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Recent developments in Crimea and Ukraine highlight the crucial importance of robust transatlantic military capabilities. However, these capabilities are on a downward trajectory. If current trends continue, the weakening of collective defenses may reach a tipping point where significant collective power projection would be problematic at best.
Since the Cold War's end, Britain has attempted to adapt to a more complex set of security problems while simultaneously cutting force structure. As a result, the United Kingdom's strategic field of vision has shrunk: it has increasingly adopted a preference for military operations that are far away, fairly small, or relatively brief.
The state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) land forces is something of a paradox. Although the alliance has no equal in terms of its gross domestic product, commands a wealth of human and social capital, and boasts the world's largest aggregate defense sector, NATO's land forces in particular have lost ground when it comes to their overall combat capacities.
Should the French economy continue to lag, there will be pressure again to look to the defense budget for additional savings. In short, is France's 2013 white paper a realistic assessment of the future of French defense capabilities, or does it signal the start of a subtle but noticeable decline in the country’s strategic ambitions?
Poland has begun a major military modernization program whose success will depend on the continued health of the Polish economy and the transformation of the Polish defense industry into an efficient producer of advanced military equipment.
Germany's stagnant defense budget challenges the country's ability to establish a leaner, more flexible, and more deployable German armed forces. As Europe's leading economic power and, increasingly, as Europe's central political actor, Germany should take the lead in reversing the precipitous decline in European hard power.
With US armed forces increasingly focused on the Asia-Pacific region, there are growing concerns as to whether the navies of America's continental allies are up to meeting the challenges arising from the general unrest on Europe's eastern and souther maritime flanks.
As NATO summits go, this weekend's meeting of the alliance's members in Chicago may be memorable if only for being the least memorable one in recent history. Of course, quiet summits are not necessarily bad summits.