Commander Questions NATO’s Relevance

Gen. B. John Craddock, head of the U. S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, in a speech to policy makers and defense analysts called the relevance of the NATO alliance into question, at least in the context of Afghanistan:

Pointing to more than 70 “caveats” that give individual countries a veto over certain operations, and the fact that troop commitments remain unfulfilled, General John Craddock said he was fearful the operation was being short-changed.

“We are demonstrating a political will that is in my judgment sometimes wavering,” Craddock, a U.S. general and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said in a speech to policymakers and defense analysts in London.

“It’s this wavering political will that impedes operational progress and brings into question the relevance of the alliance here in the 21st century,” he said.

He also defended the view recently expressed by Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, Britain’s outgoing commander in Afghanistan commander, on the status of the conflict in Afghanistan:

“His comments are generally in line with what our military and political leaders have been saying all along… The conflict in Afghanistan cannot be won by military means alone,” Craddock, who serves as NATO’s operational commander, said.

“We in the international community must come together as part of a truly comprehensive approach (in Afghanistan). The current effort remains disjointed in time and space.”

The complete text of Gen. Craddock’s speech is here.

He also called for a new global strategic threat assessment by the alliance and a new strategic concept for the 21st century.

I’m afraid that’s not going to be enough. The world moves much, much faster now than it did even in 1999 when the last such reassessment was performed and for a strategic concept to remain relevant reassessment should be ongoing.

UPDATE (James Joyner): I’ve added my own thoughts on this at New Atlanticist.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Commander Questions NATO?s Relevance: Gen. B. John Craddock, head of the U. S. European Command a..

  2. PD Shaw says:

    Is it a coincidence that the major contributors in Afghanistan are the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia? It suggests to me that there is one group that has a different threat assessment than another group. If that is so, and if that p.o.v. is consistent for America, then I would invite Australia to join.

  3. Triumph says:

    The world moves much, much faster now than it did even in 1999

    Actually, that is not true. The world moves slower now than it did in 1999.

    You need to re-read your Stephen Hawking. The earth and moon have been drifting apart for years which slows our rotation. We actually slow down about a millisecond each century.

    So, sit back and have a scotch.

  4. Triumph says:

    Shaw– Australia, I wouldn’t regard as a “major contributor.” Holland, Germany, Italy, France, and Poland all had more troops there than Australia.

    Aussies are crocodile-hunting has-beens.

  5. PD Shaw says:

    In the context of the article, I think we are talking about unrestricted combat support. The Germans are providing numbers, but their special forces units are not deployed on missions and the remaineder keep to the North.

    I probably shorted the Netherlands and Denmark for their contributions, particularly given their size. But both have historic and cultural connections to Britain.

  6. In respect to Nato , The war in Afghanistan and other Islamic regions cannot be conducted with military standards in existance . Remember Africa , ( Algeria , Congo , Sudan ) The Nato forces fight a stationary war and go back to dortified encampments . Airstrikes are called in
    to frequently . Insurgent mix with the civilians
    and use them for the public sympathy . There is no effort made towards the religious leaders , the Immams who recruit and foster within the mosques . I have been there and have seen the religious fervor created in the name of Allah .
    Nato must be ready to deal with the Taliban otherwise they will never obtain a peace . OR