by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Allied Command Transformation Seminar, Washington DC

  • 28 Feb. 2012
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  • Mis à jour le: 29 Feb. 2012 17:59

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

General Abrial,
Admirals, Generals, Air Marshals,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by thanking General Abrial and his team for bringing us together. We have, gathered in this room, a considerable amount of experience, expertise, and exceptional talent.

I know that many of you here, from think tanks, academia and industry enjoy a close working relationship with Allied Command Transformation. This means that we have already had significant contributions from you to our work. Today we have an opportunity to exchange views, in a slightly wider format and this allows me to seek your support, on a subject that is vital for the Alliance’s future – capability development.

Before I turn to the important business at hand for this conference, I would like to start with a few words about the challenging situation in Afghanistan. Recent days have been very difficult for everyone. And I would like to take this opportunity to commend General Allen for his swift and effective leadership. He moved swiftly to address an immediate problem and is ensuring that ISAF and Afghan security forces remain shoulder to shoulder.

Across Afghanistan, ISAF troops from many nations are showing remarkable restraint and professionalism, under very difficult conditions. We can be proud of their actions. And the fact that the Afghan security forces are in the lead in dealing with this crisis shows how far they have come. So despite the tragedy of this incident and the challenges we face, we must not lose sight of our goal – a stable Afghanistan. That is in all of our interests. And that must remain the focus of our shared efforts.

In less than three months, at our summit in Chicago, we will map out how we intend to complete transition to full Afghan security responsibility by the end of 2014. And we’ll make clear our enduring commitment to Afghanistan after that date.

That said, capabilities will be another major theme at the Summit. Because NATO is not judged on what it says. But on what it does. And our ability to execute effective operations depends on our ability to acquire effective capabilities.

Mon intention pour Chicago est que nous envoyions un message fort sur les objectifs capacitaires à long terme pour l’Alliance. Que nous approuvions une solide feuille de route pour les réaliser. Et que nous prenions des engagements clairs sur les ressources nécessaires.

Notre horizon pour une telle stratégie doit être 2020 et au-delà. D’ici à la fin de la décennie et au début de la prochaine, nous devons être plus forts, et non plus faibles.

Cependant, nous devons aussi faire preuve de réalisme. Nous devons nous occuper des défis financiers d’aujourd’hui, en même temps que nous nous préparons aux défis de sécurité imprévisibles de demain.

Laissez-moi vous exposer mes idées sur ce qu’une telle stratégie pourrait comporter.

Le point de départ, c’est notre dernier sommet, à Lisbonne, où nous avons adopté un nouveau concept stratégique afin d’orienter l’évolution de l’Alliance pour la décennie à venir. Nous avons notamment exprimé notre détermination à faire en sorte que l’OTAN dispose de l’éventail complet des capacités nécessaires pour assurer la dissuasion et la défense contre toute menace. Et nous avons tiré de nombreux enseignements précieux de nos opérations, en particulier l’opération menée l’an dernier pour protéger le peuple libyen.

Nous sommes donc bien placés pour définir clairement les capacités dont nous avons besoin. Nous devons notamment être capables de déployer, de soutenir et de redéployer des forces pour faire face à toute la gamme des engagements opérationnels. Que ce soit pour la défense collective, pour la gestion des crises ou pour la sécurité coopérative.

Définir les objectifs capacitaires, c’est relativement facile. Les atteindre, c’est plus difficile. Surtout en période de réduction des budgets de la défense. Mais c’est possible.

C’est possible si nous adoptons une approche nouvelle du développement capacitaire. Et si nous nous engageons concrètement et collectivement dans des projets spécifiques.

This approach is Smart Defence. This is all about creating a new mindset. About better aligning our collective requirements and national priorities. And about focussing our efforts on prioritisation, cooperation, and specialisation.

It means setting the priorities. Deciding not just what to cut, but what to keep. And spending resources on what we need to have before spending them on what would be nice to have.

It means multinational cooperation, so Allies can have access to capabilities they could not afford individually. It means cooperation with the European Union. By coordinating our projects with those of the European Union Pooling and Sharing initiative, we can avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. And it means specialisation. Where decisions are made “by design”’ rather than “by default.”

