No. 6 - Nov. 1996
Vol. 44 - pp. 13-17

An open NATO

Hans Haekkerup
Minister of Defence of Denmark

NATO is currently deeply involved in a complex process involving both internal and external adaptation and as part of this process it is being opened up to new members. The Danish government believes that all Partners should have an equal opportunity for joining, and that NATO should clearly state that the enlargement process would continue after the first round of negotiations has been completed. Partnership for Peace needs to be enhanced and reinforced from below so that a comprehensive package of cooperative projects could be offered to those Partners who are not among the first to join thereby narrowing the gap between membership and partnership. A stable and enduring relationship with Russia is an essential element of Euro-Atlantic security thus a charter could be drawn up to provide the basis for substantial cooperation. As Denmark's cooperation activities illustrate, there is an extensive web of projects between NATO countries and Partners but there is a need for coordination which would minimize any overlap between offers of assistance. This would lead to a much more efficient and focused PfP process.

Haekkerup & Solana
Mr. Haekkerup (left) is greeted by NATO Secretary General Javier Solana during the Danish Defence Minister's visit to NATO headquarters on 6 September.
(NATO Photo 26Kb)
The members of NATO have taken decisions with substantial and far-reaching consequences in order to prepare the Alliance for the 21st century. The aim is to overcome former divisions, and enhance stability and prosperity throughout all of Europe.

Complementing the core functions of the Alliance, which has maintained peace for nearly five decades, is a complex process involving both internal and external adaptation. The elements of the adaptation cannot be seen in isolation; they affect each other. The development of a new command structure and the implementation of the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) concept must be seen in the context of increased cooperation with Partners and the opening of the Alliance to new members. Our aim is an open NATO; open to new members, open for substantially increased cooperation with Partners and open to undertake the new missions outside Alliance territory.

Internal adaptation

At the ministerial meetings in June this year, important decisions were made with respect to the adaptation of the Alliance's military command structure. We welcome these decisions. This work has come far in a very short period of time, and it shows the flexibility of the Alliance to adapt to challenges.

The new command structure should be able to include the Alliance's new tasks, especially Partnership for Peace (PfP) and non-Article 5 operations including CJTF.

It should also enable the development of the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within the Alliance. We consider it important in this context to recognize that the north-eastern part of Allied Command Europe (ACE) is a geostrategic entity. We strongly believe in close cooperation with our neighbours, not only with our Alliance partners Germany and Norway, but also with Sweden, Finland, Poland, the Baltic States, and Russia. It is important to find a structure that is able to accommodate new members without major restructuring.

With the increased involvement of the Alliance in peace support operations, CJTF will become an important tool enabling close cooperation with, and participation of, Partner countries in these missions. A general consensus exists in the Alliance on the need for a few CJTF headquarters with an ability to command large-scale operations like IFOR (Implementation Force) in Bosnia. CJTFs of this size can most sensibly be placed at the regional command level.

For smaller-scale operations, CJTFs at the sub-regional level merit attention due to their comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the area of operations and the conditions for operating there. This allows for a useful division of responsibility by setting up a flexible system of CJTF-nuclei, support modules, and augmentation modules. CJTF sub-regional headquarters will furthermore be very well suited for close day-to-day work with interested Partners, and when augmented with different modules these nuclei would be ready effectively to conduct operations in, or close to, the area of responsibility of these headquarters and to support other headquarters.

Latvian troops
Latvian troops participate in the Partnership for Peace exercise Cooperative Osprey '96 at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, USA, last August.
(NATO photo 40Kb)

Welcoming new members

The opening up of the Alliance will be a historic achievement demonstrating the final end to the division of Europe. We warmly support the idea as well as the basic principles laid down in the enlargement study. (1) We believe it important to continue the intensified dialogue; we have already learned more about our Partners and they have learned more about us. It should be noted that enlargement is a political process, and it should remain so. In the process, we will emphasize the political criteria such as clear democratic, civilian control of the armed forces, and respect for human rights and the rights of national minorities.

The overriding purpose of taking in new members is that it contributes to the security and stability in all of Europe. This means that no country's security will be jeopardized by other countries joining the Alliance. If we cannot ensure this, we will not have achieved our aim.

The Danish government is of the opinion that all countries should have equal opportunities in their quest for membership. Looking at our own neighbours, we think that both Poland and the Baltic States have a good case for membership. In order to cater for the countries that do not become members in the first round, however, the enlargement process must continue in a transparent manner. First and foremost NATO should unambiguously state that enlargement does not end with the first round. The intensified dialogue should continue with interested Partners, and Partnership for Peace should be enhanced.

