Chapter 9—
Coordinating with NATO

Charles L. Barry

President George W. Bush’s September 2001 call to arms against terrorism and the unprecedented North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Article 5 declaration injected new urgency into efforts to field robust, interoperable Alliance forces that can respond effectively in austere areas far beyond NATO territory. More than ever before, allies may now find themselves in a sudden, come-as-you-are war in which only the most capable, interoperable forces are able to contribute. This is inescapable confirmation that a real and significant gap in transatlantic military capabilities persists. However, the gap is in key functional areas and is not universal. Even the most critical gaps—deployment, broad network-centricity, better sensors and shooters, and logistics—are areas where allies have begun to invest in programs that will fix their shortfalls. Although closing the gap will take time, it is not so wide that it cannot be closed by 2010 with concerted effort and adequate resources.

Most allies came late to the revolution in military affairs and are just beginning to transform their forces to meet rapidly changing operational requirements. The goals of the NATO Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) helped focus their efforts in the right areas.1 Perhaps more significant, Europe’s commitment to create its own rapid reaction force has spurred real progress in building European capabilities. However, recent events have raised the bar by posing the far more demanding realities of an Article 5 declaration and U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan. Europe may be in danger of falling further behind as the United States moves to add at least $40 billion to its 2003 defense budget, with more certain to follow. That puts pressure on all allies to reexamine their defense resources and programs. NATO itself needs to take another look at its strategic guidelines. Instead of a mere progress report on DCI at its next summit in late 2002, NATO now must propose a new initiative, one that defines far more in terms of modern military forces and capabilities. Unless NATO creates the wherewithal to respond in the future, it will be greatly diminished as a military alliance.

This chapter looks at the factors behind the persistent gap in defense investments across the Atlantic and how U.S. and European attitudes are evolving. It examines the real technology gap today in land, air, and naval forces as well as in the functional areas of deployability; command, control, communications, computers, and information (C4I); and logistics.2 We will see that for the forces themselves, the gaps in most areas are manageable, and closing them is within reach. The gaps in functional capabilities such as deployability, C4I, and logistics management are far more worrisome given the speed and extent of U.S. transformation. We then turn to trends in modernization and transformation and, considering the impacts of September 11, argue that the trends on either side of the Atlantic are not so much in conflict as in need of harmonization of their respective levels of effort, and that they also lack collaborative, open management. The chapter concludes with a look at initiatives, both planned and under way, aimed at closing the gap, and at how these initiatives are being redefined by the attacks on the United States and by NATO invocation of Article 5.

Persistent Capabilities Gap

The United States and its allies around the world have pursued interoperability since World War II by invoking common standards and procedures, sharing technologies and joint or combined exercises, and exchanging a broad spectrum of military information on topics ranging from doctrine and training to joint planning, operational concepts, and lessons learned. Direct sale of U.S. military hardware abroad and purchase of foreign equipment for American use also have buttressed interoperability. Nowhere have allies pushed harder for interoperability and realized more progress than in NATO, the only alliance in the world that maintains a standing military structure.

However, in the decade following the Cold War, the United States and its NATO allies have followed ever more divergent attitudes toward the maintenance of military power, especially in the application of emerging information technology that in the United States is called the revolution in military affairs (RMA). Most allies were unable to contribute sophisticated capabilities—precision all-weather target engagement, secure communications, technical intelligence, or robust logistics—during either the 1991 Gulf War or the 1999 Operation Allied Force over Kosovo because they had chosen to forego investment in modern technologies and systems in favor of reduced spending and continued reliance on aging legacy systems. Allied defense budgets declined steadily as leaders and legislators were unable to identify a raison d’etre—either missions or threats—for new investment that could engender public support. A broad tendency to wring greater peace dividends from defense budgets persisted throughout Europe long after the United States began reinvesting. The result of these factors has been a growing transatlantic capabilities gap, with the United States all but alone in keeping pace with rapid changes in military technologies. The common underpinning of interoperable forces throughout the Cold War—the maintenance of similar capabilities—no longer figures in the defense budgets and military strategies of many allies. In order to close the gap, NATO will need a deeper sense of common purpose, and of common risks, for the use of military force, and it will need stronger, clearer agreement on the types of response options its forces must be equipped to undertake.

The NATO 1999 Strategic Concept declares that it will respond to crises beyond its borders whenever its members’ collective interests are at risk.3 Since 1995, the allies have been demonstrating that commitment in the Balkans. Yet the readiness and capabilities of NATO forces vary widely, from vintage systems to experimental technologies, because nations assess force requirements through different prisms. The main fault line in military capabilities lies between, on one hand, the United States and the United Kingdom (and to a lesser degree France) and, on the other, the rest of the allies. Closing the technology gap will require that Alliance members share the conviction that modern, information age capabilities are essential to accomplishing new NATO missions. Expressing that conviction openly, collectively, and often at NATO will give national parliaments and military programmers the solid, essential rationale to make the case for greater investments in research, development, and procurement.

Defense Investments

European defense investments have, with few exceptions, trailed U.S. spending since the Cold War (see table 9-1). Although the gap between U.S. and allied spending is slightly smaller today than it was at the peak of U.S. spending in the mid-1980s, most Europeans started from a far lower basis as of 1990 and have declined to a point that provides few resources for investment in research and development (R&D) or new procurement. Even 2 years after Operation Allied Force over Kosovo, aggregate defense investment across NATO-Europe remains essentially flat. Many allies seek ways to wring more capability out of what they already spend. Seeking to get more out of current defense outlays before making the case for increased spending is a start, but real defense increases are unavoidable in the near term if we intend to preserve transatlantic interoperability.

Anemic economic conditions throughout the 1990s are partly to blame for Europe’s decline in defense spending. Europe also faces competing investment imperatives: European Union (EU) restructuring and enlargement, adoption of the euro single currency (accompanied by the European Monetary Union [EMU] restrictions on deficit spending); the lingering costs of German unification; and the need to help EU industries make the transition to meet the forces of global competition. However, even at the present dramatically low ebb shown in table 9-1, defense budget considerations in Europe are not generating the level of legislative attention and public concern that mark U.S. defense debates. One reason for public apathy is the absence of an overt security threat to Europe. Another is the Continent’s long reliance on U.S. military power and political leadership.

Analysts have described an even deeper divide. They argue that Europeans quietly perceive that there is utility and reduced risk in needing time to mount a military response when crises arise. They take a less idealistic approach than the United States when it comes to confronting regional troublemakers, such as Iraq, and are more accepting of the potential for casualties should they ultimately be forced to slug it out by less sophisticated means than the United States favors. One American ambassador described the difference as an attitude dating to events of 1914, when the easy availability of potent forces in Europe proved too tempting, and political tensions quickly escalated into a world war.4 Conversely, U.S. views of military power were marked by the lesson of Pearl Harbor—and seared again by the devastating terrorist assault on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001—never again to be caught unprepared to respond. If these hypotheses are accurate, Europe may continue to lag in the readiness and modernization that are basic tenets of U.S. warmaking.



There are, however, also hopeful signs to the contrary, in EU policy statements such as those at Helsinki in December 1999 and Nice in November 2000; in the substance of a number of allied national strategic reviews in France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere; and in terms of recent, if limited, defense procurement. There are in these statements indications that European attitudes are moving, albeit slowly, toward favoring the fruits of the RMA. That bodes well for reconciling a sense of common purpose in the application of military power and for narrowing the military-technology gap between the United States and its allies.

The Role of Interoperability in U.S. Military Doctrine

Interoperability between U.S. and allied military forces anywhere in the world depends on a combination of systems connectivity and technological comparability. Multinational forces and platforms, no less than U.S. forces performing joint operations, must have comparable capabilities to execute a common operational concept such as standoff precision engagement or all-weather operations. Comparability requires more than plug-and-play technology for systems integration. It demands compatible doctrines, similar readiness levels, and sustaining resources sufficient to stay in the game. Transmitting secure, real-time targeting data is worthless if the receiving node or force element has no precision strike systems, doctrine for their employment, training for the engagement, or means to bring its systems to the fight. However, comparability can be achieved without having to buy identical hardware such as missiles or aircraft.

Communications connectivity among forces—voice and data networking—is the essential element: systems not linked to a common information grid cannot share information with other systems, sensors-to-shooters, commanders-to-subelements, or suppliers-to-consumers, in a multinational force. Organizations as well as individual systems must be linked for connectivity of command and control (C2) as well as intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance, logistics, and all other essential combat functions. Reliable, secure, and real-time connectivity is required for every manner of communications and data exchange. With such a grid in place, every system will have access to what amounts to a common operational picture. The result will be true interoperability, collective functionality that provides for rapid decisionmaking and operational follow-through by a single cohesive force.

In U.S. national security strategy and military doctrine, as reflected in Joint Vision 2020, operating with other national militaries is considered the norm, not the exception.5 Coalitions are valued for both political and military purposes, to share risks and burdens and to broaden international support and access. However, an inescapable reality is that the value of a coalition depends on the degree that interoperability has been contemplated and assured in advance, through investment in similar capabilities, development of common doctrine, combined joint planning, and multinational exercises.

The capabilities of each nation’s forces determine what forces can participate and in what missions. Having several nations able to contribute to the most decisive combat roles is crucial to perceptions of a true combined operation rather than merely a coalition façade draped over a U.S. operation. Allies must have some capabilities similar to U.S. forces and, more important, not have to rely too much on U.S. support to sustain them in forward areas. Forces with outdated technology, incomplete contingency doctrines, limited sustainment, frail C2, or weak intelligence capacity could dilute military power more by participating than if they stayed home.

NATO is unique in that Alliance forces already integrate more closely with U.S. forces than do any other forces in the world. NATO has invested a half-century in developing a common doctrine and common operating procedures (NATO Standardization Agreements, of which more than 1,300 have been published), and in urging its members to meet objectives for force modernization, technological capabilities, and other force goals such as readiness, supportability, and deployability.

Yet NATO interoperability has always fallen short of military leaders’ desires, and prodding members (including the United States) to do more has been a constant theme of NATO declarations. In the future, agreements on operational and procedural standards alone will not be enough to achieve the kind of interoperability the United States sees as essential. Future operational success will demand far more data connectivity among forces than ever before. Nations will need forces equipped with fast, reliable, secure communications and high-speed data accessibility. Modern networked communications links and data systems will be essential at lower levels. Networks will be required between ships, aircraft, and small unit ground force elements, across all components and among allies.

Allied forces that the United States will seek for partners in the future must have systems with comparable capabilities, mixing leading-edge systems with older yet still potent systems. Legacy systems will still make important contributions for many years, even if their size, logistics requirements, or vulnerabilities preclude using them in first-response missions. However, to be effective, even legacy systems must be retrofitted with modern sensors and secure voice/data communications.

Newer technologies, some just being developed and some commercial off-the-shelf, will lead the way. Initial response forces, most notably air systems and special operations forces, must have a credible capability for rapid deployment and employment, effective engagement and sustainment, and force protection, and they must have these from day one of an operation. That means refocusing procurement priorities and adjusting approaches to multinational defense planning, doctrine, and operational concepts. Acquiring these capabilities, in years rather than decades, means focusing on commercially available technologies on both sides of the Atlantic, especially in the information technology sector.

The bad news about interoperability is that NATO militaries, although working more closely together than ever before in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia, are growing less compatible and less connected at the high end of technology. The United States places high priority on improving the ability of NATO militaries to cooperate across a growing array of missions related to crisis management, even as it transforms to embrace the potential of the RMA. The United States is irreversibly committed to the pursuit of the most advanced technology in order to preserve its military edge. If that pursuit slackens, the United States risks reduced military effectiveness and perhaps eventually the loss of its technological leadership. Pursuing these two strategic goals—allied participation in the full array of coalition operations and operationalizing the latest technologies as early as possible—is the right path for America. However, the two will work at cross-purposes unless ways are found to close the widening technological gap between the United States and its allies, especially in NATO. One remedy for bringing these two essential elements of U.S. military strategy into harmony, especially in the field of information technologies, is achieving the objectives of the NATO Defense Capabilities Initiative, and that goal should be the focus of greatest allied effort for the near term.

Defining the Current Gap

Force capabilities result from many factors, including force size, planning, readiness, sustainability, and deployability. Yet even if all those factors are positive, a force will still not be interoperable with others if it cannot keep pace with other units, talk to other operators, or engage targets at the ranges and under the conditions of the operational concept for the mission at hand. Interoperability is linked to force modernization: keeping at least a portion of the force equipped with the latest military systems and technologies. That calls for continuous investment in R&D to find and refine new technologies. Without such programs, a nation will be incapable of taking part in the most crucial operations; it would be relegated to peripheral roles during a crisis while other allies picked up the slack.

Tables 9-2 through 9-6 indicate some of the most modern systems of each ally—their best capabilities—portraying primary features, their numbers, and their legacy age. This information gives a sense of how compatible these systems are, but what it cannot show is the systems’ readiness to participate in combined crisis-response operations, or the “true interoperability quotient.” That depends on a broader profile that would include personnel training, maintenance, supply, and spare equipment (such as operationally ready “floats” that can be quickly forwarded to replace losses) that are essential to sustain the force in the field. Also not apparent is the connectivity of these systems with other NATO systems as defined by a common NATO voice and data communications standard. The tables do make clear the notable trend that nations are investing, if meagerly, in new capabilities; this gives hope that, with reasonable effort, NATO can become far more compatible in the years just ahead.

NATO Land Systems Technology

The major legacy land systems (see tables 9-2 and 9-3) are never foremost in RMA debates, yet heavy as well as light forces and special operations forces will remain essential to the future inventories of land forces. Technologies related to transformed land forces center on C4I, deployability, sustainability, target engagement solutions, and force protection. Most European land forces are in the process of restructuring into smaller, more deployable units in order to meet both NATO guidance and the EU commitment to field a deployable land force by 2003. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, among other European NATO members, have completed force restructuring plans and are executing them. On the U.S. side, land forces already were being task-
organized routinely; actual restructuring to lighter forces only got started in the wake of the 1999 mission in Kosovo, where the need for a new mix of firepower, force protection, and speed hit home. (See chapter 4 in this volume on U.S. Army transformation.)




In fact, an impressive amount of NATO legacy systems such as tanks, indirect fire systems (artillery, rockets, and missiles), helicopters, and air defense systems have been upgraded throughout the 1990s to incorporate modern capabilities for fire control, communications, and self-protection. Other essential but less glamorous upgrades include protective gear for nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, land mine protection, night vision sights, and individual soldier equipment. Another reality is that European militaries have long had light armored vehicles similar to those now being tested by the United States.

Table 9-2 indicates the primary tanks and table 9-3 the first-line indirect fire systems of each ally. Countries that have no equipment in a category are omitted. Note the prevalence of Germany’s Leopard tank and the U.S. multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) among allied forces. Both these systems are relatively modern in their latest versions, though they would be regarded as legacy systems by age. The weight of the MLRS makes it a candidate for lighter armored forces. The latest version of the MLRS, the M270-A1, is essentially a new system and is capable of launching the Army tactical missile system (ATACMS)-A1, a long-range, GPS-aided missile. Only the United States has this system today; however, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom have it on order. These systems will no doubt be retained in transformed force structures, which the United States will want to be interoperable with its own transformed forces.

Another legacy system that will likely be retained in transformed force structures is the attack helicopter. European allies field almost 800 attack helicopters, although most are old, lacking all-weather target engagement and adequate self-protection. Still, at least France, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (in addition to the United States) will be procuring new attack helicopters over the next few years.

Modern NATO Air and Space Systems

The most serious gap between the United States and its allies is in air combat capabilities (tables 9-4 and 9-5). Key concerns are the lack of precision weapons, secure communications, aerial refueling, and strategic lift. The paucity of specialized aircraft—for airborne early warning such as the airborne warning and control system (AWACS), airborne ground surveillance such as the joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS), suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), or electronic warfare—is a major gap in a new era of sophisticated air campaigns. If these systems cannot be acquired at the national level, members should move quickly to fund them at the NATO level. In table 9-4, the column indicating the number of most capable combat aircraft also shows, for some countries, the overall combat aircraft inventory in parentheses: these are allies that have sizable inventories of legacy (in some cases obsolete) aircraft. Paring these inventories would free considerable resources to invest in a smaller, more capable fleet.




The top operational U.S. air combat systems include the F-16D, F-15E, F-14D, and F/A-18D tactical fighters, as well as highly capable strategic fleets of B-52H and B-2A bombers. The top operational allied systems are early models of the F-16 and F-18, plus the British and German Tornado, the British Jaguar and Harrier, and the French Mirage 2000D. The latest model Mirage is the only European system that is in a class with the best U.S. systems. The Europeans do not field bombers comparable to U.S. aircraft; they use variants of ground attack fighter bombers instead. No European system includes stealth technology.

Many allied systems are capable of aerial refueling; as table 9-5 shows, seven allies of the United States together maintain a mix of over 70 tanker or tanker/transport aircraft, although these add up to a much smaller capability than the U.S. fleet of over 600 large tankers. Major European shortcomings are the lack of secure aircraft communications to link attack aircraft to key sensor systems such as JSTARS or AWACS and a very limited all-weather precision target engagement capability. In addition to NATO communication satellites, France and the United Kingdom operate communication and photoreconnaissance space systems, with several other states joining France as investment partners.

Major NATO Naval Systems

For future operations, the most important major naval systems will be aircraft carriers, submarines, destroyers, and frigates (see table 9-6). Submarines are expanding their roles into special operations and cruise missile platforms. Destroyers and frigates serve several roles, including theater air defense, naval gunfire support of ground forces, and enforcing embargos at sea, as occurred during the 1992-1995 NATO/Western European Union Sharp Guard operation that effectively embargoed the flow of arms to warring factions in Bosnia. Amphibious capabilities are also important for crisis management. As table 9-6 shows, four European NATO allies operate six small aircraft carriers, two of which are new or recently upgraded. Besides the United States, 14 NATO members have navies that together operate 102 submarines and 195 destroyers and frigates. Of the 14 members, 11 also have some amphibious capability.



C4I Interoperability

C4I is the central nervous system of interoperability, and it continues to be the area of greatest incompatibility. This is a rising concern as the U.S. focus turns to network-centric operations and warfighting. The United States and its allies, in seeking to modernize their command, control, and communications (C3) capabilities, must of necessity look first for new systems that link to existing systems, yet that perpetuates systems that cannot link to each other, sometimes even within the same national force.

European C4I modernization is a struggle to update cumbersome, outdated systems designed for forces operating along a fixed defensive front. Secure, advanced communications along with networks for acquiring, integrating, and exploiting real-time intelligence are still scarce, found mainly at major headquarters. Modernization trudges forward with acquisition of some mobile systems, such as France’s RITA 2000 update and the UK Falcon and Cormorant systems, both supporting land force operations. More modernization is in the pipeline. Since 1990, many allies have invested in upgrades to tactical communications, acquiring digital radios and networks that carry voice, data, and video. Operational programs include the German AUTOKO 90, used effectively in Bosnia; the Italian Mobile Integrated Digital Automatic System (MIDAS); the British MRS 2000 scalable tactical communications grid; and the French Tactical LAS, a secure multimedia, digital local area network, which Belgium also uses and Denmark will soon use. These systems do not connect all forces at all levels, nor are they linked to the forces of allies. Secure systems for high-volume voice and data sharing are far less common than in U.S. forces. The primary C4I conduit for allied interoperability remains the liaison team.

On the personnel side of C2, Balkans missions have provided significant experience for European officers, which bodes well for success in
future crises. European flag officers from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy have served as operational commanders of combined and joint task forces in the Balkans theater of operations for almost 10 years, beginning in 1992 with the United Nations Protection Force and extending through the Implementation Force/Stabilization Force in Bosnia, the Kosovo Force, and now in Macedonia. European commanders and staffs at all levels have honed their decisionmaking skills in difficult, often combat-like environments. Perhaps more important for the long term, they have seen the value of secure, high-speed communications and information as effective C4I decision support and task execution tools. The growing cohort of Balkans-seasoned European commanders will eventually rise to lead European militaries and to influence the design and posture of future European C4I in a positive way.

Structurally, Europe has adjusted to the tasks of C4I in crisis management, from the political-military level to the operational and tactical levels. National and multinational (EU and NATO) military staffs have refocused their strategies, concepts, plans, and doctrines away from Cold War scenarios and toward peace operations. Institutional resistance to change is diminishing as a new generation of military leaders comes into positions of increasing authority. For example, Germany activated a new central command headquarters in 2001 to oversee the planning and execution of all contingency operations. France and the United Kingdom already have such headquarters. Below this level, the EU identifies force headquarters from among a list of national headquarters offered by member states as deployable C4I capability for EU-led operations. These are still, by and large, single-service commands with only limited experience controlling joint and combined task forces.

Intelligence gathering enhancements by European militaries remain focused on “stovepipe” reporting and analysis for immediate commands, and still produce either dated information or, if real time, only limited local reporting. Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom have operational unmanned aerial vehicle reconnaissance fleets, although these are not networked. The use of automated information processing systems and networked sensors is sparse.

Strategic C4I systems in Europe are few compared to the United States. France operates the photoreconnaissance satellites Helios 1A and 1B. The French utilize the telecommunication satellite Syracuse II and the British use the Skynet 4, both commercially operated systems. However, these European telecommunications satellites have long been linked to the United States via the NATO Defense Satellite Communications Systems. The French reconnaissance satellite program includes Italy and Spain as minority partners.

In-Place Logistics Technologies

Deployable logistics capability and automated logistics management architectures are major shortfalls across Europe. Throughout the Cold War, nations bore sole responsibility for force sustainment, and they still do today. As a defensive alliance, NATO focused on fixed, interior lines of supply rather than long-range sustainment. Logistics is both a systemic and a resource problem. It is unlikely that European allies can generate solutions to either problem at the national or EU level anytime soon. Most nations are simply too small, while the EU has far to go before a consensus is reached on policies, much less systems, for multinational logistics, though that is the long-term goal. The only near- to mid-term solution is the NATO hybrid concept of pooling national logistics into a common multinational center, supported by strategic assets of larger members, as a way to support a deployed combined joint task force (described in more detail later in this chapter).

Regardless of how supplies are organized and automated, investment is lacking in on-hand stocks, especially of critical supplies such as spare engines, radios, medical items, and optimal munitions for an austere operating environment. The potential of a hostile operating environment involving nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons raises other logistics challenges that must be addressed. European nations will have to invest in sufficient supplies to sustain the proposed European Rapid Reaction Force (ERRF) for its initial deployment phase and ultimately for its declared goal of being able to deploy for one year. These shortfalls have no definitive solutions as yet.

The Future Gap: Converging or Diverging?

While the current gap is narrower than many would suspect, the future gap is uncertain and could be more prone to widening than contracting. The allies already had a daunting task in catching up to the United States before the events of September 11 triggered acceleration in U.S. defense spending. Some European powers have responded to the terrorist attacks with major spending increases, but such funds will be spent piecemeal by individual members without either a centralized or sustained investment strategy. Some national programs, such as that of the United Kingdom, are focused and productive, but others are hampered by weaker political consensus. Much energy is spent in the debate over whether to join with the EU or the United States, and in each case, how deep the relationship should be. Some try to straddle both venues, further reducing their own effectiveness. In any case, the irreducible minimum of 15 separate national defense organizations means many duplicative programs and will continue to be a drag on Europe’s ability to close the gap.

The state of the future gap will depend on both force modernization investments and force transformation strategies. Managing and eventually closing the capabilities gap is possible, provided diligence and high-level emphasis are sustained through the end of the decade. Serious efforts are now under way in both of these areas in several capitals. France has even emphasized the importance of coordinating defense plans by inviting comment from other European powers.

Modernization Investments

Figure 9-1 indicates that all European NATO allies except Turkey and the United Kingdom invest a lesser share of their defense budgets than does the United States on R&D and procurement, the two traditional measures of force modernization. Moreover, lower European percentages are exacerbated because national defense budgets are much smaller. Figures for 2000 are representative of the steady trend in significantly lower defense investments in Europe since the Cold War.



Although Figure 9-1 presents a bleak trend, the September 11 terrorist attack has triggered reassessments in spending priorities in several EU capitals. Time will tell what significance the attacks have on increasing European defense investment. Strategic defense reviews by France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, among others, had already signaled that force realignments and new priorities were in the offing. New programs being supported aim at forces better optimized for crisis response. In fact, there is no shortage of modernization programs under way in Europe, though most only nip at the edges of real transformation. Many announced investment decisions would become operational (if they remain on track) in the 2008 to 2015 timeframe. In other words, Europe could have some transformed forces ready about the same time as U.S. transformation initiatives are forecast to reach operational capability, if our own momentum can be sustained.

The United Kingdom has emerged as a leader, not only in terms of its real defense capabilities and robust role in the Balkans, but also by imparting a sense of urgency to other European allies to do more on defense. That is helping create public support across Europe for defense. For instance, Germany and France may follow the British lead in leasing strategic airlift assets (for example, C-17 or An-70) while awaiting the EU A400M airlifter in 2007. Another impetus for action comes from the EU commitment to field the ERRF by 2003. Operations in the Balkans have provided a first-hand look at how EU legacy capabilities stack up to the demands of new missions and have also crystalized new requirements. The programs shown in table 9-7 illustrate how Europe is responding to these catalysts and is beginning to answer the challenge of the RMA.



