Atlantic Future Forum - and NATO/Euro Atlantic defence

Yokel

LE
A NATO publication: 2021 Cutting the Bow Wave

The Atlantic Nexus

The North Atlantic, Arctic and Baltic regions form a strategic ‘Atlantic Nexus
’. As recently demonstrated in the Russian navy’s 2019 Exercise Ocean Shield, assets from both the Northern and Baltic fleets can be redirected to concentrate force across this area. The character of the Atlantic Nexus has changed remarkably since the Cold War. Then, as now, NATO’s critical challenge in the North Atlantic is to protect the sea lines of communication and transatlantic resupply in a conflict by keeping Russian forces contained above the Norwegian Sea. But the Arctic, once valuable only as the cover for Russia’s nuclear - powered, ballistic missile - carrying submarine force, is now a contested civil and economic space. Furthermore, the Baltic dilemma is inverted from its Cold War manifestation: then NATO’s strategy was to keep the Soviet Navy from breaking out into the Atlantic through the Danish Straits or the Kattegat; today, the strategy focuses on ensuring that NATO maritime forces can break in to help defend its Baltic Allies.

The Atlantic Nexus disappeared from NATO’s agenda after the demise of the Soviet Union, and until recently few were adept in the art of transatlantic maritime resupply. Since 2014, NATO has recognised the challenge and in 2018 empowered MARCOM as the 360 - degree Maritime Theatre Component Command while establishing Joint Force Command Norfolk with the mandate to secure Atlantic sea lines of communication. The US Second Fleet has been stood up again with a strong Arctic and North Atlantic focus. The German navy is developing a Baltic-facing maritime headquarters at Rostock with the ambition to take on coordination and (during a conflict) command roles for Allied naval forces in the Baltic. The Polish Navy is developing a similar capability.

At the heart of this Atlantic challenge is the submarine threat. Recent years have seen an explosion in studies on the need to protect transatlantic sea lines of communication against the Russian submarine force as part of NATO’s credible deterrent posture. These have been paralleled by conversations and planning inside the Alliance. Unsurprisingly, reinvigorating NATO’s anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability is a high priority for NATO and MARCOM. More than any other form of naval warfare, ASW operations must battle the elements as much as an adversary. The sheer size of the oceans presents difficulties for both attacker and defender, not least as the result of the reduced fleets of surface ships, submarines and maritime patrol aircraft on all sides. New technology also portends a change in both the lethality of submarines and the possibility of detecting them by non-acoustic means.

But there is a second dilemma in relation to the Atlantic Nexus: the peacetime impact of the Russian navy’s ‘Kalibrisation’ coupled with these forces’ presence in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. This leaves the western flank of Europe potentially vulnerable to missile attack from the sea. Although of limited use in a protracted and major conflict, such naval forces fit well with a hybrid strategy based on a short-war model that seeks to intimidate the Alliance into backing down in a crisis.

Effective deterrence in this scenario depends on NATO’s ability to counter that threat and assure Allies through its credible naval capability and persistent presence when needed, before crisis occurs. That requires a fully resourced Standing Naval Force and close coordination among Allied forces operating under national command.

The defence of Norway and Iceland presents unusual joint challenges that have maritime power at their core. Both countries occupy critical strategic space in the Atlantic Nexus. Carrier strike and amphibious power projection provide the main, although by no means exclusive, sword and shield in contesting the North Atlantic in a conflict. New questions abound: how can NATO best use aircraft carriers in the North Atlantic given today’s technologies? How does the Kalibrisation of the Russian fleet alter both Russian and NATO strategy? Arguably, Norway and Iceland are even more valuable to the Alliance deterrent posture today than during the Cold War, given NATO’s need to reinforce its ability to operate in contested northern waters against credible adversary forces.


The main body of the article concludes:

Operationally, NATO's current deterrence challenge is to sense danger early, project forces rapidly and further remove any belief of an easy win or fait accompli from an adversary’s calculus. No one can win a long war of attrition with the NATO Alliance, and potential adversaries know it; the test of deterrence today is precluding a misguided attempt to launch a short war for limited goals. NATO needs not only to have the means to make that case, but also to communicate that message effectively.
 
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Yokel

LE
Also we have NATO commitments that may demand the deployment of frigates (or destroyers) at short notice on NATO tasks - such as Baltic Dash.

