Two world wars and more than 40 years of the Cold War indicate that Europe was a dangerous place for most of this century. Today this region is the greatest success of U.S. security policy. With no major threat to its security, the continent enjoys a situation unprecedented since the Roman Empire. Except for the Southern Balkans--an important exception--peace and cooperation prevail. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the foundation of this European peace, as well as of the integration of Europe under way since the mid-1950s. In July 1997, the Alliance opened itself to new members, inviting Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to begin negotiations. This policy of NATO enlargement has allowed historical animosities in Central and Eastern Europe to be set aside. Political, economic, and military reforms have proceeded in the sometimes fragile transition to a post-Communist world with general success. A framework has begun to emerge under which Europeans will take increased responsibility for regional security and that could complement U.S. forces in military operations outside the continent.
The end of the Cold War increased sentiment at home favoring disengagement from overseas commitments. But the United States has a fundamental interest in consolidating security in Europe and in capitalizing on it to create security elsewhere, alongside European core partners. Europe in the 20th century tended toward competition and conflict, but with a U.S. force presence of just over 100,000 troops and the resultant credibility the United States has brought to European security, Washington has a tremendous opportunity to shape the environment in Europe as the next century opens. Through NATO and key relationships with other transatlantic and European institutions, the United States seeks to consolidate and expand a core of democratic and free-market states that can share the burdens of safeguarding common interests in Europe and beyond.
This core has already expanded beyond the traditional territorial boundaries of NATO and the European Union (EU, which includes formerly neutral countries); some emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe have fully entered the core--in particular, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. A number of states in transition are close to entering the core, including Slovenia, Romania, and the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
Other states in Europe, such as Serbia and to a lesser extent Belarus, are potentially hostile to U.S. interests. No country there, however, has the will or capabilities to challenge the existing security order in the next decade. Instead, the challenge to stability there in the immediate future comes from the potential of failed states, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania, to require intervention, which could stretch the resources and political will of the United States and its allies and produce transatlantic fissures within NATO.
Developments in the two largest transition states, Ukraine and Russia, also will affect the overall security climate in Europe. Although implausible in the near term, a regime might emerge in Russia that could raise tensions in surrounding states and affect Central Europe; yet the prospect of renewed Russian hegemony over the region is nearly nonexistent. More likely, challenges to European security and stability will come from rogue states outside the region that could threaten U.S. and European interests, particularly in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean region.
The primary U.S. interest in Europe is reshaping the transatlantic core of countries that share strategic interests and values into a strategic partnership capable of assuming wider international security responsibilities. Key NATO allies, and the capabilities and cooperative arrangements formed in the Alliance, provide the foundation of this partnership. The United States has an interest in ensuring that its core partners remain committed to the Alliance and that greater cooperation in European defense, including a European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI), remains under the NATO umbrella. In military terms, NATO's most obvious success has been the promotion of transparent national defense planning, integrated through the multilateral sharing of information. This cooperative effort, which has reduced the need of states to invest in costly national defense programs, is a key function of NATO and its Partnership for Peace Program.
The core is not limited to members of NATO. Some Eastern European states have indicated their Western identity in terms of future membership in NATO. The United States shares interests with many different countries emerging into a post-communist national identity as well as with neutral states that have not sought membership in NATO. Defense reform to the east can continue to include countries shaping their policies in order to join the core, particularly Ukraine and the three Baltic democracies. Although none of these countries is likely to join NATO soon, ongoing bilateral and multilateral efforts will keep open institutions that enhance and stabilize reform. The Partnership for Peace and the effort to open NATO activities (especially NATO Charter Article 4) to partners are keys to larger U.S. goals.
An important security challenge in Europe will be to stabilize states that face disintegration or civil conflict. Ensuring long-term stability in the Balkans will prevent the possible spillover of conflict into areas of vital interest to the United States, while maintaining international confidence in the institutions charged with preserving security in Europe and helping European partners take on more (but not all) the responsibility. In Europe, the problem of failed states, although limited, directly affects the interests of the core states.
