To the North

26 May 98


"An Overview of Alliance Military Issues"

Address by General Klaus Naumann

Chairman of the Military Committee

Thank you, Mr Chairman, for your introduction and your kind invitation to address the North Atlantic Assembly in Plenary Session here in beautiful Barcelona. Indeed, this Spanish setting is particularly apt given that many of the topics I will address today as I present a "tour d'horizon" of the Alliance from a military perspective relate directly to the growing importance of NATO's Southern Region, to which Spain will belong.

My intent this morning, ladies and gentlemen, is to provide you a short overview of the military dimensions of many of the Alliance reforms and to highlight a few other issues which I believe deserve your attention, and ultimately your support. To set the scene for our discussion, permit me to start with a brief review of the key risks and uncertainties which will, by their very nature, condition NATO's transformation at it prepares itself for the challenges of the next century. I will mention four.

I call the first a "residual risk" as it stems largely from the incomplete transformation in Russia which, despite what some may wish to believe, still retains significant military capabilities, especially in the strategic nuclear arena. To be mindful of the long way Russia has to go to complete her transformation and that of her military power is no contradiction to our genuine desire to achieve lasting stability with and not against Russia. To achieve this visionary objective is decisive for the entire Europe-Atlantic community. To make it happen, we should be bold and we should take risks.

But in order to afford such a daring approach, NATO needs to maintain a range of options from cooperation and engagement with Russia, through arms controls, confidence building measures, to the maintenance of a residual defence capability which includes the irreplaceable transatlantic link and with it, the continuing presence of American Forces in Europe which is in line with the wishes of the Europeans.

Unresolved European issues constitute the second risk category. These may be based on inter or intra-state territorial disputes, claims on natural resources, ethnic clashes, and the like. Unfortunately, such "classic" risks are still evident today both within the NATO Treaty Area and along its periphery. Bosnia and Kosovo may serve as the most visible examples. As a result of this risk, NATO needs to maintain a broad range of options which enhance dialogue, cooperation and contribute to preventing conflicts.

The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council is the most prominant example of the options. Furthermore, the Alliance also requires instruments that can support crisis prevention or crisis management efforts such as a more responsive command and force structure, and the Combined Joint Task Force concept.

The third risk we face is the uncertainty along Europe's periphery, especially in the "Arc of Instability" running from the Maghreb to the Indian Ocean. It is here that we not only see a significant potential for conflict with spill-over scenarios that threaten the strategic interests of many Alliance states, but we also witness ever-increasing proliferation, particularly in the fields of missile technology and of weapons of mass destruction, and an increased preparedness to resort to such weapons. While the recent underground nuclear tests in India offer us a keen reminder in this regard, from my perspective, it is the relative ease with which state and non-state actors could develop and employ biological weapons, the "poor man's nuke", which constitute the biggest risk to our societies.

The instability in NATO's Southern periphery has led to the situation whereby NATO's Southern Region has become its most endangered region. This is significant as it not only implies a shift in operational focus from the Central to the Southern Region, but it also implies a greater requirement for more flexible command arrangements, enhanced force deployability and sustainability capable of reinforcement, and adequate counter-proliferation options including defensive measures. Moreover, given its scope, this third risk also requires that NATO maintain a similar range of options to those I described for the first two risks.

The last risk category I wish to mention are the so-called "new risks". These range from destabilizing mass migrations due to scarcity of resources to international criminals, terrorists, and non-state actors employing military means, modern technology, or weapons of mass destruction. To cite but one example, you need only reflect on the vulnerabilities of our modern democratic societies should such groups employ information warfare to cripple government systems, key infrastructure services, and major financial institutions.

This will require NATO to explore effective means and measures that can assist in addressing these risks. I fully appreciate, however, that our best "weapons" to counter such risks are unlikely to be based on military forces. But what we need to do is to think through how we can best protect our vulnerable societies against risks of that nature. I suspect that we have to fully exploit the possibilities of effective and efficient inter-organization and inter-state cooperation.

Drawing on this risk assessment, I am left with a couple of troubling thoughts of note for NATO.

First, crises and conflicts will continue to be complex, multi-faceted and multi-agency. Interventions will require military forces to work closely with non-governmental organizations and other non-state actors, to make effective use of force multipliers such as psychological operations and civil-military cooperation, and to contribute to solutions which have inextricably-linked political, socio-economic and security dimensions. We will do this in a world which is increasingly linked together through communication, a world which will simultaneously see post-modern, modern and pre-modern societies and the forms of conflicts associated to their respective society, a world in which war is and will remain alive and well.

