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arrow The Alliance's New Strategic Concept

Part I - The Strategic Context
Part II - Alliance Objectives And Security Functions
Part III - A Broad Approach To Security
Part IV - Guidelines For Defence
Part V - Conclusion

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Part IV - Guidelines For Defence

Principles of Alliance strategy

  1. The diversity of challenges now facing the Alliance thus requires a broad approach to security. The transformed political and strategic environment enables the Alliance to change a number of important features of its military strategy and to set out new guidelines, while reaffirming proven fundamental principles. At the London Summit, it was therefore agreed to prepare a new military strategy and a revised force posture responding to the changed circumstances.

  2. Alliance strategy will continue to reflect a number of fundamental principles. The Alliance is purely defensive in purpose: none of its weapons will ever be used except in self-defence, and it does not consider itself to be anyone's adversary. The Allies will maintain military strength adequate to convince any potential aggressor that the use of force against the territory of one of the Allies would meet collective and effective action by all of them and that the risks involved in initiating conflict would outweigh any foreseeable gains. The forces of the Allies must therefore be able to defend Alliance frontiers, to stop an aggressor's advance as far forward as possible, to maintain or restore the territorial integrity of Allied nations and to terminate war rapidly by making an aggressor reconsider his decision, cease his attack and withdraw. The role of the Alliance's military forces is to assure the territorial integrity and political independence of its member states, and thus contribute to peace and stability in Europe.

  3. The security of all Allies is indivisible: an attack on one is an attack on all. Alliance solidarity and strategic unity are accordingly crucial prerequisites for collective security. The achievement of the Alliance's objectives depends critically on the equitable sharing of roles, risks and responsibilities, as well as the benefits, of common defence. The presence of North American conventional and US nuclear forces in Europe remains vital to the security of Europe, which is inseparably linked to that of North America. As the process of developing a European security identity and defence role progresses, and is reflected in the strengthening of the European pillar within the Alliance, the European members of the Alliance will assume a greater degree of the responsibility for the defence of Europe.

  4. The collective nature of Alliance defence is embodied in practical arrangements that enable the Allies to enjoy the crucial political, military and resource advantages of collective defence, and prevent the renationalisation of defence policies, without depriving the Allies of their sovereignty. These arrangements are based on an integrated military structure as well as on co-operation and co-ordination agreements. Key features include collective force planning; common operational planning; multinational formations; the stationing of forces outside home territory, where appropriate on a mutual basis; crisis management and reinforcement arrangements; procedures for consultation; common standards and procedures for equipment, training and logistics; joint and combined exercises; and infrastructure, armaments and logistics co-operation.

  5. To protect peace and to prevent war or any kind of coercion, the Alliance will maintain for the foreseeable future an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional forces based in Europe and kept up to date where necessary, although at a significantly reduced level. Both elements are essential to Alliance security and cannot substitute one for the other. Conventional forces contribute to war prevention by ensuring that no potential aggressor could contemplate a quick or easy victory, or territorial gains, by conventional means. Taking into account the diversity of risks with which the Alliance could be faced, it must maintain the forces necessary to provide a wide range of conventional response options. But the Alliance's conventional forces alone cannot ensure the prevention of war. Nuclear weapons make a unique contribution in rendering the risks of any aggression incalculable and unacceptable. Thus, they remain essential to preserve peace.

The Alliance's new force posture

  1. At the London Summit, the Allies concerned agreed to move away, where appropriate, from the concept of forward defence towards a reduced forward presence, and to modify the principle of flexible response to reflect a reduced reliance on nuclear weapons. The changes stemming from the new strategic environment and the altered risks now facing the Alliance enable significant modifications to be made in the missions of the Allies' military forces and in their posture.

The Missions of Alliance Military Forces

  1. The primary role of Alliance military forces, to guarantee the security and territorial integrity of member states, remains unchanged. But this role must take account of the new strategic environment, in which a single massive and global threat has given way to diverse and multi-directional risks. Alliance forces have different functions to perform in peace, crisis and war.

  2. In peace, the role of Allied military forces is to guard against risks to the security of Alliance members; to contribute towards the maintenance of stability and balance in Europe; and to ensure that peace is preserved. They can contribute to dialogue and co-operation throughout Europe by their participation in confidence-building activities, including those which enhance transparency and improve communication; as well as in verification of arms control agreements. Allies could, further, be called upon to contribute to global stability and peace by providing forces for United Nations missions.

