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Jane’s: NATO could mobilize a fraction of Cold War power in new war

April 11, 1997

LONDON (AP) _ In the event of war, NATO could mobilize just 2 percent of its fighting machine in 12 hours, a staggering decline from the 70 percent requirement during the Cold War, Jane’s International Defense Review says.

Even given a year, the forces NATO could field still would be 10 percent fewer than those the Western alliance could mobilize in half a day in 1989, the magazine reported Thursday.

The lack of readiness stems from dramatic troop reductions, a shortage of resources and changes in the structure of NATO forces following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the respected monthly military magazine said.

``There has been a considerable reduction in both levels and readiness, most particularly in relation to ground forces,″ Brig. Gen. Robert Glacel was quoted as saying. Glacel heads the requirements branch in the policy division at NATO’s military headquarters in Mons, Belgium.

NATO reduced the readiness of the bulk of its military forces as part of a 1993 agreement on restructuring and has been focusing on smaller rapid reaction forces, Jane’s said.

But Rupert Pengelley, technical editor for Jane’s Information Group and author of the article, said few people outside NATO realize the extent of the force reductions made after the 1991 Gulf War, ``nor the rapidity with which NATO’s war fighting potential can (or cannot) be regenerated.″

He said NATO’s Cold War mobilization requirements proved to be justified because inspections in 1990 showed the East German army kept many of its tanks and artillery units permanently ``bombed up″ in an attempt to beat NATO’s predicted reaction times.

But without the Soviet threat, readiness has been sliding dramatically, he said.

Pengelley interviewed several top military officers at NATO headquarters, but Jane’s did not say where the figures came from.

Glacel was quoted as saying that air defenses such as Patriot missile launchers are located in central Europe where they are not needed now _ while all the risks have moved south ``for example, to Iran or Iraq.″

NATO’s press office in Mons said it would not comment until receiving the article.

Some NATO countries have what are termed ``hollow forces,″ Jane’s said.

Germany has almost 1,965 tanks listed in its land forces, but 70 percent of them are not operational because of a lack of spare parts or because they are on loan to another army, it said.

Funding problems have held up replacements for U.S. army logistics vehicles deployed in Bosnia, and British air force personnel interviewed in a recent television documentary alleged that many Tornado fighters would be grounded because of suspect wiring if there was a rigorous inspection, Jane’s said.

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