NATO Strategy
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 14 May 1959, p. 1-9


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Norstad, General Lauris, Speaker
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Text
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Speeches
Description:
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Where NATO stands and the basis or background to its military strategy at the time of its Tenth Anniversary. The strength, perhaps more moral than military, that has sprung from this tangible evidence of the desire and the determination of free people to face the threat against them, to remain free. The purposes of the Alliance from which is derived the military mission. The development of the military strength of the Alliance and the broad thinking on which future requirements are based. A description of three critical points in the development of NATO's military forces. A new-weapons concept. Enlarging the scope of the deterrent and increasing the elements which contribute to it. Three basic objectives for any valid strategy for NATO Europe. The continuing necessity for the Alliance. The doing as well as the wishing for, security. Seeking a firm basis for peace. Building a common defense under NATO.
Date of Original:
14 May 1959
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English
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
"NATO STRATEGY"
An Address by GENERAL LAURIS NORSTAD, Supreme Commander Allied Powers, Europe
Special Joint Meeting
Thursday, May 14, 1959
CHAIRMAN: The Past President, Lt.-Col. Bruce Legge.

LT.-COL. LEGGE: At this exceptional meeting, The Canadian Club of Toronto, the Fort York Branch of the Canadian Legion, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, the Officers of the Toronto Garrison and the Royal Canadian Military Institute all join with us in the tenth year of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to honour General Lauris Norstad, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Europe.

General Norstad was born in Minneapolis of Norwegian lineage and, like his brilliant former Deputy Commander, Lord Montgomery, he was the son of a clergyman. Early in his career Lauris Norstad planned to study law but this was put aside for the attractions of the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in 1930 to enter flight training with the Army Air Corps. By the outbreak of the Second World War he was already the Assistant Chief of Staff for Air Intelligence. Early in the campaign he served with the Twelfth Air Force both in England and in North Africa. In December 1943, he assumed his first important international command as Director of Operations of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces with headquarters at Algiers. When the Twentieth Air Force was created, he was appointed Chief of Staff to carry the might of American strategic air warfare against Japan. After hostilities ended General Norstad was selected to be the far-seeing Director of Plans and Operations for the War Department. He returned to an operational role when he was made Commander-in-Chief of the United States Air Force in Europe, and in 1953 he was designated Air Deputy to the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

The supreme command of all the Allied Powers in Europe was given to General Norstad in 1956 and his forces will have to bear the weight and violence of warfare should that evil ensue. In the meantime he must deploy the armies, air armadas, navies and armaments of the West against adversaries who unswervingly believe with Mao Tse-tung that 'political power grows out of the barrel of a gun'. The menace is therefore clearly recognized and there now lives in the West a philosophy, a will and a resolution not to be bullied and frightened into a resigned weakness by those who use wars and threats of wars as essentials of public policy. The new French Republic illustrates the courage and morality of the West, for President de Gaulle expostulated to Soviet Ambassadors, "Free access to West Berlin is a vital Western interest for which we shall fight if need be. If we have to fight, no doubt we may all die; but so will you!'

Such are the awesome alternatives of peace and war in this tenth year of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The strongest of the free and proudly independent nations constituting the grand alliance is the United States of America, which has rejected George Washington's policy of no alliances with any portion of the foreign world. Moreover, this grand alliance is commanded by an American who understands the twentieth century techniques of annihilating warfare as well as he knows the Military statesmanship of leading the allied forces in confidence and determination, in unity and friendship.

Gentlemen, I have the high honour to introduce to the guests and members of The Empire Club of Canada, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Europe, General Lauris Norstand, who will speak of "NATO Strategy".

GENERAL NORSTAD: I am very pleased, and honoured, to be here in Toronto at the invitation of The Empire Club. It is a particular pleasure because I have never before had the opportunity to visit this great city, a city of which I have heard so much, since the time I was a very small boy. Having been born and raised in the State of Minnesota, I might claim that geographical proximity has given me a particularly close relationship with you and your country. My own part of the United States is literally only a stone's throw away from Canada and, if stones are sometimes thrown across this friendly border, and they are, perhaps it is a good thing. It keeps us aware of one another, compels us from time to time to reassess the importance of our relationship, to appreciate how much we mean to one another.

But I am not here as an American today, but rather as an Allied commander who has been given the responsibility for the defence of a large part of the area we call the Atlantic community, and who, in this capacity, commands the forces of many countries, including some very important Canadian contributions. I want to take advantage of this chance to tell you and the people of Canada of my great pride in the Brigade from the Canadian Army and the Air Division from the Canadian Air Force, which are important elements of the forward defence line in NATO Europe. It is this forward line, these forces deployed on our easternmost borders, which contribute an important and an essential part to the defence of our people and territory and to the peace and security which are the aims and purposes of all our countries.

