The security situation on NATO’s Eastern Flank has significantly changed for the worse since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 (and arguably before that). An organizing problem: the permanent force posture of the United States and NATO has remained trapped in time—a holdover from the tranquil, idealistic days of the post-Cold War era. In exchange for a promise of constructive behavior by Russia in the 1990s, the Alliance only extended to its Eastern Allies the treaty and political infrastructure of NATO membership. It did not extend the hard security infrastructure that other signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty enjoy—like permanent U.S. forces on their soil if they wished.
Since that time, as authors Peter B. Doran and COL (Ret.) Ray Wojcik argue in CEPA’s latest Intelligence Brief, “Unfinished Business,” the failure to update this force posture has invited aggressive Russian probing of our defenses and new challenges to the rules-based security architecture of Europe. It is now time to update the Alliance’s permanent presence on the Eastern Flank. We can start with Poland—and here’s how.