After the end of the Cold War, European states started reorienting their militaries from territorial defense to out-of-area operations. Given that developing broad expeditionary capabilities is beyond the reach of the small European states, the latter need to cooperate with partners and/or invest in specialized capabilities to be able to make valuable contributions to out-of-area operations. This allows them to gain influence on larger states, but comes at the price of reduced national autonomy. This research project examines the different ways in which small European states deal with this dilemma between influence and autonomy in the formulation of their military policies. Based on literature on small states and alliance theories, it develops a novel theoretical framework for explaining the relative autonomy and influence small European states pursue in their defense policies. Methodologically, the project builds on a sequential application of Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Process-Tracing. The former method allows to find evidence for consistent cross-case relations, the latter method to supplement this with within-case evidence. In addition to its contribution to the field of small state studies, which lacks comparative studies that identify general patterns of small state behavior; the project will also make an empirical contribution to the literature on European security by providing a comprehensive analysis of the military policies of the small European states.