Rogue states--those that do not conform to minimal international norms and standards of behavior--may pose a threat to U.S. and European interests, both on the continent and outside Europe. Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria may be considered rogue states. Inside Europe, Serbia, and to a lesser extent Belarus neither share nor aspire toward core values. At the end of 1997, the threat of intra-European conflict appears highly unlikely, but maintaining a minimal insurance policy for collective defense of shared interests remains important. Creating the means to deter present and future rogues is a key premise of maintaining forward-deployed U.S. forces in Europe. Any rogue that threatens core interests outside Europe will face the prospect of an Atlantic coalition and therefore find it difficult, if not impossible, to play off Europe against the United States.
In 1997, tensions developed in the transatlantic relationship that may have made it difficult for the United States to influence future actions of its allies. Failure to reach agreement on European command of Allied Forces South (AFSOUTH) caused France to freeze reintegration into the NATO military command structure.
Disputes between Spain and the United Kingdom over Gibraltar and between Spain and Portugal over surveillance of the waters near the Canary Islands, although minor, nevertheless complicated Spain's return to the NATO military command structure.
Some European allies resented the process by which the United States built consensus for the invitations to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to begin negotiations on NATO membership. To many European political leaders, the U.S. diplomacy appeared heavy handed. Specifically, some key allies preferred to strengthen the strategic foundation of NATO by including Romania and Slovenia in the first round. Fissures grew within the Alliance over costs associated with enlargement. Influential members of the U.S. Congress insisted that Europeans pay most of the costs, while European allies stated emphatically that they were in no position to fund the development of the power-projection capabilities required for successful defense of new members. French President Chirac said so publicly, and other European allies expressed similar sentiments.
Equally important, European military capabilities have declined, creating a military imbalance within the Alliance that threatens to exacerbate transatlantic tensions. European defense spending has been directed toward maintaining a traditional force structure designed to defend the former NATO borders. European forces have taken significant measures in developing a "Euro-Force" but have not made much progress in developing an out-of-sector force projection capability. The trend is toward Europe's growing dependence on the United States for support in any intervention outside Europe.
Declining defense budgets in Europe, together with a continuing emphasis on territorial defense, yields a vicious circle. Unless these governments are able to formulate a contemporary purpose (e.g., power projection), there is insufficient public motivation in support of any defense spending. Reprogramming toward power projection is more difficult when budgets decline.
Without modernization of the military or investment in their defense industries, European allies will find it increasingly difficult to act in conjunction with the United States. With its rapidly evolving, high-technology modernization, particularly in command, control, and communication (C3), America has moved ahead, and as a result, its allies may not be able to communicate effectively with one another. The failure of Europe to keep pace with the U.S. progress in research and development may turn current and future allies into second-class citizens of NATO.
This gap in modernization can be adjusted by complementing the efforts of European nations. For example, the United States and Germany are creating an integrated air defense unit for mission deployments and to protect NATO's air space. To be known as the German-American Air Defense Unit, it will be equipped with Patriot, Hawk, and Roland missiles from both countries. Germany will provide up to 300 soldiers, and the United States will complement that number with two Patriot missile battalions and troops of a number yet to be specified. Command will be shared by officers from both countries and will rotate every three years, beginning in 1998, with the goal of being operational by the turn of the century.
Another example of complementarity was the NATO exercise IVITEX '97, which included more than 25 ships from the United States, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom. Its goal was to test communications links and establish common ground for communications of the naval forces. But the exercise, rather than providing solutions, demonstrated problems. For instance, commanders were forced to use the lowest common denominator in communications technology to ensure uninterrupted communication among the different navies.
The gap in modernization and overall force reductions impair NATO readiness. The Alliance can currently mobilize only a small percentage of its overall combat potential on short notice--a substantial decline since the end of the Cold War. The United States and its allies at this point are marching to different drummers: global power projection is animating U.S. but not European efforts, causing considerable divergence, which a common strategy with key partners, and with derived force goals, might help reduce.
