How has enlargement affected NATO as a military organization? This article explores the strategic and military consequences of expansion for NATO as a regional defense alliance. The article makes the case that by pursuing enlargement alongside internal adaptation efforts and by failing to reconcile the tensions resulting from expanding commitments while simultaneously drawing down military forces and shuttering commands, Western leaders’ choices in the 1990s set the stage for many of the strategic problems NATO faces today.
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Within NATO the term ‘internal and external adaptation’ was adopted to describe the alliance’s ambitious post-Cold War transformation agenda. Internal adaptation referred to efforts to streamline NATO political and military structures, whereas external adaptation dealt with the adoption of new security functions like crisis management and peacekeeping (Smith and Latawski 2003).
Eventually, the two became linked as NATO decided to use these missions as a way to help integrate new members (Hunter 2019, 304).
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Moller, S.B. Twenty years after: assessing the consequences of enlargement for the NATO military alliance. Int Polit 57, 509–529 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-020-00230-y
- NATO enlargement
- Alliance management
- Military planning