WASHINGTON -- As Russia continues to act aggressively in the Baltic Sea, the United States and Sweden need to focus on ways to improve military collaboration, a new analysis says.
The report, authored by Magnus Nordenman, director of the Atlantic Council's Transatlantic Security Initiative, also concludes that the US needs to play a part in triangulating technological and strategic development among allies in the region, drawing on the bilateral relationships it shares with nations such as Sweden and Finland in order to increase regional security.
Nordenman suggests the US focus on partnering with Sweden in the realm of sub-surface systems, including encouraging a partnership between Sweden and Poland on a new submarine.
"Sweden also seeks to acquire a new class of attack submarines, an effort that is in rough alignment with Poland’s planned procurement of its new Orka-class submarine," he writes. "Industrial cooperation between Sweden and Poland on the new class of submarines could be further enhanced by the use of particular US technologies, such as the submarine combat system, or the integration of US-made submarine-launched land attack or anti-ship missiles."
The report also promotes the idea of increased industrial cooperation between the US and Sweden in electronic warfare and cyber capabilities, improvements in Sweden’s basing strategy, and co-developments on air defenses.
Another area of focus Nordenman recommends is improving situational awareness and intelligence gathering, something that Swedish Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist has expressed an interest in.
One potential way of increasing intelligence gathering: taking technologies from the Boeing EA-18G Growler design and importing them onto Saab’s JAS-39 E/F Gripen fighter that Sweden plans to bring online in the coming years. That suggestion may have some legs, as Saab and Boeing are already teamed to offer a design for the US Air Force’s T-X trainer competition, and both companies have spoken about the benefits of working together.
At a Wednesday event rolling out the report, Nordenman expanded on his report, noting there is a role for Sweden’s experience with artificial intelligence inside the Pentagon’s Third Offset strategy. (The author of this article moderated the event.)
Johan Raeder, defense advisor for the Embassy of Sweden, added that the US needs to take the lead in developing not just technologies but also strategies in the region, noting that sometimes the US needs to "drag partners" along in order to get things done.
Both men expressed skepticism that Sweden would look to join NATO in the near future, which makes the US role as coordinator among the Baltic nations that much more important, with Raeder noting that when the US plays a major role in regional exercises it gets different attention from continental European powers than when Sweden takes the lead.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.