Geostrategic Net Estimate: The United States and the Transatlantic Relationship

Parameters, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 19-26

Summer 2020

Europe remains as important as ever for US security but several factors contribute to a degree of unsteadiness in the 2020 European security environment. The outcome of conflict between forces of stasis and change over the next two to four years will be determined by several dynamics including Europe’s response to the COVID-19 economic crisis, Russia’s desire to shatter transatlantic relations, the American approach to NATO, the impact of Brexit, whether German leaders will lead, and French efforts to address long-term economic malaise.

Staying alive by overeating? The enduring NATO alliance at 70

Journal of Transatlantic Studies, vol. 17, pp. 157-73

Summer 2019

NATO’s endurance is unique relative to alliances and other intergovernmental organizations of the post-Westphalian system. The degree to which NATO endures or indeed thrives appears to be a function of the continued relevance of the old security agenda and the concomitant importance of the new agenda that member states have thrust upon it. The paradox is that it remains increasingly difficult for NATO to achieve its objectives in both spheres—that is, in terms of adequately deterring Russia and assuring the newest member states of Eastern Europe, while simultaneously safeguarding the south from an array of sub-state or non-state actor challenges.

Is NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence Fit for Purpose?

Orbis, vol. 63, no. 1, pp. 92-103

Winter 2019

This article assesses the strengths and weaknesses of NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) initiatives. While the EFP initiative represents a significant step forward in terms of NATO's deterrent posture, it suffers from many of the same challenges that other NATO operations have confronted in recent years. More broadly, this essay contends that the EFP initiative may not be the right tool for the most likely security issues facing Allies in northeastern Europe. The author concludes by making the case for a nuanced refinement that furthers security for all member states.

Modifying America's Forward Presence in Eastern Europe

Parameters, vol. 46, no 1, pp. 35-42

Spring 2016

Starting in 2017, Washington plans to begin heel-to-toe rotations of an armored brigade from the United States to Eastern Europe. In some respects, this represents a significant improvement over the assurance and deterrence steps taken by the United States and several of its NATO allies over the last two years. Although the administration’s plan is indeed a step in the right direction, it falls short of the hype ascribed by the media, not to mention Moscow. More broadly, the US approach to reassurance and deterrence still suffers from some strategic shortcomings.

Shifting locus of governance? The case of NATO's connected forces initiative

European Security

March 2016

In early 2012, NATO's then-Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, unveiled the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI), an effort designed to increase allied interoperability and readiness. Through three lines of effort – training and education, exercises, and better use of technology – the CFI is intended to help the alliance maintain the operational and tactical interoperability it developed in Afghanistan. At first glance, the CFI appears to represent an example of the claims of some neo-institutionalist scholars that there is a shift in the locus of governance from member states to NATO. However, this article takes a deeper look and concludes that in fact the locus of security governance is not shifting, at least not in this instance. Member states of the alliance retain several means of controlling and influencing NATO, thereby preventing it from developing a significant degree of autonomy, in contrast to the European Union or United Nations.

Still the One? The Role of Europe in American Defense Strategy

Orbis, vol. 60, no. 1

Winter 2016

According to the 2015 National Security Strategy, the United States continues to rely on Europe as its most likely, most capable military partner for dealing with the most vexing security challenges. However, the conventional wisdom in Washington holds that European allies are not terribly capable militarily or very willing to use force. So why would the United States rely on such lax partners? In fact, the evidence on European defense spending, capabilities, and willingness is decidedly mixed, with many positive trends among the negative ones. To build on the positive, the United States can bring to the table assets and resources necessary to facilitate the transatlantic partnership before it needs to be the 2015 National Security Strategy, the United States continues to rely on Europe as its most likely, most capable military partner for dealing with the most vexing security challenges. However, the conventional wisdom in Washington holds that European allies are not terribly capable militarily or very willing to use force. So why would the United States rely on such lax partners? In fact, the evidence on European defense spending, capabilities, and willingness is decidedly mixed, with many positive trends among the negative ones. To build on the positive, the United States can bring to the table assets and resources necessary to facilitate the transatlantic partnership before it needs to be exercised.

Beyond Information Sharing: NATO and the Foreign Fighter Threat

Parameters, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 47-60

Summer 2015

Despite disagreement among experts and policymakers over its significance, the foreign fighter threat to Europe is very real. Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), such as NATO, have an important role to play in countering this threat, including through information sharing. Even though the North Atlantic alliance has its hands full at the moment, member states can further leverage NATO’s unique advantages.

NATO's New Trajectories after the Wales Summit

Parameters, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 57-66

Autumn 2014

NATO is seeing something of a rebirth manifested by the Wales summit in September 2014. The summit did not fix all NATO’s woes, but it did address a number of them, especially the reconfigured security situation in Europe. However, it remains unclear how NATO can add to its already full plate, especially during a time of personnel cuts and zero-growth budgets.

Maintaining transatlantic strategic, operational and tactical interoperability in an era of austerity

International Affairs, Volume 90, Issue 3, pages 583–600

May 12, 2014

With the end of major combat operations in Afghanistan, how will the North Atlantic alliance maintain the unprecedented levels of interoperability developed over the last decade? One of the most effective means of building and maintaining interoperability—the forward-based presence of US military forces in Europe— has shrunk significantly over the last 25 years and is likely to shrink further in the coming years, meaning it will become increasingly difficult for American and European military forces to operate side by side. Nevertheless, the United States continues to look to its allies in NATO as the primary partners in maintaining and promoting common interests around the globe. Additionally, Washington seems more committed than ever to wielding force in a coalition context. In order to help remedy this seeming incongruity, Washington announced in early 2012 a plan to deploy rotationally several hundred troops from the United States to Germany for periodic exercises with European partners and allies. However, it remains unclear whether a rotational model will be sufficient to generate the level of interoperability necessary for US forces and those of its most capable European allies to work seamlessly across the range of military operations. The loss of tactical and operational interoperability threatens transatlantic strategic interoperability, and therefore risks decoupling European and American security policy. To mitigate these challenges, the article discusses several policy steps the United States should consider.

