NATO Military Policy

Obtaining Conventional Comparability with the Warsaw Pact

by Steven L. Canby

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A reappraisal of U.S. military posture in Europe to uncover options that policymakers may have neglected in the choice of alternative force structures and operating practices. While accepting the widely held premise of NATO's conventional inferiority to Warsaw Pact forces, the author examines the origin of the premise in an effort to escape the dilemmas that have long confronted U.S. and European decisionmakers. A net military assessment reveals that NATO's deficiencies are a self-imposed assortment of inertia and misunderstanding. For example, NATO has not developed operating procedures and a force structure appropriate to its strategic requirements in European context, as has done the Pact. It currently sustains expensive but weak conventional forces with an emphasis on nuclear weapons. What is needed is a basic rethinking of NATO's military structure. Thereupon, it can readily attain conventional comparability or parity with the Pact and at no increase in military budget or manpower.

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