Updated: 24-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


6-7 December

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


Continuing momentum of Warsaw Pact military programmes - Progress of programmes in defence planning fields to meet both medium and longer-term requirements - Short term force improvements - New force goals up to 1984 - Requirement for annual increases in defence expenditures - Optimum use of resources through co-operative efforts - Assistance for modernization of armed forces of Portugal and Turkey - MBFR - Eurogroup force improvements - CNAD armaments planning review - Progress towards NATO AEW force.

    The Defence Planning Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on 6th and 7th December, 1977.

  1. Ministers re-emphasised that the assurance of security is indispensable for the maintenance of freedom and progress in their societies and for the furthering of detente. They reviewed the state of security of the Alliance in the light of assessments and reports on developments since their last meeting. They received an appraisal on the main defence issues by the Secretary General and an assessment of the military situation by the Chairman of the Military Committee.

  2. Reviewing the military balance between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, Ministers stressed that the threat posed by the military capabilities of the Warsaw Pact is the fundamental factor which affects the military requirements for Alliance defence. In this context they expressed their concern at the continuing momentum of the military programmes of the Warsaw Pact, which provides them with increasingly capable offensive ground, naval and air forces, with improved strategic attack capabilities and with enhanced command and control arrangements for these forces. Ministers noted that the military capabilities of the Warsaw Pact forces are being increased far in excess of what would be reasonably needed for defence. Ministers welcomed the growing public awareness of these developments.

  3. At the London Summit Meeting in May 1977, it was agreed to develop a Long-Term Defence Programme to enable NATO forces to meet the changing defence needs of the 1980s. Ministers reviewed a report on progress achieved in preparing specific programmes in a limited number of defence planning fields already identified where collective action is urgently required. Within these fields Ministers endorsed the main action areas on which attention should be focused in developing co-operative and co-ordinated defence programmes in the medium and longer term trends in East-West relations which they initiated at the London meeting. They agreed to make every effort to achieve a positive outcome to these initiatives.

  4. Ministers also endorsed the prompt and positive outcome of the accompanying programme of short-term force improvements in the selected areas of anti-armour, war reserve stocks, and readiness and reinforcement. They noted that, for example, the Alliance will increase by end-1978 holdings of anti-armour missiles by about one-third and plan similar improvements in stocks of other critical war reserve munitions. The response to the short-term initiatives has enhanced NATO's defence capabilities and provided an example of the Alliance's ability to act expeditiously and effectively.

  5. Ministers took stock, in their review of the outcome of the 1977 NATO Defence Review, of national force contributions to the defence of the Alliance planned for the next five years. Ministers expressed concern that the gap in conventional capabilities between NATO and the Warsaw Pact was still widening. However, they concluded that significant force improvements had been accomplished in 1977 and that more would materialise as the implementation of current plans leads to a substantial improvement in the defence capabilities of the Alliance.

  6. Ministers agreed that effective steps must be taken in the preparation of new force goals for NATO to cover the period up to 1984, and in further work on the Long-Term Defence Programme, to redress deficiencies and, as a result, reduce the disparity in conventional capabilities between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. They recognised that the achievement of these objectives would continue to require real annual increases in defence expenditure as called for in the 1977 Ministerial Guidance and that increased emphasis must be placed in defence budgets on allocations to major re-equipment and modernisation programmes. They reaffirmed the importance of making the optimum use of available resources through co-operative efforts in defence planning, both in the medium and longer term.

  7. In general, while Ministers expressed their concern at the serious deficiencies which still remain in the defence capabilities of the Alliance, they welcomed the growing resolve and willingness to respond to the increases in the Warsaw Pact's military capabilities by taking the initial steps to correct critical short-term weaknesses and to establish a sounder base for longer term defence improvement programmes. Ministers agreed that, provided the necessary additional resources are made available and used effectively by all member nations, an adequate conventional posture essential to maintain the NATO Triad of strategic, theatre nuclear and conventional forces is within reach.

  8. Ministers noted with satisfaction the efforts that Portugal and Turkey were making from their own resources to improve their force contribution to NATO, but acknowledge the urgent need for both of these members of the Alliance to receive external assistance for the modernisation and support of their forces. They agreed that it was the responsibility of the Alliance as a whole to provide this assistance and undertook to review the contributions which their own countries were making. They confirmed their view of the importance of the contribution to the solidarity and vital security of the entire Alliance of the early implementation of defence co-operative agreements relating to the South-Eastern flank.

  9. Ministers reiterated their support for the Western position in negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions, which is seeking a more stable military relationship by removing current disparities in forces in Europe as a major contribution to the improvement in East-West relations. They reaffirmed 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 not diminish the collective security of the Alliance. Ministers noted recent developments in the talks between the United States and the Soviet Union on the limitations of strategic arms and reaffirmed the importance of continued close consultation within the Alliance on issues arising in these talks.

  10. Ministers took note with interest of a statement by the Chairman of Eurogroup, Minister Søgaard of Denmark, on the Group's discussion in Ministerial Session on 5th December. They welcomed the announcement of European force improvements planned for the coming year; and reaffirmed the importance which they attach to the Eurogroup's efforts to ensure a stronger and more cohesive contribution to the Alliance's defence effort through close co-operation on a wide range of practical issues.

  11. Ministers discussed the progress being made in improving the interoperability of defence equipment, particularly in priority areas such as communications, airborne munitions and fuels. They welcomed the steps being taken towards a periodic armaments planning system within the Alliance. In this regard they endorsed the decision of the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) to set up a procedure for a NATO armaments planning review. They expressed their support for other efforts being made by the CNAD to improve standardization and/or interoperability through co-operative equipment programmes and exchanges of information. In this respect they agreed to the importance of the work being undertaken to remove obstacles to collaboration, in particular, in areas such as the granting of licences and the establishment of co-production.

  12. Ministers noted the Military Committee endorsement of a revised concept of operations for an interoperable NATO Airborne Early Warning Force comprising E-3 and Nimrod aircraft. They received a report on the progress made towards agreement on an acceptable means of sharing the programme costs of the E-3 element of the mixed force, and agreed to initiate the necessary research and development activities leading to a Standardized E-3 aircraft for both the United States Air Force and NATO. They commissioned Permanent Representatives to monitor progress, with the aim of identifying early in the new year a final package proposal suitable for review through national processes, with a view towards final approval by Ministers at the Spring 1978 DPC Ministerial Meeting.

  13. Ministers agreed to NATO's continuing need for a significant infrastructure programme. Specifically, they endorsed the planning and proposed schedule calling for Ministerial approval of the next five year Programme in December 1978.

  14. Finally, Ministers designated national forces committed to the Alliance for 1978 and approved the NATO Force Plan for the period up to 1982. They reaffirmed their pledge to do their utmost to ensure that the necessary resources would be forthcoming to maintain and improve NATO's force capabilities and their determination to support and promote co-operative ventures within the Alliance.

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