“Disembodied Military Planning”

The Political-Economy of Strategy, 1949–50
  • Andrew M Johnston


The Medium Term Defense Plan (MTDP) of 1950 has played a critical heuristic role in the history of NATO’s nuclear policy. It provided the basis of the 1952 Lisbon force goals, a landmark if only because it was the failure to attain them that drove NATO into its irreparable dependence on nuclear weapons.1 The history of the MTDP is important for two reasons: first, because of the seriousness of the lessons historians have taken from its failure; and second, because it institutionalized a division of labor in NATO that reflected the perceived cultural attributes of each state’s role in the alliance.This was the function of a view in Washington that European military integration would dissolve national military forces in order for the United States to retain its peripheral nationality in tact. This deprived NATO of strategic options, establishing the conditions by which U.S. planners sought to convert NATO’s strategy into an extension of their own air power doctrines.


United States American Interest Ground Force Military Assistance Strategic Concept 
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Copyright information

© Andrew M. Johnston 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew M Johnston
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Western OntarioLondonUK

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