Troops In Europe: Can The United States Afford Them? AUTHOR Major Charles K. Curcio, USMC CSC 1988 SUBJECT AREA Foreign Policy EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TITLE: TROOPS IN EUROPE: CAN THE UNITED STATES AFFORD THEM? I. Purpose: To determine the origin of the commitment of United States troops to Europe and to determine the feasibility and advisability of continuing that commitment. II. Thesis: The United States should withdraw the bulk of its troops from Europe because of the changing strategic environment, its own military decline, and its economic difficulties. III. Data: After World War II most Western democracies demobilized their military machines feeling a period of peace would follow. They also felt that the newly formed United Nations would foster this peace. However, the Eastern bloc countries retained strong militaries which lead to instability in Europe. Due to this instability, security alliances were formed by both sides. Initially, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed by Western countries, and soon afterward, the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance (Warsaw Pact) by the East. These pacts lead to large troops concentrations by both sides in Central Europe. Today, the strategy of both the United States and Soviet Union affect the situation in Europe. The military and economic recovery by the countries in Western Europe and the Soviet advances in the Western Hemisphere have obliged the United States to reevaluate its commitment of troops to Europe. The steady military decline in the United States since World War II and increasing importance of forces committed elsewhere have raised questions concerning the wisdom of committing troops to Europe. The economic decline in the United States has been directly affected by the large expenditure on the defense of Western Europe. IV. Conclusions: The United States rightfully committed troops for the security and defense of Western Europe after World War II. However, since that time, Western European allies have recovered sufficiently to provide for their own defense with the aid of the United States' strategic deterrence. Soviet advances in the Western Hemisphere, United States military decline, and a sagging United States economy call for a change in United States policy toward the defense of Western Europe. V. Summary: The United States should retain a strategic nuclear deterrence toward the Soviet Union, but it should withdraw the bulk of its troops from Europe. These forces should be deployed elsewhere to meet other more critical threats and to help regain military strength and economic stability. TROOPS IN EUROPE: CAN THE UNITED STATES AFFORD THEM? Thesis statement: The United States should withdraw the bulk of its troops from Europe because of the changing strategic environment, its own military decline, and its economic difficulties. I. The History of European Alliances A. NATO B. Warsaw Pact C. Strategies and Tactics II. Strategic Environment Between The United States and Soviet Union A. Soviet Strategy B. United States Strategy III. Status of The United States Military A. Decline Since World War II B. Current Status IV. Economic Conditions in The United States A. Industrial Decline B. Agricultural Decline C. Overall Economic Decline TROOPS IN EUROPE: CAN THE UNITED STATES AFFORD THEM? Since the beginning of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, the United States has committed troops for the defense of Western Europe. This policy was initially sound since the European countries had been devastated by war and could not defend themselves. Their economies were decimated from the demands of war. Europe needed help from a strong ally, especially one with nuclear superiority over the entire world. (12:54) However, after almost thirty years the situation has changed in Europe. It is now neither expedient nor necessary to commit a sizable contingent of United States troops solely for the defense of Western Europe. The United States should withdraw the bulk of its troops from Europe because of the changing strategic environment, its own military decline, and its economic difficulties. Before I elaborate on the reasons for this change, we must review the history of the European alliances. After World War II ended, most Western democracies demobilized their military machines feeling a period of peace would follow. Also, since the United Nations had been established, most countries in the West believed this organization would foster peace. However, the Soviet Union had a different idea. Having taken over the Baltic countries and parts of Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Germany as the spoils of war, it decided to further expand its empire. As early as 1945, the Soviet Union had brought pressure to bear in Greece, Turkey, and Iran to further the communist cause and gain influence. By 1948 Communist parties had seized control in Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. In addition, in October 1947 the Soviets formed the Cominform, which clearly highlighted the expansionist policy and aimed to fight and destroy the political systems of the West. Twenty-three bilateral treaties and large standing armies among the Communist bloc countries created a state of unrest in Europe. (17:5) The Western hopes of maintaining peace by United Nations' action were fruitless. The five permanent members of the Security Council, to include the United States and the Soviet Union, were allowed the right of veto. Therefore, attempts to control atomic energy, the reduction of armaments, and the creation of an international force came to nought. By 1949 the Soviets had vetoed at least thirty items which the free peoples had hoped would promote world order. (17:6) With this temporary failure of the United Nations and with this weakness in Western military forces, a treaty was signed at Brussels, Belgium on 17 March 1948. The Brussels Treaty between the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg was a defensive alliance to build a common defense under the direction of Field Marshal Lord Montgomery. (17:6) Although the United States promised to support the signatories in the efforts they would undertake to ensure their defense, it was not enough. The United States realized its obligation to the free world after