Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part Two-NATO - Defence Committee Contents

4  The UK and NATO's capacity to respond

The conventional military threat

The conventional vulnerabilities of the Baltic theatre

40. Our witnesses consistently emphasised that there was a low likelihood of a Russian conventional attack on a Baltic State. However, NATO has an obligation under Article 5 to protect the Baltics as NATO Member States. And as Chris Donnelly pointed out, Russian conventional forces, cannot be entirely separated from its 'ambiguous warfare' technique. He illustrated how Russians had clearly used military exercises on the border with Ukraine as an intimidatory tactic working alongside their asymmetric operations, rushing forces to the border, then withdrawing. Such military exercises were used to intimidate and destabilise, ensuring that Ukraine's territorial defence capability was degraded.[59]

41. Witnesses emphasised that NATO was poorly prepared for a Russian attack on the Baltic, and that poor state of preparation might itself increase the likelihood of a Russian attack. When questioned about the likelihood of a Russian attack against a Baltic country, the recently retired Deputy Supreme Allied Commander NATO, General Sir Richard Shirreff replied that "If NATO is not bold, strategic and ambitious, the chances are high."[60]

42. The Baltic States are particularly vulnerable to military attack due to their position, their size and the lack of strategic depth. They also have limited military capabilities and both Edward Lucas and Major General (Retd.) Neretnieks noted that without adequate reinforcements, their territories could well be overrun within a couple of days.[61] Major General (Retd.) Neretnieks thought that this may present problems for NATO

It is doubtful if NATO today has the capability to launch even a limited military operation in support of the Baltic States at such short notice. Secondly, NATO would probably have to launch an extensive air campaign to suppress the Russian air defence systems (and ground to ground systems) that cover the Baltic States already today from Russian territory, before being able to deliver any substantial help, especially if it is supposed to come from bases in western and central Europe.[62]

Furthermore Major General (Retd.) Neretnieks has suggested that, should Russia decide to use Swedish territory, for instance the island of Gotland, then it could effectively limit NATO's capability to launch an operation in support of the Baltic States.[63]

Constraints in UK/NATO conventional training, equipment and doctrine

Counter-insurgency versus State on State threats

43. For more than a decade the UK and its NATO partners have focused on counter-insurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, against a lightly armed insurgent force, rather than on conventional state on state conflict. This very different form of warfare, has introduced force profiles, training, exercises, logistics systems, equipment, and priorities quite different from those of the Cold War, and quite different to those that would be required to meet a Russian threat to a Baltic state. The force structured and trained to engage in an enduring counter-insurgency operation at medium scale is very different to that required to counter a large-scale conventional threat.[64] The latter demands the ability to manoeuvre and fight, and specialist capabilities such as the ability to build bridges across wide rivers.[65]

44. We believe that the Armed Forces needs to ensure that its training covers all types of warfare and responses to threats beyond counter insurgency actions. For instance, has the wide-wet gap crossing capacity been preserved?


45. A number of witnesses raised questions about the readiness of NATO forces. General Sir Richard Shirreff told us that

I think NATO would find it very difficult to respond sufficiently quickly if, for example, Russia decided to attack and mount an airborne descent operation, for example, on Riga, Tallinn or Vilnius. The fact is that there is a Russian aviation base within 40 minutes' flying time of Riga so, unless NATO has stationed forces in the Baltic states, I think it is highly unlikely that NATO could respond quickly to a sudden, surprise attack. That said, if there was a build-up of tension and relatively clear indications and warnings—which is, I think, highly unlikely—NATO could begin the process of preparing to defend those Baltic states against Russia. However, the honest answer, as we speak now, is that NATO would be very pushed to respond sufficiently quickly in the event of a sudden surprise attack.[66]

46. General Sir Richard Shirreff thought it highly unlikely that the NATO Response Force could be stood up sufficiently quickly and that it lacked credibility, because the North Atlantic Council has never been able to agree on its deployment. A consensus of all 28 nations is required before it can be deployed.[67] Lord Richards, former Chief of Defence Staff, agreed, "I think NATO needs to wake up in terms of its ability to do things quickly."[68] He also pointed to deficiencies in the command and control structures required for such large scale operations:

They do need to get their command and control improved. That is a big thing, because you can have wonderful troops, wonderful aircraft and wonderful ships, but if you do not get your command and control right, it all comes to nothing.[69]

