Deterrence and ­Collective Defence

By General (ret.)

By Gen



, US


Director, Joint Air Power Competence Centre (2013-2016)

 October 2017


‘NATO is a defensive Alliance with a goal to prevent war with credible deterrence. If deterrence fails, Article 5 of the Washington Treaty guarantees a collective defence.’
Washington Treaty, Article 5

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United ­Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, ­individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Almost 70 years of security and stability is testimony to the power of the most successful alliance in history and effectiveness of Article 5. However, the Alliance legacy, a Europe whole, free and at peace, is at risk because potential adversaries are aggressively challenging the Alliance and the ­traditional rules-based world order.

After the Russian annexation of Crimea, NATO leaders developed a plan for assurance, adaptation and increased defence spending at the 2014 Wales Summit.

The rise of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) / Daesh and more ­Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine shifted Alliance focus to deterrence and defence at the 2016 Warsaw Summit. Today, the 2010 Strategic ­Concept core tasks remain unchanged but collective defence is clearly a higher priority than crisis management and cooperative security.

The Warsaw Summit communiqué used the words deterrence and ­defence over 125 times. Article 32 and 52 linked deterrence and defence to describe the strategy needed to meet Alliance aspirations:

  • Article 32 articulated the end state: ‘Deterrence and defence are at the heart of the Alliance’s mission and purpose – as the fundamental means of preventing conflict, protecting Allied territories and populations, and maintain the Alliance’s freedom of decision and action at any time …’
  • Article 52 described the means: ‘As a means to prevent conflict and war, credible deterrence and defence is essential. Therefore, deterrence and defence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional, and missile defence capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy.’

Article 5 of the Washington Treaty links deterrence and collective defence because when deterrence fails and an ally is attacked, the Alliance will ­invoke Article 5, and then begin collective defence. Deterrence is the ­preferred option; collective defence is the option of last resort. Deterrence prevents conflict by threatening to inflict unacceptable damage on anyone who attacks an Ally. Whereas, collective defence delivers the un­acceptable damage. Deterrence is a marathon requiring persistence, resolve and tenacity. Collective defence is a sprint requiring power and speed to win as quickly as possible. The alternative to collective defence, accepting terms dictated by the enemy to avoid armed conflict, is not an acceptable option. The failure to invoke Article 5 and execute decisive ­collective defence would fracture the Alliance.

NATO secured peace for decades; however, past performance does not guarantee future results. Four realities could limit the Alliance. The first ­reality is NATO potential power is not real power. The second reality is when deterrence fails, prompt consensus is pivotal, collective defence must be decisive. The third reality is the enemy has a vote and could choose war. The fourth reality is NATO forces must be ready, deployable and sustainable to be fully combat capable.

Pursuing several urgent priorities will maximize NATO Joint Air Power ­contributions. NATO Joint Air Power core roles, command of the air, precision strike, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), strategic mobility and Command and Control (C2) are indispensable to credible deterrence and decisive, collective defence. NATO Joint Air Power gives the ­Alliance an asymmetric advantage in peacetime and in crisis across the full range of military operations.

The Power Reality: NATO Potential Power Is Not Real Power

Credible deterrence and defence depend on the collective power of the Allies. Several elements contribute to a nation’s power. Natural elements include geography, population and resources. Social elements include diplomatic, information, military and economic power known as the ‘DIME’. Collective military power requires fully combat capable forces. Leaders use the elements of national power to pursue the most effective strategy to achieve goals and priorities.

Nations join alliances and coalitions when sovereign power is not enough. After WWII, 12 exhausted and war-torn nations created NATO because they feared an expanding and aggressive Soviet communist influence in ­Europe. Even at the height of the Cold War, the collective power of NATO deterred the Soviet Union and allowed Allies to flourish in the security guaranteed by Article 5. Over time, the Alliance expanded from 12 to 28 nations willing to accept the terms and responsibilities of NATO membership.

Today, NATO economic power as measured in GPD is an astounding $ 36T ($36,000,000,000,000). Nine Allies are top 20 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) nations.

Minus the US GDP, the other 27 Allies have a GDP of $ 18T! Three NATO ‘Partners Across the Globe’ and one neutral country are also top 20 GDP nations. Except for Russia, at # 12, not a single top 20 GDP nation threatens NATO Allies. Even if China threatened the Alliance, their # 2 $ 11.4T GDP is small compared to the combined GDP of NATO and NATO Partners.

Today, NATO military power is impressive! Business Insider recently ranked the world’s top 20 strongest militaries; 8 NATO militaries are in the top 20!1

Four NATO ‘Partners Across the Globe’ are in the top 20. With the exception of a distant # 2 Russia, not a single top 20 ­military is a direct threat! The Alliance’s deployable force of 3.5+ million (plus another 3.7 million+ in reserve) far ­exceeds Russia’s deployable force of 766,000. The combined military strength of 8 Allies and 4 NATO Partners could easily overpower # 3 China if it threatened the Alliance.

Alliance leaders expressed confidence in the ability to ­deter: ‘NATO has the capabilities and resolve to impose costs on an adversary that would be unacceptable and far outweigh the benefits that an adversary could hope to achieve.’ ­Despite this confidence, leaders still want even more capable force and more ­defence spending! Alliance economic and military power should be more than enough to secure peace in Europe. However, Alliance economic and military power is POTENTIAL, not REAL power. Large GDP does not ­generate REAL military power unless Allies increase defence spending and invest wisely. Large, well-equipped, highly rated Alliance militaries do not translate into REAL military power unless forces are fully combat capable and Allies offer forces during the NATO force generation process.

For some Allies, defence spending is not a high priority. Despite commitment to the 2014 Wales Summit Defence Investment Pledge (DIP) two years ago, only 5 of 28 Allies met the 2 % goal and only 10 met the 20 % modernization goal at the time of the Warsaw Summit! Nine Allies are top 20 worldwide GDP nations but only 2 of 9 meet the DIP and 2 actually spend less than 1 %!

