Updated: 01-Dec-2003 NATO Press Releases


1 Dec. 2003

Final Communiqué

Ministerial Meeting of the Defence Planning Committee
and the Nuclear Planning Group
held in Brussels on Monday, 1 December 2003

  1. The Defence Planning Committee and Nuclear Planning Group met in Ministerial Session on 1 December 2003. Our colleagues from the seven countries invited to join the Alliance took part in our discussions in the Defence Planning Committee.
  2. NATO's forces are heavily engaged in operations to ensure security and stability in many different theatres. The demands on those forces, including on the forces of those countries invited to join the Alliance, to contribute to operations are unlikely to diminish and we must ensure that they are best prepared for the tasks they will be called on to undertake. This is reflected in our emphasis on transformation of the Alliance's military capabilities and on quality rather than quantity, as well as in our determination to overcome shortfalls in a number of critical capability areas. Our forces must be available in sufficient numbers, and with the needed capabilities, to be able to carry out and sustain agreed missions wherever they are required.
  3. We have taken note of work in hand to establish how NATO's defence planning processes can best contribute to promoting the usability of our forces, by developing and sustaining force structures that are genuinely deployable and operationally capable. Multi-national cooperation, where appropriate, is one proven method of achieving cost-effective solutions to meeting NATO force requirements. However, other approaches are also necessary. We look forward to considering, in time for potential endorsement at the Istanbul Summit, concrete proposals on increasing the necessary deployability and usability of Allies' forces through the establishment of challenging but realistic output targets. This work will take into account a range of related factors, including, inter alia, appropriate broader national contributions to security; the quality of forces, especially enabling assets; the development of output indicators on usability and deployability; and possibly the development of reinvestment goals.
  4. These initiatives will be important components of the comprehensive review of the defence planning process commissioned at our last meeting. We stressed the importance of ensuring that the process is more flexible, responsive and output oriented, increasingly focussed on the capabilities which NATO requires to meet the new security situation, and includes a step-by-step approach to overcoming Alliance shortfalls, focussing on key priority areas. The goals set by the defence planning process and the assessments made about their implementation are of vital importance to our governments as they consider ways in which our armed forces should, and can, contribute to security and stability. Our requirements and our assessments in this critical area need to be clearly articulated and readily comprehensible to a wide audience. Significant elements of these requirements could therefore be publicised in the future, with possible endorsement by Heads of State and Government. We look forward to a robust defence planning review being finalised at the Istanbul Summit next June.
  5. NATO's defence planning processes and the relevant EU processes must result in coherent and mutually reinforcing capability development, not least to support the greatest possible efficiency and cost-effectiveness in our defence spending. In this context, we should vigorously continue to implement those aspects of the Berlin-Plus arrangements relevant to defence planning.
  6. We warmly welcome the progress on the NATO Response Force, including successful establishment of its initial rotations and the successful completion of its recent exercise in Turkey. The NRF will become a distinctively high-quality force and a catalyst for transformation of Alliance capabilities. Related defence planning work must be completed in order to further enhance the NRF's effectiveness.
  7. We also reviewed progress in implementation of the new integrated command structure. Our two new strategic commands, for Operations and Transformation, have already been established as have some of the subordinate headquarters and work is progressing on schedule to make all headquarters operational by June 2006. This new structure will provide the robust capabilities to plan and conduct operations, promote transformation of Alliance military capabilities, maintain and enhance the transatlantic link, and make significant savings so that resources can be re-directed to alleviating current Alliance capability shortfalls.
  8. At our Nuclear Planning Group meeting, we reviewed the status of NATO's nuclear forces and the work of the High Level Group. It is a long-standing goal of the Alliance to enhance security and stability at the lowest possible level of forces consistent with its requirements for collective defence and the full range of its missions. In keeping with this goal, we continue to consider deterrence requirements for the 21 st century. We reaffirmed the principles underpinning NATO's security objectives as set out in the Alliance's Strategic Concept.
  9. The nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO continue to provide an essential political and military link between the European and North American members of the Alliance. They are maintained at readiness levels consistent with the prevailing security environment. We noted with appreciation the continuing contribution made by the United Kingdom's independent nuclear forces to deterrence and the overall security of the Allies, and reaffirmed the value of this capability.
  10. We discussed the growing danger of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed our serious concern over recent acts of non-compliance with obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which may have negative consequences for regional stability and security. We reaffirmed our full commitment to the NPT and to the goal of universal adherence to it. We recognized the NPT as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and reiterated our continuing commitment to all our obligations under this Treaty. We urge all nations to work together to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  11. We reaffirmed the importance of substantial and productive exchanges by nuclear experts under the auspices of the NATO-Russia Council with a view to gaining better mutual understanding, more confidence and thereby increased security. We are encouraged by the progress achieved in these consultations, in particular the prospect of a series of field demonstrations on nuclear weapon safety and security issues.
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