It would be improper for me to single out one force or one country as making a particularly outstanding contribution, but let me tell you what I have said to many others, what I have told many non-Canadians, that is, that among the many fine forces that make up the strength of the Alliance, the men and the units of the Canadian contribution are second to none. I am pleased to have this chance to say this directly to Canada and to Canadians. I am also happy to mention the importance of the military aid or assistance which you have contributed over many years. This help, some of it in material, some of it in training,

has made it possible for several of the countries of the Alliance to meet their NATO commitments. In so doing, it has added greatly not only to our strength, but also to the feeling of unity on which we must depend. Further, this assistance, and the goodwill behind it, has carried the Canadian flag forward and placed in a most favourable light. But in advancing your flag, you have also emphasized NATO and the common purposes to which we are all devoted.

I want to speak to you about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to tell you briefly where we stand and to suggest to you the basis or the background of what might be called our military thinking. In speaking of NATO today, I do so in the special context created by the fact that we are just now celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Alliance. These have been ten eventful years, and years in which NATO has more than fulfilled the highest hopes of its founders. Let us recall for just a moment the world scene in 1947, 1948 and 1949. Let us look particularly at Europe and the area of the Atlantic Community. Among the events which compelled our countries to come together was the loss of Czechoslovakia behind the Iron Curtain, and the Soviet efforts to make a pawn of the courageous people of Berlin by their brutal attempt to deny to these people, by blockade, the bare necessities of life.

In those years as I traveled through Europe I was impressed, as I am sure many of you were, by the general apathy, the lack of interest and activity and, in fact, the despair written on the faces of most of the people. There was little hope for tomorrow. If there was thought of tomorrow, there was fear of what the day would bring. We are all familiar with the change, the truly miraculous improvement, that has taken place in the past ten years. Today, the shops are filled with goods and people, the factories are working at full speed; construction is taking place everywhere and, most important, hope and confidence are written on the faces of almost every man, woman and child. Some of this change must be credited to the passage of time. Some of it may by accounted for by the fact that in these ten critical years, Europe has been coming out of the disaster and destruction of a great war. But these are passive factors which cannot fully explain the miracle of change. A positive factor has been the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the strength, perhaps more moral than military, that has sprung from this tangible evidence of the desire and the determination of free people to face the threat against them, to remain free.

I want to speak broadly of our military position, but I would like to do so in true perspective. For this reason, I turn to the statement of the purposes of the Alliance from which is derived directly our military mission. Let me say that the Treaty itself gives us this mission and establishes the limits within which the military forces as well as other NATO activities must operate. We cannot go beyond the tasks established by the Treaty. What is more important, we cannot do less than what is demanded by that document. Let me quote from the Preamble to the North Atlantic Treaty, whose Tenth Anniversary we are celebrating:

"The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all Governments. They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security. . . ."

With this background, I would like to outline for you the development of the military strength of the Alliance and the broad thinking on which our future requirements are based as we move into NATO's second decade.

There have been three critical points in the development of our military forces. The first resulted from the plans and studies of 1951 and earlier, the period when the Allied military commands were first established. The danger, as you will remember, appeared imminent at that time, so rather large forces had to be considered. Further, the force requirements then considered, which became known as the Lisbon goals, were not based on consideration of the use of the so-called new weapons, a fact that added considerably to the strength required. But large as the forces were, and in the critical area of Central Europe, for instance, they were almost twice what are now considered necessary, the most that we could hope to accomplish was to defend the line of the Rhine--a politically unacceptable objective, even at that time. I might add that even these hopes were on a very thin margin.

By 1954, it had become apparent that the requirement was going to be a continuing one, that we must consider maintaining reasonable strength over a period of many years. This was an important new factor. Another one of perhaps even greater significance was the fact that weapons, new weapons--atomic weapons, were becoming available in numbers and in the types which made them applicable to the defensive tasks of the Alliance. As a consequence of these changes, our force requirements were drastically modified and reduced and decisions were taken which would apply to the defense of our people and territory the weapons and equipment necessary to insure that defense.

We are now in the midst of the third critical period, the period which is perhaps best characterized by the Heads of Government meeting which was held in Paris in December of 1957. An important conclusion was stated in the communique following that meeting, where, in speaking of NATO defense, the Heads of our Governments stated:

"The Soviet leaders, while preventing a general disarmament agreement, have made it clear that the most modern and destructive weapons, including missiles of all kinds, are being introduced in the Soviet armed forces. In the Soviet view, all European nations except the USSR should, without waiting for general disarmament, renounce nuclear weapons and missiles and rely on arms of the pre-atomic age.