In addition to anemic defence spending, some Allies have readiness ­problems and the Alliance suffers from lackluster force generation. Force generation should be easy when 8 of the top 20 most powerful militaries in the world are NATO militaries! Deployment costs are high and full ­spectrum training opportunities for deployed forces are few. Some Allies have forces but they are either untrained and / or unready. Military equipment is unavailable and / or unmaintained. A few Allies do not contribute forces because of other, higher priority global missions or lukewarm ­domestic ­support for NATO missions. Finally, the forces of some Allies are consumed providing military support to domestic civil authorities to help prevent terrorism or to help control migration in their own country.

The Alliance has capability, capacity and interoperability shortfalls. It would be difficult to generate full spectrum highly capable, deployable, sustainable and interoperable forces if US military enablers are not ­available. A NATO force with a ‘full range of capabilities necessary to ­deter and defend’ could be difficult to generate without US military capability and capacity. The Alliance is overly reliant and dependent on the US military.

The lack of real Alliance military power could invite aggression. Adversaries may come to believe that NATO could not, or would not, invoke Article 5 for lack of capability or capacity. Today, an aggressive Russia, ISIL / Daesh and Iran are improving military capability and capacity and employing ­unconventional means to pursue their goals. Only real power can deter these three diverse threats simultaneously.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was the existential threat, the very reason for the Alliance in the first place. Allies feared the Soviet Union so they invested in real combat power. Real power deterrence replaced the Soviet incentive to wage war with the incentive to avoid war! Credible deterrence maintained security and stability until the collapse of the ­Soviet Union. Almost immediately after the collapse, Allies invested less in defence and reprioritized the money to other priorities.

Today, there is disagreement about the current security environment. ­Allies are sovereign nations with different national views. For some, Russia is an existential threat. For others, ISIL / Daesh is the existential threat. Still others see Iran as an emerging existential threat. Absent a consensus ­existential threat, some Allies may never be compelled to prioritize ­defence spending over other priorities.

Given Warsaw aspirations, Allies must increase defence spending and invest wisely! Allies must organize, train and equip militaries with REAL capability and capacity. Allies must fully train and educate their militaries. Allies must provide adequate and experienced Peacetime Establishment (PE) and Crisis Establishment (CE) manning to the NATO Command Structure (NCS) level. NATO could then force generate and execute operations with a force that has real near-peer, full-spectrum combat power. Allies ­meeting the DIP would signal strong resolve, demonstrate shared sacrifice, and send a powerful message to future adversaries: NATO is strong, cohesive and willing to invoke Article 5 in defence of an Ally.

The Transition Reality: When Deterrence Fails, Prompt ­Consensus Is Pivotal, Collective Defence Must Be Decisive

Deterrence and collective defence are bookends to Warsaw aspirations. Deterrence prevents conflict. Defence protects Allied populations and ­territories. Between the bookends, leaders want ‘… freedom of decision and action at any time’. Consensus is the pivot point between deterrence and defence. Consensus pivots Alliance mindset from peacetime to crisis. Consensus pivots the NCS from prudent thinking to detailed planning and Course of Action (COA) development. Consensus pivots Allies from ­pre-deployment preparation to deployment and employment execution.

While consensus is pivotal, it is difficult and slow. Allies are sovereign ­nations and put their national interests first. Aligning 28 national views into a single consensus during rising tensions can be lengthy and complex.

The only Article 5 declaration in Alliance history provides significant insights into the consensus process. The day after the 11 September 2001 Al-Qaeda attack on the US, the NATO Secretary General stated, ‘if it is determined that this attack was directed from abroad against the United States, it shall be regarded as an action covered by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty’.

It took NATO leaders almost three weeks to invoke Article 5! On 2 October the Secretary General finally confirmed the attack had been directed from abroad and covered by Article 5. He went on to explain it was premature to speculate on what military action would be taken by the Alliance, ­individually or collectively.

Invoking Article 5 for 9/11 was neither timely nor clear-cut. First, it took almost three weeks to get consensus on who attacked and if the attack was directed from abroad. Second, there was no consensus for a military response. Third, Allied participation in any military response, individually or collectively, was still to be determined. For Allies, words matter and require full debate before they commit their nation to war. Article 5 language is not as clear or directive as many assume. The words and phrases demand the provision of intelligence to support analysis of the crisis. For some Allies, normal intelligence collection and analysis may not be enough. Some Allies may require ‘beyond a reasonable doubt” legal evidence complete with forensic analysis, which can take even more time. Only then can Allies resolve their national view into 28 for 28 consensus. Finally, Article 5 gives Allies plenty of options for each crisis that must be negotiated. For instance, Allies could argue over what ­constitutes an ‘… armed attack’. The phrase ‘… such action as it deems ­necessary …’ gives Allies response options with caveats. Overall, the negotiations needed in order to resolve Article 5 wording opens up the possibility for long North Atlantic Council (NAC) deliberations to reach consensus.

The 9/11 attack was an asymmetric attack by a non-state actor using ­unconventional means. There were no indications and warnings. No one could have predicted the attack. No one could have imagined this type of attack as possible, let alone a reason to invoke Article 5.

The Alliance learned from the experience of invoking Article 5 after 9/11. Unfortunately, so did the enemy! Potential adversaries know consensus is the centre of gravity for NATO action. They also know the Alliance has formidable power. Therefore, potential adversaries will avoid challenging NATO directly. Future attacks will be difficult to assess; ambiguity and ­uncertainty could delay or may even prevent consensus.

Delays reaching consensus will delay collective defence. Military planning, setting the theatre, reinforcement, deployment and employment of ­Alliance forces cannot start in earnest until consensus is achieved. If ­deterrence fails, the Allies must achieve prompt consensus and then ­execute decisive collective defence.

