Updated: 4 May 1999 Press Conferences


4 May 1999

Transcript of Press Conference

given by General Klaus Naumann,
Chairman of the Military Committee

General Naumann: Ladies and Gentlemen, first of all thank you very much for coming. I thought I should not hand over my Chairmanship of the Military Committee after three and a quarter years without having addressed you once again and giving you a little bit of I should say an up-date. Where do we stand at this point in time, after three and a quarter years which presumably will go down in history as the most turbulent years in NATO's 50 years of history, years in which the Alliance changed more profoundly than ever before.

I think it is best expressed by two political data which marked my tour, It started more or less with the Berlin Foreign Ministers meeting in June 1996 when the Alliance set sail to give itself a new set of missions, and it ended more or less with the Washington Summit a couple of days ago, where we published a number of documents in which all this progress which we made I think is really enshrined.

Of course you may be focused, as I am these days, on Kosovo. But I think we should not forget the bigger picture as well and I think I would like to bring to your attention a few points which belong to the bigger picture. When I assumed office as Chairman of the Military Committee, I had 14 nations sitting around the table - 14. Then France joined, then Iceland, after 49 years, joined the Military Committee. And now we have three new members at the table. It is a clear indication that NATO maintains and has strengthened cohesion and achieved improvements.

One of the improvements which I would like to mention is the new command structure which hopefully over time will lead to marked improvements, particularly in the southern region of NATO, and I dare to say no Chairman of the Military Committee before me has invested so much time and devoted so much attention to the problems of the southern region, and in particular of south eastern Europe. And as a matter of fact we have made big progress in this area and we planted seeds which hopefully will produce over time a really big and powerful tree.

We also began to work in these three years in the EAPMC format. We got partners to contribute and to engage in a dialogue. This has been for me the most fascinating experience. We should never forget most of these partners were just 10 years ago in the camp of NATO's enemy, and now we are working together. And we got them in this new format of the EAPMC to contribute, to engage in dialogue, and I believe this instrument of the EAPMC has the biggest gross potential for crisis management and conflict prevention in Europe if we handle it properly. So this is something we should dwell on in the future.

We also entered new ground with the cooperation with Russia and with Ukraine. I think we have made good progress in both areas. But I also do not conceal the fact that we are at the beginning of a long road towards more stability and we still have a lot of extra miles to go, particularly in these days. And I do hope, I sincerely hope, that Russia will reassess what we have achieved so far and then reconsider how they will deal with NATO in the future. And I think they should be aware that they need cooperation and that we see cooperation with them as essential for European stability. But we are embarking on this road of cooperation without having any illusions at all that our main interests may be different for quite a time to come, but knowing what their interests are, and of course being aware what our interests are, I think we can cooperate without compromising our basic values and interests.

We also succeeded in making PFP more operational and I think this is also a big achievement which we the military were given the chance to contribute to.

On enlargement, this is definitely one point which I see with greatest satisfaction since this means for me as a European that the division of Europe came to an end and for that reason I am very pleased that I was given the chance to work towards this political objective and I think the Military Committee contributed to this achievement.

I am also more than happy to inform you that today the Military Committee elected the first Polish Officer to be a Deputy Assistant Director in the International Military Staff, as of October this year, which also is an indication of how fast we proceed in achieving normalcy. A Hungarian general officer is by the way working in AFCENT, the headquarters which is quite actively involved in Operation Allied Force.

And so I would conclude my remarks on enlargement by simply stating the door will remain open and Washington has clearly charted the course for that.

Internally we not only mastered without any scars the "flags to jobs" discussion in the new command structure. Many of you called it the Star Wars between the Generals and the Admirals. And we achieved the activation decision of the new command structure. But I think we removed, in working towards this end, a lot of elements which had definitely not strengthened NATO cohesion. I just mention as one example an activity which was not really the Military Committee's responsibility, but we removed a lot of obstacles in the infrastructure business and most of the infrastructure people I think are considering whether they should not offer some halos to the Military Committee, but I think we can survive without that.

CJTF and ESDI is on its way to implementation, but on ESDI I should say it is nice to have words and to have wonderful conceptual papers - what we now need to see are deeds and it is urgent that something is done. We don't need any new papers.

