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NATO plans to form up to 50 brigades to defend against Russian attack

NATO plans to form up to 50 brigades to defend against Russian attack Photo: NATO to create up to 50 brigades to defend against Russia (Getty Images)

NATO will need 35 to 50 additional brigades to fully implement its new plans to protect itself from a Russian attack, reports Reuters.

The agency's source, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to provide any details about the plans, which are classified. The brigade consists of 3,000-7,000 soldiers, so creating 35-50 more such units will be a serious problem.

A military source also said that Germany alone would have to quadruple its air defense capabilities.

At a summit in Vilnius last year, NATO leaders agreed on the alliance's first major defense plans in more than three decades. Since then officials have been working to translate these documents into specific military requirements.

NATO leaders are expected to receive an update on the plans in Washington this week at a summit marking the 75th anniversary of the security alliance.

A NATO spokesman said that the alliance's military planners had identified "detailed requirements for troops and weapons needed to defend the alliance."

"Air and missile defenses, long-range weapons, logistics as well as large land manoeuvre formations are among our top priorities. NATO will likely set more demanding capability targets for allies, as we develop forces that can implement our plans and meet the threats we face. We are confident that our deterrence is and will remain strong," the official said.

The Defense Ministry in Berlin declined to comment on NATO's future plans as they are classified. It said that all allies were called upon to coordinate with NATO on capability requirements and that these efforts would continue through next year.

Added personnel

It is unclear where NATO allies might get the additional personnel for the 35-50 brigades. Troops could be transferred from other parts of the armed forces, additional soldiers could be recruited, or NATO members could choose a combination of both.

Air defense is another serious gap identified by NATO military planners, as the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the importance of these systems in protecting critical military and civilian infrastructure.

Such systems would be particularly important for Germany as a major logistics hub and bridgehead in the event of any potential conflict with Russia.

When Germany was a NATO frontline state during the Cold War, it had 36 Patriot air defense systems, and even then relied on additional support from NATO allies.

Today, the German military has only nine Patriot units left, after three units were transferred to Ukraine following the Russian invasion in 2022, and the government has begun placing orders for Patriot and other air defense systems to replenish its stockpile.

Since the end of the Cold War, many NATO allies have reduced the number of air defense units, assuming that in the future they would only have to deal with a limited missile threat from countries such as Iran.

This perception changed dramatically with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, forcing NATO allies to work to increase munitions stockpiles and address air defense system deficiencies.

The agreement on the first major defense plans since the Cold War, which NATO called "regional plans," marked a fundamental shift for the Western military alliance. For decades it had seen no need to develop new large-scale defense plans because it believed that post-Soviet Russia no longer posed an existential threat.

Leaders are gathering in Washington for the NATO summit, which will also mark the 75th anniversary of the military alliance.

Estonia has called for considering an increase in the minimum threshold for member states' defense spending, currently at 2% of GDP, to 2.5% or 3% of GDP.