Editorial to Geostrategic Pulse 214 - NATO Operation “Brilliant Jump”

NATO Operation “Brilliant Jump”
Corneliu PIVARIU

There are less than two months left before the Warsaw NATO Summit; the operation mentioned in the title, whose name we believe is chosen well, will take place before the reunion. However, NATO Brilliant Jump began since 2003, when NATO Response Force was created. At the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, the alliance decided to strengthen NRF capabilities substantially, and so the force was to reach 40,000 troops, as a response to the new security threats presented by Russia, starting with the aggression against Georgia in 2008, but also to the risks and challenges coming from the Middle East and North Africa.

Within the NRF, a multinational brigade with 5,000 troops, made of 5 battalions and units from the land, air and maritime special forces grouped into the Very High Readiness Joint Force (VJFT) designed to act immediately (with about a battalion in 48, 72 hours at most) upon the first signs of potential threats. All troops have 5 to 7 day response time, and two more brigades can be added if needed.

According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declarations during his visit to the NATO Multinational Division South-East Headquarters in Bucharest on 12 May 2016, NATO responds to enhanced security challenges (like never before in decades) in Europe, to violence and instability on North Africa and the Middle East, “to an increasingly persistent Russia, responsible for aggressive actions in Ukraine” in order to ensure security of people in member countries “including, if necessary, through operations according to Article 5”. Also, military exercise “Dacian Lynx 2016” for regional cooperation took place during the same period (5-13 May). 250 troops from 11 NATO member states participated to the exercise designed to assess the Initial Operational Capability and the command and control capability on the NATO Force Integration Units in Romania and in Bulgaria.

In the same context, a ferryboat came from Varna- Bulgaria on 5 May, and brought military equipment (including M1A2 Abrams tanks and Bradley armored personnel carriers) in the Georgian port of Poti, for “Noble Partner 2016” military exercise started on 11 May and scheduled to end on 26 May. The participation is made of troops from the USA (650), Great Britain (150) and Georgia (500), aiming to enhance interoperability on Georgian land forces and the NATO units belonging to NRF.

No less important, NATO Secretary General participated to the inauguration ceremony of the Aegis Ashore anti-missile defense system in Deveselu – Romania, and on 14 May he went to the construction site for the anti-missile facility in Redzikovo – Poland. At the inauguration of the military base in Deveselu, Jens Stoltenberg said among others that “The aim of NATO is clear: to protect our citizens and territory against any threat. We never know for sure what challenges we will have to face. The 67 years of NATO history have proven that. However, we have also learned the importance of being ready to defend our nations against any threat, at any moment. In this concern, this week’s ceremony at Deveselu and starting works in Redzikovo represent important steps to progress”.

Let us not forget the conditions of the forceful annexation of Crimea by Russia; also, the Kremlin took new measures to deal with the tensions in East Europe and decided to enhance the number of troops substantially in Kaliningrad (they even threatened with nuclear missiles). Three new divisions were deployed in east Russia, close to the border to Norway, Finland, Estonia, Belarus and Ukraine. Furthermore, Russia announced that on the Mora shipyards in Feodosia – Crimea, they began building the first military ship Shtorm (part of 22800 project that involves building 18 such ships) fitted with 8 Kalibr-NK missiles (350-2,500 km range, up to 3 meters target acquisition precision), scheduled for delivery by the end of 2017. The presence of several such ships in the Black Sea will change the balance of naval forces in the Black Sea if NATO takes no measures accordingly. In fact, the fact Russia occupied Crimea led to an even bigger Russia military presence in the Black Sea region, and there is unconfirmed information that Russia reopened the submarine bases in Balaklava (operational till 1993, closed in 1996) and would intend to deploy nuclear armament in Crimea. These elements might have determined the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare on 11 May that “The Black Sea has almost become a Russia lake”. We add that Russia is getting ready to test one of the strongest intercontinental ballistic missiles RS-28 Sarmat (Satan2) with 10,000 km range and 15 thermonuclear warheads. Tests show that the missile is to enter service starting 2018.

Considering these conclusions, we hope the Warsaw NATO Summit on 8-9 July will take the necessary measures, including creating a new NATO fleet in the Black Sea, thus making the “Brilliant Jump”.

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