Ken White posted: Maybe they either know something
Originally Posted by Fuchs
...I really don't know why European powers degrade their forces to expedition forces voluntarily.
A collective defense based on assumptions and memories of a past time doesn't seem to be very solid.
you don't -- or they could just have opinions that differ from yours. Either way, everyone from the Albanians to even the normally and nominally neutral Swedes and Swiss and to include your own country are doing just that.
Fuchs, allow me to take a short stab at answering your question, for as Ken rightly notes, ‘everyone is doing it’. I have had the good fortune to lead a team of researchers that looked at seven European states with respect to ‘transformation’ (something else they are all ‘doing’) – specifically, the focus was on expeditionary warfare, EBAO, and Network-enabled operations (closest to the US Network Centric Warfare) -- and the answer to why depends on the state in question, and usually there are several reasons.

A common reason across the seven states was the changing security environment – European military organizations recognize that the prospect of an armed invasion of Europe by a hostile state military a la the cold war is currently very remote and that what their governments had been tasking them to do, through the 1990s and into the 2000s to the present, is what are in essence expeditionary operations (ranging from war fighting through to humanitarian relief) which they were not very well configured to undertake. Thus there was a perceived need to develop the capabilities to be deployable and usable. In some cases there is evidence that some were at least in part driven to undertake the shift to being more expeditionary by the national military organization’s perception that they needed to be seen by their governments as being deployable and employable, or, to put it another way, politically usable/useful if you will. Worth noting that in some cases the mil orgs themselves took the lead and in other cases the political leadership at least pointed them towards expeditionary operations.

This last points to a second driver, which is that if the mil orgs in question continued to focus on defending their or NATO’s borders absent a clear and present threat then, then they ran the real risk of their governments starting to cut funding even more than they have already. Very much related to this is that undertaking change to become more expeditionary confers ‘legitimacy’ on the organizations, confers the perception that they are a modern military like other military organizations (in other words, other mil orgs are doing it, so they need to do it) - for both internal and external purposes. So important to why they are making this change is budget share (or maybe just retaining budget share), which legitimacy helps with this internally but legitimacy as well helps externally in term of the perception of fellow and/or allied military organizations (professional respect - and yes, self respect plays here). And yes, as noted already, in part the external legitimacy issue is with respect to NATO (and the US).

And third, and related to the first, for some states all current and recent operations are NATO ‘out of area’. In short, operational experience has forced them to identify a need to become more expeditionary capable (this is probably particularly true of states such as Poland, which only in the last year or two has started to undertake ‘transformation’).

That noted, this does not mean that the various national militaries are all on the same path – some are farther along to becoming more expeditionary capable than others. Moreover, in some cases, while the 'narrative of change' is that they are becoming more expeditionary capable, in practice the changes (org, procurement) suggest otherwise – in other words, they more ‘talk the talk than walk the walk’ (so the narrative confers internal and external legitimacy). Finally, this also does not mean that the changes being undertaken are necessarily the most appropriate changes (whether this be doctrine/concepts, procurement, organizational structural change) - but this is another discussion.

Oops, not so short……