New allies, missions for EUCOM, NATO
Mideast edition, Sunday, December 2, 2007
KABUL, Afghanistan — The days of the U.S. defeating enemies solely through lethal force seem to have gone the way of the Cold War.For the U.S. European Command and its security partner, NATO, a new military doctrine is emerging that includes shaping regions to their liking, tamping down regional hot spots before they flare up and recruiting fledgling nations to join the team.
“We have opened up our horizons and can be helpful in a variety of situations,” said Gen. John Craddock, commander of both EUCOM and NATO’s military force. “In disaster relief, such as in Pakistan (2005 earthquake) for example, in flooding, (last summer’s) fires in the Balkans and things like that.
“And there is the classic military mission — deploy, employ, fight and redeploy. We still have to retain competency. There is a wider field, a greater spectrum, and we have to be competent across that spectrum.”
To win widespread battles — military or otherwise — the U.S. and NATO have asked for help from newer allies, including larger ones such as Romania and smaller ones such as Montenegro, which are being brought into the fold to promote democratic values.
In 2004, seven nations from eastern Europe, including three from the former Soviet Union, joined NATO. That increased membership to 26 nations.Three more — Macedonia, Croatia and Albania — are slated for a membership vote this spring. EUCOM, has been working with the three to help make their militaries NATO-caliber.
More than that, Craddock said, the nations’ governments are being required to tighten ship “to make the institution enduring as opposed to just a personality or a temporary process that is carrying the day.”
While girding to perform humanitarian and regional security missions, EUCOM and NATO are also broadening out for military reasons.
In the 6-year-old war in Afghanistan, Craddock and his predecessor, Gen. James L. Jones Jr., have pleaded with nations for more combat troops and fewer restrictions on how they can be used.
Fewer troops mean a more drawn-out war, Craddock said.
“I’ve told the nations, it will take longer, it will be more expensive in terms of costs of killed and wounded to every nation that is participating,” Craddock said.
“It will be longer for [Afghanistan] also. They will have a harder time taking over the security role.”
Some analysts criticize a broadening mission for EUCOM and NATO. Christopher A. Preble of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute said a heavy U.S. presence in Europe — currently about 44,000 soldiers and 100,000 total service members — has caused European nations to let their own militaries lag, in effect weakening the “security alliance.”
He added that uncovering and destroying terrorist and insurgent cells are more effectively handled by police than militaries.“It’s hard in my mind to justify the number of troops we have in Europe,” Preble said. “It discourages Europeans from doing more for their own defense.”
But Frederick W. Kagan, a defense expert with the American Enterprise Institute, said the U.S. military should use more influence to buffer against an oil-rich and strengthening Russia, as well as to bring closure to smoldering issues, such as Kosovo’s sovereignty.
“The mission to cement the Western alliance, to keep them strong against various challenges — there is no less of a requirement for that today,” he said.Small contributions are to be welcomed, not brushed aside, Craddock said.
Young nations such as Macedonia, a landlocked, Vermont-sized slice of the former Yugoslavia, might not seem to have a lot to offer an alliance that includes the United States, England, Germany and France. But that is not necessarily the case.
“Little countries can still provide capabilities with regard to their size,” Craddock said. “They’ll each have some core competency they’ll want to retain, even if it is only a battalion or two.
“Secondly, they can have niche capabilities. Some will be very good in nuclear, biological and chemical (warfare), such as the Czech Republic and Slovenia. Others may have capabilities in medical, and there are some nations like that. Others will be transportation.
“If they gain competencies in functions, then their phone is going to ring.”