The Threat Reality: The Enemy Has a Vote and Could Choose War

The Alliance may have forgotten that the enemy has a vote because NATO deterrence has been successful. For decades, the enemy did not choose war against NATO because they feared Alliance power. The reality is that deterrence can fail and the enemy could choose war. Deterrence can fail for many reasons. Some potential adversaries could believe NATO does not have the capability or capacity to invoke a vigorous collective defence. A suicidal or psychotic leader may not be deterrable. Some Allies may not have the political will to invoke Article 5 because they believe the unintended consequences are worse, such as inadvertent escalation, instigating an arms race, provoking a crisis or pushing a nuclear-armed adversary to first strike, to name a few. From deterrence through defence, some ­Allies may want to use more diplomacy, information or economic sanctions during rising tensions instead of military power because they ­perceive any NATO military response give adversary leadership an excuse to suppress human rights, crush dissent or begin a military build-up.

The threat reality could upset the traditional rules-based world order. In the Warsaw communiqué, leaders noted a wide ‘arc’ of diverse threats ‘that could confront from any direction’. Each threat is different and all use asymmetric means. Russia, a resurgent, powerful nation-state with nuclear weapons used hybrid warfare to annex Crimea and create multiple frozen conflicts all over Europe. ISIL / Daesh, a non-state, radical, Islamic terrorist group seeking to establish a caliphate, uses terror tactics to advance their ideology. Iran, a religiously motivated rouge nation-state supports terror groups worldwide and continues to pursue nuclear warheads for their ­already capable ballistic missiles. Unattributed and attributed cyber-­attacks are now common and will continue to increase in both frequency and magnitude. Nation-states and non-state actors are using chemical weapons to achieve goals and influence regions. State and non-state ­actors openly violate international law, such as using ‘little green men’2 and human shields to avoid retribution. Current and future adversaries will pursue even more asymmetric means and create an exponentially more complex security environment. Attribution becomes difficult, ambiguity slows decision-making and uncertainty challenges Alliance consensus. ­Attribution, ambiguity and uncertainty weaken deterrence and could slow or even prevent the timely consensus needed to invoke Article 5 and mount a collective defence.

Russia’s ‘Escalate to Deescalate’ nuclear strategy is the newest and most dangerous challenge to NATO. A form of nuclear saber rattling, Russian leaders imply with an alarming and ambiguous casual easiness, a willingness to use nuclear weapons in response to a conventional Alliance Article 5 response. This strategy could have a chilling effect on the effort to achieve consensus and could fracture the Alliance. If successful, any future nuclear-armed adversary could employ ‘Escalate to Deescalate’ nuclear saber rattling against the Alliance or individual Allies.

If the enemy chooses war, Allies should expect ambiguous tactics infused with uncertainty making attribution difficult. These tactics will delay NATO processes, decision-making and could fracture NATO resolve. NATO must understand and evaluate the effect of asymmetric attacks on Article 5 if the enemy chooses war.

Many possible scenarios would challenge invoking Article 5 because of the asymmetric nature of the attack. What if Russia launches a Crimea style hybrid attack of ‘little green men’ in Lithuania? What if Russia threatens to respond with a tactical nuclear weapon to NATO invoking Article 5 in ­response to the ‘little green men’ hybrid attack in Lithuania? What if there is Russian cyber-attack on European electrical grids or banks? What if Iran openly provides safe haven to terrorists responsible for terror attacks in Europe? What if Iran launches a single ballistic missile against a NATO BMD radar? What if a Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) out of Kaliningrad shoots down an Ally’s airliner in NATO airspace? What about a SAM shooting down an Alliance airlifter during a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) deployment to Poland? What if an ISIL / Daesh affiliated terrorist ­detonates a dirty bomb (or executes a biological or a chemical attack) in a European city shopping centre?

The highly capable force the Alliance needs will be costly. Allies must ­invest wisely and the Alliance must explore and find other ways to combat emerging threats with the force at hand. NATO is a nuclear Alliance with considerable strategic deterrence capability. NATO has an operational BMD design at Initial Operating Capability (IOC). NATO has access to 8 of the 20 most powerful conventional militaries in the world. Can the NATO force deter Russia, ISIL / Daesh and Iran simultaneously? Can the force ­defend against Russia, ISIL / Daesh and Iran simultaneously? Plus, NATO must combat cyber-attacks and ballistic missile attacks (successful, not successful, and intercepted). Each threat is unique and will require a ­tailored response.

Adversaries are expanding conventional military means to negate the strengths of NATO in peacetime. While annexing Crimea and attacking the Ukraine, Russia also deployed a network of highly capable Anti-Access / Area Denial (A2 / AD) environments from the Barents to the Baltic to the Black to the Mediterranean Seas. Russian A2 / AD environments are layered; very capable, modern, long-range SAM systems designed to intimidate Allies and could directly challenge Alliance adaptations. A2 / AD environments extend into NATO airspace and could threaten civilian aircraft. Russia also deployed significant numbers of modern, long-range, Surface-to-Surface missile (SSM) system designed to threaten Alliance critical assets. Eliminating A2 / AD environments and SSM sites would require deploying well-resourced and synchronized military operations into Russian territory. If not eliminated, A2 / AD environments could delay NATO reinforcement and VJTF deployment.

If the enemy chooses war, NATO Joint Air Power will play a major role ­because the core Air Power roles are indispensable to a decisive collective defence. The speed, flexibility, range and readiness of NATO air forces will be first to respond if the enemy chooses war. NATO Joint Air Power will ­maximize the effectiveness of and enable the NATO joint force. NATO Joint Air Power effectively integrated within the selected joint COA will provide the best opportunity to mount a robust collective defence.

The Force Reality: NATO Forces Must Be Ready, Deployable and Sustainable to Be Fully Combat Capable

Articles 32, 33, 44 and 45 of the Warsaw Communiqué call for an ­extremely capable force that can fulfill the whole range of NATO missions. They set high expectations for the Alliance force. They want a force that can deter, reinforce and defend against any potential full spectrum threat attack from any direction! Additionally, they want the force to be deployable, ­sustainable, interoperable, heavy, high-end, full range and be at high ­readiness!

