Updated: 04-Oct-2002 NATO Speeches

At the

3 October 2002

"Keeping NATO's Military Edge Intact
in the 21st Century"

Luncheon Address
given by SACEUR, General Joseph Ralston

Chairman: It is my pleasure for our lunchtime speaker to introduce a good friend and a really amazing man. Soldiers these days really have to epitomise the best in many fields. They have to be politicians and statesmen, they have to be masters of technology and they have also got to show the courage that soldiers for generations have had to, in fighting circumstances. And our speaker today I think embodies all those talents and qualities better than anybody I can imagine. He has been a Command Pilot with more than 2500 flying hours, including 147 combat missions over Laos and Vietnam. He was, before coming to Belgium, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon as the second highest ranking military officer and in that position he was, I am sure, very much entangled in some of the most challenging political intrigues that Washington can generate. But also one of his most valued contributions to the United States, I think, has been he is really a leading architect of building the US Air Force for the 21st century. The way in which the revolution in military affairs, the introduction of technology into our fighting forces has created such an enormous leap forward in the United States is due in no small part to Joseph Ralston.

So it is my pleasure to introduce Joe as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe – he has been in that position for the last two and a half years and fortunately will be with us through the Prague Summit before he retires to his beloved land of Alaska. But it is my pleasure to introduce a great guy: Joe Ralston.

General Joseph Ralston: Bill, thank you very much for that introduction, to Lord Robertson, Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, my pleasure to be with you today to talk about challenge and change. The challenge is shaping NATO’s military capabilities in response to the new security environment and this requires a significant change in the way that we think about the use of military force.

There is an old saying that nothing in this world is constant except change. But sometimes we get used to one way of doing business and we do not see the changes that are taking place around us. For most of NATO’s history the strategic problem was easily defined: we could predict where we might fight and under what conditions. Our adversary was clearly defined and we could fairly accurately describe his strategy, his tactics and his military capabilities. This led to a force-oriented approach in military planning. Military strategy and force planning were terrain-based and the number and types of forces were determined largely by geography. Defending an expansive border required massive formations. We could count the number of tanks and infantry divisions that were arrayed in a specific sector and we could balance our forces in response. In some cases we could offset the numerical disadvantage with superior technology and training. The approach was blunt and often relied on brute force to be effective. Military components were separated, both organisationally and doctrinally. Armies fought armies, air forces fought air forces, and so forth. And like the forces, NATO’s command structures were also segmented, divided into a series of adjacent national sectors. Everything was based on the ability to deter aggression, and if that failed, to defend the integrity of the Alliance. Almost exclusively we used size or numbers as the metric to measure our ability to achieve these goals. And the strategy worked. NATO played the pivotal role in defeating the Cold War threats and countering the instability that followed.

But today we have a much different problem. Make no mistake – NATO’s role is just as crucial today as it was during the Cold War only now the security environment we face is much less certain. It is characterised by unpredictable threats and asymmetric strategies that are likely to allow little time for mobilisation. We do not know who the enemy might be, and we do not know where we will fight although it is becoming increasingly likely that NATO will operate out of area more in the future.

I am struck at how inept we are as human beings in our ability to predict where our next conflict will be. We have a horrible track record at that, and it has convinced me that we need a capability based force vice a threat based force. One thing is clear: Western nations will continue to advocate military solutions that seek to reduce casualties and collateral damage whilst our adversaries seek to leverage the same aversion against us using asymmetric means of warfare. In order to safeguard the security of the Alliance, we must provide our political authorities with a wide range of military options, whilst denying those to our adversaries, and this requires a change in the way we think about military strength.

Force-orientated methods for determining appropriate military strategies and force levels by themselves are no longer adequate in light of the changed security environment. Now we must think in terms of achieving the desired effects. We must transition from attrition-based force on force warfare to effects-based operations, against an equally determined but elusive enemy, and the change in mindset is significant. Increasingly, operations are no longer terrain based, but time based. It is no longer sufficient to be able to defend a length of border – we must be able to rapidly intercede with responsive agile forces wherever they are needed.

