Una settimana dopo la decisione dell'amministrazione statunitense di rafforzare lo schieramento militare nell'Europa orientale Mosca decide di effettuare un'esercitazione nel distretto meridionale. La diciannovesima in tre anni.
Pochi giorni fa, il Center for Strategic and International Studies di Washington, su mandato dell'Esercito americano, ha realizzato una review della "postura" in Europa dello stesso U.S. Army. Il documento è molto interessante perchè ci permette di capire il punto di vista americano da una prospettiva operativa valutando quella che è la percezione di Washington riguardo le capacità militari russe.
La deterrenza, scrivono correttamente gli analisti del CSIS, si basa su due elementi fondamentali: intenzioni e capacità. Perchè sia credibile, in buona sostanza, un attore deve manifestare chiaramente la volontà di "punire" un potenziale aggressore e deve disporre degli strumenti necessario per farlo.
Benchè la NATO, nonchè alcuni alleati individualmente, dispongano di armi nucleari tali strumenti non sono in grado di esercitare adeguata deterrenza contro una Russia che, come dimostrato dalla vicenda ucraina, adopera una strategia volta a minimizzare l'uso di forze convenzionali. La minaccia di ritorsione nucleare, quindi, in questo specifico contesto operativo, non appare credibile in quanto assolutamente sproporzionata.
Un'adeguata deterrenza, invece, non può che passare attraverso un considerevole rafforzamento dello schieramento convenzionale. Più truppe, più mezzi, più infrastrutture. Nello specifico, scrive il CSIS:
[…] In determining how much is enough to deter and defend, the conflict in Ukraine and U.S. military planning doctrine are instructive. A variety of factors led to the Kremlin’s decision to halt further advances into eastern Ukraine. These include economic sanctions and diplomatic engagement as well as the poor results that Russia’s tactics showed as Russian and separatist forces moved further into Ukraine (particularly in Odessa and Mariupol). At the same time, stronger-than-anticipated local and Ukrainian military resistance certainly had an impact. Based on the experience in Crimea, Russia likely expected little in the way of effective armed resistance in eastern Ukraine. Initially, it seemed to have been proven right. But from January 2014 to May 2014, Ukraine executed the largest single military mobilization to counter a threat in Europe since World War II, deploying 15 to 20 brigades to the country’s east. Ukraine’s mass mobilization generated sufficient force ratios of about 1:3 to defend against Russian and separatist forces. This is consistent with a general principle in military planning that states that defending forces in possession of a 1:3 force ratio can hold attacking forces to a 65–75 percent chance of success. In other words, attacking forces will retain a reasonable chance of success, but at a higher cost and in a manner unlikely to be quick and decisive.22 After Ukraine had mobilized its forces, Russia then increased its own involvement, making it more difficult to credibly deny its military presence, but it also confined its military actions to the vicinity of territory it already controlled. This experience offers a starting point when considering the additional U.S. and allied forces required to affect Putin’s calculus.
In order to offer a credible deterrent against Russian aggression in the Baltic States, the CSIS study team recommends a strategy based on a tiered and scalable posture for U.S. Army forces in Europe. This approach would allow U.S. and allied forces to establish a strong tripwire in the Baltic States and quickly expand to provide forward forces, rapidresponse forces, and initial echelons of follow-on forces nearing the 1:3 force ratio, with the ability to scale up further if Russia escalates.
To be clear, this proposal outlines a strategy to deter Russian aggression against the Baltic States by establishing credible U.S. and allied capabilities for conventional deterrence in the region. It is not a strategy to conduct an active defense of the Baltic States in the event deterrence fails. The worst-case scenario is when Russia employs overwhelming military force to rapidly seize the Baltic States without having to encounter U.S. or Western military forces. In such a scenario, Moscow would be able to place the burden of escalation on Washington and Brussels, rather than Moscow having to contend with the certainty of such an escalation in its initial calculus. The CSIS study team’s proposal seeks to avoid this scenario by ensuring that any Russian decision to attack the Baltic States entails a simultaneous and conscious decision to attack forwardpositioned U.S. and Western European combat forces in those countries. […]
Un ultimo passaggio merita, a mio modesto avviso, attenzione. Laddove gli analisti del CSIS evidenziano come…:
… Another significant cause for concern with regard to Russian posture is Moscow’s deployment of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD)-capable systems in areas critical to U.S. and allied global and regional force projection. Russia has long-range air-defense missiles, anti-ship missiles, and surface-to-surface missiles positioned in Kaliningrad, the Arctic, Belarus, Crimea, along its own western border, and now increasingly in Syria. These give Moscow the ability to contest the critical land, sea, and air pathways to the Baltic States, the Black Sea, and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. While the focus of U.S. policymakers has been on China’s A2/AD capabilities in the Pacific, it is now also necessary to take into account how Russia’s A2/AD posture in Europe and potentially the Middle East, create their own unique challenges.