Relationships between U.S. and NATO Military Command Structures--Need for Closer Integration

LCD-77-447: Published: Oct 26, 1977. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 1977.

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The United States participates in two commands in Europe, its own and NATO's Allied Command, Europe. The command structures are similarly organized and have basically the same overall mission, to provide a combat-ready force to deter aggression from the Warsaw Pact nations. The close relationship of the commands is illustrated by: (1) several U.S. commanders are also NATO commanders; (2) NATO would assume operational command of U.S. combat forces in a NATO war; and (3) NATO is heavily staffed with U.S. personnel in peacetime.

Because of increasing interdependence, there is a need for a NATO command that can respond quickly in the event of an attack and be capable of transition from a peacetime to a wartime structure with minimal change. This requires close integration of the command structures of the NATO members' forces with the NATO command structure, at least to the extent that the NATO command should be knowledgeable, in peacetime, of the important military activities of member nations. Although the current Department of Defense (DOD) position is that the most likely conflict in Europe will be a NATO war, the United States still maintains functions basically parallel to those of NATO. The Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, has emphasized the need for concerted multinational efforts in such areas as equipment commonality; force interoperability; integration of command, control, and communications; and mutual logistical support. Unilateral war and crisis management activities pose problems in changing to a wartime posture.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: Two alternatives that should be considered are to: integrate the U.S. unified command with NATO Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers, Europe; and integrate component commands and the United States European Command. The Secretary of Defense should reexamine the U.S. command structure in Europe and make changes as necessary to insure the optimal structure for performing its mission, including: evaluation of potential benefits of taking the leadership in giving NATO greater authority and control over peacetime logistics support. He should also take the leadership in encouraging a multilateral study to identify ways to achieve closer integration of members' command structures with that of NATO.

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