And second, crises and conflicts may flare up with little or no notice and should there be deeply-rooted, ethnic-based origins, they will require long-term interventions. In principle one can say: "The longer the delay of a potential intervention, the worse the situation will become, making any eventual deployment even more problematic".

Furthermore, once in theatre, the very real need for a prolonged solution, and thus, a continued military presence, will run counter to the desire of most coalition member nations to repatriate their forces as soon as possible. We have already witnessed one such development on the periphery of the NATO Treaty Area in the former Yugoslavia. There is some likelihood there could be more IFORs and SFORs.

The Alliance must have the reaction forces and the means of rapidly deploying these forces to deal effectively with such eventualities. Just as importantly, the deployable headquarters' facilities, i.e. the CJTF, necessary to command and control such operations must be at very high levels of operational readiness and easily tailored to reflect the specific requirements of each contingency.

With the scene now set, let me to start with a quick tour d'horizon of the military dimensions of Alliance reforms beginning with the command structure.

As you know, last December NATO agreed on a new command structure which is no longer focused on the defence against an attack from the East; which is truly streamlined, i.e. 20 headquarters at three levels compared to the current 65 at four; and which is suited to cope with the wider range of NATO's missions. The new command structure was designed against the background of NATO enlargement and the new strategic environment.

Therefore, I do not expect the need for major changes as a result of the update of NATO's 1991 Strategic Concept, which, as the word "update" suggests, will follow an evolutionary approach. Since then, the Military Committee has agreed MC 324, the authoritative document which describes the new military command structure, and most recently has agreed the Outline Implementation Plan. As a result, we have now turned to the development of the Detailed Plan which, upon MC agreement and subsequent Council approval later this year, will constitute the blueprint for the implementation of the new command structure.

Although the timelines are very tight, there is every indication that the Military Committee will be able to meet its Spring 1999 mandate in creating the conditions for all appropriate decisions to be taken for the activation of the 20 headquarters of the new command structure. It goes without saying that we in the military as warmly welcome Spain's decision to fully participate in NATO's military integration as we have to respect with sincere regrets France's decision not to participate at this point in time.

Work on the second element of Internal Adaptation, the Combined Joint Task Force concept, is also proceeding well, particularly with the recently completed and successful CJTF trial as part of Exercise STRONG RESOLVE conducted in and around the Iberian Peninsula this March. While the detailed analysis of the various CJTF trials continue, preliminary findings seem to indicate the number (i.e. 3) and the size of CJTF HQs required by the Alliance as well as the tentative composition of the various component elements.

Drawing on high-readiness national units and on soon-to-be established integrated CJTF headquarters nuclei, the implementation of the CJTF concept anticipated in the year 2000 will add flexibility and responsiveness to NATO's military posture and allow the Alliance to react quicker to both collective defence contingencies and to "out of area" contingencies, including peace operations such as Bosnia. Indeed, CJTF flexibility to respond to collective defence tasks is a factor, among others, that allows NATO to forego any stationing of NATO headquarters on the territories of the three Invited Countries.

Next, I can report that most of the mechanisms to make European Security and Defence Identity a reality within the Alliance are by and large complete. In fact, we are already planning for a joint NATO-WEU crisis management exercise in the year 2000 to be followed by a CJTF exercise based on a WEU-led operation. Once ESDI is complete, NATO will have no difficulty demonstrating that the Europeans have more responsibilities in the new Alliance structure and more possibilities to act as Europeans, if so desired, and as decided on a case by case basis.

It also has the added advantage to strengthen the transatlantic link as it should demonstrate the willingness of Europeans to act resolutely and shoulder their part of the common burden. The question many ask, however, is will the Europeans have the political will to employ such an instrument? That is a question for you the politicians. I would suggest however, that the full potential of ESDI can only be fully exploited if all European NATO nations eventually participate in the integrated military structure.

In the field of External Adaptation, the Alliance is pursuing five initiatives, all of which have military components. I will concentrate on three. The first is that NATO opened its doors to three new members and agreed to review the enlargement process in 1999. Given this audience, I certainly need not expand on the political, economic or other implications of enlargement. But from a military perspective and as there is no shortage of applicants, the Alliance will wish that future members will be net contributors and not merely recipients of security and, above all, NATO will wish to remain an efficient organization. I would really ask that you keep this in mind in the years to come since it is this capability to act which makes NATO so unique and so attractive as well.

