The chain of command problem in Central and Eastern Europe
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For years, Russia’s armed forces have conducted offensive exercises directed at Europe, such as the recent Zapad field exercise series. The exercises, aimed at reminding the West of Russia’s ability to defend its western flank, raise a troubling question: If Russia were actually to challenge the territorial integrity of a new NATO member in Eastern or Central Europe, how well could these countries respond to the crisis? Setting aside their all but meager military capabilities, often overlooked is that these countries have incoherent national chains of command that undermine democratic governance by confusingly entrusting leaders with authorities not in keeping with their political responsibilities (Slovenia, Estonia, and Latvia arguably are notable exceptions ). I argued recently in another forum that by using the lens of organizational sociology, one can see that these governments wittingly or unwittingly impede the effective development of “commanders.” Here, I posit a related question: Can the newest NATO states exercise national-level command effectively and in a predictable fashion in crisis and war?