RAND: Nuclear weapons in Europe useless to deter Russian attacks

The central nuclear observation of the report is thatNATO nuclear forces do not have much credibility in protecting the Baltic States against a Russian attack.

That conclusion is, to say the least, interesting given the extent to which some analysts and former/current officials have been arguing that NATO/US need to have more/better limited regional nuclear options to counter Russia in Europe.

Fortunately, Russia’s general military capabilities – although important – are so limited that the RAND study concludes that for NATO to be able to counter a Russian attack on the Baltic States “does not appear to require a Herculean effort.”

Instead, the report concludes that a NATO force of about seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigades – adequately supported by airpower, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities – might prevent such an outcome.

NATO has already created a conventional Spearhead Force brigade of about 5,000 troops. Seven brigades of that size would include about 35,000 troops.

Creating and maintaining such a force, RAND estimates, might cost on the order of $2.7 billion per year.

Put in perspective, the $30 billion the Pentagon plans to spend on a new nuclear air-launched cruise missile (LRSO) that is not needed could buy NATO more a decade worth of real protection of the Baltic States.

RAND Report Questions Nuclear Role In Defending Baltic States