It has been quite evident to the European leaders that Russia has become increasingly aggressive towards the nations of Eastern Europe. Its actions in the Crimea (occupation and annexation), Eastern Ukraine (support of rebels and deployment of Russian troops), no-notice military exercises, and other threatening activities have many of the European countries deeply concerned. The countries of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are very anxious to have the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). These vulnerable nations are very receptive to NATO conducting exercises and permanently stationing military units in their countries to ensure Baltic security.

NATO is in a difficult position. Currently the defense organization does not have the military strength immediately available in the region to defend those four countries and ensure Baltic security. Certainly Poland can withstand a military offensive for some time until NATO comes to its aid; but the three small Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are extremely exposed.

NATO is stationing four battalions in the Baltic region to shore up defenses but it certainly is not enough to fight off a Russian invasion. [1] At best, the battalions serve as a signal of NATO’s resolve, providing a ‘tripwire’ effect [2], providing an opportunity to be acquainted with a possible future battlefield, and improving interoperability among NATO countries as a whole. In addition, the four battalions increase Baltic security . . . at least by a small increment.

All three Baltic nations are members of the European Union (EU), the Eurozone (currency), and NATO. As NATO members they participate regularly in NATO training exercises and operations. The three nations have also provided small units and personnel to the NATO mission in Afghanistan; first supporting the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) until December 2014 and then the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) starting in January 2015. Most of the Baltic units and individuals served in Regional Command North at Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.