Defending Europe: Scenario-Based Capability Requirements for NATO’s European Members
International Institute for Strategic Studies
May 10, 2019
LONDON --- The IISS has conducted an independent open-source high-level assessment of how the defence of Europe, and of European interests, would look if the United States had left NATO and did not contribute militarily.

The study applies scenario analysis – with scenarios set in the early 2020s – to generate force requirements, and assesses the ability of NATO’s European member states to meet these requirements based on data from the IISS Military Balance Plus online database. The cost of closing the identified capability shortfalls through equipment acquisition has been estimated.

The objective of the study is to enable informed policy dialogue both in Europe and in a transatlantic setting. The study explicitly does not intend to predict future conflicts nor the intentions of any of the actors involved. Neither does it wish to prescribe a certain path of action to be pursued by European NATO governments.

This study provides a reality check for the ongoing debate on European strategic autonomy. Its findings underline that it would be helpful for this debate to focus on the capabilities to tackle threats to European security, rather than on institutional engineering. If the funding to meet shortfalls were available, the IISS assesses that the recapitalisation across the military domains would take up to 20 years, with some significant progress around the ten- and 15-year marks.

The reasons for this are limited production capacity; the time it takes to decide on and then produce equipment and weapons; recruitment and training demands; and the time it takes for new units to reach an operational capability.

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