NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

20 Dec. 2011

Interview

with Hüseyin Diriöz, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning

Q: You are at the head of the NATO Division for Defence Planning and Policy. Could you briefly describe what your division does?

The Defence Policy and Planning Division has the lead role on the defence-related aspects of NATO's fundamental security tasks. It is organised in two Directorates: The Planning Directorate and the Defence Policy and Capabilities Directorate.

In broad terms, the primary responsibility of Planning Directorate is the conduct of NATO force planning for all Allies. This Directorate is NATO’s primary source of expertise on Allies’ military capabilities and force planning. It conducts the force planning work undertaken multilaterally by NATO, on a four-year cycle, which is something that no other international body does in such depth. So it is a unique feature of NATO and provides unparalleled transparency among the Allies as concerns their respective defence plans. It also contributes to Alliance solidarity and burden-sharing.

In the context of NATO’s partnerships, the Planning Directorate is also responsible for the Planning and Review Process (PARP), presently involving 18 of the 22 PfP Partners. It is expected that this figure will increase as the PARP tool was opened to all partners with the endorsement of the new partnership policy last April.

In addition to these multilateral processes, and upon request, we can assist the defence and security sector reform efforts of Allied, Partner and Mediterranean Dialogue nations.

The Defence Policy and Capabilities Directorate, on the other hand, has broad responsibility within NATO for defence policy and strategy matters, defence policy cooperation with partners, policy aspects of the development of capabilities, as well as logistics policy. The Directorate is also responsible for political preparations of Defence Ministers’ meetings, as well as putting together defence related initiatives and deliverables for the Summit meetings.

In terms of defence policy and strategy, the Directorate has the lead in matters such as the translation of the Strategic Concept into more direct guidance to the military authorities and the defence planners. It is also assisting the conduct of the Deterrence and Defence Posture Review, which was commissioned at the Lisbon Summit and will be delivered by the Chicago Summit.

As another example of the important policy work being done in this context, the Directorate led the drafting of the Political Guidance on Stabilisation and Reconstruction, which was recently de-classified and put on the web. This new policy filled a policy vacuum for an activity that we were undertaking in practice, in the Balkans and Afghanistan, without political guidance.

The Directorate also provides advice on defence related NATO-EU issues and runs the NATO-EU Capability Group, which I co-chair with my EU counterpart. This is a forum to share information and attempt to harmonise capability development efforts in NATO and the EU. The 21 common members of the two organisations have one single set of forces and capabilities and it is in everyone’s interest to see to it that efforts in both fora be complementary.

The Directorate also assists the development and implementation of high-level defence capability initiatives such as Multinational Approaches to capability development, which is part of the Secretary General’s Smart Defence initiative, the review of the NATO Command Structure and efforts to measure the Allies’ contributions to the Alliance, as an incentive to promote fairer burden sharing.

In addition, the Directorate provides assistance on defence and security sector reform in partner countries, mainly tailored assistance to Ukraine and Georgia, and defence transparency and cooperation with Russia.

The Directorate also advises on logistics matters; and promotes multinational logistics cooperation between nations and between NATO and nations.

To sum up, the activities of my Division cover these areas.

Q: In your opinion, what are the advantages of what has been coined “Smart defence”?

First, let me say a few words about why we need Smart Defence - to set the scene, so to say.

The effects of the financial crisis on Allies' defence spending have been dramatic. This year, 19 Allies are spending less in real terms than they did three years ago. This has resulted in cancellation or delays of major equipment projects, reductions in training, and cuts in personnel. Ongoing operations, such as Afghanistan, are also draining funds away from modernisation and transformation budgets.

At the same time, the defence spending gap between the United States and other Allies has continued to increase. In the decade since 2001, the US share of total Alliance defence expenditure has grown from 63% to 77%.

The Libya mission tells a positive story about NATO and the European Allies - but it depended on essential support provided by the United States – particularly intelligence, combat air planners, UAVs, and air-to-air refuelling.

Defence expenditures will not quickly recover. If the European Allies, in particular, do not stabilise the situation, we shall jeopardise NATO’s pre-eminent role as a provider of security. And we shall not be able to meet NATO’s capability requirements without even more excessive reliance on the United States -- which she may not be able or willing to give.

We must therefore make every penny count. The Secretary General’s Smart Defence initiative seeks to ensure we get ‘more bang for the buck’.

Now a few words on how we can do this.

Smart Defence calls on Allies to prioritise their defence spending, to specialise more in what they do (we do not need all countries to try to do everything) and to cooperate more to deliver capabilities together through multinational approaches.

In that respect, a task force led by Allied Command Transformation has made nearly 200 proposals, in coordination with Allies, for multinational cooperation across a variety of areas including: acquisition, training, logistic support, and pooling and sharing -- consulting closely with EU staffs to ensure coherence with the EU initiative on pooling and sharing.

The idea is that each project will come under a lead nation who will consult with others, including relevant Partners, and do the necessary analysis (supported by NATO) to validate projects so that decisions can be taken by the Chicago Summit next May.

