Britain, which has been the only country of Western Europe to seriously carry the burden with us, is going the way of the continent in abandoning a real military:
Increasingly rare among U.S. allies, Britain retains the will and so far the means to oppose hegemony and aggression in critical parts of the world. This is the basis of the so-called special relationship. Without the means to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S., of what good is British will alone? Without both will and wallet, how long can the special relationship continue?
The UK's review may prove the final straw breaking the back of the U.S. willingness to underwrite the defense of Europe. Other NATO countries are conducting their own reviews looking to reduce government expenditures in the wake of the recent global financial crisis. Further defense cuts by major NATO nations will render moot the Alliance's new strategic concept.
So, how do we react? Could we convince our European allies to simply abandon their militaries above the brigade or squadron level and ask them to organize and equip ground battalions and brigades that plug into our brigades and divisions, with our higher level units taking care of logistics and command? Could the Europeans send squadrons to fight as part of our air wings, which we move and support logistically? And plug individual ships into our task forces that we supply on the move?
With our brigades operating as self-sustaining units under a division headquarters that commands them but does not provide logistics and firepower support as was done in the past, adding another brigade from an ally to our division HQs would be relatively easy, I'd think. And since we are used to adding our own battalions to beef up our brigades for combat, this could be done at the brigade level, too, although with more difficulty. I'd prefer to have self-contained allied brigades, but we have accepted battalions in Afghanistan to bolster our brigades, so even that is quite feasible.
I assume absorbing air components could be done, too, if they use the same planes, especially. Navies already sail together so this probably the most easy, depending on how integrated the ships have to be with our forces (highly integrated for fleet-on-fleet but loosely for pirate hunting and such).
And perhaps we could simply boost recruiting of Europeans (and others, for that matter, whose governments sit on the sidelines) who want to defend the West, but can't look to their own militaries to join, directly into our military, with US citizenship on the way out.
Face it, the way our allies are cutting their militaries from already low levels, we're getting darn close to the need for recruiting tribal auxiliaries to help us defend the West.