniza-
would be closer to that of the seek training tion Plan
The authorities have declared
Estonian militia, itself based assistance from that they will review the
on the Forest Brothers legacy
of the 1940s and 1950s.12 NATO allies, both Technical Modernization Plan

To expedite embodiment of the

in light infantry (TMP). As the Deputy Minister
of National Defense Tomasz
territorial force, Poland should and irregular Szatkowski stated earlier this
seek training assistance from techniques and year, the capability acquisition
NATO allies, both in light infantry programs appear to be a loose
and irregular techniques and to advise the new collection of the agendas of their
to advise the new units and the units and the respective services. The Ministry
Regular forces in ways to work
together. There will be need for
Regular forces of National Defense should have
a unit . . . capable of providing
further rapid procurement, to in ways to work analytical advice similar to the
encompass personal weapons, together. work done by the Pentagons
mortars, MANPADS, ATGMs, Office of Net Assessment, as
light UAVs, plus communications well as its Cost Analysis Program
and other equipment. Some Evaluation Office.13
materiel in-store could be used, too, such as the
very significant (ninety thousand) reserves of The Ministry appears to be considering significant
RPG-76s viable in an anti-armor role. changes to some of the individual Operational
Plans (OPs) for platforms and capabilities, which
Mobilization, logistics comprise the TMP. It may be influenced by forecasts
Poland should plan mobilization (including suggesting that Polands economy will allow for
transport to northeastern Poland, the Baltics, and nearer to $18 billion and not the originally mooted
Romania) for both its Regular and Reserve units. $34 billion to be available in the period to 2022
Mobilization domestically of the new Territorials (as noted, a further $26 billion might notionally be
should also be on the agenda. All this will assist allocated if the TMP were extended).
with deterrence at relatively low cost.
This paper cannot suggest actions in respect to the
Poland should demonstrate readiness by overall shape of the TMP and the individual OPs.
frequent exercises. Interchangeable and It strongly recommends, however, that structural
mutually redundant channels should be planned.
13 Tomasz Szatkowski, Poland, in Alliance at Risk, Atlantic
12 This term applies to anti-Communist guerrilla movements in Council, 2016,
the Baltic states, which resisted Soviet rule well into the 1950s. alliance-at-risk/.


matters be resolved as fast as possible, while (light 35 ton tanks with 120 mm cannon). The
allowing for future changes as circumstances latter would replace the T-72s and derivatives
evolve. It also urges that the totality of the economic and be capable of fighting alongside Polands 247
picture be evaluated. Leopard 2 tanks. The maximum number of vehicles
the Polish government would wish to procure is
The numbers above encompass neither the approximately one thousand.
additional budgetary outlays nor the long-
term economic benefits, which result from the The obvious course would have been to buy
policy that Polands industry be involved in a license from the provider of one of the well-
the TMP in a major way. This policy is entirely tested extant solutions (such as BAE Systems
correct from a developmental perspective, but or General Dynamics). This should be placed
macroeconomic aspects, most surprisingly, are back on the agenda. Given the size of Polands
left out of the equation when Poland undertakes requirement, it could expect to gain the right to
military expenditures. adapt and evolve the vehicles it produces and
to export sub-systems and complete vehicles to
The Ministry should seek to evaluate the third markets.
overall costs and benefits to the countrys GDP
and budget of the TMP as a whole and, when Currently, Poland has set out to develop its
implementing them, of individual OPs. Given the own platform from scratch. They have scant
lack of resources now available to the Ministry, experience of developing a tracked chassis and
private sector advisers skilled in macroeconomic their Research & Development has been grossly
modelling should be asked to do this. underfunded.

