The Defence Planning Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on Tuesday. 9th and Wednesday, 10th December, 1975.
- Ministers discussed the security of the Alliance in the light of current political, military and economic developments in each region of NATO. They emphasized that the assurance of security is the necessary condition for the maintenance of freedom in their societies. and for the continued exercise, free of outside interference, of democratic self-determination through which orderly evolution and progress amongst their peoples will be pursued. They took note of the signing of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. They reiterated that the achievement of a more stable military relationship at lower levels of forces in Europe would make a major contribution to the improvement of East-West relations. In this context, they reviewed the state of negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions currently being held in Vienna, and their implications for the defence of the Alliance. They reaffirmed the importance they attach to the principle that NATO forces should be maintained, and not be reduced except in the context of a Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction agreement with the East. They also took note of the status of the current talks between the United States and the USSR on Strategic Arms Limitation.
- Ministers expressed their grave concern at current trends which are altering the relative military strengths of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. They noted the increasing fire power, mobility and armoured strength of the Warsaw Pact forces and their formidable capability in such areas as tactical nuclear, chemical and electronic warfare; the growth and world-wide deployment of the Soviet navy, including the introduction into service of large numbers of nuclear-propelled attack and missile carrying submarines; and most recently, the change in emphasis from air defence to offensive operations in Warsaw Pact air forces, represented by the acquisition of new high performance bombers and tactical aircraft with deep penetration capabilities.
- In the face of these developments Ministers reaffirmed the need for NATO to maintain strong forces for deterrence and defence; these forces should possess a complete range of capabilities necessary for implementing the strategy of flexibility in response. They pledged themselves once again to maintain and improve the national efforts needed to ensure that this strategy, which has successfully preserved the security of their countries, remains effective for the future.
- Ministers noted with satisfaction improvements which have been made or planned in some countries in regard to the quality of NATO's forces and their equipment. They especially noted improvements which had taken place in several areas of defence e.g. anti-armour capabilities, air defence and aircraft protection, the modernization and replacement of ships and the procurement of modern aircraft. They also took note with satisfaction of the decision of five countries to establish a NATO programme for the procurement of the F-16 aircraft to replace part of their present inventory of tactical aircraft, as well as of the continuing progress of the co-operative MRCA and JAGUAR programmes in which three and two Allied countries respectively are participating. They expressed the hope that the problem of replacing other aircraft in NATO air forces which will shortly become obsolescent would also be approached in a co-operative manner with the object of achieving a greater degree of standardization and interoperability of aircraft throughout NATO.
- Ministers noted with satisfaction that the United States is now implementing its decision announced last December to form two new brigades in Europe within existing manpower levels and that it was proposed that one of these brigades would be deployed alongside other Allied forces in Northern Germany; such a deployment would add greatly to the operational flexibility with which forces could be deployed defensively in that area. They took note with gratification of the increased combat effectiveness of the German armed forces resulting from the three extra brigades formed (also within existing manpower levels) during the current reorganization of their forces. They also welcomed a statement by the Canadian Minister of National Defence on decisions recently taken by his Government in regard to the re-equipment and modernization of Canadian forces.
- In the light of the increasing military capabilities of the Warsaw Pact and the current economic situation Ministers discussed the need for ensuring the continued allocation of adequate resources for defence. They emphasized that the effective management of defence programmes, in accordance with the long-term defence concept established by them in the Ministerial Guidance of June 1975, requires long-term planning and long-term stability in financial support; short-term variations in defence budgeting, in response to fluctuating economic conditions, damage both the cost effectiveness and military effectiveness of NATO forces.
- Ministers also agreed that it is imperative to make the best use of resources available for defence; this requires extra effort through greater co-operation between nations through common operating procedures and doctrines, in research, development and procurement of materials, as well as by rationalization. In this context Ministers reviewed the present status of studies on rationalization and specialization in NATO in the fields of communications training, lines of communications and logistics. They took note of the recently renewed efforts to achieve better standardization and interoperability of equipment between national forces: they agreed to continue these efforts and look for other practical measures towards the more effective achievement of these aims.
- Ministers took note that the first part of a study being under- taken by the NATO Military Authorities of means for improving the flexibility of NATO's forces had been completed. This first report concerns the Central Region of Allied Command Europe; reports on the other regions, including the maritime regions, will follow. Noting that a number of measures recommended would contribute significantly to the effectiveness of NATO forces as a whole and would involve low or no costs for their nations, Ministers agreed that they should be studied and put into action as far as possible without delay. They invited the Defence Planning Committee in Permanent Session to establish a programme for implementing such measures and to keep this under constant review on their behalf.
- Ministers heard with interest a statement on the current work of the Eurogroup in enhancing collaboration among its members for the benefit of the whole Alliance. They welcomed the announcement of substantial European force improvements planned for the coming year; and took note with satisfaction of the growing success of the co-operative work of the European subgroups. They also took note with appreciation of the progress made by European members of the Alliance in furthering inter-European co-operation thereby strengthening the links between Europe and North America on standardization and defence equipment procurement.
- Ministers noted the views of the NATO Military Authorities that an airborne early warning and control capability was an urgent military requirement for NATO. They agreed to consider (in consultation with other Allied countries), at the Spring Ministerial Meeting of 1976, a proposal for the acquisition and operation of such a system, with a view to making a decision at that time.
- Finally Ministers reviewed the forces committed to NATO by member countries during the current year and made a formal commitment on behalf of their own countries as to the forces to be committed during the coming twelve months. They then reviewed the NATO force plan for the period up to 1980 and invited the Defence Planning Committee in Permanent Session to consider it further and approve it on their behalf. In this context Ministers reaffirmed their support for integrated defence planning within the Alliance as a means for translating into action the aims and principles of NATO defence policy, as set out in their Ministerial Guidance. They called for further strengthening of, and support for, the Nato integrated defence planning system, which aims to weld the military contributions of individual nations into an effective structure of collective defence, and which provides tangible evidence of the desire of nations to stand together and work together to preserve their security.