With NATO member states being affected by diverse- and hybrid-influence operations, the alliance is currently in the middle of an Article 3 and 4 situation, Col. Wolfgang Paulik, director general of NATO’s Civil-Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence (CIMIC COE), said in an interview with BNS.
"NATO is responding to these with a number of assurance and adaptation measures, which also include the establishment of the NFIUs [NATO Force Integration Units] as well as deployment of multinational battalions," the chief of the Hague-based center said.
In addition to these measures, the alliance must also respond with civil-military engagement, liaison and communication measures toward the local population, he said.
According to Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO's founding treaty, member states commit to develop separately and jointly their individual and collective capacities to resist armed attack.
Article 4 provides for consultations among member states whenever any of them feels its territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.
Paulik told BNS that the arrival of the multinational battalions over the course of 2017 will pose a tremendous operational and organizational challenge for all three Baltic countries.
"The size of these units will increase the number of combat-ready personnel witha ll their needs and military hardware in each country by a very significant number," he explained. "The economic, cultural and organizational impact of this influx needs to be fully scaled by trained CIMIC personnel in order to properly prepare the affected population, social strata, economy and local businesses for this situation."
Paulik also noted that they must be very aware that both critical and hostile observers would seek to exploit any sensitive issue surrounding the arrival and activities of each battalion to the fullest by maximizing any conceivable sentiment or contested development. "Only comprehensive, standardized and regular engagement with all stakeholders of the local population, including national minorities, will deprive the destructive hybrid attempts of their very basis," said the colonel.
In his opinion, that is what the alliance's CIMIC COE is for: to enable immediate full operational capabilities while facilitating full population support and involvement.
Until 2014, NATO's CIMIC COE largely focused on out-of-region countries with a largely failed civilian infrastructure and lack of rule of law or functioning central and federal authorities, said Paulik. Since the beginning of Russian aggression in Ukraine, it has shifted the focus to "domestic" civil-military cooperation, centering on creating an environment and preparing civilian societies for the arrival of the multinational battalions.
"Any Baltic country will greatly benefit from training and employing more personnel in NATO Domestic CIMIC in order to support the many transitional processes involved in the rotational nature of the multinational battalions," Paulik told BNS. As the incoming NATO units will not involve significant CIMIC capacities, units specializing in civil-military cooperation should be formed in the Baltic states' defense structures.
According to the German colonel, the existing national guard structures, for example Estonia's volunteer corps Estonian Defence League, can be of key relevance in this, as they are already very much tied in with the local population. However, local CIMIC forces also need to be trained for working together with NATO units, and this is what CIMIC COE can offer to the Baltic states, said Paulik.
At its Warsaw Summit in July, NATO approved the deployment in 2017 of allied battalions to all three Baltic states and Poland on a rotational basis. The battalion to be stationed in Estonia will be led by the UK, while the battalions in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland will be led by Canada, Germany and the US, respectively.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla