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Military identities, conventional capability and the politics of NATO standardisation at the beginning of the Second Cold War, 1970-1980

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Matthew Ford, Alex Gould

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-792
Number of pages18
Issue number4
Early online date2 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


King's Authors


This paper uses equipment standardisation as a lens for examining power relationships and the importance of military identity in framing the development of NATO conventional capability. In the face of the Warsaw Pact's overwhelming military capacity the logic of standardisation was compelling. Standardising equipment and making military forces interoperable reduced logistics overlap, increased the tempo of operations and allowed partners to optimise manufacturing capacity. Applied carefully, standardisation would help NATO mount a successful conventional defence of Western Europe, a crucial aspect of the Alliance's flexible response strategy. In this paper, we apply Actor Network Theory to standardisation discussions thereby revealing the incoherence and volatility of NATO's collective strategic thinking and the vast networks of countervailing interests on which this is based.

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