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Obranné strategie malých států NATO – komparativní studie

Obranné strategie malých států NATO představují důležitý zdroj informací o obranné politice. Definice “malého státu” je však nejasná a její zpřesnění představuje první část článku. Ve druhé části pak text srovnává Obranné strategie deseti vybraných malých států NATO z pohledu hrozeb, budoucích vojenských schopností, procesu tvorby dokumentů, úrovně detailu a úrovně, na které je dokument schvalován. Přehledné seřazení těchto poznatků pak potenciálně může sloužit jako vhodný základ a inspirace při tvorbě obranných strategií menších států.

Další informace

  • ročník: 2020
  • číslo: 4
  • stav: Recenzované / Reviewed
  • typ článku: Přehledový / Peer-reviewed

Autor a název článku

Lukáš Dyčka, Taivo Rõkk, Zdzisław Śliwa

Obranné strategie malých států NATO – komparativní studie

Defence strategies of the smaller NATO states – a comparative study

DOI

10.3849/2336-2995.29.2020.04.023-045

Jak citovat

DYČKA, Lukáš, Taivo RÕKK and Zdzisław ŚLIWA. Defence strategies of the smaller NATO states – a comparative study. Vojenské rozhledy. 2020, 29 (4), 023-045. ISSN 1210-3292 (print), 2336-2995 (online). Available at: www.vojenskerozhledy.cz

 

INTRODUCTION

The re-emergence of the use of military power in the Eastern Europe after annexation of Crimea has again created a dilemma of making choices within defence policy of small states. It may be argued that this dilemma differs substantially from dilemmas faced by great powers and smaller states are often limited in their options. Obviously, small states are usually not powerful enough to be able to cope with their security environment by themselves. Therefore, their choices depend on geography, geopolitical setting, economic development, domestic conditions, membership of international organizations and even social cohesion[1]. Thus it often seems that their only possible survival strategy is for them is to resort to diplomacy, desirably in cooperation with other actors in order to avoid the risk of possible armed conflict[2].

Approaches and structure

The authors of this paper focus on the defence strategies and required military capabilities for coming years in the context of threats as they are reflected in already existing strategic documents. Therefore, this paper is a comparative study of the National Defence Strategies of selected states in which indicators such as: threat perception, security environment, military challenges, capability development, defence budget etc. are assessed.

Within that framework, the aim of the paper is to recognize what is the smaller states’ approach to defence strategies and their perception of development of armed forces capabilities. It is analysing the content and format of the defence strategy papers of the selected countries in the following research questions:

  • What are the identified risks and threats in selected nations defence strategy papers?
  • What are the characteristics of the future military capabilities to counter threats?
  • Do the respective state authorities use the non-governmental expertise (e.g. think tanks) during the process of drafting their defence papers?
  • On what defence strategy documents are based and what is level of details?
  • What national authorities are approving strategic documents?

The “Small NATO countries” for this analysis were chosen based on the criterion of population in the range between 1 million and below 10 million. That criterion refers specifically to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Norway, Denmark, Bulgaria, Albania and Croatia. Some states such as Hungary, Czech Republic, Portugal or Greece are only slightly above the threshold of 10 million inhabitants, but comparing their military capabilities and postures, it may be argued, that within NATO context they no longer constitute “small state”. Similarly, NATO states with less than 1 million inhabitants such as Montenegro, Luxembourg or Iceland may be for similar reason considered negligible. However, for the sake of better comparison, the term “small state” and the associate criteria will be elaborated more in depth in one of the subsequent chapter 1.

It is often complicated to understand to which document plays the role of “Defence strategy” in different states. For example, within the selected sample in this paper different countries are using the different names of their respective national defence papers: four countries use “defence strategies”[3],[4],[5],[6], three countries use the term “strategic defence review” [7],[8],[9] one country uses “military strategy”[10], one country uses “defence agreement”[11], and one country uses the term “defence concept”[12]. Most of the documents are available in English, but Slovak and Bulgarian are only in their national languages. For those two the translation program and native speakers’ expertise was used. Moreover, Slovak strategy analysed in this paper is a draft which was not yet approved in Parliament. In addition, Estonian Defence strategy was adopted in 2010, although the security strategy was updated 2017. Despite that, the Defence strategy was still considered relevant in 2019[13] and thus not renewed on purpose as it still describes the situation sufficiently. In addition to strategies, the relevant academic articles and specific questionnaires were used.

The study consists of four chapters. The first one discusses “what small states are”, how to define them and what kind of approaches and dilemmas they usually face in international security environment. Second chapter analyses the different threats and risks identified in Defence strategies of small states and provides answer to the first research question. Identified threats naturally varied and were thus aggregated into the list of sixteen of them. With several of the most common, more detailed analysis is provided. Only the results are included within this chapter. For full list of threats, further methodology and scales see Table 2 at the end of the chapter 2.

