Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser said the political decision to send NATO's Response Force into a conflict area should be made in a matter of hours.
According to current standards, the 5,000-strong force should be mobilized and arrive in 48 to 72 hours, but any movement will only begin once a political decision has been made.
“NATO can decide to deploy the unit in a matter of hours so the realistic arrival time would be from 48 to 72 hours,” Mikser said, adding that the political decision should be made in a few hours. Mikser did not elaborate how that decision will be made.
Martin Hurt, the Deputy Head of the International Center for Defense and Security, said that Russia may use a military exercise near the border to launch a sudden attack on the Baltic states. He said aid request, such as in the form of the Response Force, could come too late.
Hurt added that a better tactic would be to station sizable NATO troops in border countries already in peace time. “If we remember the Cold War situation – 1980s in West Germany, where more than a quarter of a million US troops were deployed, with allies from other nations in addition to that. They were there to take the first hit,” Hurt said.
Leo Kunnas, a retired Estonian Defense Force colonel, said a full brigade in each of the three Baltic nations and three more in Poland, would be sufficient firepower. A brigade is between 3,500-5,000 personnel.
NATO recently announced the force will be tripled in the next few years to 15,000 soldiers.
Editor: J.M. Laats