No. 6 - Nov. 1995
Vol. 43 - pp23-25


Anthony Cragg
NATO's Assistant Secretary General
for Defence Planning and Policy

The PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) plays a significant role in achieving many of the main aims of PfP. The participating nations identify specific forces to be provided for PfP and define their scope for improving interoperability. The first round of the PARP, which took place between January and May of 1995 with the participation of 14 Partner countries, was something of a trial run, and the experience gained will provide guidance for future procedures. Work will continue on developing PARP further in future and the process is expected to be expanded.

Partnership for Peace (PfP) has made great strides since its inauguration less than two years ago, and one of those steps forward, made during the early part of this year, was the start of the Planning and Review Process (PARP). PARP has been mentioned frequently in various fora over the last few months, but usually with little explanation. PARP is an integral part of PfP. In fact, its foundation was laid in the PfP Framework Document itself, which said:

'...the members of the North Atlantic Alliance will develop with the other subscribing states a planning and review process to provide a basis of identifying and evaluating forces and capabilities that might be made available by them for multinational training, exercises, and operations in conjunction with Alliance forces...'(1)

But this is not the only aim of PARP. The process also plays a significant role in achieving four of the five main aims of PfP itself, which are:

  • facilitating transparency in national defence planning and budgeting processes;
  • maintenance of the capability and readiness to contribute to UN or OSCE operations;
  • the development of cooperative military relations with NATO, and
  • the longer term development of forces better able to operate with those of the Alliance.
In fact, the fifth aim, that of ensuring democratic control of defence forces, is also served by the process, through its accountability to ministers buttressed by working methods which encourage scrutiny by debate in a politico- military forum.

In developing PARP, we drew heavily on the tools used in NATO's defence review process. We did so partly because they have served us well for many years in fostering cooperative planning. Partly too, because this allowed us to make use of the expertise of the International Staff and the NATO Military Authorities. These professional resources gave us a solid foundation for pursuing this new task.

In general terms, we envisaged a biennial process by which the specific forces to be provided for PfP would be identified, and the scope for improving interoperability defined, in a series of technical and politico-military discussions, culminating in a report to be drawn to the attention of Ministers. This was to be an optional element of PfP, but the interest shown by Partners more than matched our expectations. Several had indicated their intention to participate in this process before the detailed scheme was drawn up, as it was already included in their Individual Partnership Programmes (IPPs). In the event, 14 Partners (2) elected to join in when invitations were issued at the end of last year.

Interoperability objectives

Partners completed a Survey of Overall PfP Interoperability by early 1995 and their responses covered three areas:
  • overall defence policy, and defence and financial plans for the forthcoming PfP planning period;
  • national policy relating to areas of PfP cooperation; and
  • forces available for operations, training and exercises within the context of PfP.
Based on these replies, NATO staff produced a draft Planning and Review Assessment for each Partner. These documents contained the relevant information provided by Partners, together with a set of proposed Interoperability Objectives (IOs), which had been proposed by NATO's Military Authorities. In order for multilateral training, exercises or operations to be successful, forces must be able to work together. The IOs are thus an important feature of PARP, which are tailored to the particular needs and requirements of each Partner. By way of example, interoperability in the field of communications, equipment standards, operating procedures and linguistic skills are fundamental to any joint activity. A number of IOs therefore address different aspects of interoperability in these fields. I should perhaps stress at this point that the aim of the IOs is to provide each Partner with a challenging but realistic set of planning goals to work towards over the next two or three years. These goals do not create a binding commitment, but by accepting them as goals, Partners undertake to make serious efforts towards achieving them.

After each Partner had had time to study their draft, a NATO team from the International Staff, International Military Staff, NATO Military Authorities and the Partnership Coordination Cell at Mons where SHAPE is located, visited most Partners for round-table consultations with experts to amend and refine each draft, and agree on the list of IOs. These bilateral meetings took place over four to five weeks from March to early April, and entailed visiting 11 capitals from Tallinn to Tirana.

The International Staff then revised and amended each Assessment, which was discussed formally in individual sessions of the Political-Military Steering Committee on Partnership for Peace (PMSC) at NATO. Nations had the opportunity to discuss each Assessment with a small group of experts sent from each Partner's capital, and similarly, Partners had the opportunity to raise issues with Alliance members.

The Assessments, having been agreed individually, were then consolidated in summary form into a single report, which also included an overview of Allies' policies, commitments and capabilities in the PfP areas of peacekeeping, humanitarian operations and search and rescue, and provided some guidelines for the future. The report was agreed by NATO and PARP participants at Ambassadorial level by mid-May. Foreign Ministers, at their North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) meeting in Noordwijk at the end of May were officially informed about the consolidated report. It was also brought to the attention of NATO and Cooperation Partner nations' Defence Ministers at their meeting in Brussels on 9 June.

This first round was of necessity something of a trial run, and the experience gained will be used to validate or modify future procedures. Looking back on it, however, there was general satisfaction on the part of the participants that it had marked a significant advance for PfP. In particular:

  • the Allies now have a much clearer understanding of the practical commitments that participating Partners plan tobring to PfP, and of the challenges they face;
  • the participating Partners have successfully faced up to a demanding process, designed to acquaint them more directly than hitherto with NATO procedures and practices;
  • both Allies and Partners have taken an important step forward in the process of seeking greater interoperability in the areas defined by PfP.
We should not underestimate the commitment that was brought by all concerned to achieving this outcome. Quite apart from the fact that we were breaking new ground, the development of PARP was constrained by three important factors. First, the review had to be completed in time for the meetings of Foreign and Defence Ministers in spring 1995. Secondly, it was clear that PARP was going to be very demanding in terms of staff efforts, both among Allies and participating Partners. Thirdly, it had to be achieved without additional staff or financial resources. We were, however, unable to begin this work in the latter part of 1994 because the NATO defence planning cycle peaks in the autumn, with the result that for the International Staff and NATO Military Authorities in particular, but also in many cases for the Allies concerned, there was little or no flexibility available to absorb the additional work associated with PARP. We and the Partners were therefore obliged to bring to fruition between January and May this year 14 individual programmes, each of which involved a complex process of analysis and negotiation, both bilateral and multilateral. It is much to the credit of all concerned and a clear indication of their resolve that we were able to do so, particularly bearing in mind that this was in addition to all the other work associated with the spring ministerial meetings.

The future

What of the future? We are committed to broadening and deepening PARP over time. In doing so we must be realistic. PARP is demanding both for the Allies and for participating Partners, in terms of the effort which must be applied to it, and of the financial and planning commitment required to achieve the Interoperability Objectives. The International Staff and NATO Military Authorities, too, face strict limits in terms of the staff resources which can be applied to PARP. But PARP holds out the promise of being perhaps the most effective vehicle available to us for securing greater interoperability in key areas of PfP and improved transparency in defence planning. It is important therefore to build on what has already been achieved.

Work has already started in the wake of the ministerial meetings to develop PARP further. It is too early to forecast what the outcome might be but a number of ideas are already on the table. The number and contents of IOs could be expanded. The forces identified by Partners for cooperation with the Alliance could perhaps be increased. Almost certainly the number of countries participating in the process will grow. These are just a few examples, but whatever the outcome, we can be sure that the evolving planning and review process holds out the prospect of an interesting and demanding challenge to Allies and Partners alike.


(1) For full text of Framework Document, see NATO Review, No.1, Feb. 1994, pp. 29-30.

(2) Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Ukraine.

© Copyright by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 1995.