The Awakening of Nato´s European Member States,

Julian Lindley-French, professor

NATO’s new Strategic Concept (SC) that was published at the Madrid Summit in June 2022 will be seen as a landmark document that sets the direction of travel for the Alliance in an “age of strategic competition” . Yet, the Strategic Concept tells only half the story of the awakening of NATO’s European allies. […]

Driven by the war in Ukraine, the centrepiece of the Strategic Concept is a new rapid response force of 300,000 troops which replaces the existing ‘enhanced’ but not very big (or loved) NATO Response Force. At the insistence of the overstretched Americans, this force will be mainly European and kept on ‘high alert’ with much of it deployed to NATO’s eastern and south-eastern flank. The accession of Finland and Sweden to the Alliance will mean that this new central pillar of NATO’s conventional force deterrence could also be deployed to NATO’s expanding northern flank.


A force of that size would normally mean that with rotation there would always be a force of some 100,000 troops kept at high readiness, which will be extremely expensive for NATO’s European allies, since they are grappling with high inflation and post-COVID-19 economies. A standard NATO brigade is normally between 3,200 and 5,500 troops strong. A NATO force of 300,000 personnel will include around 100,000 air and naval personnel. A land force of around 200,000 troops would thus need  fifty to sixty European rapid reaction brigades together with all the necessary resources for them to do their respective jobs. There are at best between twenty to thirty such brigades today and some concerns have already been expressed by some Allies that they will be simply unable to meet such a demand. Läs artikel