William C. Snyder Quoted in Medium.Com InfoSec Article

OSINT isn’t Evidence, or Why InfoSec Needs To Take A Step Back

(Re-published from Medium.com | Dec. 4, 2017) The ForeignPolicy.com headline read “Feds Quietly Reveal Chinese State-Backed Hacking Operation.

But that headline is misleading because the indictment issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Western Pennsylvania didn’t name the Chinese government at all. It only named three employees of the Guangzhou Bo Yu Information Technology Company Limited (Boyusec).

“The indictment makes no allegations regarding state sponsorship,” said Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle, who added that prosecutors only “included the allegations that we are prepared to prove in court with admissible evidence.”

Elias Groll, who wrote the article, apparently questioned why the DOJ didn’t include the Chinese government like they did in the 2014 indictment that named five Chinese PLA officers, and which also came from the same U.S. Attorney’s office in Western Pennsylvania. Groll contacted FireEye’s John Hultquist and quoted from past research by RecordedFuture in support of his headline that directly refuted what the DOJ said.

So let’s be clear about what FireEye, RecordedFuture, and every other cyber security company puts out in a commercial white paper designed to generate headlines and attract sales, and what the DOJ develops in order to get a conviction. Only one of those two things can properly be called “evidence.”

In 2014, I spoke with William C. Snyder, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who served in the Western District of Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia and who today is a professor at Syracuse University’s College of Law. My question for him at that time was what must a cyber intelligence report have to deliver in order for an AUSA to pursue an indictment with the intent to prosecute. Here is an excerpt of his response to me.

First, the report by the non-government company is hearsay and is not admissible in court to prove any of the findings in the report. What the U.S. Attorney will be looking for in the report is a path to admissible evidence.

Here is a simple example. Guy opens Yahoo email accounts in names of boss who fired him and cop who arrested him. Guy sends emails from both accounts to the White House, threatening to blow it up. Desk at White House snags both emails and finds that they came from same IP.

For USSS, I issue on behalf of a grand jury a subpoena to the cable company for basic subscriber info for that IP. It comes back to a static IP for an account in the name of Joe Defendant at the address of his house. Ready to indict? No.

Agents interview exboss and cop. Both deny sending emails to White House and both have had runins with Mr. Defendant.

Agents interview postal carrier and neighbors. Mr. Defendant lives at the house with his wife and small child. Interviews continue, and local pastor and others indicate that wife and child were at church at the time emails to White House were sent. I take agents to a judge, who issues search warrant for Mr. Defendant ’s house and computers …

To read the full article, click here.

 

“Proceeding Methodically”: William C. Banks Updates Bloomberg Law on the RussiaGate Investigation

Mueller Investigation Enters New Phase After Flynn Plea

(Bloomberg Law | Dec. 4, 2017) Robert Ray, a former federal prosecutor & former Whitewater Independent Counsel, discusses Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea. Plus, Syracuse University law professor William Banks discusses comments by the President’s legal team, who say that a President cannot obstruct justice. They speak with Bloomberg’s June Grasso on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law” … MORE

William C. Banks Named Senior Fellow at Georgetown Law’s Center on National Security and the Law

The Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law has announce that William C. Banks has joined the Center as a Senior Fellow.

“I am delighted to welcome Bill Banks to the Center,” says Center Director and Professor of Law Laura K. Donohue. “Bill’s scholarship has played a key role in defining the field of national security law. He has tremendous expertise, and we are privileged to have him join us at Georgetown.”

A highly regarded and internationally recognized scholar and teacher, topics of Banks’ wide-ranging research include national security and counterterrorism law; laws of war and asymmetric warfare; drones and targeted killing; transnational crime and corruption; cybersecurity, cyberespionage, and cyber conflict; human security; emergency and war powers; emergency preparedness and response; prosecuting terrorists; civilian-military relations; and government surveillance and privacy. Banks is most recently the co-author (with Stephen Dycus) of Soldiers on the Home Front: The Domestic Role of the American Military (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2016).

A graduate of the University of Nebraska (B.A. 1971) and the University of Denver (J.D. 1974; M.S. 1982), Banks joined the faculty of the SU College of Law in 1978. Among his public service appointments, Banks has served as a Special Counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee (for the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Stephen G. Breyer);on the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security; as a member of the InfraGard National Members Alliance Board of Advisors; on the Advisory Council for the Perpetual Peace Project; on the Executive Board of the International Counter-Terrorism Academic Community (ICTAC); as an Editorial Board member at The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague, The Netherlands; and as a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. Banks also is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.

