Updated: 24-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


May, 1978

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


Approval of report on Long-Term Defence Programme (LTDP) for Heads of State and Government - Need for conventional force improvements to withstand attack with little warning - State of MBFR negotiations - Arms control measures and disarmament agreements - New Soviet weapon systems threatening Europe - Assistance for Portugal and Turkey - Support for selected priority areas within LTDP - Progress of Eurogroup - Report by National Armaments Directors (CNAD) on standardization and inter-operability - Review of AWACS proposals for decision before autumn.

  1. The Defence Planning Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on l8th and l9th May, 1978.

  2. Defence Ministers conducted their discussions against the background of the major political and defence issues, including future trends in East-West relations and prospects for Alliance co-operation in defence procurement, which will be submitted to the NATO meeting of Heads of State and Government to take place in Washington on 30th and 31st May. In preparation for that meeting, they approved, for onward transmission to Heads of State and Government, a report on the Long-Term Defence Programme which had been commissioned at the London Summit meeting in May 1977.

  3. Ministers reaffirmed the political resolve expressed by nations at the Summit in May 1977 to meet the challenge to their security posed by the continuing momentum of the Warsaw Pact build-up. The resulting widening disparity in conventional military capabilities between NATO and the Warsaw Pact had led countries to place emphasis on conventional force improvements and especially on NATO's ability to maintain a credible deterrent or to respond to an attack by ready forces after very little warning. In this context they noted with satisfaction that almost all countries load indicated their intention to adjust their financial plans for defence in accordance with the aim, established in the 1977 Ministerial Guidance, of an annual increase in defence expenditure in the region of 3% in real terms; and that this welcome development represented a major advance compared with the national positions that had been reported in the 1977 NATO Defence Review.

  4. Within this framework, Ministers reviewed the overall security of the Alliance in the light of events which had occurred since their last meeting. In particular, they considered the present state of MBFR negotiations in Vienna and expressed the hope that the recent Western initiative introduced in those negotiations would meet with a positive response. They reaffirmed the Western position in the 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. They were also apprised of the latest developments in the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks and reaffirmed the importance of continued close consultation in the Alliance on issues arising from these talks. Ministers reaffirmed their support for measures to achieve effective arms control and disarmament agreements undertaken within the general pursuit of détente and expressed the hope that the United Nations special session on disarmament would contribute to progress in this field, but they stressed that, in the face of the growing Warsaw Pact capabilities, negotiations to this end must be backed by an appropriate deterrent and defence posture.

  5. Ministers heard a statement by the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee on the latest developments and growth in the military capabilities of the Warsaw Impact and their implications for the military balance with NATO. They expressed their concern that the military power of the Soviet Union continued to grow, in particular in its capabilities to deploy new offensive weapon systems against the whole of the European theatre and to project its power, whether directly or by proxy, on a global scale. Ministers discussed the implications of these developments for Western security.

  6. Ministers noted with approval that important measures had been taken, or were in train, to counter the existing adverse trends in the balance of conventional forces between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, Under NATO's established defence planning procedures, they endorsed new force goals for the period 1979-1984 which cover the spectrum of NATO's forces. These force goals and the Long-Term Defence Programme are inter-related and complementary. Ministers recognized that the implementation of the force goals would be a major contribution towards meeting the challenge posed by the continuing build-up of Warsaw Pact forces.

  7. Ministers agreed that there is an urgent need for Portugal and Turkey to receive external assistance for the support and modernization of their forces. They acknowledged that despite the scale of the efforts that these two countries were making for their contribution to common defence, it was the responsibility of all the Allies to take the necessary steps to provide the essential assistance. In this connection, Ministers noted the initiative underway for the complete removal of existing United States restrictions on the procurement of defence equipment by Turkey and emphasized the importance for the security and solidarity of the Alliance of a speedy and positive outcome to these initiatives.

  8. Ministers affirmed that the Long-Term Defence Programme was designed in particular to meet the need for a more comprehensive framework for NATO's defence planning, incorporating a longer-term approach, and thus enabling the collective needs of the Alliance to be taken more into account in the development of national plans. They noted with satisfaction that the measures submitted to them contributed to this objective, both in the projection of NATO's military needs up to and beyond 1990 and the emphasis placed on the achievement of a greater degree of co-operation and rationalization in meeting those needs. Through this greater co-operation and rationalization, NATO will aim to achieve a significant increase in its defensive capability from the national resources already made available or planned for the defence of the Alliance.