This trend is liable to exacerbate transatlantic tensions within the core in the coming decade, as European economies struggle to meet their commitments to the European Monetary Union. Fiscal austerity will further strain defense budgets. European allies play a greater role in operations in Europe than the United States. Europeans provided two-thirds of the forces to IFOR and SFOR. The United States furnishes three combat brigade equivalents to NATO's Reaction Forces (Ground), while other allies contribute 38.
Current trends reinforce congressional concern that key allies are not prepared to share the burden of developing a power projection capability. Germany, with current defense spending in the area of 1.7 percent GDP, plans to cut defense spending by $5 billion over four years. In the United Kingdom, the Labour government is conducting a defense review, looking at long-term strategy through the year 2015 to challenge assumptions about defense policy, and will probably address such unconventional threats as drug trafficking. Although British transatlantic policy probably will remain unchanged fundamentally, it may assume both a more European orientation and increasing reliance on U.S. power-projection capabilities. The 19972002 French defense plan will reduce procurement spending by 20 percent, and its equipment budget will suffer the greatest ongoing cuts in 1998, to meet EMU criteria.
Generally, Europe is falling behind the United States in technological capabilities. Despite early talk of an independent ESDI, the trend, as said above, is toward increased dependence on the force capabilities of the United States, particularly in the areas of strategic lift, logistical sustainability, and the gathering, processing, and dissemination of intelligence. The trend stems largely from the reluctance of European allies to invest in defense programs for power projection or from an inability to agree on the source of the necessary equipment. Similarly, the gap in technology reflects the divergence in R&D strategies of the United States and European defense establishments. If this gap continues, the United States may find itself so advanced in critical warfighting skills--for example, in command, control, communication, computers, and intelligence (C4I) operations--that it will not be able to function with core partners.
Although the United States has emphasized an increased role for Europeans in and out of Europe through the Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF) concept, Europeans remain reluctant to act without U.S. leadership, as was illustrated by European insistence on either continuing U.S. engagement in Bosnia or withdrawal if the United States withdraws. In the other major crisis affecting stability in Europe--Albania--neither NATO nor the WEU was prepared to engage the belligerent parties directly and thereby forced a coalition of the willing to emerge without institutional support of either NATO or the WEU.
The U.S. strategy of supporting NATO enlargement while building special partnerships with Russia and the Ukraine has contributed to consolidating reform in Central and Eastern Europe. Countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have made substantial progress toward democracy and free-market reforms. The long-term picture in Russia remains uncertain, but Moscow has held Russia's first democratic presidential election, and reform-oriented politicians now head the Yeltsin government. Indeed, although critics had warned that NATO enlargement could hinder reform in Moscow, rerformers still hold all key positions in the Russian government.
In an effort to balance Russian concerns, keep Europe undivided, and encourage positive trends, in January 1994 NATO initiated the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, developing specific principles for NATO enlargement. NATO leaders determined that new members would have to conform to basic principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law; demonstrate a commitment to economic liberty and social justice; and adhere to the norms and principles of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Conditions for candidacy include effective democratic control of the military and some degree of military capability and interoperability. In addition to active participation in Partnership for Peace (PfP), new members would have to assume the financial obligations of joining and of developing necessary interoperability, including defense management reforms in transparent defense planning, resource allocation and budgeting, appropriate legislation, parliamentary and public accountability, and minimal standards in collective defense planning to pave the way for more detailed operational planning with the Alliance. Finally, new members should not "close the door" to future candidate members. By creating such quantifiable standards, the United States and its allies sought to enhance stability in Central and Eastern Europe. Most of the countries that want to join NATO have made considerable progress toward meeting these goals.
Heads of state of member countries agreed at the Madrid Summit that Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic most closely met these goals. They also noted the positive developments towards democracy and the rule of law in a number of southeastern European countries, especially Romania and Slovenia, and agreed to review the enlargement process at the April 1999 summit in Washington. Special mention was given to the three Baltic countries for their important contributions to security in that region.
NATO enlargement continues a trend of adapting the Alliance to meet post-Cold War challenges. Where this trend may lead in the long term is unclear, though NATO may be moving away from its traditional mission of collective defense and toward a hybrid of cooperative security and more active involvement in regions outside its traditional area of operations.
