Security Threats, American Pressure, and the Role of Key Personnel: How NATO’s Defence Planning Process is Alleviating the Burden-Sharing Dilemma

  • October 09, 2020
  • Dr John R Deni

In 2017, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, none of the capability targets identified in NATO’s quadrennial NATO Defence Planning Process (NDPP) were left on the negotiating table. Previously, capability targets were identified by the alliance’s secretariat, but they remained unfilled as allies failed to assume responsibility for them. This monograph examines the 2014–18 iteration of the NDPP, which represented a stunning turnaround in transatlantic burden sharing. The analysis reveals a combination of factors—the changed threat environment, political pressure from Washington, and the role of “policy entrepreneurs” working within NATO—best explain the alliance’s success in achieving more equitable burden sharing.
To reach this conclusion, the monograph relies on an array of primary and secondary sources, including interviews with over two dozen officials directly involved in the 2014–18 NDPP. While incorporating available quantitative data on alliance defense spending, the monograph primarily focuses on process tracing as the most effective qualitative methodology for revealing the story behind the 2014–18 NDPP. Policy makers will find this monograph particularly useful because it draws key lessons from the 2014–18 NDPP to make several forward-leaning policy recommendations to strengthen and build upon NATO’s burden-sharing successes to date.