NATO leaders require a fully combat capable force that can win across the entire spectrum of conflict. To be fully combat capable, the force must be ready, deployable and sustainable every single day! It will be expensive. How expensive depends on the answers to the following questions: (1) Ready for what? (2) Deploy to where? (3) Sustain for how long? More ­money invested wisely, can buy more readiness, more deployability and more sustainability. If 28 Allies honor the DIP, NATO forces will have ­increased combat capability because Alliance militaries will offer forces that have increased combat capability.

Allies make spending decisions based on national priorities. Some Allies may not honor the DIP. The Communiqué offered a positive spin on the current state of Alliance defence spending. It noted that Alliance defence spending increased and the majority of Allies halted or reversed declines. Still, only 5 of 28 met the 2 % GDP goal, 10 of 28 met the 20 % modernization goal. A more blunt assessment could have been: some Allies still have declining or flat defence spending, 23 of 28 did not meet the 2 % GDP goal, and 18 of 28 did not meet the 20 % modernization goal.

Obviously, the emerging threats are not existential enough to inspire ­increased defence spending by some Allies. Realistically, expect Alliance combat capability to remain the same or decrease slightly over time.

Currently, NATO Joint Air Power executes high readiness standing missions (Air Policing, BMD and Turkish Air Defence supplementation) with great effectiveness. Additionally, NATO Joint Air Power capability and capacity will increase as Allies fund and bring to IOC already funded critical capabilities. The ACCS and NATO AWACS upgrades will provide better C2. Along with the Romanian Aegis Ashore site, the Polish site will provide more ­upper layer BMD capabilities. NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) and NAEW upgrades will enhance organic ISR collection capacity. Multiple Allies are procuring F-35, F-16 and leasing Gripen, which will increase ­interoperability and introduce sensor fusion into NATO’s war fighting Concept of Operations (CONOPS), Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP).

Modernization improves combat capability but not enough make NATO Joint Air Power the advantage Allies have come to rely upon for decades. The following 30-point plan for improving NATO Joint Air Power along with increased defence spending will enhance readiness, deployability and sustainability.

30 Point Plan for Improving NATO Joint Air Power

1. Meet the 2014 Wales Summit DIP

The DIP was inspired by Russia annexing Crimea. The goal was to strengthen NATO by increasing defence spending and demonstrate collective ­resolve by signaling shared sacrifice. The DIP will buy capability, increase capacity and demonstrate the political willingness to meet Warsaw Summit aspirations. All 28 Allies meeting the DIP will enhance deterrence and defence because a strengthened NATO will be ready to meet future ­security challenges with real power.

2. Establish a Standing, Fully Functional Air Operations Centre (AOC) with a Fully Manned PE Joint Force Air Component (JFAC). At a Minimum, ­Establish a Fully Manned, Standing ISRD within NATO Allied Air Command HQ

Currently, NATO Allied Air Command operates a ‘Core’ JFAC utilizing an AOC that stands up ‘just in time’ in the event of crisis. Currently, NATO Allied Air Command has three permanent 24 / 7 C2 nodes: a theater-wide BMD C2 cell, an Air Policing Combined AOC for the north and an Air Policing Combined AOC for the south. These C2 nodes are structured and manned to accomplish their assigned mission. They are not capable of providing the full range of C2 required during crisis. If NATO responds to a crisis with the VJTF or enhanced NATO Response Force (NRF), a fully functional Allied Air Command AOC and JFAC will be required to synchronize and integrate the Air Tasking Order (ATO). A permanent, fully functional, fully manned (PE) AOC will be necessary to ­reduce the risk to mission during the transition from deterrence to defence.

At a minimum, NATO should establish a standing, fully manned Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division (ISRD) at Allied Air Command. The impending IOC declaration of the Allied Ground ­Surveillance (AGS) system and the recent delegation of Operational Control (OPCON) of NATO Airborne Early Warning (NAEW) aircraft to Allied Air Command will require a more functional, standing ISRD ­operating 24 / 7 to better C2 these NATO organic ISR assets. Additionally, the NATO units doing the Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination (PED) of the intelligence will require a fully functional 24 / 7 ISRD to coordinate C2 and ISR collection deck requirements decisions for the Alliance. The day-to-day C2 of the ISR and PED missions will better prepare Allied Air Command to utilize additional force generated ISR assets in crisis. This is critical to the Warsaw Summit force expectations because ISR assets are low density / high demand assets that already are a documented NATO shortfall and every effort must be made to completely take advantage of their capabilities.

3. Replace Air Policing with Air Defence as the NATO ­Standing Peacetime Mission

Today, the Air Policing standing mission protects NATO with a defence design using aircraft, sensors and C2. Every day, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, 2 Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs), 45 Control and ­Reporting Centres (CRCs), hundreds of radars, and 70 Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft are on high readiness to protect the ­integrity of Alliance ­airspace and to ensure safety in international ­airspace around Europe’s ­periphery.

Air Policing served the Alliance well for decades; however, future threats could make the Air Policing defence design irrelevant. Russia has rejected the opportunity to reset the relationship with Europe. Russia and other emerging threats have the capability and capacity to attack with military aircraft (manned and unmanned), cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and hijacked civilian aircraft. Future threats could choose to attack with conventional, chemical, biological and nuclear warheads. The future threat is complex and dangerous.

The Air Policing standing mission cannot deter or defend against ­future threats. It is time to replace the Air Policing with a comprehensive Air Defence design. Air Defence in the Cold War successfully ­deterred the Soviet Union. An Air Defence standing mission can better deter potential adversaries in the future!

