Warsaw, Poland NATO leaders at this week’s summit are taking up a large raft of pressing issues facing the alliance. 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. NATO leaders will cheer themselves for making progress against their goal—set at the Wales summit in 2014—of spending two percent of their GDPs on defense, and though not all members are yet doing so, countries “recognize the need,” a senior US official told reporters. There also will be discussion of raising the goal to three percent, one official said. NATO leaders will figure out how to pay for at least an additional two years of operations in Afghanistan—three is considered likely—training and advising Afghan security forces and helping them with air support and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
The European ballistic missile defense system will transition from US command and control to NATO, possibly as early as tonight. The alliance will also step up support for its members battling ISIS, agreeing to share more intelligence, and assigning a NATO AWACS to assist Turkey with air defense. In addition, there will be an “increased presence” of NATO forces in the Mediterranean, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. The battalions “send a clear message that an attack on one ally will be an attack on the whole alliance,” Stoltenberg asserted at the outset of the summit. That and the other efforts to improve deterrence of Russia are simply a reaction to “a more challenging security environment,” he said. “We don’t want a new Cold War,” Stoltenberg insisted. “The Cold War is history, and it should remain history.” But NATO is having trouble getting Russia to ratchet down its aggressive actions and rhetoric. NATO seeks a “meaningful and constructive dialogue” with Russia, and wants better predictability and transparency. In spite of Britain’s “Brexit” vote, NATO is also exploring greater cooperation with the European Union, particularly with cyber and “hybrid” threats, Stoltenberg said.