The third chapter analyses the challenges to development of military capabilities of the respective nations and provides comprehensive answer to the research question n. 2.  The 1 to 5-point scale was used to analyse the states. Again, aggregating the (often very wide) approaches within respective states altogether eight different criteria were created.

Fourth paragraph then assesses the process of the formulation of the different strategies and thus focuses more on formal and procedural characteristics. By doing so it provides answers to the research questions n. 3, 4 and 5.

The reason for selecting aforementioned categories and criteria is twofold. Firstly, the idea to assess not only content but also the form of the documents was found to be important, because while content may change over time and is heavily case specific, it is the form, that arguably stays relevant in longer period. Secondly the criteria were selected based on extensive overview of relevant literature on similar topics[14],[15],[16],[17]. Presented list of categories could thus be considered as the usual set of characteristics that should be assessed during drafting of the future Defence Strategies.

 

1 SMALL STATES – DEFINITIONS AND CRITERIA VS. CHALLENGES AND DILEMMAS

The term ‘small state’ as such does not possess commonly recognized definition as it varies significantly in differing sciences or disciplines and it is described based on variety of criteria linked with specific focus of an area of studies. As such, the perception of what is small state is not stable and could evolve though years as some indicators could change significantly, e.g. GDP (compare Norway before oil boom and after); population (effect of aging or immigration/emigration) or size (mid-size Yugoslavia division into small nations; collapse of Soviet Union etc.). It was recognized by Mathias Maass as “despite the existence of a substantial specialized literature on small states and the existence of small states in large numbers, the phenomenon of the small state remains vaguely defined, by scholars as well as practitioners.”[18] Authors often mention the size and population as an indicator. The World Bank has organized a platform known as The Small States Forum (SSF) with some 50 nations characterized by small population, limited human capital, and a confined land area. It is recognizing microstates with population less than 200 000 people and small states as those with population below 1.5mln[19]. The small are seen also as nations having between 1000,000 and 1.5mln inhabitants[20]. The SSF nations (Figure 1) are very different in nature as of their population size, they are coming from different continents, they are possessing different size, some are islands or are landlocked but they see themselves within the category of small nations. Moreover, they differ as of their political system, GDP, economy and even some are fragile or failing countries. The American Heritage Dictionary is also recognizing the term ‘microstate’, also called ‘ministate’, as “an independent country that is very small in area and population”[21]. There is debated straightforward way to define threshold between big and small states “for example, a population size of 15 million people, and a €GDP of 500 billion” and it is enabling “creating a clear and easily applicable definition of small states”[22]. Within the research related to small states Thorhallsson has recognized them as countries with “resident populations below 10 or 15 million” but even between 1 or 1,5 million[23]. In that context, the term small state is very relative as e.g. Nepal (28 mln) is small state in Asia, especially when compared to close neighbourhood, but in Europe it would be recognized as midsize if population is used as decisive criteria. It is worth mentioning, that population is not only limited to sheer numbers but it is also linked to demographic structure, number of representatives in international organizations, minorities, social cohesion, GDP per capita, size of armed forces and many other indicators impacting the position of the country, especially regionally. Among advantages of being ‘small’ is that the cohesion of society could be stronger, innovation among society and business could be encouraged, during elections there is better knowledge about candidates within the population etc.

Dyčka T 1

Table 1:  The nations of the Small States Forum[24]

As of genuine limitations, small nations tend to look into merging their political, economy or military capabilities to face potential threats. An example could the decisive drive of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, after their re-independence, to join a military alliance (NATO) and a political-economic federation (European Union) as guarantors of their security[25]. The major reason was shared recognition of threat coming from Russian Federation based on their historical experiences. It is linked with regional identity of states. Another example in Europe is Visegrad Four or in Asia as Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Such approach is linked with nations’ decision to use alliances for either balancing, bandwagoning or networking. The first option is joining an alliance with dominant power like USA “to avoid domination by stronger powers” to balance too strong influences posed by regional countries like Russia or China[26]. The bandwagoning is based on belief that “states will tend to ally with rather than against the dominant side”[27] and it could be case of e.g. Belarus being united with Russia in Collective Security Treaty Organization. The networking is based on building joint international bodies by smaller nations creating synergy effect by synchronizing security efforts, to strengthen their voice on international fora, to coordinate military programs, and exchange information, etc. In this context, it could be argued, that the case of ASEAN, Visegrad Four or some common initiatives of three Baltic nations are based on strong desire “not to be bullied just because we’re small”[28].

