Strengthening NATO’s Eastern Flank

SNMG1-SEA SHIELD15- Deutch rescue diver watching TUR submarine TCG Atilay (S347) during SEA SHIELD15 exercise - 23 JULY 2015 - Photo by WO ARTIGUES (HQ MARCOM).  Exercise Sea Shield 15 is a multinational combat exercise against submarines, organized by the Romanian Naval Forces, aimed at developing international cooperation in the defence field with similar structures in the NATO member and partner states, with a view to strengthening and developing joint fight procedures. Approx. 2,000 troops from seven NATO member-states - Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, The Netherlands, Portugal, USA and Turkey, plus Ukraine, are going to participate over July 20-24 in the multinational military exercise Sea Shield 15, in the Black Sea.
SNMG1-SEA SHIELD15- Deutch rescue diver watching TUR submarine TCG Atilay (S347) during SEA SHIELD15 exercise - 23 JULY 2015 - Photo by WO ARTIGUES (HQ MARCOM). Exercise Sea Shield 15 is a multinational combat exercise against submarines, organized by the Romanian Naval Forces, aimed at developing international cooperation in the defence field with similar structures in the NATO member and partner states, with a view to strengthening and developing joint fight procedures. Approx. 2,000 troops from seven NATO member-states - Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, The Netherlands, Portugal, USA and Turkey, plus Ukraine, are going to participate over July 20-24 in the multinational military exercise Sea Shield 15, in the Black Sea.

A Strategy for Baltic-Black Sea Coherence

NATO’s Eastern Flank is the most vulnerable sector of the Alliance, one that is increasingly exposed to penetration, subversion, and military probing by a revisionist Russia.This geographic expanse, spanning from the Arctic to the Caucasus, is the primary arena in which tests to the credibility of NATO’s defense posture are greatest. Along this flank, there are three core geographic theaters in which the United States and NATO will need to focus their deterrence strategies in a coherent manner: North (Baltic Sea region), Middle (Suwałki Corridor and Poland), and South (Black Sea region).

In the interim edition of CEPA's second report on NATO's Eastern Flank, authors LTG (Ret.) Ben Hodges, Janusz Bugajski, and Peter B. Doran, build upon their previous work addressing NATO’s vulnerable Middle theater and expand the strategic horizon to consider the multi-domain challenge posed by Russia in the contested spaces of NATO’s Northern and Southern theaters encompassing the Black and Baltic Sea ("B2") regions.

"Strengthening NATO’s Eastern Flank: A Strategy for Baltic-Black Sea Coherence" warns that without a clear, coherent, robust, and implementable plan for addressing vulnerabilities in these additional regions, the United States and Europe expose themselves to continued aggressive probing from Russia in the future. This increases great-power friction between East and West – elevating the risk that localized tests of strength could result in armed conflict. It is a danger that the United States, its allies, and its partner countries must address.

November 20, 2019