The costs with which Russia's integration into NATO would come for the country's armed forces should be taken into account in the process of debates over the overall feasibility of the step. It is a significant aspect of the problem that Russia's army would have to switch to NATO standards to join the alliance.
A country's armed forces remain an instrument of its independent politics only as long as they stay under national command relying on a national control system which, under modern conditions, is typically centered around an automated command and control system.
Generally, an automated command and control system should be a network of control systems of various levels based on stationary and mobile posts and equipped with control automation and communication facilities functioning permanently under the conditions of peace or war.
Command and control is a cyclic process comprising two relatively autonomous phases:
- The planning of the use of armed forces and weapons by the command, operational decision-making, and the formalization of the decisions made. In NATO, the phase is designated as Command.
- Information collection from various sources for supply to the command and the distribution of the information to objects under control via communication networks. In the US and NATO, the phase is designated as Control.
Russia's current command and control system was largely inherited from the USSR and subsequently upgraded to accommodate the experience gained during the North Caucasian campaigns.
The conclusion stemming from the analysis of the creation of Russian and NATO command and control systems shows that the processes had a lot in common: in both cases, the wider system evolved from control systems of particular army services and branches towards unification in the framework of an integrated system with integrated informational space. Nevertheless, the Russian and the NATO systems are incompatible due to embedded differences in approaches adopted both on the strategic level (the corresponding procedures of mobilization, deployment, strategic planning, mission control, authorization and delivery of strikes by nuclear and other high-impact weapons do not combine) and on lower levels of control (field manuals, service regulations, communication bandwidths, cryptography and information encoding systems, methods of information protection do not match; plus the Russian army continues using large numbers of analog devices).
Naturally, NATO membership implies that novices should switch to the control based on the alliance's principles, as, for example, did the former Eastern bloc countries. Strict adherence to NATO standards is among its key principles. NATO Charter states explicitly that a country granted the candidate status should immediately adopt new communications and information systems standards. Fulfilling the requirement would entail a total and unphased replacement of the equipment in control organizations of all levels and the transition from analog to digital devices, at least in the sphere of communication networks. Information systems of candidate countries have to be integrated into NATO's system of Consultation, Command, and Control (3C).
Every candidate country also faces the requirement to build on its territory a segment of the NATO Communications and Information System. The system spans the entire territory of the alliance and links the Brussels headquarters to national capitals and supreme commands. Moreover, the NATO Communications and Information System has to be compatible with the country's stationary and cell phone networks, both civilian and military.
Equipment in line with NATO standards has to be supplied not only to the central control bodies but also downstream the chain of command. NATO standards are mandatory whenever armed forces of members of the alliance acquire new equipment. Switching to NATO standards in the area of command and control would have to be squeezed into a relatively short period of time. It is likely that the Russian military-industrial complex would not be able to handle the task and that Russia would have to import military equipment en mass and invite foreign companies to upgrade its automated command and control system. As a result, Western economies would draw serious benefits from Russia's integration into NATO, while the Russian government would be placing no orders with Russia's military-industrial complex.
It is a well-established fact (as explained by John Maynard Keynes) that state orders serve as a major instrument of economic modernization. Looking into the feasibility of extensive acquisitions of foreign military equipment, we have to be fully aware that Russiahas already spiraled down from the 4th to the 3+ economic supercycle without truly making inroads into the 5th supercycle. The collapse of the segment of the Russian military-industrial complex implementing the technologies of the 5th technological supersycle that would become imminent in case Russia switches to the NATO automated command and control system system would prevent defense companies from taking the role of drivers of Russia's modernization and, moreover, provoke dire social problems in a number of cities where the majority of the population is employed in military-industrial companies.
Since 1989 NATO has been implementing the Conventional Armaments Planning System (CAPS) in the framework of the standardization and planning initiative aimed at orienting NATO countries towards certain armaments programs. The NATO leadership believes that CAPS is the optimal solution to meet the requirements and to probe into the future needs for the alliance's armaments, and thus to formulate the corresponding forecasts. Consequently, Russia's planning of weapons programs and order placements would have to be synchronized with the approaches imposed by other countries, and the arrangement would likely leave Russia's military-industrial complex on a hungry ration.
Even the national legislations of NATO countries have to be tailored to the alliance's requirements. Laws in these countries have to be compatible with the alliance's regulations and legal mechanisms.
There is yet another circumstance that has to be taken into account. The NATO countries signed on October 19, 1970 the Brussels treaty on the exchange of technical information in the defense sphere. It represents one of the four technical agreements mandatory for the NATO countries. Should Moscow sign the treaty, a huge question-mark would hang over the cooperation between Russia's military-industrial complex and those of the countries branded rogue by Washington. Accordingly, Russia's losses would reach billions of dollars.
Fully accepting NATO candidacy requirements would also force Russia to pass under the alliance's control the system of combat planning and training. Finally, what sounds most alarming is that the incorporation of Russia's armed forces into NATO would automatically give Brussels control over the country's nuclear arsenals which are the backbone of its military might.
Political marriages tend to be as volatile as those between individuals. Memories are still fresh of the demise of the Eastern bloc after which the Soviet Union's former allies rushed to the prosperous NATO, taking along Soviet military secrets and such samples of Soviet military technologies as the Maneuver automated control system which seriously impressed Western strategists. On the Pentagon's request, the harem of East European novices ended up sacrificing in Iraq and Afghanistan the lives of its youths who must have dreamed of humanistic values but earned coffins covered with national flags instead.
As soon as NATO strategists get a grip on Russia, any talk of G8 or G20 would stop to make sense. Russia would – on top of serving as the donor of natural resources – turn into the West's military satellite and into a buffer zone separating the wealthy Europe from the rising Muslim Asia and the awakened China.
Z. Brzezinski, who visited Moscow in October, 2010, wrote in The New York Times back in August, 2009: “Hence, two strategic objectives should define NATO’s goal: to consolidate security in Europe by drawing Russia into a closer association with the Euro-Atlantic community, and to engage Russia in a wider web of global security that indirectly facilitates the fading of Russia’s lingering imperial ambitions”.
The idea is expressed with utmost clarity – in a way, reading Brzezinski helps to assess the situation realistically.