In that regard Turkey has made a good number of specific proposals for potential multinational cooperation projects (not appropriate to go into detail at this time).

At the Defence Ministerial in October, Ministers confirmed their support for the Smart Defence Initiative and in this context agreed to the importance of delivering a range of substantive multinational projects by the Chicago Summit.

Lastly, a few words to answer your question directly - what advantages can we gain from Smart Defence?

It should already be evident from what I have said that Smart Defence, if we get it right, can deliver greater efficiency. It should help Allies attain or deliver capabilities that they could not manage alone, could not afford alone, or could deliver more cheaply through cooperation with others. I do not speak simply in the sense of acquisition or procurement, but much more broadly. For instance, with regard to training, logistics or systems maintenance, as some Allies do already for helicopters in Afghanistan, so doing them together instead of doing them separately.

It will help place an even stronger focus on delivering our highest-priority capabilities. These have been defined and agreed most prominently through the Lisbon Summit package of critical capabilities and, in a broader sense, through the NATO Defence Planning Process.

Consultation in the context of Smart Defence will help Allies collectively to integrate and deliver our capabilities more coherently. A multinational approach brings certain operational benefits as well, for instance, interoperability -- which is a vital quality given that Alliance operations depend on a fusion of capabilities and forces from many nations.

Lastly, Smart Defence can help reinforce burden sharing - because to the extent we can make multinational cooperation and consultation on capabilities the default setting, we will bolster one of the fundamental principles of the Alliance.

Q: Missile defence is a sensitive issue. How did Turkey reconcile its loyalty to NATO and its regional position in this respect?

Turkey supported the Lisbon decision, however continues to stress the goal of “full coverage and protection”, not accepting any notion of a limited missile defence capability, i.e. not being able to protect its entire territory. Turkey also maintains its strong reservations about more forceful NATO statements on a threat from any concrete country in its geographic vicinity.

Having said that, Turkey is strongly committed to NATO and the agreement to host a radar at Malatya is a tangible sign of Turkey’s support to this defensive system and NATO’s mission of collective defence of all Allies. Turkey’s decision will significantly contribute to NATO’s capability to provide protection to its European territory, populations and forces against the growing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles.

Let me underline one thing again. This missile defence system is part of NATO’s commitment to the collective defence of our Allies. Over thirty nations have or are in the course of acquiring ballistic missile defence technology, so the threat is there and NATO decided to take provisions in terms of building up a purely defensive system. This capability is not targeted at any country. The aim of a NATO ballistic missile defence capability is to provide full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces against the increasing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles. Principles afforded to this will be the indivisibility of Allied security and NATO solidarity, equitable sharing of risks and burdens as well as reasonable challenge, taking into account the level of threat, affordability and technical feasibility and the latest agreed threat assessment.

Q: What impact does Turkey have on NATO’s decision making process in the area of defence planning and policy? And could you give some examples?

NATO decision making process is based on consensus which is one of the core strengths of the Alliance. Turkey, as all the other members, has equal rights to raise its voice for or against any decision. This is valid not just for the highest level of decision making, but also for the lower level committees and working groups. This allows Turkey to influence the decisions and initiatives regarding the security and defence of the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond, as well as relations with NATO’s growing network of partners.

A very recent example is that Turkey played an active role in the political process that led to the decision of launching Operation Unified Protector in Libya. This has been a somewhat long but successful process which proves NATO’s capability to take decisive action through collective decision making.

Q: The NATO military command structure is undergoing major reform at the moment. Could you explain the role the Headquarters in Izmir plays within the strategic command?

You are right to highlight that the NATO Military Command Structure is to undergo a major reform effort. Indeed, the new structure agreed by Allied Defence Ministers in June of this year represents a significant change. For example, the current structure has 13 operational headquarters while the new structure has only 7. Similarly, the manning has been decreased by several thousands - a 34% cut. These changes have a specific impact on Turkey as well. Within the new structure, some of the existing bases will be preserved , some of them will be reconstructed . In this context, constructing a new Land Command in Izmir has been decided.

Building on Turkey's well established expertise in land forces, the NATO Land Command at Izmir will have four roles:

1) It is responsible for planning and directing land operations in support of a Joint Force Headquarters (such as at Brunssum or Naples).

2) It provides the nucleus of a Land Command Headquarters for very large land operations (i.e. multiple land corps).

3) It provides land competency for the Alliance (i.e. sets and demonstrates the standards to which others should aspire).

4) It will contribute to transformation, engagement and outreach. In terms of size, the new Land Command will have virtually the same personnel establishment strength as the Air Command it replaces.

In sum, and despite the significant reduction in size and numbers of headquarters in the new NATO Command Structure across the Alliance, Turkey as a nation comes out very well. It retains a major headquarters on its territory and one which, frankly speaking, has a unique role in a domain for which Turkey has a traditional affinity, expertise (including large-scale land operations) and potential.

Q: Today, NATO conducts military operations on several continents. In your opinion, what specific role does Turkey have in NATO’s operations, in particular in Afghanistan and Libya?