47. Dr Robin Niblett highlighted in evidence to us that the command structures in NATO had been depleted in recent times. This was done in the expectation that national military forces would fill the capacity gap, something which has not happened.[70] This has left NATO under-staffed, weakening both its capability and credibility. General Sir Richard Shirreff told us that the command structure had shrunk dramatically in recent times which meant that NATO was not always able to carry out the wishes of allies. He told us that the staff supplied by the UK to the command structure were extremely competent but he could confirm that as recently as March "the UK was quite a long way down the league in manning its posts in NATO."[71]


48. The most dramatic gap in NATO capacity, is illustrated by training. In 1984, 131,565 ground and air personnel were involved in Operation Lionheart which involved transporting 57,700 soldiers and airmen from Britain by air and sea. The purpose of the exercise was to establish a method of attacking the 'follow-on forces' that would be sent in to battle after the first wave of Soviet Union attacks. As well as British Troops, American, Dutch and West German forces are involved in the exercise, playing the role of aggressor forces. The object of the exercise was described as being to test land-air cooperation and the operational compatibility of the national forces involved.[72] By contrast, the 2013 NATO exercise, Steadfast Jazz which took place in Poland and Latvia in 2013 involved a force of only 6,000 troops. This was the largest NATO exercise to take place since the end of the Cold War.[73] In the same year, the Russian Zapad 2013 exercise mobilised, transported and deployed an estimated 70,000 troops. Large-scale exercises, and large scale armoured movements on that scale have simply not been rehearsed by NATO for over two decades.

49. The importance of large-scale military exercises has been highlighted by a number of witnesses to this inquiry as a means of illustrating capabilities and demonstrating willingness to put them in to action. They are therefore an important element of NATO's deterrent posture.

50. The failure of national military forces to provide sufficient staff resources has left NATO command structures depleted. It is disappointing that the UK is continuing to fail to fill the posts expected of it.

51. We recommend that the UK (and US) practice the deployment of forces at least to divisional scale to Poland and the Baltic States via Germany.

52. We recommend that the NATO Summit sets out plans to ensure:

·  dramatic improvements to the existing NATO rapid reaction force; and

·  the re-establishment of large-scale military exercises including representatives from all NATO Member States. These exercises must involve both military and political decision-makers.


53. We have previously drawn attention to the need for the UK's Armed Forces to be "re-balanced" following the conclusion this year of combat operations in Afghanistan.[74] UK operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were focused on counter-insurgency and training and force structure was inevitably focused on the skills required for such operations. For example, during the Cold War, the Armed Forces were accustomed to regular cycles of exercising at divisional and corps level, but operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have shifted the emphasis to much smaller scale operations.

54. In 2011, Mark Phillips, Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute noted that

The army recognises that it is unbalanced as a result of ongoing operations. It also recognises that the way land forces have specialised must not exclusively determine the balance of what will be required in the future. As part of Future Force 2020, the army is therefore structuring and training itself to meet a wider range of potential adversaries and types of activities.[75]

55. Chris Donnelly told us that

for 20-odd years the UK and NATO European partners have based their force structuring, and how they have developed their armed forces and how they have spent their money, on the premise that we will not use force in Europe and we will not use military power for political ends. All our structures were based on that, and they were based on having Russia as a partner in that agreement, and Russia has just overturned that agreement. Russia has sanctioned the use of force to destabilise neighbouring countries and to change borders. As General Sir Richard said, that has changed everything.[76]

56. Lord Stirrup, former Chief of Defence Staff, told us that he did not think that NATO was sufficiently exercised for the threats posed by both conventional and asymmetric warfare.

flexibility and adaptability are keys to your response. To have that kind of flexibility and adaptability, people have to be used to deploying to different places and to putting structures together. [...] Clearly the issues are much more complex today […] I am thinking of cyberspace in particular, but also the use of nationalities within other states, as we have seen in Ukraine and as one can see in other countries in eastern Europe. There is a whole range of complex issues that NATO needs to think about. That is why we need much more exercising and war-gaming that introduce all these elements, so that people can actually try them out on computers—desktops—go through the thought processes, identify the difficulties and think about them in advance.[77]

He noted however the difficulty of undertaking large-scale military exercises when defence budgets of NATO allies were under strain and were decreasing.[78]

57. In their study of The Defence Industrial Triptych,[79] Henrik Heidenkamp, John Louth and Trevor Taylor examined the importance of the strategic relationship between Government and the businesses that contribute to defence and security. This study examined questions around the implications of this relationship for operational flexibility. A change of focus from relatively small scale counter-insurgency operations, as in Iraq or Afghanistan, to a much larger scale enduring conventional conflict on NATO's borders would have very substantial implications for this relationship. This in turn raises questions as to whether the Government's contracts for logistic support and supply of goods and services are sufficiently flexible and adaptable to make such a change.

