Mark Collins – NATO and Russian Sub Threat: World Needs More Canada

Further to this post,

USN “Admiral Warns: Russian Subs Waging Cold War-Style ‘Battle of the Atlantic’”–and RCN?

guess what country is overlooked by a major US think tank:

NATO Not Ready As Russian Sub Threat Rises: CSIS 

The balance of power underwater is shifting against the West, warns  a new report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies. Both Russian and NATO capabilities cratered after the Cold War, but the Russian submarine fleet is clawing its way back — and we’re not ready to face it, CSIS says. The US, its allies, and the Nordics need to invest in new technology, intense training, and, above all, closer cooperation to counter the resurgent threat…

This restored Russia sub force is also more active than it has been in decades. Patrols remain below Cold War levels, but suspected Russian subs have made politically pointed incursions into Swedish and Finnish waters, and approaches to the British sub base at Faslane, Scotland — incidents to which the Western countries struggled to respond.

“The organizations, relationships, intelligence, and capabilities that once supported a robust ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) network in the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea no longer exist,” the CSIS study said bluntly.

“Two things have happened,” naval historian Norman Polmar told me. “One, their submarines are quieter, and, two, we have dismantled a large portion of our ASW capabilities.”

“Bottom line is yes, NATO ASW declined,” said Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain now with Center for a New American Security, who wasn’t involved with the report but agreed with its primary premise. “We’re in a bad place as an alliance with regard to Russia’s underwater resurgence.”..

Ultimately, says CSIS, the goal is a “federated” approach where each ally contributes in its appropriate niche to a single, coherent picture of the undersea threat and a single, coherent response. So what can the Western allies offer?

CSIS undersea - ASW vessels

…in 2014-2015, when a suspected Russian submarine was spotted off Faslane, Scotland — home to the entire British sub fleet and all the UK’s nuclear weapons — the British called in sub-hunting aircraft from its NATO partners [including from Canada–yet we’re not listed in graphic below: “RCAF–and others–Help Brits Sub Hunt“].

Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of, McCarthy told me. To the contrary, he argued, it’s a model of how an increasingly interdependent alliance should work. In fact: “That’s what the alliance is about. We share our capabilities and we support each other. That’s the fundamentals of being in an alliance.”

CSIS undersea - ASW aircraft

[Canada: “Four More RCAF CP-140 Auroras to be Upgraded, Fleet to be 14 Till 2030“]

Whilst the immediate focus of the study is on European waters, it also deals extensively with NATO’s broad ASW capabilities. But still no Canada. Hmm.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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