Reforms to procurement Additionally, the basic concept has periodically

In tandem with this review, the country should been questioned, with calls for the vehicles
undertake a drastic overhaul of procurement to operate in water. This requires lighter and
methods. While some purchases have been made thinner armor, which would sacrifice protection
successfully, much of the TMP has become grossly for the crews.
bogged down since its initiation forty-two months
ago. Systemic change is needed to move Polands No clear timetables for initial entries into
procurement toward greater efficiency. service are therefore available (originally, it was
2018 and later, 2022). Meanwhile, as noted, the
This has a number of dimensions. Delays have been armys Soviet-era IFVs have become practically
exacerbated by recurrent failings, such as: major inoperable.
realignments in the basic expectations of given
capabilities, radical shifts in the desired technical Another major program aims to procure three
parameters, redundant technical dialogues with submarines.
suppliers, erroneous cost estimates, massive
Discussions with potential suppliers began
adjustments downwards in numbers of systems
in 2008. Meandering views on key aspects
envisaged as more accurate cost numbers emerge,
have created successive retardations and no
lack of or radical alterations in, concepts for Polish
resolution seems imminent.
industry, and dead letter formal declarations (such
as letters of intent) to suppliers and sponsor In particular, the purpose of the program has
governments. The common theme, however, has undergone a fundamental change. A long-range
been indecisiveness among all involved. cruise missile capability was added in 2014, giving
the vessels a core role as strategic deterrent, shifts
A key OP that now requires urgent action is strategic
in the structure of procurement ensued, with the
missile defense, by far the most significant OP by
missiles being added then consigned to a separate
value. More than three years after commencement,
there is still no single formal process and no sight
of a resolution. A further set of unknowns is the role for Polands
industry. Various potential sources have developed
Another program, which has been long delayed,
plans for both local production and transitional
seeks to replace the BWP tracked Infantry Fighting
Vehicles (IFVs) with a Universal Tracked Platform.
This would deliver both IFVs and Support Vehicles


Nine NATO nations took part in the Noble Jump Exercise in Poland, June 2015. Photo credit: 1GNC Mnster/Flickr.

The Ministry of National Defense recently Law passed in 2014, must be re-written
admitted that (as with the whole TMP) it has wholesale.
no methodology for gauging and evaluating
the different economic impacts of the various The Ministrys culture should be ameliorated
industrial options, for the ministry itself and for where possible: it currently militates against
Polands economy in the long term. It is unable, individual responsibility, and thus delays the
therefore, to build economics into the scoring presentation of clear recommendations.
and process for choosing among rival offers.
The Ministrys teams (about two-hundred
This is a most concerning matter, given the
strong) are numerically too weak to cope with
likely values involved.
the complexities of the TMP.
Latterly, yet more uncertainty has been sown
Ministerial staff should be encouraged to
by official theorizing about joint procurement
maintain everyday contacts with potential
with Norway.
suppliers. At present, technical developments
The causes of the delays to these and many other are poorly monitored (leading to those step-
OPs start with planning and specifying, where changes in desired capabilities).
changes of philosophy and perspective are almost
Also, initial purchase costs are habitually
pre-programmed. As regards implementation
underestimated and through life costs
per se, there are four main aspects: the rulebook,
inadequately assessed. As Deputy Minister
the culture, manpower, and the political desire
Szatkowski put it, the planning and acquisition
for local industrial involvement. The system for
processes should be geared more towards
procurement must enable agile decision-making,
whole capability in the full-cycle approach.14
empower individual responsibility, and ensure swift
generation of recommendations. Extra inefficiency and blockages come from that
salutary political requirement that Polish firms
Polands overelaborate procurement
procedures, including the unworkable Offset
14 Tomasz Szatkowski, Poland, in Alliance at Risk, Atlantic
Council, op. cit.


should benefit from various forms of cooperation In present circumstances only private-sector staff
with foreign suppliers: offset, joint production are able to optimize the complex military-technical
onshore, technology transfer, and so forth. requirements and the various industrial options.
Importantly, too, private sector individuals are
The Ministry is hard put to cope with the needed because they are best skilled and motivated
industrial dimension and (as seen with the to make prompt and clear recommendations to the
submarine program) cannot evaluate the long- political decision-makers.
term costs and benefits for the military and
the Polish economy of alternative business Ultimately, though, the politicians must have the
solutions involving local industry. courage to demand clear recommendations, and
then to take the necessary decisions.
The state defense firm, PGZ, itself needs to gain
expertise in many dimensions of doing business Gen. Sir Richard Shirreff was NATOs Deputy Supreme
with global defense corporations. Allied Commander Europe from 2011 to 2014. He is a
partner at Strategia Worldwide Ltd. He recently published
Even with better rules, the manpower and 2017: War with Russia.
knowledge needed for modern procurement in
Maciej Olex-Szczytowski is an independent business
Poland must come directly or indirectly from
adviser, specializing in Defense. In 2011-12 he was Special
private, civilian entities, capable of recruiting and
Economic Adviser to Polands Foreign Minister, Radoslaw
paying to market standards. One suggestion is for Sikorski. Prior to this, he served as CEO of Polands
the country to build a procurement agency, but Military Property Agency.
this would also ultimately require outsourcing most
detailed and transactional procurement work to
the private sector.

