Mazo valstu izaicinājumi 21. gadsimta globālās drošības un aizsardzības vidē. Latvijas piemērs. (2012) | Komentāri
Autors: Raimonds Rublovskis .
21.gadsimta drošības vide un ar to saistītie riski un izaicinājumi rada arvien lielākas problēmas nelielām valstīm, kurām objektīvu iemeslu dēļ ir ārkārtīgi sarežģīti ietekmēt globālās un reģionālās drošības procesus. Relatīvi neliels iedzīvotāju skaits, neliela un no ārējiem faktoriem atkarīga ekonomika, skaitliski nelieli bruņotie spēki ar relatīvi nelielām militārajām spējām- šie aspekti nosaka Latvijas Republikas drošības un aizsardzības dimensijas būtisku atkarību no ārējiem faktoriem.
There is no clear cut definition of what does it mean of being ‘’Small state’’. The qualitative definitions encompass physical and geographical characteristics of small states, degree of insularity, and vulnerability. In terms of quantitative characteristics, it includes land area, the population size, the Gross National Product, the Gross Domestic Product, and the per capita income. Perhaps, one could assume that the key feature what determines definition of ‘’small state’’ is not only the size of the territory, population and economy. One could rather emphasize the heavily dependence of the ‘’small states’’ on their own security and defense arrangements on politically powerful and military capable global actor or security and defense organization where such an actor plays prominent role. The key argument to determine whether or not the state is ‘’small’’ is to address key security and defense issues. The size and capability of the armed forces, size and capability of entire security sector of the state, defense budget both –in real money and the percentage of GDP will determine whether or not the state could be viewed as ‘’small’’ from the perspective of security and defense. Certainly, one would emphasize external factors concerning small state security mentality.
Latvia is one of the least populous and least densely populated countries in European Union with the territory of 64,589 square kilometers, and the population of roughly 2 million people including significant ethnic minorities. The size of the Latvian National Armed Forces is around 5000 personnel with close to 1% of GDP allocated for state defense.
Since the 1991 when the Baltic States regained their independence as the one of the outcomes of Cold War era, it was clear understanding that those countries will not be able maintain their defense and wider security arrangements on their own, without the assistance of powerful global players. From the hard security perspective it was quite obvious that bilateral security arrangements should be negotiated with the United States, and NATO is the most preferable organization as provider of military protection under Article 5 conditions. Since 2004 Latvia, as well as other Baltics States, is full member of NATO Alliance, and one would argue that Latvia enjoys the highest level of its security and defense arrangements ever.
However, one could name at least several factors which have deep impact in Latvian internal and external security and defense policy and those factors directly stem out of the ‘’smallness’’ of the country. First of all, it is historical background of the 20th century with the loss of independence in 1940 and more than 50 years of experience within former Soviet Union. Probably, one would argue that historical background goes back even deeper in history, starting as far back as 16th and 17th centuries, as well as period of time when current territory of Latvia and other Baltic States, was part of Russian Empire. It means that there is still notion of threat from certain neighbors, and this notion is deeply based on historical background. Certainly, such a notion of perceived threat could be countered with security and defense arrangements within global security organization with, at least, one or several politically, economically and military powerful actors with global interests and global military reach. Definitely, the United States and NATO play the role of security and defense provider for Latvia and other Baltic States in this regard. The Baltic States, as well as other Eastern European countries have learnt that geopolitics and geostrategy are apt to be cyclically menacing when your national territory lies in the gateway into and out of continental Europe.
Although, Latvia has been the member of NATO for almost 8 years, there are still the same security considerations on the table- the Russia factor, including questions of Russia’s own security concerns, outlined in Russian National Security Concept of 2009 and Russian Military Doctrine of 2010 as well as Russian-speaking minority issues in Latvia. Other issues which are still valid from the pure military perspective are military defensibility of the Baltic States , availability of credible and capable military force of the Baltic States. Those issues, mentioned above, are still valid now bearing in mind some recent Russian military activities, as well as some social activities in Latvia. Large scale Russian military exercises, such as Zapad-2009 and Ladoga-2009, saw over 30,000 Russian and Belarusian military personnel to take part in those exercises, and these military activities seemed overtly to threaten Poland and the Baltic States. The Baltic States are also among the military weakest members of NATO with only Estonia comes close to spending of 2% of GDP on defense. The latter two spend pitifully little on their military, around or below 1 per cent of their GDP. All those examples show that security and defense concerns which were valid for Latvia in mid-nineties of the 20th century are very relevant today in 2012.