58. Finally, significant concerns were raised about the ability to respond to the potential threat of Russian nuclear weapons, and in particular public willingness to reinforce a 'trip-wire' force, with nuclear strikes. Andrew Wood emphasised that there was a degree of political consent for the use of nuclear weapons in Russia which is not perceived by the Russians to be reflected in NATO.[80] By contrast, in the recent past, several countries in Europe have called for the reduction in the number of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

The German coalition government—spurred by the Free Democratic Party—stated that it would pursue the withdrawal of the remaining nuclear weapons from Germany. This received a qualified endorsement from others, and led to Germany, the Benelux countries, and Norway collectively calling for an open discussion of ways of further reducing the role of nuclear weapons in NATO.[81]

What NATO needs to do

59. General Sir Richard Shirreff highlighted that NATO needed to have credible conventional deterrent forces as the alternative was to rely upon the nuclear deterrent.[82] This would be politically difficult for many NATO allies and would lack credibility in response to all but the most serious of attacks. In our report on Deterrence in the twenty first century, we highlighted the fact that the credibility of the nuclear deterrent relied on credible conventional forces to deter lesser threats.[83]

60. Dr Robin Niblett informed us that in his recent meetings with the group of policy experts, there had been a high degree of consensus amongst experts and academics across Europe about the need for "pre-positioning equipment, proper exercises, snap exercises, command and control improvements."[84] General Shirreff emphasised the importance of such exercises involving all levels of decision-making.

It is not just exercising soldiers; it is top to bottom. It is politicians to troopers. It is going back to the days, for example, when, on a regular basis, NATO would exercise WINTEX and Governments got involved. Mrs Thatcher got involved, […] If we can do that, we can develop a muscle memory of political leaders who have to make some really tough decisions.[85]

61. As well as large-scale exercises, the possibility was raised that NATO could position troops and equipment in the Baltic states to ensure that they were not viewed as an easy target by Russia. Edward Lucas thought that in order to defend the Baltic States, it would be vital to pre-position troops and materiel there, noting that it would be much less expensive to base troops in Eastern Europe than in, for instance, Germany. Both he and James de Waal, Senior Consulting Fellow at Chatham House, thought the deployment of troops to the area also increased NATO's credibility.[86] Sir Andrew Wood agreed that there was a case for basing NATO troops in Eastern Europe, suggesting that they could be pre-positioned in Poland.[87] The UK should reconsider whether to retain staging and training rights in Germany to facilitate deployment.

62. Although Lord Richards did not believe a permanent British base was required in the Baltic States, he thought regular exercises taking place in the area would be beneficial to UK armed forces.[88] Lord Stirrup also counselled against permanent basing arguing that

the chances are that if you did deploy forces, or station forces in peace time, you would be stationed in the wrong place, because as I said, what comes around next nearly always surprises you. I would prefer to have a system that is exercised regularly.[89]

63. In a recent speech, Anders Fogh Rasmussen emphasised that NATO needed to be ready to respond quickly when and wherever it was required and so an Alliance Readiness Action Plan was being prepared for the summit which was examining

how we can best deploy our forces for defence and deterrence. This includes force posture, positions, and presence. We are considering reinforcement measures, such as necessary infrastructure, designation of bases and pre-positioning of equipment and supplies. We are reviewing our defence plans, threat assessments, intelligence-sharing arrangements, early-warning procedures, and crisis response planning. We are developing a new exercise schedule, adapted to the new security environment. And we want to further strengthen our NATO Response Force and Special Forces, so we can respond more quickly to any threat against any member of the Alliance, including where we have little warning.[90]

64. General Shirreff thought that NATO needed a standing reserve force which was capable of being deployed throughout the NATO area.[91] He suggested that something similar to the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force - Land which involved all NATO allies and was a standing force would give the Alliance greater credibility. He told us that

    It bound all the allies in from the very start and it is exactly the sort of reserve capability that I think the alliance needs in this very dangerous time.[92]

65. The willingness, ability and readiness to act against common threats are vital for the future existence of NATO. This requires a collective view of Russian actions and possible responses should the situation in Ukraine worsen or repeat itself in a NATO country. The absence of a collective view risks perpetrating the Russian perception that NATO is divided and lacks the political will to respond to aggression, undermining NATO's deterrent posture.

66. We recommend that the NATO Summit sets out plans to ensure:

·  the pre-positioning of equipment in the Baltic States;

·  a continuous (if not technically 'permanent') presence of NATO troops, on exercise in the Baltic.

·  the establishment of headquarters structures, at divisional and corps level to focus on Eastern Europe and the Baltic

·  consideration of the reestablishment of a NATO standing reserve force along the lines of the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force-Land, involving all Member States.