NATO activities are increasing.
 

Yokel

LE
Global Britain in a competitive age

Paragraph 17 of the overview

The UK is a European country with global interests, as an open economy and a maritime trading nation with a large diaspora. Our future prosperity will be enhanced by deepening our economic connections with dynamic parts of the world such as the Indo-Pacific, Africa and the Gulf, as well as trade with Europe. The precondition for Global Britain is the safety of our citizens at home and the security of the Euro-Atlantic region, where the bulk of the UK’s security focus will remain.

Paragraph 32 iii

NATO will remain the foundation of collective security in our home region of the Euro-Atlantic, where Russia remains the most acute threat to our security.
 

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On ROPS
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Global Britain in a competitive age

Paragraph 17 of the overview

The UK is a European country with global interests, as an open economy and a maritime trading nation with a large diaspora. Our future prosperity will be enhanced by deepening our economic connections with dynamic parts of the world such as the Indo-Pacific, Africa and the Gulf, as well as trade with Europe. The precondition for Global Britain is the safety of our citizens at home and the security of the Euro-Atlantic region, where the bulk of the UK’s security focus will remain.

Paragraph 32 iii

NATO will remain the foundation of collective security in our home region of the Euro-Atlantic, where Russia remains the most acute threat to our security.

Page 66… the meat

The Indo-Pacific tilt: a framework
The Indo-Pacific region matters to the UK: it is critical to our economy, our security and our global ambition to support open societies. At least 1.7 million British citizens live across the region and our trading relationships continue to grow. In the decades to come it will be the crucible for many of the most pressing global challenges – from climate and biodiversity to maritime security and geopolitical competition linked to rules and norms.
The UK needs to engage more deeply:


For economic opportunities –
The Indo-Pacific is the world’s growth engine: home to half the world’s people; 40% of global GDP; some of the fastest- growing economies; at the forefront of new global trade arrangements; leading and adopting digital and technological innovation and standards; investing strongly in renewables and green tech; and vital to our goals for investment
and resilient supply chains. The Indo- Pacific already accounts for 17.5% of UK global trade and 10% of inward FDI and we will work to build this further, including through new trade agreements, dialogues and deeper partnerships in science, technology and data.

• For our security –
The region is at the centre of intensifying geopolitical competition with multiple potential flashpoints: from unresolved territorial disputes; to nuclear proliferation and miscalculation; to climate change and non-state threats from terrorism and SOC. It is on the frontline of new security challenges, including in cyberspace. Much of the UK’s trade with Asia depends on shipping that goes through a range of Indo-Pacific choke points. Preserving freedom of navigation is therefore essential to the UK’s national interests. We already work closely with regional partners and will do more through persistent engagement by our armed forces and our wider security capacity-building.
 

Yokel

LE
So?

Page 6

We will continue to be the leading European Ally within NATO, bolstering the Alliance by tackling threats jointly and committing our resources to collective security in the Euro-Atlantic region.

Page 16

The precondition for Global Britain is the safety of our citizens at home and the security of the Euro-Atlantic region, where the bulk of the UK’s security focus will remain.

Page 18

NATO will remain the foundation of collective security in our home region of the Euro-Atlantic, where Russia remains the most acute threat to our security.

Page 26

The Euro-Atlantic region will remain critical to the UK’s security and prosperity; partnerships beyond the immediate European neighbourhood will also remain important. Russia will remain the most acute direct threat to the UK, and the US will continue to ask more from its allies in Europe in sharing the burden of collective security.

Page 60

Our aim is to be well-placed to take advantage of emerging markets, shifts in the global economy and global progress in S&T, and to shoulder our share of the burden in providing for stability and security at the global level as well as in the Euro-Atlantic area. This will guide the way we prioritise our diplomatic efforts, including in our tilt to the Indo-Pacific.

Page 60

The UK will be the greatest single European contributor to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area to 2030.

Page 69

We will tailor our presence and support according to the country and region, continuing to focus our security efforts primarily on the Euro-Atlantic region and providing support in Africa – in particular in East Africa and to important partners in West Africa such as Nigeria – and in the Middle East.