Increasingly, operations are no longer terrain-based, but time-based. It is no longer sufficient to be able to defend a length of border. We must be able to rapidly intercede with responsive, agile forces … wherever they are needed. The brute force approach pitting armies against armies, tank against tank, must give way to a focused, precise response tailored to the situation at hand.
Neatly divided sectors, stove-piped logistics, and segmented command and control must evolve into truly joint forces operating under a streamlined and integrated command structure. In this new environment of effects-based joint operations, we can no longer measure our military strength with mere numbers. We must talk in terms of capabilities.

Let me give you a simple analogy. For most of our Alliance's history the military problem was monolithic and easy to define … and so was the solution. When the problem is pounding a nail, you use a hammer. Over the years, NATO worked to develop bigger and better hammers, but the basic construct didn't change. Today, we don't know what form the problem will take. It might be a nail, it might be a screw, or it might be two wires that need to be spliced together. And, a hammer, no matter how big, simply cannot solve all of these problems.

Modernization is a challenge for any military, and transformation is even more difficult. And, there can't be change … dramatic change … without uncertainty. No one has this completely figured out. The push to transform America's military really started following the victory in Desert Storm and the overwhelming success of stealth technology and precision guided weapons. The U.S. Secretary of Defense has made military transformation one of his top priorities.

The U.S. services are making dramatic strides to change the way they fight … the U.S. Army is moving away from a heavy force towards lighter, more flexible units that can be deployed quickly and integrated into information networks. The U.S. Air Force is refining the concept of Air Expeditionary Forces and developing the global strike task force. In the maritime arena, the U.S. Navy is fully committed to its new doctrine of network-centric warfare, integrating sea strike, sea shield, and sea basing to project decisive joint capabilities. The U.S. Marine Corps is taking expeditionary maneuver warfare to the next level … projecting naval combat power directly from platforms afloat to objectives ashore, without depending on intermediate staging bases. And, the U.S. congress is poised to approve the largest increase in defense spending in 20 years with a budget approaching 400 billion dollars. America's military isn't there yet, but the train has left the station and it's rapidly building steam.

Unfortunately, the growing disparity between American and the rest of NATO's military capabilities threatens our cohesion. If you look at the military missions facing the Alliance and the force numbers each nation brings to the table the imbalance between the United States and the rest of NATO is dramatic.

Let's take a look at just the U.S. Air Force as one example.

The U.S. Air Force is organized and equipped for expeditionary operations. They have 20 fighter wings with about 1400 combat aircraft. That doesn't count the contribution of naval and marine airpower. It might surprise some of you to know that the rest of NATO operates an even bigger air force … almost 2900 fighter and attack aircraft. But, while virtually all of the U.S. aircraft with a ground attack mission have precision capability, only a small number of the NATO aircraft are so equipped. And many of those can only employ the earlier generation of precision weapons, and only in fair weather. None of the non-U.S. aircraft use stealth technology and all are dependent on the U.S. for support assets.

For example, the United States provides 100% of NATO's standoff jamming capability, 90% of the air-to-ground surveillance and reconnaissance, and almost 80% of the air refueling tankers necessary to conduct operations. Let me emphasize just how important that last point of air refueling is.

In the first few months of the global war on terrorism, virtually every operational mission over Afghanistan … be it Air Force or Navy fighter, or a long-range bomber … was refueled by an Air Force tanker. In order to achieve this vital capability, the U.S. Air Force operates a fleet of 550 tankers. That's almost eight times the number available to NATO from the other allies.

Intercontinental bombers are almost exclusively American within NATO and with a fleet of over 150, all equipped with the latest generation of precision weapons and some with cruise missiles, the United States has a powerful striking force.

The contrast is just as stark in the area of strategic airlift. U.S. forces can depend on more than 250 long-range transports to get them and their equipment to the fight, or to deliver humanitarian supplies. The rest of the Alliance can count only 11 such aircraft with plans to modernize the fleet with Airbus A400 stalling in the face of tight budgets.

Consequently, anytime the Alliance chooses to take combat action, the United States will provide the preponderance of forces, undermining our greatest strength … political cohesion. And let me take that a step forward.

