Long Pole in the Tent

Warsaw, Poland To deal with a resurgent and threatening Russia, NATO will increase its forward-deployed forces, including four new battalions that will rotate in and out of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and there will be additional rotational armored brigades to back them up, headquartered in Poland. The new mechanized US battalion and brigade’s worth of pre-positioned equipment that the US has agreed to provide as part of NATO’s eastern front beef-up are being put into Poland to serve as credible follow-on forces, a senior US diplomat told reporters at a background briefing during the NATO Summit here Friday. President Obama ?on Saturday said “the United States will be the lead nation here in Poland,” while “the United Kingdom will take the lead in Estonia, Germany in Lithuania, and Canada in Latvia.” Describing the new multinational battalions in the Baltic States as a “tripwire,” the official said they will have to be rapidly reinforced if Russia makes a move on its former Baltic states. Poland offers logistical infrastructure—road, rail, airports, etc.—that can be put to good use if the Baltic states are attacked. “Deterrence only works if you have the ability to defend,” he said, and “follow-on forces are a big part of this equation.” The Polish facilities also are staging areas that reinforcements from farther afield in NATO can “fall in on.” Poland offers “excellent host nation support,” with logistical infrastructure and room to exercise, he said, and a government eager to provide those things, the official said.