The development of a stable and enduring partnership between NATO and Russia is an essential element of Euro-Atlantic security. A NATO-Russia charter could be developed laying the basis for substantial cooperation in areas relevant for Russia. The topics contained in such a charter could embrace the formalization of a permanent political consultation mechanism, and the establishment of permanent liaison with relevant NATO bodies; e.g., the Headquarters in Brussels, the Partnership Coordination Cell (PCC) at Mons where SHAPE is located, and at subordinate headquarters. Building on Russian participation in IFOR, the future holds promise of substantial practical cooperation. It is equally important to ensure that the relationship between Russia and Partner countries is developed in a positive atmosphere. NATO could and should play a role in this respect.

Enhancement of PfP

Cooperation with the Central and Eastern countries took an important step forward when Partnership for Peace was launched in January 1994. Both the Alliance's cooperation activities and the bilateral in-the-spirit-of-PfP activities have grown in number and in quality. Within a very short time, Partnership for Peace has developed into an incredible success and an enduring element of the European security architecture. In reality, it has turned out to be the most comprehensive system of confidence building measures ever devised, and an instrument of genuine cooperation.

When PfP was launched, it was stressed that participation in it was a precondition for NATO membership, albeit not an admission ticket. PfP has been used for different purposes by Partners. Some aimed directly at membership, while others focused their cooperation at obtaining increased interoperability in order to be able to cooperate with the military forces of the Alliance. It is probably fair to say that Partner countries who see themselves as prime contenders for membership have been the driving force behind Partnership for Peace, both from their own and from NATO's perspective.

One of the core elements of PfP is the principle of self-differentiation. Through the Individual Partnership Programmes (IPPs), cooperation is tailor-made to suit each country's needs and wishes. This self-differentiation must remain the basic principle in PfP, but the process must be flexible enough to accommodate Partner's varying aims. The programme must be equally attractive to the countries that do not become members in the first enlargement round, and to those that do not wish to become members at all.

We must be able to offer a substantial package of cooperation to those countries who are not among the first to join NATO. Enhancing PfP forms an important part of such a package. We must ensure that an enhanced PfP contains concrete measures that will draw Partners, who so wish, closer to the Alliance. The gap between membership and partnership should be narrowed. We must therefore enhance both the political and military dimensions of PfP. In the political field, Partners should be more deeply involved in decision-making to gain more influence over PfP programmes; and dialogue and crisis management should be strengthened. Some of the potential elements in the military field would be provided by placing Partner staff officers in NATO headquarters, and reinforcing the PfP process from below. Another area which should be developed further is the Planning and Review Process (PARP). (2) Instead of compatibility of equipment it should focus on true interoperability, and it should be integrated into NATO's force planning process to the widest extent possible.

One way of making closer connections to Partners who do not become members immediately, would be to establish PfP offices in interested Partner countries. The tasks of these offices should not be limited to information only: they should actively support the countries in the PfP process. They could, for instance, advise the host country in drawing up their IPP, and assist in the PARP process.

Reinforcement of PfP from below

Another important aspect in the development of PfP is the possibility of reinforcing it from below. Currently, all planning and coordination of military activities are carried out by the Partnership Coordination Cell, and even though Partners have become more involved in the process, the possibilities for Partner participation will be greatly enhanced if they participate directly at lower levels, in Major NATO Commands as well as subordinate commands.

The PCC will continue to have an important role to play, inter alia, with respect to finalizing PfP programmes, collecting evaluations, and providing input to the military part of PARP. It would be advantageous, however, to let relevant NATO headquarters have a larger role to play in exercise planning and execution, other military planning activities, and evaluation. Within a specific region, the headquarters has the advantage of special knowledge of its Partners and the geographical area itself.

In the area of peace support, there is already substantial exercise activity and cooperation in training. These operations will no doubt be an important element of future common NATO and Partner tasks: cooperation in this field could be expanded. Individual advice could be given to Partners in order to prepare them better for cooperation with NATO. Specific areas could be reaction time, parliamentary procedures, legal aspects etc. The formula for cooperation could be bilateral NATO expert advice and exercises at different levels (crisis management exercises and command post exercises).

The development and enhancement of PfP is important in implementing NATO's new tasks, especially non-Article 5 operations with Partner participation. Training and planning for these tasks is an area that would benefit from Partner participation at the regional level. Reinforcement of PfP from below should be accompanied by expanded Partner involvement. Our experience from the Nordic-Polish brigade (NORDPOLBDE) in IFOR demonstrates that practical cooperation between NATO countries and non-NATO countries is indeed possible. Such cooperation would, however, be much more rewarding to Partners if they were able to participate in the planning process from the beginning. Currently, Partners have liaison officers in the PCC, but they must be able to participate directly in the planning for non-Article 5 operations at the various levels of the NATO structure. A central element in the longer-term could be the generation of PfP force packages, leading to expanded Partner participation in peace support operations.

