Updated: 07-Jun-2002 NATO Press Releases

6 June 2002

Statement on Capabilities

Issued at the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council
in Defence Ministers Session

  1. We are committed to providing NATO with the capabilities to carry out the full range of its missions. This requires the further adaptation of our defence and military means, especially in the light of the evolving security environment, and review, as necessary, of our structures, and allocation of resources including within common-funded military budgets. Last September's attacks against the United States, and the clarity they brought about the threat posed by terrorism, have increased both the urgency of this adaptation, and the importance of those aspects relevant to new threats. NATO must be able to field forces for its missions that can move quickly to wherever they are needed, sustain operations over distance and time, and achieve their objectives. The range of actions which NATO will be able to take in the future in response to terrorism and other challenges will depend on the success of our efforts to modernize the Alliance's military capabilities.
  2. We took stock of the work on the military concept for defence against terrorism that we commissioned at our last meeting. Once approved, the concept will inform the development of more detailed policies and doctrines which may require the adaptation of structures and capabilities to meet the threat posed by terrorism. We therefore attach particular importance to its timely conclusion and direct that it be completed as quickly as possible. We look forward to a report on this at the time of our meeting in Warsaw, and to the Concept being finalized at the latest in time for incorporation in the package of measures to increase the Alliance's effectiveness against terrorism that is to be submitted to the Heads of State and Government at the Prague Summit.
  3. Since the end of the Cold War, the Alliance has adapted both its Strategic Concept and its command and force structures in line with the changing security environment. The implementation of the new NATO force structure is under way. However, for the Alliance to be able to fulfil its fundamental security tasks, there is a continuing need to adapt to new challenges, in particular to those posed by terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and to ensure that NATO and its nations have the structures and deployable forces capable of responding. Following the DPC decision earlier today, which we join, the NATO Military Authorities will be taking forward and building upon the ongoing comprehensive assessment of NATO's command arrangements, embracing all levels of the NATO command structure, including the CJTF Headquarters, and the NATO force structure, with the aim of defining a minimum military requirement for these command arrangements. This work will be reported back to the NAC/DPC and to our meeting in September to enable further political guidance for the preparation of recommendations for approval at Prague. Our intention is that our Heads of State and Government at Prague should establish clear guidance and a firm timeframe for completing this work, so that decisions on command arrangements can be taken by the Summer of 2003.
  4. We recognise that the ability of the Alliance to fulfil the full range of its missions in the changing strategic environment will depend largely upon our ability to increase substantially the proportion of our combat forces and support forces that are available for deployment on operations beyond home territory or where there is no substantial host nation support. This is a significant challenge, on which work has already begun in the light of the force structure review. We are committed to meet it.
  5. We noted the progress made in implementing the Defence Capabilities Initiative, launched at the Washington Summit, and agreed that a greater and more focused effort is now necessary. We therefore directed the Council in Permanent Session to prepare recommendations for a new capabilities initiative, taking into account military advice and national proposals. This should focus on a small number of capabilities essential to the full range of Alliance missions. It will also strengthen our capabilities for defence against terrorism. The capabilities should contribute to the Alliance's ability to: defend against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks; ensure secure command communications and information superiority; improve interoperability of deployed forces and key aspects of combat effectiveness; and ensure rapid deployment and sustainment of combat forces.
  6. The new initiative should be based on firm national commitments, with specific target dates, that our countries will make. Appropriate high-level monitoring of the initiative should be ensured. The initiative should lead to increased multinational cooperation and role sharing, including, where appropriate, through commonly owned and operated systems. It should achieve mutual reinforcement and full transparency with the related activities of the European Capability Action Plan, taking account of the importance of the spirit of openness respecting the autonomy of both organisations, under modalities to be developed.
  7. The new initiative will need to be realistic and achievable in economic terms, but should also pose a genuine challenge. We note in this context the scope for further reprioritization in many Allies' defence budgets, for example in reducing force levels and shifting resources towards equipment modernization. However, in many cases substantial financial resources will also be required. There is a clear need for the Allies to develop new methods to identify and implement cost-efficient solutions to defence capability shortfalls, and to reduce fragmentation of effort. In this regard, the new initiative should encourage, where appropriate, the pooling of military capabilities, increasing role specialization, cooperative acquisition of equipment and common and multinational funding. Recommendations regarding the initiative are to be submitted for approval by Heads of State and Government at Prague. We invited the Council in Permanent Session to report to us on progress in this work at our informal meeting in Warsaw in September.
  8. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, of their means of delivery and the threat they pose to Alliance populations, territory and forces remain a matter of great concern, particularly in view of the possible use of such weapons by terrorists. Much valuable work has been accomplished as a result of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Initiative launched at the Washington Summit three years ago. Today we took further steps to enhance NATO's ability to defend its forces against chemical, biological and radiological weapons by endorsing a comprehensive package of WMD-defence capability initiatives. These initiatives, designed to provide an opportunity for multinational participation, include: a prototype Deployable NBC Analytical Laboratory; a prototype NBC Event Response Team; a Virtual Centre of Excellence for NBC Weapons Defence; a NATO Biological and Chemical Defence Stockpile; a Disease Surveillance System. We directed that initial steps be taken to ensure that these initiatives are presented at the Prague Summit.
  9. There is currently an Alliance consensus on the need to deploy theatre missile defences to protect our deployed forces. Once NATO completes its Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence Feasibility Study, the Allies should consider options for building up these needed capabilities. Alliance territory and population centres may also face an increasing missile threat. Therefore, the Alliance needs to examine options for addressing this increasing threat in an effective and efficient way through an appropriate mix of political and defence efforts. Our efforts in this regard should be consistent with the indivisibility of Allied security.

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