NATO may evolve into a standing institution that facilitates military operations after a consensus has been reached among coalitions of the willing. Because it makes international cooperation easier to attain, the Alliance does not require an immediate threat to survive. Yet NATO is only one part of a broad, complementary institutional framework for European security.
One important element of the trend toward cooperative security is the Alliance's effort to expand contacts with Russia. During the negotiations with Russia following the decision to enlarge NATO, the United States and NATO agreed to establish a NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. Participants will consult and coordinate regularly and, where possible and appropriate, act jointly--as in the Bosnia-Herzegovina operations. In negotiating the Founding Act, NATO stated that for now and in the foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out collective defense and other missions through interoperability, integration, and a capability for reinforcement, rather than increasing the existing permanent stationing of substantial combat forces on the territory of new members. Russia was granted a "voice but not a veto" in NATO decisionmaking processes. Significantly, the Alliance has no clear mechanism to determine when crises with Russia might prove sufficient to force an end to the relationship.
The immediate trend is toward enhancing a cooperative security environment that favors coalition building. For example, the IFOR and SFOR experiences in Bosnia have become models of multilateral security cooperation based on an inclusive strategy of using the military resources of the Western core and integrating transition countries into the Western system of multilateral military operations. The NATO model of cooperative security will probably continue to be important to the future of Europe and beyond, particularly if Russia plays a positive role. Other cooperative efforts include the newly created Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), which replaced the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, and continued strengthening of the OSCE. Such initiatives contribute to a functioning arrangement of mutually reinforcing institutions, among which the United States plays a key role.
Efforts to stabilize failed states have been mixed. In the Balkans, the trend has been toward stability without security. Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina after the 1995 Dayton Accords is a peace without security, one that forced increased involvement of NATO states through the arrest of the primary indicted war criminals, beginning in mid-summer 1997. Whether a single Bosnia can exist remains an unsettled question. Peaceful reconciliation and renewed integration appear possible, but partition or a return to full-scale war cannot be ruled out.
In Albania, the other failed state, the outlook seems to hold greater promise,
although further international attention is required. Operation Alba restored a basic sense of security there, following the collapse of political and economic structures in early 1997. After the operations ended, the United States and allies, complemented by the NATO PfP program, began to search for ways to rebuild the Albanian military along democratic lines, which may take years.
Rogue states on Europe's periphery pose potential threats to European interests as much as or more than to U.S. interests. Rogue states have been known to sponsor terrorism capable of striking Europe. They also seek access to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and long-range delivery systems that ultimately could threaten Europe. If rogues gain control of the Persian Gulf or major oil fields in the region, they would have the means to blackmail if not directly threaten NATO allies. Within Europe, Serbia has become an outcast in the European system and might well harbor ambitions of obtaining chemical weapons, if not other WMD. Belarus, another outcast in the European system, openly espouses antidemocratic and anti-market principles and is capable of selling weapons and key materials for the manufacture of WMD to rogue states. Deterrence of rogue states is an important purpose of the U.S. presence in Europe.
In Europe, the United States has an opportunity to shape the strategic environment to ensure stability well into the 21st century.
Enlarging NATO to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic is a fundamental element of a long-term preventative strategy to avert conflict in 21st century Europe. In the 20th century, two major wars were fought over security competition between Germany and Russia and the security vacuum that lay between them. A cautious and deliberate enlargement of NATO will virtually eliminate the possibility of nationalization of armed forces in Europe and inhibit the interest of any country in seeking regional power. An enlarged NATO would help ensure that the United States need not again shed blood and expend resources in Europe and would inhibit the ambition of any state to pursue its aims through force.
