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NATO will work out the scenario for Article 5 of the Washington Treaty

WARSAW, (BM) – The Defender Europe 20 maneuvers, which will last until August, will be attended by a total of 37 thousand troops from 18 countries, including 20 thousand soldiers from the United States.

This will be the largest-scale transfer of the American division in full combat readiness from the United States to Europe in the last quarter century.

According to a Pentagon official statement, Defender Europe 20’s maneuvers are designed to increase strategic readiness and interoperability of allied forces, leveraging the ability of the US armed forces to quickly move large, reliable combat forces from the United States to Europe and with its allies and partners quickly respond to a potential crisis.

For the first time in the context of military exercises, NATO will test the elements of the 4–30 preparedness initiative, a program adopted last year at the NATO session in Brussels. The NATO initiative “4 to 30” provides that in case of aggression 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 warships will be brought to full combat readiness in the conflict area within 30 days.

The guest of the program “Peace at a glance”, international security expert Andrzej Talyaga, believes that during the exercise, NATO will demonstrate determination to respond to aggression from a potential enemy.

Andrzej Talyaga: During the exercise, NATO states need to work out a realistic scenario for helping one of the members of the Alliance in our part of Europe in case of aggression from outside. That is, we are talking about improving command and staff structures, including the new Atlantic command of NATO, logistics and logistics support systems, transporting personnel and military equipment over long distances, in particular, from the United States to Europe. Here, the main attention will be paid to maritime and air transport of significant military forces, as well as to routes for their transfer of thousands of kilometers already in Europe. So, the Defender Europe 20 exercises will provide a good opportunity to test the capabilities of the European railway and road infrastructure, bridges, fuel supply system and so on. In general, as part of the exercises, up to 20 thousand US soldiers and officers, as well as 13 thousand units of military equipment, will be delivered to Europe by sea and air. On the other hand, with the redeployment of significant forces as part of NATO’s eastern borders exercises, there is also a need to check and improve administrative and legal procedures, since Defender maneuvers will take place besides Poland in other countries: Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany , Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands. The most active part of the current exercises will be held in April-May of this year. Then the combined forces of NATO will participate in a series of combined operations on land, in the air and at sea.

Moscow has traditionally noted that the Defender Europe 20 maneuvers are provocative anti-Russian. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia will respond to NATO exercises.

Andrzej Talyaga: First, Russia has long been working out scenarios for the transfer of significant armed forces over long distances. The scale of the forces and equipment involved in them, personnel, as well as the implementation of various combat training tasks, including nuclear weapons tests, Russian maneuvers are many times superior to NATO exercises. Suffice it to recall that in the framework of the Vostok 2018 exercises, Russia deployed its troops – more than 100 thousand people and tens of thousands of units with military equipment – in all directions from one end of the country to the other. Naturally, Moscow uses NATO’s maneuvers for propaganda purposes to talk about the dangerous approach of NATO forces to Russian borders and the alleged threat to peace, as well as the aggressive policy of the Alliance. I personally do not envisage more serious provocative actions on the part of Russia, which could lead to an open conflict. Of course, the Russian side will closely monitor the actions of the Allied forces, and will also conduct demonstrative raids on military aircraft and naval forces in the immediate vicinity of NATO forces.

According to Andrzej Talagi, the current exercises are intended, first of all, to confirm the effectiveness of the collective defense mechanism arising from Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, according to which an armed attack on one or more of the contracting countries in Europe or North America will be considered an attack on them in general. The Polish expert recalls that the United States plays a key role here.

Andrzej Talyaga: Fulfilling the obligations under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, only the United States can provide real assistance in the event of aggression today, since no other NATO country currently has comparable capabilities to America. Indeed, it is impossible to name the armed forces of either Germany or France in this regard. They do not have the appropriate resources and capabilities. By the way, the fifth article of the Washington Treaty has been applied only once in recent decades – in response to a terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, when passenger Boeings hijacked by Islamic terrorists rammed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

So, the Defender Europe 20 maneuvers – as I have already noted – will be a test of NATO’s operational capabilities. On the political plane, there is, of course, reason to talk about certain disagreements. In various European capitals, voices are heard from government or expert circles that, in the event of an armed conflict in our part of Europe, on the eastern flank of NATO, it is not necessary to use military force immediately within the framework of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, and resort to political and economic measures against the aggressor. In the West, there is still an opinion that Article 5 does not require the Allies to immediately and collectively use military force. On the other hand, there is the United States, which has consistently demonstrated a serious attitude to the threat from Russia, as well as a willingness to give an adequate response to armed aggression on the eastern flank. By participating in the Defender Europe 20 exercises, the United States confirms this approach in practice.

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