European Transformation

The long, peripheral process of defining a European identity in security and defense is testimony to the enduring core of national sovereignty among EU members. Only major crises seem to catalyze progress. Such was the case when the Union declared its intention in Cologne in June 1999 to create what would become the European Rapid Reaction Force for acting within NATO, or autonomously (under the EU, for example) if NATO chose not to act. That watershed event may mark the beginning of a European structural transformation toward more effectively coordinated national programs and a more cohesive, capable European whole.

The immediate goal is creation of the ERRF by 2003. The ERRF, informally called the headline goal force,6 is intended to be able to deploy 50,000 to 60,000 troops and associated air and naval capabilities within 60 days and to operate for up to 1 year across the full range of Petersberg Tasks, which are humanitarian and rescue, peacekeeping, and crisis management (including peacemaking).7

EU members have displayed resolve on the ERRF, and they probably will be close enough to their target to announce success by their deadline. Force commitments of over 100,000 troops, 400 aircraft, and 100 ships have been made, and gaps are being identified and filled. Exercises are planned, and permanent staffs have been formed to provide political and military advice to EU leaders.

The United States has concerns that the ERRF will be tailored only for low-intensity or peacekeeping operations, although the EU has neither qualified nor quantified the Petersberg Tasks. EU members are reported to have committed their best troops, front-line aircraft, and major combatant ships. If the Union designed its best forces for low-intensity operations only, NATO interoperability and cohesion would be undermined, and a modern, RMA-like EU force capable of operating alongside the United States in high-intensity scenarios would not emerge. The logical approach is for the EU to gain experience as it fields forces for the first time; however, it should declare and demonstrate that the ERRF will be capable of operating across the full range of military tasks. If so, then the ERRF should be a full partner for the United States by the end of the decade, when the U.S. transformation is expected to be complete.

Germany’s Future Defense Posture: The Critical Question

Germany, the most populous EU member and the one with the largest EU economy, is critical to the future strength or weakness of the Union in the domains of security and defense. How Germany invests in defense in the future will have a major impact on the capabilities gap and interoperability. Germany is the last major country to begin restructuring its armed forces, and it continues to have one of the lowest defense budgets in Europe, at 1.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), in spite of the Bundeswehr’s long list of unmet requirements for future missions. Modernization investment is so low that German defense industries probably will have to merge with international partners to survive. Germany’s domestic industrial base has shrunk by two-thirds since the end of the Cold War, and few contracts with the Bundeswehr are on the horizon. Although the Bundeswehr is larger than the forces of France and the United Kingdom, Germany’s defense budget is but two-thirds that of either country.

Despite post-Cold War reassessments in 1994 and 2000, some
German defense experts still point to the future—after the 2002 elections—as the period in which real reform is likely.8 Future mission requirements for Germany’s military forces are still uncertain. Germany reluctantly sent fighter aircraft to Turkey in 1991 as a Gulf War contingency, and it was hesitant to deploy forces 10 years later to the EU mission in Macedonia. However, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder declared Germany’s post-World War II timidity in international security to be “irrevocably” over. Subsequently, Germany has supported the U.S. operation in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) with air transport, medical units, chemical defense, maritime, and special operations forces. That experience may speed the Bundeswehr’s transformation and help clarify what Germany expects of its armed forces, beyond national self-defense, within a NATO or EU context. Germany’s future direction is a major concern of the United States as it looks to see how strong a force the EU will provide.

The EU Strategic Direction

Will Europe’s strategic direction converge with that of the United States in the wake of the September 11 attacks? Estimating how much the Union collectively may move toward convergence with the United States on security matters, and thereby encourage interoperability, would be premature. Factors already in play—including concerns about export controls and competition and divergent views on arms control and missile defense—have not disappeared, although they will be overshadowed in the near term by close collaboration on countering terrorism. By November, two months after the attack, no European power had indicated an increase in defense spending. To the contrary, France indicated that September 11 and its aftermath would have no impact on its recently approved 2002 budget, although previously proposed increases to 1.9 percent of GDP (in procurement and R&D, as well as overall) were sustained. Germany and the United Kingdom have not acted, and analysts in both countries discount the potential for increases in the near term at least. Counterterrorism is not new in Europe, and it is seen as mainly a matter for police and interior ministry forces, not militaries.

The NATO C3 Network Modernization

The many initiatives of the NATO Command, Control, and Communications Agency (NC3A) to adopt leading-edge information technology, define standards, and develop networking concepts are a positive indication of convergence in assembling NATO C3 networks. The shift in emphasis from platforms to networks, or network-centric warfare, makes NC3A a key agency in interoperability. The speed, security, and reliability with which NATO forces can communicate and exchange data will be ever more critical in determining what forces can operate together. NC3A is making progress toward a number of common standards, and it plans to have ready-made architectures for when nations look to plug their own C3 networks into a multinational framework. Several testbed initiatives are under way for both communications and Internet technologies, including next-generation Internet protocols, local and wide area network standards, and communications system protocols for deploying combined joint task forces. Nations are engaged in setting standards and have access to NATO testing and development, ensuring that national systems can interface with NATO. The U.S. and NATO standards are said to be approximately 80 percent congruent.9 Work is under way to seek a single common standard for communications and data exchange. Success in this area will be a large factor in deciding which nations are able to participate in modern coalition operations.

