Reforming NATO's Military Structures: The Long-Term Study and Its Implications for Land Forces

  • May 01, 1998
  • Dr Thomas-Durell Young

The contemporary debate over the expansion of NATO to include Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary has largely overshadowed an important effort on the part of the Alliance to achieve "internal adaptation" through the work of the Long-Term Study. Part of this process has been a tortuous attempt to reform and reorganize the Alliance's integrated command structure. Often taken for granted, this structure provides the basis for NATO's collective defense, and increasingly, as seen in Bosnia, its ability to undertake peace support operations. However, the very value by which nations hold the structure has resulted in a difficult and time-consuming reorganization process which has produced only limited reforms. It is indeed surprising that the reorganization of the bedrock of the Alliance's military structure has garnered only limited attention outside of NATO cognoscenti. This can be explained, in part, by the fact that until recently the Long-Term Study has been cloaked in secrecy. Most key aspects of the reform process are now out in the public and require debate: a task in which the Strategic Studies Institute is keen to assist. And, let there be no mistake that the proposed reforms outlined by Long-Term Study have major implications for land forces in the Alliance. As argued in this essay, there are a number of proposed reforms which could have fundamental negative implications for command of these forces.