Especially in winter.
From Politico, July 10:
The head of the tiny NATO member’s special forces details his country’s preparations for a conflict many here see as inevitable.
Pretty much no one in the Western alliance is looking forward to the next few days.
NATO heads of state are due to meet Wednesday in Brussels beneath the disinterested gaze of President Donald Trump before he jets off to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. In between, British Prime Minister Theresa May—who faces a pending collision with the brick wall of Brexit—meets first with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then with Trump. It’s a rapid-fire series of what would usually be staid diplomatic photo-ops that could, in this iteration, seriously disrupt the international order that has made the United States a global superpower since the end of World War II.
While the president and other Republican envoys make reassuring entreaties to the Kremlin, Trump continues to view himself as the disruptor of NATO. In the weeks leading up to the NATO summit, the president again berated America’s allies for their defense spending. To push back, supporters of the trans-Atlantic framework that is the architecture of American power in the world are on an information blitz, heralding increased defense spending across the alliance.
All this has been accompanied by the usual cycle of pre-summit reports about NATO’s defensive vulnerabilities—including the choke point of the Suwalki Gap between Poland and Lithuania. And, as usual, it’s the allies to the north of that gap that are trying to stay focused on what matters most: the fundamental transformation of the alliance that is needed.
Almost 10 years after the Russian invasion of Georgia in August 2008, it’s clear NATO still needs to learn more quickly from our partners with a deeper history of fighting Russian aggression in all its various forms. Foremost of those partners is Estonia, which, unlike Georgia, is a full NATO member and has been since 2004.
There’s an unspoken duality underlying the mind-set of Estonian defense. To survive, you must integrate: The three Baltic states—Estonia plus Latvia and Lithuania—acted as a unified region to achieve NATO and EU membership, and they continue to engage the U.S. and NATO from that “B3” format above all. NATO’s charter requires that the alliance come to the aid of any member who is attacked. But to survive as a small and vulnerable state, you must also believe that a crisis will come where you will again be on your own fighting the Russians, and you have to be prepared for that.
This duality—stand together, but be ready to fight alone—is driving a shift in U.S. force posture in the region, and it has helped inform a new model for our engagement in front-line states: Defense must be alliance-driven, but it must also be almost hyperlocal.
The idea that Estonia—whose entire population isn’t much bigger than Russia's standing army, and which has little on its own in the way of air power and armor—could withstand a Russian assault might seem like a silly discussion from the far side of the Atlantic. But Estonia has resources that are as much in demand in the alliance as TOW missiles and tanks: will and a mobilized population. In a country of just over 1.3 million, fully 60,000 are trained and serve in the military or reserves. The importance of this human element cannot be dismissed: Estonians still have vivid memories of the price of occupation, and this perspective sharpens strategic planning in unexpected ways....MUCH MORE