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On the face of it, the question in the title seems banal: NATO members' armies practice in multinational maneuvers, have certain standards to allow their armies to integrate well with each other.

So these same armies (or armed forces to be more exact) should profit from thei common NATO membership in a multilateral military force, whether it's an EU, UN mission, a "US-led coalition of the willing" or whatever constellation should be useful regardless if it's "officially" a NATO mission. Of course, I could be wrong.

My question is: Is this so? Did high ranking military personnel (of any NATO-member) ever comment on how useful a a common NATO membership is for multilateral missions outside the official NATO umbrella?

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  • I'm not sure what you mean by "useful". Your quote seems to be saying that the existence of NATO or the UN was irrelevant to the soldiers on the ground, they just engaged in the mission as ordered, which feels like the opposite of "useful".
    – IMSoP
    Jun 7 at 10:44
  • I see what you mean. Back then I understood the quote to mean "we have all the infrastructure and chain of command style stuff figured out we need for this mulit-national mission, it doesnt matter what flag we fly." But now that I think of it, the quote is really not that important to my question.
    – mart
    Jun 7 at 10:55
  • @IMSoP was the vtc yours and is your concern adressed now?
    – mart
    Jun 7 at 10:56
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    No, I don't having enough rep for voting on this site. You haven't really answered my question though - what do you mean by "useful"?
    – IMSoP
    Jun 7 at 11:03
  • I mean "NATO members' armies practice in multinational maneuvers, have certain standards to allow their armies to integrate well with each other" is useful when these same armies operate together outside of an official NATO mission.
    – mart
    Jun 7 at 11:07

1 Answer 1

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Yes. In fact could almost argue that membership is the major benefit as many missions have been done by NATO members together, outside of NATO (for example the Libya intervention though parts of it were explicitly run by NATO). Or the ISIS suppression mission.

This is also why the whole notion of dismissing the common defense clause in the EU, as not being NATO, hence unworthy, despite many of the countries involved being in NATO members is questionable.

  • Equipment compatibility due to NATO standardization. This goes from radios to ammo to in-air refuelling systems.

  • Training together allows communication to be honed between soldiers of different countries speaking different language. Be that through using English as a common language or NATO codes and terminology. Without that experience, different countries might find it quite difficult to closely collaborate.

    • this is especially important if you need to operate combined arms operations, say involving close air support of ground troops.
  • Training together develops a "I've got your back" mindset, which is tremendously important in military forces. Traditionally, savvy attackers often try to attack at the junctions between large units (say division level and up) of the same country, as those units may either not coordinate well or may not look out for each other. Many a rout has started when one unit pulled back and exposed another. Stalingrad saw the Russians start out their encirclement by attacking Italian and Rumanian armies which had been treated as poor relations and had no significant anti tank capabilities.

  • Being a NATO member allows one to get access to some of the world's best weapons preferentially. For example, while this has been rolled back somewhat, Turkey was on lead to be the main maintenance provider for the F35 program. (They may still parlay the current situation to get back into better graces). This for a country whose relations with Europe can occasionally be tense and whose leader, Erdogan, is often accused of illiberal tendencies. For the purchaser, not being a member would invite much more scrutiny during export clearance procedures in the selling country.

  • Training under NATO means learning from some of the world's best militaries, who have spent considerable time determining how best to train an army into combat effectiveness and which tactics to use. Looking at Ukrainian forces, while the courage is theirs and theirs alone, one could argue that the tactics and force restructuring away from their Warsaw Pact origins has given them a major step up compared to Russia's army, even before the liberal supplying of weaponry.

  • Details will depend on circumstances, but - I believe - NATO sometimes "loans" common infrastructure to members engaging in missions elsewhere. For example headquarters communication systems.

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  • Even if a single country is involved in a conflict, relying on standardised NATO equipment means a lot more variety in suppliers for said equipment. Even if your own national manufacturers are all out of service or at max capacity, you will probably always find other manufacturers of 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition for instance.
    – jcaron
    Jun 8 at 11:06
  • Regarding last point, yes, there are some shared programs like AGS: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliance_Ground_Surveillance OTOH Finald was also able to place an order for F-35s, last winter. Which would put it somewhere on par with Israel in terms of being favored/allowed to get them, without being in NATO... except Israel has had them for a while now.
    – Fizz
    Jun 8 at 14:47
  • Finland might have actually been able to get them sooner but insisted on "industry offsets", i.e. local participation airforcemag.com/finland-formalizes-deal-for-64-block-4-f-35s
    – Fizz
    Jun 8 at 14:52

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