The second and perhaps the most fundamental initiative is that we negotiated and signed in 1997 the NATO-Russia Founding Act which allows NATO and Russia to consult on a wide variety of security issues, and which gives both sides a chance to raise issues of mutual interest but definitely no vote on internal matters. This historic achievement is driven by the genuine desire of NATO to work with Russia and demonstrates that NATO and Russia do not view each other as an enemy. We wish to achieve security with Russia and not against Her, but we do not have any illusions.

Although there has been some encouraging progress as we celebrate the first anniversary of the Founding Act, we still have a long way to go. For example, despite Russian representation at NATO HQ and SHAPE, we have yet to establish a reciprocal NATO military liaison mission in Moscow. This is important as we know that many Russians, especially in the military, still harbour the misguided perception that NATO is nothing more than a mirror-image of the Warsaw Pact. Similarly, we know that they profoundly dislike enlargement since many of them still believe in outdated concepts such as a geographic buffer zone as an instrument to achieve security.

This has led to some Russian attempts to secure co-decision on internal NATO matters, especially those related to enlargement. And we know that there are Russians who would love to see NATO disappear or to be subsumed by the OSCE, what I would view as a tragic error against the background of risks I described some minutes ago. Not surprisingly then, achieving true partnership with the Russians and reconciling our initiatives in other domains with our efforts with this important nation may prove to be one of NATO's biggest challenges. That said, I remain optimistic that dialogue, openness, transparency and reciprocity are among NATO's best tools to break the wall of mistrust and make the relationship work.

Finally, let me highlight the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council which, as the political framework for Partnership for Peace, allows for consultation in all aspects of security. The EAPC comprises 44 countries and encompasses an area ranging from Vancouver to Vladivostok. It and its military adjunct are still in their early life but they have the growth potential to become instruments of crisis management in the NATO sphere. Regarding the EAPC's main tool, Partnership for Peace", I am happy to report that the first PfP Staff Element has been established at NATO HQ while others at Strategic and Regional Command level will be established next month.

Time does not permit me to discuss in similar detail the NATO-Ukraine relationship. Suffice it to say, therefore, that NATO regards the independence and integrity of Ukraine as a key element of European stability.

No overview of Alliance military issues would be complete without a few words regarding the current operations in Bosnia. Despite the outstanding success the NATO and non-NATO servicemen and women in executing and enforcing the military provisions of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA), it is obvious that we may have quite a way to go before true self-sustaining peace and stability are achieved. This, among other factors, has not only led the Alliance to decide to maintain current SFOR force levels for the time being, it also led the NAC to authorize in early May a further NATO-led operation known as Operation JOINT FORGE whose force, however, will retain the title of SFOR.

NATO's objectives are to continue to contribute to the secure environment necessary for the consolidation of the peace process by further deterring a resumption of hostilities or new threats to peace, and to continue to consolidate current SFOR achievements by providing broad support, within capabilities, to civil organizations. In addition, NATO now wants to promote a transition of emphasis from military to civil implementation. This will see the Bosnia-Herzegovina authorities themselves assuming increasing responsibility for the maintenance of the peace, whilst NATO gradually reduces the size, role and profile of SFOR. This will take place as part of a Transition Strategy that will be linked to the achievement of an End State. And this is a major change from the "old" SFOR to the "new" SFOR. We are no longer focussed on an End Date but on an End State.

The desired NATO End State is the establishment of a secure environment, adequate for the continued consolidation of the peace, without the further need for NATO-led forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is not an End Date, which is an important point to note. In order to determine progress towards the achievement of this End State, criteria will be established against which progress can be measured in a regular review process. Reductions in force levels will be linked to progress in achieving this desired End State and the assessment of the security situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Transition Strategy is therefore a vital part and a new element of Operation JOINT FORGE.

Before leaving the subject of Bosnia, I would wish to comment on NATO's concern regarding the ominous developments in Kosovo and the surrounding region. As a consequence and in the spirit of crisis prevention, the North Atlantic Council tasked the NATO Military Authorities in early May to examine military options which will assist in monitoring the situation and avoiding any spill-over of the Kosovar dispute into Albania and FRYOM. No decisions have been taken. The bottom line which needs to be hoisted aboard is that, ultimately, the international community including NATO does not need a strategy just for Bosnia, just for Croatia, just for Albania, or just for Kosovo. What it needs is a comprehensive and coordinated strategy for the entire Balkans, as the problems of one state cannot be divorced from those of the others.

