2022 Introduction: The following is a short position piece written under the auspices of Stratpass Corporation in February 2015 after the Crimean takeover by Russia. It proposes Transnational Anti-Weapon, Anti-War Machine, & Anti-Bombardment Aid
The Russian military expansion into Crimea, Ukraine, and Europe (EN1) warrants a new NATO conventional deterrence doctrine for the 21st Century, especially in view of new and emerging defensive technologies available to NATO member states.
In 2011 the Estonian Defense Ministry hosted a NATO workshop discussing NATO’s post-Cold War mission, deterrence effectiveness, and related nuclear risk, captured in a Defense Threat Reduction Agency report (EN2). The DTRA report is recommended reading for anyone interested in knowing how we got where we are today re: Russia-Crimea-Ukraine.
The upshot is, some NATO members had been walking on eggshells to avoid offending Putin by identifying Russia as a subject of NATO deterrence plans, suggesting that Russian soft-power inroads were already leveraging some members of the alliance (Ibid. pps. 3-5).
The report also related the policy challenge for today:
An American said that NATO is more likely to have to deter a “weak rogue” than a “peer competitor.” North Korea attacked South Korean targets twice in 2010, and demonstrated that a state can use nuclear weapons as a shield for conventional aggression. “How can NATO deter that and deal with conventional aggression and control escalation?”
Workshop participants de-emphasized Russia, yet Russia is now doing more than what the above speaker said North Korea did in 2010 (id. at 6).
As if foreseeing Ukraine, a Spanish attendee suggested NATO should extend its deterrence to cover “non-NATO security partners engaged in NATO operations.” (id. at 2).
Three years later at the September 2014 Wales Summit, the allies shook-off most of their cognitive dissonance about Russian aggression. NATO stepped-up conventional deterrence, defense spending, and alliance unity. Putin’s deception, ambition, and callous disregard for human life has disabused NATO of nearly all vestiges of the charm offensive as Putin now plays politics with natural gas supply to Europe.
Restructuring Meant Recycling, SDI Meant Intuited Future Threats
When the USSR began its recycling process under Gorbachev’s moniker of “Perestroika,” the Reagan Administration’s 1983 Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was underway. Originally aimed at the USSR’s ICBM threat, SDI birthed military and civilian spin-offs for decades to come. Perhaps it has come full circle, with the USSR-compressed and recycled, moving on Eastern Europe.
SDI-related projects are classified in some places, and advertised in others.* Reviewing demonstrations of a few known weapons, it is clear that some could be used in varied, novel ways as anti-aggressor-weapons devices. These could be relabeled “disarmament tools,” or “disarmament technologies,” precisely targeting aggressor conventional weapons and their supporting technologies, but not necessarily personnel.
While the technical capabilities will no doubt face generational advancement, it is a vision that could help close real strategic and tactical gaps. Such a doctrine would need all NATO members to participate in a solid, united, and public PR campaign explaining the peace-value of the approach. With Russia having revealed its menace, that should not be too hard.
Offensive, defensive, and less-than-lethal weapons, re-purposed to precise defensive use against the conventional machinery, architectures, and dependent elements of aggressor personnel, could help take up the deterrence slack while incrementally obsolescing old-style attrition warfare and tactical nuclear deterrence.
Snapshot of WSJ cover of February 12, 2015, Inset Photo by Maxim Shipenkov / European Pressphoto Agency.
Re: Image above: Asymmetric conquest is like that.
In searching for a good name for ‘Deterrent Defense Doctrine,’ Trinity Doctrine came to mind. Trinity fits because the doctrine would have three principles of unified NATO and NATO-friendly state action:
(1) Defense. To prioritize and re-purpose appropriate offensive and defensive SDI-related and less-than-lethal weapons systems as anti-weapons technologies* and “disarmament tools” focused on disabling all aggressor war technologies supporting demonstrable physical damage to neighbors, including: mechanized, motorized, hand-held, machined, energetic, and / or computerized weapons and weapons systems supporting the aggression. The Trinity systems would achieve a “disarmament effect” and would not be directly used as lethal anti-personnel weapons or invasion technologies when intervening for non-NATO members.
However, the systems could be “weaponized” to stop attacks on NATO personnel in the event aggressors might unjustly escalate to large scale war footing against NATO. That too, is deterrent.
In addition, LTL’s, or less-than-lethal weapons could also be employed in “area denial” arrays to force insurgent, proxy, and covert troops away from tactical cover, strategic targets, friendly forces, and into strategically and tactically disadvantageous situations.
(2) Deterrent. NATO member states and friendly democracies would place, position, and continuously increase deterrent defensive technologies in NATO member states and their buffering neighbor states, on land, sea, and in the air, improving real-time, at-will disarmament and anti-bombardment capability against aggressors’ conventional battlefield materiel inflight.
(3) Doctrine. Conventional deterrence doctrine is essential to deal with 21st Century asymmetries, would-be aggressors, revanchist forces, militancy, and terrorism. By definition, deterrent defense technologies would not be used to enable conquest or occupation of potential aggressors’ territories without a larger NATO war footing first being established.
