There were two big, but little-noticed, policy changes at the recent meeting of NATO defense chiefs. From Alex Gorka at strategic-culture.org:
The NATO defense chiefs’ meeting on February 14-15 was mainly devoted to sharing the defense burden and other issues routinely discussed at any event. As usual, there were turgid speeches with opaque meaning to leave one guessing what’s really behind those nice words. In fact, the alliance took two far-going decisions proving a clue to its plans for near future.
The ministers said yes to the creation of military Schengen to ease forces movements across the Old Continent. NATO is to do away with the cumbersome and lingering bureaucratic procedures hindering transportation of troops and hardware through territories of member states. One of the solutions is a standardized form used by European allies and partner states for granting permission for movements. Germany has offered to host the command center to implement the concept of free transit zone in view of its vast experience in providing logistical support.
It’s not red tape only. One thing leads to another. The military Schengen will inevitably result in additional expenditure to adapt the civilian infrastructure to military needs, upgrading roads, tunnels and bridges to enable hardware movements and heavy aircraft landings.
The decision is taken amid burgeoning preparations to boost military infrastructure near Russia’s borders. The fact that by signing the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act the bloc pledged not to deploy “substantial” ground forces on permanent basis close to Russia appears to be ignored and forgotten. With the document no longer valid, the bilateral military relationship will be deprived of any legal basis.
To augment the forces in East Europe, the Black Sea, the Baltics and the Scandinavian Peninsula the bloc needs new logistic hubs. Unobstructed large-scale transport movements become top priority for implementation of the war plans, such as concentrating combat-ready stocks for a full US brigade in Poland. So, the alliance is clearing the obstacles that hinder its ability to rapidly boost forward presence and concentrate forces for an attack.
To continue reading: Dancing to US Tune: NATO Creates Military Schengen and Launches Iraq Mission