In 2003, Banks founded the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University College of Law, which became a recognized leader in research and education on national and international security and terrorism. He is a Syracuse University College of Law Board of Advisors Distinguished Professor and Syracuse University Maxwell School Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs. During 2015-2016, Banks was Interim Dean of Syracuse University Law.

“Bill Banks is one of the country’s foremost experts on national security law,” says Professor David Koplow, co-director of the Center on National Security and the Law. “His leadership and collaboration on the Journal of National Security Law & Policy is just one way that he has already strengthened the opportunities for students in national security law at Georgetown.”

http://www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/centers-institutes/national-security/People/Press-Release-for-William-C-Banks.cfm

“Call to Arms:” Corri Zoli Speaks to WTVH About ISIS’ Christmas Threats

On Nov. 28, 2017, Director of Research Corri Zoli discussed the latest threats from Islamic State targeted at Christmas shoppers and festivals in the West, in places such as Germany, Italy, and New York City. Zoli reviewed images—”advertisements for death” and “calls to arms”—that ISIS is circulating and that were identified by Zoli’s research students. Zoli noted that devices designed to stop vehicles from harming pedestrians—a current favorite tactic of low-tech terrorists—are being deployed in cities, including in Syracuse, NY.

The Double Standard Surrounding Ukraine’s Education Law

By Mark Temnycky (MPA ’17)

(Re-published from Euractiv | Nov. 30, 2017) As Ukraine celebrated its “Ukrainian Literacy and Language Day” on Nov. 9, 2017, controversy surrounding Ukraine’s education law remains.

Passed in September, the legislation stated secondary education in public schools would be taught in Ukrainian. This sparked outrage from the ethnic Russian community in eastern Ukraine, who represent nearly one-fifth of the Ukrainian populace, and the minority groups in Transcarpathia, such as the Hungarians and Romanians, who account for 0.6% of Ukraine’s population.

Ukraine’s education law also received backlash from the international community, most notably from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

PACE criticized the legislation, stating it did not create an appropriate balance between the Ukrainian and minority languages. The Assembly then offered a series of recommendations on how to amend the law, and a second review will be conducted at the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels on 24 November. The Ukrainian law on education has also been sent to the Venice Commission for further assessments.

Hungarian and Romanian officials voiced their concerns as well, arguing the law would not allow minority groups to practice their languages in Ukraine. In retaliation, Hungary threatened to block any future Ukrainian advancements toward EU membership while Romanian President Klaus Iohannis cancelled his trip to Ukraine.

Ukrainian Education and Science Minister Liliya Hrynevych has disputed these claims, stating Ukraine’s education law was not created to persecute minority groups. Rather, the law was designed to bring the Ukrainian education system closer to EU standards.

Given this controversy, why does Ukraine continue to pursue this policy? Perhaps this can be explained by its tragic history. For generations, those who ruled Ukraine tried to impose their languages upon the Ukrainian people. For example, both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union forced their subjects to learn and speak Russian, and those who did not comply were persecuted. Despite their efforts, the Ukrainian language survived.

To this day, the Ukrainian language holds a high standard in Ukraine. According to a recent survey conducted by the Gorshenin Institute, in cooperation with the Friedric Ebert Foundation, 92% of citizens in Ukraine identify themselves as ethnic Ukrainians, indicating that a common language plays a large role in Ukrainian society. This, however, does not mean minority groups cannot practice their own languages …

To read the full article, click here

Mark Temnycky (MPA ’17; CAS in Security Studies) is a Ukrainian-American who earned a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He has been previously published by The Ukrainian Weekly, EUobserver, and Forbes.

David M. Crane to Appear at NCCIT Public Inquiry into Black Sites & Rendition

NC Involvement in US Torture Program More Extensive Than Previously Known

(Nov. 30, 2017) The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT) uncovered new information concerning the depth of North Carolina’s involvement in US torture at a public hearing in Raleigh, NC, on Nov. 30, 2017.

“The United States has yet to turn the page on the dark chapter in our history when illegal detention and torture was carried out on suspects.”