Another goal of the United States in Europe is to manage and contain crises such as in the former Yugoslavia. Working closely with its allies, the United States helped implement the Dayton Peace Accords and served as a deterrent against the spread of fighting. Extension of the NATO mandate in Bosnia demonstrated American willingness to sustain the peace. In the longer run, the United States may continue to help shape the environment, however, by maintaining some involvement in the region through "over-the-horizon" forces which exercise on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. As a result, it would complement efforts by its allies to deter conflict on the ground independent of a long-term commitment of U.S. forces. Attaining such a compromise between the United States and its allies would be of strategic significance, because the U.S. Senate may find it difficult to support conflict aversion strategies in Europe if America's allies are not seen as committed partners willing to exercise responsibility for security on the continent.
The United States will seek to use its force presence and diplomatic influence to avert conflict between two historic enemies, Greece and Turkey. In 1997, it took substantial steps complementary to those of NATO Secretary General Javier Solana to promote confidence and security-building mechanisms between these countries. The appointment of Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke sent a strong signal that the United States will use its resources to shape a lasting stability between them. Small steps, including U.S. provision of a secure communications systems at NATO Headquarters to link Ankara and Athens with the NATO Secretary General's office, provide enhanced confidence there that small misunderstandings will not lead to a major conflict.
Collective self-defense (Article 5) issues are increasingly not the day-to-day activity of NATO, because there is no threat to any current or future member. Nonetheless, the credibility of the collective defense principle underpins the security of its current and future members. Thus, as NATO enlarges and its internal collective defense apparatus transforms, maintaining credible deterrence forces will be essential to make its commitment valid. The United States successfully convinced its NATO allies that, while new member states will not need large-scale infrastructure investment, it would be important not to negotiate away their infrastructure rights and obligations. These rights remain important in the unlikely event that a threat may require a rapid defense facilitated by such basic infrastructure needs as command and control, intelligence, and logistics for rapid deployment of forces in these new member states. Such infrastructure issues are central to credibility in the process of NATO's enlargement.
Although NATO cannot commit in advance to confront threats to members' common interests outside Europe (e.g., in North Africa or the Persian Gulf), the habits of cooperation, command and control, and joint exercises increase the likelihood that coalitions that include the United States and its European allies will be formed to meet such threats.
NATO has a proven record in promoting reconciliation between adversaries. Institutionalization of transparent defense budgeting and force planning has contributed to confidence and security among European allies. Small members of NATO, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Norway, today feel secure in the shadow of their large German neighbor because of the defense-planning practices institutionalized in NATO. The U.S. nuclear umbrella in Europe also prevents European states--particularly Germany--from needing to develop independent nuclear capabilities.
NATO's greatest achievement since the end of the Second World War is the confidence, security, and stability that have developed in Western Europe. A major challenge at the opening of the 21st century is to expand the institutionalized zone of confidence, security, and stability to Europe's eastern half and to facilitate the region's return to Europe. NATO cannot do this alone. The European Union (EU), too, has facilitated common political and economic practices among its members, and it will continue to complement NATO in this endeavor. A further challenge to both will be to encourage key European partners to contribute more broadly to common security.
The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty provides the legal framework for maintaining transparent and defensive-oriented military planning in Europe. But the allies need to revise it to reflect the new strategic environment that followed on the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Thirty parties agreed to the scope and parameters for adapting the original treaty in December 1996, thereby agreeing to adapt CFE to an evolving security environment. NATO has served as a primary conduit for attaining a common position among the United States and its allies during CFE adaptation negotiations. The United States, through NATO, helped significantly in adapting and shaping the strategic environment in Europe. Together, the allies presented an ambitious proposal in February 1998, including the following key components:
*Equipment reductions: A call by the 16 current members for lower equipment entitlements in the CFE area and a specific commitment to total ground-equipment entitlements under an adapted treaty that will be "significantly less" than members of the Alliance are allowed under the 1996 treaty. Such reductions in standing forces, accompanied by restructuring NATO forces to make them more mobile, deployable, and operationally capable, are consistent with CFE commitments.
*New treaty structure: NATO's proposal established a system of national equipment ceilings to replace the CFE's structure of bloc limits. It also replaced the treaty's regime of zonal limits with nationally based territorial ceilings, which constrain the amount of ground equipment on the territory of any one CFE state. The new structure would preserve the existing regime of constraints covering the treaty's "flank" region.
