Military Dimensions of NATO Enlargement

Address by General Klaus Naumann, CMC to the North Atlantic Assembly in Brussels

  • 16 Feb. 1997
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  • Last updated: 05 Nov. 2008 05:48

Thank you, Mr Chairman, for your introduction and your kind invitation to attend the North Atlantic Assembly. I very much welcome the opportunity to address this distinguished Committee and to exchange views on an issue which has been the focus of your attention on many occasions. Senator Roth, in your letter of invitation you gave me, in very polite terms of course, the order to concentrate my comments on the military dimensions of NATO enlargement. I am very grateful for that and I am happy to do this at a time when NATO enlargement comes under attack on all fronts. I therefore propose to turn to this issue without further delay.

The Military Dimensions of NATO Enlargement
NATO's primary objective, and this includes its policy on enlargement, is to enhance stability and security throughout the whole of Europe, all the while maintaining NATO's efficiency and its character as a defensive alliance based on shared values. As such, it must remain capable and willing to act collectively. This means that while the new members will enjoy all the benefits of membership, including protection under Article 5 without any limitations, they must also be able and willing to contribute to collective risk and burden sharing, and the old partners have to be prepared to commit themselves to the defence of the new member countries. I was very encouraged to learn from those Partners who are interested in membership, that they are willing to accept these responsibilities without any reservations. It goes without saying that NATO will achieve its objective of peace and stability only if NATO is able to come to a true partnership with Russia. Our desire to achieve stability with, and not against Russia does by no means include any co-decision on NATO's internal affairs or veto-rights for Russia on enlargement and must never result in any reduced protection of the new members. Enlargement and this partnership are two tracks we can and should use simultaneously. Of course, it always takes two to tango. Should we not achieve tangible results with Russia by the time of the Summit, enlargement decisions should not, in my view must not be delayed since otherwise NATO's credibility may be damaged. They could converge in a new security system for Europe in which NATO is but one element, albeit the solid bedrock. That is the politically charted course to which NATO will steer.
Two aspects I would like to emphasize right at the outset. First of all, membership of NATO does not mean to have a free ride on defence, nor does it imply that the new members have to embark on an ambitious armaments programme. What we must achieve is interoperability for collective defence and our new missions, particularly in policies, doctrine and procedures. There is no need for NATO to ask future members to standardise equipment by immediate procurement of modern Western material, but there is every need to ask new members to make their forces interoperable with NATO forces and to contribute to common NATO efforts. This obviously will not happen over night and will not be entirely free of cost to new members, but the level of additional expenditures for both old and new members could be rather modest and should be seen as an effort stretched over some ten years or so. Moreover, the overall cost for defence will, in the long run, be cheaper than the cost the countries would have to bear if they went for a national defence. Should we achieve this, enlargement will contribute to the overall stabilisation of these countries, since they will not embark on all encompassing national defence programmes which they otherwise would probably regard as being unavoidable since they all are deeply troubled by the instability east of the NATO Treaty Area.

Secondly, from a military perspective, we recognise that enlargement will impact virtually upon every aspect of the Alliance military business. However, our deliberations and conclusions so far have been rather general in nature. Detailed conclusions will much depend on knowledge of the "who and when" of enlargement and the other ongoing developments in Alliance structures and procedures. Our understanding of the military implications has been improved by learning from interested Partners during the intensified, individual dialogue about the contribution that individual Partners could make to the Alliance. Moreover, the current work on analysing military factors associated with the accession of potential new members, as tasked by NATO Ministers in December, will give us additional insight. However, meanwhile I propose to offer you the preliminary conclusions which we have drawn so far.

Collective Defence
The first concerns collective defence, which all accept as the continuing cornerstone of the Alliance.
As declared consistently by NATO Ministers since December 1994, enlargement should strengthen the effectiveness of the Alliance and be carried out in such a way that NATO preserves its ability to perform its core functions of common defence as well as undertake peace support operations and other missions. It is clear, therefore, that there will be continuing and crucial military obligations in an enlarged Alliance. Hence, uppermost in the minds of NATO's Military is how to meet the Ministerial remit to maintain the cohesion and military effectiveness of the Alliance before, during and after enlargement.

