NATO Military Policy

The Constraints Imposed by an Inappropriate Military Structure

by Steven L. Canby

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Discussion of the thesis that the NATO force, particularly its U.S. component, is inappropriately structured and unnecessarily expensive. Though NATO's declaratory objectives stress defense and deterrence, its force structure is attuned to offense and protracted war. Remedies include: (1) concentrating conventional defense preparations in the critical center region, (2) accepting the greater likelihood of a short war as a basic operating assumption, (3) restructuring the force to emphasize defense (more antitank weapons, prepositioned supplies) and short-term war-fighting capability (more use of local logistical resources), and (4) changing the current practice of replacing wartime losses with individuals to a policy of unit replacement. Besides making the force more appropriate to its mission, the proposed measures would substantially reduce costs.

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