The main characteristics of Latvia’s military and security sector structure, development and current situation which arise from the ‘’smallness’’ of the country could be viewed as following-very limited size of the military personnel, the quality of the military personnel and leadership, very low level of the defense budget, extremely limited military capabilities of the Latvian National Armed Forces, low percentage of GDP allocated to state defense budget. All those characteristics, mentioned above, should be compared with characteristics of global military spending both, in terms of real financial investment in defense sector, as well as global percentage of GDP allocated for the defense needs. The size of Latvian military personnel and military capabilities should also be compared with global patterns.
Current State Defense Concept, which is one of the core planning documents for the defense of Latvia, has been approved by Saeima (Parliament) in June 19, 2008. Since then some significant changes have occurred within global security environment. Those changes have deeply affected Latvia’s defense and security structure and capabilities. Firstly, the consequences of the Global financial crisis have been very severe for economy of Latvia and, subsequently, for the defense budget of MoD, which have suffered significant cuts since 2008. It is not even close to the figures of Latvian defense spending in 2004-2007.
Secondly, the outcome of Russian-Georgian conflict in August of 2008 has also put an emphasis on security and defense issues in Latvia. The size of the National Armed Forces of Latvia (LNAF) according current State Defense Concept of 2008 is limited to 5800 personnel. The project of new State Defense Concept of Latvia, which should be approved in 2012, displays even less amount of the personnel in LNAF- 5500. Actually, the real number of military within LNAF is around 5000 of personnel, and this is rather defense budget based assumptions and less threat based assumptions, due to the fact, that Latvia has severe negative implications of the global economic and financial crisis. The direct outcome of the crisis is that significant, numbers of highly professional military personnel have left military service during 2008-2011 timeframe. Moreover, increasing numbers of emigration from Latvia to other EU countries, and other demographic challenges what Latvia is facing right now, determines that it is highly unlikely that Latvian National Armed Forces will be able to recruit and maintain sufficient numbers of educated and motivated personnel.
The defense budget issue of Latvia is very important, because country is far below of 2% of GDP benchmark for the financial resources allocated to the defense. It is significant challenge to maintain defense budget of Latvia even on the level of 1% of GDP, and this very fact put substantial internal and external political pressure, because it is one of the smallest in NATO Alliance and this is very negative political signal for the Allies.
One would argue that there are some other challenges in terms of personnel and institutional structure of Latvian defense and security sector. Partly, it stems from both- the historical background of the creation of security and defense institutions after Republic of Latvia had regained its independence in 1991, and the ‘’smallness’’ of the new country. Institutions of the security sector had had previous legacy of former USSR, personnel of Latvian origin has gathered from the United States, United Kingdom, other NATO countries military, as well as from former USSR military. Personnel which fulfilled newly created Latvian security and defense institutions had come from the military organizations of incomparable size and capacity if compared with those of Latvia. Significant differences in experience of previous institutional behavior, political views, positions within their former military organizations- it all have created challenges during development of Latvian military and security institutions since 1991, and those challenges involving personal background of military personnel are relevant today.
Another challenge which stems from the ‘’ smallness’’ of state is that military personnel what started to build National Armed Forces had rather tactical or sub-tactical level experience within their previous military organization , this experience very rarely reached operational military level, and never reached strategic level. However, this new military leadership of Latvia has been directly brought into strategic level without previous knowledge and experience. Due to the fact that small Armed Forces with limited personnel and limited military capabilities, even if institutional structure are composed of Land, Air, Maritime, Special Operations Forces with integrated Combat Support, Combat Service Support institutions, Logistic and Doctrine entities, never encompass military units above the Battalion or, at the best case scenario, Brigade level, it is almost impossible to gain significant operational and strategic military experience in Divisional or Corps level. This is advantage of politically and military powerful countries and military leadership.