Nevertheless, small state alone could have visible impact within some specific domain e.g. Switzerland on banking system (8.5mln people), Kuwait on oil market (4.5mln citizens) or on regional security like Israel impact on the whole Middle East (9mln citizens). Such situation is causing a shift of discussion from just absolute numbers towards what is the real power small nations are exercising within specific domains of modern societies. It is a proof that even small nations being weak in specific aspects could be parallel powerful actors in other domains. Small nations could, alone or jointly, impact bigger organizations and EU can serve as solid example. It was recognized already in 2003, when facing 2004 enlargement, EU would “soon be dominated by states with populations of less than 10 million”[29]. As recognized by Geurts “small member states enjoy substantially more representation in all EU institutions that mere criteria of population entitle them to”[30]. The same is applicable towards NATO as decisions must be agreed by all the member states, allowing small nations to use that for their advantage[31].

The studies related to small states differ in criteria used, but small states are nevertheless important subject of international relations. One of the reasons it that as the global environment is evolving, processes such as globalization, internationalization, technological innovations, market economies, hybrid warfare, cyber warfare and informational pressure are making smaller states vulnerable[32]. This vulnerability could be enhanced even more by great powers who possess significant capabilities allowing them to pressure ‘small states’. Thus, researching smaller nations’ position in security environment is necessary for better understanding of the challenges they could face and also to understand how to use their limited capabilities and resources, to share their experiences coming from their history, to facilitate regional alliances based on shared threats and interests in many domains.

As has been already mentioned in the introduction, for the purpose of this study the concept of the small states is grounded solely on the population as a factor. This approach is linked with Europe as the focus continent as it is dominated by small states and the size of population to be considered is ranging between 1 mln. and 10 mln. Such approach is in line with other researches recognizing that “population size is the most common single variable in defining the size of states” and although GDP and territory are used the “territory and economy are not particularly useful on their own”[33]. The Authors are recognizing the complexity of defining the term ‘small states’ but the purpose is not to solve that terminology related aspect and it is rather aiming to have more practical value by looking into selected nations in the context of their defence strategies when facing commonly recognized challenges for their independence, territorial integrity and self-governance.

 

2 THE POTENTIAL RISKS AND THREATS

The most often mentioned threats within the selected list of small countries are asymmetric/hybrid threats (such as cyber-attacks, propaganda, etc) and a threat from military potential of non-state actors (including terrorism, extremism, and piracy). Hybrid threats were touched upon in all ten defence papers and threats coming from non-state actors were emphasized eight times. The first one indicates the Russian hybrid warfare in Ukraine[34] and asymmetric actions in NATO’s eastern border states[35]. Non-state threat may refer to fight with ISIS. The only country, which does not specifically mention terrorism as a threat, is Estonia. These two threats are otherwise the only common categories.

Next categories indicate the differences between Baltic states and the rest of the group. Thus while Slovakia, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia see threat of migration from the South as important, the Baltic States are more concerned with threat from Russia. Only Denmark is an exception, putting both of these threats forward. It is also interesting that Latvia is describing the Russian’s threat in very detailed and straightforward way. Meanwhile Norway slightly surprisingly does not consider Russia as a direct threat, but indicates the possibility that country may end up in a conflict only because of geographical position near Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons bases or in support of Allied forces according NATO Article 5[36].

The other states are rather modest by their statements. Although Balkan countries do not see Russia as a direct threat, most of them still touch upon a conventional military threat. It makes sense, because some of the Balkan countries are afraid of threat from neighbouring countries, because of the historical legacy[37].

Moreover, most of the Balkan countries as well as for example Slovakia considers proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to be a serious threat. At the same time, Baltic States and Denmark do not mention this topic at all. The same applies to threats of natural and industrial disasters, and threat to energy security. Only Lithuania finds those two as a risk. Meanwhile, Estonia and Latvia should be much worried about the energy security because they are very dependant of Russia’s gas. Could it be the case, that Tallinn and Riga are too much concentrated-on Russia and a hybrid warfare threats and because of that omit energy security?

In addition, there were several different threats and risks mentioned by single or couple of states. Such as: international organised crime by Latvia and Bulgaria; less effective armament treaties by Slovakia and Bulgaria; adversary states possessing much more advanced technology (mentioned by Slovakia and Croatia); regional crises by Lithuania and Albania; violation of international law by Slovakia; Arctic climate change and increased activity in High North by Denmark and Norway. This last threat is of growing importance in the future because of the large amount of raw materials: minerals, oil and gas. That could cause a world largest trade war[38]; and finally, health and epidemic threats were explicitly mentioned only by Slovenia. However, as bulk of this article has been written before Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, there is high chance, that this threat will increase in importance in next revision of strategic documents.

Overall the threat perception as reflected in the Defence Strategies is summarized in following Table 2.

No.

Category

Which countries see it as a risk/threat?

Number of states

1

Threat from Russia

Estonia, Lithuania, Denmark, Latvia, Norway

5

2

Threat from conventional military power

Slovakia, Latvia, Albania, Slovenia

4

3

Threat from South - Migration/Refugees

Slovakia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Norway

6

4

Violation of International Law

Slovakia

1

5

Non-state actors military potential/Terrorism/Extremism

Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovenia, Croatia, Denmark, Norway

9

6

International organised crime

Latvia, Bulgaria

2

7

Asymmetric and hybrid threats (cyber-attacks, propaganda, piracy etc.)

Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovenia, Croatia, Denmark, Norway

10

8

Less effective armament treaties

Slovakia, Bulgaria

2

9

Adversary states are more advanced in technology

Slovakia, Croatia

2

10

Proliferation of WMD

Slovakia, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovenia

4

11

Threat to the sovereignty of neighbouring countries

Slovakia

1

12

Regional crises

Lithuania, Albania

2

13

Threat to energy security/economic crises

Lithuania, Bulgaria, Albania, Latvia

4

14

Natural and industrial disasters.

Lithuania, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovenia

4

15

Health and epidemic threats

Slovenia

1

16

Arctic climate change and increased activity in High North

Denmark, Norway

2

Table 2: Threat perception in selected NATO countries

 

3 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FUTURE MILITARY CAPABILITIES

To assess how small states perceive their future military capabilities, it was necessary to develop matrix for grading this vast sphere (see Table 3 below). Altogether following 8 different categories have been identified as relevant and assessed: 1) Conscription vs Regular forces/active duty, 2) Balanced development of armed forces services, 3) Territorial or Expeditionary forces, 4) Modernization of forces: conventional or innovative, 5) Decrease or increase of size of armed force, 6) Totally independent or Collective Defence (NATO), 7) Decrease or increase of defence budget: 2% in next decade, 8) Use of only military means or comprehensive approach to defence.

The 1 to 5-point scale was used (see Table 4 in Annex for detailed grading) to assess each of these categories for each state. Scale however do not have normative value. Instead, the value is given by using the approach where at one end the grade “1” is a more traditional approach and at the other end “5” is more progressive and innovative approach.

CRITERIA

1

2

3

4

5

Conscription vs Regular forces/active duty

100% of conscription

Majority of conscription and minor of regular forces

Almost half and half

Majority of regular and minor conscription

100% of regular forces

Balanced development of armed forces services

100% balanced: navy, air, land components

Majority is balanced and minor specialized

Almost half and half

Majority is specialized and minor balanced

100% of specialized in one services only

Territorial or Expeditionary forces

100% territorial

Majority is territorial and minor expeditionary

Almost half and half

Majority is expeditionary and minor territorial

100% of expeditionary

Modernization of forces: conventional or innovative

100% conventional

Majority is conventional and minor innovative

Almost half and half

Majority is innovative and minor conventional

100% innovative

Decrease or increase of size of armed force

Major

Decrease

Decrease

Maintaining the same level

Increase

Major increase

Totally independent or Collective Defence (NATO)

100% independent

Mainly independent

Both

Mainly collective

100% collective

Decrease or increase of defence budget: 2% in next decade

No increase at all

Increase, but year not known

Increase planned in next decade

Already 2%

More than 2%

Use of only military means or comprehensive approach to defence

100% military means

Mainly military means complemented some other officials

Military + certain state institutions

Military + all state institutions

100% comprehensive

Table 3:  Characteristics of the future military capabilities

 

3.1 Conscription or regular forces

As a first characteristics, “conscription versus regular forces” nexus was analysed. Six countries out of ten have abolished conscription altogether, therefore they rely on professional armed forces[39]. Compulsory service is still exercised in Estonia, Denmark, Norway and Lithuania. In addition, since 2013 it is mandatory also for female in Norway[40]. Meanwhile, Lithuania re-established conscription in 2015 partially for the fear of Russian behaviour in Ukraine but also because of the need to fill the depleted ranks of professional units and at least initially due to inability to attract sufficient number of volunteers[41]. Estonia has a biggest conscription rate compared to active duty, while Denmark has minor compulsory service number[42]. However, all of the selected countries in their respective defence papers declare the use of reserve component. Either through mobilization (e.g. Baltic States, Norway and Denmark) or contracted reserve (e.g. Slovenia, Croatia).

At the same time, Baltic States have significant volunteer based military organizations. For instance, Latvia has one regular mechanized brigade and four voluntary infantry brigades. In addition, Estonia and Lithuania have significant number of volunteer-based units. Denmark uses their volunteers mostly for compulsory service[43] and Norway has rapid response Home Guard. Meanwhile, the Balkan States do not emphasize so much of the voluntary based military organization in their defence documents.  

3.2 Force package

Secondly, the force package was analysed in a sense of balanced or specialized armed forces’ services. Which means, either country has equally developed the different arms or some arms are better developed than the others are or some of the branches are missing completely. The result is that Estonia and Latvia are more specialized than the rest of the states by putting a lot of effort to army, while the navy and air force play a modest role. Lithuania is quite similar, but still tries to develop navy and air force more than other Baltic States. However, the Balkan States, Denmark and Norway are rather balanced by developing each service and different arms in their regular armed forces. In addition, Denmark and Norway put a lot of effort of developing their maritime domains.

