Alliance Defense

In last year's annual report, I noted the variety of views on some central questions of defense policy that had to be faced candidly among the allies:

What is a realistic assessment of the military threats to Western Europe?

How long could NATO sustain a conventional forward defense against a determined Warsaw Pact attack?

How should our tactical nuclear posture in Europe be planned to counter specific military threats?

How should our tactical nuclear capabilities be related to our conventional posture?

What relative burdens should be borne by the U.S. and its partners in providing the forces and other resources required by our common strategy?

Are all NATO's capabilities in Europe sufficient to meet the needs of our strategy?

To answer these questions, I proposed that the alliance conduct a thorough review of its strategy and defense posture in Europe for the coming decade.

The United States launched such a review in the National Security Council system, covering all the issues of European security: NATO strategy and forces, mutual force reductions and our broader effort to enhance security through negotiation. In response to my proposal in last year's report, and at the initiative of Secretary General Brosio, our NATO allies then joined us in a major collective study of the full range of allied defense problems in the 1970s.

The basic problem was not technical or esoteric. It was an absolute necessity to devise a sensible posture of defense we can plausibly ask our peoples to support. Many voters, legislators and officials in Western countries have raised questions about the continuing burden of defense budgets-not because they did not see the need for security, but because they did not see a clear rationale for the forces proposed. Our armies are not ends in themselves, or merely tokens of a commitment. They have a function to perform: to aid in deterrence and to defend if deterrence fails. Therefore, the alliance needed to work through the analysis of what realistic deterrence and defense required in Europe over the longer term. We needed to give substance to our strategy, to make it credible to ourselves as well as to our adversaries.

The result of our studies in the National Security Council and in NATO was a major achievement. The North Atlantic Council ministerial meeting in December 1970, which completed the alliance study, was indeed, as Secretary Rogers called it, "one of the most important in the history of the alliance." We now have the blueprint and substance of a rational defense posture, which provides the framework for resolving the policy questions I raised last year.