European Contributions to Operation Allied Force: Implications for Transatlantic Cooperation. (Book Reviews)

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European Contributions to Operation Allied Force: Implications for Transatlantic Cooperation. By John E. Peters, et al. Arlington, Va.: RAND, 2001. 113 pp. $20.00 (paper). Reviewed by Ryan C. Hendrickson, Assistant Professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University:

As the research on Operation Allied Force continues to be published at a rapid pace, five analysts from RAND have released an important study on how the European allies contributed to NATO's most sustained military operation in its history. Peters et al. place their emphasis on how Europe assisted militarily in the effort to punish Slobodan Milosevic for his ethnic-cleansing activities in Kosovo. In doing so, the authors provide a very useful study on NATO and, more broadly, on the European Union's ability to provide for its proposed Rapid Reaction Force.

The authors measure "contributions" in terms of the level of air support given to NATO. In strict numerical measurements, France was the largest European contributor to Allied Force, followed by the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany. These contributions are subdivided into the types of air operations each allied state participated in. For example, among the allies, France was by far the largest contributor to "battlefield air interdiction" operations, while the Netherlands flew the most "combat air patrol" missions. The Germans participated primarily in "suppression of enemy air defense" operations. No other book on Allied Force provides such a detailed assessment of such contributions.

The larger lesson from this research, however, regards the serious limitations of NATO's European allies. The United States dominated every military aspect of the operation. This finding has been reported in the press and by other analysts, and thus comes as no surprise among students of NATO. Yet the raw numbers provided in this book demonstrate how truly limited Europe is in the types of operations it is able to conduct. Among the more troubling findings is the lack of secure communications between the allies, which created serious limitations in the ability to share intelligence and sensitive targeting information. Most of the allies also do not have the capability to strike effectively in inclement weather or at night.

The book also gives some attention to the political roles played by the allies in the target selection process. France most frequently exercised a veto power in NATO as the alliance requested strikes deeper into Yugoslavia and around Belgrade. …