Northern Europe, particularly the Baltic Sea region, is at the forefront of a new competition between NATO and a revanchist Russia capable and willing to use military force to alter the European security order. Since 2014, both the United States and NATO have responded to the changing security environment in northern Europe with a bolstered exercise program more focused on high-end warfighting and the introduction of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. These efforts provide a foundation, and the beginnings of a deterrence force, for NATO and the region’s continued work to build effective and sustainable defense and deterrence in northern Europe. They are, however, in themselves insufficient without additional enablers, sufficient forward logistics, robust command and control, reinforcement arrangements, and planning and capabilities for the air and maritime domain.
In this issue brief, General Philip M. Breedlove, USAF (Ret.) argues that establishing integrated and robust air defense for the Baltic Sea region is the next logical step in protecting NATO’s forward presence, pre-positioned equipment, and the United States’ and NATO’s ability to access and operate in the broader region during a potential crisis or conflict.