  3. In the event of crises which might lead to a military threat to the security of Alliance members, the Alliance's military forces can complement and reinforce political actions within a broad approach to security, and thereby contribute to the management of such crises and their peaceful resolution. This requires that these forces have a capability for measured and timely responses in such circumstances; the capability to deter action against any Ally and, in the event that aggression takes place, to respond to and repel it as well as to reestablish the territorial integrity of member states.

  4. While in the new security environment a general war in Europe has become highly unlikely, it cannot finally be ruled out. The Alliance's military forces, which have as their fundamental mission to protect peace, have to provide the essential insurance against potential risks at the minimum level necessary to prevent war of any kind, and, should aggression occur, to restore peace. Hence the need for the capabilities and the appropriate mix of forces already described.

Guidelines for the Alliance's Force Posture

  1. To implement its security objectives and strategic principles in the new environment, the organization of the Allies' forces must be adapted to provide capabilities that can contribute to protecting peace, managing crises that affect the security of Alliance members, and preventing war, while retaining at all times the means to defend, if necessary, all Allied territory and to restore peace. The posture of Allies' forces will conform to the guidelines developed in the following paragraphs.

  2. The size, readiness, availability and deployment of the Alliance's military forces will continue to reflect its strictly defensive nature and will be adapted accordingly to the new strategic environment including arms control agreements. This means in particular:

    1. that the overall size of the Allies' forces, and in many cases their readiness, will be reduced;

    2. that the maintenance of a comprehensive in-place linear defensive posture in the central region will no longer be required. The peacetime geographical distribution of forces will ensure a sufficient military presence throughout the territory of the Alliance, including where necessary forward deployment of appropriate forces. Regional considerations and, in particular, geostrategic differences within the Alliance will have to be taken into account, including the shorter warning times to which the northern and southern regions will be subject compared with the central region and, in the southern region, the potential for instability and the military capabilities in the adjacent areas.

  3. To ensure that at this reduced level the Allies' forces can play an effective role both in managing crises and in countering aggression against any Ally, they will require enhanced flexibility and mobility and an assured capability for augmentation when necessary. For these reasons:

    1. Available forces will include, in a limited but militarily significant proportion, ground, air and sea immediate and rapid reaction elements able to respond to a wide range of eventualities, many of which are unforeseeable. They will be of sufficient quality, quantity and readiness to deter a limited attack and, if required, to defend the territory of the Allies against attacks, particularly those launched without long warning time.

    2. The forces of the Allies will be structured so as to permit their military capability to be built up when necessary. This ability to build up by reinforcement, by mobilising reserves, or by reconstituting forces, must be in proportion to potential threats to Alliance security, including the possibility - albeit unlikely, but one that prudence dictates should not be ruled out - of a major conflict. Consequently, capabilities for timely reinforcement and resupply both within Europe and from North America will be of critical importance.

    3. Appropriate force structures and procedures, including those that would provide an ability to build up, deploy and draw down forces quickly and discriminately, will be developed to permit measured, flexible and timely responses in order to reduce and defuse tensions. These arrangements must be exercised regularly in peacetime.

    4. In the event of use of forces, including the deployment of reaction and other available reinforcing forces as an instrument of crisis management, the Alliance's political authorities will, as before, exercise close control over their employment at all stages. Existing procedures will be reviewed in the light of the new missions and posture of Alliance forces.

Characteristics of Conventional Forces

  1. It is essential that the Allies' military forces have a credible ability to fulfil their functions in peace, crisis and war in a way appropriate to the new security environment. This will be reflected in force and equipment levels; readiness and availability; training and exercises; deployment and employment options; and force build-up capabilities, all of which will be adjusted accordingly. The conventional forces of the Allies will include, in addition to immediate and rapid reaction forces, main defence forces, which will provide the bulk of forces needed to ensure the Alliance's territorial integrity and the unimpeded use of their lines of communication; and augmentation forces, which will provide a means of reinforcing existing forces in a particular region. Main defence and augmentation forces will comprise both active and mobilisable elements.

  2. Ground, maritime and air forces will have to co-operate closely and combine and assist each other in operations aimed at achieving agreed objectives. These forces will consist of the following:

    1. Ground forces, which are essential to hold or regain territory. The majority will normally be at lower states of readiness and, overall, there will be a greater reliance on mobilization and reserves. All categories of ground forces will require demonstrable combat effectiveness together with an appropriately enhanced capability for flexible deployment.

    2. Maritime forces, which because of their inherent mobility, flexibility and endurance, make an important contribution to the Alliance's crisisresponse options. Their essential missions are to ensure sea control in order to safeguard the Allies' sea lines of communication, to support land and amphibious operations, and to protect the deployment of the Alliance's sea-based nuclear deterrent.

