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Aug. 4, 2022

Sweden and Finland are on their way to NATO membership. Here’s what needs to happen next.

By John R. Deni US Army War College

Dr. John R. Deni, 2022 in Atlatic Council 

Sweden and Finland have just cleared a big hurdle on their path to NATO membership with the US Senate’s overwhelming vote to welcome them into the Alliance. While several other allies still need to ratify the expansion, Finnish and Swedish membership in NATO is now not a question of whether but when.

Even though some analysts have posited that these two countries—especially Finland, which has an 830-mile border with Russia—bring disqualifying liabilities, most Alliance leaders, NATO-watchers, and European security experts argue these newest aspirants will strengthen the Alliance. This is especially so in terms of military capabilities and capacity, but also in terms of strategic culture and geostrategic outlook.

Nonetheless, in the days, weeks, and months after Finland and Sweden officially become members, there is an array of subsequent questions that these two aspirants, other allies, and NATO as an organization will need to consider—and ultimately answer. After examining the key strengths that Finland and Sweden are likely to bring into NATO, this issue brief will consider several of these critical topics. These include defense planning, operational planning, and readiness concerns.

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