It must be clear that reinforcing PfP from below does not mean regionalisation in the sense that the regions are detached from the remainder of NATO. A parallel can be drawn to the core task of collective defence and nations' connections with the integrated command structure. Although Denmark in that respect has its main military focus on Allied Forces Baltic Approaches (BALTAP), we of course also plug into all higher levels up to, and including, the North Atlantic Council. Reinforcement of PfP from below should be a tool for the delegation of tasks, not an obstacle to integration.

In-the-spirit-of-PfP activities

Having recognized the importance of activities carried out in-the-spirit-of-PfP within the context of overall cooperation, Denmark is very active in this field. We cooperate mainly, but not exclusively, with the Partners in our region, i.e. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia, where the geographic focus is on the St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad region. Our bilateral cooperation with Russia has resumed following its suspension last year due to the situation in Chechnya. Five activities will be carried out this year and six are planned for 1997.

Poland is one of the strongest contenders for NATO membership, and we have developed a substantial bilateral cooperation programme aimed at bringing Poland closer to Western structures. The programme entails exchange visits at the unit level and other forms of exchanges of information and experience. Our cooperation reflects the fact that both nations have experience to offer in the military field.

Another element of our cooperation in the Baltic Sea area has developed between Germany, Poland and Denmark. The practical results are land, sea, and air exercises, increasing gradually in complexity. They focus on improving practical skills, and our ability to cooperate and communicate. Friendship ties have been established between our three army divisions facing the Baltic Sea, and we have recently taken the initiative to extend friendship ties between naval and air units as well. This trilateral cooperation plays an important part in preparing Poland for NATO membership.

Our cooperation with the three Baltic States is inevitably somewhat different because these countries have limited, albeit increasing, experience in the military field. We are therefore focusing on how to organize and train military units, democratic control of the armed forces, and how to manage a defence budget. The aim again, is to bring them closer to NATO.

We undertook to train platoon-sized peacekeeping units from the three countries, and have then integrated them into the Danish battalions in the former Yugoslavia. Over the last three years, we have deployed a total of eight platoons, and our experience from this is very good. We are currently preparing the deployment of a Lithuanian company as part of the forthcoming IFOR rotation of troops in October 1996. That is not, however, part of our bilateral cooperation programme but of the multilateral BALTBAT project, which aims at establishing a Baltic peacekeeping battalion. At present, discussions are under way on developing the project beyond 1997. Denmark, on behalf of the countries contributing to the BALTBAT project, is coordinating the various forms of assistance and has contributed instructors, equipment, and weapons. Other important cooperation projects in this mould are the formation of a Baltic Minesweeper Squadron (BALTRON), and the establishment of Baltic air surveillance capability.

An extensive web of cooperation exists between NATO countries and Partners, as evidenced by the Danish bilateral cooperation activities. This means that there is an increased need to coordinate PfP and in-the-spirit-of-PfP activities. The BALTBAT project is often referred to as one of the most successful and effective examples of multilateral cooperation. The main reason for this success is that it is a well-defined project with broad participation; the three Baltic States cooperate with each other and with Western and Nordic states. But it needs coordination.

Ideally, all cooperation with Partners should be coordinated and information passed openly. Overlap between offers of assistance should be minimized as much as possible in order to achieve maximum effect. This would lead to a much more efficient and focused PfP process, and it would also be more economical for all concerned. Even if not all the parties were interested in full coordination, full transparency should be achieved at the very least. NATO headquarters at all levels could probably also play an important role in this area by filling the coordination vacuum.

NATO in the 21st century

NATO is currently deeply involved in a complex process involving both internal and external adaptation. When the new Alliance emerges at the other end of the process, we will see a NATO where some Partners have become new members, and others are so closely affiliated that it is difficult to distinguish them from members. Some others may have chosen less intensive cooperation. Regional CJTF-capable joint and combined headquarters with staff representation from members and Partners alike will be responsible for planning and generating subordinate multinational PfP units and CJTF force packages, and for planning and conducting exercises. It may sound ambitious but, looking back at the Alliance's achievements over the last five years, it is perfectly feasible.


  1. Study on NATO Enlargement, September 1995

  2. See "The Partnership for Peace planning and review process", Anthony Cragg, NATO Review, No. 6, November 1995, pp. 23-25.

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