The next step we have to take in order to improve NATO's military capabilities is to look into the force structure, and related to that we have to work on the defence capability initiative and the weapons of mass destruction initiative, as decided in the Washington summit. And this reminds me of one fact which I have reported to Ministers again and again in my time, and that is the growing gap of capabilities which we see inside NATO, and if no remedy is found for that, will lead to an interoperability problem within NATO over time and could mean that the military will be unable to catch the train called Revolution in Military Affairs which is about to leave the station. I think we still have a chance to get it right. But it is high time to act, and this is a matter of urgency, and again I should say there is no need for papers. What we need to see are deeds.

So all in all a positive balance sheet. But then we got the additional challenge of the Kosovo operation. But there as well, as in all other issues, I would like to make four points which mark the cooperation in these headquarters.

I think we have enjoyed a superb civil and military cooperation. I do not belong to those who blame our political bodies like the Council of micro-management. It is definitely not true. I think we have seen splendid cooperation based on mutual confidence and mutual respect and I am proud to say the role and the influence of the Military Committee in NATO's political bodies is stronger than ever before. We have seen a magnificently performing Secretary General who really achieved a masterpiece in maintaining the cohesion of this Alliance in 41 days of a military operation - not an easy task, I can tell you. We have seen a very smooth cooperation between the International Staff and the International Military Staff and I am very proud of the excellent relationship which I enjoyed with the Major NATO Commanders. Of course if I say Major NATO Commanders you all think of SACEUR, but we have another one as well, over there in Norfolk Virginia, who, by the way, in terms of capabilities, is the powerhouse of this Alliance. And we have seen superb cooperation.

But despite this praise, I do not hesitate to say we need to think through the organisation of these Headquarters in days of crisis and war. We are at the moment in a situation of crisis, we are not at war, but we need to think through what we have got to do here.

And that brings me to the issue you all are presumably waiting for - where do we stand, from my perspective, in Kosovo? And there I start following up old military traditions with a glance at the opponent. I think that President Milosevic finds himself in a situation where the KLA have been militarily disrupted and to a large degree defeated, but the KLA are not eliminated and they still offer quite a lot of pockets of resistance. Their numbers are growing and it is true that President Milosevic himself is proving to be the best recruiting sergeant for the KLA. Consequently the fighting will go on and if the trend continues, over time President Milosevic is doomed to fail to achieve his objectives. In this regard it is obvious that he missed, as well as Russia did, the golden opportunity of Rambouillet where the KLA had accepted to disarm in a Kosovo which remained an integral part of the FRY.

Secondly, if President Milosevic's mass deportation campaign appears achievable, there also remains a large number of Kosovo Albanians still in Kosovo. Our military intervention can and has slowed down the efforts of President Milosevic, instruments for his ethnic cleansing, namely the VJ, the MUP and the paramilitaries, but we cannot stop such a thing entirely from the air.

And now let me turn to where we stand on Day 41. Quite frankly and honestly we did not succeed in our initial attempt to coerce Milosevic through airstrikes to accept our demands, nor did we succeed in preventing the FRY pursuing a campaign of ethnic separation and expression. But that said, we certainly succeeded in degrading the FRY's ability to conduct military operations in Kosovo. The Alliance has disrupted the command, control and communication apparatus; second, NATO has achieved air superiority, in mid to higher altitudes above the FRY; next, we have been very successful at restricting the movement of additional VJ/MUP forces and support into Kosovo by means of our attacks on the lines of communications; fourth and fifth, NATO has also inflicted quite severe damage to military industrial targets and maintenance facilities, thus disrupting the FRY's ability to repair and reconstitute forces; and sixth, we have equally had a serious impact on the FRY's ability to sustain their forces through the damage inflicted on the fuel, storage and distribution system; and finally, we see first indications that the morale of the FRY forces is being eroded by the effects of our airstrikes.

From this summary we can draw the following conclusions. One, in the race between destruction and reconstruction, we have achieved a remarkable degradation of the FRY military forces. This has slowed down the operational tempo. Moreover, by isolating the Kosovo battlefield if I may say so in an operational sense, through the destruction of the lines of communications, we are also impeding the FRY's ability to maintain operations in Kosovo, and these efforts are further complemented by inflicting heavy damage on the industrial plants that sustain and support the FRY military machine.

