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Research Report

New Capabilities:: Transforming NATO Forces

Robert Hunter
George Joulwan
C. Richard Nelson
Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2002
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 22
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. v-v)
    Christopher J. Makins

    Of all the matters on the agenda of the alliance summit in Prague in November none is more important than that of the future military capabilities of the alliance. The way in which this issue is dealt with by the allies in the next year may well determine whether the alliance remains a vital force in international affairs or becomes simply a regional security organization within Europe.

    Against this background, the Atlantic Council decided to establish a working group to address the ways in which the alliance could act to improve its capabilities, and notably to diminish the growing gap...

  2. (pp. 1-3)

    There is good reason why “New Capabilities” tops the agenda for the Prague summit. This issue presents a critical test for NATO leaders because the growing gap in military capabilities among members is leading to a progressively hollow NATO force structure.

    For several years NATO members have been pursuing divergent paths in developing their military forces. As a result, NATO forces are less able to work well together.¹ If these trends continue, the risk increases that the alliance will be unable to meet future needs. The Prague summit can help bring these paths together.

    To succeed in what will likely...

  3. (pp. 3-6)

    In the near future, the likelihood is slim that the European allies will increase their defense spending. In large measure, this is due to different spending priorities on the part of European governments and to recent slow economic growth. Lower defense spending is engendered in part by a European perception since the end of the Cold War that the West no longer faces the same size and intensity of military threat. Thus, in helping to set and to shape capabilities initiatives, the United States will be a more effective advocate if its proposals are feasible and do not depend on...

  4. (pp. 6-9)

    The Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI), launched at the alliance’s 50th anniversary Washington summit in April 1999, created a comprehensive list of general measures for members, but it did not provide sufficient guidance for force development. Such a broad capabilities-based approach is unlikely to be sufficiently focused or measurable in the absence of a designated force on which to focus.

    For this reason, any future DCI-like initiative (including one with a compressed list of measures) will likely fail if it does not address how to organize forces, provide for their training and exercises and measure performance outputs. In contrast, a transformation...

  5. (pp. 9-10)

    NATO, from its early days, has tried to improve the interoperability of alliance forces. Much of the responsibility for interoperability has been delegated to the NATO Standardization Agency, but progress is painfully slow and many expectations remain unmet. For example, radios used by alliance forces in Kosovo could not connect national contingents appropriately, though they all met NATO standards.

    The task is becoming more complicated by rapidly changing technologies and the addition of another important institution – the European Union. Another aspect of the problem is that U.S. requirements for new systems often do not specify interoperability with NATO. These...