Atlantic Council Board of Directors

CHAIRMAN James E. Cartwright Franklin D. Kramer Robert J. Stevens

*Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. John E. Chapoton Philip Lader John S. Tanner
Ahmed Charai *Richard L. Lawson *Ellen O. Tauscher
Sandra Charles *Jan M. Lodal Frances M. Townsend
Melanie Chen Jane Holl Lute Karen Tramontano
George Chopivsky William J. Lynn Clyde C. Tuggle
Brent Scowcroft
Wesley K. Clark Izzat Majeed Paul Twomey
PRESIDENT AND CEO David W. Craig Wendy W. Makins Melanne Verveer
*Frederick Kempe *Ralph D. Crosby, Jr. Mian M. Mansha Enzo Viscusi
Nelson W. Cunningham Gerardo Mato Charles F. Wald
Ivo H. Daalder William E. Mayer Jay S. Walker
*Adrienne Arsht
*Paula J. Dobriansky T. Allan McArtor Michael F. Walsh
*Stephen J. Hadley
Christopher J. Dodd John M. McHugh Mark R. Warner
VICE CHAIRS Conrado Dornier Eric D.K. Melby Maciej Witucki
*Robert J. Abernethy Thomas J. Egan, Jr. Franklin C. Miller Neal S. Wolin
*Richard Edelman *Stuart E. Eizenstat James N. Miller Mary C. Yates
*C. Boyden Gray Thomas R. Eldridge *Judith A. Miller Dov S. Zakheim
*George Lund Julie Finley *Alexander V. Mirtchev
*Virginia A. Mulberger Lawrence P. Fisher, II Susan Molinari
*W. DeVier Pierson Alan H. Fleischmann Michael J. Morell David C. Acheson
*John Studzinski *Ronald M. Freeman Georgette Mosbacher Madeleine K. Albright
Laurie S. Fulton Steve C. Nicandros James A. Baker, III
TREASURER Harold Brown
Courtney Geduldig Thomas R. Nides
*Brian C. McK. Henderson
*Robert S. Gelbard Franco Nuschese Frank C. Carlucci, III
SECRETARY Thomas H. Glocer Joseph S. Nye Robert M. Gates
*Walter B. Slocombe *Sherri W. Goodman Hilda Ochoa-Brillem- Michael G. Mullen
Mikael Hagstrm bourg Leon E. Panetta
Ian Hague William J. Perry
Stphane Abrial Ahmet M. Oren
Amir A. Handjani Colin L. Powell
Odeh Aburdene *Ana I. Palacio
John D. Harris, II
Peter Ackerman Carlos Pascual Condoleezza Rice
Frank Haun
Timothy D. Adams Alan Pellegrini Edward L. Rowny
Michael V. Hayden
Bertrand-Marc Allen David H. Petraeus George P. Shultz
Annette Heuser
John R. Allen Thomas R. Pickering John W. Warner
Ed Holland
Michael Andersson Daniel B. Poneman William H. Webster
*Karl V. Hopkins
Michael S. Ansari Daniel M. Price
Robert D. Hormats
Richard L. Armitage Arnold L. Punaro *Executive Committee Members
Miroslav Hornak
David D. Aufhauser Robert Rangel
*Mary L. Howell List as of July 18, 2016
Elizabeth F. Bagley Thomas J. Ridge
Wolfgang F. Ischinger
Peter Bass Charles O. Rossotti
Reuben Jeffery, III
*Rafic A. Bizri Robert O. Rowland
*James L. Jones, Jr.
Dennis C. Blair Harry Sachinis
George A. Joulwan
*Thomas L. Blair John P. Schmitz
Lawrence S. Kanarek
Philip M. Breedlove Brent Scowcroft
Stephen R. Kappes
Myron Brilliant Rajiv Shah
Maria Pica Karp
Esther Brimmer Alan J. Spence
Sean Kevelighan
*R. Nicholas Burns James G. Stavridis
*Zalmay M. Khalilzad
William J. Burns Richard J.A. Steele
Robert M. Kimmitt
*Richard R. Burt *Paula Stern
Henry A. Kissinger
Michael Calvey
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