World War II, especially its immense industrial potential and the possession of the atomic arm to counter any imbalance of power. Even though political ties between the United States and European countries had been rejected from George Washington's time, congress voted on 11 June 1948 to adopt a resolution authorizing the government to ally itself with such mutual defense agreements as could contribute to the security of the United States. (17:7) Negotiations began among the Western countries, and on 4 April 1949 an alliance was formed. The twelve nations signing the North Atlantic Treaty were the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal. Greece and Turkey acceded to the treaty in 1952 and the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955. In 1966 France withdrew its military forces from the alliance, while remaining a member, and in 1982 Spain entered the Alliance. (17:8) The treaty contains the following points: 1. The peaceful settlement of disputes and abstinence from force or the threat of force. 2. Economic collaboration among the signatory countries. 3. The strengthening of the means for resisting aggression, both by individual national efforts and by mutual assistance. 4. Consultation in the event of any signatory being threatened. 5. Mutual assistance in case of aggression. 6. Accession of other European states is permitted. 7. After twenty years any party may cease to be a member. (17:9) Not long after NATO was formed, the communist bloc countries held a conference and formed their own alliance. On 14 May 1955 a pact was signed between the USSR, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, and the German Democratic Republic. Since it was signed at Warsaw, Poland, it became known as the "Warsaw Pact." Although the pact appeared to be in retaliation to the NATO agreements, in reality, it brought together countries whose governments were controlled by communist parties under the control of the most powerful of the countries, the Soviet Union. The pact provided primarily for a military system enabling the armed forces of the member states to be placed under Soviet command. This "Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation, and Mutual Assistance" contains the following provisions: 1. Co-operation in all international actions designed to safeguard international peace and security. 2. Developing and fostering economic and cultural relations with one another. 3. Joint command of the armed forces among the parties. 4. Mutual assistance in the case of armed attack in Europe. 5. Accession of other states is permitted. 6. The treaty will initially remain in force for twenty years. 7. Marshal of the Soviet Union is appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Joint Armed Forces. (16:3-21) Soon after the NATO and Warsaw Pact alliances were entered into, each side developed a strategy. The initial theme of NATO's policy was known as the "tripwire" policy. This called for striking the Soviet Union with a massive nuclear retaliatory strike if its troops invaded Western Europe. However, in the mid 1960's the Soviet Union had developed the capability to strike United States soil with its own nuclear weapons. Therefore, this tripwire policy was no longer valid. Over a long period of time ending in 1967 a new, more plausible, strategy evolved known as "flexible response." This policy is still in effect today and calls for conventional forces to meet any Soviet non-nuclear attack as far forward as possible and to hold them off until reinforcements can arrive. It also provides for theater nuclear weapons to bridge the gap between conventional forces and strategic nuclear weapons. Although the recently signed INF treaty will remove United States theater nuclear weapons from Europe, other NATO countries still possess that capability. The essence of flexible response assumes that if NATO conventional forces are visibly failing and reserves are exhausted, political authorities of NATO are expected to authorize the use of nuclear weapons if there is no other way of stopping the Warsaw Pact. (19:158-159) Warsaw Pact strategy and tactics in Europe initially called for numerically superior conventional forces. However, since the development of nuclear weapons by the Soviet Union capable of reaching not only Western Europe but also the United States, the strategy now calls for nuclear mass destruction if conventional war fails. Conventional force tactical doctrine relies on a massive initial surprise assault by a large number of mobile land units deployed simultaneously on multiple fronts. This will be followed by second and third echelon attacks to exploit the penetration or breakthrough. Combined air and airborne operations are called for to achieve suppression of NATO's air defense capabilities and rear-echelon interdiction. (19:40-41) Recently, efforts have been made to enhance the conventional defense of Western Europe by NATO. Warsaw forces stationed in Eastern Europe outnumber NATO forces in Western Europe about 1.5 to 1. Numerical advantages in Warsaw Pact weaponry vary from 2 to 1 in main battle tanks and attack helicopters to 1.6 to 1 in armored fighting vehicles and artillery pieces. (19:45) This imbalance must be evened out to retain a credible deterrence on the conventional level. However, a conventional defense of Europe must take into account the ever-present American belief that the European allies are not contributing their fair share to the defense. As the European countries prospered and their military strength grew, United States officials became more sympathetic to the proposition that the Europeans could afford to do more to help themselves. Shortly after leaving office as president, Dwight D. Eisenhower declared, "For eight years in the White House I believed and have announced to my associates that a reduction of American strength in Europe should be initiated as soon as European economies were restored . . . . I believe the time has now come [for] withdrawing some of those troops." (2:39) In the 70's Senator Mike Mansfield called for United States troop reductions in Europe, only to be stifled when the Soviet Union agreed to Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions which have had little effect. (19:164-165) Although European allies claim to provide 90 percent of the