The second point, the air campaign is working but it is taking time. And this is perhaps most evident from the fact that all of President Milosevic's activities on the diplomatic psychological front appear to have but one objective, to win a respite to avoid cracks in the VJ and the MUP which are after all the basis upon which President Milosevic's personal power derives. And I think this highlights the importance of insisting on our side on the five points which NATO has established, which need to be respected before NATO ceases Operation Allied Force.

While on the subject of the air campaign and given the media interest in the topic, allow me also to make a few points regarding the most unfortunate by-product of our military actions, namely unintended civilian casualties. As in all military campaigns our air campaign is not without risk to civilians, despite the enormous efforts and precautions taken to minimise collateral damage. While some try to use the Operation Desert Storm analogy for comparative purposes in this regard, I would suggest such an approach is fatally flawed since Kosovo is not a flat uninhabited desert where the only human presence is military related.

Furthermore, the problem of potential civilian casualties is exacerbated in Kosovo where President Milosevic's instruments of repression deliberately employ civilian human shields to protect key assets from NATO attacks. While I do not wish to downplay the regrettable loss of civilian lives our campaign may have caused, and I add to that that I regard every single one civilian killed as being one too much, I would also highlight that the number of such undesired incidents is astoundingly low given the numbers of sorties flown. You may remember that we have flown more than 15,000 sorties. If you look into those which delivered ordnance, it is more than 5,000 sorties.

If you take into account that on an average sortie you may have at least on average three pieces of ordnance being dropped, so you end up with some 15,000 or more pieces of ordnance being dropped. And 6 went wrong. I think that is all in all a remarkable expression of the precaution we are taking to avoid civilian casualties. And I am sure if later on we will write the history of this campaign, one will give account to that.

The third point, the air campaign is as I said working, so there is no reason to change our strategy, but every reason for President Milosevic to rethink his. After all, he cannot win and he knows it, but he runs the risk to see the destruction of much of his country if he does not accept the five points of the international community. Having raised these five points I think it is critical to underline one in particular, namely the presence of an international military force in Kosovo. The presence of such a force is an absolute prerequisite to win the approval of the Kosovar Albanians to stop fighting and to give the refugees confidence they can return safely. Such an international military force is also essential for significant international reconstruction investments to occur in Kosovo, since the FRY power instruments have absolutely no credibility whatsoever.

As I am leaving I have to say as well that this conflict will give us ample opportunity to evaluate what lessons we have learnt. And although it is rather early to start the lessons learnt business, I would offer a few for your consideration.

One, this is the first coalition campaign in Europe in the information age. The lesson learnt here is that we have to win the information campaign as well. The best weapon we have in our inventory is openness, but this must be tempered with a requirement to avoid jeopardising operational security.

Two, we need to find a way to reconcile the conditions of a coalition war with the principle of military operations such as surprise and the use of overwhelming force. We did not apply either in Operation Allied Force and this cost time, effort and potentially additional casualties, the net result being that the campaign is undoubtedly prolonged.

Three, we need to find a way to seize the initiative in a coalition effort which by its very nature takes time to achieve consensus. That said, President Milosevic should not find any solace in these words, since NATO has nevertheless succeeded to control military escalation dominance and has maintained cohesion throughout. Indeed President Milosevic seriously underestimated Alliance resolve in the past as, by the way, he indicated himself in his Washington Times interview, and you would think he would have learnt his lesson by now.

Four, we need to draw some practical consequences in the force planning domain since the bulk of the Operation Allied Force is undoubtedly carried by the United States of America. The military capabilities of the European nations and Canada must be improved. We require action and not just more paper declarations.

I could not close my remarks without highlighting my admiration for the men and women from NATO's member nations executing Operation Allied Force, whose admirable professionalism and sterling dedication are an inspiration to us all. Militarily they have achieved a truly remarkable success over the past 41 days, all the more so given that there have been no Allied casualties and only 2 aircraft have been shot down. This is not only a testament to the incomparable quality of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines taking part, but it also validates the soundness of our military command structures and exemplifies the incredible character of leadership from SACEUR down. As a result of these factors, combined with the excellent cooperation which I enjoyed with SACEUR, is superb, political military relationship in the Council. NATO is in the process of successfully passing its most difficult test.

