Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, has been keeping his eye on the eastern horizon of his domain, well aware that NATO’s current military footprint throughout much of the region wouldn’t be enough to subdue a Russian advance if war were ever to actually break out. Last month, as Russia and Belarus conducted massive military war games that approximated the very war Hodges hopes to avoid, he told the media that he believed the only way to actually stop a Russian incursion would be to improve the speed in which NATO could respond to the threat, which requires an increase in technological interoperability.
Hodges is continuing to encourage the U.S. military and its allies in Europe to push for more technologies and procedures that improve cooperation across all the militaries that would be involved in preventing another military annexation, like the one that took place in Crimea in 2014, from occurring. According to him, 2017 was a “year of implementation,” which included “initiating rotational armored brigade combat teams and combat aviation brigades, emplacing Army preposition stocks, and standing up an enhanced forward-presence battle group in Poland.”
With those pieces in place, however, the focus now must be on improving the combat capabilities and defensive posture of the forces NATO has at its disposal. In order to do that, Hodges explained, there are three areas of improvement that need to be prioritized.
The first is access to tactical FM radios at the company and battalion level to increase communications. These radios, according to the General, must be hardened to operate effectively inside “real nasty” cyber or electronic warfare environments, like those that could be expected in the Baltics if war were to break out.