Therefore, it appeared the states with larger regular forces are more balanced than the countries who rely on conscription and voluntary based organization. The improper balance of services or lack of some of them is causing significant shortcoming as of lack ability to plan and conduct joint operations. That shortcoming is requiring reliance on other NATO nations to deliver e.g. air force or navy capabilities. That is not to overcome as of limited military budget not allowing e.g. three Baltic nations to build any reasonable air force or navy.

3.3 Territorial or expeditionary forces

Thirdly, the territorial forces and expeditionary forces of the respective states were analysed. In a sense that either country develops more homeland defence forces or more expeditionary forces. It turned out that most of the countries have a same approach. Which is a majority of territorial units and minor expeditionary units. Denmark is the only exception by declaring most of their units to be deployable. Of course, all the other states have deployable units as well, but not bigger than up to battalion size unit. While Baltics and Balkans see the biggest threat to their sovereignty, the Denmark puts a lot of effort to contribute to Alliance and fighting abroad[44]. When Crown Prince Frederik visited Estonia on 12 April 2018, he said to Danish Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) soldiers’: ‘The protection of the Kingdom of Denmark starts here, at the border of the NATO eastern flank[45]. Of course, it is clear the NATO eastern flank countries cannot deploy significant portion of forces abroad while the biggest threat is at their doorsteps. In 2008, Georgia had a bad experience when their infantry brigade was deployed to Iraq while Russia invaded their country[46].

Meanwhile Norway sees itself as a contributor to international operations but concentrates geographically to their mainland and High North. 

3.4 Modernization of the armed forces

Furthermore, modernization of the armed forces was analysed. Whether it is a conventional (e.g. procurement of battle tanks, fighting vehicles, heavy armament) or more innovative (e.g. development of cyber domain, drones, hi-tech capabilities). Most of the selected countries are rather conventional in their modernization projects. Regardless of the development of cyber defence domain, the majority of the project are conventional. The exceptions are Denmark, Norway and Slovenia who are in between of conventional and innovative modernization.

3.5 Increase or decrease of the forces

The next category is the foreseen increase or decrease of forces. It appears, that the majority of the countries (7 of them) will be maintaining the same level of the size of their force. Instead of increasing the size, they are investing in the quality: better training, more sophisticated equipment, and more sufficient command and control system. Meanwhile, three states have decided to increase the size of at least some elements of their armed forces: Croatia, Denmark and Estonia. Croatia has decided to increase its mobilised reserve force up to 20 000 troops[47]. Denmark is planning to establish 4000 reserve troops in high readiness who are in short notice are able to strengthen the standing forces. Moreover, up to 20 000 troops can be mobilized from conscripts of Total Defence Force and from volunteers of the Home Guard[48]. Estonia has decided to increase annual size of conscripts from 3200 up to 4000 and mobilized reserve troops from 21 000 up to 25 000[49].

On the contrary, to others, Norway has decided to downsize their force package. For instance, cancellation of one brigade-unit, procurement and upgrade of tanks and abandoning of one Army camp. Moreover, fewer F-35 fighter-jets and navy assets will be procured compare to previous plan.

3.6 Independent defence or collective defence

Sixth criteria are total independent defence or NATO collective defence. Only the approach and principles were considered, not the size and credibility of the armed forces. All of the states declare to contribute to Alliance and use it as a defence pillar. Majority of states see their defence quite balanced having both, independent and collective, as a one whole. However, there are some exceptions as well. Croatia sees their defence mainly independent than collective. At the same time, Slovakia declares their defence mainly collective.

3.7 Decrease or increase of the defence budget

Seventh criteria are decrease or increase of the defence budget. The 2% target of GDP was agreed already in 2005[50] and confirmed in Wales Summit 2014 to continue to reach the aim in 2024[51]. It turned out, only Albania do not increase the defence expenditure. In addition, Norway’s position is terms of percentage is unclear. In their defence review, they estimate next 20-year period need of growth over 90 billion of NOK (Norwegian crown).

Meanwhile, Denmark and Slovenia will increase to 2%, but the exact time is not stated. Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia will increase by year 2024. Lithuania already has 2%, Estonia and Latvia more than 2%[52].

3.8 Military means or comprehensive approach

Finally, preference of using only military means or rather comprehensive approach to defence was analysed. It appeared that Norway, Slovenia and all Baltic States use 100% comprehensive approach according their defence papers. This means that all society is involved in defence and contributing while also involving seemingly non-military sectors of economy such as education, transportation etc. In addition, these countries plan to use  all country’s resources – either state owned or private ones for the defence of the sovereignty. On the other hand Albania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Denmark rely mostly on military means and capacities in their National Defence Strategies.

