RIGA - In order to substantially improve NATO's capability to deter Russia's aggression against the Baltics, major investments will have to be made into road, bridge, railroad, port and airport infrastructure, NATO Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum Commander, General Jorg Vollmer says in an interview with the Defense Ministry's portal Sargs.lv.
Such investments would make it possible to accelerate deployment of NATO forces when necessary, the general emphasizes.
During the past several years, NATO member countries have successfully built the so-called "military Schengen area", that is, they have eased a number of bureaucratic obstacles so military units could move from one member country to another much more efficiently. Now is the time to bring order to the infrastructure.
Today, it is no longer necessary to deploy contingents of hundreds of thousands of troops for long period of time for the deterrence purposes. Technically such forces can be moved from one place to another quite fast, but it requires putting in order the member countries' infrastructure, explains Vollmer.
He compares quality infrastructure to moving chess pieces over a chess board - if the board is not square, the pieces will fall off.
"Imagine a situation where, for instance, a hundred battle tanks must be shipped to the Baltic region. On the average, one such tank weighs about 80 tons. We would transport them in special tank trailers along the highways. The total weight of the trailer and the tank would be over 100 tons. Many bridges are unable to carry such weights. It means that this infrastructure needs to be improved," says Vollmer.
The general explains that infrastructure upgrades are necessary not only in the northern- and easternmost members of NATO, but also those countries where NATO troops are already stationed, for instance, Germany.
In the Soviet Union, all infrastructure was built to facilitate Russia's attack against the West. What NATO needs now is the development of the South-North Corridor so equipment and troops could be quickly shipped from Germany via Poland to the Baltic countries, says Vollmer.