Reconstructing NATO Strategy for the 1990s

A Conference Report

by Richard Bitzinger


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In March 1988, a conference was held in Ebenhausen, West Germany, on Reconstructing NATO Strategy for the 1990s, to discuss the future of Alliance strategy. In particular, conference sessions covered such topics as the evolution of Soviet strategy; options and concepts for rebuilding NATO strategy (including a discussion on "discriminate deterrence"); concepts, options, and priorities for nuclear and conventional force structure development, including modernization and arms control; and the future role of Western Europe within the Alliance. The key points that emerged from the conference include: (1) changes inside the Soviet Union should continue to present a challenge to NATO in reconstructing its defense strategy; (2) flexible response/extended deterrence is still the best doctrine available to NATO, and nuclear weapons are still crucial to the defense of the West; (3) remaining intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) must be restructured following the INF treaty, in order to strengthen NATO INF capabilities and bolster this element of flexible response doctrine; (4) negotiations should cover the Atlantic-to-the-Urals region and lead to deep, asymmetrical cuts in offensive armor; and (5) arms control (both nuclear and conventional) must be integrated with NATO's broader strategic requirements.

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