NATO's military capability and credibility depend heavily on its multinational forces and structures, and on the fair sharing of all risks, responsibilities, and costs as well as the benefits. The Alliance has therefore concluded that new members should participate in the full spectrum of NATO missions. They should also be committed to developing, manning and supporting NATO's force structures, and clearly participate in an appropriate way in the integrated military command structure of the Alliance, commensurate with their contributions.

Without judging either the present or the future security situation, it is clear from discussions with Partners interested in membership so far that new members will wish to join what is currently termed the integrated military structure. This will require us to undertake a comprehensive and detailed review of the Alliance missions and areas of responsibility. You may be well aware that the current military structures of the Alliance are under review. Developments within the Long Term Study (LTS), Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF), and the European Security Defence Identity (ESDI) suggest that the NATO Military Structure at the time of enlargement will be markedly different to the structure in existence today. However, this ongoing work takes the aspects of enlargement into account. Our work is also interrelated to the other elements of external adaptation - PfP and enhanced PfP, which will remain an important element, in its own right, of a future European security system.

Command Structure
As far as the command structure is concerned, our current work in the LTS has been designed in such a way that it can absorb enlargement. Nevertheless, our analytical work in the lead up to new accessions might result in a requirement, not only to upgrade or revise the responsibilities of existing headquarters, but also to create a very limited number of new headquarters. However, obviously the extent of the eventual requirement is difficult to judge before we know who will be invited to join the Alliance. New built headquarters would probably involve significant costs, and therefore it may be more operational and cost effective to look into the potential upgrading the communications, infrastructure and personnel establishments of new members' existing headquarters than to establish new NATO HQs in the future member countries. If we then added some skeleton NATO staff, we could achieve some initial degree of integration, but above all, we would be able to make NATO visible on the new members' territories. To this end, we must not make too far ranging concessions to Russia with regard to a NATO presence on the future members' territories.
Whatever the command structure looks like following enlargement, multi nationality will remain a key feature of Alliance staffing policy. Thus, new members will have to be represented, as appropriate, in major NATO headquarters, support elements, and last but not least, at NATO HQ in Brussels. This will in turn require us to carry out a comprehensive review of current staffing, and will obviously incur some further expense by both current and future Allies, not only in terms of the infrastructure costs, but more significantly, as far as new members are concerned, in the training of appropriate staffs.

Force Structures
If I may turn to force structures: despite all the other ongoing developments within the Alliance, and subject of course to any unforeseen changes in the security environment, the main characteristics of our current force structures are likely to remain valid in an enlarged Alliance. However, while the current force structures are based primarily on the requirements of collective defence, Alliance involvement in other missions will continue to influence our future capabilities. Moreover, with or without enlargement, it is clear that NATO in the future will need to pay particular attention to the requirements of inter- and extra-regional reinforcement, and the associated demands on size, capability, mobility and flexibility within the current reaction, main defence and augmentation force categories. No doubt, enlargement will require us to pay much more attention than hitherto to mobility, interoperability and the capacity to offer logistical and medical support. This will affect the main defence forces of the old members as well. On the other hand, such improvements will benefit NATO's reaction forces and their sustainability.
As with the command structure, multi nationality will remain a key feature of NATO's force structures in an enlarged Alliance. This is particularly true in the area of reaction forces, where the political requirements to demonstrate cohesiveness and solidarity are most prominent. However, any drive for greater multi nationality during the enlargement process should be consistent with the need to maintain military effectiveness. In a similar way, it will be both politically and militarily important for new members to participate in some way in all three force categories, Reaction, Main Defence and Augmentation. However, the inevitable and not unnatural desire of nations to be in the vanguard of NATO's Reaction Forces may need to be tempered by the need not to create any imbalance either within or between the various force categories. We need to tell future members that we expect them to be willing and able to contribute to all of NATO's missions, but we need to be very clear as well in telling them that we expect them to concentrate their efforts on the defences of their country. They need to know that NATO membership does not mean to enjoy a free ride.

