NATO Struggles With Military Preparation

By YENA SEO, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (expository)

The Historical North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has struggled to prepare military forces in response to aggression from the Russian Federation towards member and non-member nations. Due to NATO’s unique committee structure and its requirement that all member nations must approve any directive or resolution, the alliance has struggled to take tangible action steps towards defusing the situation.

The Russian Federation has expressed its desire for a referendum in Latvia to see if the eastern, Russian minority regions will secede and join the Russian Federation. The Russian military has started to maneuver troops near the Latvian border, threatening force if the referendum is not held.

In response, the United Kingdom advocated for the preparation of NATO forces in Germany as quick reaction forces, or QRFs. The platoon-sized QRFs, which would have equipment ready to be capable of rapidly responding to any developing situation based on Standard Operating Procedures, were to assert NATO’s presence in Europe and to dissuade the Russian Federation and President Boris Yeltsin from taking further aggressive measures against the Latvian people.

The QRFs were also mentioned in a number of working papers, which have unfortunately seen little progress due to the crisis in Latvia. Several of the working papers advocated the military expansion of NATO, supporting the concept of incorporating Regional Combatant Commands to NATO command structure for deployment and unit cohesion purposes, as well as the development of QRFs to deploy and react to individual crises on a regional basis. Many of the nations that had incorporated QRFs in their clauses argued that the Latvian crisis was an apt opportunity to test the effectiveness of NATO’s military expansion measures.

Unfortunately, the measure was voted down by the majority of the NATO member nations. Several nations argued against the directive, saying that such an action would be too aggressive and would only further exacerbate tensions. Luckily, the NATO alliance was able to agree on one initiative, which was to expand diplomatic channels with the Russian Federation and engage in negotiations via communiques and diplomatic summits.

The divide in committee is now between those who want to take the Rusisan threat seriously and prepare military forces in response, and those who simply want to utilize diplomatic channels. Countries such as Spain, the United Kingdom and Portugal have argued fervently in committee favoring military prepation and expansion, while countries such as the United States has argued against such measures.

The nations of NATO have thus been derailed in their original mission to integrate Soviet states by the unfolding crisis in Latvia. While one of the missions of the committee was to redefine the military structure of NATO, most of the member nations seem to favor siplomatic negotiations rather than keeping with the original purposes of the alliance. With Russian forces holding the Latvian border hostage, it is absolutely essential that NATO comes to some form of unanimous agreement before the Latvian conflict comes to a head.

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Spain and the United Kingdom discuss deploying quick reaction forces (QRFs) to Germany in response to the Latvian crisis.

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