Being a veteran of the Alliance at the end of the Cold War that ended roughly thirty years before the present still unnamed intense confrontation with Russia, I am worried, seriously worried because some core functions have been lost. They were functions developed from the early 1950ties to make NATO a credible deterrent.

Here I shall limit myself to two functions that I experienced in my own service then as major and lieutenant-colonel: The common readiness plan and the command structure. Both were exercised in the bi-annual Command Post Exercises that trained procedures.

The readiness plan (cannot remember if it was a SHAPE or NATO HQs document) described all the detailed steps at each readiness level from Peace Time to the war condition. It made it possible to coordinate preparations among all member states as the same steps were mirrored in a more detailed specific form in the national readiness plans. The NATO document also described when the Alliance would pool member resources such as communications, shipping and aviation.

The regional and subregional structure (I experienced the subregional HQs Baltic Approaches and its subordinate land force headquarters), were essential as a framework for bridging the front line and rear area/reinforcing member states. The subordinate headquarters such as the German-Danish Corps LANDJUT and the Danish LANDZEALAND developed defence plans and forces requirements, where at best only the initial part could be met by the front line member states. The NATO command structure could therefore work as a clearing-house for the distribution of the arriving force reinforments from rear including overseas member states, supplementing the national efforts of the frontline states to attract such reinforcements and negotiate the host nation support and other conditions.

Until NATO have recreated such functions for new European member forces and plans and consolidated them through regular exercises, the deterrent effect depends entirely on the visible remaining U.S. armed forces in Europa.

I have read no signs that this has been understood by the successor generation.

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