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Annual Review Committee

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Annual Review Committee

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The Annual Review chronological series contains records on the annual defence review process.During the period 1952-1966, completing this annual review was one of NATO's primary tasks. The process developed and became one of the pillars constituting the Alliance's foundation for the development of its defence. The Annual Defence Review was at the core of the International Staff's activities for several years.In February 1952, the Council decided to carry out a comprehensive review each year of the requirements generated by the establishment and maintenance of a satisfactory defence posture based on actual performance capabilities from the political and economic standpoints. The Annual Review Committee was thus set up to supervise and co-ordinate all work in this area(1). One of the Annual Review's goals was to produce a clear presentation of the defence effort being made by each country. In July 1952, the first questionnaire entitled "Questionnaire adressé aux pays en vue de la réunion annuelle 1952 des besoins qu‘entraînent la création et l’entretien d’une puissance défensive" was finalized. Once adopted, it was circulated to the Member Nations. Replies were to be sent into the International Staff. Their review could thus begin.Over the years, the Annual Review was amended so as to streamline it and enhance its impact in the member states. In general, the documents pertaining to the Annual Review consisted of the following parts: - a preface and directives for preparing the memorandum; - three sections on the various forces: Army, Navy and Air Force; - an economic and financial section and annexes containing instructions on how to answer the questionnaire.By the early 1960s, the procedure to be followed for the Annual Review had become quite cumbersome. Too complicated, and seeking to address too many questions in detail, the Annual Review no longer fully met the goal assigned it. It proved inadequate as a means of pressure in the case of serious divergence between the requirements of NATO military authorities and the actual force contributions of member states. Beginning in 1959, the nations began to question its effectiveness. In January 1960, the Council tasked a Steering Group (AC/159) to look into whether changes might be made to the Annual Review in order to make it both simpler and more effective. In its report, the Group proposed that the Review no longer be carried out each year, but every three years instead. It would thus be possible, every three years, to reassess the defence programmes of the nations in the light of NATO's overall requirements. Because of the circumstances, this three-year procedure was never fully implemented.For the cycle commencing in 1962, the Annual Reviews dealt with the force requirements for 1962-1966. The work was carried out according to the following schedule: - 1962 - Triennial Review covering the force goals for 1963 and 1964 ; - 1963 - Interim Review covering the force goals for 1964; - 1964 - Annual Review covering the force goals for 1965; - 1965 - Interim Review covering the force goals for 1966; - 1966 - pending publication of the long-term force plans, the Annual Review for 1966 covered the force goals for 1967.Starting in 1963, the Annual/Triennial Review took a back seat to preparatory work for NATO long-term planning, which was decided upon at the Ottawa Ministerial. Under the new procedure, instead of focusing on the situation in each country, a horizontal approach to the consideration of problems was adopted. The Annual Review Committee was disbanded and, beginning in 1967, it was replaced by the Defence Review Committee(2).

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