I think there can be no doubt that we have got to succeed, since anything short of that would mean risk for stability in Europe and for the security of the transatlantic area. It was this wider dimension, Ladies and Gentlemen, which inter alia and despite the fact that our intervention will result in the long term commitment of NATO in south eastern Europe, led us to the conclusion in March that we had to act, since the consequences of inaction would have been much more severe.

Thanks for your interest, thanks also for your company in these three demanding years of my life's journey. Every good luck to you.

Question: General, that was the first confirmation we have heard that the two planes lost by NATO were shot down. Can you reconfirm that they were shot down?

General Naumann: I think that we have said in previous statements that they were shot down.

Question: And I have a follow-up. You have been a key player in the Kosovo operation since it started. How difficult is it going to be for somebody else to take over your position and how do you feel about it personally? Is it going to be difficult for you to be no longer operationally involved in something that you have been involved in from the beginning, and is there a risk of you turning into one of those people that you have criticised in the past, an armchair General, who will be advocating sending in ground troops the minute you take your uniform off?

General Naumann: Starting with your last point, I can assure you I will not join the league of armchair Generals and I will refrain from any comment with regard to the activities of any of my successors. That is for me part of fair play. And I am pretty well aware that it is very easy to sit in an armchair and to make wonderful proposals since you do not feel the burden of responsibility on your shoulders. The only responsibility you have is to cater for the cheque you receive in some of the broadcasting stations for giving interviews, and I do not want to join that league.

Secondly, with regard to how I feel personally, well of course you are not entirely happy in such a situation. It is like leaving a group of friends aboard a ship which is in stormy seas and suddenly I am whisked away by a helicopter. I haven't ordered the helicopter and I am not entirely happy that I have to leave and pack, but there is no choice, that is not my choice.

And with regard to how I feel to be replaced, I think no-one is irreplaceable. Had I run my car into a tree yesterday night, they had to face the problem to replace me as well, or had I hit myself with a golf club by trying to have too good a swing, they may have a problem as well. So that is not a question, everyone is replaceable.

Mark Laity (BBC): You are not yet an armchair general so can I invite you to talk about ground forces? You have said in interviews that military doctrine states that air power has never yet won a war on its own so do you think this one can and if so why? And taking up your theme of the limitations of coalition warfare, do you think the lack of a ground option is a result of the limitations of coalition warfare and the lack of agreement on that?

General Naumann: First of all, it's true that military experience so far has suggested that an air campaign so far in history never won a war, that is true and we have mentioned this again and again. But as I said in my briefing, we see a real chance that we can make it and for that reason I think there is no necessity at this point in time to change strategy. We would give out all the wrong signals. We are making progress, we are nibbling away night by night and day by day at some of his military capabilities. Why should we change?

You should also not forget that this air campaign is after all, as far as I can see, presumably one of, if not the most successful one which we have seen so far. That is to some extent related to technology since we have many new assets in our inventory which we use successfully, and it is on the other hand related to the fact that we succeeded in winning the necessary air superiority in mid- to high -altitudes.

Furthermore, I should say this campaign was never planned without a ground force option at the end but the ground force option is based on a permissive environment. So that will come at the end of the campaign, and for that reason we still stick to military doctrine and, as you know, we are advised to keep all our plans under permanent review - which by the way is a good old military custom and experience. I hope with that I have answered the question.

Mark Laity: Could you take up the point about whether coalition warfare is the problem here that has restricted your options regarding a non-permissive ground force?

General Naumann: I said earlier on that from my perspective we have seen really good co-operation between the military and the political sides in the planning and preparation of this campaign. For that reason, I simply cannot confirm the notion that the conditions of coalition warfare prevented us from taking up any options at all.

Question: General, the strategy behind the air campaign has been criticised in that it limited the number of initial targets and that the phased nature of the campaign gave time to the Yugoslav forces to adjust. With the benefit of hindsight, what would you have done differently to make this campaign more effective?

General Naumann: First of all, I really dispute that the campaign is not effective. It is not working as quickly as perhaps many of you had expected. What I think, with hindsight, worth considering are the two points, which I made earlier when I spoke about two principles of military operations, and that is surprise and overwhelming power. That of course is not possible as far as I can see under the conditions of coalition warfare and that makes a difference between a coalition facing a national state and a coalition facing another coalition. For that reason, I think we need to think through how we can make sure in future operations how we can achieve one or both of them.

