Building effective partnerships
One change in NATO's approach to providing security since the end of the Cold War is the way it has formed partnerships with non-member states and other international organisations. The policy bore early fruit with the creation of forums and programmes to assist the democratic transition in Central and Eastern Europe, evolved pragmatically in response to the wars of Yugoslavia's dissolution and received added impetus and a sense of urgency following the terrorist attacks against the United States of 11 September 2001. The rationale behind this policy is that as the strategic environment has become increasingly complex, no single institution can claim to own the magic formula to guarantee peace and prosperity. Rather, the way to provide the greatest possible level of security both to NATO members and to the wider world is by creating a network of cooperating partners all with a vested interest in preserving and promoting peace and prosperity.
The ties that bind
The tragedy of Iraq has been the legacy of ill will it has left and the increased tendency of too many on both sides of the Atlantic to make political points at the expense of EU-NATO cooperation. Looking back at December 2002's EU-NATO Declaration on ESDP, which, at the time, suggested a spirit of greater interaction and complementarity for the future, it is remarkable how much appears to have changed in so little time. It is now time to get down to business. Americans cannot avoid the rigours of peacekeeping and Europeans have to get their war-fighting act together. Two key areas — operational planning and command and defence investment — must form the backbone of future EU-NATO cooperation. Until serious efforts are made to restore constructive and cooperative relations between these organisations, only the enemies of democracy will benefit.
Building hope on experience
The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 helped persuade decision-makers in both NATO member states and Russia that they had an interest in a broad rapprochement. Given earlier false dawns for NATO-Russia relations, it still took a leap of faith from both sides to form in May 2002 the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), a body where NATO members and Russia could meet as equal partners to discuss and develop areas of common interests, assuming the same rights and the same responsibilities for implementation of decisions. The NRC took on an ambitious agenda and has racked up an impressive array of achievements in its first 18 months. But it still has a long way to go to achieve its full promise. Many in the West continue to view Russia with an almost instinctive suspicion, and many in Russia continue to harbour fears about NATO's intentions. Nevertheless, NATO and Russia share an interest in spreading peace and prosperity and individual differences and historic rivalries are gradually yielding to a broader spirit of partnership.
Edging erratically forward
Ukraine's integration into Euro-Atlantic security structures and the transformation of its national security system have become indivisible pursuits driven by two impulses. The first is Ukrainian national interest. The second is the NATO-Ukraine relationship. Today, Ukraine is not threatened by those who would attack it, but by those who would undermine it. Reform has come in stages, each of them beset by collisions with vested interests and economic reality. Without the NATO-Ukraine relationship, the sustainability of defence reform would be open to question. Ukraine has participated in the Planning and Review Process of the Partnership for Peace since its inception in 1994. Whereas the original focus was on units declared available for NATO-led PfP activities, Ukraine decided in autumn 2000 to use this planning tool in support of its defence reform efforts. The greatest obstacles to further reforms are the resources available and the security sector beyond the jurisdiction of the Defence Ministry. If Ukraine manages to overcome these obstacles, Ukrainians will almost certainly be looking to NATO for an even closer relationship.
The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and subsequent, related developments — the improvements in the NATO-Russia relationship, NATO's second, post-Cold War round of enlargement and NATO's growing role in Afghanistan — have effectively reduced the physical distance between China and NATO. Factors auguring well for China-NATO relations include the fact that the Alliance has already broadened its vision of cooperation with countries both inside and outside Europe; NATO and the United Nations have demonstrated that they can form a complementary rather than antagonistic relationship; and China itself is undergoing profound changes that are likely to bring its security policy more into line with that of most other countries. As NATO takes on missions beyond its traditional area of operations, it will come ever closer to China in Central, South and Southeast Asia. As a result, the time may be ripe to put relations with China on a more formal footing.
A radically new Command Structure for NATO
The new NATO Command Structure is perhaps the most important development in the Alliance's military organisation since NATO's creation more than 50 years ago. It has been streamlined to provide what Allied leaders described at last year's Prague Summit as "a leaner, more efficient, effective and deployable command structure with a view to meeting the operational requirements for the full range of Alliance missions". It is framed around two Strategic Commands, like its 1999 predecessor, but differs in that it is based on functionality rather than geography. All NATO's operational functionality is now concentrated into Allied Command Operations (ACO). ACO has three levels of command; is headquartered at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe (SHAPE); and is commanded by the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Under the new arrangements, SHAPE's overriding focus is to provide strategic advice "upwards" to NATO Headquarters, and strategic direction "downwards" to the ACO second level-of-command headquarters. The second Strategic Command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), has the lead for military efforts to transform the Alliance and is headquartered in the United States in Norfolk, Virginia. Transformation represents an extremely demanding challenge and is an ongoing development process, not a one-time event.