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NATO and the Challenges of Austerity

Larrabee, Johnson, Gordon, Wilson et al., RAND | November 2012

Abstract provided by RAND: "In the coming decade, NATO faces growing fiscal austerity and declining defense budgets. This study analyzes the impact of planned defense budget cuts on the capabilities of seven European members of NATO - the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Poland - that together represent more than 80 percent of NATO Europe's defense spending. The result of the anticipated cuts and future financial constraints is that the capacity of the major European powers to project military power will be highly constrained: The air, land, and sea forces of key U.S. European allies are rapidly reaching the point at which they can perform only one moderate-sized operation at a time and will be hard-pressed to meet the rotation requirements of a protracted, small-scale irregular warfare mission. Power projection and sustainment of significant forces outside Europe's immediate neighborhood will be particularly difficult. The authors discuss these challenges in a strategic context, including the operational and planning weaknesses exposed by NATO's intervention in Libya in 2011, and make recommendations for US policy with regard to NATO."

Some of the key recommendations:

  • European allies should consider the strategy of "leapfrogging" - cutting defense expenditures heavily today while investing in new types of capabilities - as a way to cope with changing technological realities, emerging new threats, and declining defense budgets.
  • European allies, especially Britain and France, need to put greater procurement emphasis on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; suppression of enemy air defenses; aerial refueling; and increased stocks of precision-guided munitions.
  • NATO members should sustain interoperability among U.S. forces and the forces of individual NATO allies.
  • The United States should encourage NATO Europe to take lead responsibility for managing crises in the Maghreb.

The 140 pages book is available for free as PDF and e-book at RAND.


Tags: | smart defense | austerity |

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