From "Beyond the Bean Count: Realistically Assessing the Conventional Military Balance in Europe," a report by Sen. Carl Levin (Jan. 20):

The primary conclusion of the resulting report is that the traditional "bean count" analysis of the military balance is not only incomplete but misleading as well. Reliance on such bean counts could lead policy makers to believe that the conventional balance in Europe is a simple matter of how many weapons and troops each side can put in the field.

That is not the case. There are many other important factors that must be taken into account if one is to understand the nature of the complex military situation in Europe. In this report I have tried to identify and describe those factors as they affectthe conventional forces of bothsides.

Focusing solely on the bean count could lead us to address only the numerical disparities between the two sides, when in fact other aspects of NATO's military posture may need more urgent attention, or could yield us greater return on our conventional defense investment.

For example, lack of common NATO weapons and communications systems and deficiencies in ammunition stocks are quite possibly more serious than the numerical tank imbalance. With 10 different anti-tank guided missiles on the battlefield and six different tactical communications systems not designed to talk to one another, NATO faces serious logistics and coordination problems. If we run out of ammunition for our tanks and artillery, it won't matter how manywe have compared to the {Warsaw}Pact.