NATO and Partner countries discuss transformation
Nearly 150 defence officials attended a conference on ‘Understanding NATO Military Transformation’ in Skopje, from 15 to 17 March to discuss and learn more about the changes taking place within NATO and Partner countries.
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation U.S. Air Force Gen. Lance L. Smith said the transformational efforts throughout the Alliance and Partner nations have been “dynamic and impressive.”
Smith said NATO started undergoing sweeping changes after serious communication and operational gaps were discovered during the start of operations in Kosovo, and that every nation needs to continue to ensure the past will not be repeated.
“We cannot allow for the gaps [in communication and interoperability] that occurred in 1999 to happen again,” Smith said. “The Partner nations have a large role to play in that, and by participating with NATO, I think we can all be assured that we will continue to move in the same direction with transformation.”
While the NATO Alliance is 26 nations strong, the organisation relies on a great number of other countries to assist in conflicted regions throughout the world. Partnership for Peace was created to break down barriers and to build security through dialogue and co-operation—that process continues through conferences like “Understanding Transformation”. Partner nations like the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia¹ are already supporting NATO operations in areas like Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Defence, Policy and Planning John Colston spoke on the topic of NATO transformation and the role of Partner nations.
“NATO and its Partners are working to confront threats to our security on an increasingly global scale,” Colston said. “We have to recognise [these threats] know no borders. Only sustained efforts by the international community can promote peace and stability, create a solid basis for democracy, and economic growth.”
As NATO looks to expand further, countries that may join in the future will need to be educated on how the Alliance is changing. As well, NATO members also have to be educated on what transformational concepts and efforts are taking place outside the Alliance to ensure interoperability in current and future operations.
Macedonian Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski made a statement about the benefits of NATO enlargement in a region that was once part of the former Soviet Union.
“Our example shows that if tangible Euro-North Atlantic perspective is present, societies in troubled regions have the potential to emerge from the cycle of instability and uncertainty, and become real contributors to the collective security of the Alliance,” he said.
Smith said conferences such as the one held in Skopje are an important part of maintaining open communications.
“We are discussing not only how we are transforming our militaries and ministry of defence organisations, but the experiences of new member nations in their transformational efforts and this is what the Partnership for Peace Conference is all about,” Smith said. “It’s about giving an opportunity for dialogue and cooperation between NATO and PfP nations.”
- Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.