Classic institutional structure of security and defense sector, directly brought from the previous legacy and the notion of how it is in other countries and how it should be, determines that institutional structure of previous superpower of USSR is applied to small country of Latvia. Take an example of Latvian National Armed Forces –Land, Air, Maritime, SOF, MP, Logistic Support, Training and Doctrine institutions, Headquarters –all those institutions combine approximately 5000 of military personnel with almost all of those entities encompassing only few hundred of personnel, whereas large countries have at least tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of personnel within each branch.
Smallness of the institutional structure brings up another challenge-limited expertise on, especially, strategic issues, and very often key military leadership has to engage simultaneously into high strategic level issues dealing with NATO MC, NATO SACEUR, NATO SACT and low sub-tactical level issues within respective domestic military institutions.
Certainly, all of those factors, mentioned above, are the main source of security and defense challenges for Latvia. Sum it up- very limited number of military personnel, and entire security sector of the state, extremely limited military capabilities if compared with global and regional patterns, limited real money resources allocated to state defense, low percentage of national GDP allocated to the state defense, historical background, geographical location, economic challenges, emigration of the population, and rather small number of Latvia’s inhabitants- all of this constitutes security and defense challenges of ‘’small state’’ in general and Latvia’s in particular.
However, there are some advantages of being ‘’small state’’. There are still requirements to play the role within NATO international military operations, where the political support of small states matters. From the pure military perspective there is no urgent need for the United States and other major NATO security and defense providers to encompass rather small and military very limited contingents of ‘’small’’ Allies within the framework of NATO international military operations, but significance of the modest military contributions into military operations fits within political importance of support of ‘’small states’’ to major NATO states. One would argue that this political support of ‘’ small’’ Allies results into financial and logistical support from major NATO countries in order to support logistic requirements of the ‘’small’’ states to be able deploy their modest military contingents to the operational theatre.
The approaches of current political and military leadership are based on those characteristics mentioned above. One would distinguish high priority challenges what current Government is facing. Firstly, severe consequences of the crisis on state defense spending. This constitutes profound internal and external political challenge of being trustworthy and capable NATO Ally who fulfills its obligations. Secondly, there are much more important fields in the Government’s agenda which require urgent actions- economic situation of state, education, continuous emigration from Latvia. It means that defense and security sector is not high on priority agenda for current political leadership, and this very fact has extremely negative impact on survival and development of state security and defense system.
Certainly, political approach is to rely on NATO ability to fulfill Article 5 obligations, as well as maintain and develop bilateral relationships with the United States as main provider of the security and defense of Latvia. However, current situation with the defense budget and inability of current political leadership to increase defense spending may result into damage of those security and defense ties with both- NATO and the United States. Sum it up- current political approach is to resort on both- NATO organization, and the United States as security provider and main protector in case of urgency. However, there are several important issues in order to maintain military effectiveness of NATO and the United States.
Firstly, there is requirement that the United States are to remain military and politically powerful global player which is committed to NATO obligations and, subsequently, in the military defense of the Baltic Region. Current trends show that the United States is focusing more on Pacific Region and Persian Gulf Region. From the pure military perspective it means that important conventional military capabilities of the United States will be deployed in those regions, and Europe would see decreased military commitment and decreased conventional military capabilities of the United States in our region. Secondly, it requires that NATO remains effective military organization with rapid and effective decision-making procedures. One would argue that this issue constitutes significant challenge for the effectiveness of the Alliance.
Taking into account current trends of American involvement into European security affairs and NATO decision-making issues, enhanced regional Nordic-Baltic cooperation seems to be an option to increase security and defense environment in Baltic Sea region. However, there are several issues of importance what cannot be dismissed. Firstly, from the Latvian perspective, Nordic- Baltic security and defense cooperation could be very useful if it is supplementary to wider NATO and the United States commitment to defend Baltic States. It would be very difficult to accept this kind of cooperation as replacement of NATO Article 5 security guaranties, as well as American military commitment in the Baltic Sea area. To reinforce the point, some Nordic military experts have expressed an idea, that in the case of hard security event, it is doubtful whether NATO and Nordic countries will have a credible capability to defend the territory of the Baltic States. However, recent trends in Sweden’s approach in Baltic security and defense domain what was expressed in its ‘’Solidarity Declaration’’ marked an important shift toward greater regional involvement.