The Next Generation Military threat

The vulnerabilities of the Baltic States to asymmetric warfare

67. The ethnic composition of the Baltic States makes them particularly vulnerable to asymmetric attacks from Russia. As in Eastern Ukraine, the Baltic States have substantial ethnic Russian populations, particularly Latvia (which is 26% Russian) and Estonia (which is 25% Russian).

68. In the eastern Estonian county of Ida Viru over 70% of residents are ethnic Russian.[93] This county lies on the Russian border and has the greatest industrial and energy capacity of any Estonian county.[94] The region of Latgale in Latvia has a Russian ethnic population which makes up 39% of the total population and 54% of the population speak Russian at home.[95]

69. In Latvia, we were told of the influence of Russian language channels upon the Russian-speaking Latvian population. The Latvian Government has decided to set up a Latvian Russian-language channel but it is unlikely to have the same reach as the Russian channels which have larger production budgets for entertainment shows. Local polling had found that 43% of Russian-speakers in Latvia support the annexation of Crimea. Sir Andrew Wood told us that although the BBC Russian Service was available, it was only online and was in no way a counterweight to the propaganda channelled through Russian Television.[96] The combination of substantial Russian minorities (which constitute a majority in some areas) and the influence of the Russian media could make Estonia and Latvia in particular vulnerable to the type of information warfare and inciting of disturbances that have caused such chaos in Ukraine.

70. Although Lithuania has a significantly smaller ethnic Russian population (around 6%), it is considered militarily attractive for Russia as it would create a link through Belarus between mainland Russia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.[97] Both Latvia and Lithuania have both confirmed that they believe their citizens have been subject to information operations. In a paper produced for the US Army War College, Dr Steve Tatham reported that

At a NATO PsyOps Conference held in Vilnius, Lithuania, in the fall of 2012, Lithuanian and Latvian IO [Information Operation] officers provided the conference with a detailed presentation on how, in their view, Russia was proactively seeking to discredit the idea of Lithuanian (and Latvian) national identity. This, they demonstrated, was being undertaken by a series of concerted and organized IO activities, notably in the cultural, television, sporting, and performing domains. They also highlighted how Lithuania's Special Forces, Artivas, and their operations in Afghanistan had become the subject of concerted public exposure.[98]

71. The Baltic States are vulnerable to Russian pressure over trade and energy supplies to varying degrees. Russia is Lithuania's largest trading partner and accounts for roughly 25% of total trade. Although the figures for both Estonia and Latvia are 10%,[99] Russia is Latvia's second biggest trading partner.

72. In terms of energy, all of the Baltic States' gas is supplied by Russia and there are currently no gas interconnectors between the Baltic States and the rest of Europe (although one between Germany and Lithuania is due to be completed by 2018).[100] Edward Lucas highlighted the actions that Russia might undertake when trying to destabilise a Baltic State.

One thing we should be on the alert for, for example, would be Russian attempts to destabilise the Baltic States' economies. Are we ready to come in, protect trade and investment there and counter that? That is not really a NATO task, but the first thing to do if you were weakening the Baltic states would be to attack one of them with trade sanctions, blocking the east-west transit flows or things like that, knocking a few percentage points off GDP, sending unemployment up and putting them in a recession. […] On energy security, we are doing quite well in building resilience into the European gas grid, but there is still no gas interconnector to the Baltic States from the rest of Europe. They are dependent on Russian gas.[101]

73. Pressure may be exerted on the Baltic States and other countries by Russia in a number of ways which fall well outside of NATO's remit, including over trade and energy supplies.


74. As Chris Donnelly noted, one feature of the types of ambiguous operation evident in Ukraine has been that they appear below a threshold of response and are designed to create uncertainty about whether a military response would be proportionate or legitimate. In the event of such an attack being perpetrated on a NATO Member State, the Secretary of State acknowledged that such action would not necessarily invoke an Article 5 response. He told us that he thought such an attack was unlikely however.[102]

75. Concerns have therefore been raised that Article 5 may be of limited utility in response to ambiguous attacks of this nature. Sir Hew Strachan raised the possibility that a cyber-attack may not constitute an Article 5 attack.[103] The 2007 cyber attack against Estonia did not elicit an Article 5 response. The Secretary of State acknowledged the difficulty of invoking an Article 5 response following an asymmetric attack where it is difficult to prove a state actor is responsible.