In addition, all Baltic States emphasize the important role of the host nation support (HNS) system in order to receive allied troops and provide sufficient logistic support. No others mention HNS at all.

 

4 PROCESS OF FORMULATING STRATEGY PAPERS

4.1 The use of non-governmental organizations

Firstly, the following question was answered: do the state authorities use the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) expertise (e.g. think tanks) or input to draft their defence strategies? Short questionnaire was used to get the answers from respective experts. Seven answers were received out of nine questioned countries. The approach of Bulgaria and Denmark remain unknown. Estonia[53], Latvia[54], Lithuania[55] and Croatia[56]  do not use non-governmental agencies directly. Although Estonia has an expertise of think tank, such as International Centre for Defence and Security Studies, it has been never used for drafting strategies. Lithuania does not use NGOs directly, but emphasizes the influence of different defence related studies by the think tanks. For instance, the RAND Corporation study called ‘Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO's Eastern Flank: Wargaming the Defence of the Baltics’[57]. Croatia admits the absence of national non-governmental expertise. The government relies on the state institutions and agencies as all above named countries[58].

On the other hand Albania[59], Slovenia[60], Norway[61] and Slovakia[62] use a NGOs input and expertise while drafting and developing their defence strategies.

Albania, while drafting the strategy, used the input of Albanian Institute for International Studies and Institute of Democracy and Meditation. In Slovenia, the defence strategy was drafted in the Ministry of Defence, but by a broad civil-military expert working group. The designated experts in various fields used analysis of NGOs, such as: climate change, migration issues, public opinion on security, demographic trends etc. Once the draft document was ready, it was sent to the public: universities, interest groups, military veterans and so on. The document proposal was publicly accessible on the government portal and accessible to all (including NGOs) to respond to it and give their views. The next step was to gather all these opinions at the Ministry of Defence and to define them and prepare the final (harmonized) version of the defence strategy for consideration and acceptance.[63]

In Norway, the Defence Forces are responsible of drafting the strategic defence review. Also, the Defence Research Establishment is involved, although it is not NGO. Norsk Utenrikspolitisk Institutt (NUPI) is one of the most important NGOs, which has been used for drafting defence papers.[64]

Finally, Slovaks have pushed it even further. Non-governmental and the academic community was widely used. For instance, Association of Security and Defence Industries and several independent experts. Public discussions were held, including negotiations with selected representatives of the non-governmental professional community. More than four dozen non-governmental and academic actors were addressed in this debate.[65] The full and exact overview is presented in Annex Table 5.

4.2 Basis and the level of details of the defence strategy documents

Most of the defence strategy papers are based on national security strategies, seven out of ten: Estonia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Slovenia, Slovakia and Lithuania. In addition to security strategy, Bulgaria and Lithuania mention also the National Constitution. Albanian defence paper also touches upon Constitution, but the main basis is National Strategic Concept. Croatia and Latvia are the only countries whose defence papers are derived by national law. Meanwhile, Norway do not have so called security strategy. They use a white paper called “Setting the course for Norwegian foreign and security policy”.

Moreover, all of the countries mention NATO for several times, but only two countries clearly declare their defence papers are in line of NATO Strategic Concept. Full list is presented in Annex Table 6.

Next, the level of details was analysed. One to five scale was used to assess different defence papers. Grade 1 is the very general and on the other end, 5 is very detailed (see Annex Table 7).  It appeared the most detailed is Albanian paper and received the highest grade. It describes the whole process of developing defence review. Provides planning assumptions and parameters, national interests, strategic threat assessment and level of ambition. It also touches upon the budget areas and estimates the economic development and support of the armed forces for years 2013–2020. The paper also gives detailed overview of budgetary requirements, operational capabilities and resource allocation to support the force. One whole chapter is dedicated to future force capabilities: defence planning methodology, armed forces planning scenarios and situations, capabilities and requirements of the future force, future structure and future force calendar implementation.

The next ones were Latvia and Denmark, which both had rather detailed papers, which were well structured, and most of the defence related figures were introduced. Latvian paper provides the following: security environment, basis of national defence, state’s capacities, armed forces tasks and capabilities, defence budget, personnel plan and the role of military industry. Denmark’s defence agreement adds the areas such as: contribution to NATO and activities against terror attacks.

Five countries received average result. Croatian, Slovenian, Slovakian, Norwegian and Lithuanian papers are in average detail level, providing the basic structure and basic figures. Furthermore, the most general papers belong to Bulgaria and Estonia. Their papers provide basic principles and little figures. The summary of the results is provided in Annex Table 8.

4.3 The adaptation level of the defence strategy papers

The current study looked on which level the different papers are adopted (for summary see Table 9 in Annex). It turned out the majority of the strategies are adopted by Government or Council of Ministers, that both are considered the same level. These countries are Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, and Estonia. Two of the strategies, Latvian and Slovak, are adopted by the Parliament. In Lithuanian case, the minister of defence approves their national military strategy. Furthermore, Denmark is the exception because they have defence agreement, which is adopted by all political parties in Parliament. But still, the paper itself is drafted in Ministries of Defence.