Question: General, there are assessments that the present operation would have been more effective if NATO had launched the whole operation sooner. Can you share this view?

I would come back again to the air campaign. Taking just a military point, what could we achieve just through an air campaign within the different time-scale?

And thirdly, if I may, how seriously has NATO/Russian military co-operation been damaged?

General Naumann: On the last point, better leave it to the judgement of our Russian colleagues. It is not we who have left co-operation, it is them, and so they have the onus to come back.

With regard to the air campaign, I believe that the air campaign is properly working but you should also take into account that we have conditions which we have to follow which are degrading to some extent the impact of the air campaign, most notably the conditions that we have to avoid collateral damage.

The Serb military forces are hiding their vehicles, their armour, their artillery in Kosovo next to civilian buildings, to churches, to mosques and what have you. We don't attack them under these circumstances, although we technically could do it, but this would destroy something which we don't want to destroy. I think we have the justified value of all of our society - after all in sharp contrast to Mr. Milosevic - that we don't like war, we the democracies hate war. And for that reason we have got the task of avoiding the loss of human life and I think you would have to look for quite a time in your history books to find an air campaign which lasted 41 days, being conducted in quite an impressive air-defence environment, without one soldier wounded let alone killed. It is not a bad result.

On the question of how long it will take us, I cannot give you an answer. There are two to tango and we have a lot of patience if he wants to challenge us.

Question (New York Times): General Naumann, you said in your opening statement that an air campaign alone can't stop the ethnic cleansing operation.

General Naumann: Entirely, I said.

Same Questioner: Entirely. If President Milosevic doesn't change his mind and back down and accept the five points, is it possible do you think that ground forces would not be able to go in in a permissive environment and get the refugees back home before the winter sets in, which comes early in Kosovo, at the end of September or October?

General Naumann: First of all, when I said "cannot entirely stop ethnic cleansing and killing from the air" I think I simply referred to the fact that if we have a policeman or one of these paramilitary thugs running around chasing unarmed civilians with rifles or threatening them with knives, you cannot stop this from the air. It is asking the impossible. But what we can do is to make life for these people so miserable that they will think twice whether they should continue. And then of course we should not speculate at this point in time under which conditions an implementation force will go in. Of course, we will see the impact of a continued air campaign and we will see how they will feel after a few more weeks, months or what have you of continuously pounding them into pieces.

Question: General Naumann, I think you said, if I heard right, that President Milosevic's campaign of mass deportation is still achievable. Could you expand on that and tell us what you mean? Although there are still many hundreds of thousands of Albanians still in Kosovo, do you believe it is still achievable?

General Naumann: I think if he really wants to get them out and if he uses in the same way the brutal tactics he has used so far, he may have a chance to do this. I don't know how long they will be able to hide, how long they will be able to sustain their lives under very miserable conditions. And we should not forget what we have seen and statements we have seen of his brutal shelling of unarmed civilians with artillery and with tanks. This will have an impact over time and I only hope that the appropriate international bodies will take care of those who committed these crimes of war.

Question (Newsweek Magazine): General Naumann, this seems to be a war in which we count the bodies of our friends and the people we're defending. We count them by the hundreds of thousands, the people we are defending, who have been thrown out of their country and we are proud that we have killed a couple of dozen of the enemy. Does this strike you, as a soldier, as ironic or as a good way to fight a war?

And why do we think that the Serbs will capitulate if they are left untouched while the people we are defending are massacred and deported en masse?

General Naumann: First of all, I think it is a wrong impression that they are untouched. What we do not know is how many casualties they have, but if I take the fact which presumably was briefed - I didn't have the time to follow the briefing this afternoon - of what result they achieved last night and during the day, if you take it that several tanks and artillery pieces were hit, this is not free of cost of life.

Same Questioner: But we don't count those, we are not given those numbers, we are only given the numbers of the people being deported.