Page 71

The Royal Navy will remain active in the UK’s territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone, including by investing in new capabilities to protect undersea CNI. The Royal Air Force (RAF) will continue to provide a 24-hour quick reaction alert force to defend UK airspace and our new Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will patrol the North Atlantic from their base at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

Page 71

...a permanent maritime presence in the Atlantic and Caribbean...

Page 71

NATO is the foundation of collective security in the Euro-Atlantic area, where our commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty remains our most powerful deterrent. In an era of rapid developments in technology and doctrine, the Alliance must be equipped to deal with the full range of possible threats. These include long-range precision strike weapons, cyber weapons and weapons aimed at degrading spacebased infrastructure. They also include malign activity intended to test the boundary between peace and war, and our resolve in response. Russia is the most acute threat in the region and we will work with NATO Allies to ensure a united Western response, combining military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts.

Page 72

Operating across the Euro-Atlantic region, and with a focus on the northern and southern flanks of Europe, we will support collective security from the Black Sea to the High North, in the Baltics, the Balkans and the Mediterranean....

Page 72

In the Euro-Atlantic, the UK will be one of only two NATO Allies to bring to bear nuclear, offensive cyber, precision strike weapons and fifth-generation strike aircraft. We will also contribute to missile defence, to space awareness and resilience (including through a new Space Command) and to CBRN resilience. A new generation of warships will support our historic role in keeping the North Atlantic open. Our highly mobile airborne and amphibious forces will be able to reinforce Allies at short notice.

Page 74

This will involve deepening our security relationships in the wider Euro-Atlantic area, Africa and the Middle East, and with a greater emphasis on the Indo-Pacific. Through our support to others in capacity-building, we will: develop a shared understanding of the security threats we face, including through increased information-sharing; undertake joint education, training and exercises; and provide assistance and expertise in developing policy, legislation and regulatory frameworks.

Page 77

Since 1962, the UK has declared our nuclear capability to the defence of the Alliance. We will continue to do so, safeguarding European and Euro-Atlantic security. We will work with Allies to ensure that NATO’s nuclear deterrent capabilities remain safe, secure and effective, adapt to emerging challenges including the growing and diversifying nuclear threats that the Alliance may face, and contribute to the indivisible security of the Alliance.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
So?

Page 6

We will continue to be the leading European Ally within NATO, bolstering the Alliance by tackling threats jointly and committing our resources to collective security in the Euro-Atlantic region.

Page 16

The precondition for Global Britain is the safety of our citizens at home and the security of the Euro-Atlantic region, where the bulk of the UK’s security focus will remain.

Page 18

NATO will remain the foundation of collective security in our home region of the Euro-Atlantic, where Russia remains the most acute threat to our security.

Page 26

The Euro-Atlantic region will remain critical to the UK’s security and prosperity; partnerships beyond the immediate European neighbourhood will also remain important. Russia will remain the most acute direct threat to the UK, and the US will continue to ask more from its allies in Europe in sharing the burden of collective security.

Page 60

Our aim is to be well-placed to take advantage of emerging markets, shifts in the global economy and global progress in S&T, and to shoulder our share of the burden in providing for stability and security at the global level as well as in the Euro-Atlantic area. This will guide the way we prioritise our diplomatic efforts, including in our tilt to the Indo-Pacific.

Page 60

The UK will be the greatest single European contributor to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area to 2030.

Page 69

We will tailor our presence and support according to the country and region, continuing to focus our security efforts primarily on the Euro-Atlantic region and providing support in Africa – in particular in East Africa and to important partners in West Africa such as Nigeria – and in the Middle East.

Page 71

The Royal Navy will remain active in the UK’s territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone, including by investing in new capabilities to protect undersea CNI. The Royal Air Force (RAF) will continue to provide a 24-hour quick reaction alert force to defend UK airspace and our new Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will patrol the North Atlantic from their base at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

Page 71

...a permanent maritime presence in the Atlantic and Caribbean...

Page 71

NATO is the foundation of collective security in the Euro-Atlantic area, where our commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty remains our most powerful deterrent. In an era of rapid developments in technology and doctrine, the Alliance must be equipped to deal with the full range of possible threats. These include long-range precision strike weapons, cyber weapons and weapons aimed at degrading spacebased infrastructure. They also include malign activity intended to test the boundary between peace and war, and our resolve in response. Russia is the most acute threat in the region and we will work with NATO Allies to ensure a united Western response, combining military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts.

