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Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope: DSACT

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope has been the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation since July 2004.

(© ACT)

A 52-year-old submariner, who joined the United Kingdom's Royal Navy in 1970, he served on submarines as a junior officer. He has commanded conventional and nuclear-powered submarines, a frigate and an aircraft carrier. In a varied career, he has also taught prospective submarine commanders and had spells in the UK Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office and at NATO commands. Immediately prior to joining Allied Command Transformation, Admiral Stanhope was Deputy Commander-in-Chief Fleet.

Military transformation is a complex concept. What do you understand by it?

My interpretation of transformation is leveraging modern technology and modern thinking to integrate all capabilities to be able to deliver military force in the most effective and rapid way. It's about doing things as smartly as possible. To achieve this, we must utilise every available tool. This includes concept development, defence planning, research and technology development, experimentation, lessons learned and education. I would place innovative thinking at the top of the list to ensure that we can deliver new capabilities to the front line as quickly as possible.

We have examined transformation and believe that three goals are required to achieve it. These are: enhanced decision effectiveness; coherent effects across the battle space; and joint deployment and sustainability. If we can reach these goals, we will have achieved a transformed force. To get to these goals we have created five integrated project teams (IPTs) to cover what we term seven transformational objective areas. These are Effective Engagement, Joint Manoeuvre, Enhanced Civil-Military Cooperation, Information Superiority, Network-Enabled Capability (which in some respects underpins all of what we're doing), Expeditionary Operations and Integrated Logistics. The IPTs cut across the vertical structure of our organisation to make it a truly matrix-managed business.

To what extent is it possible to transform NATO militaries in the absence of greater defence spending?

This is a key challenge. The need, first of all, is to find headroom to invest in transformation. That means giving up what is no longer militarily viable in the modern battle space. By giving up what is no longer relevant, nations will hopefully find the headroom to reinvest in the capabilities that are necessary to drive transformation of their forces forward. National governments have hard choices to make to free up resources to address the many shortfalls in Alliance capabilities. Nations might also look at supporting the Alliance by specialising in niche capabilities, which is an area that we're trying to develop and encourage.

In which areas is the technology gap between the United States and the European Allies and Canada particularly worrisome?

Integrating the technologies that are necessary to achieve transformation is certainly a challenge. Moreover, it's here that the United States has a transformational advantage because it finds it easier to bring together the numerous technologies that it possesses to achieve better effects. By 'bundling' all technologies that already exist in the United States, the country is able to raise its capability bar to a substantial height. That said, within the European Union and Canada, most of the same technologies exist and it should be possible to aspire to overcoming the same challenges and reaching the same height that the Americans are driving at. Technology transfer between nations as well as technology transfer across the Atlantic present significant political challenges. But we are pushing to simplify the process. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the resource issue, since there is more money made available in the United States than in other countries for defence.

Allied Command Transformation is just over one-and-a-half years old. What has it achieved to date?

Allied Command Transformation has been extremely busy taking forward numerous initiatives on many fronts and in new ways. For example, the review and revision of defence planning that we are now grappling with, involves looking forward ten years and beyond. We're looking at long-term capability requirements for NATO, rather than the shorter focus that the Alliance has had in the past. We've already delivered a NATO Network-Enabled Capability paper, which provides the basis upon which we can articulate NATO's network-enabled capability needs in the future. While it is only a foundation document at this stage, it pulls together the requirements that the Alliance as a whole has to address to achieve a network-enabled capability. What is important here is the ability to use current systems and plug into a network without complete reinvestment. We see the NATO Network-Enabled Capability as critical to underpinning much future capability development. If you can invest in the network, it should be possible to do more with less.

We're also doing a huge amount in experimentation terms. This includes, for example, experiments with NATO's friendly-force tracker system in Afghanistan. Indeed, this tracking system, which significantly enhances situational awareness and helps substantially to reduce friendly-fire incidents, has gone beyond the experimental stage and has become an operational requirement. We've also been looking at logistics tracking. And we've looked at how we can present information to decision-makers more easily, with more coherence and greater integration.

In educational terms, the creation of the Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway, has enormously enhanced our ability to train personnel at the operational level, which is a new venture for the Alliance. We've even created a mentors' network to allow this educational process to draw on the expertise of experts in individual areas. We've enhanced the lessons-learned process and smartened the way NATO develops Capability Packages. It used to take two years or more to develop a Capability Package. We've refined and speeded up the process. We're also examining all existing projects to determine whether they're relevant to the NATO of 2005 and beyond as opposed to the NATO of 1990, irrespective of when they were agreed. And we're working to bring on stream national Centres of Excellence.