Unless the Alliance can successfully transform its forces to conform to the demands of the new security environment, the United States may provide the only forces capable of responding to the new threats of the 21st century.

Why are we talking about this now? There has always been a capabilities gap between the United States and her NATO allies.

In the past, the forces of all member nations could be easily combined ... we shared common doctrine, organizational structures, and equipment. In total, the forces of NATO were stronger than the sum of individual member contributions. But, now the dynamic is changing.

U.S. forces are rapidly transforming the way they fight in response to the changed security environment. Doctrine, organizations, equipment and most importantly … mindsets … are all changing.

For several years now, the members of the Alliance have been developing their militaries along divergent paths. As a result, NATO forces may be less able to work together in future combined operations. At the tactical level things tend to work out. Individual soldiers and airmen find innovative solutions to the challenges of incompatible equipment.

Our experiences in the Balkans have cultivated a generation of service members highly capable of working together. But, at the operational and strategic level, the growing disparity in military capabilities limits the options available to the political authorities.

If all you have is the hammer, pretty soon all of the problems, no matter how diverse, start to look like nails. But, no matter how hard you pound … you never finish the job.

The true measure of military effectiveness must be our ability to provide the full range of options to our political authorities … and to deliver on those options, whether the task is defending the Alliances borders or providing humanitarian aid out of area. And, we must do this while capitalizing on NATO's greatest strength … its ability to bring together 19 nations, unified in their resolve, focused resolutely on the issue at hand.

The requirement is simple, we must be able to rapidly deploy and sustain flexible, well-equipped, well-trained forces wherever necessary. While the United States armed forces are able to do this, as demonstrated in Afghanistan, in large measure, other allies cannot. But, with courage and the nation's commitments, this damaging trend can be reversed.

Three things are required to ensure the Alliance regains its military edge in the 21st century … a clear strategic vision outlining the security threats we are likely to face, a transformation roadmap that translates that vision into relevant military capabilities, and the political will to make it happen. I think we are making significant progress on the first two.

The Washington Summit laid the foundation with the declaration of the Alliance's new Strategic Concept and outlined NATO's approach to security in the 21st century. The Prague Summit in November will refine this vision and help the Alliance clarify the new threats of the 21st century. NATO's 50th Anniversary Summit also provided a roadmap to reaching the necessary military capability with the unveiling of the Defense Capabilities Initiative.

DCI provided the nations with a comprehensive list of general measures, 58 in total, designed to ensure the effectiveness of future multinational operations across the full spectrum of missions. The initiative was an important first step in modernizing the Alliance's military forces, but it failed to address the broader issue of developing integrated joint forces capable of meeting the challenges described in the Strategic Vision.

Last Spring, the Defense Ministers decided to sharpen the focus by concentrating on improvements in four key operational areas: defending against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks, ensuring command, communications and information superiority, improving interoperability of deployed forces and key aspects of combat effectiveness, and ensuring rapid deployment and sustainment of combat forces.

And this new initiative, designed not only to modernize NATO's military forces, but to transform the way in which the Alliance responds to threats in the 21st century, fits perfectly with the NATO Response Force proposed by Secretary Rumsfeld in Warsaw two weeks ago. In fact, the NATO Response Force is exactly what the Alliance needs to provide vision and focus to the transformation effort.

Secretary Rumsfeld proposed a truly joint force, drawing on a rotational pool of combat forces, headquarters and support elements that could be rapidly tailored to the mission. The force would be able to deploy quickly to deal with the full spectrum of conflict, ranging from small-scale contingencies all the way up to high-intensity conflict.

Unfortunately, most of the reporting in the press has centered on the size of the force, about 20,000 troops, instead of what the force could do. And, that is exactly the type of outdated thinking that prevents true transformation.

Let me come back to a point that I made earlier. We cannot measure military effectiveness with numbers alone … and we must get away from defining combat strength in terms of ground maneuver units. Having a force of 20,000 troops does nothing to describe the readiness of that unit to conduct military missions in today's world. Equally outdated is the concept of a corps-sized operation. How many corps were in Allied force?

