Strategic Landpower in NATO Vital for U.S. Security

October 6, 2014

Today’s global security environment is defined by its complexity, unpredictability and the increasing momentum of human interaction; it is the essence of the joint and combined force to remain trained and fully ready to meet any challenge. Strategic landpower—the application of land forces (Army, Marine Corps and special operations forces) toward achieving strategic outcomes across the range of military operations—provides a critical hedge against this uncertain future. The role of strategic landpower is to shape and prevail within the human domain, creating conditions that stabilize people’s daily dealings with one another and generate momentum to bring about the nation’s strategic objectives.

Even as the Department of Defense (DoD) rebalances its posture to the Asia–Pacific region, Europe will continue to require a strong commitment from the United States, including responsive, adaptive and regionally engaged forces to maintain security and stability. The European security environment is still unpredictable and uncertain, evidenced by the recent Russian seizure of Crimea. The long-standing partnerships developed through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will continue to play a vital deterrence role not only against further Russian aggression but also in the U.S. military’s larger global strategy. The forward operating bases in Europe provide essential access in the eastern Mediterranean and the Levant, as well as in North Africa. In addition, about half of the world trade flows across the Atlantic between the United States and Europe; this trade is of vital importance to the U.S. economy.

The U.S. Army—globally responsive, regionally engaged—contributes by preventing conflict through credible capacity, readiness and modernization; shaping the international environment through sustaining strong relationships, building partner capacity and facilitating strategic access; applying mission command and combined-arms capabilities to dominate the environment; and winning decisively when called. The Army is sustaining its commitment to maintain strong relationships and interoperability with its proven partners in NATO. A large part of this effort is ongoing by means of NATO’s Allied Land Command (LANDCOM). Established in 2012, it is the newest single-service command of NATO’s military arm and consists of more than 350 personnel billets from 23 nations. Located in Izmir, Turkey, its mandate is to ensure that multinational forces retain the hard lessons learned over a decade by NATO troops serving in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. On any given day, at least a third of the command’s assigned personnel are regionally engaged on temporary duty across Europe, either in land forces operational capability, headquarters operational readiness and/or land advocacy.