We've also done a lot of concept work. Together with Allied Command Operations, we have written a paper called The Strategic Vision, addressing the challenge of transformation. And we're in the process of writing a follow-on paper, The Concept of Allied Future Joint Operations. This flows from The Strategic Vision and looks at how the Allies can achieve more joint focus to their operations. We've forged links with industry to help leverage their capabilities to take forward transformation. We have become involved in training Iraqi officers at the operational level, which is not an area that anybody had thought about when Allied Command Transformation was created. And we have done a lot of work to take forward effects-based planning for future operations, where we seek a desired strategic outcome or "effect" through the application of the full range of military and non-military levers.

Allied Command Transformation is having an increasingly dynamic impact on NATO's transformation. The pace and depth of progress is significant, and we are working hard towards building a NATO that is better prepared for the future. We've come a long way already, but I am very conscious that there is much more to do. And with Transformation in our title, the process will be perpetual.

Assisting the military transformation of Partner countries is one of Allied Command Transformation's tasks. How much progress has been made in this area?

A great deal has already been achieved, although more could be achieved if the organisation was fully manned. We have yet to reach our initial operating capability, let alone our final one. As a result, our manning levels are not yet sufficiently high to do all the work that we would like to or are required to do. Moreover, working with Partners is an area where we are more severely affected by manning shortfalls. Nevertheless, we see our contribution in assisting the defence planning of Partner nations and taking forward tailored education programmes within those Partner nations as hugely important.

We are doing this in particular by using two closely linked instruments: the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) and the Cooperation Programme. In the PARP, we are assisting Partners in their defence planning in much the same way as we help member nations, namely identifying potential defence reforms both in the political and the military arena. We also look at the Partnership Goals in order to transform military structures and capabilities. In the Cooperation Programme, we are organising numerous events including courses, training programmes and seminars, to help Partners prepare to become full members of the Alliance.

Allied Command Transformation includes both the Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway, and the Joint Force Training Centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland. What are these centres offering above and beyond what the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, and the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy, have traditionally offered?

The connection between the two is limited in that the NATO School in Oberammergau and the NATO Defense College in Rome are very much concerned with education of large groups of individual students in a variety of disciplines. The Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, by contrast, focuses at the operational level and the instruction of teams. Traditionally, NATO has spent a lot of time exercising nations collectively within the Alliance to deliver capability, but it has not done much teaching. We've never drawn the operational level of command and control together, while it is being formed, to train it before sending it out on operations. That is the niche role that the Joint Warfare Centre fills. In this way, we've already trained the past three commanders for the ISAF missions in Afghanistan. They brought their respective headquarters to Stavanger and completed two weeks of intensive training to prepare them for the mission itself.

We've also had NATO Response Force (NRF) commanders and teams in Stavanger following a focused package of training to prepare them for the mission ahead. This is entirely new. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that the Joint Warfare Centre is one of the early jewels in the crown of the output of Allied Command Transformation. The Joint Warfare Centre is also responsible for some experimentation work, such as confrontation and collaboration analysis. This is something we're looking at to see how we can better prepare commanders and their staff to negotiate with the various protagonists in a particular conflict.

The Joint Forces Training Centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland, is still very much in its early days. Indeed, we have only recently completed negotiations with Poland about having a NATO Headquarters on Polish soil. But the niche capability that this Centre will provide in the future will address the component level of training to prepare individual components from the three services for the step change into the joint operational arena.

Allied Command Transformation's Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Centre in Monsanto, Portugal, has been analysing the NATO-led operations in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. What lessons have been learned to date, and how is the Centre able to help improve Alliance operating procedures?

We want the Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Centre to be able to learn lessons in operational theatres and turn them around as quickly as possible. The Centre has to go beyond identifying issues, to learning lessons and acting upon them rapidly so that we can improve capabilities and procedures while operations are still ongoing. In the past, NATO organised exercises, looked at the lessons learned from those exercises, went away, analysed those lessons, wrote interesting reports and produced a product some two years after the original exercise. That's not what we need in the modern age. We need to be able to turn around lessons learned quickly in real live operations and simultaneously feed them into our training and educational facilities.

