TFPD Transatlantic Foreign Policy Discourse (TFPD)  

  A Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik Project 

Working Groups

Past Working Groups 2002-08

  Post-Conflict Management
The Role of Islamists
State's Economic Role
Transatlantic Security
  China's Rise
Russia, USA and the EU
Military Transformation
Balkans Politics
EU Enlargement
States at Risk
Military Co-operability
Middle East
Meetings & Reports
Partners Organizations


Divergent Perspectives on Military Transformation (2004/05)


arrow Meetings & Reports

Group Leader:
arrow Benjamin Schreer

Key SWP Participant:
arrow Joachim Rohde


arrow Publications

arrow Partner Organization:
Strategic Studies Institute (SSI)

The transformation of military forces to adapt to a rapidly changing security environment has become a cornerstone in transatlantic security relations. Driven by the United States, the initialization of the NATO Response Force in October 2003 seemed to indicate a European willingness to meet U.S. demands for a NATO transformed: rapidly deployable forces to engage in global theaters. A closer look, however, reveals the need for a substantial transatlantic dialogue on transformation. For the issues involved do have the potential for actually eroding the transatlantic partnership. In the wake of September 11, a combination of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorist networks, rogue states and failed states has become of top concern to U.S. policy makers. The concept of preemption to win the "global war on terror" is likely to drive and accelerate U.S. forces transformation with a focus on high-intensity war fighting.

With Europeans skeptical of such a prominent role of the use of force - as evident during the Iraq crisis - different conceptual orientations can be a burden to a common transatlantic understanding on the scope, utility and role of transformation. American security pundits increasingly acknowledge the need to adjust the U.S. transformation trajectory. Otherwise future coalition operations will be even more at risk. As recent operations in Iraq have shown U.S. forces are hardly interoperable with even its closest allies. Most experts agree that a division of labor, with the U.S. engaged in high-intensity conflict and Europeans taking care of peacekeeping, is no design to sustain long-term transatlantic cohesion. U.S. transformation focus on the concept of Network Centric Warfare (NCW) is likely to increase the problem. Apart from divergent transatlantic views on the utility and limits of NCW in the future conflict environment, the technology and capability gap could widen due to impediments in arms co-operation and different trends in defense budgets.

Moreover, the issue of transformation also affects the relationship between NATO and ESDP. There is a growing tendency in the U.S. to consider European efforts to develop own military assets necessary for independent risk assessment and decision-making an unnecessary duplication at least and a policy eventually leading to transatlantic rivalry at worst. Especially in the context of NCW the European development of independent C4ISR capabilities can have profound implications for the interoperability required in future operations. European states on the other hand perceive U.S. transformation to be increasingly decoupled from its own security interests. The defense transformation thus needs to be augmented by new transatlantic mechanisms of U.S. global leadership. In case of failure, transformation can well contribute to the strategic divide currently affecting transatlantic relations. This dialogue will focus on ways to reconcile the divergent transatlantic approaches to force transformation.


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