In addition to aircraft, sensors and C2 capability, a comprehensive Air Defence would require several changes to the defence design. The ­Alliance should integrate NATO Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) ­assets and incorporate Airspace Control Measures (ACM). The Allies should eliminate cross border restrictions for NATO QRA aircraft. ­Additionally, Allies should eliminate cross control restrictions for NATO C2 units controlling NATO and partner aircraft during QRA and peacetime training. NATO political leadership should approve a complete set of Rules of Engagement (RoE) for QRA pilots to address non-NATO ­military aircraft airspace violations. Finally, provide a complete set of RoE for QRA pilots to address civil aircraft not complying with ­International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards in NATO ­airspace (RENEGADE) or in international airspace. Together, these changes will maximize the ability to provide robust Air Defence of the Alliance.

Air Defence mindset in peacetime will prepare the Alliance to execute Air Defence in crisis. Defending NATO airspace every day with a ­comprehensive, effective Air Defence design signals a strong resolve that proves the Alliance is more than ready and willing to defend ­European airspace every day.

4. If Allies Decide not to Replace Air Policing with Air ­Defence, Then Develop an Air Policing to Air Defence (AP-to-AD) Transition Plan for Implementation During Times of Rising Tensions

A structured AP-to-AD transition is a necessary alternative to the ­replacement of Air Policing. Implementing several changes to the standing Air Policing defence design at a pace and timing advantageous to the Alliance will signal resolve during rising tensions and could even diffuse the crisis. The list of changes include integrating GBAD assets, incorporating ACM, deploying NATO CRC units, surging NATO AWACS flights, providing timely and expanded NATO QRA RoE, rescinding cross border and cross control flight restrictions and increasing QRA locations and aircraft. All of these initiatives will signal resolve and could de­escalate a crisis.

5. Develop a Strategic Indication and Warning (I&W) System

Strategy communicates intent; the ways and means that will get the ­Alliance to the desired end state. A clear strategy provides focus and sets the condition for success. The most effective way to alert Alliance leadership to emerging crisis is a set of strategically informed, operationally ­focused I&W. A strategic I&W process will warn leadership to weakening ­deterrence and could identify the beginning of adversary preparation for conflict.

The I&W should be presented to leadership at regular intervals with the purpose of inspiring action or accepting risk. In short, an I&W system would identify the requirement to begin operational level planning and if necessary, execute a COA. An I&W system does not mindlessly lead the Alliance into preplanned courses of action because leaders could dis­regard the I&W and accept the risk of no action.
I&W should be a recurring formal NATO process or even a standing ­mission. NATO leaders at all levels should be involved and responsible. The I&W should be developed and NAC approved prior to rising tensions and crisis.

Strategic I&W will benefit NATO Joint Air Power because the system will focus the entire Joint ISR process. The system will inform the most effective use of low density / high demand ISR assets and provide clarity to ISR force generation. The system will inform CONOPS, ISR collection, collection deck development and steer Joint ISR to Full Operational Capability (FOC). The system will inspire process improvements for ISR collection and the PED of NATO ISR.

A formal, recurring strategic Alliance I&W process will reinforce civilian control by emphasizing the NATO strategy approved by political authorities while holding NATO leaders accountable for the strategy. It could minimize the gap between the speed of political and military decision-making. Additionally, Alliance military leadership could better advocate for increased defence spending depending on the current security environment or rising tensions.

Strategic I&W reflect NATO strategy and will bridge strategic intent to ­operational planning and execution. Enhanced NATO situational awareness will provide more credible deterrence and collective defence.

6. Stand Up a NCS PED Centre with a Fully Trained PE

A NCS PED Centre is necessary to exploit the full capabilities of AGS. AGS will provide significant amounts of raw intelligence data but without ­organic PED, the majority of the data will go unexploited. Persistent ISR will enhance the situational awareness of NATO leaders. The PED Centre can be the Centre of Excellence that educates future leaders in this important war fighting function. Finally, the NATO PED Centre can serve as the ‘core’ unit that will be supplemented and augmented as needed to meet ISR requirements during crisis.

7. Stand Up a NCS Targeting Centre with a Fully Trained PE

Targeting capacity is essential to meet war-fighting requirements and ­remains an Alliance shortfall. NATO must stand up a NCS Targeting Centre to develop an organic targeting capacity because Allies may not be able to meet the full requirements of the VJTF and enhanced NRF. In peacetime, the NATO Targeting Centre could support exercises to provide necessary training. It can serve as the NATO Centre of Excellence to educate future leaders.

The NATO Targeting Centre will serve as the ‘core’ element of targeteers that will be supplemented and augmented by other NATO HQ, Allies and Partner nations in crisis.

8. Reevaluate NCS PE and CE for the Optimum Placement of NATO Joint Air Power Experienced Personnel

Make necessary adjustments to ensure adequate air expertise is present throughout the all levels of leadership for both PE and CE. Today, there is not enough air expertise within NATO Joint Commands to influence ­planning that would make the most effective use of air power to con­tribute to the selected joint COA.

9. Establish NATO Procedures for ‘RENEGADE’ Assistance to Allies without Sovereign Air Defence Capability

The hijacking of a civilian airliner (RENEGADE) for the purpose of attacking a NATO Alliance member in a 9/11 style terrorist attack is remote but ­possible. Today, the Air Policing defence design does not provide equal protection for defence against a RENEGADE threat.

For non-NATO military aircraft penetrating Alliance airspace, the NATO Commander is responsible for escalation throughout the full Air Policing Procedure:

  • identification;
  • interception;
  • interrogation;
  • shadowing;
  • intervention;
  • warning burst; and
  • engagement.

For highjacked civilian aircraft (RENEGADE), the NATO Commander is ­responsible for only partial escalation of the Air Policing Procedure:

  • identification;
  • interception;
  • interrogation; and
  • shadowing.

The NATO Commander transfers responsibility for Intervention, Warning Burst and Engagement to a National Government Agency (NGA). How­ever, some Allies do not have the means to address RENEGADE Intervention, Warning Burst and Engagement because they do not have sovereign air defence capabilities; Albania, Iceland, Luxembourg, Slovenia and ­Croatia (in the PM). Given the potential of ISIL / Daesh and other terrorist attacks in Europe, this urgent priority will fill a major hole in the Air Policing defence design.