Smart Defence includes three strands of concrete work and projects.

An initial package of more than 20 agreed multinational projects that will address critical capability shortfalls. These (so called “Tier-One”) projects all have an assigned lead nation and confirmed participating nations.

Longer term multinational projects that are already in the pipeline: Missile Defence, Alliance Ground Surveillance and Air-Policing. Air-policing conducted over the Baltic States is a role model for Alliance solidarity and an example of smart defence in practice.

Strategic Projects for 2020. We need to address additional key capability areas. And we need stronger trans-Atlantic and intra-European cooperation to fill critical shortfalls in an affordable manner. As examples I could mention Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and air-to-air refuelling. Both areas that were identifid as shortfalls during the Libya campaign.

In sum, Smart Defence is a significant shift in the way NATO and Allies conduct capability development. And at the Chicago Summit, I expect all Allies to make a strong, long-term political commitment to this new approach.

The key words here are commitment and long-term. Because Smart Defence is not a one-off Summit slogan. And it is most definitely not an excuse for further cuts. Allies still need to commit adequate and appropriate resources. But, by working better together, we can get a better return on these resources.

This will prevent burden-shifting. And promote burden-sharing. Because let’s be clear: burden-sharing is what our Alliance is all about.

In Chicago, I expect us to put Smart Defence firmly into practice through a package of multinational projects addressing key capability areas. But this needs to be reinforced, and complemented, with other elements. Let me give you four examples.

First, what I call the Connected Forces Initiative.

Smart Defence is about acquiring the necessary capabilities. Connectivity is about making these capabilities work together most effectively.

The Connected Forces Initiative mobilises all of NATO’s resources to strengthen the Allies’ ability to work together in a truly connected way. This is particularly important as we wind down our combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

I see three areas to focus our efforts in the coming years: expanded education and training; increased exercises, especially with the NATO Response Force; and better use of technology.

We must expand our exercise schedule, with a particular focus on our NATO Response Force. This would allow us to draw maximum benefit from the recent United States’ decision to rotate units from an American-based Brigade Combat Team through Europe to participate in the NATO Response Force. Operationally, this would maintain and strengthen our transatlantic ability to work together. And politically, it would provide visible assurance to Allies.

Next, we must use our equipment more effectively together with other Allies. This does not mean buying the same equipment. But it means greater transatlantic defence cooperation, common industrial standards, and more wide-spread use of “adapters” that allow nations to connect up their different makes and generations of equipment.

By increasing equipment compatibility, and by promoting a ”plug and play” approach, we would also make it easier for Allies and partners to participate in future operations.

My second example is structures, which bring together our skills and capabilities.

We have agreed a new NATO Command Structure. We must now press on to make it a reality, so that we gain in flexibility and strength. And so we are better able to deal with future security challenges.

Third, the Lisbon Package of Critical Capabilities

At our Lisbon Summit we agreed on the Alliance’s most pressing capability needs. Chicago offers the opportunity to assess progress on our Lisbon List and where necessary, commit to further efforts to ensure all these key capabilities are delivered.

Finally, closer cooperation between NATO and industry. And closer cooperation within industry. NATO has an important role to play in promoting transatlantic defence industrial cooperation. And in providing advice to national policy makers.

Too often, individual nations simply do not procure quantities that are economically sustainable. By acting as match-maker; NATO could coordinate national requirements and delivery schedules so that we achieve the necessary economies of scale while sustaining defence industries. This is very much in tune with our Smart Defence mindset.

But we should also seek to encourage greater cooperation within industry. We need to see more industrial cooperation across the Atlantic. And unnecessary export control barriers that impede such cooperation need to be removed.

We also need to do more to encourage industry to adopt common standards and certification processes. A common certification approach will save many millions of euros – savings that can be reinvested into capability priorities without increasing defence spending in our nations.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, sums up perfectly what my remarks today are about.

They are about the benefits we can gain by working better together. By setting clear goals. By adopting new ways of doing business. By being innovative and creative with new projects. By making strong commitments. And by being realistic.

Chicago provides the perfect opportunity to draw all these elements together. And it’s an opportunity we must seize. So that NATO emerges lean, but strong and flexible – as we look to 2020, and beyond.

Thank you.