Moreover, Norway’s defence review is also exception, because it is drafted in Armed Forces and approved by Chief of Defence.

However, Denmark and Norway are the only kingdoms while the other eight states are parliamentary republics. Despite that, all ten states have rather similar political system where heads of the states (including a king) have mostly ceremonial role, parliament is legislative and government (led by a prime minister) executive body.

In addition, adoption is the final stage of the drafting hierarchy. There are usually lot of work and interaction between different officials and in some cases in society as well. For instance, in Slovenia, when the draft defence strategy was carried out, it was forwarded to the government for consideration, and at the same time, it was sent to the public (universities, interest groups, military veterans' associations, etc.). The document proposal was publicly accessible on the government portal and accessible to all to respond it and give their views. The next step was to gather all these opinions at the Ministry of Defence and to define them (or harmonize) and prepare the final (harmonized) version of the defence strategy for consideration and acceptance by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. Prior to adoption, the government also briefed the parliamentary defence committee on the document.[66]

 

CONCLUSION

If aggregating the findings from comparison of Defence strategies of ten small NATO states, it appears that the most common threats are asymmetric and hybrid threats such as: cyber-attacks, propaganda, terrorism, extremism, and piracy. All ten countries also see state-based hybrid activity as a threat. It is because of the Russian hybrid warfare in Ukraine and asymmetric actions in NATO’s eastern flank. Russian threat is biggest concern to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, while Slovakia, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia consider migration from South riskier than Russia question. Denmark, as an exception, considers both threats equally.

Furthermore, The Balkans are worried of the conventional military threat from neighbouring countries because of the history of Balkan Wars. The Balkans also consider the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as a threat as well. Meanwhile, Baltics, Denmark and Norway do not mention that at all. Energy security is also an issue for Balkans and Lithuania, but not for Estonia and Latvia. It seems that Tallinn and Riga are much more concerned about Russia’s conventional threat and it is linked with their Russian speaking minorities. In addition, Norway is highly concerned about High North resources and Russia’s activity in that region. Arctic possess a variety of natural minerals and raw materials and this can easily launch large-scale trade war.

It turns out the risks and threats are not driven by size, culture or military capabilities. It is a geopolitical situation. Those who share border with Russia, consider it as a threat and those who face the refugees, consider migration as an imminent threat.

Interestingly pandemics were seen as rather minor threat and were mentioned only in single case. How this perception will change in post-2020 revisions of strategic documents remains to be seen, but it may be expected, that priority of health-related issues will rise in prominence significantly.

However, countries try to counter the threat and risks by developing military capabilities. Different characteristics were analysed. Such as, developing conscription or regular forces; force package; territorial or expeditionary forces; modernization of the armed forces; increase or decrease of the forces; totally independent or collective defence-oriented forces; decrease or increase of the defence budget and comprehensive approach to defence.

It appeared the six countries out of ten have abolished conscription. Compulsory service is still in place in four of them. However, all of the selected ten countries in their respective defence papers declare the use of reserve component.

When it comes to force package, then it turned out, Estonia and Latvia are more specialized, putting a lot of effort to land component of armed forces. While the Balkans, Denmark and Norway are more balanced. It may be the case that Baltic States cannot afford balanced approach and putting the effort to land domain, because they cannot compete with Russia’s Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities anyway. Instead, they are investing to land forces in order to avoid countries’ annexation as long as the Allies will arrive and introduce the enablers what Baltic States are missing, such as: air power, sea control, air defence, rocket artillery etc. Meanwhile, Balkans do not face the imminent threat from Russia and they look for more balanced options in order to be ready for terrorism, migration, piracy or perhaps threat from neighbouring countries (e.g. Croatia vs Serbia).

Furthermore, most of the countries develop homeland defence forces rather than expeditionary forces. The only exception is Denmark which declares most of its units to be deployable. Also, majority of armed forces modernization is rather conventional than innovative. The exceptions are Denmark, Norway and Slovenia, which are in between of conventional and innovative modernization. For small and not very rich countries, it is not so easy to be innovative because usually the budget is rather limited. Moreover, in a changed security situation everybody wants to be sure they have first of all initial self-defence capability. On the other hand, all of the countries declared asymmetric and hybrid warfare the threat. It may be expected to put more effort to hi-tech and innovative developments. Of course, it could be also the case that public defence papers do not reflect all the modernization projects. Especially the hi-tech developments are usually restricted.

