NATO's Future Conventional Defense Strategy in Central Europe

Theater Employment Doctrine for the Post-Cold War Era

by Richard L. Kugler

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This report provides a political-military analysis for thinking about how NATO's conventional defense strategy can be adjusted to contribute to stability in Central Europe in the coming post-Cold War era. The report (which was assembled in early 1991) concludes that NATO will need to employ a new "theater employment doctrine" — the way NATO uses military force on the battlefield to attain its goals — one that defends further eastward and more flexibly than linear defense contemplated. All viable alternatives for such a doctrine will require NATO to uproot long-established defense practices. Changes will have to be made not only in NATO's force posture, but also in how coalition defense is conducted. Having a concerted planning effort that forges a coherent relationship among NATO's future defense strategy, employment doctrine, and force posture can ensure these changes are well-managed, thus leaving NATO with a viable conventional defense strategy even if forces are smaller than they are now.

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