Defense Manpower Policies in Northern and Central European NATO

by Ragnhild Sohlberg

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Provides a brief overview of policies and practices as observed in seven European NATO countries: Belgium, Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), France, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom. This survey of manpower force mixes (active/reserve, conscript/volunteer) and utilization policies shows that national differences tend to be reasonable responses to local conditions that are not easily altered. The observed differences in manpower procurement and utilization policies also raise doubts about how to sum the NATO parts and about the meaning attached to NATO/Warsaw Pact comparisons as they are usually presented. Current manpower procurement policies tend to reflect traditions, but the use of conscripts has adapted to military and nonmilitary changes in the environment since World War II. Some of the adjustments reflect civilian sector developments, and others reflect military developments.

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