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This spring, the Swedish government is expected to bring back its military draft after seven years. In this, Sweden will join its neighbor Norway, which never abolished its military draft but did make it gender-neutral last year. A third European country, Lithuania, has also reinstated the draft after abolishing it a decade ago. “The Return of the Draft” by Elisabeth Braw, a nonresident senior fellow in the Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, takes a deeper look at how the draft is returning in a modernized fashion. The author outlines the key policy issues related to recruiting the best conscripts and how to maximize their benefit to the armed forces.

 
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Over the past decade and a half, Russia has placed an increased emphasis on nuclear weapons in its military strategy and doctrine. Moscow’s assertive “escalate-to-de-escalate” nuclear strategy poses a distinguishable threat to NATO nations, and requires greater strategic thinking about NATO’s nuclear posture. After a quarter century of reducing its reliance on nuclear weapons, NATO now lacks a credible deterrent for Russian “de-escalatory” nuclear strikes. To grapple with this possibility, NATO must consider the development of new, more flexible nuclear capabilities of its own.

 
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A permanent rotational presence of NATO troops in the Baltic States and Poland, the outcome from the recent NATO Warsaw Summit, will form an integral part of NATO’s increased deterrence measures against Russia in Europe’s east. One of NATO’s key challenges as it seeks to enhance its presence in the Baltic Sea region is the lack of modern military infrastructure, especially the kind that meets the needs of large Allied units. The Baltic states have not been unaware of their military infrastructure gaps, and all three countries have built their armed forces from the ground up, focusing on manning the force and equipment requirements. But if NATO troops cannot get their tanks and supply convoys to training ranges and bases far from the Baltic coastline, they will not be of much use. Additionally, improving military infrastructure is not just a matter of presenting a more palatable offer to NATO allies; it is also an issue of operational capabilities.

 
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The Baltic Sea region has emerged as a key friction zone between the West and Russia since the onset of the Ukraine crisis in 2014. Russia has built up its military presence and activity in the region, challenging the post-Cold War order in Europe and spurring new concerns in the United States, NATO, and its partners about the region’s security. The overriding US security priority in the Baltic Sea region is to provide deterrence against aggression toward the Baltic States and effective defense if that deterrence fails. The Baltic States are arguably NATO’s most vulnerable members, and their small geographical size and limited military resources mean that they cannot, by themselves, offer strategic depth to the United States and NATO during a crisis. However, the region also contains two of NATO’s most valuable partners—Sweden and Finland—along with the emerging leader of NATO’s east, Poland.

 
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NATO faces a worsening security environment defined by Russia's growing willingness to challenge the West and a Europe whole, free, and at peace. In this new geo-political context the Black Sea region is one of the central friction zones between Russia and NATO. While the Alliance has recently pledged to protect its eastern flank against aggression, overall capacity challenges have resulted in little increased presence in the Black Sea. "A NATO Strategy for Security in the Black Sea Region" takes stock of the security and defense challenges in the broader region and offers operational and policy recommendations for NATO to address security in the Black Sea region. 

 
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The Warsaw Summit was a watershed moment for the NATO Alliance. The twenty-eight member states had a unique opportunity to demonstrate NATO’s enduring relevance and ability to defend Europe and the transatlantic area by laying down a marker to build strong and effective conventional and nuclear deterrence. Poland, in particular, should play an important role in NATO’s adaptation to a new and challenging security environment.  

 
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On the eve of the 2016 Warsaw Summit, NATO faces a new and challenging security environment dominated by a revanchist Russia increasingly willing to challenge the West and turbulence and violence across the Mediterranean's southern rim. In this new security environment, the maritime domains around Europe are potential friction zones and where these challenges increasingly play out. The Russian navy is growing its capabilities, is increasingly active, and challenges NATO at sea. In April, Russian attack jets buzzed the USS Donald Cook at close range in the Baltic Sea, but that is only one example of recent risky interactions. The Alliance, however, has not yet done enough to prepare for these new challenges in the maritime domain. The current Alliance Maritime Strategy, approved in 2011, does not reflect this challenging security environment and is instead focused on lower-end missions and challenges, such as counter-piracy.

 
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As NATO leaders prepare to meet in Warsaw this July, the Alliance faces the greatest threats to peace and security in Europe since the end of the Cold War. The most pressing, fundamental challenges include a revanchist Russia, eroding stability in the greater Middle East, a weakened European Union, and uncertain American and European leadership.

 
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On June 23, 2016, a referendum will decide whether Britain will leave the European Union (EU) or remain a member. Britain’s departure from the EU would affect the rest of the world, because it would have implications for a broad spectrum of international concerns–very importantly, international security. For the United States, Britain remains among the most important allies across the security spectrum, but the prospects of a Brexit leave the future of UK-US security cooperation uncertain.

 

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Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, the Baltic States have come into sharp focus as a key friction zone between a much more assertive Russia on the one hand, and the United States, NATO, and the broader transatlantic community on the other. NATO and the United States have made promising first steps to better secure the Baltic States and the surrounding region. But meeting the challenge of an assertive Russia under Vladimir Putin will require a long-term strategy by NATO, and the United States in particular. In this piece, the Atlantic Council’s Damon Wilson and Magnus Nordenman argue that a coherent strategy for the region must be built on a clear vision, a determined force posture, regional cooperation, and a focused program—supported by resources from across the Alliance—to build Baltic deterrent capabilities. These efforts, backed by strong US leadership, will ensure northeast Europe remains stable, secure, and prosperous.

 


    

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