It may be expected, that in a changing security environment, most of the countries look for increase of the forces, but actually majority maintaining the same level. Only Croatia, Denmark and Estonia are increasing the force. Croatia because of the threat from neighbouring countries and their war history, Estonia because of the threat of Russia and increasing defence budget, and Denmark because of seeing itself as a contributor of NATO’s eastern flank as part of their forward national defence. Norway is the only state increasing their forces because of the defence budget issues. Instead, they are trying to increase the quality of the force.

In addition of their own forces, all of the selected countries rely in NATO collective defence and Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Majority of the countries defence capabilities are quite balanced, having independent armed forces being ready to contribute to collective defence as one of core tasks of NATO. There are some exceptions, such as Croatia could be perceived as focusing more on independent approach and Slovaks more on collective defence. All of them are recognizing the importance of Article 3 requiring building national and collective capabilities of armed forces to resist any attack against their sovereignty.

In order to maintain the force each nation needs a credible defence budget. Baltic States have already reached to 2%, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia will increase by year 2024. Meanwhile Denmark and Slovenia will increase to 2%, but the exact time is not known. Albania is not going to do so and Norway’s position remains unclear. The 2% of the GDP has been an issue for a long time, becoming more and more important, and having a direct political impact. The US has clearly stated that there must be shared burden and everybody has to reach at least 2%. The question is, would it be enough or should we look more of amount of money and capabilities available instead of pure math.

In the process of formulation of their defence strategy papers, only Albania, Slovenia, Norway and Slovakia use the input of non-governmental organizations, such as different think-tanks and research organizations. Some countries do not have that expertise at all (e.g. Croatia) and some have, but do not use (e.g. Estonia). Also, some countries even ask a public and academic opinion (e.g. Slovakia).

Mostly, the respective defence papers are based on national security strategies and security concepts. In some countries (Albania, Croatia, Latvia) it is mandatory by law. The level of details varies from very detailed to rather general. The most detailed are Albanian, Latvian, Denmark’s and most general Estonian and Bulgarian. Rest of the countries were average.

Lastly, it turned out most of the defence papers are adopted at Government level. Some by Parliament and some by Ministry of Defence. Interesting exception is Norway where adoption is carried out in Armed Forces, not in political level. It also appeared that defence papers are divided between different documents and their position in the document hierarchy is not always the same.

 

ANNEX

Table 4: Results of Challenges to Military Capabilities in 1-5 scale

No

CRITERIA

ALB

BUL

CRO

DNK

SVN

SVK

EST

LVA

LTU

NOR

1

Conscription vs Regular forces/active duty

5

5

5

4

5

5

2

5

4

3

2

Balanced or Specialized forces

1

1

1

1

3

2

4

4

3

1

3

Territorial or Expeditionary forces

2

2

2

4

2

2

2

2

2

4

4

Modernization of forces: conventional or innovative

2

2

2

3

3

2

2

2

2

3

5

Increase or decrease of force

3

3

3

4

3

3

4

3

3

4

6

Totally independent or Collective defence (NATO)

3

3

2

3

3

4

3

3

3

3

7

Decrease or increase of defence budget

1

3

3

2

2

3

5

4

4

2

8

Use of only military means or comprehensive approach to defence

2

4

3

3

5

3

5

5

5

5

9

HNS system included or not

1

1

1

1

1

1

5

5

5

1

 

TOTAL

20

24

22

25

27

25

32

34

31

26

 

Table 5: Utilization of the non-governmental expertise (e.g. think-tanks) to draft defence strategies

ALB

BUL

CRO

DNK

SVN

SVK

EST

LVA

LTU

NOR

Yes

-

No

-

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Table 6: The basis of national defence papers

State

Security Strategy/Policy

Law of National Security

National Constitution

NATO Strategic Concept

National Strategic Concept

Defence Law

ALB

   

x

 

x

 

BUL

X

 

x

X

   

CRO

X

       

x

DNK

X

         

SVN

X

         

SVK

X

         

LVA

 

x

       

LTU

x

 

x

x

   

EST

x

         

NOR

x

         


 

Table 7: The level of details of the respective defence papers in 1-5 scale

1

2

3

4

5

Very general, only basic principles. No specific figures

General, basic principles, some specific figures

Average, between general and detailed

Detailed, structured, most of the figures introduced

Very detailed, a lot of specific figures: budget, deadlines, force sizes, procurement plan, development plan

Table 8: The results of the level of details in 1-5 scale

ALB

BUL

CRO

DNK

SVN

SVK

LVA

LTU

EST

NOR

5

2

3

4

3

3

4

3

2

3

                                                                                                                                                                                            

 

                                                                                                                                             

Table 9: Level of adoption of the defence strategy papers

State

Ministry of Defence

Political

Parties

Government/

Council of Ministers

Parliament

Chief of Defence

ALB

   

x

   

BUL

   

x

   

CRO

   

x

   

DNK

 

x

     

SVN

   

x

   

SVK

     

x

 

LVA

     

x

 

LTU

X

       

EST

   

x

   

NOR

       

x

 

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