Deployment Issues
Apart from the force structures, enlargement will also have a substantial impact on NATO's contingency and reinforcement planning, particularly in the areas of deployment options and associated host nation support arrangements.
The presence of Alliance forces on the territory of other members notably assists in NATO's ability to perform its fundamental security tasks. It also helps to foster Alliance cohesion and expresses solidarity and confidence in the process. Presence could, however, take various forms including: the stationing of forces; the regular and frequent presence of Allied forces on exercise, or when other situations demand; and other options such as the dual basing of air assets and the prepositioning of materiel.

The above options are just that and, at the end of the day, what is militarily important is that other Allies' forces can be effectively positioned in good time, when and if appropriate, throughout Alliance territory. In this respect it is important to recognise that the current Allies' policies on the stationing of other Allies' forces on their territory varies considerably. Hence, while not foreclosing on the option as such, it is very clear that peacetime stationing of other Allies' forces on the territory of new members will not be a condition of membership, nor does NATO have any prior requirements for such stationing. This, however, does not mean that NATO should offer the Russians to renounce of this right or to go for a solution similar to the one accepted for Eastern Germany. If NATO made such a concession we would close the door for long-term options of integrated multinational forces and we would create members with a different status. Moreover, we should be aware that the Russians are waiting for Western concessions to pocket them without any reciprocal steps.

With regard to nuclear forces, you will be well aware of the communiqués of last December's meetings of NATO Foreign and Defence Ministers which state clearly that enlarging the Alliance will not require a change in NATO's current nuclear posture, and therefore, NATO countries have no intention, no plan, and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members nor any need to change any aspect of NATO's nuclear posture or policy -- and we do not foresee any future need to do so.

Turning to interoperability, NATO's operational effectiveness is heavily dependent upon interoperability between Allies' forces and, in the case of peacekeeping-type missions, also between Allied and Partner forces. However, the increasing emphasis within the Alliance on multi nationality, mobility, and flexibility only serves to further promote the importance of interoperability.
With this in mind, an important element in new members' military contribution will therefore be a commitment in good faith to pursue the Alliance objectives on interoperability as an evolutionary goal, and to make every effort to meet appropriate NATO standards. However, while the search for enhanced interoperability poses important challenges to the Alliance as a whole, funding of the same is a national responsibility. Participation in NATO programmes is therefore optional, and as with many other issues, there are no criteria or prerequisites for membership in the Alliance. New members will certainly not be expected to achieve full interoperability with NATO before joining. If, however, we are to maintain a functioning and credible Alliance during and after enlargement, it will be important to encourage prospective new members to meet certain minimum interoperability standards. The obvious priority areas will be the use of NATO language, the adoption of NATO standards, formats and procedures, the ability to communicate efficiently, and interoperability with regard to air defence.

