28 Feb. 2002
in the 21st Century"
by the Chairman of the Military Committee,
Admiral Guido Venturoni
to the NATO Defense College Senior Course 100
Ladies and Gentlemen, a few years ago I made my first inauguration
address as CMC (to Senior Course 95) - in this very hall! I
say a few years ago because it seems just like yesterday - at
which point I am forced to face reality and accept that it was
last century - and perhaps take stock of a little more than
what I just said! Take stock of what has really happened over
recent years, where we stand now in the Alliance and most importantly
where we are going in the future.
It may come as some surprise to you that in accepting this
invitation - I am especially aware of what this moment means
to you all - some of you may have been drawn into the Alliance
for the first time. The prospect of different environments,
backgrounds, and different ideas brought together under one
roof, one flag makes this sabbatical attractive as well as invigorating
- I envy you! So, at the beginning of this course and what will
undoubtedly be a fascinating and enriching experience for you
all, I would like to give you some simple but, I believe important
perceptions, some markers, some snapshots on the Alliance at
this defining moment, a moment that comes just over 50 years
since General Eisenhower inaugurated the first senior course
in the early days of the Cold War.
Let's start with the most Immediate Challenge - Terrorism.
In the 99 Alliance Strategic Concept, terrorism was ranked
as a "risk". Para 24 stipulated that "Alliance
security interests can be affected by other risks of wider nature,
including acts of terrorism, sabotage etc." The 11th of
September 2001 made us aware that we are exposed to an existential
threat from terrorism. Whatever the definition may be, it is
apparent that the nowadays terrorists seek massive impact through
indiscriminate killings of innocent people, destruction of institutions
and fabric of modern societies. Without oversimplifying this
complex phenomenon, we may say that, in variance with the past,
current patterns have demonstrated a network-borderless type
of association, supported directly or indirectly by states,
and increased lethality and reach. The aggregate effect of these
factors, combined with suicide-type missions, makes deterrence
All the more it is becoming manifest that such actions might
be associated to the possible use of weapons of mass destruction
by terrorists. Indeed, this phenomenon poses a multi-faceted
strategic challenge to the International Community. Therefore,
meeting this threat is becoming a matter of utmost importance
where the military aspects are only part of the solutions. In
fact, to be successful we need to synchronise efforts across
military, economic/financial, diplomatic and law enforcement
actions on a wide scale and in the context of coherent strategy.
However, there are obviously circumstances where the military
has a vital role to play.
On the political dimension, the declaration by NATO of Article
5 on 12 September sent an unmistakably powerful message. Well
beyond its symbolic content, this act puts again "defence"
mission in its wider meaning, defence against asymmetrical threats
and WMD proliferation on top of the priority list. In addition,
we are witnessing that this kind of defence impacts on the nature
of the fight/war against complex transnational networks and
on the limits of NATO's area of intervention. This is the most
significant change to the 99 strategic landscape.
NATO's unequivocal solidarity with the United States was also
expressed in practical form, when the Council agreed that NATO
collectively would take 8 specific military measures in response
to a United States' request for assistance. The most visible
of these were to deploy to the United States seven NATO AWACS
aircraft to help in their homeland defence, and to deploy NATO
naval standing forces to the Eastern Mediterranean. The other
6 steps focused on less glamorous, but still important, measures
- such as intelligence sharing (one of the most important factors
in the fight against terrorism), civil- military integration
in the areas of consequence management, overflight clearances,
ready access to ports and airfields and backfilling in the Balkans.
And you should recall that support to the US is not just about
Brussels-mandated activities; Article 5 also covers bilateral
assistance given directly by nations.
Another undertaking is the longer-term response, our so-called
TRACK 2. This includes a variety of initiatives, which will
position NATO to defend and counter the threat of terrorism
better in the future. The NATO Military Authorities have been
tasked by the Defence Ministers, in their December Statement
on Terrorism, to develop a military concept for defence against
terrorism, following the political guidance from the North Atlantic
Council. Ministers also tasked NATO to review the effectiveness
of the Alliance's defence and military policies, structures
and capabilities for the full range of NATO missions. And third,
amongst other things, Ministers expect NATO to identify improvements
that would enhance our defensive posture against terrorist attacks
in relevant areas of the Defence Capabilities Initiative.
And this last point brings about the issue of capabilities;
not new, it goes back to 99, but whose implementation is per
se a current challenge. Let me say that one of the key messages
that is coming out of the Prague Summit preparations is that
the Alliance still harbours the ambition to be able to respond
flexibly to all possible contingencies of the 21st Century:
so NATO must adapt and modernise accordingly. Matching ends
with means implies that NATO's clout is credible only if backed
by genuine capabilities to fight terrorism and asymmetric threats.
Therefore, NATO as a homogeneous body should be provided with
a balanced set of capabilities, qualitative and quantitative,
evenly distributed across its territory to minimise centres
of gravity. As well, under the assumption that resort to multi-national
formations will continue, so that all Allies can operate effectively
together, in the full range of modern military operations, NATO
should refocus DCI, harmonise defence planning and concentrate
on fielding up-to-date relevant and interoperable capabilities.
Of course, ongoing work and adaptation of military structures
should be linked to the above activities.
NATO's current strategic interests are, of course, not limited
to fighting terrorism. Next - the present challenge entails
what I will call the revisit of relations with partners and
our operations in the Balkans. As for the first, overall I may
say that Euro-Atlantic commitments such as PfP derivatives,
special relationships (Russia, Ukraine) are well set in train
and progressing, as well as the Mediterranean Dialogue activities.
Under this heading, Enlargement and deepened NATO-Russia co-operation
are going to be central to the incoming Prague Summit agenda,
complementing the already mentioned fight against terrorism.
