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A Compass Heading for United States Army Air Defense Forces in Europe

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Study project Jul 1989-May 1991

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The purpose of this paper is to examine the changing European threat environment and to propose a concept for future U.S. Army HIMAD Air Defense Artillery employment that is compatible with current political and economic realities and consistent with new threat environment for air defense forces in Europe is significant. Future requirements for air defense must be predicted on a combination of conventional concepts of threat assessment as well as a recognition of the new threat dimensions established by the evolving European change. Traditionally the threat has been defined as a Soviet sponsored potential for intrusion into the affairs of the NATO member states and quantified as a combination of capabilities and intentions. While this measure of the threat is still valid, the new dimensions of uncertainty and instability make defensive posturing more complex. These volatile additions have created a unique and challenging military climate in which to design future air defenses in NATO. The position proposed in this paper is that the threat, and specifically the air threat, in Europe has actually increased since the decline of the bi-polar world order. A new emphasis on flank security and an increased reliance on reserve forces, multi-national organizations and pre-positioned equipment is proposed. A reassessment of air defense requirements, in light of impending U.S. force reductions, leads into a proposal that emphasizes defensive force alignment versus conventional reductions that maintain a reliance on maneuver forces. This paper concludes that continued U.S. participation in an integrated NATO air defense structure should be a prominent pillar of our future European defense strategy.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Defense Systems

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