Updated: 23-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


7th June, 1973

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


Review of Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces - AD 70 Progress Report and review of NATO joint defence programs - Practical implications of MBFR negotiations - Balance of payment problems.

    The Defence Planning Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on Thursday, 7th June, 1973, for its regular Spring meeting.

  1. Ministers discussed the state of Allied defence in the light of the current political and military situation. Recalling with satisfaction the success with which NATO has safeguarded the freedom of their countries and has established the stable conditions under which the quest for better relations with the East can safely be pursued, they reaffirmed the confidence of their governments in the principle of collective security embodied in the Alliance, and their determination to support it by all means in their power. They welcomed the increasing contacts between East and West; the ongoing SALT negotiations; the progress made towards the holding of a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe; and the prospects for an early start to substantive negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions.

  2. They noted, however, that despite these developments the Warsaw Pact continues to maintain forces of a size and character greatly in excess of those needed for purely defensive purposes. Ministers received a briefing on the most recent developments in the capabilities of these forces, which confirmed that a formidable program of modernization and re-equipment is continuing with unabated momentum. They noted in particular the strengthening of Soviet forces facing NATO: in the strategic nuclear forces, in the land and air forces and in the increased striking power and world-wide deployment of the Soviet Navy. In this respect, they reaffirmed that NATO must continue to provide a firm defence posture, from which a genuine and lasting detente can be negotiated.

  3. Against the background of the increasing strength of Warsaw Pact forces, Ministers reviewed the present defensive capabilities of the Alliance in the context of a further report on the Allied Defence Problems in the 1970s (AD 70). This report summarized the progress made during the past two years in improving the effectiveness of NATO's land, sea and air forces in each region and also identified the areas where further improvements were still required. In the course of this discussion, Ministers reviewed the special problems of the Northern and Southern Regions including the Mediterranean. They undertook to concentrate their current efforts on the improvements recommended, taking account of the need, recognized at their December meeting, to allocate more resources for the modernization and re-equipment of NATO forces. In this connection, they noted United States proposals for measures of force improvement and agreed that these should be studied by the Defence Planning Committee in Permanent Session within the framework of AD 70.

  4. Also in the context of AD 70, Ministers reviewed the joint defence programs of NATO (e.g. Infrastructure, Communications and Civil Preparedness) with a view to ensuring adequate support for the requirements of combat forces. Fresh emphasis was placed on the increased need to improve co-operation in logistics and in armaments research, development and production. They expressed their satisfaction with the substantial progress made in establishing procedures and facilities to enable the North Atlantic Council and the NATO Defence Planning Committee to carry out their roles in times of crisis.

  5. Emphasizing that public support is a fundamental condition of the entire defence effort of NATO, Ministers drew attention to the vital need to foster understanding of its aims and policies among the peoples of every country of the Alliance.

  6. Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress made towards tax-free comparison of Infrastructure bids. They invited the Defence Planning Committee in Permanent Session to prepare appropriate recommendations for the development of the NATO common Infrastructure Program covering the period 1975-1979, for review in December 1973.

  7. Ministers welcomed the report of the Conference of National Armaments Directors, noted with satisfaction the new initiatives being taken to provide greater armaments co-operation, and agreed on the need for continuing high level attention and effort to be devoted to these activities in the countries of the Alliance.

  8. Ministers received a report by the Chairman of the Eurogroup Ministers of Defence on the further progress made in measures of practical co-operation, particularly in the fields of training and equipment procurement. They welcomed the continuing work of the Eurogroup to strengthen the European contribution to Alliance defence.

  9. Ministers discussed the practical implications of negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions and stressed that the NATO objective remained the maintenance of undiminished security at lower levels of forces. They reiterated their conviction that unilateral action on the part of countries of the Alliance to reduce or withdraw forces would erode the conditions of stability essential to the negotiation of a satisfactory agreement. In this connection Ministers welcomed the reaffirmation by the United States that, given a similar approach by their Allies, they would maintain and improve their forces in Europe and not reduce them except in the context of an East/West agreement.

  10. Ministers agreed to a proposal by the Netherlands Minister of Defence that a study should be undertaken of the possibilities of specialization in the Central Region by interested countries; they invited the Defence Planning Committee in Permanent Session to submit recommendations without delay.

  11. Ministers recalled that in the past they had acknowledged that member nations are entitled to bring to the attention of the Alliance any special problems arising from balance of payments deficits resulting from military expenditures for collective defence, and had recognized that the solidarity of the Alliance can be strengthened by co-operation between members to alleviate them. In this context they took note of a statement by the United States Secretary of Defense Designate on the balance of payments problems which arise from the maintenance of United States forces in NATO Europe and directed the Permanent Representatives to study these issues and offer whatever recommendations seemed appropriate.

  12. In the light of these discussions, Ministers gave guidance to the NATO Military Authorities on the political, military, economic and technological background to force planning for the period up to 1980. This guidance, which is issued periodically, is intended to ensure that forward defence planning in the Alliance is continuously adapted to changes in the political and military situation, and accords with the level of resources which each country is able to contribute to the common defence.

  13. Finally, Ministers identified a number of strategic issues affecting planning in the longer term, and agreed to consider them further with a view to discussion at a future meeting.

  14. The next Ministerial meeting of the Defence Planning Committee will be held in Brussels in December 1973.

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