Page 72

Operating across the Euro-Atlantic region, and with a focus on the northern and southern flanks of Europe, we will support collective security from the Black Sea to the High North, in the Baltics, the Balkans and the Mediterranean....

Page 72

In the Euro-Atlantic, the UK will be one of only two NATO Allies to bring to bear nuclear, offensive cyber, precision strike weapons and fifth-generation strike aircraft. We will also contribute to missile defence, to space awareness and resilience (including through a new Space Command) and to CBRN resilience. A new generation of warships will support our historic role in keeping the North Atlantic open. Our highly mobile airborne and amphibious forces will be able to reinforce Allies at short notice.

Page 74

This will involve deepening our security relationships in the wider Euro-Atlantic area, Africa and the Middle East, and with a greater emphasis on the Indo-Pacific. Through our support to others in capacity-building, we will: develop a shared understanding of the security threats we face, including through increased information-sharing; undertake joint education, training and exercises; and provide assistance and expertise in developing policy, legislation and regulatory frameworks.

Page 77

Since 1962, the UK has declared our nuclear capability to the defence of the Alliance. We will continue to do so, safeguarding European and Euro-Atlantic security. We will work with Allies to ensure that NATO’s nuclear deterrent capabilities remain safe, secure and effective, adapt to emerging challenges including the growing and diversifying nuclear threats that the Alliance may face, and contribute to the indivisible security of the Alliance.

you seem terribly transfixed on the Atlantic, alas, 1SL doesn’t seem to share your beliefs and is sending his big shiney new war canoe East to deal with the real and coming danger.
 

Yokel

LE
you seem terribly transfixed on the Atlantic, alas, 1SL doesn’t seem to share your beliefs and is sending his big shiney new war canoe East to deal with the real and coming danger.

Would that be the same 1SL that set the 'North Atlantic' as one of the priorities for the Future Navy?

The Carrier Strike Group is deploying to the Mediterranean first - exercises with NATO allies and not just a transit, then visits and exercises in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, then onto the Far East and Pacific.

But before this, exercises with NATO allies at approximately the same time as a major NATO reinforcement exercise.
 

Yokel

LE
No response?

What about this RAND report regarding Norway?

Figure 2.3. Allied perspectives on Russian capabilities of particular concern to NATO

THREATS TO NATO SLOCs

Increasing ambition and ability to hold sea lines of communication (SLOCs) at risk with long-range naval, air and missile systems: Allied officials also express concern over Russia’s growing ambitions to deny NATO use of SLOCs in the Norwegian Sea or even west of the GIUK Gap. The Russian Navy is unlikely to develop as a significant blue water capability in the foreseeable future. However, Russia is meanwhile investing heavily in surface and sub-surface capabilities for sea denial, including forces equipped with Kalibr and other long-range anti-ship missiles.

Figure 2.5. Selected Allied perspectives on challenges to NATO in North and East

NORTHERN FLANK

Allied officials highlighted a number of challenges for deterrence and defence in the North (e.g. in Norway and the North Atlantic), including:

• Light posture of ground forces and limited defensive depth in Northern Norway.

• Challenges for reception, staging, onward movement and integration (RSOI) of large-scale Allied forces arriving in Norway, including amphibious task forces.

• Ongoing need to improve readiness of NATO forces, as well as to address challenges to military mobility – both across the Atlantic and within Europe.

Surface and sub-surface threats to North Atlantic and Norwegian SLOCs, with enduring concern about maritime strategy and the GIUK Gap.
 

Yokel

LE
Nature abhors a vacuum - which is why we must not let a vaccuum exist in our own backyard which Putin and Xi can fill.

Our influence is eroding” in Latin America as China and Russia have stepped up their propaganda and disinformation campaigns there. He added the United States’ efforts in combating the pandemic by providing $230 million to 28 countries in South America are often lost in the steady stream of Chinese propaganda over what it is doing. Russia, on the other hand, questions what lies behind American efforts in the region.

SOUTHCOM
 

Yokel

LE
Did I imagine it or was there recently talk of vessels dedicated to a sonar surveillance role and of ships with the ability to protect underwater infrastructure such as transatlantic cables?
 

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On ROPS
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Would that be the same 1SL that set the 'North Atlantic' as one of the priorities for the Future Navy?

