Series AC/276 - Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions Working Group

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Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions Working Group


  • 1970 - 1989 (Creation)

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The AC/276 chronological series contains the records of the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions Working Group. Following the Harmel Report on the Future Tasks of the Alliance of December 1967, which had recommended in paragraph 13 that the "Allies (would) study disarmament and practical arms control, including the possibility of balanced force reductions", the Council in Permanent Session tasked the Political Committee at Senior Level to undertake studies on the matter and in June 1968, during the ministerial meeting held in Iceland, Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR) was adopted as an official NATO policy. A series of studies were launched in various political and military fora in 1968 and 1969, submitting basic ideas and models for force reductions. In May 1970, at its ministerial session in Rome, the North Atlantic Council invited the Warsaw Pact to hold exploratory talks on MBFR. The Council agreed to establish an MBFR Working Group to develop mutual and balanced force reduction models, presenting an illustrative indication of the forces that would be withdrawn or disbanded on both sides, specifying the number of troops in identifiable types of units with the associated equipment (PO(69)634 Annex Decision of the Council).In order to carry out this task, the Council requested that the Chairman of the Military Committee set up under his authority a military/civilian working group open to all Member countries for the development of MBFR models. Close cooperation was to be maintained with the Senior Political Committee reinforced, as necessary, by disarmament and defence planning experts. On 12 January 1970 Lt. General T.R. Milton was appointed Chairman of the Working Group. He immediately established a Staff Group to undertake the basic analytical work for the model-building. This Staff Group was divided into:1) a Model Development Group, to produce the outline of the MBFR models and to establish the types of military units to be considered;2) a NATO and Warsaw Pact Analysis Group to support the work of the model development group with data;3) a Military Considerations Group to apply military judgement factors to the model development.France decided that it would not participate in the deliberations of the Working Group but would continue to take part in the discussions at the level of the Senior Political Committee. In January 1971 the North Atlantic Council agreed that the MBFR working group should pursue its activities under its political guidance and that of the Senior Political Committee.Four sub-groups were set up by the MBFR Working Group: A. Sub-Group on Data Evaluation (AC/276(SGDE)) which was renamed Sub-Group on Data Support (SGDS); B. Sub-Group on Tactical Air (AC/276(SGTA));C. Sub-Group on Verification (AC/276(SGVE));D. Sub-Group on Movement Constraints for NATO and Warsaw Pact Forces. In February 1989, during the final plenary meeting in Vienna, NATO and the Warsaw Pact formally agreed to terminate their work on the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions and to open new negotiations on Conventional Forces In Europe (CFE). This marked the end of the work of the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions Working Group.

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While the Council, the Senior Political Committee, the Military Committee and other Military Authorities were involved in setting out NATO's position in the negotiations, most of the detailed work on MBFR was carried out by the Working Group and its sub groups. It developed models of reduction and provided technical analysis and evaluation to the North Atlantic Council on matters related to MBFR. It also supervised the work of the various sub-groups created under its authority and issued progress reports. These reports covered such topics as stabilizing measures, verification and inspection, flank security, non-circumvention, and ground force and air force manpower.

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The chronological document series created by the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions Working Group is arranged by document type, - generally, Document (D), Notice (N), Working Paper (WP), Decision Sheet (DS), Summary Record (R) - and then by year and number.

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NATO publicly disclosed information is available for research and education purposes. Any commercial use requires the written permission of NATO. Please credit the NATO Archives should any documents be used for publication. Guidelines for the proper citation of NATO publicly disclosed information can be found on the NATO Archives website (

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This chronological document series has been issued in each of the two official languages of NATO, English and French.

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