Updated: 24-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


7-8 December

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


Appraisal of defence situation - Strategic arms limitation in cur- rent situation - Increasing strength of Warsaw Pact forces - Approval of NATO Force Plan for 1977-1981 - Force improvements in train - Optimum use of available resources - Situation of South- Eastern flank - Eurogroup - Airborne Early Warning Force - Additional funding for Infrastructure programme - Rationalisation/ specialisation and integration of defence efforts - Standardization and interoperability - Availability of resources for common defence.

    The Defence Planning Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on 7th and 8th December, 1976.

  1. Ministers reviewed a broad range of subjects relating to the state of security of the Alliance in the light of developments which have occurred since their last meeting. They received an appraisal of the overall defence situation by the Secretary General, and an assessment of the military situation by the Chairman of the Military Committee.

  2. Ministers took note of the state of the current talks between the United States and the Soviet Union on the limitation of strategic arms. They reaffirmed their support for the Western position in the Vienna negotiations and the importance they attach to the principle that NATO forces be maintained and not reduced except in the context of a Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction agreement with the East which must in no way diminish the collective security of the Alliance.

  3. Ministers reaffirmed the close relationship between the Alliance's twin objectives of maintaining an effective defensive and deterrent posture and of seeking a relaxation of tensions between East and West. They stressed that NATO's military requirements, given the defensive character of the Alliance, remain related directly to the reality of the military threat posed by the Warsaw Pact.

  4. Ministers expressed their serious concern at the relentless growth in the strength of the Warsaw Pact forces in which an increasing emphasis is being placed on offensive capabilities. They noted the introduction of a range of improvements which will greatly increase the combat capabilities of the conventional forces of the Warsaw Pact and enable them to carry out sustained offensive operations with little preparation. For example, the increased range and payload of their air power has provided them with a deep penetration capability and the mobility, firepower and logistic support of ground force units have been increased substantially. In addition the qualitative and quantitative improvements in its naval forces give the Soviet Union the capability of bringing increasing military force to bear world-wide. In the nuclear field significant improvements are being made with the appearance of new nuclear weapon delivery systems equipped with multiple warheads; this includes the expected deployment of the SS-20 mobile intermediate range ballistic missiles capable of striking targets in the whole of Europe and beyond. Ministers further noted that, although the Warsaw Pact forces are already far in excess of those required for self-defence, the Pact continues to increase its fighting capabilities. This is made possible by significant annual increases in military spending. Ministers noted in this respect that the Soviet Union is currently estimated to be spending about 13% of its GNP at factor cost for military purposes which is a very much higher level than obtains in NATO generally.

  5. Ministers discussed the implications for NATO of this continuing build-up of Warsaw Pact military strength in Europe. Against this background they reviewed the national force contributions to the defence of the Alliance for the current year and the extent to which national plans for the period up to 1981 would permit progress to be made towards the achievement in full of the force goals adopted by Ministers in the Spring of the current year. They approved the NATO Force Plan for the period 1977 - 1981 and designated the forces which their countries undertook to commit to NATO over the coming 12 months.

  6. Ministers noted certain force improvements in train or planned, a number of which were reported for the first time during the course of the 1976 NATO Defence Review. These included, for example, the procurement or deployment of additional modern aircraft by the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States: and the restructuring of forces by the United States and Germany, leading to a strengthening of the combat units available to the Alliance.

  7. Ministers concluded that the improvements noted in NATO forces, though uneven, are significant, but that there is a need for all of the Allies to undertake further measures if the Alliance is to reverse effectively the adverse trends in the NATO-Warsaw Pact conventional military balance. Accordingly, Ministers agreed that further strengthening is needed in NATO's conventional defences, particularly in the fields of anti-armour, air defence and antisubmarine warfare. They therefore undertook to review their defence contributions to the Alliance, with the aim of identifying further specific force improvements and commitments which could be introduced into national force plans to be submitted to NATO in 1977, with a view to remedying the deficiencies which have been identified.

  8. Ministers recognised that the achievement of these objectives would call for real annual increases in defence expenditure by Allied governments and that increased emphasis should be placed in defence budgets on allocations to major re-equipment and modernisation programmes. They re-emphasised the need to make the optimum use of available resources through co-operative efforts in defence including further rationalisation measures. Ministers also discussed ways in which defence planning in NATO might be improved.

  9. Ministers acknowledged the continuing needs of Portugal and Turkey for external assistance to improve their force contributions to the Alliance and reaffirmed their support for studies which are underway in this context. They confirmed their view of the importance and of the contribution to the solidarity and vital security needs of the entire Alliance of the early implementation of defence co-operation agreements relating to the South-Eastern flank.

  10. The United States Secretary of Defense reported to his Ministerial colleagues on the steps being taken to implement the United States-Spanish Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation and how these affect the United States role in Europe.

  11. Ministers heard with interest a statement by the Ministerial Chairman of the Eurogroup on the results of the Eurogroup's discussions in Ministerial Session on 6th December. They noted with satisfaction the concrete progress made by the Eurogroup subgroups in furthering co-operation; and they welcomed the announcement of important European force improvements planned for the coming year. They expressed their appreciation of Eurogroup Ministers' commitment to developing the collective defence capabilities of their countries in the most effective manner for the benefit of the whole Alliance.

  12. Ministers reaffirmed the importance of a NATO Airborne Early Warning Force and agreed to the need for an urgent decision on its realisation. They therefore agreed to call a meeting of highlevel national experts in early January in order to examine the financial aspects of such a realisation, to be followed shortly thereafter by a meeting of Defence Ministers to come to decisions for endorsement through national processes. In the meantime operational implications are being discussed within the appropriate bodies.

  13. Ministers, reaffirming that the Common Infrastructure Programme remains one of NATO's most effective co-operative defence efforts took note of the request of the NATO Military Authorities for additional funding. They recognised the importance of meeting the request of the NATO Military Authorities for an increase in the ceiling for the current five-year programme (1975-1979) and invited the Infrastructure Committee and the Permanent Representatives to arrive at an agreement as soon as possible.

  14. Ministers discussed rationalisation/specialisation and further integration of the Alliance's defence efforts, noting that a full report on the NATO Flexibility Studies would be available for their Spring meeting. They expressed their appreciation at the steady progress being made in the field of common tactical doctrines and in the establishment of NATO training projects and schools. They also endorsed continuing work towards the improvement of the Alliance's crisis management arrangements and for the rationalisation of the NATO communications networks. In addition, Ministers noted the efforts being made to extend co-operation in logistics and agreed to seek opportunities for increased use of existing NATO organizations for common logistic support such as the NATO Maintenance and Supply Organization. They noted with satisfaction the efforts being made to increase the civil support for military operations.

  15. Ministers examined separately several reports relating to standardisation and interoperability. They welcomed the emphasis being placed by the Conference of National Armaments Directors on the establishment of further co-operative projects for common equipment and its decision to intensify standardisation studies in the area of munitions. They noted the progress being made towards interoperability in certain areas, particularly in communications, and associated themselves with recommendations under consideration by the North Atlantic Council for further actions in this respect. They examined the present situation and the reasons for success and failure in standardisation of equipment, discussed the need to develop further the trans-Atlantic dialogue on defence procurement issues, and invited Permanent Representatives to consider what actions were needed to facilitate the wider and more systematic adoption of common armaments programmes.

  16. Finally Ministers pledged themselves to do their utmost to ensure that the necessary resources would be made available to maintain and improve their force contributions to the common defence and, with this object in view, to support and promote further Alliance co-operative ventures.

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