Military Leaders: Use of NATO Troops in European Cities Limits Overseas Wars

Troops Complain Patrolling Streets Not the 'Adventure' They Signed Up For

The militarization of the streets of Europe is often presented by officials as part of the global war on terror. It’s not the sort of war the NATO military leadership had in mind, however, and has them increasingly complaining about the impact on “readiness.”

Over 15,000 NATO troops are on the streets of Europe, and some countries, like Belgium and France, have so many troops on the streets they’ve had to cut back training missions to free up more troops to guard train stations and airports.

NATO’s war planners say this could have a long-term impact on future wars, as priority now is being given to getting troops ready for duties at home, instead of for invasions and occupations abroad, and some nations have a lot fewer troops to spare for the next such invasions.

The troops are said to be complaining too, with Reuters saying that many are openly annoyed at “standing around like flower pots,” when they joined these militaries with dreams of grand overseas adventures conquering exotic lands.

Having military recruits on the streets with machine guns is “cheaper than police,” according to NATO officials, but many warn the troops aren’t trained to police, and that uniformed soldiers may even be appealing targets for militants, rather than a deterrent.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.