The new findings, produced in partnership with The Rendition Project, reveal that nearly 30% of all acknowledged CIA black-site prisoners –34 individuals — rendered from 2001-2006 were transported on planes that originated in North Carolina. The Senate torture report has detailed the abuse detainees were subject to at these CIA sites.

Aero Contractors, founded in 1979 and headquartered at the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield, NC, operated a Gulfstream V jet nicknamed the “Guantanamo Express” to transport dozens of prisoners to black site prisons and proxy countries where many were subjected to torture, including waterboarding, painful stress positions and prolonged sleep deprivation, in their interrogations following 9/11. Aero also operated a Boeing business jet from a hangar it built at the Global TransPark, a state development project in Kinston, North Carolina.

The role of Aero Contractors and how North Carolina’s tax dollars, aviation infrastructure, and other public resources may have been used to directly or indirectly support the CIA’s rendition and torture program are the primary focus of NCCIT’s investigation. The public hearings held this week served as an opportunity for international experts, witnesses, and participants in the program to provide testimony to the Commission.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was wrongfully accused of involvement in 9/11, appeared before the commission remotely by video and told the story of how he was transported on an Aero-operated flight which originated in North Carolina, brutally tortured, and detained at Guantanamo for more than 14 years. Slahi stated, “I am personally inspired to see citizens of North Carolina organize to demand accountability especially in an environment where the use of torture is still openly advocated.”

Although many of the details about the torture program remain classified, Dr. Sam Raphael, co-founder of The Rendition Project, has managed to uncover significant new findings regarding the role of North Carolina’s aviation infrastructure. Raphael says that “Aero Contractors, based in the state, operated two aircraft which played a central role in the CIA’s torture program, rendering at least 34 individuals to secret detention at CIA black sites, and at least 15 others to foreign custody, for interrogation and torture – including rape, genital mutilation, water torture, and electro-torture. Horrific details of the treatment of prisoners held by the CIA continue to emerge, and North Carolina’s public airports are now known to have been implicated in many more of these cases than previously understood. Now is the time for full accountability and justice.”

Catherine Read, Executive Director of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, stated, “No one has been held accountable for the heinous human rights violations committed in our country’s name and whose consequences continue to be felt. On the contrary, many of the key individuals involved in designing and executing the torture program continue to be given appointments within the federal government. NCCIT seeks to do the job our government has refused to do by investigating the links between the U.S. torture program and NC tax dollars and state resources that may have been used directly or indirectly to support the supply chain of torture and seek transparency and accountability.”

 David Crane, NCCIT Commissioner and international chief war crimes prosecutor, said, “The United States has yet to turn the page on the dark chapter in our history when illegal detention and torture was carried out on suspects. The work of NCCIT serves as a unique and innovative model of citizen-driven accountability. Only with transparency can the public engage in an informed discussion of how to keep abuses like these from occurring again using our soil and tax dollars.” 

The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture is continuing to investigate following the public hearing and will issue a report in 2018 with findings and recommendations.

See Also:

Smithfield-based company accused of flying terror suspects across globe(WNCN| Nov. 30, 2017)

“David Crane, a former intelligence officer and federal prosecutor, claims 9/11 pushed the U.S. into the dark, slippery shadows of interrogation.

‘The United States did not torture individuals until after 9/11. It was against policy, and it just wasn’t the way we did business,’ Crane said.”

Syrian Accountability Project Works to Document Ongoing Yazidi Genocide

(Re-published from The Daily Orange | Nov. 28, 2017) Since August 2014, the Islamic State group — also known as IS — has targeted the Yazidi community in the Middle East, primarily throughout Syria.

“After having met with the Syrian National Council in The Hague in March of 2011, I saw the need to create an NGO that would build a case against not only President Bashar al-Assad and his henchmen but all groups involved in the Syrian Civil War.”

Yazidi men are murdered by the thousands and women are sold into sex slavery by the militants, according to the Syrian Accountability Project. Yazidi people are a Kurdish-speaking religious minority.

The Syrian Accountability Project — established in 2011 at the Syracuse University College of Law — documents war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the Syrian crisis.

The Daily Orange spoke with David Crane, an SU College of Law professor of practice and the founding chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Joseph Railey, executive director of SAP, to discuss the ongoing Yazidi genocide.