  9. Within the Long-Term Defence Programme, Ministers approved, or endorsed for submission to Heads of State and Government, a wide range of measures in selected priority areas. Special importance has been attached to achieving significant improvements in the readiness of NATO forces, particularly their availability and survivability; in the ability of the Alliance to reinforce in a period of crisis or tension with complementary improvements to European reserves; in the air defence of NATO territory and sea areas; in countering the electronic warfare threat; and in the provision of effective logistic support for all NATO forces. Special emphasis had also been placed on improving NATO's maritime posture, NATO's command, control and communications arrangements to facilitate political and military decision making, especially in time of tension or crises and on further rationalization of NATO's defence efforts. They also endorsed the progress made by the Nuclear Planning Group towards meeting medium and long-term needs for the modernization of theatre nuclear forces. Ministers have recommended that support for the Long-Term Defence Programme should be sought at the highest political level by Heads of State and Government.

  10. Ministers have also noted that appropriate action will be taken by the Defence Planning Committee in Permanent Session on a number of subsidiary measures directly related to the main programmes, including no cost/low cost measures which, taken together, produce worthwhile defence improvements at relatively small cost and are capable in many cases of implementation in the short-term. Ministers noted that follow-through action will be taken at NATO and international military headquarters, including a study on strengthening of international machinery.

  11. Ministers heard with interest a statement by Mr. Willem Scholten, Defence Minister of the Netherlands and Chairman of the Eurogroup this year. They took note of the outcome of the Eurogroup's discussions in Ministerial Session and welcomed the progress made towards closer collaboration in the fields covered by its seven sub-groups. They reaffirmed their support for the role of the Eurogroup in furthering European cohesion in the framework of the North Atlantic Alliance and in particular in contributing to the implementation of the Long-Term Defence Programme.

  12. Ministers took note of a report by the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) on major issues in the field of equipment collaboration and in particular the activities of the Alliance to improve the standardization and/or inter-operability of defence equipment. They welcomed especially the initiatives of ten member nations in signing an agreement to observe and contribute to a development programme for a highly accurate satellite navigational system.

  13. Ministers noted a report on the NATO Armaments Planning Review and stressed the importance of further progress in the review and in the development of a periodic armaments planning system.

  14. Ministers expressed support for other efforts being made to improve standardization/interoperability of defence equipment, including the need to establish a more balanced two-way traffic. They noted the progress made in developing a transatlantic dialogue between North America and Europe on armaments co-operation, as well as bilateral and multilateral co-operation by Alliance members on specific equipment programmes. They expressed their resolve to pursue Co-operatively specific equipment programmes recommended by the Long-Term Defence Programme.

  15. Ministers took note of a comprehensive package proposal for the procurement of a force of E-3 aircraft as a major component of a NATO Airborne Early Warning Force. They agreed to expedite the review of this proposal through national channels with a view to final decision on the programme before the Autumn. They noted that NATO-funded initial development activities associated with a standardized configuration for United States and NATO E-3 aircraft were underway and agreed to continue these activities in anticipation of completion of national review processes. They agreed that the Federal Republic of Germany should be the host nation for the NATO E-3 Main Operating Base.

  16. Ministers, reaffirming that the common infrastructure programme remains one of NATO's most effective co-operative defence efforts, noted the progress being made in the preparation of the next five-year programme which will be submitted to them for approval in December 1978. Ministers also noted the need for an increase in the common infrastructure financial ceiling to accommodate urgent projects including aspects of the Long-Term Defence Programme, as well as price increases.

  17. In conclusion, Ministers reaffirmed that the common defence of the Alliance is one and indivisible. They stressed that the maintenance of security is indispensable for the continued freedom, individual liberty and welfare of their societies and for the furthering of détente. They acknowledged that the basis of Alliance security lay in the political solidarity and the mutual support among the member nations and the scale of effort they were prepared to undertake for the common defence.

 [ Go to Comm '70-'79 Index ]  [ Go to Homepage ]