October 1997

Chapter 4: Determination of Logistic
Requirements and Logistic Support

Defence Planning Process

402. Defence planning covers both the medium and the long term. The medium term establishes the basic NATO force plan and the capabilities needed by the NATO forces in the form of the force goals. The long term process establishes a basis for planning in the form of concepts and long term planning guidelines. In determining the size and the nature of their contribution to the common defence, member-nations have full independence of action. Nevertheless the collective nature of NATO's defence demands that, in reaching their decisions, governments take into account the force structure and capabilities recommended by the NATO Military Authorities (NMAs), and adopted by the Defence Planning Committee (DPC), and of the medium and long-term military plans of the Allies.

403. NATO's procedures for common force planning must take into account factors such as: the risk, the Alliance military requirements established by the NMAs, the best use of the available resources, advances in science and technology, a rational sharing of the defence burden among member countries, and the recognition that force plans have to be within economic and financial capabilities of nations. NATO force planning is based on three major elements:

  1. Ministerial Guidance, issued every two years, followed by;
  2. Force Goals, covering a six year period, which are adopted every two years; and
  3. Annual Defence Review, leading to an agreed NATO force plan for the succeeding five year period, the first year of which is a firm commitment of forces to NATO by each nation.

404. It is important to remember that the process is a continuing cycle by which planning is reviewed and projected each year for a period of five years ahead. The outline below sets out the sequence of events, using the development of the Ministerial Guidelines as a starting point.

  1. The Military Committee (MC) prepares the Military Appreciation based on military factors and considerations likely to affect force structures, deployments and equipment during the period under review. This appreciation is published in the even numbered years.

  2. Taking this appreciation into account, as well as the Economic Appreciation and other factors that have a bearing on defence efforts, the Defence Review Committee (DRC) drafts the Ministerial Guidance, which is agreed and issued by the Ministers in the Autumn of even numbered years. This political guidance, issued to both nations and NMAs, governs the preparation of force proposals for the relevant planning period. It includes the political and economic factors affecting the development of NATO forces over the period. Of particular importance is the resource guidance which becomes the fundamental baseline for the ensuing force goals.

  3. In the Autumn, Major NATO Commanders (MNCs) publish their draft Force Proposals which have already been discussed on a bilateral basis with nations.

  4. During the Winter and Spring, the draft Force Proposals are reviewed by the MC, at which time their military validity and conformity with the Ministerial Guidance is assessed. Subsequently, they are considered by the DRC and modified where necessary to reflect political and economic realities. The Draft Force Proposals are adopted by the DPC in permanent session as new NATO Force Goals and endorsed by Ministers at their Spring meeting.

  5. Following this, nations use the NATO Force Goals as the basis for reporting their force plans for the next five year period commencing in December of that year.

  6. These National Force Plans are forwarded to NATO Headquarters in the national responses to the annual Defence Planning Questionnaire (DPQ) and are analyzed by both the Military Authorities and the International Staff (IS). Where differences occur between the national plans and the NATO goals, a first attempt is made to reconcile them by the IS, the International Military Staff (IMS) and the representatives of the MNCs, together with representatives of the individual nations concerned. These are called "trilateral discussions" and are generally held in capitals.

  7. The results of this examination are then passed to the DRC which attempts to eliminate any remaining differences in multilateral meetings at NATO Headquarters. All nations participate, supported by the IS, IMS,and NMAs.

  8. After these multilateral examinations, the DRC prepares a Country Chapter on each nation and a General Report for the DPC setting out how far nations have been able to meet the Force Goals, and where and why shortfalls have occurred.

  9. At the same time, the MC reports to the DPC on the military suitability and the military risk associated with the emerging Alliance-wide five year force plan.

  10. In the light of both these reports, the DPC recommends a five year Force Plan for Ministers to consider.

  11. Ministers review the DPC recommendations from the aspects of political balance, economic feasibility, acceptability and associated degree of risk. The five year Force Plan then becomes the basis for national defence planning over the whole period and, as stated above, becomes a firm commitment of forces by each country for the first year.

  12. It should be noted that, in the Autumn of the next year, nations will report for a second time against the same force goals, with emphasis of major changes in defence and in the level of implementation.

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