Two decades after the end of the Cold War, does Europe need armies? What should soldiers do, besides fighting and preparing to fight? What tasks are (and are not) appropriate for soldiers to carry out in a domestic context? Is territorial defense still a valid mission for European armed forces? And are there better—and cheaper—solutions?
These questions have become increasingly difficult to answer in the current strategic and budgetary environment. Armies are expensive, and the threat environment for most European countries has evolved significantly over the past two decades. As a consequence, taxpayers may look askance at defense expenditures, wondering why it is still necessary to pay so much for a capability that no longer seems necessary and might even be redundant. Those defense expenditures also represent tempting targets for politicians anxious to cut budgets in times of austerity.
This study is intended to help examine these issues, with a view towards trying to provide answers to the questions of what armies (and, by extension, navies and air forces) can do, should do, must do—and, equally important, should not do—particularly in a domestic context. With the tremendous pressures on governments to save money, these questions are likely to become even more salient in the near future.