Questioning NATO

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Questioning NATO

[cap­tion id=”” align=“aligncenter” width=“600”] Ships in for­ma­tion dur­ing BAL­TOPS 2014[/​caption]

Over this past week, I had the plea­sure of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the BAL­TOPS plan­ning con­fer­ence. I say plea­sure lit­er­ally, because the inter­ac­tions with all of the par­tic­i­pat­ing BAL­TOPS nations was great. That may come as a sur­prise to read­ers, since I’ve been fairly crit­i­cal of NATO in the past. Those that know me bet­ter know that I’ve worked with NATO part­ners before, even being assigned in the past to directly sup­port NATO missions.

I have always said that NATO as an orga­ni­za­tion is a good thing. It forces inte­gra­tion between the part­ner nations, espe­cially in terms of mil­i­tary equip­ment. It also forces these nations to inter­act with each other, pre­vent­ing the mis­trust that lead us to bounce from WW1 to WW2. I would credit NATO with pre­vent­ing sig­nif­i­cant war in Europe and in gen­eral deter­ring Russ­ian aggres­sion. Nobody can take these (and many other) accom­plish­ments away from NATO.

Just because some­thing is good doesn’t mean it can’t have flaws. NATO part­ners have con­sis­tently under­funded their mil­i­tary, and that hurts inte­gra­tion when their older equip­ment can’t work with more cut­ting edge tech­nol­ogy. When nations con­sis­tently can’t send mil­i­tary units to prac­tice in exer­cises, it hurts our forces inter­op­er­abil­ity. Nobody can take these neg­a­tives and say that they are accept­able behavior.

Just because some­thing has flaws, doesn’t mean we don’t make it work. At our con­fer­ence this week, I saw par­tic­i­pat­ing nations com­ing together to build com­pli­cated sce­nar­ios that really stretched their units. We pur­posely put a dif­fi­cult sce­nario together, know­ing that in some areas it may not work, because unless you stress your­self, you can’t find out how good you really are.

And for any­one who thinks that some­how Pres­i­dent Trump has degraded our inter­ac­tions with NATO…I didn’t see it. He didn’t come up in con­ver­sa­tion at all. None of the nations expressed dis­may at work­ing with the US. Quite the oppo­site. I had two nations actively seek me out to employ new tech­nolo­gies in the war game. They were excited…like, actu­ally bounc­ing up and down excited, that we would be work­ing together.

So when peo­ple tell you NATO is dead…don’t believe them. When some­one tells you that point­ing out NATO’s flaws is hurt­ing our military…don’t believe them either. NATO nations still value the United States. If any­thing, the con­tin­u­ing rise in invest­ment by these nations will make our alliance stronger in the long term.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, NATO, or any other gov­ern­ment or agency.

Please donate to Da Tech Guy!!

Ships in formation during BALTOPS 2014

Over this past week, I had the pleasure of participating in the BALTOPS planning conference. I say pleasure literally, because the interactions with all of the participating BALTOPS nations was great. That may come as a surprise to readers, since I’ve been fairly critical of NATO in the past. Those that know me better know that I’ve worked with NATO partners before, even being assigned in the past to directly support NATO missions.

I have always said that NATO as an organization is a good thing. It forces integration between the partner nations, especially in terms of military equipment. It also forces these nations to interact with each other, preventing the mistrust that lead us to bounce from WW1 to WW2. I would credit NATO with preventing significant war in Europe and in general deterring Russian aggression. Nobody can take these (and many other) accomplishments away from NATO.

Just because something is good doesn’t mean it can’t have flaws. NATO partners have consistently underfunded their military, and that hurts integration when their older equipment can’t work with more cutting edge technology. When nations consistently can’t send military units to practice in exercises, it hurts our forces interoperability. Nobody can take these negatives and say that they are acceptable behavior.

Just because something has flaws, doesn’t mean we don’t make it work. At our conference this week, I saw participating nations coming together to build complicated scenarios that really stretched their units. We purposely put a difficult scenario together, knowing that in some areas it may not work, because unless you stress yourself, you can’t find out how good you really are.

And for anyone who thinks that somehow President Trump has degraded our interactions with NATO…I didn’t see it. He didn’t come up in conversation at all. None of the nations expressed dismay at working with the US. Quite the opposite. I had two nations actively seek me out to employ new technologies in the war game. They were excited…like, actually bouncing up and down excited, that we would be working together.

So when people tell you NATO is dead…don’t believe them. When someone tells you that pointing out NATO’s flaws is hurting our military…don’t believe them either. NATO nations still value the United States. If anything, the continuing rise in investment by these nations will make our alliance stronger in the long term.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, NATO, or any other government or agency.

Please donate to Da Tech Guy!!