55. Telegram From the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the Department of State1

4533. Subject: Alliance Defense for the 70’s.

1. Text quoted below was released by NATO International Staff on evening of 2 December in accordance with an earlier decision by DPC Ministers on public presentation of AD–70.

2. The same text is also expected to be attached to the NATO communiqué to be issued on 4 December,2 covering both NAC and DPC meetings.

3. Secretary Laird informed DPC Ministers on 2 December that he would refer to the paper as the “Declaration of Brussels.”

4. Washington may wish to repeat text to other posts. Begin text:

“Alliance Defence for the Seventies

1. The Allied countries participating in the integrated defence efforts decided at a meeting of the Defence Planning Committee in permanent session in May of this year to examine in depth NATO defence problems for the next decade.

2. The North Atlantic Alliance has made a practice over the years of periodically conducting major reviews and adapting its policies to accord with the changing circumstances of the times. A notable recent example was the study undertaken in 1967 which resulted in the Report on the Future Tasks of the Alliance establishing defence and détente as complementary pillars of its activities. That report stated that “collective defence is a stabilising factor in world politics. It is the necessary condition for effective policies directed towards a greater relaxation of tensions.” Against this background, governments earlier this year recognised the particular timeliness of a full and candid exchange of views among the Allies on their common defence over the next ten years. This examination of NATO’s defence capability in the light of current and prospective military and political developments has now been completed.

3. NATO’s approach to security in the 1970’s will continue to be based on the twin concepts of defence and détente. Defence problems cannot be seen in isolation but must be viewed in the broader context of [Page 237] the Alliance’s basic purpose of ensuring the security of its members. There is a close inter-relationship between the maintenance of adequate defensive strength and the negotiation of settlements affecting the security of the member states.

4. The 1970’s could develop into an era of successful negotiations between members of the North Atlantic Alliance and those of the Warsaw Pact. On Western initiative, there are now negotiations under way between East and West which could lead to a real relaxation of tensions. It is hoped that there will be satisfactory progress in on-going talks on a limitation of strategic nuclear weapons and on an improvement of the situation in and around Berlin, and in other current negotiations between individual members of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The Alliance will continue to seek improved East-West relations, and in the framework of this effort, one of its principal aims will be to engage the Soviet Union and its allies in meaningful talks on mutual and balanced force reductions and other disarmament measures. Progress in this field would facilitate dealing with the defence problems of the next decade. This period might also see convened one or more conferences on European security and co-operation.

5. On the other hand, the Allies cannot ignore certain disturbing features in the international situation. The evidence thus far suggests that the USSR, intent on extending and strengthening its political power, conducts its international relations on the basis of concepts some of which are not conducive to détente. In particular, its concept of sovereignty is clearly inconsistent with United Nations’ principles. At the same time, Soviet military capabilities, besides guaranteeing the USSR’s security, continue to increase and provide formidable backing for the wide-ranging assertion of Soviet influence and presence, persistently raising questions regarding their intentions. In real terms, there has been a continuous rise in Soviet defence and defence-related expenditures between 1965 and 1969 of about 5 per cent to 6 per cent per year on average and the evidence is that the USSR is continuing to strengthen its military establishments still further. The contrast between these figures and the corresponding information relating to the Alliance may be seen from paragraph 10 below. Whether East-West relations can in these circumstances be significantly improved will depend mainly on the actions of the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies, and on the attitudes they bring to negotiations now in progress or in prospect.

6. The position of the Alliance and its member countries during this period of exploration and negotiation, with special reference to European security and mutual force reductions, would be weakened if NATO were to reduce its forces unilaterally, especially those in the European area, and in particular at a time when it is confronted with a [Page 238] steady growth in Soviet military power, which manifests itself above all in the strategic nuclear and maritime fields. NATO member states must, therefore, maintain a sufficient level of conventional and nuclear strength for defence as well as for deterrence, thus furnishing a sound basis from which to negotiate and underlining that negotiation is the only sensible road open. Progress towards a meaningful détente in an era of negotiation will, therefore, require the maintenance of a strong collective defence posture.