*Prevention of destabilizing concentrations of forces: The proposal included a measure to ensure that under an adapted treaty--even in the context of NATO's enlargement--no increase in ground equipment would be permitted on the territory of states at the geographic center of Europe (Belarus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine outside the flank, and the Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian Federation).
*Responsiveness to new security challenges: CFE states retain flexibility to conduct cooperative military exercises, participate in peacekeeping operations, and deploy forces temporarily in emergency situations. These activities would be subject to consultation with other CFE states.
The result of the CFE adaptation negotiations should be to transfer limits on the number of heavy weapons that countries could hold in Europe from "groups of states parties"--meaning NATO (and the former Warsaw Pact)--to individual states. In this way the security of all treaty parties will be protected, and in response, NATO flexibility or defense planning will not be undermined. The CFE Treaty thus continues to be central to security within Europe.
Since the inception of Partnership for Peace in January 1994, NATO has reoriented its outreach programs and developed new institutions to manage the program. Despite initial reservations of many Central and East European states, which had hoped for an early decision on enlargement, PfP has become a very popular and successful program. Open to all members of OSCE, in just four years PfP has been adopted by 27 widely diverse countries, including the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, non-Soviet Warsaw Pact states, and neutrals.
The political principles reflected in PfP are drawn from the Washington Treaty of April 4, 1949. NATO began to apply these principles through the PfP program. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry's "five principles" emphasized democracy, free market economies, good relations with neighbors, democratic control of the military, and the establishment of a military compatible with the standing forces of NATO as a prerequisite for joining the program.
To enhance confidence, these principles have been building blocks for developing security in Central Europe. As in the Franco-German reconciliation, historic reconciliations are occurring between Germany and both Poland and the Czech Republic and between Slovenia and Italy, all of them established by treaties that recognize borders as well as by combined military activities and cooperation. Similarly, Poland has expanded the zone of confidence building and cooperation to Lithuania and Ukraine.
A few other examples nurtured by PfP and NATO enlargement include the basic treaties between Hungary and Slovakia and among Romania, Hungary, and Ukraine. Such treaties not only recognize existing borders, but also establish standards for the governance of ethnic minorities. All these agreements enhance confidence within the region.
Building on enhanced confidence, NATO has encouraged military cooperation and reform not only at the Partnership Coordination Cell (PCC) at SHAPE headquarters in Mons, Belgium, but through the Planning and Review Process (PARP) at NATO headquarters in Brussels. In January 1994, the PCC initially coordinated military planning and activities for partners in order to develop both NATO-compatible procedures and interoperability for combined peacekeeping, search and rescue, and humanitarian assistance operations. To prepare partners to deploy the Implementation Force in Bosnia, in December 1995 NATO expanded the terms of reference to include "peace enforcement measures." Again in 1997, military cooperation was broadened to include general defense planning.
PARP is an effort to provide transparency in defense planning, much as the Defense Planning Questionnaire does among NATO members. Since 1994, it has formed the institutional basis for developing real confidence in Europe's eastern half.
In addition, the United States, through outreach to Central and Eastern Europe, has undertaken substantial assistance programs to ensure that NATO's objectives are successful. In 1997, the Foreign Military Financing program was increased for the first time in 13 years, to include:
The United States continues to complement its allies' infrastructure and interoperability within the NATO command structure. The most important element of this effort is the strong U.S. support for the evolution of a European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) within NATO. At first, the United States was reluctant to endorse proposals for an ESDI based on the EU, but declining resources and force commitment in Europe (reduced to just over 100,000 U.S. troops) have given the United States cause to reassess, particularly since NATO has replaced the EU as the cornerstone for the initiative. The Berlin Accords of 1996 paved the way for the development of an ESDI within the NATO context, and they embodied the concept of a separable but not separate ESDI from the Alliance.