General Naumann: We don't count - and we cannot count - since, as you all know and you can hear it day by day if you watch CNN when they issue their pictures from Serbia they mention after - I would appreciate it much more if they could do it in the beginning before they make their reports from Mr. Sadler - they mention that this has been censored and that they have to submit their film material to the Yugoslav authorities so that they can control what they are allowed to report. That is the daily statement which we hear on CNN and for me it is quite amazing as a military man that we have not heard one single statement about loss of military life from the Serb side. They mention buses, just the one yesterday which they alleged we had hit with an air bomb, but if you looked at the bus only a layman could believe that this was the impact of an air-delivered weapon, since the bus looks different if you hit it with a bomb as we have seen. But they get credibility for that and many of you take the story up and say: "This was NATO!"

I think you are all experts to some extent and I think many of you are capable of differentiating whether a bus was hit by a bomb or by something like infantry weapons and regarding this last one, I have seen buses which were hit by real weapons and they look different.

Same Questioner: But why are we so worried about Serb civilians in fact? Why are we worried so much - not the press - why are you so worried about killing Serb civilians when the Serb government that they support very strongly is massacring and deporting hundreds of thousands of people?

General Naumann: You may be right from a moral point of view but we have got the clear order to avoid civilian casualties and that order we execute. And so you should not be surprised if we regard it as a mistake if one civilian has been killed. And it is not our judgement to establish the moral balance For us it is a deficiency if we kill innocent lives, and I leave aside what the inmates of this bus were doing. That doesn't matter for us. It is deplorable that we hit this bus - the one on the bridge I mean - and that people lost their lives since it was something we were told to avoid. But as I told you, the overall performance in executing this order I think is good and if I compare the number of approximately 15,000 pieces of ordnance dropped and six mishaps, I think it is really not a bad performance.

Question (CBS News): General, you said just a few moments ago that there is no reason to change tactics, to bring in ground troops and then in the next breath you say that Milosevic, if he really wants to, can ethnically-cleanse all of Kosovo. We have had figures today of 90 per cent of people thrown out of their homes, of killings, of rapes. Is that not reason enough?

General Naumann: You are asking a moral question, I understand you fully and from a moral point of view I also hate to see this news, but on the other hand, you can only do what is achievable and what is acceptable by our nations in this Alliance. And for that reason I have to tell you once again that we have no reason at this point in time to change the strategy which is focused to some extent on the philosophy of our democracies that we should avoid casualties, we should avoid the loss of life. That is the basic point. You may be morally dissatisfied with that but that is how life is.

Question: General, you had the opportunity and the experience to meet Milosevic. You said before that we needed two to tango. Do you think that the international community can still ask Milosevic for a tango and make a political agreement with him? Secondly, according to your statement before, are the Albanians paying the price of an experiment which wants to show that the war can be won without ground troops?

General Naumann: No, to your last point definitely no. I think I explained to you where we stand in our societies and I think I also mentioned to you that we have to have consensus among 19 nations and that is something which you can't get on this critical issue. With regard to Milosevic and my personal experience of him, the only thing which I am really looking forward to in my imminent retirement is that this makes sure that I will never see him again!

Question: General, you said that Milosevic was the best recruiting agent for the KLA but in fact it seems to me that NATO is really the best recruiting agent for the KLA since the air campaign which is taking place is partly to their benefit. You pointed out that it was impossible to eliminate the forces that merely clear villages and so on, two or three policemen could do that, but it was possible of course to degrade the Serb forces. Is in fact NATO, since there is no consensus of putting in forces in a non-permissive environment, basically hoping that the KLA will be able to do that job for them, thereby really becoming the KLA's air force?

General Naumann: We clearly do not want to become the KLA's air force. We have no intention of clearly siding with the KLA since we know pretty well what the political consequences may be and we still stick to the line - and I hope that President Milosevic will eventually understand it - that Kosovo should remain part of the FRY, that is part of the five points, and if he is really responsible with regard to his own people and the future of his own country, he would really grasp the opportunity.

Question: General, how serious is the lack of deeds you mentioned in your statement that we need to see concerning the ESDI and the Combined Joint Task Forces. How serious is this lack in your opinion?

General Naumann: I have to tell you that if I read all these wonderful declarations on European Security and Defence Identity I always admire the fantasy of those who are drafting but I am a very pragmatic, very simple-minded soldier, I would like to see something and then I compare what the Europeans can do in this present campaign and what they cannot do and for that reason for me the very simple conclusion is that they have got to do something. And there are very simple things which you can do that do not eat up a tremendous amount of money. I am not talking of launching a European satellite programme or what have you but you have deficiencies in the European forces which have to be corrected as a matter of urgency.

