Updated: 03-Oct-2002 NATO Speeches

At the

3 October 2002

"What Europe wants from NATO?"

by Kristin Krohn Devold,
Minister of Defence, Norway

Moderator: It is my pleasure to introduce Kristin Krohn Devold who became Minister of Defence of the Conservative Party in Norway just one year ago. Her background is perhaps ideal for this day and age as a Defence Minister. She studied science and mathematics and then got a Masters Degree in Business Administration in managing budgets and things of that sort are absolutely necessary for any Minister of Defence. She has acquired already a sterling reputation among her peers for her grasp of the issues, and also for her keen political sense which she has honed in more than 10 years now in the Norwegian Parliament.

So it's my pleasure to introduce Madame Minister of Norway.

Kristin Krohn Devold: In Norway when you meet your neighbour it is a tradition to comment on the weather. It's the most polite thing you can do when you meet your neighbour. That's why I felt very much at home here when George started his speech by saying we are facing bad weather, rainy storms. And maybe George it is because you are from Scotland and I am from the north-west coast of Norway we are the two first speakers here. Because what you said was that the storm is not likely to drown us. We must build the ark. And ladies and gentlemen that is why the Prague Summit will be a defining moment for the Alliance. It must succeed, and in order to succeed we need an open discussion of all issues, even the controversial ones. Only if we now discuss freely will we in Prague be able to act decisively. I'm grateful to the host of this Conference, NATO, and the Transatlantic Center of the German Marshall Fund of the United States for bringing us all together. Let us use this occasion to take another step towards a successful Summit meeting.

"What Europe wants from NATO?" - that is the title I have been given, and I will try to give an answer. It will not be a comprehensive one, since there is no single European approach to some of the key questions we have to face. My preference would be to avoid altogether setting out European views as opposed to North American or US thinking. My basic instinct tells me that the Alliance can only remain effective when we hammer out shared objectives across the Atlantic. There are and will no doubt be policy differences on specific problems and conflicts across the Atlantic and on both sides of the Atlantic for that matter. But the basic purpose remains. The Alliance is there to maintain peace and stability, to protect the democratic institutions of our societies, and the rights of our citizens. The record of the Alliance is impressive. It has served us well - all of us. To declare it irrelevant at this critical juncture would be a tremendous mistake. To neglect the urgent need for reform would be equally dangerous.

The dramatic events of 11 September last year confirmed how important our shared values are and they underscored a new kind of shared vulnerability. For half a century we faced the threat of the Communist bloc and its military might. It was a threat we shared, although some of us were closer to The Wall and to the front line than others. Some even said more vulnerable than others. Today there is no Wall, there are no front lines. We work and live in a truly global century. Opportunities are unprecedented, but so are the risks. Oceans, borders, or walls are no protection in a global world. We share the sense of vulnerability perhaps even more than before. And it is more than a sense, more than a general unease. The unthinkable has happened, and the danger that it could happen again has become part of our everyday lives. The security for our citizens, society and institutions has once more come to the forefront and it needs clear political answers. Homeland security is one term for this. Societal security is another. In short we must make use of many and different political, diplomatic, legal, economic and military means to protect ourselves. It should be a sobering fact that we do possess many of the tools we need. Our collective security however must be protected together through joint, co-ordinated and decisive action. In this respect nothing even comes close to the usefulness of this Alliance. But it needs to be modernised and adapted. To modernise and adapt has never been easy. In that respect we carry some hard-won lessons with us from the past. We were horrified when The Wall came up, and surprised when it came down. We were shocked when our vision of a new peace in Europe was shattered in the Balkans, and we were terrified when the collapse of the Twin Towers told us that we had entered into an era in which we were facing different and more obscure dangers. Non-state actors, even when they are supported by governments behind the scene, tend to be invisible before they hit. And even if terrorists hide in caves in distant mountain areas, they have learned to make use of the technology of a globalised society.

To respond and defend ourselves we need new tools and capabilities. We need new operational concepts and new patterns of co-operation. Some years ago Paul Kennedy wrote about the rise and fall of great powers. He could have added great alliances to the title. We must make sure that NATO does not become a topic for a revised version of his book. The challenge is clear. The relevance of NATO cannot be taken for granted. The problem lies in the ultimate dilemma that all our experience is about the past, and all our decisions about the future. But we must succeed in doing what is necessary to underpin NATO's continued relevance.

Let me revert to the title "What does Europe want from NATO?". Obviously a lot as the applications for membership illustrate. Soon the majority of European states may be members of NATO. They will want reassurance that their security has been strengthened. They will want a clear sense of ownership and participation, and the Alliance has to deliver. At the same time we will all suffer if we do not maintain the resilience of the Alliance. In political consultations, and in military capabilities and structures. We are about to enlarge at the same time as we are facing fundamentally new threats. That is a tremendous challenge. We must speed up the transformation of the Alliance at the same time as we bring new countries on board. The new members must hit the ground running and contribute to maintaining the Alliance from the very outset.

