To the XVth
NATO Workshop

20 June 98


NATO - A Military Perspective

Address by General Klaus Naumann

Chairman of the Military Committee

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is indeed a pleasure to join you here in these majestic surroundings in beautiful Vienna and to exchange views on such a diverse and stimulating array of Euro-Atlantic defence and security related issues. Indeed, this Austrian setting is particularly "a propos" given that many of the topics I will address relate to the building of a new European security architecture. Such topics, of course, are very reminiscent of similar discussions held here over 180 years ago during the Vienna Congress. At this time, all of Europe was saying The Congress dances but it does not move. NATO fortunately does not dance, but it moves and it has moved a lot.

To set the scene for my "tour d'horizon" of the Alliance from a military perspective, let me start by listing four key risks and uncertainties which I believe will condition NATO's transformation at it prepares itself for the challenges of the next century. The first is the residual risk emanating from Russia as it struggles with its enormous societal, ideological, and economic transformation. We know neither the duration nor the outcome, but we wish sincere cooperation and security with and not against, Russia. Whether it is in such a situation of uncertainty a signal of reassurance to us if a former Soviet Defence Minister and a man involved in the attempted coup d'tat like Marshal Jasov is appointed to a high function in the Russian Defence Ministry, I leave for political judgement.

The second key risk is that posed by the various unresolved disputes within Europe: be they ethnic, religious, or territorial in nature with the Balkans as the most visible example. There is no need to echo what SACEUR said on Bosnia-Herzegovina, but we should never forget that we achieved is the absence of hostilities but not peace. It is still quite a way to go to bring reconciliation about and to achieve self sustaining stability. Operation JOINT FORGE which started today is our contribution to this effort. I would be remiss, if I did not mention Kosovo in this context.

  1. Kosovo is not Bosnia - lessons learnt in B-H are not necessarily applicable in Kosovo.

  2. Heavy handed violent suppression of civilians cannot be tolerated. Who does it internationalizes a conflict.

  3. Kosovars are no angels either, and they should refrain from increasing violence.

  4. Former Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) leadership manoeuvred the issue into a dead-end road. They should see this and return before it is too late.

  5. NATO nations seek a peaceful solution but have military capability to act very quickly if needed.

The third is the instability resident along the periphery of Europe ranging from Morocco to the Indian Ocean and Central Asia. Additionally, we see there the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and delivery means, such as missiles, on the rise. In this regard, it is not so much nuclear weapons which give me concerns, but rather the ease with which our societies are vulnerable to the "poor man's nukes"; namely biological weapons.

And finally my fourth key risk, the so-called "new risks", new reasons for conflict due to mass migrations or scarcity of water to new forms of conflicts such as attacks on our societies by international criminals employing military means and/or information technology capable of disrupting our fragile financial, telecommunication or energy distribution infrastructures.

Given the range of risks I have just described, the first deduction leads me to 3 conclusions: First, one cannot expect any single nation, even including the only remaining world superpower, to address all the diverse and transnational risks of the 21st Century alone. Therefore, we need to keep NATO as NATO links US global power to the regional capabilities of the European-Allies. Second, such risks and uncertainties require a coordinated, multi-national and multi-institutional response. NATO can provide that since NATO is the bedrock of security and stability in Europe. Third, to promote its objective of lasting peace and stability for the Euro-Atlantic Area, NATO must continue to develop and enhance cooperative and effective relationships with non-NATO nations and with other international and especially European security and stability-related institutions. It is in the strategic interest of all our nations, NATO and non-NATO alike.

My second deduction is that crises and conflicts will continue to be complex, multi-faceted and multi-agency. Interventions will require military forces to work closely with non-governmental organisations 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. Moreover, we will have to do this in a world composed of post-modern, modern and pre-modern societies and the forms of conflicts associated to each, and in a world in which war is, and unfortunately will remain, alive and well.

And as a final deduction, 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. The Alliance must have the reaction forces and the means of rapidly deploying these forces to deal effectively with such eventualities, but NATO must also have the capability to sustain the effort.

More importantly, however, NATO must increase its understanding of crisis management in a multi-polar world full of multi-faceted risks, and it must realise that crisis management will require coordination with other organisations and, above all, pro-active approaches which will not be easy to reconcile with bottom-up consensus building at 16, let alone 19. Admittedly this is a political question, but it is interesting to keep in mind that we can act militarily at very short notice but it is the political process which requires again and again time.