Related to interoperability is the question of training. Participation by, and the conduct of multinational training and exercises on the territory of new members would not only help to signify "presence", but it would also contribute directly to maintaining NATO's capability to fulfil its full range of missions. Like the deployment options, however, the terms on which such activities currently take place vary between Allies. As with many other aspects, it is also difficult to predict the extent and frequency of training and exercise requirements; however, as a general principle, new members should be ready to host multinational training and exercises relating to all types of Alliance missions and not just training for PfP or PSO activities.
Turning briefly to the issue of infrastructure, I have already mentioned the need to ensure NATO's continued effectiveness to perform its full spectrum of missions in an enlarged Alliance which will bring with it some requirements in terms of infrastructure. However, I would not wish you to run away with the idea that the Alliance is about to embark on a great new expensive infrastructure programme. Clearly, we will need to ensure that the necessary infrastructure exists to cater for our training, for crisis management and collective defence, but in most cases it will be sufficient to use existing infrastructure for some time to come and make it interoperable. Of course, we need to know first who will be invited before we can provide a detailed assessment.
Related to all the issues I have touched upon so far is, of course, the question of costs. New members joining the Alliance will clearly be required to fund an appropriate share of all these budgets, as well as their own participation in the range of separately funded joint programmes. On the other hand, the old members should not forget incorporating new members is likely to take additional time and money if we are to minimise any potentially adverse military implications.
The question of what is an appropriate share is determined by negotiation within a cost-sharing formula based largely on attributable costs of nations' participation and on their ability to pay. Current Allies pay, on an agreed basis, a percentage somewhere between 0.04 and 40 per cent. You can imagine now that there are a variety of cost implications depending upon any new member's approach to collective defence, the associated infrastructure requirements and deployment options, and also the extent of effort necessary in the area of interoperability. Currently, NATO's financial bodies are looking more closely into the resource implications, which should provide a more realistic view on the expected costs than studies which have been published so far by some research institutes. However, the actual cost of enlargement will be heavily dependant upon a case-by-case review once the "who and when" of enlargement being considered and the requirements to be met are decided. But then one should have in mind as well that NATO will then enter a process which may last ten or more years. Hence the cost of enlargement will presumably not be a major burden. At the time being, none of the current Allies contributes more than 0.5 percent of their national defence expenditure to NATO's common budgets.

Although it is definitely a political question, there is one additional issue in the wider context of enlargement which has military implications, namely that of Partner participation, including Russia, in planning and decision-making. The Russian interest is different from that of other Partners who wish to come as close as possible to NATO, i.e. looking for a backdoor entrance and a status short of formal guarantees. For their part, the Russians wish to weaken NATO's ability to act and to forge consensus to the maximum extent possible, since they have not given up their long-term objective to reduce NATO to a meaningless organisation. To this end, they wish to obtain as many opportunities as possible to influence NATO's decision-making process without offering NATO any chance to influence Russian decision-making. The question of Partner participation in decision-making and planning is, and must remain on the other hand, an element of enhanced PfP. No doubt you, our Alliance's politicians, have to define to which extent Partners should be allowed to participate. My plea is to preserve NATO's ability to act as an independent body and as an effective Alliance not only in Article V operations, but also in crisis management. The latter will pose some problems since crisis management means to act proactively and to gain or maintain the initiative. From a military point of view we need to protect NATO's right to decide at 16. To embark on solutions which would necessitate consultation with Partners before NATO decides whether it wishes to act on its own would give all of us some difficulties to conduct efficient crisis management.

Concluding Remarks
Afin de souligner que nous avons deux langues officielles à l'OTAN, je voudrais, en guise de conclusion, vous adresser quelques remarques en français. Notre rôle à nous, les militaires de l'OTAN, est de présenter nos recommendations les plus avisées possible afin d'appuyer le processus de décision politique. Ceci nous l'avons déjà fait il y a peu, pendant l'étude en 1995 sur l'élargissement et lors du travail qui en a découlé l'année passée. Et à présent, nous poursuivons des études plus détaillées mais encore génériques en vue du prochain Sommet au mois de juillet. J'espère toutefois que je ne vous ai pas donné l'impression que notre tâche était à présent terminée alors qu'en fait, elle doit se poursuivre. J'ai souligné l'impact de l'élargissement sur pratiquement tous les aspects militaires de l'Alliance. Cependant, quelques implications de détail et par là même les nécessaires ajustements de notre structure de commandement et de notre attitude militaire, ne pourront être déterminés que lorsque nous connaîtrons le "qui" et le "quand" et que nous connaissons mieux les décisions poliques pour ce qui concerne l'évolution de l'Alliance. Soyez en tout cas assuré que les autorités militaires de l'OTAN sont prêtes à fournir l'appui et les avis nécessaires, non seulement pour aider à la prise de décision au sein de l'Alliance, mais aussi pour conforter le processus de ratification parlementaire tel qu'il concerne l'Assemblée de l'Atlantique Nord de très près.
Monsieur le Président, Mesdames et Messieurs, merci de votre attention.

Je serais très heureux de répondre à vos questions.