In the coming decade, NATO faces growing fiscal austerity and declining defense budgets. This study analyzes the impact of planned defense budget cuts on the capabilities of seven European members of NATO — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Poland — that together represent more than 80 percent of NATO Europe's defense spending. The result of the anticipated cuts and future financial constraints is that the capacity of the major European powers to project military power will be highly constrained: The air, land, and sea forces of key U.S. European allies are rapidly reaching the point at which they can perform only one moderate-sized operation at a time and will be hard-pressed to meet the rotation requirements of a protracted, small-scale irregular warfare mission. Power projection and sustainment of significant forces outside Europe's immediate neighborhood will be particularly difficult. The authors discuss these challenges in a strategic context, including the operational and planning weaknesses exposed by NATO's intervention in Libya in 2011, and make recommendations for U.S. policy with regard to NATO.
ORBIS is powered by ESPAS, the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System, a unique inter-institutional project aimed at strengthening the EU's efforts in the crucial area of forward planning. ESPAS brings together the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Secretariat General of the Council of the European Union and the European External Action Service to strengthen the Union's collective administrative capacity to identify and analyse the key trends and challenges, and the resulting policy choices, which are likely to confront Europe and the wider world in the decades ahead.