NATO Secretary General calls for readiness action plan
The NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen attended the NATO Transformation Seminar in Paris and thanked Defence Minister Le Drian and the French hosts for France’s contribution to the Alliance’s collective security. “From Central Africa to Eastern Europe, French forces are helping make our world safer - whether under the banner of NATO, the European Union, or of France”, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said at a press conference. “France has kept defence spending close to our agreed target of 2% of economic output. France has also shown a great commitment to invest in the capabilities we need, both in NATO and the European Union. This is a valuable example of European Allies choosing to invest the right resources in the right capabilities.
In his address to the Seminar organized by Allied Command Transformation, the Secretary General said that events in Eastern Ukraine are of great concern and urged Russia to step back.
“Any further move into Eastern Ukraine would represent a serious escalation, rather than the de-escalation that we all seek. We call on Russia to pull back the tens of thousands of troops it has massed on Ukraine's borders, engage in a genuine dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities, and respect its international commitments “, he said.
The Secretary General said that the crisis raises serious questions for Euro-Atlantic security and now is the time for the right answers for key issues for the Wales Summit in September.
“We must prepare a readiness action plan. We must reinvest in our defence. And we must reinforce the transatlantic bond”, the Secretary General said.
The Secretary General highlighted that Allies must stand ready at all times to deal with the unexpected.
“Because from Sevastopol to Syria and the Sahel, we are facing a dangerous world. Where threats are complex, unpredictable and interconnected. Newer challenges, such as terrorism, failed states, cyber and missile attacks. And old challenges in new guises, such as attempts to redraw borders by force”, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said.
The Alliance must develop an action plan to strengthen readiness, and this requires the right training, the right posture, and the right capabilities.
The Secretary General highlighted the NATO Response Force as key element for an action plan.
“We have it, and we must use it. To do that, we should place parts of it at very high readiness. But this is not enough. We must review the readiness of all our forces”, he said.
“We need to procure the high-end capabilities that we currently lack – joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; missile defence; air command and control; and air lift. Much work has already been done to fill these gaps. But we need to advance and expand our programmes”, the Secretary General noted.
The Secretary General said that the bond between North America and Europe remains vital for the Alliance’s shared security and must be reinforced.
“The current crisis poses a serious challenge to our common security. But North America and Europe stand together in facing up to it. And we stand united in our firm response. In recent weeks, we have seen the United States’ clear commitment to Europe’s security. From the Baltics to the Black Sea. France and other European Allies are complementing that effort.“
The Secretary General noted that the European Council in December showed that European nations are prepared to step up.
“So I encourage all Allies to play their full part. This is the time to find a better balance of costs and responsibilities between Allies. Both between the United States and Europe. And among Allies within Europe “,he said.The Secretary General stressed that a better transatlantic balance is also based on better cooperation between NATO and the European Union.