Allies must negotiate agreements to provide ‘RENEGADE’ protection for those without sovereign air defence capability. Those Allies should then request this NATO capability and then work the legal aspects that would accommodate a NATO QRA to provide Intervention, Warning Burst and Engagement to Allies without sovereign air defence capability.

10. Develop Preplanned Air-Heavy ‘Deterrence Options’ to Incorporate Into NATO Plans

Expand NATO adaptation options by developing pre-planned air-heavy deterrence options. Air-heavy options could enhance current adaptations and provide NATO a menu of low-cost, less permanent movements of military force to signal resolve. Incorporating the air options into the NATO strategic communication plan could enhance deterrence. Additionally, planned properly, air-heavy deterrence options could also help set the theater to prepare for a robust collective defence.

11. Develop NAC-Approved, Pre-Planned Responses (PPRs) for Conventional Military Employment

Since NATO is a defensive alliance, NATO should reject any criticism of ­defensive measures as escalatory. To bolster the ability to deter and defend, NATO should consider, develop and approve PPRs to supplement defensive measures executed during times of rising tensions.

As I&W are triggered indicating a rising tensions and potential adversary preparations for conflict, PPRs would signal to adversaries that NATO has every intent to defend the Alliance and by doing so, could deter the ­adversary.

The concept of PPR options is already NAC accepted within the NATO BMD design. The BMD mission requires PPRs because they are in­dispensable for success because of the speed and nature of the threat.

12. Add NATO Joint Air Power Assets to the Long-Term Rotation Plan (LTRP) for Enhanced NATO Response Force (NRF), Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) Reception Mission

NATO’s adaptation is ground centric. NATO Joint Air Power must be ­incorporated into adaptations in order to provide more credible deterrence and to set the theatre in preparation for collective defence. NATO Joint Air Power should incorporate GBAD assets, deployable NATO CRCs, key air assets and capabilities, air focused logisticians to each NFIU and a realistic VJTF and enhanced NRF exercise programme.

13. Formalize NATO Readiness, Deployability and ­Sustainability Metrics

Future Alliance credibility depends on ready, deployable and sustain­able Allied forces. Therefore, combat capability metrics should be ­developed by the NCS, approved by the NAC and reviewed at regular intervals by NATO leadership through the NAC. A systematic and transparent combat capability process will assure, develop trust, enhance credibility and inspire confidence among Allies that force generated forces are combat capable.

If it doesn’t get measured, it doesn’t get done. Measuring readiness, deployability and sustainability will hold Allies accountable for the combat capability of their forces. This combat capability review, in­corporated into the strategic communication plan during times of ­increased tension could enhance deterrence. Additionally, high standards for combat capability will enhance deterrence and defence.

14. Establish an Alliance Conference to Identify Training Opportunities

Routine Alliance training conferences should be held to identify inter­operability-training opportunities among individual Allies training ­schedules. Additionally, this training conference could identify and review advanced training. Integrating individual training schedules to increase interoperability training normally gained during the exercise programme would maximize NATO combat capability.

Allies should continue to identify training needs and develop training ­programmes to build combat capability in the air and on the ground. There are numerous training opportunities to promote interoperability on the ground and in the air. For example, during the Cold War, ‘Ample Gain’ aircraft cross servicing events were routinely accomplished to make sure that Allied aircraft could be ‘combat turned’ at any NATO base. More ­routine training such as Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) among ­Allies was accomplished. DACT missions using NATO C2 nodes for training will enhance the ability to operate together. Pallet buildup training and load training to NATO standards for different Alliance airlifters could ­facilitate the VJTF movement faster, safer and more effectively.

15. Focus NATO Infrastructure Investment on Airfield ­Improvements Needed to Support High Tempo Combat Operations

Modern airfields are weapons systems and should be able to support high tempo combat operations. The list of airfield requirements is long and ­ambitious: fuel, fuel storage, weapons, weapons storage, ramps, parking, full instrumentation, communication, snow removal, deicing, sweepers just to name a few. In the end, runways and taxiways are a good start, but are not enough to support 24 / 7 high tempo combat operations!

16. Charter a NATO Working Group to Identify and Implement Interoperability Initiatives

The key to NATO Joint Air Power effectiveness is to force generate assets and quickly operate overnight. This requires a focus on interoperability, all day every day! This is very difficult in an alliance of 28 nations. NATO Air Forces operate different equipment and are in various stages of ­modernization. New technologies are always being introduced to even legacy equipment. Exploiting emerging capabilities with Alliance ­interoperability in mind as soon as possible will increase the NATO combat effectiveness. Particular focus should be to exploit emerging capabilities already being acquired by Allies. The list of emerging capabilities already being acquired by NATO air forces that must be included for ­interoperability initiatives include: ‘4th & 5th’ generation interoperability, sensor fusion integration, machine-to-machine information transfer policy and guidance, ACCS optimization and Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) ­integration. This working group will educate NATO military and political organizations about emerging capabilities and the ramifications to the Alliance.

17. Develop Critical Pooling and Sharing Agreements to Address NATO Capability Shortfalls

Several NATO warfighting shortfalls can be addressed with strategic pooling and sharing agreements among Allies or partners. The agreements allow nations who cannot afford organic capability to participate and gain expertise in advanced capabilities and expensive aircraft. The Heavy Airlift Wing (a mix of 13 Allies and partners operating 3 C-17s at Papa, Hungary) is a successful pooling and sharing agreement that is providing strategic airlift to member nations. Few nations can afford C-17 aircraft, but under a Memorandum of Understanding, partners execute the strategic airlift mission and train personnel to become qualified crewmembers. The ­benefits are twofold: the unit delivers real combat power while nations develop Airmen in a critical core mission area.

