Russia in the past has been known to militarily occupy and take over parts of its neighboring countries. Examples of this are Russia’ invasion of Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008 and also of Ukrainian Crimea in 2014. One of the reasons for these attacks was an attempt to keep these countries from joining NATO, because NATO will not accept countries with ongoing boarder conflicts. Russia did not want these countries to join since that would mean NATO troops would have closer access to the Russian border. As one might guess, Russia is not a NATO member. NATO, which stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization and is comprised of twenty-nine European and North American nations, has sought to check Russian aggression and suspend hostilities between Russia and other nations, specifically its Baltic and former Soviet Republic neighbors since Russian occupation of Crimea, Ossetia, and Abkhazia in 2008 and 2014.
Russian aggression has always been a major concern of NATO. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin has largely increased the production of military equipment such as artillery pieces, tanks, and infantry equipment. The militaries of NATO members are understandably wary and hence have undergone numerous simulations and exercises in eastern Europe—in locations such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland—to familiarize foreign nations like the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States with the terrain they could potentially fight on in future wars. Although Russia has not recently shown any unusual aggression, “the best way to maintain peace is by preparation,” according to Major General Timothy McGuire.
Furthermore, Colonel Clair A. Gill, commander of 10th Combat Aviation Brigade stationed in Fort Drum, New York, comments on the United States soldiers’ current combat capabilities in eastern Europe: “We need to figure out how to adapt to the new environment. I don’t think we’re there yet…We need to be ready to go anywhere, anytime.” Soldiers who are accustomed to fighting in the large, wide-open desert and operating from secure bases in Iraq and Afghanistan must now work in small divisions, using camouflage netting to conceal themselves from surveillance drones. Consequently, the United States has sent troops into the Baltic States. For example, in July of 2017, a ten-day operation involving 25,000 American and allied forces took place across three former Soviet-controlled nations—Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria—rehearsing tactics once used to counter the Soviets in the Cold War. Moreover, the United States is not only training its soldiers, but is also preparing for Russian aggression toward its neighbors by positioning 4,500 troops in the Baltic States—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. “They will fight,” said Maj. Gen. William Hickman of the prospect of US soldiers guarding against Russian bellicosity. The US is planning eleven major exercises in 2018, training air, land, and naval forces. Some will also take place not only in Eastern Europe, but also in Scandinavia, where Russia also has a significant presence, such as in Norway.
Interestingly, besides simply training soldiers and leaders, countless vehicles such as tanks, Strykers, and Bradleys must be repainted, covering their tan camouflage from the desert terrain of Iraq and Afghanistan with the green camouflage to blend in with European terrain.”
Furthermore, an effectual military force requires more than big guns and high tech machines; good leaders who understand the situation are essential to NATO and a properly functioning multi-national force. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis under the Trump Administration claims the NATO alliance is “enormously” important and “no ally must be taken for granted.” This is the reason the United States concerns itself with the protection of foreign nations: to maintain a stable and robust relationship with its NATO allies.
- Depetris, Daniel. “Russia Will Retaliate after US Supplies Lethal Weapons to Ukraine.”
Breakingdefense.com, 28 Dec. 2017, breakingdefense.com/2017/12/russia-will-retaliate-after-u-s-supplies-lethal-weapons-to-ukraine/utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=59672555&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9x66J8bbt9FnCeoM4Yu0z0pteBVz3LkWynnkRfyZvD-CB KP1t9lTyYYYuhZgDO9f6J71kr2K_5eyd6UrAA9ugQHUjPA&_hsmi=59672555. Accessed 2 Jan. 2018
- Freedberg, Sydney, Jr. “‘They Will Fight’: NATO Readies Forces Vs. Russia.”
Breakingdefense.com, 20 Nov. 2017, breakingdefense.com/2017/11/
they-will-fight-nato-readies-forces-vs-russia/?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=58646783&_hsenc=p2ANqtz_fVDtxVi0lblT9h _AlHi6-bTrQ5MrtITDuQ-gHaOSMZOscsUUi7-BQzVtLw8cNJAip1RbtqPAbeTjsP-eMxN IW1UADQ&_hsmi=58646783. Accessed 2
- Nitschke, Stephane. “U.S. Tanks, Equipment Arrives for NATO Exercises in Eastern Europe.”
Reuters.com, 6 Jan. 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-nato-russia/
u-s-tanks-equipment-arrives-for-nato-exercises-in-eastern-europe-idUSKBN14Q1VC. Accessed 2 Jan.