Closing the Gap

Closing the technology and capabilities gaps between the United States and its NATO allies will required greater emphasis on redoubling efforts to fulfill DCI objectives, increasing U.S. openness in technology transfer, making progress in consolidating European defense industries, and deciding at the next NATO summit to rekindle transatlantic resolve under a new capabilities initiative.

Fulfilling the NATO Defense Capabilities Initiative

The initiative was launched at the 1999 NATO summit to provide “the forces and capabilities the Alliance requires to meet the security challenges of the twenty-first century, across the full spectrum of Alliance missions.” The DCI concentrates on five areas for improved capability: deployability and mobility of forces; sustainability and logistics; survivability; effective engagement; and command, control, and information systems. These same areas of operational competency form the central focus of Joint Vision 2020. A temporary high-level steering group is overseeing DCI implementation with the intent of improving capabilities in each of the five areas as much as possible by the next NATO summit in November 2002. The DCI has received steady top-level emphasis at NATO and has benefited from the comparable ERRF initiative that identifies many of the same capability gaps. Still, NATO reported in mid-2001 that allies expect to meet only one-third to one-half of the 58 designated objectives by the end of 2002.

Although the outlook has been less than encouraging for DCI, NATO leaders continue to press for progress, especially on crucial subcategory capabilities such as SEAD, airborne ground surveillance, strategic lift, and C4I. The main drag on allied modernization is low procurement spending by European allies. The five DCI categories are the right priority areas for NATO to meet its responsibility to be prepared for future conflict. An all-out press by members to increase defense investment across key programs in 2002 and beyond is warranted in the wake of September 11. The success the DCI has in closing the gap will be determined by their response.

U.S. Technology Transfer Considerations and Options

Both U.S. and European defense industries have long viewed laws and regulations governing foreign investment in U.S. defense industries and the export of military technologies as a brake on developing transatlantic defense markets and interoperability. That outlook should change if recent U.S. initiatives are fully implemented.

In response to growing pressure from European and U.S. industries, the United States implemented the Defense Trade Security Initiative (DTSI) in 2000 with the aim of streamlining controls over sensitive military technology. It provides, among other things, for regular review of the U.S. Munitions List, which identifies technologies and weapons restricted from export, either completely or with few exceptions under tight controls. DTSI will create provisions for greater access to U.S. technology by allies. The aim is a better balance between legitimate national security concerns and the cooperative and interoperability values of sharing information, technologies, and systems with the industries of close allies. The Bush administration is implementing DTSI and is ahead of schedule in reducing the list. Congress also maintains a keen interest in DTSI with regard both to national security and to trade issues, either of which can affect the speed with which allies acquire U.S. technology. The United Kingdom and Australia are negotiating agreements to be afforded the same status as Canada, whose arms industry enjoys treatment as part of the U.S. domestic industrial base for unclassified information and selected technologies. If successful, these agreements would be a useful model for other NATO allies.

Other initiatives may affect allies’ access to technology. The Department of Defense is working to speed processing times of foreign military sales through paperless transactions. Meanwhile, Congress is deliberating a new Export Administration Act. The outcome is uncertain, however, because opposition to loosening of controls, even for trusted allies, remains strong. As a signal of continuing concern, Congress shifted a number of critical space-hardware items from the Commerce to the State Department to provide for more rigorous oversight of export authorization.

The growing number of transatlantic joint ventures and arms industry mergers make technology restrictions an important factor in sourcing components and subsystems, and in determining the strength of the transatlantic arms trade.

Attempts to Consolidate European Defense Capabilities

The defense establishments of the 15 European NATO states have renewed attempts to harmonize their industries as well as their strategic contribution to regional defense via the ERRF headline goal initiative; however, much remains to be done. Issues of sovereignty and domestic interests must be overcome. Italy’s abrupt withdrawal, following a change of government, from the A400M transport aircraft (a slow-moving joint project involving Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom) came just as the decision to move to production was at hand in December 2001. Germany’s participation in the project has been marked by constant threats to critical funding. Such events are not uncommon in European attempts at collaborative defense projects and lead to more failures than successes. Still, Europe doggedly pursues a vision of a consolidated defense industrial base that can compete on a par with U.S. industry.

The goal is a worthy one. If Europe took an undivided approach toward its contributions to NATO as well as to EU tasks, it would enjoy greater influence, and member states would have stronger rationale for defense investments when speaking to their parliaments and public. Holding on to legacy forces optimized for attacks against NATO territory (Article 5 scenarios) only suggests to the public that these capabilities meet future needs and can be kept at relatively low levels of readiness.

The European Security and Defense Policy should elaborate credible EU policies on the employment of military force under the Union.10 By making its intent and requirements more definitive, the EU indicates to its member governments and their national industries where investment is needed over the long term. That in turn encourages consolidation as companies gain confidence with regard to where business opportunities will emerge. A “coalition of the willing” strategy, dependent on ad hoc structures and come-as-you-are forces, is insufficient to guide long-term investment commitments by industry; coalitions materialize on short notice, and nations offer whatever forces are available, subject to political consensus. Industry sorely needs clearer EU-wide policies: only the aerospace industry has achieved noticeable consolidation; land and naval systems manufacturers await a better sense of what capabilities will be sought in the future. In this regard, the headline goal force is only a first step. Recently conducted defense reviews by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and others in the wake of September 11 should be raised to the EU and NATO level.