Aggressor nation distrust of NATO discipline in using deterrent devices defensively is a practical and positive element in initial deterrence capability to check lawless regime activity.
The Trinity doctrine assumes constantly improved weapons surveillance technologies engaged in identifying aggressor activity and cross-border arms-running as early as possible to time thwarting operations.
Doctrinal Objectives and Methods
Deterrent defense technology could work in measured phases of intensity triggered by the specific aggressor’s military action levels. These phased levels of defensive engagement could be determined by NATO commanders and experts based on updated assessments and intelligence on aggressor capabilities plus target population vulnerabilities.
Trinity’s express doctrinal and practical objective would be to freeze conflict at the earliest phase possible, rewarding early action with saved lives and resources on both sides, and resurrecting diplomacy as a cost-effective tool for the parties.
A Few Underlying Assumptions of Civilization’s Right to Transnational Deterrence
The first assumption of Trinity deterrence doctrine is that friendly states or NATO members may be supplied with enough defensive lethal and non-lethal weaponry to make domestic self-defense, anti-insurgency, and civil law enforcement meaningful, decisive, and effective.
As regards Trinity, the firing or usage of aggressor war machinery against non-aggressor friendlies, allies, or a NATO member, would constitute automatic international legal consent for involved war instruments to be disabled or destroyed via disarmament technologies. Later, after regime change in Moscow, perhaps the system could move into a joint-operations phase protecting both Europe and Russia after relations normalize at some future date.
Also, if an aggressor has breached the sovereign national bounds of the NATO member or friendly nation state, any domestic arming of the non-aggressor state could not be defined as provocation against the encroaching power, but would be defined as legally justified self-defense.
The right to arm and equip non-NATO members for homeland defense and law enforcement tasks falls within any NATO member state’s right to contract, and under no circumstances could it be deemed destabilizing in response to or deterrence to aggression. This was noted in the 2011 NATO workshop cited above by an astute Spanish member (DTRA report id. at 3).
The purpose of such a deterrence and defense doctrine is to avert open combat in the first place, or to cut it short to save lives, reduce human trauma, and preserve civilized cultural resources from the wrecking ball of war.
The sort of anti-weaponry and disarmament tools that would make a Trinity Doctrine practical would employ existing and emerging technologies that lead military competition away from human and civil infrastructural attrition toward mutually assured security that makes aggression impractical, slow, and wasteful.
The only aggression logic remaining to challenge mutually secure deterrence would be conquest-oriented, for which larger deterrence and war contingencies would take over the early deterrence doctrines, depending on the circumstances.
Conclusion and Outlook
“Disarmament technologies,” jointly used through practiced cooperation, could eventually replace “buffer zone” doctrines and related motives for land grabs, ethnic conflicts, ambitions, and feared ambitions as would come under a larger nation-state veil of deterrence. Repeated successes could actually build a more trustworthy peace.
Joint, mutual deterrence cooperation could be established, yet would need to be structured after the removal of military combat pressures to prevent early abuse of joint military efforts to leverage, deceive, spy, and elicit imbalanced intelligence postures. Under the auspices of joint cease fire monitoring, this likely happened in Debaltseve as Russian proxies and covert troops surrounded Debaltseve. The tell for Ukrainian Gen. Oleksandr Rozmaznin was when his Russian counterpart announced the early evacuation of his staff, citing the impending assault on Debaltseve (EN3).
In addition, the accountability regimes in conventional aggression deterrence would not be very much unlike accountability methods deterring corrupt business habits or criminal activity that plague public and private sector work. Often, as in the experience of U.S. military history, ethnic prejudices that drive unethical behaviors toward “others” in business and governance dissipate with disciplined working relationships. Joint deterrence efforts could train regional peoples to align more with other cooperative, civilizing co-work.
Currently, one-sided deterrence is the only justifiable option for NATO and Ukraine, as the Putin regime continues an obviously deceptive, asymmetric agenda that has betrayed E.U. and NATO member trust after years of building it up. Regime change will likely be necessary to move forward with credible joint trust.
Currently, it is all about having a credible new layer of augmented, participatory, and peacekeeping deterrence doctrine that makes non-participants stand-out.
EN1. Knigge, M., “Spike in Russian military activity is about more than Ukraine,” Deutsche Welle, Nov. 11, 2010; and
also: European Leadership Network Policy Brief, “Dangerous Brinkmanship: Close Military Encounters Between Russia and the West in 2014,” by Thomas Frear, Łukasz Kulesa, & Ian Kearns (citing 15 close military encounters with Russia).
EN2. Adapting NATO’s Deterrence Posture: The Alliance’s New Strategic Concept and Implications for Nuclear Policy, Non-Proliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament, A Report on the Workshop in Tallinn 4-6 May 2011, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Advanced Systems and Concepts Office.
EN3. Sonne, Paul. “A Russian’s Retreat Foreshadows Rebel Advance,” Wall Street Journal, January 31-February 1, A1, A7.
*The discussion of specific weapons systems and their potential uses as disarmament tools, or comprising a disarmament technology toolbox, is a topic for custom research, idea generation, and analytic reporting following verification of U.S. agency or U.S. agency contractor affiliation. –Stratpass Corp.