It is therefore extremely important that we now fully support your efforts, Mr Secretary General, to streamline our working methods and to modernise our military capabilities. You have presented us with a roadmap which reflects the new and evolving security landscape around us. We need this roadmap. As Mark Twain put it, if you don't know where to go, history will take you there. In this context, Lord Robertson's efforts to improve NATO's decision-making and to modernise its Headquarters are not trivial issues. These are much needed reforms and a major building block in our search for a more effective and enlarged Alliance, and in contrast to other reforms the costs are low. To address the European perspective of the Alliance is not simply a question of what Europe wants. It is just as much a question of what Europe can offer.

Our input will largely determine which output we can expect, politically and militarily, and here we are at a critical juncture. Clearly we, the Europeans, should do more. The current military capability and technology gap across the Atlantic might shred the very fabric of transatlantic relations unless they are rectified. There is no question about it. Europe lags seriously behind in military modernisation and transformation. As Minister of Defence I can only agree with the Secretary General's insistence on the urgent need to improve our military capabilities and to modernise our forces and command structures. We need deployable forces that are committed to, and available to, NATO at short notice. Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld's proposal for a NATO response force is very constructive in that respect. I support this proposal. It is important to integrate the capability of this kind within the multinational framework of the Alliance. Concrete decisions should be made in Prague.

But combat capability in itself is not enough. We need the means to ensure that our forces can be deployed where and when needed and that they can be sustained. Consequently strategic transport, air to air refuelling, and logistics are critical shortcomings to be covered. Yet another important shortfall is linked to the chemical, biological and nuclear defence of all deployable forces committed to NATO. Without the required military capabilities the relevance of the Alliance will suffer in every respect. We must acquire much needed military assets and capabilities that we do not currently possess. Key words for this required transformation are readiness, deployability, flexibility and interoperability, and the capabilities we acquire must be fully up to date.

Such change imposes the need for a genuine two-way street across the Atlantic. Military modernisation and transformation in Europe cannot take place in the short term unless the United States is prepared to share information, technology, experimental concepts, and other know-how with the Europeans. Furthermore European willingness to buy American technology and products must be reciprocated by an American willingness to buy military products in Europe in fields where the Europeans are competitiveness. A multilateral approach from the United States in this field may, in my opinion, be conducive to improve burden sharing across the board.

There are two basic ways in which Europe may be able to make a stronger contribution to the Alliance. The first relates to defence budgets and the need to redirect the current use of resources away from the defence structures inherited from the Cold War and towards investments in modernisation and transformation. The second relates to the potentials for increased cost efficiency through multilateral co-operation and joint or common funding. Both tracks are needed. They complement each other. The current economic prospects do not invite great optimism as far as increased defence budgets are concerned. On the other hand, what would be the economic prospect if our security was seriously at stake? Our first experience from the 21st century confirms that security will not be for free. Europe cannot ignore the need for stable defence spending at a level which allows us to acquire capabilities that we do not currently possess.

I realise that convincing our publics might not be easy. Today the threat cannot be measured in such concrete terms as tanks, bombers, missiles and divisions. For example, the need to establish a proper cyber defence is obvious and urgent. Nevertheless it is harder to sell. Increased multilateral co-operation represents a very relevant and promising strategy to get more defence for the same amount of money. Such co-operation has increased in Europe in recent years, and rightly so. However transatlantic co-operation in this field should have a prominent role as well. The major objective behind all multilateral co-operation, regardless of the number of participants in the political framework, should be to acquire military capabilities that NATO needs and asks for. This reflects the prime role of our common defence planning. Within Europe there is no reason why the EU and NATO military shortfalls and priorities should be handled separately. On the contrary they should be harmonised and recited simultaneously. I sincerely hope that the EU will agree on the Nice Implementation Package without further delay and that close and continuing co-operation and co-ordination between NATO and the EU will take place as soon as possible.

Reinforced multilateral co-operation is a must if we are to meet the challenges of advances in technology, rising costs of defence equipment, added requirements for the full range of Alliance operations and the military capability gap between the United States and the European allies. This means more Alliance defence co-operation and more joint and common funding. There is however a need to go even further. A larger degree of specialisation and division of labour may be necessary, especially in order to accommodate the constraints of smaller and new members that are linked to size. For example, Norway as a nation of 4.5 million inhabitants is unable to provide large scale military capabilities. Instead the focus will be on smaller, high quality capacities that may be integrated into larger multi-national structures in a meaningful way. NATO should facilitate the establishment of specialised military capabilities which smaller and new members may offer to the Alliance, each on the basis of own expertise and established comparative advantages. Specialised military capabilities may cover all types of force. For the Alliance the aim should be to identify the various specialised military capabilities needed as part of flexible multinational force packaging for different kinds of operation. Such pre-planned force packages should also provide the framework for training and exercises, operational planning and procedures to ensure sufficient operational readiness and interoperability.

