The Concerns of Synchronizing with Defensive Oriented Multinational Partners

Professional Content,

The Concerns of Synchronizing with Defensive Oriented Multinational Partners


 Wendell P. Bryant III

Field Artillery Multinational Doctrine Assessment



           The United States military is a mobile, dynamic, and international force with a significant presence in several countries. Our multinational partners in the Black Sea South region have militaries that are static, planned, and domestically focused in preparation for defensive operations against an aggressor. The U.S. military and the Black Sea South region militaries prepare for warfare in vastly different ways. Additionally, most of the Eastern European partners we currently support still operate with Soviet era equipment, and conduct their training based on Russian doctrine. Establishing interoperability between the United States and our multinational partners faces a multitude of friction points that young military leaders should be prepared to work through ranging from geographical proximity to a possible threat, tactical assessment, and logistical synchronization.

            The physical proximity of a potential adversary that is historically aggressive creates a permanent change in a nation’s psychological state of mind. Nations within the Black Sea South Region are within 200 kilometers of adversarial controlled territory and must remain vigilant at all times. The mental state of having a constant threat to the wellbeing of your family, people, and nation not only alters how individuals respond as a nation, but also how the military thinks and plans as a whole. The U.S. service member is forward deployed in the Black Sea South Region far from home with little fear of significant military action affecting their family, friends, or country. This results in significantly different responses from both parties creating unique approaches to the same problem sets.

            The Black Sea South Region was once part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, more commonly known as the Soviet Union. Romania and Bulgaria’s occupation by Soviet Russian forces, and their eventual partnership in the signing of the Warsaw Pact resulted in their militaries adopting Soviet military equipment and tactics for 47 years. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Romanian and Bulgarian militaries continued to operate under the Soviet Russian military doctrine until 2004 when they both joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Russian military doctrine places a heavy emphasis on maneuver forces supporting indirect fire assets while U.S. military doctrine utilizes indirect fire assets to support maneuver forces. There are two significant operational factors that result from this mirror strategy; 1) Russian doctrine demands a significantly larger indirect fire force and 2) Russian doctrine is defensive in application. 

            Though our multinational partners have a robust indirect fires capability, the equipment and vehicles utilized were designed with Russian doctrine requirements, and the training regimen implemented was defensive or static for decades. After entering NATO, Black Sea South nations began converting their military doctrine to a NATO or U.S. style of warfare focusing on responding to a dynamic battlefield. Even with a correct and robust training program, NATO and U.S. technical and tactical techniques do not blend well with equipment designed for Russian military doctrine. Black Sea South nation military leaders are able to apply NATO doctrine efficiently and effectively knowing that the real world application with their current equipment is a limiting factor. The Bulgarian and Romanian governments in response have increased their military budgets by 23.2% and 27.2% respectively in 2018.

            Additionally, transitioning to training for dynamic warfare with maneuver units as the decisive action, logistical support systems become paramount to achieving success. Russian doctrine is designed around static supply systems that primarily support their indirect fire assets that remain several kilometers away from the Forward Line of Troops (FLOT). Russian doctrine then dictates that maneuver forces are given 24 hours of ammunition, food, and fuel. They then engage an enemy force to fix them in conjunction with major indirect fire missions. The Black Sea South nations cannot apply Russian static logistical systems in concert with dynamic NATO maneuver force doctrine. Logistical interoperability becomes absolutely vital to achieve success by linking partnered allies to simultaneously modify their logistical systems training programs, and create logistical synergy in a combat environment with NATO partners.

            Interoperability with our multinational partners through logistical synchronization, cultural understanding, and NATO doctrine brings with it several points of contention. However, our allies are aggressively targeting these friction points and are ecstatic about the emerging opportunities as they go through such a significant transition. Young U.S. Field Artillery Officers and Non-commissioned Officers must approach these environments of friction with an open mind and seek solutions to create opportunity. Being cognizant of these concerns is the first and greatest step military leaders can take to ensure the fastest and most effective way of truly synchronizing with our Black Sea South allies.  Looking forward, as NATO adopts more members, NATO must reevaluate how it fights as a united body. Is the role of NATO to adapt their systems to each additional membership or is it the responsibility of NATO candidates to change their doctrine to fit NATO requirements?




Work Cited, 2020


The Russian Way of War; Grau, Lester Dr., Bartles, Charles, 2016