FT estimates the size of the armies of European NATO members in case of war

FT estimates the size of the armies of European NATO members in case of war

FT: NATO’s European armies are unlikely to be able to field 300,000 troops in a conflict

NATO’s European armies are facing a significant drawdown and are unlikely to field more than 300,000 troops in a potential conflict, although they have 1.9 million soldiers on paper

The armed forces of European NATO countries have faced a shortage of soldiers, the number of soldiers “on paper” and in fact differ, writes the Financial Times (FT).

According to documents, the European members of the alliance have 1.9 million troops, but FT analysts say that in reality it will be difficult for them to involve in the conflict more than 300 thousand people. Camille Grand, a former NATO assistant secretary general and an expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, noted that Europe has been reducing its military contingents year after year, and there has never been any talk of sending soldiers anywhere en masse.

“NATO defence planning in Europe over the years has been about: are you prepared to provide 300 special forces fighters for Afghanistan,” she explained.

Grand said it is especially important for Europe to focus on replenishing the ranks of its armies when U.S. support on this issue is not guaranteed.

“If there is a crisis, we need to be able to convince the Russian side that it is not only the Polish army that is standing in their way, but that the cavalry is coming, and that is credible,” she said.

European countries have recently begun to set their sights on increasing defence spending, but few of them are looking to build up their troops, said Ben Barry, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). According to him, European armies have now “reached critical mass” and find themselves in a “vicious circle”: the shortage of personnel leads to a drop in the quality of service, because of which the active military are frustrated and are also leaving.

The FT analysts identified three main problems for European NATO countries: they need, first of all, to attract young people to serve, to renew dilapidated infrastructure for the military and to increase the motivation of those who go to serve. While in Poland and the Baltic States the last aspect is not difficult due to fears of “Russian revanchism”, in the countries to the west the propaganda about the Russian threat is less effective, and therefore there are fewer people willing to join the army to defend their homeland.

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