We have members of the Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Centre deployed in both Afghanistan and Iraq looking at the challenges that these deployments have created. Since NATO only began deploying out of area some two years ago, a lot of lessons are still to be learned. This includes areas such as force generation and strategic lift, to name but two.

Allied Command Transformation is also training Iraqi security forces outside Iraq. How is this proceeding, and what problems have you encountered?

We in Allied Command Transformation are responsible for out-of-country training of Iraqi students. We have already organised and coordinated training programmes both at the Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger in November and at the NATO School in Oberammergau in December. In this way, a total of some 22 senior students have already gone through our organisation. The course at Stavanger was focused on high-level training to get the key leaders, the generals, to understand how to run their operations in Western structures and according to Western norms. Between February and May, we hope to see more than 120 further students come through the Joint Warfare Centre and the NATO School. Meanwhile, others will be attending courses that individual nations, such as Italy, are organising.

The process is slower than we would have hoped in part because the Iraqi Ministry of Defence has understandably been focused on other issues. It is not easy to release so many high-level individuals in so short a time frame. Now that elections have taken place in Iraq, we hope to see more students made available. Language is also an issue. If you're going to send somebody on a week's course at the NATO School, then interpretation is appropriate. But if somebody is going to attend a longer course, such as the six-month staff-training programme at the NATO Defense College in Rome, then he or she must have the necessary language skills to get value from the course.

Which national Centres of Excellence does Allied Command Transformation work with and how?

We are responsible for the coordination of all future Centres of Excellence. In this way, we are currently in negotiations with a large number of nations who have put forward training centres in particular competency areas to be considered as Centres of Excellence. So far only one offer has reached the level of maturity at which it has formally been possible to recognise it as a Centre of Excellence via the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. That is a Joint Air Power Competence Centre in Kalkar, Germany, which is delivering competencies across the joint air power arena. The next is likely to be a Combined Joint Operation from the Sea Centre of Excellence proposed by the United States.

We are currently in negotiations with many other potential Centres of Excellence. In Turkey, for example, we're looking at a Defence against Terrorism Centre of Excellence as well as an Air Tactical Training Range. In Estonia, we're looking at a Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. We're looking at a potential Civil-Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence in CIMIC Group North, which is a multinationally funded organisation. We're looking in the Czech Republic at a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence Centre of Excellence, and in Italy at a Centre of Excellence for policing operations. These are all examples of areas of competency that nations wish to have linked to NATO for training purposes and which NATO can fully utilise. Clearly, we want to bring them on stream as quickly as possible but first have to negotiate the precise terms and conditions under which the Centres will be delivering their products.

The development of the NATO Response Force is one of the most important projects Allied Command Transformation is currently working on. How do you assess progress to date?

Progress in the military arena is very much on track but we face ongoing challenges, which are partly being addressed by Allied Command Operations and partly by Allied Command Transformation. Allied Command Operations is addressing those areas of capability and requirement that are going to be needed in the short term to deliver the NRF final operational capability next year. We, in Allied Command Transformation, are looking at the longer term to ensure that the level of capability that the NRF will be able to provide is steadily increasing.

In the case of near-term challenges, we've just completed an exercise in Stavanger, Allied Reach 2005, where we - both Commands - focused on the strategic issues that still have to be addressed. We're looking at multinationality versus military efficiency. How low down can you have multi-nationality built in to the NRF without degrading its overall military capability. We're looking at how current processes will enable advance planning to ensure that we meet the 5 to 20-day readiness profile that the NRF is set up to provide. We're looking at integrated logistics: how we can remove ourselves from the old NATO structures of individual nations being responsible for their own logistic support, to integrate the whole logistic train to provide simpler and smarter support to the NRF. We're also looking at intelligence sharing and knowledge management. These are difficult areas where we need to ensure that we are as transparent as we can be across the Alliance to deal effectively with any crisis or operation that the NRF may be involved in. We're also looking at the command and control element, the transfer of authority between nations and NATO itself and, in particular, at how to minimise the impact of national caveats.

The issue of common funding for the NRF is a big one. While this is a matter for NATO Headquarters to address, and not the military commands, it is of significant concern to us because involvement in the NRF is expensive. Clearly, nations do not wish to feel that they are paying twice, both volunteering forces and paying for their support and exercising.

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