NATO exercises generally focus on the ‘main game’ (i.e. major land-component operations) time in conflict, starting at D+100, or beyond. Although recent exercises tend to move closer to a ‘D+0’ starting point, they still commenced at a day well beyond the onset of hostilities. While beginning exercises on a post ‘D+0’ (or ‘Day Zero’) operational construct may benefit certain components and exercise objectives, the dearth of ‘Day Zero’ exercises has come to reflect an institutional avoidance of the particular (difficult) problem sets that the Alliance would likely face when pitted against near-peer adversaries. Nonetheless, there dawns a move towards exercising in such a construct. For example, during the last Trident Javelin exercise the term ‘Day Zero Operations’ surfaced almost daily as an acknowledgement that at least some future exercises should start at the ‘Day Zero’ of a theorized conflict.
Since the end of ISAF operations in Afghanistan, NATO has been confronted with new conflicts on its Eastern borders with the Russian occupation of the Crimea peninsula and operations in the Ukraine as well as the increased military posture of Russia in Kaliningrad. Suddenly, NATO is faced with the possibility of an actual attack on a NATO member nation which could result in an Article 5 declaration and hence a Major Joint Operation on NATO soil. These developments require a renewed focus on both hybrid and peer-to-peer conflict. This has resulted in the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), and an enhanced NATO Response Force (eNRF). With the three concepts now having been developed, NATO aims to train and exercise to employ these concepts to their fullest extent.
According to NATO policy1 Contractor Support to Operations is the use of pre-planned and ? or ad hoc commercial contracts which are specially developed and run by the applicable HQ (or through NATO agencies) entitled to perform such kinds of support activities. CSO enables commercial entities and /or agencies to provide a portion of logistics support to 1) ensure materiel support is available for NATO commanders and the Troop Contributing Nations (TCN) and 2) to optimize the use of military resources and capabilities. The methods of contracting to accomplish this can be very diverse. They often include common technical and system support contracts, dormant contracts (where the execution is postponed until the requirements materializes), high-end assured-access contracts (providing a capability when needed) and Rapidly Usable Enabling Contracts (RUEC), which are a flexible array of pre-planned time and mission critical contracts at high readiness.
Cyberspace is perhaps the most extreme form of this vulnerability as it interconnects the entire planet in real time, making it possible for anybody to attack any electronically operated target from anywhere at any moment. This vastly complicates the task of defenders, who can rarely know in advance that an attack is being launched, where it will strike or where it will originate. So the defender has to try to protect every important part of the national economic or military infrastructure all the time, while the attacker can choose the individual segment or vulnerable fault line that he wishes to disrupt.
The second half of the twentieth century was a bipolar world dominated by the Cold War between the United States of America / NATO and the Soviet Union. However, those days are gone and the world is now a far more complex place. Put simply, NATO is now surrounded by threats (to include within the Cyber Domain) so, if there are 360-degree threats, the Alliance must respond accordingly. NATO still has to be capable of holding vital ground as well as deterring an adversary, but what it has to hold, how and from whom, is now a more significant challenge.
When considering military power, the elements that immediately come to mind for achieving operational objectives are the forces within the traditional Maritime, Air and Land Domains. Events in the Ukraine and Crimea, however, demonstrate that modern operations can be conducted below the threshold of war, so not to incite a military response, yet achieve operational effects all the same, through successful employment of actions both through cyberspace and against cyber targets and controlling information in and about the battlespace.
Today, all nations rely on modern technology, and Space systems in particular, for support that is fundamental to all our activities (consider the importance of satellite communications, the Internet etc …). We must recall the critical support Space-based systems provide for military operations, such as communication (SATCOM), position, navigation and timing (PNT), intelligence (ISR) and early warning (OPIR) 1. Without these Space supported tools it would be almost impossible to safely and effectively conduct any military operation.
BOASTING about nuclear weapons is something Vladimir Putin clearly enjoys. In his annual state-of-the-nation speech on March 1st, he listed five new weapons. Russia’s president gave pride of place to the development of a nuclear-powered cruise missile with, in effect, unlimited range, which was guaranteed to thwart America’s missile defences (see article). He got the headlines he wanted, though there is nothing new about Russia being able to devastate America with nuclear weapons, nor anything likely to change on that front. What should concern Europe more than Mr Putin’s nuclear sabre-rattling are the formidable conventional forces that Russia is steadily building up, particularly in the Baltic region.
In the 2016 Warsaw Summit, the Heads of State and Government (HOS/G) clearly declared in its statement: ‘the Alliance faces a range of security challenges and threats that originate from the east and from the south; from state and non-state actors; from military forces and from terrorists, cyber, or hybrid attacks. The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend our territory and our populations against attack. And so renewed emphasis has been placed on deterrence and collective defence’.
The conference was sponsored by Joint Air & Space Power Conference 2017 Everything Old Is (Kind of) New Again … By Lieutenant General Joachim Wundrak, DEU Air Force, Executive Director, JAPCC The Executive Director’s Closing Remarks I hope that you’ve found the series of essays provided in our Conference Read Ahead informative and enlightening. Our desire…