The Carrier Strike Group is deploying to the Mediterranean first - exercises with NATO allies and not just a transit, then visits and exercises in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, then onto the Far East and Pacific.

But before this, exercises with NATO allies at approximately the same time as a major NATO reinforcement exercise.

it also exercises off Lyme Regis, does that mean the crab fishermen of Lyme Bay are 1SLs major focus?

and something tells me you are going to be very dissapoined at CSG21’s activities on its way through the Med to points east.

Hint, you are not going to see QE operating as a 73,000 tonne ASW carrier in the North Atlantic hunting your non existent massed fleets of Russians going all Red Oktober
 

Yokel

LE
it also exercises off Lyme Regis, does that mean the crab fishermen of Lyme Bay are 1SLs major focus?

and something tells me you are going to be very dissapoined at CSG21’s activities on its way through the Med to points east.

Hint, you are not going to see QE operating as a 73,000 tonne ASW carrier in the North Atlantic hunting your non existent massed fleets of Russians going all Red Oktober

73 000 tonnes? Is she putting on weight?

Before CSG21 she and her group will undertake Exercise Strike Warrior with NATO allies, and that seems to be at the same time as the NATO reinforcement exercise Steadfast Defender 21.

STDE21 was supposed to have been STDE2O, ie last year, but was postponed due to the Communist virus.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
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73 000 tonnes? Is she putting on weight?

Before CSG21 she and her group will undertake Exercise Strike Warrior with NATO allies, and that seems to be at the same time as the NATO reinforcement exercise Steadfast Defender 21.

STDE21 was supposed to have been STDE2O, ie last year, but was postponed due to the Communist virus.

the only time she weighed 65,000 tonnes was the morning before she was floated up at Rosyth. They are a tad over 73,000 tonnes.
 

Yokel

LE
it also exercises off Lyme Regis, does that mean the crab fishermen of Lyme Bay are 1SLs major focus?

and something tells me you are going to be very dissapoined at CSG21’s activities on its way through the Med to points east.

Hint, you are not going to see QE operating as a 73,000 tonne ASW carrier in the North Atlantic hunting your non existent massed fleets of Russians going all Red Oktober

Diplomatic visits if possible being in mind COVID-19, exercises with both NATO and non NATO allies, contributing to NATO operations, keeping an eye on Russian naval forces and merchant vessels of interest....
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
Diplomatic visits if possible being in mind COVID-19, exercises with both NATO and non NATO allies, contributing to NATO operations, keeping an eye on Russian naval forces and merchant vessels of interest....

so nothing B2 OPVs aren't already doing

 

Yokel

LE
so nothing B2 OPVs aren't already doing


As far as I know only one B2 RCOPV has been in the Mediterranean.

Surely you are not suggesting that an OPV can take part in war fighting exercises in the same way as a tooled up frigate, let alone a carrier with air group and a task group...
 

Yokel

LE
Anyway - that led me to this: Russian Navy Activity In The North Sea

The North Sea sits between three critical sea line of communications choke points for the Russian Navy: the Danish Straits, the English Channel, and the Norwegian Sea. The Russian Baltic Fleet must transit the North Sea to reach the open seas. The Northern Fleet can reach the open seas via the Greenland-UK Gap (GIUK), but frequently choose to pass through the North Sea instead. All six countries directly bordering the North Sea are NATO members complicating Russia’s access to the sea. At least before the end of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, in a hypothetical war, NATO anti-access/area denial weapons would likely be fired from the North Sea.

Given these factors, the North Sea poses both a challenge and an opportunity to the Russian Navy. On one hand, it can be imagined as a NATO lake jeopardising Russia’s access to the world. On the other, any Russian presence there can be portrayed as a sign of increasing strength.
 

Yokel

LE
I am a bit confused. A few months ago the Royal Navy website talked of the British personnel Norfolk, and their role in planning for Exercise Steadfast Defender 21 which was described as a major transatlantic reinforcement exercise.

The SHAPE website says that the exercise will take place in Southern Europe. In other words both the Atlantic and Mediterranean are considered vital by NATO and will be places where the exercise takes place.

Better not cut naval forces then.
 

Yokel

LE
Here is another reason that cutting frigate numbers would be a bad thing:



More drugs intercepted at sea means less money going into the coffers of terrorists. Story of the bust by HMS Montrose on the RN website here.
 
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