The Next Summit: Building on DCI Momentum

If NATO is to be relevant in future conflicts, the Defense Capabilities Initiative must be declared a beginning, not an end. A new initiative is needed to direct future investment and avoid the risk of losing momentum well short of operational requirements and the full potential of RMA capabilities. The United States and its allies should not let the limited gains of DCI languish. Instead, the EU should match the U.S. transformation force with a robust, highly capable force of its own. This suggests three possible initiatives for the next NATO summit meeting in Prague in 2002.

First, NATO leaders should agree on a more definitive strategic vision of the purpose and posture of NATO military forces, especially for non-Article 5 missions such as crisis response and peace enforcement. A common vision of the purpose of equipping the most ready NATO forces with modern technology will provide the essential justification for greater defense investment.

Second, NATO should define more focused force goals beyond DCI that will realize a fully transformed transatlantic force by 2010. Force contributions from the United States and Europe should have equivalent RMA capabilities and strength, have full interoperability, and be capable of the full spectrum of NATO missions, including combat operations. Force elements should be network-centric for all C4ISR functions, equipped with similar sensor technologies and engagement capabilities, and should be rapidly deployable, highly mobile, and readily sustainable over even very extended logistics structures. Transformed European and U.S. forces should train and exercise together to generate common doctrine for employment, and they should be kept ready to deploy together on short notice for the full range of NATO missions. Meeting the force goals thus specified should be incorporated into the regular NATO force planning process.

Finally, NATO should agree at its next summit on new standards of interoperability for RMA-capable forces. Common system protocols for a “NATO information grid” should be defined, and each new system should be evaluated on “NATO network readiness” as part of each nation’s engineering design and procurement processes.

If these initiatives are realized at the next NATO summit, real progress toward interoperability will be possible. Without them, the transatlantic technology gap will widen, U.S. and European forces will be employed more and more discretely from each other, and doctrines and operational concepts will diverge. All that would bode ill for the future of NATO as a military alliance.


 1. The goal of the Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) is to raise the capabilities of NATO member forces in specific functional areas. DCI is aimed primarily at NATO Europe where forces are particularly deficient in the indicated areas. By giving a specified list of 58 (classified) capabilities to be achieved in a particular time frame, NATO hoped to make significant progress by offering members sound rationales to increase modernization spending. Non-defense issues have dampened that effect as parliaments have resisted defense increases. See NATO April 1999 summit declaration on Defense Capability Initiative and all subsequent defense ministerial communiqués at <>. [BACK]

 2. The collective functions of command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) guide all military organizations and operations. Command and control are “people” functions and are sometimes referred to simply as C2. Adding the third “C” for communications (C3) is another variant; however, with new emphasis on data connectivity as well as voice, C4 is the dominant representation in current use. C4I is also used as the root of another alphanumeric, C4ISR, where the additional functions of surveillance and reconnaissance are included, though their relationship to command is principally as sources of intelligence. [BACK]
 3. NATO has always had an agreed strategic concept to guide its political and military policymaking, planning, and resource allocation. The most recent two concepts (1991 and 1999) have been unclassified and are available to the public. For the current (1999) version, see the Alliance Strategic Concept approved April 24, 1999, at <>. [BACK]

4. From the Honorable James Swihart, former U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania, in a conversation with the author in the mid-1990s, while both served as fellows at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, Washington, DC. [BACK]

5. Joint Vision 2020 is the current vision of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the guiding concept for U.S. military capabilities. See the Department of Defense Web site at <>. [BACK]

6. At their semiannual summit in late 1999 at Helsinki, EU leaders agreed to create, by 2003, a military force of 50,000 to 60,000 land forces and associated air and naval forces, deployable within 60 days and sustainable for up to one year. This became known as the “Helsinki Headline Goal Force,” now called the European Rapid Reaction Force. See Annex IV of the Presidency Conclusions, Helsinki European Council, December 10-11, 1999, accessed at <>. [BACK]

7. The Petersberg Tasks were specified at a June 1992 meeting of the Western European Union (WEU) in Petersberg, Germany; the European Union signed on at the 1997 Amsterdam summit, and the Tasks are now part of the Treaty of the European Union. The Petersberg Declaration of the WEU Council of Ministers stated that “Apart from contributing to the common defence in accordance with Article 5 of the Washington Treaty and Article V of the modified Brussels Treaty respectively, military units of WEU member states, acting under the authority of WEU, could be employed for: humanitarian and rescue tasks; peacekeeping tasks; tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking.” Accessed at <>. [BACK]

8. The Bundeswehr produced the first post-Cold War defense study, Der Weiss Buch (The White Book) in 1994. The second study was conducted by the von Weizsaecker Commission for the federal government in May 2000. [BACK]

9. From a briefing by Ed Woollen, Vice President, Information Systems, Raytheon Corporation, to the European Institute, October 2001. [BACK]

10. The European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) was first espoused at the EU summit at Cologne, Germany, in June 1999 and further defined in Helsinki in December 1999. ESDP is managed under the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP, the so-called second pillar of the EU), and as such is not on a par with CFSP but a subordinate policy. The term policy is misleading. The salient feature of ESDP is not a policy but a military capability—the headline goal force described above. [BACK]



Table of Contents  |  Chapter Ten