Strategic Landpower in the Indo-Asia-Pacific

Parameters, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 77-86

Autumn 2013

The US Army has a major, strategic role to play in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater. That role can be broken down into three broad areas—bolstering defense of allies and deterring aggression, promoting regional security and stability through security coopertion, and ameliorating the growing US-China security dilemma. Employing strategic landpower in each of these areas is not without challenges—especially in the face of sequestration—yet not making use of the Army will result in fewer policy options.

Energy Self-Sufficient Military Installations: Rewards and Obstacles

Energy Security: Operational Highlights, no. 2, pp. 3-7.

July 23, 2013

Energy self-sufficient installations are not simply a worthy goal. They are in many ways a compelling necessity for managing budget cuts, reducing risks from hostile state and non-state actors to military infrastructure, limiting Mother Nature’s impact on military operations, and augmenting operational capability today and tomorrow. Energy self-sufficient military installations therefore represent a wise policy choice. Standing in the way of this seemingly obvious way ahead are some rather significant impediments though, including up-front investment costs, land requirements, and cultural hurdles. Hence it is not clear whether the wise policy choice represented by military installation self-sufficiency also makes for a wise political choice, at least it the short run.

AFRICOM's Role in Shaping the Future in Africa

inFocus Quarterly, vol. VII, no. 2

July 2013

If AFRICOM can mitigate challenges posed by defense budget cuts, decreased U.S. military manpower, and a national security bureaucracy increasingly focused on the Pacific, it will likely continue to play a critical, cost-effective role in safeguarding U.S. interests in Africa through security cooperation.

Whose Responsibility is Interoperability?

Small Wars Journal

June 26, 2013

The U.S. Army should embrace the critical role it can play in building and maintaining interoperability with America’s most capable, most likely future coalition partners and in promoting expeditionary capabilities and outlooks among those same allies. If so, it will likely find a very willing partner in General Breedlove and the U.S. European Command.

Culture, Institutions, and Defense Cuts: Overcoming Challenges in Operational Energy Security

Journal of Transatlantic Studies, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 396-410

December 2012

Given the dramatic defense spending cuts occurring on both side of the Atlantic, the time would seem ripe for greater transatlantic cooperation in operational energy security -- that is, the energy necessary to train for, deploy to, conduct, and redeploy from combat operations. However, with few exceptions, the prospects for greater cooperation in this area ? in terms of common strategies, plans, doctrine, materiel and training, for example ? appear quite low. Europe remains hobbled by institutional, organizational, and fiscal limitations, while the USA -- largely for cultural reasons -- struggles to overcome an episodic commitment to energy security.

Transatlantic Energy Security: Convergence or Divergence? (with Karen Smith Stegen)

Journal of Transatlantic Studies, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 305-12

December 2012

Recent upheaval in the global energy system – how energy is produced, transported and consumed – has unsettled long-held notions of energy security. For decades, transatlantic cooperation helped undergird the system's stability, but how is the relationship faring in the current era of energy uncertainty? In this special issue, experts from across Europe and the USA, including advisers to the executive and legislative branches of both the EU and the USA, to senior military commanders and to major international organizations and companies, examine various facets of the transatlantic energy relationship and whether it is characterized by convergence or divergence.

The American Role in European Defense Reform

Orbis, vol. 56, no. 4, pp. 530–46

October 2012

In order to influence the direction and outcomes of defense reforms occurring across Europe, the United States needs to refocus its military-to-military engagement programs with its European allies. Instead of seeking to build partner capacity among the newest NATO members or aspirants, Washington will be better served by maintaining and strengthening interoperability with those allies that are adaptive and innovative, deployable and expeditionary, and capable of full spectrum operations—that is, allies such as France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. This finding is based upon what Washington itself sees as the future of conflict and the kinds of coalition partner skills and abilities the United States will need to counter post-International Security Assistance Force International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) threats to U.S. and collective security. Given budget and force structure cuts facing the United States as well, the American military cannot afford to waste its limited security cooperation resources.

The NATO Rapid Deployment Corps: Alliance Doctrine and Force Structure

Contemporary Security Policy, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 498-523

December 2004

Why did it take NATO until 2002 to implement many of the force structure changes its grand strategy called for in 1991? And once it did make the changes, why did they differ from what the alliance said it needed? The story of how the ‘most successful alliance in history’ stumbled its way to what are today known as the NATO Rapid Deployment Corps (NRDCs) provides valuable lessons in understanding how the alliance plans and manages change while shedding light on the ongoing academic debate over the sources of military doctrine and force structure. Commonly employed models for explaining doctrine and force structure outcomes - threat-based models, organizational behaviour models and bureaucratic politics models - cannot independently explain this case. Rather, a combination of models provides the most explanatory power. Threat-based models explain the initiation of a doctrine and force structure review, but then organizational and bureaucratic models best explain NATO's doctrinal and force structure process and outcomes. By utilizing a combination of models, we can better understand how and why NATO changed its doctrine and force structure in the first decade of the twenty-first century. We can also contemplate NATO's ability and willingness to respond to future watershed changes in international security such as the fight against terrorism.

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© 2014-2020 by John R. Deni