The Russian war in Ukraine generated a new sense of the urgency of providing security assistance to Europe.
President Biden recently announced Another 33 billion dollars Congressional request — which Democrats hope to raise to nearly 40 billion dollars To support military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, as well as broader security assistance in Europe. This funding supports US and NATO efforts to Long-term force setting reset To adapt to the new security reality in Europe. After 30 years of disarmament, much remains to be done.
As part of this reset, the United States should allocate more security assistance to the Baltic states—three strategically important allies on the front lines of freedom in Central and Eastern Europe. They are all members of the European Union and NATO and each of them It spends more than 2% of GDP in defense. They are stubborn defenders of democracy, and they support it Ukraine And Belarus Politically through rhetoric, and practically with security assistance. However, they lack their own basic defensive capabilities. This is where the United States can help.
US security assistance and cooperation programs are an investment in the common future of the transatlantic community. They are useful for several reasons.
- Such efforts make the United States safer by enabling allies to do more to defend common interests in Europe. Simply put, the more the United States does to bolster Baltic capabilities now, the stronger our collective deterrence will be against Russia’s future aggression. This reduces the possibility that the United States and its allies will have to fight a wider war in Europe.
- It is a force multiplier for other national contributions. For example, between 2015 and 2020, every $1 a US taxpayer set aside for security assistance in the Baltic region was matched by $3.20 from taxpayers in the Baltic region. This is amazing Supported Capabilities Black Hawk multirole helicopters, C4 ISRHeavy caliber ammunition, joint light tactical vehicles and air control.
- Security collaboration also enhances interoperability. Providing standardized systems (and the money for them) ensures that one ally’s equipment can be connected to everyone else’s. This way, if the United States needs to fight back, we can do so effectively and share the burden with allies.
The Baltic States are currently involved in several security assistance and cooperation programmes, including the Baltic Security Initiative (BSI), which has provided 180 million dollars of 2022 under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). However, there are several ways in which this help can be made more impactful.
First, more security assistance resources are needed to provide the Baltic states with practical and affordable capabilities and fill major gaps.
- air and missile defense systems, which are absolutely insufficient in the region;
- artillery and ammunition, which proved crucial in Ukraine’s war against Russia; And
- ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) tools that enhance situational awareness of multi-domain threats and help the coalition build a common threat picture. These capacity priorities must be aligned across the United States and all three Baltic states.
a second, Finance Security programs in the Baltic states can be extended to multi-year timescales to provide more predictability and sustainability. Because many security assistance resources are evaluated and adjusted annually as part of the NDAA, by the time the funds are allocated, the schedule for their use shrinks each year to approximately nine months. This makes it difficult for recipient countries to implement meaningful projects and hinders long-term planning.
Building on the security assistance efforts already provided to Ukraine, the United States should consider adapting such programs to contain more predictable multi-year funding. These programs should apply not only to the Baltic states, but also to other vulnerable countries in the region, including Georgia and Moldova. The Law of Defense and Deterrence in the Baltic States, which was introduced in the House and Senate in early 2022 but has not yet been adopted, would be a useful step in that direction. The British Institute of Standards will codify existing standards and create a complementary initiative in the Foreign Office.
Third, security cooperation can be made more effective through technical modifications. The Ministry of Defense must define the priorities He filled all positions in the Defense Attaché Office (DAO) and Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) at each US Embassy in the Baltic States with officers of the appropriate rank and training. To help facilitate meaningful security cooperation, you must ensure that these missions come from the US military service that is most relevant to that country’s capabilities and US goals for that host country.
Fourth, the provision of security cooperation to key capital equipment items (for example, artillery, air defense, tanks and aircraft.) As evidenced by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, European allies need immediate access to tools and resources that will prepare them to confront threats Possibly from Russia tomorrow. Significant slowdowns in security assistance and collaboration programs often occur in Contracting processes and production schedules.
The Department of Defense, Defense Industry and Allies can address this by:
- Training and developing the professional competencies of Allied and Partner Acquisition Officers, along with associated decision makers;
- demand shorter turnover times for contract negotiations; And
- Even small acquisition efforts are treated as strategically important to US security.
The entire transatlantic alliance would benefit from more security assistance from the Baltic states, the frontline countries on NATO’s eastern flank. By supporting the Baltic states, the United States can ensure that the region is ready and ready if Russia attempts any further aggression in Europe — whatever the outcome of the war in Ukraine.
Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ben Hodges (General_Ben) was the commander of USARMY Europe in 2018, having served as the LandCOM Commander in NATO. He currently holds the Pershing Chair for Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).
Lauren Speranza is the Director of Transatlantic Defense and Security at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Lauren leads the Center’s work on NATO and regional security, as well as the Defense Technology Initiative.
Christa Vixennis is a Program Associate in the Transatlantic Defense and Security Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Her interests include Baltic security, cyber warfare, rule of law, and relations in Congress. Christa has a Juris Doctorate from St. Thomas University School of Law, and a BA in Political Science and Spanish from St. Olaf’s College. She is also a licensed attorney.