Tweaking NATO: The Case for Integrated Multinational Divisions

  • June 01, 2002
  • LTC Raymond A Millen

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) adapts to the emerging strategic environment, it must consider innovative organizational structures that will allow it to harness the potential of its European partners. NATO's enduring deficiencies and their detrimental effect on military capabilities are examined. The decade following the end of the Cold War has revealed a far different world than envisioned. As the United States ruefully discovered, the reduced threat did not diminish security obligations. NATO's European members hoped otherwise and paid insufficient attention to military capabilities. NATO enlargement exacerbates the existing problems. NATO's integrated military structure does not easily accommodate the new members, which still suffer from the effects of the Soviet system. Simply put, their nascent market economies and unsophisticated militaries represent great obstacles to NATO interoperability. Establishment of integrated multinational divisions as a solution to NATO's salient problems is explored. Streamlining the Alliance to a single active corps of ten divisions and the establishment of a robust logistical supply group permits greater utility of limited manpower and equipment. Under this structure, all Alliance members can focus modernization on select units and become active participants in all NATO operations. This bold approach creates challenges for the Alliance, but the tremendous benefits outweigh the short-term risks. To remain relevant, the Alliance must seek innovations. Otherwise, it will become a Cold War relic.