January 4, 2018

NATO: Where is the Maritime Suwalki Gap?

The ground and air forces have moved their lines east, but what are we doing on the maritime side of the house to buy space and time against a re-invigorated Russia looking west again?

In the last few years, many have realized that our Cold War barricade to the Atlantic at the GIUK Gap was gone. Jerry Hendrix, as one would expect, in May of last year was at the front re-starting this conversation outside the conference rooms. Jerry is also starting to think beyond once was but lost, but moving our maritime defensive lines east. In this case, discussing what was once a Warsaw Pact asset, Gdansk.

Moves in the right direction have already started. USA is planning to refurbish and return to Keflavik. The Royal Air Force is getting back in to the air-ASW fight again. These are good, but it is just scratching back to a shadow of our old defensive lines. We need to think like our ground and air counterparts.

When you look at the Baltic – not an easy place for any maritime asset in war – work needs to be done. The most effective Baltic maritime capability for NATO in the Baltic – IMAO the small conventional submarine is not in good shape. The Danes no longer have submarines. The German U-boat force – when it can get underway – is in caretaker status. The Poles (now on our team) have the desire, but their submarine force is ancient. Sweden, though not an ally, is struggling like the UK just to defend their home waters.

The West is paying the price for believing that ’90s nonsense about history being over.

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