The Daily Orange: What inspired you to become the project leader of SAP?

David Crane: After having met with the Syrian National Council in The Hague in March of 2011, I saw the need to create an NGO that would build a case against not only President Bashar al-Assad and his henchmen but all groups involved in the Syrian civil war.

Using techniques that I used in Sierra Leone as chief prosecutor for the international war crimes tribunal in West Africa — called the Special Court for Sierra Leone — I started building a case against all warring parties for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It will be seven years in March 2018. The Syrian Accountability Project is the oldest NGO working on the conflict — staffed by Syracuse College of Law students who are building a conflict map, a crime base matrix and other ancillary documents for our clients: the U.N., the International Criminal Court and various governments.

The D.O.: What are the SAP’s goals — in the short- and long-run?

Joseph Railey: Our primary goal is to hold actors accountable for the crimes they have committed in Syria since the start of the conflict. We are working to prepare data to assist in prosecution efforts in the International Criminal Court, different nations’ domestic courts and eventually a U.N.-sanctioned tribunal in Syria.

The D.O.: Why isn’t the Yazidi genocide more prevalent in popular news media?

D.C.: Like any situation that involves atrocity, the new media in the U.S. generally refrain from covering these crimes due to cost and lack of interest by the American consumer.

J.R.: To some degree in 2014, when the genocide started, it was. However, I think the reason why it really isn’t all that heavily reported is the fact that the genocide is very heavy stuff to talk about, and when the media discusses ISIS, there are generally other angles that they take.

Unfortunately, I feel like it is hard to get Western media consumers to really empathize with the horrific violence that the Yazidi people have faced.   

The D.O.: Can you describe some of the acts of genocide inflicted upon the Yazidi community?

J.R.: ISIS committed genocide through systemic rape, forced marriages — in the Yazidi religion, if a woman marries someone who is not Yazidi, she is no longer a member of the community — forced abortions to prevent Yazidi children to be born, murder and kidnapping.

Many Yazidi women have also been sold into sex slavery via markets in Mosul, Raqqa and other places throughout the region. In our view, all of the events when taken together demonstrate genocide …

To read the full article, click here.

INSCT Alumnus & Homeland Security Expert Akmal Ali Featured in Sports Business Daily

Helping in the Homeland

By David Broughton

(Nov. 27, 2017) Akmal Ali [LAW ’06; CAS in National Security and Counterterrorism Law] was majoring in philosophy at Rollins College, a private liberal arts college in Winter Park, Fla., when the world changed.

“9/11 really impacted me and made me want to have a positive impact on security here in the homeland,” he said, crediting that reaction to his parents, who had fled to the United States during the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan. “My family gave me an opportunity millions of others didn’t have, the chance to be born and raised in the States, with access to education and a brighter future. I wanted to take advantage of that and do my part to make the world better. Also, maybe change some opinions about Muslims along the way.”

He left the warm weather of his native Jacksonville and enrolled at the Syracuse University College of Law, unaware that the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, a law certificate program, had just launched there.

“I was instantly drawn to INSCT as a ‘major’ for my law degree.”

After earning his Juris Doctor, he spent nearly five years at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, last serving as deputy director of the Office of Safety Act Implementation.

The Safety Act encourages the creation, deployment and use of anti-terrorism technologies and practices. It was enacted in 2002 in response to the multibillion-dollar lawsuits filed after the Sept. 11 attacks that left companies concerned they would be sued if security equipment they made or were using failed to stop terrorists. The federal recognition gives the award recipients protection from having to pay claims that might be filed by victims against them in the event of a terrorist attack.

Recognizing that the sports world needed help navigating DHS’s application process, Ali joined Washington, D.C.-based security consultants Catalyst Partners in 2011.

A year later, he successfully helped the New York Yankees secure designation and certification, Safety Act’s highest level of protection, for Yankee Stadium. It was the first sports venue to be granted such coverage.

Since then, he has become the only consultant to have helped at least one team each in MLB, the NFL, NHL and NBA. He has secured Safety Act coverage for more than one-third of the clubs in Major League Baseball.