Of course, in the period of almost continual change since the end of the Cold War, the Alliance has not stood still. Indeed, while NATO was busy adding three new mission arrows, namely crisis prevention/crisis management, projection of stability, and counter-proliferation to its collective defence quiver, it was also undergoing significant transformations, especially with respect to its military capabilities. The results can be seen today, namely that Alliance military forces:

  1. first, have considerably reduced force and readiness levels, even more than required by the CFE and other arms control agreements;

  2. second, retain their defensive nature and their capability to defend the NATO Treaty Area. The Alliance military forces are not, however, directed against anyone nor do they have an offensive orientation;

  3. third, are willing and increasingly capable to cope with roles on the periphery and outside the NATO Treaty Area;

  4. fourth, are increasingly multi-national and this at lower levels which, on the down side, lead to more interoperability and logistic sustainment difficulties; and

  5. but fifth, are, although generally being in good shape, struggling to modernize their equipment to avoid capability gaps and gaps between the United States and the Europeans.

Thus the Alliance still has further to go to address all the challenges which are likely to confront it in the 21st Century. There is no doubt that we have made enormous progress and that the London Summit of 1990, the Brussels Summit of 1994, and the Madrid Summit of 1997 were all extraordinary milestones in NATO's evolution, as will be the Washington Summit next April. But the fact remains that the process of Alliance transformation will not, and indeed cannot, end next April. Not only does it take considerable time to implement the key decisions which have already been taken, but NATO must also strive to ensure it retains its effectiveness, efficiency, and relevance in a constantly changing world. The situation is changing faster than any organisation can follow. It is for this reason that while our execution may never achieve a definitive end-state, it is critical that NATO follows a long-term vision. The guiding document which will set out the course the Alliance will steer to address the challenges of the future will be the new Strategic Concept.

Given the unchanged objective of the Alliance to promote long lasting peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region, I expect the fundamental basis of the new Strategic Concept to rest upon a coherent continuum of missions. This continuum would range from projection of stability through dialogue, cooperation and partnership, through crisis prevention and crisis management including peace support operations and counter-proliferation, and finally all the way to collective defence. As the ultimate guarantee for member states, collective defence would still retain its core function within this Alliance and hence the continued importance of the irreplaceable transatlantic link.

Correspondingly, the force structures need to be adapted to such a continuum of missions. This continuum of missions requires no longer one tool only, but a veritable toolbox filled with political and military tools. This is what NATO's adaptation is all about: a coherent concept for peace and stability in Euro-Atlantic region and the creation/acquisition of the necessary tools. The concept is to promote, strengthen and deepen democracy, human rights, peace and freedom through dialogue, cooperation and the ability to defend against any threat. Defence means that NATO does and will not threaten anyone who does not act against NATO. The political tools, which I know will be addressed by the Secretary General later this week, include NATO/Russia, NATO/Ukraine, the EAPC, the Mediterranean Dialogue, and the NAC.

To underpin NATO's political efforts, military contribute not only with military means, but with Military to Military dialogue in the NATO-Russia context employing openness and transparency to overcome Cold War misperceptions and to create trust/seek cooperation. General Ivashov, well known for his profound dislike of NATO, may make strong public statements, but there is no chance and no will to return to the Cold War. We will cooperate with Russia as we do it successfully in Bosnia.

Regarding NATO-Ukraine, we must promote and deepen cooperation in the PfP framework. Ukraines independence and sovereignty is the key to European security and stability. While the EAPMC is a forum to exchange views with Partners on aspects where NATO cooperates with Partners. For its part, PfP is our flagship of cooperation and a stand alone element of European security. PfP Staff Elements are already in existence and the PfP exercises are getting more and more meaningful with full military cooperation. PARP, the Planning and Review Process, enhances planning to achieve full interoperability. But even today, one can say that NATO achieved a degree of interoperability and military cooperation all across Europe unthinkable a few years ago.

Finally, the process of opening up NATO for new members is a true contribution to enhance stability in Europe and to spread the rule of democracy which no one could really see as a threat to anyone. Enlargement, better opening, is not directed against anyone. Indeed, even the prospect of potential membership proved to be an excellent tool as exemplified by the impressive number of stability-inducing bilateral agreements that have been signed by Central and Eastern European nations, resulting in a true fireworks of reconciliation in Europe. Given this audience, however, 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 organisation. It may be good to keep this in mind as well as the sincere commitment to keeping the doors open in the years to come since it is this capability to act which makes NATO so unique and so attractive as well.