Instead, we must define this new NATO Response Force in terms of what it can do. For example, the force must be able to deploy rapidly, wherever needed, and conduct integrated joint operations, taking full advantage of the capabilities of the Prague Capability Commitment.

The NATO Response Force should be capable of generating at least 200 combat sorties a day, making use of advanced precision munitions, controlled by a joint modern command structure. The force must be able to operate in the time domain … leveraging information technology to produce near real-time sensor-to-shooter links. Modern, robust intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets must be able to operate continuously to deny the enemy sanctuary and expose dangerous intent. The full complement of support assets will enable the force to achieve the operational objectives and protect our forces from attack. This is where tankers and support jamming is critically important.

The land component should possess capable combat forces, with associated support elements to sustain operations. The maritime component could be based on the NATO standing naval force, but must include the command and control capabilities to fully integrate into joint operations.

The point is ... if we don't talk about capabilities beyond a force of 20,000 troops, then we will get a force of 20,000 troops … unable to deliver on the full range of military options demanded by the new threats of the 21st century. The NATO response force will require much more than simply 20,000 troops. It will depend on the Alliance's ability to achieve the goals of the new capabilities initiative and the command structure review.

If fully supported by the nations, the Prague Capabilities Commitment could provide the framework for a three-tiered approach to closing the capabilities gap.

First, the allies must increase defense spending. As I think we all heard today … I'm very proud of what Norway has done, and what France has done recently to do that.

Next, they must spend their precious resources wisely, with the correct investment in research and development. They must balance tooth to tail, cutting outdated and redundant fat from their forces. They must commit to equipping their services with the tools they need to provide relevant capabilities for the Alliance.

And, finally, nations should look for opportunities to field specialized capabilities.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have appreciated this opportunity to talk to you today about what I think is a very critical aspect and that is getting the right forces the right capabilities to go into the 21st century.

I would certainly entertain any questions that you might have.

Questions and Answers

Question (Bob Kaiser, Washington Post)
I have read and heard statements such as you have just made more than once in recent years. I am sitting here surrounded by Europeans whose Finance Ministers have told them there is no more money for defence. Bring us back to reality here. You keep making this speech, Lord Robertson keeps making this speech – European Governments keep on not increasing, with the two exceptions you just noted, their Defence Budgets and many of them are tied now into long-term budgetary arrangements whereas the Danish Defence Minister told me in Warsaw last week, I cannot contemplate any change for three years at least. At what point does the rhetoric that we have heard again today become reality – at what point do the Europeans simply fall off the bus because they are not doing the things that you have just told us they have to do?

General Joseph Ralston:
Well let me give you an example, let me use the US Defence Budget as an example. When I was Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and we put together the fiscal year 2000 budget, that was the first budget in 15 years with an increase. We have had 15 years of decreasing defence budgets. Now I am slightly wrong, because in 1991 there was a slight uptake during Desert Storm but with that minor exception, for 15 years there was a decrease in the real purchasing power of the US Defence Budget. And finally it was in the year 2000 that it started to turn around. Now we have just noted two other examples that we have talked about – Norway, France. I think it is time for the nations to take a look at this and we should not take a defeatist attitude that all the Defence budgets are going to continue to go down because it is time to take a look at what is needed.

Question (Judy Dempsey, Financial Times)
I was wondering, can I ask you, two very short questions? In your presentation of what should be done with NATO, but particularly from the US end, do you see a change in US thinking on the role of ground troops? And the second question: when you mentioned the new NATO Response Force, do you envisage built-into that force some kind of pre-emptive strike capability?

General Joseph Ralston:
Well, with regard to your first one: First of all I happen to believe very strongly in joint capabilities – land, air and sea - and during my time when I was in the US armed forces I fought very strongly to make sure we had a balanced force of air, land and sea. If I wanted to be somewhat critical of the Alliance, and I will say this and take a lot of heat for this because of the colour of my uniform, but the Alliance is a land-centric focus and we need to make some changes in my opinion. We talk about the Four Day War of Desert Storm: everybody forgets about the forty days of intense air campaign that allowed that Four Day War to take place. So all I am arguing for is a balanced share, and to try to let us get away from slightly the land-centric focus and look at air, land and sea.

