måndag 11 juli 2016

A (Swedish) threat assessment


This is a summary of an assessment regarding probable Russian war fighting capabilities and methods in the Baltic Sea region in a ten to fifteen years’ perspective.  The full document “Hotet” (The Threat) can be red on the home page of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciencies  Both documents, a short version (34 pp) and a more detailed version (120 pp) are in Swedish. The study is part of a project run by the Academy on how to develop Swedish future defence capabilities.


The subjects covered are: doctrine, technology, land-, naval- and air forces, cyber warfare, unconventional components and maskirovka. The conclusions are used to sketch three scenarios for a Russian attack on Sweden. The use of nuclear weapons is not included in the analysis.


Russia has few, if any, chances to win a prolonged war against NATO/US. A military action that might lead to a conflict involving NATO therefore has to be concluded rapidly. This makes surprise, speed and maskirovka central components in Russian war planning. The negative correlation of forces (from a Russian point of view) also makes other types of methods and means, other than military, central components in Russian warfare.

Any Russian operational plan will, apart of conventional military planning, therefore also include plans for ”influence” operations and the use of offensive cyber actions.

The general trends when it comes to Russian military capabilities point at an increased ability to start quite large joint operations without time consuming and revealing preparations. Cruise missiles and ballistic missiles will make it possible to start a campaign by a potentially devasting surprise attack against all types of permanent installations, air bases, storage sites etc.    

The land forces will have a new generation of very potent armoured vehicles although many units will still be equipped with older generation vehicles. The latter will probably have been modified with modern active protection systems and better command and control systems. Unmanned vehicles for different tasks will be quite common. To increase the number of units the use of mobilisation reserves might be utilised to a larger degree than today.

The naval forces will to a large extent have modern ships with advanced surface to air, anti-submarine and anti-ship capabilities. Unmanned under water systems for mine clearance, placing of sensors and mines will be part of the arsenal.

The air forces will be a mix of existing systems and some new very potent ones. The latter, although not very many, will have a decisive role in high priority operations. Exchange of data between planes, sensors and weapons systems belonging to other services will have reached a high level.

Drones will be very common in all services.


A scenario, basically a Russian operational plan, has to be related to the capabilities of the opponent. In this case the assumptions are that Sweden is not a member of NATO and that the Swedish armed forces have approximately todays structure but that today´s glaring defiencies in areas as personnel, logistics and training have been overcome – a small but reasonably well functioning organisation. NATO has increased its capabilities in the Baltic Sea region, but it is not a dramatic change, rather it is a question of making already existing assets more capable.  There will also be smaller units (battalions?) from other alliance members deployed in the Baltic States.

The scenarios illustrate three situations:  a crisis scenario (not war) with the aim to put pressure on Sweden not to allow NATO basing in Sweden, an isolated attack on Sweden with the aim to isolate the Baltic States and a scenario where Sweden is attacked as a first step in connection with a Russian attack on the Baltic States. 


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