Let me expand a little bit on these two topical issues, - which
are going to be central to the upcoming Prague Summit agenda
- , and their interaction. Coherent with the Washington Summit
declaration - the open-door policy - NATO intends to pursue
another round of Enlargement and there is the will to make it
as successful as the last. To alleviate Russian concerns that
it will not be conducted at the expense of its security, the
Alliance is striving to bring home to the Russian side the concept
that an Enlargement eastward is not an end in itself, and is
not to be seen through the prism of territorial gain. Provided
that application for membership is a national choice, we are
stressing that enlarging the community of stable democracies
implies extending security, stability, predictability and welfare.
All in all a win-win situation, in which a new NATO-Russia relationship
would be of mutual enormous benefit in meeting the dangerous
challenges that lie ahead. This new relationship is taking shape
and you have certainly heard of the prospect of a Council at
20. As for the Enlargement, we now look forward to welcoming
new nations into the Alliance at Prague later this year.
The 99 launched MAP has proved itself a very useful tool in
helping countries to adapt their armed forces, increase operational
effectiveness and to prepare for the obligations the new membership
will bring. Work is ongoing in the military sphere in order
to be able to provide, at a later stage and when required, an
assessment on the associated implications. Needless to say that
the Enlargement and the new NATO-Russia relationship will have
a positive impact on the overall European geo-strategic landscape.
We must also continue to deepen and, to a certain extent, refocus
our engagement with the Euro-Atlantic partners, who represent
the world's largest permanent coalition. The EAPC/PfP initiative
has proved itself an effective and successful tool. It must
maintain its relevance, fostering military interoperability
and operational effectiveness.
Finally, looking at our closest neighbours in Brussels, you
are certainly aware of the development of ESDI within the Alliance
as well as its aims. Arrangements, although at a low pace, are,
however, being worked on steadily between NATO and the EU in
order to develop an effective co-operation. The process involves
the strengthening of Europe's own military capacities, to achieve
a fairer distribution of burdens and responsibilities of security
between the two sides of the Atlantic. The main hurdle is still
the problem of participation and, as you know, nothing is agreed
until everything is agreed.
Contacts between the Military Committees of NATO and the EU
have already started and are going to be intensified. The common
objective is to prevent duplications, to organise efforts so
as to create synergy, maximising resources and increasing efficiency
through closer consultation and co-operation.
Your role, in building and fostering these relationships and
helping those who want to be part of our security structures,
will be essential. Expanding and broadening the relations of
the Alliance, therefore, is a key point I want you to take away
A few words about NATO-led operations in the Balkans. They
are certainly a success story - including the most recent initiative
in FYROM. However, although substantive progress has been made,
SFOR and KFOR still appear to be crucial for a long time yet.
Over the past six years, the nature of the Balkans' missions
and the threats have changed, also as a consequence of the democratic
evolution in the FRY. Now, some of the old threats are no longer
there and the operational areas are increasingly affected by
some common themes, such as organised crime, radicalism and
terrorism. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity.
To identify the way ahead more precisely, SHAPE is conducting
a mission analysis. The results and recommendations will be
available through the Military Committee in time for the Spring
Ministerial meetings in 2002.
Finally a further look into NATO's future. Ladies and Gentlemen,
NATO has changed significantly since its establishment in 1949
adapting quickly to the evolving strategic landscape. NATO has
proved itself as the most successful security alliance in history.
The Secretary General, addressing the Munich Conference quoted
the Wall Street Journal, which recently stated "if security
were a marketable product, it would be hard to think of a better
"brand" than NATO".
As you know, the yardstick of success is achievement; programmes
are useless unless they lead to concrete results. NATO has been
successful in the post-Cold War era in a decade where its very
existence was questioned. The Alliance, when involved, exceeded
the expectations. It stopped the war in Bosnia in 1995 and since
6 years is keeping the peace there. It prevented a humanitarian
catastrophe in Kosovo, winning the 78-day quick and decisive
war, which in the aftermath led to the fall of the dictatorship
in FRY. In Southern Serbia it managed the successful re-entry
process of FRY security forces in the Ground Safety Zone, stopping
a potentially dangerous insurgency. It prevented the outbreak
of a civil war in FYROM, in concert with the EU economic and
diplomatic leverage; NATO Forces are still there to help keep
the peace. NATO developed a unique partnership with Ukraine
and Russia and established partnership links from Croatia to
Tajikistan. Success stories in the strategic dimension, complemented
by other far-reaching contributions, in the role of facilitator
of multi-national interoperability and coalition building.
It's however acknowledged that the current structure, against
the background of post September 2001 and enlargement implications,
do presuppose further adaptation. The key question is "What
do we want NATO to look like in 5-10 years?" I do not have
an answer to these questions. Conventional wisdom tells that
there are, of course, limits - constraints inherent in the Alliance
as its modus operandi is confronted with new dimensions of risks
and threats. Let me mention for example its decision making
process. Reaching consensus is sometimes hard and time-consuming.
But once reached, when vital interests are at stake, it brings
the weight of legitimacy. I think that this fundamental nature
of the Alliance will not change.
So, not to lose efficiency, we must improve our internal and
external management capabilities. Needless to say, there is
going to be a passionate debate in Brussels and Capitals entailing
NATO's future path, since Nations must have a say on their Alliance
future. Without entering in this political debate outside our
purview, I can only say that the next Prague event, expected
as the Transformation Summit, will provide the right answer.
It is then up to you, the audience, your colleagues at home
in the NATO structure, or other International Community organisations,
to bring the process into being.
Thank you and best wishes.