NATO Enlargement:

NATO and U.S. Actions Taken to Facilitate Enlargement

NSIAD-96-92: Published: May 6, 1996. Publicly Released: May 15, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) future enlargement and plans to include the newly democratic states of the former communist bloc, focusing on: (1) actions NATO plans to take to enlarge itself; (2) U.S. bilateral assistance programs that enhance the military operations and capabilities of aspiring NATO members; and (3) the potential costs of enlargement to NATO and the new members.

GAO found that: (1) in accordance with its 1991 strategic concept, NATO has initiated two programs designed to reach out to its former adversaries to the east, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) and the Partnership for Peace (PFP) program; (2) in September 1995, NATO released an internal study examining the rationale for enlarging NATO and how it might occur; (3) NATO members have not yet established a timetable for enlargement or decided who will be invited to join; (4) the United States has five bilateral assistance programs that help to improve the operational capabilities of potential NATO members and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States, these programs are bilateral PFP assistance (the Warsaw Initiative), Foreign Military Financing, the International Military Education and Training program, the Joint Contact Team Program, and Excess Defense Articles transfers; (5) all but the bilateral PFP assistance predate discussion of NATO's future enlargement; (6) in fiscal year (FY) 1995, the United States provided about $54 million in bilateral assistance to PFP member states through the five bilateral assistance programs and, in FY 1996, the United States will provide about $125 million; (7) this increase in assistance largely supports PFP bilateral assistance for cooperative activities with these nations and, of the total $179 million, about $130 million (or 73 percent) represents support for the PFP program; (8) neither NATO nor the United States knows what the total costs of enlargement will be to NATO or individual members, both current and new; increased membership will place new financial burdens on NATO's commonly funded infrastructure programs and on the new members themselves; (9) many of the costs of enlargement would be expected to be borne by the new members, some of whom may lack the ability to fund the changes necessary for their militaries to become interoperable with NATO forces; (10) the cost that each new member may incur cannot be fully determined because NATO has not yet defined country-specific military requirements; and (11) U.S. officials anticipate that these nations may require bilateral or multilateral financial assistance from the United States and other NATO members.

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