Another important issue to discuss about Baltic-Nordic security and defense cooperation is that the three Baltic States have no realistic prospects, either separately or together, of developing military capabilities that might deter Russia from an attack.Subsequently, it leads to discussion of the enhanced perspective of military cooperation in Nordic-Baltic framework. As it was mentioned before-Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are among the militarily weakest members of NATO. By contrast, the Nordic countries have real military capabilities which are among the best in Europe, and, combined, the four Nordic countries would be one of the Europe’s military heavyweights. All those issues, mentioned above, have to be addressed to perspective of further military cooperation between Baltic and Nordic countries, still taking into account that Nordic-Baltic cooperation framework encompasses non-NATO, non-EU, and NATO/EU countries. However, previous years of Baltic- Nordic cooperation have witnessed Danish support to the development of Latvian Land Force Brigade, Norwegian involvement into profound cooperation with Latvian SOF unit, and cooperation in PRT in Afghanistan. Those are just few examples on successful Nordic-Baltic military cooperation.
Bearing in mind all previous facts and characteristics, one could develop and deliver certain initial policy recommendations on further Baltic-Nordic security and defense cooperation. Firstly, further Nordic-Baltic military cooperation is very welcomed, but this cooperation cannot dilute the core NATO and the US commitment to the security of the Baltic States. However, this commitment could be challenged within current and future NATO Deterrence and Defense Posture because of discussions of the Alliance Nuclear capabilities and development of relevant conventional military capabilities. One would argue that significant decrease of European defense budgets, and the commitment of the United States to focus on the Pacific and the Gulf regions could significantly decrease the US and NATO conventional capabilities in Europe as whole, and in the Baltic region in particular. This trend could bring unacceptable decrease in the security and defense level of the Baltic States.
Secondly, NATO Smart Defense initiative, which was announced by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, will be on Agenda of NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012. NATO Secretary General calls for better spending and better investment of money available, to help NATO nations to preserve military capabilities, and to deliver new ones. It means that NATO must prioritize, specialize, and seek multinational approaches and solutions. Perhaps, NATO Smart Defense initiative could be new framework of closer military cooperation of Baltic-Nordic countries, focusing on delivery of relevant military capabilities. The main dilemma for Latvia within NATO Smart Defense initiative would be either continue to maintain classic institutional force structure including Land Forces, Air Forces, Navy, Special Operations Forces, Combat Support, and Combat Service Support structures, or transform Latvian National Armed Forces into highly specialized set of capabilities which will have added value for NATO future military operations. Meanwhile, further increase of Host Nation Support (HNS) capabilities in order to facilitate hypothetic deployment of NATO personnel and capabilities, further participation in NATO-led military operations, and significant increase of defense budget should be on the very top of Latvia’s defense priorities list.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Further security and defense arrangements for Latvia and other Baltic States will depend on ability of NATO to remain an effective organization with timely and effective decision-making process and the ability of the United States to remain militarily effective and committed to defense and security of Europe.
2. Military cooperation of the Baltic States on tactical level has to be enhanced, however- on operational and strategic level all three countries have very similar security concerns and arrangements with NATO and the United States.
3. Nordic-Baltic military cooperation should be enhanced, but it cannot be substitute to NATO security guaranties and the United States military involvement in the defense of Europe and the Baltic Sea region.
4. NATO Smart Defense initiative would become the framework in order to develop further Baltic and Nordic-Baltic defense cooperation and military capabilities.
5. Contradictions between NATO Strategic Concept and Russian National Security Strategy and Russian Military doctrine on further NATO Enlargement and deployment of NATO military infrastructure in proximity of Russia’s borders have impact on Latvia’s security and defense policy.
6. Latvia has to increase its defense spending to 2 percent of GDP until 2016 in order to reassure its political commitment to the Alliance.
7. Latvia has to maintain Host Nation Support capabilities as one of its defense priority tasks.
8. Latvia has to maintain its participation in NATO-led military operations as one of its defense priorities.
9. Military defense of Latvia should be planned as part of NATO contingency plan.
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