manpower, 85 percent of the tanks, 95 percent of the artillery, and 80 percent of the combat aircraft; the United States pays two-thirds of the bill for the conventional defense of Europe. (19:5) Europe has recovered sufficiently to shoulder the burden of its own defense. Its active military forces number 3.4 million men compared to 4.2 million men for the Warsaw Pact forces on the European front. (3:30),(2:39) Although an imbalance exists, NATO Europe's population of 373 million people is larger than the population of either the United States or the Soviet Union and could support a larger active force. Its economies, while not the strongest on the globe, have stabilized to permit a relatively high standard of living. Its technology has advanced to the point that both France and Great Britain have independent nuclear forces capable of reaching the Soviet Union. (12:57) Now that we have reviewed the origins of the European alliances and their current philosophies ,let us turn our attention to the overall strategic environment between the United States and the Soviet Union as it exists today. Since the revolution in Cuba in the early 1960's, the Soviet Union has continued to expand its interests in the western hemisphere. Its interests in the area are, at least, fourfold. First, it maintains influence in the vicinity of the Panama Canal. Only thirteen U.S. warships are incapable of transiting the canal, which reduces significantly the transfer time between the Pacific and Atlantic. This allows the United States to maintain a three ocean naval presence with only a one and a half ocean navy. If, in time of war, the Soviets could block passage through the canal, the ability of the United States to wage war would be hindered. Second, Soviet control of the Caribbean sea lanes from the United States would greatly hamper shipping in support of a war effort, especially in Europe. In World War II more than 50 percent of united States supplies to Europe and Africa were shipped from Mexican Gulf ports. The thirteen sea lanes in that area pass through four critical choke points which are easily interdicted from Cuba. Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan realized the importance of Cuba as a naval base when it was still friendly toward the United States. He stated: supplies can be conveyed from one point to the other, according to the needs of a fleet by interior lines, not exposed to the risk of maritime capture. The extent of the coastline, the numerous harbors, and the many directions from which approach can be made minimize the danger of total blockade to which all islands are subject. (11:62-63) Fleet Admiral Sergei Gorshkov, architect of the Soviet naval offensive, has stated: To achieve superiority of forces over the enemy in the main sector and pin him down in the secondary sectors. . .means to achieve sea control in a theater or a sector of a theater. . .the enemy will be paralyzed or constrained in his operations. . .and thereby hampered from interfering with our operations. (11:64) Third, Soviet presence in Central America continues to dominate that region. Although Nicaragua is currently the only Soviet-influenced country, others in the region are in a state of turmoil. Soviet H18 helicopters and T-55 tanks are in use in Nicaragua, and there is evidence that the Nicaraguans have undertaken preparations for the arrival of Soviet Mig aircraft. Although Nicaragua has yet to join the Soviet bloc, this Soviet presence in Central America is a direct threat to the southern border of the United States. (11:86) Last, the Soviet Union is not only gaining influence to the south but also in the Arctic region. One-third of the Soviet divisions are deployed throughout the Asian-Pacific region. While these fifty-five divisions are mainly concerned with the Chinese border, they also are within reach of the northern approaches of the United States. Of even more significance is the Soviet Union's attempts to use the Arctic Ocean to transport forces between the North Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It can already redeploy aircraft and nuclear submarines between the fleets, but it is striving, with the use of nuclear-powered icebreakers, to develop the capability for the year-round redeployment of surface ships. (13:56) This capability would also provide the possibility for landing troops and deploying forces on the northern border of North America to complete the strategic double envelopment of the United States. Although the Soviets profess to be a peace-loving people interested only in protecting their borders, they bear watching at all times. World domination is a very tenant of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine. A statement made by Dimitri Z. Manuilsky, Deputy to the Comintern at the Lenin School of Political Warfare in Moscow, in 1930 is just as valid today: War to the hilt, between communism and capitalism, is inevitable. Today, of course, we are not strong enough to attack. Our time will come in twenty or thirty years. To win, we shall need the element of surprise. The bourgeois will have to be put to sleep. So, we begin by launching the most spectacular peace movement on record. There will be electrifying overtures and unheard of concessions. The capitalist countries, stupid and decadent, will rejoice to cooperate in their own destruction. They will leap at another chance to be friends. As soon as their guard is down, we shall smash them with our clenched fists! Related to this Soviet strategy, the United States should have three strategic goals. First, it should maintain and update its strategic nuclear capabilities. This nuclear deterrent would not only deter Soviet invasion of the United States, but also support NATO in the defense of Western Europe. General John R. Galvin, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, has stated: General nuclear response remains the ultimate deterrent...... ............................................................ Strategic nuclear forces are the foundation of NATO's strategy of flexible response and the basis of our capability at the ultimate level of combat power . . . essential updating of our strategic force should continue as required, even if we are able to obtain an agreement in the START negotiations. (8:56-58) Second, our maritime strategy must not only continue to keep the sea lines of communication open in the western hemisphere, but also be prepared to close those leading from the Soviet Union. Former U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral James D. Watkins, holds that morally, legally, and strategically we must be prepared to fight in forward areas, especially in Soviet home waters. (12:56) Third, the majority of United States troops stationed in Europe should be withdrawn. These forces could be placed in the many installations in the United States which have been closed in recent years. This last point leads me to a discussion of the condition of the United States military. This fighting force reached its zenith by the end of World War II. Few times in history had a country mobilized so quickly and performed so courageously to contribute to the unconditional surrender of two formidable opponents such as Germany and Japan. The American people and the politicians were totally behind this war effort. However, since that time, the United States military has been in decline. Although part of the decline has been from within, some blame must be shouldered by the politicians who have hampered military leaders from completing their mission. In the Korean War, the United States military performed admirably pushing the invading North Korean and Chinese armies all the way to the Chinese border before the politicians halted the offensive. The results of that action are still evident today, over 35 years later, with no official end to the war. A decade later the United States went to Vietnam to "stop communist aggression" in Southeast Asia. The military decline was even more evident there. Although many brave and wonderful men fought there, the military was replete with internal strife resulting in discipline and drug problems and numerous incidents of "fragging." In addition, the politicians held such tight reign on the military leaders that they could not perform their mission of defeating the enemy. As months turned into years, the American people slowly withdrew their support for the war effort resulting in the withdrawal of United States forces without a victory. As the memory of Vietnam has faded, popular support for the military has rebounded to the point that the United States military is one of the most respected institutions in the country. The buildup in the early 1980's has allowed the military to train and equip itself better than at any other time since World War II, but it still is deficient in many areas, especially political backing. In Lebanon from 1982 to 1984 the Marines were unable to fulfill their mission as "peacekeepers." In an environment where the daily routine involved artillery and small-arms fire between rival factions, the Marines were initially restricted from carry loaded weapons. Only after the first American casualties were taken could the weapons be loaded, and then still under certain restrictions. The Marines were ordered to withdraw from Lebanon without accomplishing the mission for which they were sent. Throughout history, nations whose military was in relative decline have found it increasingly difficult to meet extensive overseas obligations. Imperial Spain around 1600 and the British Empire around 1900 found it difficult to bear the burden of strategic commitments made decades earlier, when their political, economic, and military capacity could handle those commitments. (10:36) The United States must face the fact that its global obligations are far too large for its capacity. It must reduce those obligations including withdrawing troops from Europe. Next, we must look at the impact of economic factors in the United States, and economic trends abroad. At the end of World War II, the United States commanded a forty percent share of the world economy." However, since that time this share has diminished. Industrial decline has been a major contributor to this overall downturn. This is also true for Europe. As labor unions gained in power, their influence drove wages upward. As these wages became inordinately high, industry could no longer efficiently modernize plants and equipment, and, therefore, could not compete with those nations avoiding this trap. (10:29) Much of this industrialization has moved to the Pacific basin. Japan's economy is now the second largest in the world and is apt to continue growing. China, too, is growing and could easily become the second or third largest economy in the world by 2010. (4:6) In addition to industrial problems, agriculture also grew into a state of decline. In an effort to stem the growing threat of famine around the world, the United States exported much of its agricultural technology. Many of those countries have recovered to the point that they have become direct competitors of the United States in food export. Additionally, large farm investments were made in the 1970's when interest rates were high resulting in many foreclosures. (10:29) These, as well as other, conditions have resulted in the decline of the United States economy to about half its world influence in 1945. Along with this decline has come great turbulence in the nation's finances. The federal deficit has reached one trillion dollars, and the national debt has grown by immense proportions in the last few years threatening a collapse of the entire economy. In addition, since United States goods are often not competitive with the prices of foreign goods, the United States trade deficit in 1986 was 160 billion dollars and growing. During this economic decline, the United States military commitment overseas has increased. In 1986, 134 billion dollars of the 314 billion dollar defense budget request was allocated for the conventional defense of Europe. By demobilizing six of the ten divisions in Europe, the United States would realize an annual savings of at least thirty billion dollars. If more troops were withdrawn, the savings would be even greater. (2:39- 40) Conditions have changed radically since the end of World War II. The United States now finds itself overcommitted strategically, militarily, and economically. It must be prepared to defend its own borders against a Soviet strategic double envelopment, while it maintains a strong nuclear deterrence against the Soviet Union. 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