With regard to your second question, I think that the Alliance has to have the capability militarily to do whatever our political authorities direct us to do. And I do not want to be in a situation where the NAC meets and decides that we need to intervene in some unknown country somewhere and for me to have to go back to the Secretary General and say “Sorry, we do not have the capability to do that”. So we have got to have a balanced set of capabilities across the board to give us flexibility so that we can respond to whatever political direction we get from the nations.

Question (Steve Erlanger - New York Times)
There is a lot of confusion in my head anyway about how the NATO Rapid Response Force fits, or does not fit, with whatever the European Union is trying to do with its ESDI. People talk about some forces being the same but on call in different ways, some people talk about: Is this Petersburg goals or not? Can these goals be extended through the impetus of this NATO force into something realer that even the EU may actually want, even though it cannot really talk about it. Can you help clarify how these two forces, both of them I guess right now are notional, can fit together or not?

General Joseph Ralston:
Well I will certainly give you my thoughts on that . I think first of all the EU Force is, as you mention, designed for the Petersburg task. I think the NATO Response Force has got to be across the board from high-intensity conflict all the way down to lower-levels, whatever the political authorities tell us to do.

Secondly, if I am critical about some of the reporting on the NATO Response Force in being land-centric, I would say the same criticism is true of the EU Force when they talk 60,000 troops and, oh by the way, some air and maritime to go with it. So I think we have work to do on both sides of the house.

Question (Hungarian News Agency Correspondent, Brussels)
Let me put to you please on this Rapid Reaction Force a rather European and simple question: Is the name itself - Rapid Reaction Force - not a contradiction in terms with the decision-making mechanism of NATO left intact, that is until, or so long as you keep up the unanimous decision making in NATO, this force may be deployable in a military sense within days but politically perhaps only within months.

General Joseph Ralston:
Well, again, if I might defer – that is not really a military question, it is a political question but I will give you my own example. It took about 24 hours for the Alliance to make the most momentous decision that it has made in its 52 history – which is declaring Article 5 last year. That did not take months or weeks or days to make that decision. We have got evidence of many decisions that the North Atlantic Council takes. Let me go back to last summer, of August. The situation of Task Force Harvest – remember Task Force Harvest in Thyron? The Council made a decision and in less than 5 days NATO forces were on the ground collecting weapons. There were critics who said “Well it will take 30 days for NATO to even think about getting there”. It is not true. I want to have on the military side the capability to respond in hours once the NAC gives me the political decision and I have personal experience that the NAC can make rapid decisions when necessary.

Question (Allan Lee Williams, Atlantic Treaty Association)
Many analysts say that the Euro element of NATO are something like, various figures are given, between 15 and 20 years’ behind in military technology. Now if this is so, if you will confirm this, this is a hell of a gap. And with the enlargement of NATO that gap is likely to get larger, and yet it is essential as the British and the French have demonstrated, especially if I may say so, the United Kingdom has demonstrated, that it is possible to put an argument to the Electorate where you can justify an increase in defence expenditure. Are you an optimist or a pessimist in this regard?

General Joseph Ralston:
Well, I do not have to tell you that I am an optimist and I think there is another aspect that we have not talked about. New technology does not necessarily cost more than its previous generation. Let me give you an example. We depended on laser guided bombs during Desert Storm and during the early ‘90s and during the mid ‘90s. And a laser-guided bomb kit is a kit that hooks onto an existing bomb. How much do you think it costs? It costs about 60,000 dollars apiece. Well what is the next generation? The next generation is the joint direct satellite guided GPS munition, that works all weather – day, night. How much does it cost: 20,000 dollars. So it is one-third the cost for even greater capability that technology can bring you. So I do not accept the fact that modern technology costs you more than what the old stuff does – not true. And in terms of life-cycle cost of equipment – how long has it been since you took your television down to have the picture tube replaced? It does not happen any more. Technology has helped us in many ways to make things more reliable, more maintainable.