7. The present NATO defence strategy of deterrence and defence, with its constituent concepts of flexibility in response and forward defence, will remain valid. It will continue to require an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional forces.

8. It is to be hoped that success in strategic arms limitation talks will be achieved. Allied strategic nuclear capability will in any event remain a key element in the security of the West during the 1970’s. At the present time, adequate nuclear forces exist and it will be essential to ensure that this capability, which includes the continued commitment of theatre nuclear forces, is maintained.

9. The situation in the field of conventional forces is less satisfactory in view of certain imbalances between NATO and Warsaw Pact capabilities. Careful attention needs to be paid to priorities in improving NATO’s conventional strength in the 1970’s. In the allocation of resources, priority will be given to measures most critical to a balanced Alliance defence posture in terms of deterrent effect, ability to resist external political pressure, and the prompt availability or rapid enhancement of the forward defensive capability in a developing crisis. In addition to a capability to deter and counter major deliberate aggression, Allied forces should be so structured and organized as to be capable of dealing also with aggressions and incursions with more limited objectives associated with intimidation or the creation of faits accomplis, or with those aggressions which might be the result of accident or miscalculation. In short, Allied forces should be so structured and organized as to deter and counter any kind of aggression. Important areas in NATO’s conventional defence posture to which attention should be paid in the next decade include: armour/anti-armour potential; the air situation including aircraft protection; overall maritime capabilities, with special reference to anti-submarine forces; the situation on NATO’s flanks; the peacetime deployment of ground forces; further improvements in Allied mobilization and reinforcement capabilities as well as in NATO communications, for crisis management purposes.

10. The Alliance possesses the basic resources for adequate conventional strength. However, member countries are confronted with diverging trends in the pattern of expenditures and costs. On the other hand the cost of personnel and equipment continues to mount and [Page 239] most NATO countries are faced with major re-equipment programmes; on the other, in many member countries the share of GNP devoted to defence has declined and, even if outlays in money terms have risen, outlays in real terms have diminished owing to inflation. In marked contrast with the trend in Warsaw Pact countries’ military expenditure, defence expenditures of the NATO European countries taken as a whole and calculated in real terms went down by 4 percent from 1964 to 1969.

11. It is of paramount importance that there be close collaboration among all member states to ensure the most effective collective defence posture. It is equally important that the burden of maintaining the necessary military strength should be borne co-operatively with each member making an appropriate contribution.

12. The commitment of substantial North American forces deployed in Europe is essential both politically and militarily for effective deterrence and defence and to demonstrate the solidarity of NATO. Their replacement by European forces would be no substitute. At the same time their significance is closely related to an effective and improved European defence effort. Ten of the European countries have therefore consulted among themselves to determine how it would be possible for them individually and collectively to make a more substantial contribution to the overall defence of the treaty area.

13. As a result the ten countries have decided to adopt a special European defence improvement programme going well beyond previously existing plans and designed to improve Alliance capability in specific fields identified as of particular importance in the current study. This programme will comprise:

(A) An additional collective contribution, in the order of $420 million over five years, to NATO common infrastructure to accelerate work on the NATO integrated communications system and on aircraft survival measures;

(B) Numerous important additions and improvements to national forces, costing at least $450–500 million over the next five years plus very substantial further amounts thereafter; the forces concerned will all be committed to NATO;

(C) Other significant financial measures to improve collective defence capability, costing $79 million over the next two years.

The United States and Canada have welcomed this programme, and have reaffirmed their intention to maintain their forces in Europe at substantially their current levels.

14. After careful review of the proposals emerging from the examination of defence problems in the seventies, the Defence Planning Committee in Ministerial session on 2nd December, 1970, adopted con[Page 240]crete proposals aimed at improving NATO’s defence capabilities. End text.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 4 NATO. Unclassified; Priority. Repeated to the Department of Defense, SHAPE, USCINCEUR, USLOSACLANT, and all NATO capitals. Kissinger wrote about the NATO paper in White House Years, p. 401.
  2. See Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, 1969–1970, pp. 24348–24352.