Many of our air forces, for instance, do not dispose of stand-off weaponry. They have to fly more or less over the target which is the most stupid thing you can do since you expose yourself to the enemy air defence.

Another essential capability, the capabilities of the Europeans with regard to combat search and rescue are not very impressive. That is not a thing which costs tremendous billions of dollars, it is not something which would make the armaments industry open the bottles of champagne but it is extremely important for the morale of the pilots and for them nothing counts more than the assurance "We'll get you out!" And for the morale of our pilots I think nothing was more important than these two successful search-and-rescue operations and that is something we need to do.

And if I look at the deplorably slow deployment of our forces to Albania and FYROM, had we something like a European transport aircraft capability then we could do better.

Take the example of the humanitarian effort. We looked into this but most of the European transport aircraft are two-engine aircraft and they cannot climb to an altitude where you can safely travel without being exposed to missile air defences.

These are all things which can easily be done and for that you don't need another voluminous conceptual paper - we Germans are very good at liking concepts, nothing without concepts. It buys you time by the way so you have a lot of time to talk of the concepts before you have to take action! - and that is what we need to avoid. And we can take decisions, we can take them now and it would not blow up the defence budgets of the nations.

Another point which from my point of view is really the core of the issue is that if we really want to do something in Europe then we have to start to harmonise the research and development programmes of our nations. The United States of America is spending $36 billion dollars per year for research and development, the Europeans all together - I think plus Canada - spend $10 billion dollars per year but in contrast to them, the European programmes are not co-ordinated. So what we see expressed in these facts is an ever-growing gap between the Europeans and the Americans, and this needs to be redressed. And for something like this you don't need a European summit, you need something like the will to decide.

Question: Are we positive that the VJ is digging-in in Kosovo. Jamie Shea talked this afternoon about Maginot Line kind of works. What conclusions do you draw from that and do you have the impression that still quite a lot of the refugees in Kosovo are being kept there for tactical reasons? And did you solve the problem with spies when it was talked about. That the target list was known in Belgrade at the beginning of the campaign have you any news on that?

General Naumann: I do not wish to comment on such speculations like the last one. That the VJ is digging-in we have seen for the last couple of weeks. They are preparing for the defence of Kosovo and they follow the good old tactics which we learned in the days of the Cold War of the Soviet tactics of defence, so it is exactly what we have in our text books that we see right now. We are not surprised by that and by the way, the more they dig in the more fixed the targets will be, the easier to hit them.

Question: For the last question, General, to sum up all this discussion, what would be your vision for the development of NATO's armed forces for the future?

General Naumann: First of all, I think we need to find ways in which we can achieve a complementary contribution between the United States and Europe. This does not mean competition but we need to harmonise our capabilities in such a way that they really complement each other. I think that is feasible and I think it is necessary since after all we will continue to be confronted with very scarce defence dollars or euros and so we have to follow the line which our American friends are expressing with the simple sentence: "We have to get the biggest bang possible for the buck!" That is something we are not doing right now.

Secondly, we need armed forces which are ready for quick deployment, which are capable of operating under austere conditions. Whether this will be inside or outside the NATO treaty is unimportant.

We need to have forces which have a mission effectiveness and by that I mean they have to be able to project power from a distance. This means in the initial phase presumably something like unmanned vehicles like the Cruise missile, or similar capabilities, but also it goes in the direction of stand-off weaponry for our air forces and for some of our ships.

Then we need the capability to command and control such forces wherever they will be employed. We need very mobile Command, Control and Communications (C3) and we need excellent intelligence.

And if we then added as a fifth point that we have to be able to sustain these forces then I think you have the description of the future Alliance forces. This means that for a country like ours that has forces which are capable of being employed only on their own territory, this does not fit into NATO's future pattern and we have too think this through. By the way that is not only a problem for Germany, it is a problem for many other countries in this Alliance but if politicians are serious about using their armed forces - which I think is presumably the proper answer to the security environment - then we have to be sure that the remaining forces are so flexible and so deployable that we will be able to defend an ever-increasing NATO treaty area with ever-decreasing forces.

Go to Homepage Go to Index