Another track that smaller and new allies may pursue is linking up with one or more bigger strategic partners. This may make it possible for them to …. their forces into larger military units in a more integrated way than force pooling. In addition to the tracks that I have just outlined, common funding and commonly owned and operated systems such as the AVEX (phon.) fleet should all be pursued where they make military and economic sense. The military forces of the Alliance should to some degree resemble a palette from which the North Atlantic Council and NATO's military authorities may mix colours according to the picture they want to paint. Directly linked to the need for modern and adequate military capabilities is the importance of an efficient and streamlined integrated military structure including a military and politically viable command structure.

Together with our common defence planning, NATO's integrated military structure provides the glue that keeps the Alliance together as the collective military actor. To sustain and modernise this structure we must be willing to finance it through sufficient common funding. In terms of cost efficiency we could hardly make any better investment. The alternative is the renationalisation of defence policies and the reduced collective capacity to act. The need to streamline NATO's command arrangements in order to make them more suitable for tomorrow's security challenges and tasks is crucial in that respect. I'm pleased to note that this important work is already under way. We have to keep up the momentum, but as important as speed is getting it right. The future NATO command structure must reflect the whole spectrum of NATO priorities and missions including both operational and non-operational tasks. The new command structure must respond to new threats, including terrorism, preserve the transatlantic link, and ensure the cohesion in the Alliance. Focus should not only be on reducing the number of headquarters, but rather on the total number of personnel and resources. I believe that much fat can be trimmed from the current large headquarters in Europe.

Our new command structure should also focus on transformation and interoperability. The Joint Forces Command in the United States must be a catalyst for transformation also in Europe. I believe a decentralised solution with small and more streamlined and focused joint headquarters would be more cost-effective than larger headquarters with too many tasks. This further serves to retain NATO's geographical expertise and focus and ultimately serves as a guarantee against a renationalisation of defence policies. We must demonstrate a readiness to make active use of the Alliance and its efforts. Obviously NATO is not the answer to all problems under all circumstances. For example the fact that NATO is not running Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan is not in itself a sign of NATO's reduced relevance. On the contrary, without the military interoperability that NATO has established among a great number of nations, a multinational operation like Enduring Freedom would hardly be feasible. That said, NATO could and should be put to more direct use in our common war against international terrorism, even if limited to a supporting role.

Finally, Europe has asked by act to be perceived as a credible partner for the United States in the field of security. There must be an equitable sharing of roles, risks and responsibilities. To a large extent that will depend on our ability to modernise and adapt our capabilities and force structures. But sharing the risks and burdens will also depend on an open and inclusive decision-making process. Consulting with allies may sometimes be perceived as a burden, but short-term frustration, however important this may seem, must not risk jeopardising long term partnership. As Winston Churchill is supposed to have said, the only thing that is worse than having to deal with allies, is having no allies to deal with.

Of course we are, as allies, different in so many ways in size, population, financial resources and not least, military power. Nevertheless NATO is an Alliance of equals. It is on this basis that our decision-making process and our concept of mutual solidarity rests. The Alliance is a means for new members to become part of a growing area of stability in Europe and to assume their share of the responsibility to promote international peace and security. In a sense this is no different than it has always been for the smaller member states, even those smaller allies who were, in the words of Dean Acheson, present at the creation in 1949. The overall objective is to improve one's own security, and the Alliance overall security while at the same time promoting international peace and security in general.

The achievements of the past few years are impressive. Through enlargement and partnership, through dialogue, co-operation, and peace support operations, NATO has extended its stabilising role in and beyond Europe. Through NATO smaller countries have been able to given their invaluable contributions within a flexible pattern of co-operation based on Alliance structures. NATO has taken the lead in protecting human rights and enforcing respect for international law. We must now build on this success. Our efforts must be widened to include a more vigorous fight against terrorism and against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. For obvious reasons smaller states cannot muster the same amount of resources or military capabilities that the larger states can bring, but there is no question about it, they make a huge difference. But it is easy to be blinded by big numbers. They do not tell the entire story. Smaller states frequently carry a proportionately larger share of the burden than larger countries do. NATO's operations in the Balkans illustrate this fact. Here the contribution of the smaller states have made and continue to make a real difference on the ground. But such contributions depend on a sense of political involvement as member of the Alliance or as partner.