This is an emerging challenge, not just for NATO but for all nations, to define the boundaries of warfare in an era when it is becoming ever more complex. We have seen cyber-attacks on many nations, and defining the point at which a response is triggered in the way that a conventional military attack would have triggered a response is challenging. It is challenging ethically; it is challenging legally.[104]

76. General Sir Richard Shirreff told us that there needed to be a discussion about how NATO responded to asymmetric attacks on a Member State.

what Article 5 means in the 21st century, because we still look at it through Cold War spectacles. Where is this irregular capability? At what point is a threshold being crossed? Is cyber a threshold? I am sure that the way to think this through is by setting up proper exercises and proper training, which trains not only forces at the sharp end but the political leadership as well.[105]

77. Both Lord Stirrup and Edward Lucas saw difficulties in invoking Article 5 in response to the sort of operations seen in Eastern Ukraine in which groups of civilians, allegedly accompanied by Russian Special Forces, took over Government buildings.[106] Chris Donnelly recommended that the Washington Treaty be amended to remove the word 'armed' in order to counter this problem.[107] He warned that

We are no longer just interested in the kinetic—the tanks, ships and planes—but in how Russia and other countries are using these new tools to achieve their political objectives. It is warfare below our threshold of attention.[108]

78. A number of witnesses have suggested that there may be a lack of political will in NATO to support an invocation of Article 5 in the event of an asymmetric attack, even where it might be proportionate and legal.[109] Ambiguous operations against NATO Members would be likely to be designed to exploit division in the Alliance.

79. The question of public support for NATO's collective defence guarantee is also one Member States have yet to address. The diverse nature of NATO operations (in Afghanistan and Libya for instance) have led to confusion around the purpose of NATO. Public opinion research in 2008 (following the Russian military action against Georgia) found that, should a similar attack have taken place on a Baltic State, less than 50% of the populations in several leading NATO states (US, UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and France) would have supported a defence.Table 1: Defending Baltic States from Russian attack, 2008
France GermanyItaly SpainUK US
Strongly support8% 12%13% 15%13% 16%
Somewhat support32% 15%24% 22%22% 20%
Neither support nor oppose 27%24% 24%23% 34%30%
Somewhat oppose19% 15%19% 17%15% 17%
Strongly oppose14% 35%20% 23%16% 16%

Source: Q1255,

James Sherr questioned the effort that was put into explaining the role of NATO. He asked

What effort is put into the Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom? Who is funding it? Has anyone heard of it?[110]

He suggested that it was the duty of political leaders to educate the public about the purpose and benefits of NATO.

80. Article 4 of the Washington Treaty provides for NATO Member States to request consultations in the event that the "territorial integrity, political independence or security" of any Member State is threatened. This Article was invoked by Poland on the basis that events in Ukraine represented "a threat to neighbouring Allied countries and [had] direct and serious implications for the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area". The North Atlantic Council met on 4 March 2014 and agreed that

Despite repeated calls by the international community, Russia continues to violate Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to violate its international commitments. These developments present serious implications for the security and stability of the Euro Atlantic area. Allies stand together in the spirit of strong solidarity in this grave crisis.[111]

This was only the fourth occasion on which Article 4 has been invoked since the signing of the Treaty.[112]

81. The ability to counter asymmetric warfare will be a vital tool for NATO allies in the near-future. The recent report by the Group of Policy Experts (chaired by Dr Robin Niblett) concluded that

The crisis in Ukraine has revealed the threats to NATO members from 'non-linear' forms of aggression, which combine mass disinformation campaigns, cyber-measures, the use of special forces, sometimes disguised as local partisans, mobilization of local proxies, intimidation through displays of strength, and economic coercion. NATO needs to develop the doctrines, instruments and techniques to be able to defend its members against these threats. Rapidly reconstituting command and control, ensuring the resilience and continuing interoperability of cyber systems, counter-propaganda and defining the role of special forces are just some of the challenges ahead for NATO members.[113]

82. Lord Richards told us that NATO must understand how a future war would be fought, noting that whilst NATO had a large military capability, there was every chance that it could be defeated by asymmetric tactics.[114] Cyber attacks are a common occurrence, and in Ukraine Russian information operations have suggested that NATO is using Ukraine as a base from which to launch an offensive against Moscow.[115] Events in Eastern Ukraine have seen the use of proxy groups to seize public buildings and declare independence from the Ukrainian state and economic attacks have been mounted against the Ukrainian economy.[116] Keir Giles noted that NATO allies have been slow to challenge Russia's version of events in Ukraine, even when it could be proven to be untrue.[117]