I could not close without alerting you to a few challenges that I feel merit your attention. The first is that due to the challenges we face in this era of fiscal restraint, we are seeing a greater tendency among nations to decline or partially decline Force Goals. Perhaps just as worrisome is that many nations are experiencing significant difficulties to implement the Force Goals they did accept.

This is most unfortunate as we need increased flexibility, mobility, deployability and sustainability to undertake the new Alliance missions successfully, to cope with the challenge of covering a wider area with less forces, and to avoid any connotations of becoming a "hollow alliance". We have commenced a force structure review this month and I have little doubt that we will eventually arrive at commonly shared conclusions. To implement them, however, will be difficult, will require resources, will need better intra-European and Euro-American cooperation, and will take some time.

Another significant challenge facing us is the ever-growing technological gap between the United States and the remaining Allies. Particularly in the domains of Command and Information Systems, target acquisition and intelligence systems, the Americans are fielding sophisticated equipment and software while, at the same time, continuing to invest heavily in Research and Development activities.

This can lead, and indeed in some instances has already led, to an interoperability gap between the US and Her NATO Allies. The technological advantage the US enjoys today is remarkable, and we urgently need to find ways to close the gap. This should not necessarily mean to spend much more money for defence, as I know pretty well that in these days of "Euro" discussions this is impossible, but rather we should cooperate more closely in Europe on the one hand and between Europe and the United States on the other. Collectively, we should share more technology, refrain from further cuts in the field of research and development, and adopt procurement "off the shelf" in our national force planning.

Furthermore, to reduce needless waste, we must strive hard to avoid duplication of effort, especially prevalent in Europe, and outdated procurement methods. Indeed the concept of reducing waste is critical to all defence domains and not just procurement. After all, trends in defence budgets are making it exceedingly difficult to adequately train, equip, and operate our armed forces. If not addressed, such trends may also raise the spectre of a "hollow alliance".

I have already alluded to the third challenge I wish to highlight, namely the possibility that we have entered an age of global disorder in which networked transnational criminal organisations and non-state actors may act by possibly using military means including weapons of mass destruction or by exploiting the information revolution to the detriment of nation states and alliances. If nations or alliances want to be protected, they must therefore be able to not only simply cope with uncertainty, rapidly changing scenarios and chaos, but they must have the ability to effectively pre-empt, disrupt and dislocate these networks.

They must also enhance their counter-proliferation measures, both passive and active, including defensive measures, as our societies are particularly vulnerable to attack. Although significant, I suspect that financial considerations will prove to be among the lesser challenges in this domain. The real challenges are institutional, technical, conceptual, and political. Can we, for example, break down the inter-agency and international barriers to allow the unfettered sharing of information which is absolutely crucial for the timely identification of potential threats or hostile acts? Alternatively, would nations ever condone a pre-emptive strike?

Are nations willing to permanently relinquish a degree of their sovereignty to enable a virtually automatic theatre missile defence system to engage an inbound missile knowing that sensors in one nation may trigger the launch of weapons in another nation with an anticipated interception above a third nation all within the space of a few seconds? These are very perplexing and no doubt controversial questions. Yet they and similar questions are exactly those that you the politicians need to address if you wish to arm your societies with at least some of the tools required to counter the ever-growing proliferation threat. And we, the military, will need to think through again and again how we can make best use of the resources you allocate to us to protect our societies most efficiently. We know that change will remain with us and we know that the situation may change faster than we can change organizations.

Ladies and gentlemen, as I believe I have said enough to provoke a few questions, let me conclude by stating that we who wear the uniform in the service of this Alliance are extremely grateful to you, our parliamentarians, for your continuing support and guidance. This becomes all the more important as the security environment in which we exist is constantly changing and the risks facing us as we enter the 21st Century are considerably more diverse, multi-faceted, and complex than those we knew during the Cold War.

We are proud to serve you and our nations and we look forward to working with you as NATO takes on the challenges at the start of the next millennium. I should add that you can rely on NATO's military which is, by the way, the instrument which makes this Alliance so special since it enables it to act; and that is the decisive difference to all the other organizations around. I thank you for your attention and stand ready to answer your questions.

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