This brings me back to the decision-making process. It must be inclusive. It must be transparent. If there is insufficient inclusiveness and transparency then our ability to contribute, to reach agreement among ourselves, to convince our parliaments and our publics will inevitably suffer.

To sum up the Alliance's political resilience must go hand in hand with a military ability. I feel compelled to stress this point very clearly. None can be taken for granted. If smaller allies are left out, they may decide to stay out. The result could easily be lower international legitimacy and reduced political solidarity. Consensus remains at the core of NATO's decisions and forms part of its strength. However, it requires both flexibility and pragmatism. Short term frustrations and disagreements, regardless of how important the topic may be must not overshadow the tremendous long-term benefits of keeping our Alliance together and in good shape.

This year has seen the establishment of another historic forum - the NATO-Russia Council. The first months of work have been promising. In Warsaw we also had an opportunity for a broad and informal discussion with the Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov. To me, the discussion confirmed the usefulness and value of the NRC. We face an important challenge in keeping up the momentum. In parallel work within the EAPC and Partnership for Peace Programme continues. With a number of partners soon joining the Alliance as members we face new challenges also within those frameworks. We must demonstrate the imagination and courage required to ensure that these forums remain useful and preferably are seen as even more relevant than before to the remaining partners as well as to the Alliance. We must make additional efforts to address the specific concerns of each partner. But, and this is important to me, strengthening our ties with Russia and with partners must not lead us to loosen the ties within the Alliance. If that were to be the result, then our ability to maintain and enhance our usefulness in situations where the Alliance is needed would suffer and the transatlantic ties would become weaker.

So all these processes must go hand in hand. Improving the ability of the Alliance to meet new risks, strengthening our ties with Russia and reinforcing our relationship with partners. There is a new and stronger sense of togetherness especially after the tragic events of 11 September last year. I cannot underline strongly enough how important it is to maintain this togetherness, to expand it, make it more solid. Ad hoc relations must whenever possible be turned into lasting partnerships. That will require a lot in time, energy and understanding of our mutual and individual concerns. We must use the present possibilities to galvanise the international community so that we can address new risks together. If we do not have the stamina and wisdom required to do that job, then we risk creating frustration, disappointment, unfinished work and consequently a fertile ground for more trouble.

To sum up, I need not repeat that without the Alliance European security would suffer tremendously. Europe must proceed in its own efforts. That makes perfect sense. But for as far as we can see today, this transatlantic partnership is an indispensable part of our security policy. Yes, the Cold War is behind us. Yes, we are developing a new strategic partnership between NATO and Russia, but the Alliance remains the vital tool if we are to address new risks successfully. Equally important the security of the United States and North America is well served by a firm and strong transatlantic alliance. Winston Churchill's observation remains valid. Having to deal with allies is far better than the alternative. Even for the greatest most powerful country conventional concepts of serenity are dangerous if self-deluding. This is a particular challenge to the United States. The US has felt the erosion of traditional concepts of serenity less than any other state. At the same time the US remains indispensable for the maintenance of existing alliances and for the construction of new ones. Some on the other side of the Atlantic are tempted to consider unilateral action on a case by case coalition as more useful than an established Alliance. Some in Europe are tempted to see transatlantic initiatives as potentially harmful to European ambitions. Both are wrong. It would be quite a paradox if such tendencies were to prevail and make the Atlantic wider at a time when acts of terrorism have demonstrated that geographic distances have become almost irrelevant. To make sure that we do not drift apart we must address a number of urgent requirements now.

Nowhere can there be security in Europe and North America without a sufficient level of security and stability in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and the Far East. Security is not a precious pearl that may be kept untainted from external forces. We must be ready to provide our contribution to building international peace and security and to restore it in case of need. NATO cannot respond automatically of course. The Alliance will make its decisions on a case by case basis in close co-operation with other international organisations. We must all resist the temptation of declaring the Alliance irrelevant. It is dangerous and it serves no useful purpose. What we need is the opposite, reassurance that the Alliance remains vital to all of us. The United States carries a special responsibility when it comes to giving this message loud and clear, but we must also act to ensure that the Alliance does not become irrelevant and in that respect the most crucial issue is what Europe can contribute to the transatlantic partnership, what relevant assets we are able to produce.

We all have an important job to do. We must reassure each other. There are reasons for concern but not for despair. As Mark Twain once said "Fortunately most of my worries never come true." I'm confident that after Prague we will say the same. Of course at the Prague Summit we must all be eloquent, but the best eloquence is the one that gets things done, and that is the eloquence we need. Thank you for your attention.

Moderator: Thank you very much Madame Minister. We want to keep to our schedule so we will break now for 15 minutes and then we will reconvene here at 11.25 hrs sharp to hear an address by Stephen Hadley, the Deputy National Security Adviser of the United States.

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