His recent accomplishments include last week’s recertification for the Yankees, the first team to achieve that, and the approval this month of the St. Louis Cardinals’ application.

https://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2017/11/27/In-Depth/Ali.aspx

The Road to the 2018 NATO Summit & the NATO Defense Ministers Meeting in Brussels

By Kamil Szubart

On Nov. 8-9, 2017, NATO defense ministers met in Brussels to discuss the current security threats to NATO member states. Politicians agreed to reshape the NATO command structure and to boost the size of Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan. Both decisions are forward steps in adapting the Alliance to the new strategic challenges in Europe and Afghanistan. In Europe—ever since the Russian annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of violence in Donbas (in 2014)—we have observed the rise of Russian assertiveness and hostile activities against NATO alongside its eastern flank, while in Afghanistan, there has been an increase in Taliban and Islamic State (IS) activities.

“NATO also needs to permanently increase its collective and national capacities, improving the readiness of armed forces and increasing military expenditures.”

At the meeting, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis also briefed his Canadian and European counterparts on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and he expressed his concerns over potential Russian violation of the agreement. Other topics touched at the meeting related to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programs and progress on the fight against IS in northern Iraq and Syria.

The Growth of NATO’s Assets

Re-shaping the command structure—which develops operationally the strategic level outcomes of the 2016 Warsaw NATO Summit—creates two new NATO operational commands. Both new headquarters will be able to improve the current logistic assets of NATO to deploy its troops across the Atlantic and within Europe.

The Atlantic Command (AC) will be responsible for maintaining maritime trails between the United States and Europe, whereas a Logistics Command (LC) will respond more quickly to threats in Europe. There is still an open discussion about the locations of both commands. However, maritime nations such as Portugal, Spain, France, and the US could host the AC headquarters. The LC will be probably located somewhere in central Europe—likely Germany or Poland—allowing for swift movement of NATO forces across borders in the event of a conflict with Russia.

However, it should be noted that the final decisions related to location, size, and costs will be approved at the next NATO defense ministers meeting on Feb. 18, 2018. The fact is that the new commands will increase the number of NATO headquarters to nine, from the current seven, namely, two strategic commands (Allied Command Operations (ACO) in Mons, Belgium, and Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, VA); two operational commands (Joint Force Command (JFC) in Brunssum, Netherlands, and Joint Force Command (JFC) in Naples, Italy); and three tactical commands (Headquarters Allied Air Command (HQ AIRCOM) in Ramstein, Germany; Headquarters Allied Land Command (HQ LANDCOM) in Izmir, Turkey; and Allied Martine Command (HQ MARCOM) in Northwood, UK).

The creation of new commands reverses the policy of cutbacks that have been in effect since the 1990s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, NATO dropped the concept of developing its forward military presence, a strategy based on maintaining considerable NATO forces located in the proximity of potential conflict. Instead, NATO began a strategy based on quick deployment to the battlefield. That strategy subsequently led to a reduction in the number of NATO permanent commands in Europe from about 60 during the Cold War to the current seven headquarters.

The Most Pressing Cybersecurity Challenges to NATO

At the Brussels meeting, NATO defense ministers also agreed to create the Operational Cybersecurity Center (OCC) to protect NATO troops deployed in the framework of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (NATO EFP) to the Baltic States and Poland.

This decision implements the outcomes of the 2016 Summit, where political leaders of NATO member states decided to recognize cyberspace as the next battlefield alongside land, sea, and air. The OCC will help NATO to protect elements of command-and-control system of four Battalion Battle Groups (BBGs) deployed to NATO’s eastern flank. The exact location of the OCC—like the locations of AC and the LC—remains unknown. However, it will be probably located at the ACO in Mons, where the NATO Computer Incident Response Team (NCIRC) has been hosted. The decision to place the OCC in Belgium will allow NATO to bring together its cybersecurity assets to one location nearby the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

President Trump’s Impact on NATO & European Allies

NATO Defense Ministers also approved the decision to increase NATO’s footprint in Afghanistan. As a result, the size of the Resolute Support Mission (RSM, for which NATO cooperates with 39 partner nations) will increase from around 13,000 to around 16,000 troops. Moreover, NATO confirmed its willingness to continue to fund the Afghan Security Forces (ASF) until at least 2020.

