JBANC Looks Back at 55 Years of Advocating on Baltic Issues
The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. came together 55 years ago on April 27, 1961, documented by the decision and signatures of the heads of the leading national Baltic organizations. In doing so, it would combine the efforts of the three main national organizations of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians based in the United States. JBANC, as it came to be known, helped coalesce activities in Washington, DC for the three national groups in order to better engage with policy makers and to keep closer to the pulse of American politics.
In organizing the Baltic-American communities into an effective advocacy force in the United States, JBANC’s forefathers had the foresight to strengthen its standing and efficacy by pledging to coordinate efforts together. It was force multiplication in triplicate.
For Americans of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian descent, JBANC has remained a central place for information and policies affecting the Baltic countries, and for conveying the concerns of the Baltic-American community to Congress, the White House, and other U.S. government agencies. For 55 years, JBANC has remained a unified voice and a force in advocating for Baltic issues. These efforts will continue.
Outnumbered, outranged, and outgunned: How Russia defeats NATO
(extract of article by David A. Ahlapak and Michael W. Johnson)
Outnumbered? While the Russian army is a fraction of the size of its Soviet predecessor and is maintained at a level of imperfect readiness, we found that it could — in 10 days or so — generate a force of as many as 27 fully ready battalions (30–50,000 soliders in their maneuver formations, depending on precisely how they were organized) for an attack on the Baltics while maintaining its ongoing coercive campaign against Ukraine.
All these Russian units would be equipped with armored vehicles — tanks, infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), and so forth. NATO, meanwhile, would be able to respond largely with only light, unarmored, or lightly armored forces. These would consist of the forces of the Baltic republics themselves and those that the United States and its partners could rush to the scene in the few days of warning that would likely be available.
Counting the “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force” (VJTF), NATO could optimistically deploy elements from three airborne infantry brigades, one Stryker brigade, and one U.S. armor brigade. Russia would achieve initial advantages in tanks (7:1), infantry fighting vehicles (5:1), attack helicopters (5:1), cannon artillery (4:1), long-range rocket artillery (16:1), short-range air defense (24:1), and long-range air defense (17:1).
Outranged? But the problem is not just numbers. The Russians field cannon and rocket artillery with significantly longer ranges than their U.S. counterparts. Existing Army tube artillery can generally fire at targets 14 to 24 kilometers (9 to 15 miles) away. Unfortunately, the most common Russian self-propelled howitzer NATO forces would encounter in the Baltics has a range of 29 kilometers (or 19 miles). On the battlefield, these differences matter.
Outgunned? Here the evidence is somewhat less clear, but the situation is certainly far less favorable to the United States than it is accustomed to. While Russia’s tanks and IFVs in some cases share the same designations as those that U.S. forces encountered in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, those weapons have little in common besides the name. They have much more advanced armor, weapons, and sensors, and in some areas — such as active protection systems to defend against anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) — are superior to their Western counterparts.
If a fight broke out today in the Baltics, Russian attack helicopters, IFVs, and even some tanks could employ ATGMs with an effective range that could penetrate the armor of most if not all NATO combat vehicles, including the U.S. M1 tank. The M1s might maintain a slight advantage in the close-in fight, if they survived to get there. But given the current U.S. posture, there would at best be only a few dozen on the field, compared to about 450 Russian. The Baltic states themselves have no heavy armor, and our analysis indicates that no other European heavy forces could make it to the frontlines in time to influence the outcome of a short-warning Russian assault.
Beyond the disadvantages of being outnumbered, outranged, and outgunned, a slew of other issues compounds the problem.
Andrij Dobriansky's reflections on the conference Mass Violation Of Human Rights In Occupied Crimea
After participating as a delegate at the Second World Congress of Crimean Tatars in Ankara, Turkey this past summer, I had incredible honor to be included at a meeting of the recently elected Executive Board of the World Crimean Tatar Congress at their working meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania from April 11-13. Welcomed along with all the participants by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Linas Linkevičius, the executive board was joined by other delegates, activists and experts at the Seimo Rūmai for an extraordinary international conference entitled Mass Violation Of Human Rights In Occupied Crimea.
