Hybrid Warfare in the Baltics - Threats and Potential Responses

This report doThis report documents research performed by RAND Project AIR FORCE in the spring and summer of 2015. The report examines the specific challenges associated with Russian hybrid warfare in the Baltics—defining the issue, understanding the threat, and conceptualizing how to respond. It finds that Russia will have difficulty using nonviolent or covert action to subvert the Baltics absent the use of conventional force, and hence that the main vulnerability stems from Russia’s local superiority in conventional forces. Addressing the Russian irregular threat remains important nevertheless, since effective defense and deterrence in the Baltics depend on adopting policies to reduce the likelihood of Russian aggression across the conflict spectrum.


The research described in this report was conducted within the Strategy and Doctrine Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE as part of a Fiscal Year 2015 project “U.S. Airpower and Moscow’s Emerging Strategy in the Near Abroad.” The project was sponsored by the Director, Plans, Programs, and Analyses, Headquarters United States Air Forces, Europe. Its goal was to help inform choices by U.S. Air Force leaders regarding ways—activities, posture, and capability development—in which the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Defense, and the NATO alliance more broadly might respond to and anticipate challenges posed by a more assertive and bellicose Russian Federation.


Human Subject Protections (HSP) protocols were used in this report, in accordance with the appropriate statutes and Department of Defense regulations governing HSP. The views of individuals cited anonymously (as well as the views of the author) are their own, and do not represent the official position of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Government, or other organization.




RAND Project AIR FORCE (PAF), a division of the RAND Corporation, is the U.S. Air Force’s federally funded research and development center for studies and analyses. PAF provides the Air Force with independent analyses of policy alternatives affecting the development, employment, combat readiness, and support of current and future air, space, and cyber forces. Research is conducted in four programs: Force Modernization and Employment; Manpower, Personnel, and Training; Resource Management; and Strategy and Doctrine. The research reported here was prepared under contract number FA7014-06-C-0001.


Additional information about PAF is available on our website: www.rand.org/paf


This report documents work originally shared with the U.S. Air Force on September 20, 2015. The draft report, issued on October 19, 2015, was reviewed by formal peer reviewers and U.S. Air Force subject-matter experts.



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