83. Dr Igor Sutyagin, research fellow at RUSI and Major General Neretnieks told us that we needed to be able to understand such measures and counter them if we wished to maintain effective defence.[118] All agreed that more analysis and understanding was required, a view shared by Sir Andrew Wood who pointed out that these were not just tactics adopted by the Russians-they were also used by the Chinese.[119] Keir Giles told us that one solution lay within the Alliance, looking to the expertise and understanding of NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

There is a rule of thumb that the closer a country is to Russia, the more resources and clever people they throw at understanding Russia. We have a lot to learn from Russia's neighbours, and we always have had. We can use their help in building up our capability.[120]

During our recent visit to Latvia and Estonia we met with Jânis Bçrziòð of the Latvian Defence Academy who authored a paper on Russia's New Generation Warfare In Ukraine: Implications For Latvian Defense Policy[121] and Martin Hurt of the International Centre for Defence Studies who authored a paper on Lessons Identified in Crimea: Does Estonia's national defence model meet our needs?[122] which examined the Russian use of asymmetrical tactics. Both papers have helped to frame our thinking on this subject.

84. We asked the Secretary of State whether the UK had the capability to deal with asymmetric warfare and were told that many of the tactics used in Ukraine were well understood by the Ministry of Defence and that, whilst some fine tuning of responses might be needed, those events were not as revolutionary as they first appeared.[123] When we asked about the MoD's ability to counter information warfare, we were told that the Department had considerable expertise in strategic communications and that they were currently providing support to the NATO Centre of Excellence for Strategic Communications (where best practice is shared amongst experts from NATO allies).[124] When we asked whether there was a permanent UK permanent presence there, we were told that there was not currently but that there were plans to have one in place by January 2015.[125]

85. NATO also has a Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), which was founded and accredited by NATO in 2008, which has a permanent UK member of staff. The Centre has several tasks including the development of doctrine, cyber awareness and training, the generation of lessons learned, and research and development. However, the Centre is understaffed with a number of key roles to be filled. Although NATO doesn't carry out 'offensive' cyber operations, some NATO allies are now publicly admitting that they do so on a national basis.

86. We recommend that NATO is tasked and mandated to plan, train and exercise for a cyber attack to ensure the necessary resilience measures are in place. The use of asymmetric warfare tactics present a substantial challenge to a political military alliance such as NATO. These tactics are designed to test the lower limit of the Alliance's response threshold, are likely to involve deniable actors, and work to exploit political division. They also bring in to question the operation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, NATO's cornerstone.

87. Russia's actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine illustrate the immediate (although not the only) reasons for reconsideration of Article 5 in relation to'deniable' actions. Cyber attacks—where attribution is often difficult but of central importance before any offensive targeted responses are considered—will increase. The use of airliners hijacked for attacks in New York and the Pentagon in the USA in 2001 were considered sufficient to invoke a NATO Article 5 response, even though not immediately attributable to any nation state but to non-state actors. That NATO Article 5 declaration (the only one since the inception of NATO) was used in conjunction with Chapter 7 UN Resolutions to form the ISAF missions and take military action against the nation state of Afghanistan for harbouring those non-state actors and their promoters. Attribution therefore—even if of vicarious or 'deniable' promotion by nation states, such as in the situation in Ukraine—illustrates the developing need for NATO to re-examine the criteria and doctrines, both legal and military, for the declaration and use of Article 5 for collective defence and the declaration and use of associated Article 4 (itself only invoked four times) for collective security.

88. In particular, NATO must resolve the contradiction between the specifications in Article 5 that a response should be to an "armed attack" and the likelihood on the other hand of an "unarmed attack" (such as a cyber attack or other ambiguous warfare). NATO must consider whether the adjective "armed" should be removed from the definition of an Article 5 attack.

89. The breadth of the Russian unconventional threat, stretching into economic and energy policy makes it clear that NATO cannot counter all of the specific threats posed by Russia. Responding to these specific threats will be a matter for national Governments and the EU. However, NATO must ensure that its response to any such operation perpetrated against a Member State is timely and robust. This also requires investment in new capabilities to address the new threats.

90. We recommend that the NATO Summit also address the Alliance's vulnerabilities in the face of asymmetric (ambiguous warfare) attacks. In particular it should consider

·  What steps it needs to take to deter asymmetric threats;

·  How it should respond in the face of an imminent or actual such attack;

·  The circumstances in which the Article 5 mutual defence guarantee will be invoked in the face of asymmetric attack;

·  How it can, as a matter of urgency, create an Alliance doctrine for "ambiguous warfare" and make the case for investment in an Alliance asymmetric or "ambiguous warfare" capability.