    3. Air forces, whose ability to fulfil their fundamental roles in both independent air and combined operations - counter-air, air interdiction and offensive air support - as well as to contribute to surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare operations, is essential to the overall effectiveness of the Allies' military forces. Their role in supporting operations, on land and at sea, will require appropriate long-distance airlift and air refuelling capabilities. Air defence forces, including modern air command and control systems, are required to ensure a secure air defence environment.

  3. In light of the potential risks it poses, the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction should be given special consideration. Solution of this problem will require complementary approaches including, for example, export control and missile defences.

  4. Alliance strategy is not dependent on a chemical warfare capability. The Allies remain committed to the earliest possible achievement of a global, comprehensive, and effectively verifiable ban on all chemical weapons. But, even after implementation of a global ban, precautions of a purely defensive nature will need to be maintained.

  5. In the new security environment and given the reduced overall force levels in future, the ability to work closely together, which will facilitate the cost effective use of Alliance resources, will be particularly important for the achievement of the missions of the Allies' forces. The Alliance's collective defence arrangements in which, for those concerned, the integrated military structure, including multinational forces, plays the key role, will be essential in this regard. Integrated and multinational European structures, as they are further developed in the context of an emerging European Defence Identity, will also increasingly have a similarly important role to play in enhancing the Allies' ability to work together in the common defence. Allies' efforts to achieve maximum co-operation will be based on the common guidelines for defence defined above. Practical arrangements will be developed to ensure the necessary mutual transparency and complementarity between the European security and defence identity and the Alliance.

  6. In order to be able to respond flexibly to a wide range of possible contingencies, the Allies concerned will require effective surveillance and intelligence, flexible command and control, mobility within and between regions, and appropriate logistics capabilities, including transport capacities. Logistic stocks must be sufficient to sustain all types of forces in order to permit effective defence until resupply is available. The capability of the Allies concerned to build-up larger, adequately equipped and trained forces, in a timely manner and to a level appropriate to any risk to Alliance security, will also make an essential contribution to crisis management and defence. This capability will include the ability to reinforce any area at risk within the territory of the Allies and to establish a multinational presence when and where this is needed. Elements of all three force categories will be capable of being employed flexibly as part of both intra-European and transatlantic reinforcement. Proper use of these capabilities will require control of the necessary lines of communication as well as appropriate support and exercise arrangements. Civil resources will be of increasing relevance in this context.

  7. For the Allies concerned, collective defence arrangements will rely increasingly on multinational forces, complementing national commitments to NATO. Multinational forces demonstrate the Alliance's resolve to maintain a credible collective defence; enhance Alliance cohesion; reinforce the transatlantic partnership and strengthen the European pillar. Multinational forces, and in particular reaction forces, reinforce solidarity. They can also provide a way of deploying more capable formations than might be available purely nationally, thus helping to make more efficient use of scarce defence resources. This may include a highly integrated, multinational approach to specific tasks and functions.

Characteristics of Nuclear Forces

  1. The fundamental purpose of the nuclear forces of the Allies is political: to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war. They will continue to fulfil an essential role by ensuring uncertainty in the mind of any aggressor about the nature of the Allies' response to military aggression. They demonstrate that aggression of any kind is not a rational option. The supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies is provided by the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance, particularly those of the United States; the independent nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France, which have a deterrent role of their own, contribute to the overall deterrence and security of the Allies.

  2. A credible Alliance nuclear posture and the demonstration of Alliance solidarity and common commitment to war prevention continue to require widespread participation by European Allies involved in collective defence planning in nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control and consultation arrangements. Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the Alliance. The Alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe. These forces need to have the necessary characteristics and appropriate flexibility and survivability, to be perceived as a credible and effective element of the Allies' strategy in preventing war. They will be maintained at the minimum level sufficient to preserve peace and stability.

  3. The Allies concerned consider that, with the radical changes in the security situation, including conventional force levels in Europe maintained in relative balance and increased reaction times, NATO's ability to defuse a crisis through diplomatic and other means or, should it be necessary, to mount a successful conventional defence will significantly improve. The circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated by them are therefore even more remote. They can therefore significantly reduce their sub-strategic nuclear forces. They will maintain adequate sub-strategic forces based in Europe which will provide an essential link with strategic nuclear forces, reinforcing the trans-Atlantic link. These will consist solely of dual capable aircraft which could, if necessary, be supplemented by offshore systems. Sub-strategic nuclear weapons will, however, not be deployed in normal circumstances on surface vessels and attack submarines. There is no requirement for nuclear artillery or ground-launched short- range nuclear missiles and they will be eliminated.