NATO’s operations, which contribute to peace, security and stability, without exception concern regions in Turkey’s vicinity and with which Turkey has strong links. NATO held operations in Balkans, notably in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Afghanistan, the Alliance is leading a major operation in order to ensure that this country never returns to being a safe haven for terrorists, and to help the Afghans build peace and stability. In Libya, NATO has saved countless lives. In Iraq, we have a small Training Mission responsible for officer level training. In the Mediterranean Sea, NATO’s maritime operation “Active Endeavour”, which was set up in response to the “9/11” attacks on the US, has helped defend against terrorism through patrol, escort and compliant boarding. Finally, we also have a counter-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa.

Turkey has provided significant support to all these operations and missions. At present, Turkey’s contributions to NATO operations amount to about 3,250 troops. Turkey currently has 1,840 troops deployed as part of ISAF. Turkey also leads “Provincial Reconstruction Teams” in the Wardak and Jowzjan provinces of Afghanistan. Hikmet Cetin, a former Speaker of Parliament and Foreign Minister of Turkey, served as NATO’s first Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2006. The “Ankara process” that brings together the Presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan under the auspices of the Turkish President, is recognised as an important contribution to building peaceful relations between the two countries. Furthermore, Turkey contributes 598 personnel to Operation Unified Protector in Libya. It has also been among the main contributors to Operation Active Endeavour in terms of assets and personnel. Turkey has also participated in the Alliance’s air policing over the Baltic States. This is an important instance of Alliance solidarity, but also cooperation, and by taking part in it with its interceptors, Turkey has demonstrated that it is fully prepared to contribute to the defence of its Allies while relying on them to contribute to Turkey’s security.

While outside NATO’s own responsibilities, Turkey also contributes to a number of UN and EU-led operations, including both military and police missions.

Nevertheless, in terms of the manpower it has available, and notwithstanding its natural preoccupation with internal security, Turkey’s deployments represent a relatively small fraction of its active duty manpower, and the other Allies would like to see it shoulder a larger part of the overall operational burden on the Alliance.

Q: Have you seen an evolution in Turkey’s role within the Alliance since the end of the Cold War?

Indeed, Turkey’s role within NATO has certainly increased in the past several years. This has very much to do with geo-politics. Many countries and regions of strategic interest to Turkey and to the other members of the Alliance overlap. It also has to do with Turkey’s increasingly active foreign policy and its important contributions to NATO.

Turkey joined NATO in 1952, following its strategic choice to side with the “Western bloc” in the aftermath of the Second World War. During the Cold War, Turkey was the Ally with the longest border with the Soviet Union and was an essential pillar of NATO’s “southern flank”. NATO’s plans to defend Turkey were based on scenarios involving an attack by the “Eastern bloc” on Turkey.

With the end of the Cold War, the security environment changed drastically and continues to change. NATO has taken in new members from the former Warsaw Pact, and reached out to Russia, Ukraine and other nations of the Euro-Atlantic region as well as the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The Alliance undertook its first operations in the Balkan conflicts of the nineties. NATO’s first ever declaration of its collective defence clause – Article 5 – occurred following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. In Afghanistan, NATO has deployed and sustained a great number of troops at strategic distance and simultaneously conducted combat missions and stabilisation and reconstruction operations. And most recently in Libya, NATO has mounted an air and maritime operation to implement UN Security Council Resolutions.

The Alliance’s new Strategic Concept, adopted at the Lisbon Summit almost one year ago, sketches the fundamental principles NATO must adhere to if it is to continue to be effective in a changing world, against new threats, with new capabilities and new partners. It reconfirms that NATO members will always assist each other against attack in accordance with the Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, but adds that NATO will also deter and defend against emerging security challenges where they threaten the security of individual Allies or the Alliance as a whole – challenges like the spread of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, instability or conflict beyond NATO’s borders, cyber attacks and disruption of the flow of energy supplies.

Turkey, too, has identified these and similar risks and challenges to its national security. Therefore, clearly, the threat perceptions of NATO as a whole and Turkey are essentially parallel.

As I already said, Turkey plays a significant role in NATO-led operations. The NATO decision to site our land command headquarters in İzmir, and the US agreement to site a missile-defence radar on Turkish territory, show the importance of Turkey for NATO – and of NATO for Turkey. The regional expertise of Turkey is equally important. The Arab Spring has changed the shape of the Middle East and North Africa. The Secretary General’s ambition is for NATO to build a new relationship with those nations. Turkey’s insight and influence will be invaluable. Furthermore, through the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Centre and the Centre of Excellence for the Defence Against Terrorism in Ankara, Turkey also plays an important role in the education and training of NATO and partner countries in critical area of national interest.

So, in the new environment and in the face of the new challenges it poses, Turkey has become, if anything, more important to the Alliance as a whole than ever before. With its unique geographical and geo-strategic position, its strong historical, cultural and economic ties to regions of strategic interest to the Alliance, its role as a producer of security in its region and beyond, its active foreign policy, its position as an energy transit country, and its important military and defence capabilities, Turkey is a key Ally.