"As long as the Soviet Union persists in this attitude, we have no alternative but to remain vigilant and to look to our defences. We are therefore resolved to achieve the most effective pattern of NATO military defensive strength, taking into account the most recent developments in weapons and techniques."

In consonance with this fundamental policy, we have developed, and presented to the nations, what might be called, with our tendency always to over-simplify, a new-weapons concept. Let me tell you something of the thinking that supports this concept.

The fundamental theme of the Alliance, defense and the preservation of peace, has established the principle of the deterrent. Because of the effectiveness of our great strategic forces in this respect, we have in the past thought of the deterrent only in terms of the heavy striking or retaliatory power. The broader concept that NATO has developed enlarges the scope of the deterrent and increases the elements which contribute to it. We now define the deterrent as including, of course, retaliatory forces, which continue to be absolutely essential to any valid strategy for the West. The effectiveness of these forces must at all costs be maintained. But we also include as an essential element in the deterrent the Shield Forces--the Army, Navy and Air Forces deployed on our forward line of defense in Europe and European waters. The third part of the deterrent is, of course, the will and the determination of our countries, individually and collectively, to use these forces, retaliatory and Shield, for the purpose for which they are intended should it become necessary to do so.

We believe that the heavy striking forces available to the West make the consequences of aggression so costly that the Soviets would not, could not, deliberately provoke a great war. It is this assumption that leads directly to a second important promise: that is, that a great danger of war, perhaps the greatest danger, springs from the possibility of a mistake, an error in judgment, a border incident deliberately provoked, or a probing operation designed for political advantage. It is for this reason that the critical area of the Atlantic Community, perhaps particularly the vital and sensitive forward area in Europe, becomes a particular source of danger. Our military response to this danger thus becomes of the greatest importance.

We believe that there are three basic objectives for any valid strategy for NATO Europe. First, in the event of a clash or an attack we must have the means of forcing a pause; second, during this pause we must compel the aggressor to make a conscious decision as to whether he is going to war or not going to war. We cannot let him back into this decision or make it by mistake. He must be compelled to make it as a result of careful thought. Our third objective is to force him to weigh the total cost of aggression in making his decision. He must not be permitted to think only in terms of the small local price. He must be compelled to consider the whole cost which might well involve the use of the heavy retaliatory forces as well as the military strength in immediate opposition.

Our so-called Shield Forces, that is, the Army, Navy and Air Forces that defend the forward line, are designed to meet these objectives. We believe that the forces available are even now meeting this requirement to a considerable extent. We must, however, continue the programs which have been approved by our countries, approved by the military and political authorities of the Alliance, so that in all cases which may reasonably be expected to develop, we can force the pause and compel the conscious decision, action which should prevent a war by mistake in NATO Europe.

In a military sense we are strong even now, and there is the even greater strength that comes from working together for a common purpose, from understanding each other's needs and problems. There is the strength that free people demonstrate, and create, when they face up to a threat, and determine to remain free.

Just as these strengths have developed within the NATO framework in the last ten years, the Alliance continues to be necessary for the years ahead. It has given us a basis for rebuilding our hopes and regaining our confidence. Today, the renewed threat to Berlin reminds us that the danger continues and that, in the face of danger, we must be strong as well as resolute. We are reminded that security requires doing as well as wishing. We are commanded by the words and the spirit of the North Atlantic Treaty to seek a firm basis for peace. Until we find this peace, until our search is rewarded by a real hope for security, a real basis for confidence, we must continue to build common defense which, under NATO, has kept free people free. This is the cause to which we, the soldiers, sailors and airmen of NATO, are dedicated.

THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. John Proctor, President of The Canadian Club of Toronto.

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NATO Strategy


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Where NATO stands and the basis or background to its military strategy at the time of its Tenth Anniversary. The strength, perhaps more moral than military, that has sprung from this tangible evidence of the desire and the determination of free people to face the threat against them, to remain free. The purposes of the Alliance from which is derived the military mission. The development of the military strength of the Alliance and the broad thinking on which future requirements are based. A description of three critical points in the development of NATO's military forces. A new-weapons concept. Enlarging the scope of the deterrent and increasing the elements which contribute to it. Three basic objectives for any valid strategy for NATO Europe. The continuing necessity for the Alliance. The doing as well as the wishing for, security. Seeking a firm basis for peace. Building a common defense under NATO.