It seems that US President Donald J. Trump’s pressure on European allies regarding insufficient military expenditures—only four European NATO members contribute 2% or more of their GDP, namely, the UK, Estonia, Poland, and Greece—and unwillingness to engage in Afghanistan has brought the first effects. The decision to increase NATO troops in Afghanistan also meets the main outlines of the new Afghan strategy announced by Trump on Aug. 21, 2017, which increased the number of US troops in the country. However, it necessary to mention that NATO troops will be only conducting training support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and will remain excluded from combat operations conducted by the US forces.

Summary: Back to Its Roots

The decision to create two new headquarters in Europe indicates that the Alliance has adapted itself to the changing security environment. After years of out-of-area missions—conducted since 2014, in response to Sept. 11, 2001—NATO has gone back to its roots and the strategy of collective defense according to Art. 51 of the UN Charter and Art. 5 of the Washington Treaty (1949). Furthermore, the changes to the NATO command structure meet political decisions from the two previous NATO Summits in Newport (2014) and Warsaw (2016). The change enhances NATO’s collective defense and the Alliance’s ability to respond to modern threats in cyberspace.

However, although NATO decided to deploy four battle groups to the Baltic States and Poland—approximately 1,000 to 1,200 troops each and about 4,500 troops combined—and increase its military presence in Romania and Bulgaria, NATO’s potential to deter Russia remains insufficient. NATO needs to be ready to deploy multinational rapid response forces to Central and Eastern Europe, such as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF, also known as “NATO’s spearhead” consisting of 15,000 troops) and the major part (40,000 troops) of the NATO Response Force (NRF). A potential conflict in Central and Eastern Europe requires receiving reinforcement troops from Western Europe and the US as soon as possible. The Russian annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of violence in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 drove NATO to reshape its defense strategy and rebuild its command structure.

Maintaining the ability to a swiftly deploy US and NATO troops across the Atlantic and within Europe is crucial to improving NATO’s capacity to deter Russia effectively. It also meets calls for “military Schengen zone” (analogically to EU Schengen zone) to get troops moving among European countries. At the meeting in Brussels, the Alliance has made substantial progress in reducing legal obstacles to cross-border operations, tardy bureaucratic requirements, and infrastructure problems, such as roads and bridges that are unable to accommodate large military vehicles and storage tank platforms. The idea is nothing new and has covered most of Europe since 1996. However, it has not been fully implemented within all EU and NATO countries over the last 20 years. In recent months, a dozen political and military leaders—such as Gen. Ben Hodges, US Army Europe Commander, or Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Dutch Defense Minister—as well as security experts on both sides of the Atlantic, have highlighted the need of this improvement.

Moreover, NATO cannot stop its new adaptation process. Its battle groups currently suffer from equipment shortages that have an impact on their operational capabilities. The NATO frontier forces require more armored vehicles and tanks, artillery, medium-range air defense systems (i.e., moving US Patriot systems from Germany to the Baltic States or Poland), as well as a clarification of the rules of engagement.

NATO also needs to permanently increase its collective and national capacities, improving the readiness of armed forces and increasing military expenditures. For comparison, Russia is currently assumed to be able to mobilize at least 100,000 troops within few weeks and could seize the Baltic States within 36 to 60 hours. The recent Zapad 2017 military exercises indicated that Russian troops could conduct this sort of operation. It is also necessary to increase NATO’s presence alongside its eastern flank. The presence of four battle groups is insufficient to counter a potential Russian attack on the Baltic States. Allies might appreciate the deployment of the US Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) to Eastern Europe to strengthen NATO’s ability to deter Russia (currently the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, KS, is deployed in Poland).

The creation of two new operational commands also brings some concerns. The first one is fear of adequate funding. Despite the increasing defense budgets of European members of NATO—Poland, for instance, will increase its military spending from 2% to 2.5% of GDP by 2030, while Germany’s military budget in 2017 increased by 8% in comparison with the previous year—it may be challenging for NATO to find sufficient funds to financially cover two new commands and the OCC.

Additionally, the increase in NATO’s support for Afghanistan operations is a signal that President Trump’s demands could affect NATO and America’s allies in Europe. Europeans will remain against involving their troops in combat operations carried out by the US against the Taliban and IS as there is a tremendous fear among European leaders of a military death toll, and this attitude will surely cause more allegations by Trump against the commitment of his European partners.   

All of the above concerns no doubt will be touched on the next NATO defense ministers meeting in February 2018, which will be one of the last meetings before the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels (on July 11-12, 2018).

 

INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart was a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.