This is not a drill.

Our world’s caught up in a chess game with Russia, and NATO; well, it’s our King. As SEALs and admirals, we’ve lived and thrived in chaos, just like the one Ukraine is dancing in. But that’s not a beat any country should have to groove to.

The Ukrainian landscape resembles that of a hungry bear, with Putin playing the zookeeper who’s forgotten to feed it. The cracks in his regime are showing and when that bear breaks loose, it’s not just the zookeeper who’s going to have a problem.

Putin feeding a bear
A concerned-looking Putin feeds the Ukrainian bear.  Original art from SOFREP.

And then we have NATO. A collective force that’s stood the test of time and turbulence. Sure, its members squabble like a family at Thanksgiving, but when push comes to war, it’s one for all. The question is, can this family adapt to a world where the usual drunk uncle, Putin, might not show up?

Adapting is what us military folks do best. And NATO, being the global defense superpower, must brace itself for a Post-Putin world, uncertain as it may be. For all his faults, Putin’s predictability gave us a semblance of stability. With him out of the picture, it’s like tossing a live grenade into a hornet’s nest.

And what about Turkey and a newly emboldened, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan?

Balancing Turkey’s role in NATO has always been a diplomatic tightrope for the United States. As a geostrategic gatekeeper connecting the East and West, Turkey’s importance can’t be overstated. Yet, its recent autocratic drift and blocking of other countries’ accession to NATO have raised eyebrows and frayed nerves in Washington.

The way forward isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution in the game of geopolitics. But if the playbook of SEALs has taught us anything, it’s that every obstacle has a solution, every operation a strategy.