The Northern Flank and British Priorities

  • Jonathan Alford
Part of the Studies in International Security book series (SIS)


You learn rather early in life as a military officer that virtually every conventional military problem has a left, centre and right. It is a natural way to think about a problem which is basically set by an axis and the terrain and, to make a rather superficial point, it is a way of thinking determined by the human experience and physiognomy. If you have a principal strategic direction, as we seem to in Europe, then there will be something to the left of it and something to the right of it. Because we recognize that the principal and decisive strategic direction in the theatre is one which will be determined by an adversary and not by NATO (a defensive alliance has no real choice in the matter), and because that adversary is principally a land power, and because the proximate Soviet objective in war at least is likely to be expulsion of American power from the continent of Europe and the enforced political domination of the Eurasian land mass by the Soviet Union, I see no question but that the big arrow is one which drives, as so often in history, across the northern plains of central Europe.


Northern Flank Ground Force Cruise Missile Warsaw Pact Central Front 
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  1. 1.
    First published in Geoffrey Till (ed.), Britain and NATO’s Northern Flank (London: Macmillan 1988).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The International Institute for Strategic Studies 1990

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  • Jonathan Alford

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