Unconventional Approaches Could Help Deter Russian Intimidation and Aggression Against the Baltic States
Apr 15, 2019
The authors of this report assess how the unconventional defense plans and capabilities being pursued by the governments of the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) can deter and counteract Russian hybrid aggression and outright military attacks. It offers a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of such strategies and of associated technologies, and identifies ways in which other NATO and partner governments could provide support.
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The authors of this report assess how unconventional defense plans and capabilities — to include total and comprehensive defense, societal resilience, and resistance strategies — being pursued by the governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (referred to as the Baltic states) can deter and counteract Russian hybrid aggression and military attacks in the Baltic region. They advance a framework for evaluating the utility of unconventional and total defense efforts at various phases of conflict for strengthening deterrence and defense. They identify military and civilian technologies that could enhance the effectiveness of these efforts, the cost of procuring those technologies, and possible tradeoffs with the development of conventional defense capabilities.
The authors estimate that a robust technology initiative to enhance these capabilities for all three states would cost about $125 million, could be implemented over several years, and is scalable. The authors also discuss the benefits and risks of expanding unconventional and total defense efforts and potential Russian responses and countermeasures. Finally, they outline steps that the Baltic governments, the United States, other NATO allies and partners, and the European Union could take to enhance these efforts.
The authors conclude that total defense and unconventional warfare capabilities can complement the existing conventional defense efforts of the Baltic states and NATO, improve warning of an attack, augment initial defenses, and buy time for (and provide support to) national and NATO conventional responses.
This research was supported by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.
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