This, of course, raises the question of interoperability as despite the best intentions of all concerned, the fact remains that it will take several years to fully integrate the Invited Countries into Alliance military structures. Equipment compatibility will also prove a challenge although, in the short term, language, common procedures, and communications interconnectivity represent the greatest hurdles. We and the Invitees are working hard to address this issue, and we will succeed.

And last, but not least in the field of External Adaptation, the Alliance is expanding its contacts and pursuing closer cooperation with other international and especially European security and stability-related institutions. The mechanisms being established can but enhance NATO's ability, in collaboration with similarly-minded nations and institutions, to address the multi-faceted and trans-national risks of the future.

Having referred to NATO's unique capability to act militarily brings me to the military part of my toolbox. The Alliance military structures also need to be reformed to ensure that they can undertake any mission from the continuum of missions which the NAC may task. The first tool here is the new NATO command structure for which implementation should begin next year.

As you know, the new, streamlined command structure which was agreed last December is no longer focused on the defence against an attack from the East and was designed against the background of NATO enlargement and the new strategic environment. I will not bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I do not expect the need for major changes as a result of the update of NATO's 1991 Strategic Concept since the structure is designed to cope with the continuum of missions I mentioned earlier on.

Work on the second element of Internal Adaptation, the Combined Joint Task Force concept, is also proceeding well. 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 collective defence, ESDI, and "out of area" contingencies, including peace operations such as Bosnia. Indeed, with respect to the first, CJTF flexibility to respond to collective defence tasks is a factor, among others, that allows NATO to forego any stationing of NATO command structure headquarters on the territories of the three Invited Countries.

As to the third, CJTFs would in all likelihood include Partner participation, including within the CJTF HQ itself, where the details of non-Article V missions are being analysed, decided upon, executed, and supervised. CJTFs, therefore, offer an extremely versatile tool for the Alliance to accomplish its missions.

The Command structure and the CJTF form key components of ESDI, an ESDI that is an instrument to enable Europeans to act if the US is not willing to act. Seen in this way, ESDI will foster the US commitment to Europe. The instruments are more or less in place now, i.e. Europeans can act while using NATO's assets and capabilities. However, ESDI can only be fully exploited if all European NATO nations eventually participate in NATO's integrated military structure.

To be to able to meet the demands of increased flexibility, mobility, deployability, and sustainability which come with the continuum of missions requires that NATO must also address another one of its tools, namely the structure of the military forces themselves. A force structure review is under way and we will seek ways to enhance our capabilities through deeper integration and more multinational force multipliers areas such as C4I, missile defence, etc. Nations will have to review their force planning as well since it becomes increasingly obvious that a focus on territorial defence alone will not suffice in the future.

Another of the challenges we face, particularly in these days of fiscal restraint and "Euro" deliberations on the one hand and incredibly fast technological progress, is for nations to allocate the necessary resources to implement the Force Goals which they have accepted, let alone accept any additional ones. This should not necessarily imply spending much more money for defence, but rather we should cooperate more closely in Europe on one hand and between Europe and the United States on the other.

I could not close without reiterating that the incredible success of this Alliance has essentially rested on two fundamental pillars; collective defence and the transatlantic link. It was these two pillars which allowed NATO to apply diplomacy successfully during the Cold War mindful of what Frederic II of Prussia once said: "Diplomacy without weapons that is like orchestra without instruments." Not only did collective defence serve us well during the Cold War, it continues, by means of the integrated military structure among others, to provide us the wherewithal to lead and execute complex operations with both NATO and non-NATO nations alike and to orchestrate extremely short notice yet significant and successful exercises as we witnessed with Exercise DETERMINED FALCON last Monday.

Who else in the world could present 28 hours after being tasked by the Defence Ministers, a concept for a complex exercise comprising 83 aircraft from 13 nations, get it approved, and execute it in an unknown air space two days later. Similarly, the coupling of Canada and especially the United States to Europe has been instrumental to secure the peace and counter renationalization in Western Europe over the years. With such a successful formula at work, we in the Alliance should never take it for granted and hence we must make strident efforts to preserve, and indeed enhance, these two fundamental pillars. To do otherwise is to invite failure.

In these days of soccer, many coaches will follow the rule to never change a winning team. If the Secretary General was the coach and I the assistant coach for fitness, prowess and stamina of the team, I would say looking at the military of NATO, it is the instrument which makes NATO so unique since it is, after all, the military who in able NATO to act. Politicians and diplomats like you can rely on your military. The NATO team is in a good shape and prepared to enter the next millennium. NATO is a winning team!

 [ Go to Speeches Menu ]  [ Go to Homepage ]