Weak Russian assessment capacity

91. Sir Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of the History of War, All Souls College Oxford, believed that the annexation of Crimea had been predictable and he questioned whether the level of shock expressed indicated shortcomings in the UK Government's ability to analyse Russia.[126] Indeed four days prior to the start of the Russian annexation of Crimea, the former Foreign Secretary (following a conversation with the Russian Foreign Minister) reassured the House of Commons that Russia was unlikely to intervene militarily in Crimea.

My hon. Friend will be pleased and somewhat reassured to hear that Mr Lavrov did not raise the issue of military intervention in Ukraine. My hon. Friend was right to point out that the Russian Black sea fleet is based at Sevastopol, but it is clear, as I said on the television yesterday, that any notion of this kind is manifestly not in the interests of Russia or Ukraine.[127]

92. Keir Giles, argued that there was a need for an improvement in the Government's analytical capability noting that there had previously existed an analytical unit which had been very successful at predicting Russian actions. He told us that this unit

warned of the armed conflict in Georgia and predicted the Putin-Medvedev presidency swaps both times. That was shut down in 2010. Defence intelligence had two individuals studying Russian military policy. Their augmentees amounted to three; that was scaled back to one a couple of weeks ago. The Ukraine desk officer post was chopped two years ago, so when they wanted to have someone covering Ukraine specifically, they brought in the south Caucasus desk person in the hope that nothing would kick off in the south Caucasus at the same time.[128]

93. Although he suggested that there may be a need to increase the number of Russian-speakers employed by the Department, Peter Watkins, Director General of Security Policy of the Ministry of Defence, did not see the need to reconstitute the Advance Research and Assessment Group. Instead he suggested that the Ministry of Defence had

an array of other sources of advice and information in the Department, whether from our own defence intelligence staff or from academia, think-tanks, etc. Therefore, we are not deprived of input on the sorts of issues you raised.

94. The former Defence Secretary rejected the idea that the MoD had been taken by surprise by events in Ukraine.[129] He told the Committee that although events might seem dramatic to the outside observer they were less so to those who were monitoring the situation within the MoD. He added that strategic and military colleagues were inclined to see events as "an evolution of something that we've been very much aware of for a period of time, and the roots of which we can trace."[130]

95. Chris Donnelly told us that the use of asymmetric tactics

isn't new as far as the Russians are concerned, but I think it's new to us. I think we have forgotten the experience that you have just pointed to. I think historians are aware of it, but if you walk around Whitehall today, you don't get a sense that we understand how important this is. I think we have lost our collective memory about it.[131]

As referenced above, Chris Donnelly summarised the nature of the new forms of warfare that were being adopted by Russia, added that Russia was employing "a form of warfare that is operating under our reaction threshold."

96. Sir Andrew Wood told us that the understanding of this sort of warfare is lacking within the UK Government,[132] something which the Ministry of Defence denied. The former Secretary of State told us that

This is an area where the key factor is expertise, not big battalions, and we do have considerable expertise within the Ministry of Defence[133]

We are surprised by these assertions which are not in line with the evidence we have received on the significant reduction in British capacity for intelligence and analysis of Russia and the consequences for preparedness for the events in Crimea and Ukraine. If indeed the MoD was aware of the evolution of Russian military tactics, we remain to be convinced that any preparations were made to counter this new threat.

97. Given questions raised by Russian actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, we recommend that the Government fundamentally reviews its priorities as defined in the National Security Strategy. In particular, we note that state-on-state conflict was designated a low, tier 3, threat. We therefore suggest that substantial reworking of the National Security Strategy is required immediately.

98. The nature of the reappearance of the threat from Russia, and its likely manifestation in asymmetric forms of warfare underline the importance of high quality, independent analysis of developments in Russia and in Russian military doctrine. The closure of the Advanced Research and Assessment Group has led to a drastic denuding of capability in this area. The MoD needs a new Conflict Studies Research Centre (which ARAG subsumed).

99. There may be an argument that lack of MoD capacity doesn't matter given Foreign and Commonwealth Office's presence in the region. However, given cuts in the budget of the FCO; the level of ambassadorial representation in the Baltic States; the lack of designated language posts (and therefore a lack of language speakers in the Baltic region); and the minimal size of the FCO desk dealing with Ukraine before the conflict, we believe that this capability gap is not unique to the MoD but represents a significant strategic gap for the Government.

100. We recommend that the Ministry of Defence address, also as a matter of urgency, its capacity to understand the nature of the current security threat from Russia and its motivations. Ensuring that there are sufficient numbers of Defence Attachés to provide the analysis and expertise required is one measure which would help to address this issue. In particular we recommend the appointment of additional Defence Attachés to cover the Baltic States and in Central and Eastern Europe and reverse the cutbacks in Russia and Ukraine. We further recommend that the Government ensure that there is adequate representation in Poland which may be of critical importance in the future. We also recommend the creation of a "red team" in the Ministry of Defence to provide a challenge to existing orthodoxy from a specifically Russian perspective.

101. We recommend that the NATO Summit also address the Alliance's vulnerabilities in the face of asymmetric (ambiguous warfare) attacks. In particular it should consider:

·  How to establish the intelligence processes and an "Indicators and Warning" mechanism to alert Allies to the danger or imminence of such an attack

59   Q304 Back

60   Q82-3 Back

61   Q164; 180; Major General (Retd.) Karlis Neretnieks (TND0019) Back

62   Major General (Retd.) Karlis Neretnieks (TND0019) Back

63   Major General (Retd.) Karlis Neretnieks (TND0019) Back

64   Q266 Back

65   The Army has progressively reduced its wide-wet gap crossing capacity. It can no longer bridge the river Weser, for example, without bringing equipment out of war reserve. Back

66   Q257 Back

67   Q258 Back

68   Q118 Back

69   Q118 Back

70   Q211 Back

71   Q309-310 Back

72   British Start War Games on Continent, New York Times, 18 September 1984 Back

73   Andrew Cottey, The European Neutrals and NATO: Ambiguous Partnership, Contemporary Security Policy, 34:3, (2013) 446-472, Back

74   Defence Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2013-14, Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part One, HC 197, paragraph 18. Back

75   , Mark Phillips, Exercise Agile Warrior and the Future Development of UK Land Forces, RUSI Occassional Paper, May 201,1 P 15 Back

76   Q266 Back

77   Q108 Back

78   Q94 Back

79   Henrik Heidenkamp, John Louth and Trevor Taylor The Defence Industrial Triptych, RUSI Whitehall Paper 81, 2013 Back

80   Q223 Back

81 Back

82   Q259 Back

83   Defence Committee, Eleventh Report of Session 2013-14, Deterrence in the twenty-first century, HC 1066 , paragraph 36 Back

84   Q200 Back

85   Q268 Back

86   Q163-4; 187;31 Back

87   Q255 Back

88   Q132 Back

89   Q55 Back

90   Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General, NATO 'The Future of NATO: A Strong Alliance in an Unpredictable World', Chatham House 19 June 2014 Back

91   Q312 Back

92   Q312 Back

93   Statistics Estonia statistical database: Population indicators and composition  Back

94   Foundation Ida-Virumaa Industrial Areas Development (IVIA)  Back

95   Latvijas Statistika, Population database Back

96   Q230 Back

97   Q171 Back

98   Dr Steve Tatham, U.S. Governmental Information Operations And Strategic Communications: A Discredited Tool Or User Failure? Implications For Future Conflict, Strategic Studies Institute, December 2013, pg 57 Back

99   Echoes of the Sudetenland,The Economist, 29 March 2014  Back

100   Conscious uncoupling, The Economist, 3 April 2014  Back

101   Q181 Back

102   Q366 Back

103   Q28 Back

104   Q363 Back

105   Q268 Back

106   Q58; 158 Back

107   Q282 Back

108   Q268 Back

109   Q166, 296 Back

110   Q295 Back

111   Statement by the North Atlantic Council following meeting under article 4 of the Washington Treaty, 4 March 2014  Back

112   The three previous occasions all followed requests by Turkey (in 2003 on the outbreak of the Iraq war; in June 2012 after the shooting down of a Turkish military jet; and in October 2012 after Syrian attacks on Turkey. Back

113   Group of Policy Experts, Collective Defence and Common Security. June 2014,.p 3, Back

114   Q106 Back

115   US is Militarizing Ukraine to Invade Russia. Sergei Glazyev, RIA Novosti, 10 June 2014  Back

116   Q181 Back

117   Q167 Back

118   Q203; 210 Back

119   Q217 Back

120   Q193 Back

121   Jânis Bçrziòš, Russia's new generation warfare in Ukraine: Implications for Latvian defense policy, National Defence Academy of Latvia:

Center for Security and Strategic Research, April 2014  Back

122   Martin Hurt, Lessons Identified in Crimea: Does Estonia's national defence model meet our needs?, International Centre for defence Studies, April 2014  Back

123   Q215 Back

124   Q371 Back

125   Ministry of Defence, (TND0017) Back

126   Q4 Back

127   HC Deb, 24 Feb 2014, col. 35 [Commons Chamber] Back

128   Q183 Back

129   Q315 Back

130   Q327 Back

131   Q268 Back

132   Q217 Back

133   Q371 Back

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Prepared 31 July 2014