NATO in its doctrine to collectively fight and win when Article 5 is invoked, is done by the Joint Task Force (JTF), the JTF brings all components – land, air, and sea from contributions of willing NATO countries. Each component is made up of a corps, which has up to five divisions under it, where those divisions are provided by separate NATO nations or a combination. The command of the JTF reports to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), which is currently General Curtis Scaparrotti from the U.S. Army. Each of the Component Corps Commanders are rotated in two-year cycles under the JTF. There are nine NATO Land Component Corps Commands and six of them do annual rotations and then selected to spend two years under JTF. These are corps commands that do not have troops, sailors, marines, or airmen under them unless the JTF is operational under Article 5.
Yesterday, we were asked to present and presented on missile defense to the NATO Allied Rapid Response Corps Command (AARC), headquartered at Imjin Barracks in Innsworth, England.The AARC just coming off its annual rotation for the Land Component Corps (LLC) and going into the JTF is a UK command headed by Lieutenant General Tim Radford. Imjin Barracks is named in remembrance fort the heroic battle that the U.K. lost a battalion on the Imjin River during the Korean War in 1951.
If an attack on NATO in Europe arose that could cause Article 5 to be invoked, the United States Forces in Europe would most likely be first to engage to hold ground prior to Article 5 being voted on by all 28 Nations of NATO, which would take time and politics to have a resolution. Then the NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) would be deployed followed by an Initial Follow-On Forces Group (IFFG) in 30 days and then the Follow-On Force Group (FFG) in 60 days.
Today in a “we fight tonight” scenario with all of these task forces, groups and corps, NATO has a reality of a tremendous capability gap on air and ballistic missile defense systems to defend their maneuvering land forces, their air bases, their logistical support, and their command structure. Moreover, they have not exercised together with the other task force Components. NATO’s investments from each country in force providing is way too great of an investment to not defend against threats that have been demonstrated and evolved over the past decade from ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as drones. It is too great for the security of the European population to ignore, too great not to exercise, too great not to invest in and deploy these defensive systems that are here today, while force functioning technology development to get better systems into these task forces.
For the United Kingdom, who of all nations should understand the importance because of German V2 rockets attacks on London without any defense of them in WW II and had six ships sunk in the Falkland war in 1982 for lack of air defense, it should be an absolute priority to have ample and enough air and missile defense for their military forces. It’s not the case and for them acquiring two Aircraft Carriers and not having planned, proven BMD capable Battle Group ships to provide air and ballistic missile defense for their huge investment is misguided.
For all of us to include the United Kingdom and all of NATO to deter our near peers and to create stability for other options with diplomacy coming first and foremost, you have to have to put forward mass on their mass. If you can’t defend your mass you have no mass and you become subjugated to their power, influence, posture and threats.
It’s all about the mass. Defend your Mass!