As the ESDI develops, it will have increasing impact on NATO-wide standards that incorporate the most effective and efficient technological advances in order to deter and meet various levels of challenges to security within and outside Europe. Enhancements to interoperability and infrastructure--areas currently neglected--will be essential to the complementarity of military equipment within NATO for present and new members alike. To date, however, the existing situation has not translated into either a political willingness or a military capability to put theory into action to solve contemporary crises. A primary lesson learned from Bosnia is that although NATO adapted considerably as an alliance, it functioned in a crisis only when led by the United States. European capacity to handle low- to mid-level crises (with significant assistance from the United States) will be essential to a politically sustainable transatlantic relationship into the 21st century.
Because current and future threats to Europe come from outside rather than from within the continent, credible efforts are needed to signal potentially hostile states that the United States cannot be separated from its core allies--even when immediate policies may appear to diverge. The primary deterrence mechanism will be to establish a clearly defined transatlantic bargain in which the United States and its allies signal shared responsibility for responding to global challenges. During the Cold War, Soviet strategy sought to divide the United States and its allies in the European theater as a political means of weakening the NATO alliance. Such a strategy may appeal to states that cannot threaten Europe hegemonically but might nonetheless have an interest in dividing the West as a means of attaining national interregional objectives. For example, Iran might seek to play allies off one another as a way to limit any international response to its growing regional influence in the Middle East. A potentially hostile China might pursue similar strategies.
Military steps can be taken to send a message to hostile countries that asymmetric challenges to the core carry risks and, if pushed too far, could backfire. Successful internal transformation of NATO is key to transparent defense planning and preparation for potential asymmetric challenges such as hostage taking or proliferation of weapons. Using allied military planning to shape the strategic environment beyond Europe, however, will mean a new strategic doctrine within the Alliance to provide clear political guidelines for military planning to meet asymmetric threats to the Alliance. Identification of a number of potential threats, along with combined training to respond to them in a transparent manner within the Alliance, will send any potentially hostile country a strong message of deterrence. At the same time, these efforts will give NATO a clear military sense of purpose in the absence of an immediate standing military threat, such as existed in the Cold War.
Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military presence in Europe has been dramatically reduced. The overall number of U.S. troops stationed there has fallen from 320,000 to about 100,000 and will stay at that level for the foreseeable future. In addition, 90 percent of the nuclear weapons under NATO control have been withdrawn from the theater. The level of U.S. forces in Europe during 1997 was 109,000 (excluding naval and marine forces stationed in nearby seas), the lowest level that the Department of Defense has determined is sufficient both to respond to a plausible crisis and to provide tangible evidence of U.S. commitment to preserving regional stability. This level permits active participation in multinational training events while minimizing the likelihood of needing to deploy additional forces from the United States in early stages of an emerging regional crisis.
Maintaining a sufficient level of U.S. forces in Europe is essential to responding to contingencies on and around the continent, as well as in Africa and the Middle East, and to securing U.S. influence in Europe. Command familiarity, training, and interoperability between NATO forces and the U.S. European Command enhance the effectiveness and plausibility of future multinational coalitions. Without a full spectrum of U.S. forces operating in Europe, Washington would have to discard the goal of more effectively shared contributions from key partners.
Despite the overall reduction of ground forces in Europe, remaining units are very active. European-based formations provided the bulk of U.S. ground forces for the NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and for operations in Africa and the Middle East. The U.S. European Command is forging links with partner-country militaries through the PfP and other bilateral programs.
As the United States continues to adapt its force structure to address multiple challenges, the key question is no longer how many troops are needed in Europe but, rather, what are they doing? For example, if the primary security challenges are viewed as coming from the south, the disproportionate number of U.S. forces stationed in Germany may be called into question. Alternatively, the role of German armed forces may expand to include further deployments outside German territory. In that environment, Americans working alongside and supporting German forces would ease historical concerns that may come with such activity. In the future, the role of U.S. forces in regional operations in Europe may be both larger and more complementary to allied forces.
Former Secretary of Defense William Perry's Five Principles
for Prospective NATO Members:
*Commitment to democratic government and rule of law
*Commitment to a free-market economy
*Establishment of effective civil control of the military
*Development of good regional relations
*Establishment of minimal standards of interoperability with NATO forces
| Return to Contents | Return to Top | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter |