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Stand Down: WW3 Probably Won't Start Tomorrow
Yesterday in The Russian Way Of War I indicated that I wasn’t fully on board with Sundance’s hair’s-on-fire post that WW3 was no longer an “if” but a “when”. At the same time, I wrote:
if enough tripwires are set, things can go: Boom!
and listed the various new tripwires that were being set. Tripwires are worrisome things—no doubt about it. What was most worrisome about those moves that were announced yesterday was that they confirmed that the same “delusional foreign policymaking elite that ignores real constraints on American power” that got us in this bind is still in control of the levers of power.
In the meantime, Moon of Alabama explains why no one should be taking some of these announces all that seriously. My reservations were based on previously discussed issues—as earlier yesterday (American Military Spiraling Downward?)—regarding NATO and US preparedness. Short of intentionally committing suicide, starting a war with a major power like Russia is not something that gets done quickly. Scattering combat brigades over hundreds of miles of terrain isn’t really a serious move, although it’s definitely unhelpful. At any rate:
I had a good laugh when I read this nonsense:
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO will boost the number of troops on high alert by more than sevenfold to over 300,000, its secretary-general said on Monday, as allies prepared to adopt a new strategy describing Moscow as a direct threat four months into the Ukraine war.
Stoltenberg said NATO in future would have "well over 300,000" troops on high alert, compared to 40,000 troops that currently make up the alliance's existing quick reaction force, the NATO Response Force (NRF).
The new force model is meant to replace the NRF and "provide a larger pool of high readiness forces across domains, land, sea, air and cyber, which will be pre-assigned to specific plans for the defence of allies," a NATO official said.
NATO does not have 300,000 troops to put on high alert. The troops are controlled by member states and I see no willingness by any of them to shoulder the costs that a real high alert status would have. Units on high alert means that they fully manned with no one on vacation and with enough supplies ready to sustain weeks of battle. All of that costs money. Member states will instead designate existing units as 'high alert' ones and change nothing else in their usual equipment and training.
The statement is pure NATO public relations fluff. Stoltenberg did not even ask or inform member states before he made that announcement:
Stoltenberg’s announcement caught the top defense officials of many NATO members off guard, leading them to question which of their forces, if any, were being included in the 300,000 figure.
“Maybe it’s number magic?” said one senior European defense official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly about the confusion.
Several senior European security policymakers said they were taken by surprise, with no advance notice of the plan to expand NATO’s quick-response force from its current size of 40,000 in light of the Ukraine war and Russia’s ongoing military threats to NATO territory.
This was one of the ideas that are typical for NATO bureaucrats who live in their own fantasy world. They are the reason why the French president Macron has called NATO 'brain dead'. And no, it is really nothing more than an idea:
A NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity per the alliance’s ground rules, said that country-specific numbers still needed pinning down. Even the 300,000 total is theoretical for the moment: “The concept has not been fully worked up yet,” the official said. “We will have to do more to build up the model before we can work out what national commitments can be.”
Even so, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has already said her country will offer up 15,000 troops — a full division.
Lambrecht offered nothing. She will put the fake 'high alert' label on an existing division and change nothing else. That she did this is actually quite revealing. If Germany as one of the bigger NATO countries offers only one division size element where will the other 19 division size elements come from that are needed to make up a 300,000 strong force? Do they even exist?
NATO is just a shadow of its former self. Member states now have only a few troops that can be designated to work under NATO. Even those lack ammunition and depot weapons to make up for eventually losses. Some now even lack the industries to make more systems and grenades. They are also unable to make new ones that are fit for their purposes.
I don’t see the US starting a war on its own. Admittedly, I didn’t think the US would start this war with Russia, either, but that was playing around with Ukrainian lives. This time would be different.
There is actually quite a bit more very informative discussion at the link—I urge everyone to read it. MoA goes into NATO—including US—weaknesses vis a vis Russia. As I mentioned yesterday, the Arleigh Burke destroyers being redeployed are sitting ducks for hypersonic missiles—if they can avoid getting into collisions. The Russians would not be sending airplanes to attack those ships. Beyond that, Russian air defenses are world class—NATO would have difficulty penetrating Russian defenses. Nor does NATO have comparable capabilities in the field of intermediate range missiles.
I was particularly struck by this frank assessment offered by the former Polish chief of staff in an interview:
Now the tension between Russia and Lithuania is growing, because the sanctions are blocking the Kaliningrad Oblast more and more. Could this be a hotspot?
If Putin wanted to start the war further and decided to cut a corridor through the Baltics to the Kaliningrad District at the Suwałki Gap, what forces could stop him? Could the forces of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland stop Putin? Not at all. Putin will not be stopped by the Americans, who are present on the eastern flank only in small numbers. I repeat, Russia talks and calculates only with strong countries and organizations. And NATO in our region is weak.
That’s a military professional speaking who has probably spent a career contemplating Russian military capabilities at close range. I would have been interested in his assessment of Polish government policies at this point, since from a military standpoint he appears to see Poland’s position as untenable.
Overall, the Zhou regime appears to be ignoring the first rule of holes. That will have domestic political ramifications, as well as far ranging effects on the world economy.