The NATO Trip-Wire

NATO nations will work to reshape troop posture and readiness at the alliance’s Warsaw Summit this summer, Timo Koster, NATO’s director of defense policy and capabilities, said April 14 at an Atlantic Council event in Washington, D.C. Koster said the alliance is now defining the size and shape of the allied presence in the Baltic states and Poland, but should finalize plans during the July meetings, which will come at a time of heightened tension with Russia. “It’s very important that [the troop presence] has the character of a trip-wire and for that it needs to be multinational and it needs to include Americans—very important,” he said. “It needs to be robust. It’s not just a trip-wire that does nothing else and triggers something. It actually has to be a credible fighting force as well.” Koster said the allied nations also need to deliver a new training plan for the Internet age. “We have to understand what a future fight would like, and we have to train for that in the right composition,” said Koster. He called for individual nations to coordinate all of their agencies to prepare for hybrid warfare, for NATO to integrate its conventional, nuclear, logistical, and cyber domains, and for the European Union and NATO to coordinate capabilities. Despite the changed posture, Koster said, the alliance should continue to engage with Russia. “It doesn’t make a whole sense to just ignore them and see them as the enemy,” he said.