Via pre-taped video address, even US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) had the opportunity to declare solidarity with the indigenous people of Crimea: “These proud people were forced either to leave or get Russian citizenship, but they have not stopped the fight. The Crimean land belongs to the Crimean Tatars’ ancestors, and they have the right to live on their territory. I believe the US is obliged to do everything possible that Russia suffers additional losses as it has occupied the territory illegally. We must help the Crimean Tatars. I will never stop fighting for free Ukraine!” Ivanna Bilych, co-founder of the new Volya Institute of Contemporary Law and Society delivered an address detailing the legal precedents she had presented annually at the United Nations since the invasion of Crimea in 2014. Žygimantas Pavilionis, Ambassador of Lithuania to the United States during the invasion of Crimea, expounded on the work being done by steadfast allies of the Indigenous Crimean Tatar people to garner the requisite political will to assist them further.
The most significant development in Vilnius that week, however, took place on April 12, when the Executive Board of the World Crimean Tatar Congress held a series of meetings to discuss issues such as the possibility of establishing representative offices of the World Crimean Tatar Congress in other countries, and settle on collective declarations of purpose. Most clearly, that was encompassed in their first resolution: “The right to self-determination of the Crimea belongs to the Crimean Tatar People, being the indigenous people of the Crimea. Any decision neglecting the will of the Crimean Tatars on the destiny of the Crimea cannot establish justice.”
Andrij Dobriansky is the UN Representative for the Ukrainian World Congress and the board member of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. He spoke at JBANC's seminar on Baltic Nordic security and trade in New York City on December 4, 2015.
House Baltic Caucus gains two new members
Rep. Ted Lieu (R) is a freshman congressman, serving California’s 33rd Congressional District, who was elected president of the Democratic Freshman class by his colleagues. Rep. Lieu serves on the House Budget Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Due to his computer science major, he is frequently sought out for his insight on technology and innovation matters including cybersecurity, cloud computing and innovation.
Rep. Lieu has established himself as a leader on protecting the environment; Social Security and Medicare; civil liberties; and veterans. He is a former active duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserves.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) is currently fulfilling his 7th term, serving Florida’s 25th Congressional District. Rep. Diaz-Balart is a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations and three of its subcommittees. He is a member of the U.S. Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Vice-Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Relations (PCTR) of the Political Committee. Also, he is the chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue.
He acts tirelessly in defense of individual rights and liberties, promoting economic prosperity, and supporting a strong national defense. He is well known for his advocacy of human rights and democracy around the world, as well as for his staunch support of the U.S. global allies.
CEEC Hosts Successful Policy Forum on NATO
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) hosted a timely and substantive event on Wednesday, April 19, to discuss the topic “NATO Stance on Russia: Vision or Reaction?” The keynote speaker was Dr. Michael Carpenter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense with responsibility for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, who gave the Pentagon’s view of recent events and U.S. actions in response. He was followed by a panel of three additional distinguished experts: Ambassador Kurt Volker, former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO; Lithuanian Deputy Chief of Mission Mindaugas Zickus; and Damian Murphy, Senior Professional Staff Member, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (SFRC). Welcoming remarks by Estonian American National Council President Marju Rink-Abel and moderation and closing by Mamuka Tsereteli of the Georgian Association in the U.S.A. rounded out the event.
Marju Rink-Abel and Karl Altau comment on the U.S. presidential election campaign
JBANC Managing Director Karl Altau and Marju Rink-Abel, President of the Estonian American National Committee, were interviewed recently by Estonian Public Broadcasting on the U.S. presidential elections.
When asked who would be the best president for Central and Eastern Europe, Altau answered jokingly "Ronald Reagan." He added, that about the five current candidates that "we know Hillary Clinton the best, as she answered our questionnaire in 2008. Definitely she will know Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and the interests of our communities." Altau did not speculate publicly about who in his mind would be the best or the worst president, as "JBANC has to work with whomever will assume office in 2017."
Meeting with the Speaker of Latvia's parliament (Saeima)
ALA President Peter Blumberg and JBANC's Karl Altau were among those who met with the Speaker of the Saeima Ināra Mūrniece and her delegation, which included Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ojārs Kalniņš at the residence of Ambassador Andris Razāns for an insightful discussion of current topics affecting Latvia and it's relationship with the United States.
Pictured (from left:): Karl Altau (JBANC), Ilze Garoza (World Federation of Free Latvians), Peter Blumbergs (American Latvian Association), András Simonyi (Center for Transatlantic, SAIS), Saeima Speaker Ināra Mūrniece, Ojārs Kalniņš (Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Saeima), Ambassador Andris Razāns, Gunta Razāne, Gunta Pastore (Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Speaker), Valdis Pavlovskis (Baltic American Freedom League), Aris Vigants (Embassy of Latvia).