NATO AWACS and AGS are also examples of the Alliance pooling and ­sharing agreements that provide critical airborne C2 and ISR capability. Within the agreement, Allies train and educate their Airmen in these key core missions. Often times, pooling and sharing arrangements are ­inefficient but the benefits far outweigh the inefficiencies and bring real combat power to NATO missions.

The following documented NATO capability shortfalls should be considered as missions that could be addressed by pooling and sharing arrangements: Joint ISR, BMD, cyber defence, special forces aviation, special forces C2, deployable medical treatment facilities, Suppression of Enemy Air ­Defence (SEAD), Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA), Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) and Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) for both air-to-air and strike requirements.

18. Establish an Upper and Lower Layer Organic NATO BMD Interceptor Capability

NATO BMD is a standing mission and at IOC. Currently, BMD sensors, lower and upper layer interceptor systems are US systems under NATO C2. As NATO moves from BMD IOC to FOC, more interceptor capacity must to be available to meet future threats. BMD FOC will demonstrate NATO resolve against this potentially game changing threat. Most Allies cannot afford or cannot invest in a sovereign lower and upper layer interceptor system; however, standing up organic NATO upper and lower layer interceptor units could be the best approach to meet increasing future requirements. Allies who cannot afford this capability would benefit from the oppor­tunity to be part of this emerging mission by serving and resourcing ­organic NATO upper and lower layer interceptor systems.

19. Charter a Working Group to Better Understand ­Deterrence Theory and Help Educate All Levels of ­Leadership in NATO

During the Cold War, Allies invested considerable amounts of time and effort to better understand the deterrence theory and the Soviet Union. Allies had a common understanding of Soviet motivation, perception, and culture. The Alliance currently has 28 different views of emerging security challenges involving a multitude of threats. A renewed effort under a NATO working group would help the Alliance regain deterrence theory understanding but in relation to the diverse nature of the threats ­documented at the Warsaw Summit. Allies and partners with a common understanding of deterrence theory and the diverse array of threats may shorten the time required to achieve consensus if deterrence fails and ­collective defence is necessary.

20. Develop and Execute a NATO Full Spectrum ‘Deterrence’ War Game and Exercise

The significant expansion of Russian A2 / AD environments in Europe requires development of a realistic, full- spectrum, deterrence-focused exercise. The war game should fully exercise NATO Dual Capable Aircraft (DCA) and the independent strategic forces of the UK and France. Additionally, NATO must exercise the conventional support required to make DCA large force packaging more effective. The exercise should include two separate events to comprehensively exercise the training audience at every level of the NCS. First, a NAC level tabletop war game should be accomplished to explore the policy and guidance needed to make NATO strategic ­deterrence credible. This tabletop would also educate leaders on nuclear deterrence theory. Second, a realistic operational and tactical live fly level exercise should be executed to exercise planning and C2 requirements along with the ability of tactical units to meet the required timeline. Once ­completed, NATO leaders should be confident that the nuclear enterprise supporting Alliance strategic deterrence is safe, secure and reliable.

21. Develop and Execute a Contingency ‘Reinforcement’ War Game to Better Understand NATO Readiness, ­Deployability and Sustainability Capacity

NATO should war game the ability of NATO to reinforce Europe from North America in the event of an Article 5 collective defence scenario. So far, the ability to reinforce NATO Europe has been assumed to be unopposed. It would be prudent to consider the consequences of a contested reinforcement that could delay the arrival of needed resources. The war game will foster a better understanding across all NATO organizations of the ­challenges involved with reinforcement on the required timeline. The game will better determine the needed weapons stockpiles to reduce the risk of a contested reinforcement.

22. Focus the ‘Ambitious NATO Exercise Programme’ on More Narrow Training Audiences with More Realistic Scenarios

Exercise with more realistic scenarios designed to focus on the training needs of more narrow training audiences. Currently, the exercise programme aspiration far exceeds the capability of the NCS organizations ­responsible for NATO training. A more focused, properly scaled exercise programme would provide more effective training. Unfortunately, it would be to a smaller training audience.

23. Evaluate Combat Ready Forces with More Realistic ­Scenarios

Evaluate NATO combat ready forces more thoroughly using realistic ­scenarios. Include no-notice evaluations in rigorous 24-hour per day ­scenarios. Grading criteria should be comprehensive and standards should be high.

24. Charter a Working Group to Focus on Neutralizing A2 / AD Environments

A2 / AD environments threaten Europe and could limit the effectiveness of NATO Wales Summit adaptations. This working group will educate Alliance leaders on the complexity and the enormous effort needed to neutralize A2 / AD environments. Using the real world Kaliningrad A2 / AD environment for a deep analysis, this group will determine the CONOPS, TTPs, type and number of assets / munitions needed to neutralize this modern long-range SAM array. This working group will determine and communicate for NATO leadership the effect of A2 / AD environments on the ability of NATO to move the VJTF or enhanced NRF into contested areas. Finally, a re­inforcement timeline to get non-European assigned assets into place on time in the right location will be developed by this working group.

The working group will also explore kinetic and non-kinetic multi-domain alternative solutions that could neutralize A2 / AD environments.

25. Charter a Working Group to Focus on Critical Asset Air Defence Requirements

Critical assets must be defended to maintain credible deterrence and ­execute collective defence. This working group will develop and maintain this critical asset list. The critical asset list should include BMD radars, BMD interceptor sites, aerial and surface ports of embarkation. Once a critical asset list is developed, an air defence design can be developed as war fighting requirements. In peacetime, Alliance leadership can advocate for increased defence spending prioritization to meet the air defence requirements identified by this working group.

26. Authorize Planning During Rising Tensions Prior to ­Achieving Consensus

Detailed NATO planning does not occur until there is consensus. Consensus can be difficult and takes time. Potential adversaries using asymmetric approaches infused with ambiguity and uncertainty will delay consensus even further. NATO is a defensive alliance and the Cold War view that planning is escalatory or provokes conflict hinders the ability of NATO to deter and defend. NATO should decouple consensus and planning in order to better posture the Alliance for a faster, more robust defence once consensus is achieved.

