The US defense budget is coming together (partially)
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To take the Baltic first!
After joining Nato, the Baltic countries concentrated on building a defense formed around battalion sized formations each defending their own area. Faced with a superpower like Russia it was better than nothing – just! I made it difficult for a renegade colonel to steal a Baltic country for his own personal use.
That developed – oh around 10 years ago – into a national defense in each of the three countries with one or two brigades each and a Danish composite battalion as brigade reserve, plus a Danish brigade (minus) as general reserve for a counterattack. That was much better, as it pushed the minimum of an attacking force up to perhaps a bit over the Soviet division size. That would buy time to mine the Russian waters and close down their ports reasonably permanently. Other means of persuasion would be a nuke on St. Petersburg; but that would demand a highly controversial stand on the US side and an – if not inevitable – then plausible escalation. It did invite Russian blustering and a lot of fist waving – the manicure wasn’t up to standard.
Today – looking at the home pages of the different countries defenses – it now seems the defense is organised in a North and South “corps-like” structure, using the river running through the Latvian capital, Riga (the Daugava), as a dividing line. Pure guesswork on my behalf, but….
That would mean an attacking force would run up to a Russian Army about the size of 6-8 brigades (possibly 6th Guards Army) as part of the Western Military district with HQ in St. Petersburg (2010 organization as far as I could see in Wikipedia) – and it would buy time for some serious reinforcement – possibly from the US; but more importantly, it would seriously piss off the Poles and could not be contained as a regional conflict by the Russians. Of course the Russians could conquer the Baltic states; but that would entail endless grief, not only there, but elsewhere – in fact even a cursory examination would reveal that the best possible gain would never measure up to the certain costs.
The Baltic states have, ever since the folding of the Warsaw Pact, been a problem for the U.S. Naval intervention – forget it: You don’t use aircraft carriers for river patrol! On the other hand: The mere certainty that the Russian Baltic Fleet would remain will make a lot of planning a whole lot easier. It will enable the USA to guard its interest for a nominal fee. Whatever Putin is: He is not stupid!
The other article is about the Greenlandic Home Rule government inviting Denmark to participate in exploiting Greenlands natural resources. Oh, how very gracious of you!
Kuupik Kleist (k pronounced g and p is b – Greenlandic pronunciation actually improves with loss of teeth!) has always been a bit on the chubby side – now he has gained weight.
Actually there is no way Greenland will ever have commercially viable mining. First of all there is no infrastructure and it is not a place with cheap labour, secondly, as raw material prices are these last ten years they will come down – probably to a 2002 level – eventually – and no large scale mining operation is going to be based on such an unreliable basis.
Kuupik knows that perfectly well: It is a case of a con man calling somebody else’s bluff. No, the only real value Greenland has is in the military control of the North Atlantic and keeping that area as it is now – dead boring. There is little doubt that Norway and Denmark are in charge and Kuupik is now bargaining for a price quote.
The gain for the US is that given fair warning, that would allow reshuffling of yard planning of the carriers, and the number of US carriers could be reduced with one or two. So Kuupik has a point in so far as compared to the savings on the US Defense budget, a billion DKK more or less is petty cash.
Will the US Congress spend money to save money? I think so.
It is not isolationism on the US side – despite what pundits may think – it is saving money by exploiting mutual interest between allies. The North Atlantic is a naval question any administration will have to confront. Looking back over the years, this solution has been a long time under way. It is not a flash of inspiration of the newly re-elected President – it is long term careful staff planning: Doing more with less.