After consensus, the military planning needed to prepare a collective defence planning will take time because the current PE and CE are not big enough to absorb all of the work. The staff must develop, evaluate, and recommend to the NAC several COAs. The C2 nodes must stand up with fully functioning Information Technology (IT). C2 nodes must ­receive, in process and train augmentation and supplemental manning. Once the C2 nodes are stood up, they must increase proficiency with drills to gain effectiveness. Once the NAC selects the COA, the force must be generated and execution planning must occur. All of this must be done while standing peacetime missions still continue.

Any delay along the way could hinder NATO effectiveness. The delay could hinder the readiness of the fielded force, the ability to deploy the force and weaken the ability to sustain the force. Every day without NATO political consensus is a delay to putting a combat capable force in the field. Every day is an opportunity for potential adversaries to prepare for conflict, delegitimize NATO action with negative strategic communication and introduce even more uncertainty and ambiguity into the crisis.

27. Adjust Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and Tactics, ­Techniques and Procedures (TTP) Specifically to Each Threat

NATO must be ready to address the diverse threats highlighted in the ­Warsaw Summit. The nature of these threats are different and include: nation states (with or without nuclear weapons), nation-states with ballistic missiles and pursuing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) capability, and non-state actors launching terrorist attacks in Europe and deployed forces. Potential attacks by state and non-state actors through cyberspace must be explored. Potential attacks by adversaries using hybrid warfare must be addressed. All of these potential attacks require extensive analysis to ensure a timely response. The analysis should focus on the effect of each threat on NATO processes, ­CONOPS, TTPs and invoking Article 5 responses.

28. Maintain Adequate Weapons Inventories

As defence spending declines, nations commonly reduce weapons ­inventories needed to sustain combat operations in order to balance the budget. In peacetime, no one notices. In crisis, munitions shortfalls are ­discovered in real time during ongoing combat operations forcing ­commanders to find munitions to keep combat ops going or to keep the Alliance or coalition of willing intact. Allied weapons inventories should be monitored because given the high rates of consumption expected during high tempo combat operations, it will be very difficult to resupply the force in a timely manner, particularly with precision-guided munitions.

29. Focus on Full Interoperability and Standardization ­Agreement (STANAG) Compliance

Interoperability and STANAG compliance are important to Alliance ­effectiveness. Standards must be developed, enforced, evaluated and ­inspected to make sure interoperability is assured across the entire ­spectrum of military activities. If compliance is enforced, the ability of the Alliance to execute combat operations overnight with the NATO generated force will increase exponentially.

30. Increase Training Opportunities for Deployed Military Forces

An ability to accomplish full spectrum training for already deployed forces could increase support to standing NATO operations. The lack of training opportunities in the Baltics for NATO QRA remains an irritation to those Allies who offer aircraft for Air Policing. While NATO air forces have been supportive of reinforced Baltic Air Policing, the effort to reinforce air ­policing in the south after the annexation of Crimea did not occur due to lack of assets and legal obstacles.

Lack of deployed training opportunities occur for a variety of reasons. Restricted airfield operating hours limit flight operations. The high cost of airfield support functions limit flight operations. Weapons storage sites are limited in scope or operating hours. Restrictive flying hour windows ­primarily caused by noise abatement efforts limit operations. Lack of training airspace, training ranges and supersonic flight and chaff and flare ­restrictions prevent full spectrum training. Finally, the availability of adversaries precludes advanced training. Initiatives to alleviate training restrictions will help force generation for reinforced Air Policing.

Business Insider, ‘RANKED: The world’s 20 strongest militaries’, Jeremy Bender, 21 Apr. 2016.
Wikipedia: ‘Little green men refers to masked soldiers in unmarked green army uniforms and carrying modern Russian military weapons and equipment that appeared during the Ukrainian crisis of 2014. The term was first used during the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, when those soldiers occupied and blockaded the Simferopol International Airport, most military bases in Crimea and the parliament in Simferopol.’
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General (ret.)
Director, Joint Air Power Competence Centre (2013-2016)

General (ret.) Frank Gorenc retired from the United States Air Force after 37 years of active duty service. His career culminated as the Commander US Air Forces Europe, Commander US Air Forces Africa, Commander NATO Allied Air Command at Ramstein Air Base, ­Germany, and ­Director, Joint Air Power Competence Centre, Kalkar, Germany.

General Gorenc was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He was commissioned after graduating from the US AF Academy in 1979. During his career, he commanded units at every level and served in numerous staff positions on the Air Staff, Air Combat Command, the Joint Staff, and US European Command / Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. He is a command pilot with more than 4,800 flight hours in the F-15C, T-38A, MQ-1B, UH-1N, and C-21.

During his career, he participated in Operations DESERT STORM, PROVIDE COMFORT, SOUTHERN WATCH, NORTHERN WATCH, IRAQI FREEDOM, ­ENDURING FREEDOM, ODYSSEY DAWN, UNIFIED PROTECTOR and ­INHERANT RESOLVE. In addition, he commanded three standing NATO operations: Air Policing, BMD, and Augmentation to Turkey missions.

His education includes Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, a Master of Aeronautical Science and a Master of Science degree in ­National Security Strategy from the National Defense University. He is a graduate of the Air Force Fighter Weapons Instructor Course and the NATO Tactical Leadership Programme.

Information provided is current as of October 2017

Other Chapters in this Book

Executive Summary and Key Recommendations


The Role of NATO Joint Air Power in Deterrence and Collective Defence

Joint ISR and Air C2

Missile Defence in NATO

Towards a Coherent and Effective Surface Based Air and Missile Defence (SBAMD) as a Key Pillar of NATO ­Integrated Air and Missile Defence System

Hybrid Conflict, Hybrid Warfare and Resilience

Urgent Joint Air Power Priorities

Alliance and Partnership Cooperation

Bridging Mutual Joint Air Power Interests

Industrial and ­Technology Cooperation

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