Question (Ylana Betal, European Voice)
I think that some of us who are still quite perplexed about the EU/NATO connection. Looking from the outside it seems as though NATO is squirreling away at its own plans and the EU is squirreling away at its own plans, and the national MoDs are sending you from pillar to post effectively saying “Well, you go and speak to them because they are getting their Rapid Reaction Force ready”, and “No, you go and speak to them because they are getting their Rapid Reaction Force ready”. NATO is doing peace-keeping so saying that the EU is only going to do Petersburg tasks does not amount to much because Petersburg tasks are everything but war and nowadays nobody declares war anywhere, apart from in Afghanistan. So what exactly is going on in terms of the connection between NATO and the EU?

General Joseph Ralston:
Well once again, in the political arena, but to give you where I think we are, we are working very hard to make sure that the EU can have access to NATO’s capabilities where they need to do this because you are right – we are not going to go off and do these things independently. My own view is that we have got to work very hard not to duplicate the NATO planning mechanisms in the EU, and I give you three reasons of why I think that is bad. Number one: it is wasteful of resources. Where are the thousands of planning officers in the headquarters going to come from? They can only come from one place – they can only come from the battalions and the squadrons and the ships in NATO.

The second reason it is bad: what do military planners do in times of crisis? We provide options to our political masters and down at SHAPE Headquarters we come up with options a), b) and c). Option a) has a certain set of forces with a certain risk factor; Option b) a different set of forces, different risk, different chance of success and so forth. If the European Union does that independently, what do you wind up with? They will have options 1, 2, and 3, we will have options a), b) and c), and when it gets to the two political bodies – I might say somewhat facetiously - there will be even more confusion than normal because one body is talking about option 2 and the other one is talking about option b).

Thirdly, you do not want the European Union deciding – I want battalion “X” to go on my operation. Well, how do we know it is not on a NATO plan somewhere – someone has to de-conflict that. This is not an impossible solution to solve. Take the four EU nations, they are all good nations, of Finland, Sweden, Austria and Ireland, the four EU nations that are not in NATO, send their officers to SHAPE headquarters, and we can collectively put together the options under the direction of the D-SACEUR, who is always from a European Union country, and you have not wasted resources, you have not introduced extra confusion into the system, you have not double-tasked units. Oh, by the way, I have got officers from all four of those nations permanently stationed at Mohens (phon) today. So this is where we should be going. There are some political hurdles that have to be resolved in terms of getting the Berlin Plus arrangements in place, but this is not one where there is not a solution to it – there is a solution to it, it takes some political resolve to work that aspect.

Your description of this discrepancy between American capabilities and European Capabilities and, indeed, performance would have raised some eyebrows certainly amongst British forces given what happened on the ground in Afghanistan. My question is this: is there anything America can learn from Europe?

General Joseph Ralston:
Well, I think there is a lot that America can learn from Europe, and I have strongly pushed that. And one of the reasons for example is that we look at the new Command Structure and if we wind up with an Allied Command transformation in Norfolk, for example, I strongly encourage that to have the European nations send their best people back there to try to work for the Alliance, and bring all of the great talent – and nothing that I have said here should be construed in any way, shape or form as anything against the very professional armed forces of the European nations. That is not the thrust of what I had to say at all. I am talking about let’s get with it in terms of changing and supporting the European Armed Forces that are out there to do that.

I am General Klaus Vitman from German Staff College, where we still talk about the presentation that you gave there some months ago, Sir. This morning we have heard a lot about the benefits, the uncontested benefits, of the next round of NATO enlargement. Would you tell us how you look at that from the military side as the SACEUR.

General Joseph Ralston:
Sure. The first thing I look at it as, that who is invited for NATO membership is a political decision, not a military one, and I strongly defend it being a political decision. Country “X” may have done everything that we want on the military side but if they had an illegal change of government last night, I do not think that is the kind of member you would like in the Alliance. And conversely, country “Y” may not be exactly where we want them on the military side. By the way I say the same thing against the US military – we are not exactly where we need to be, there are changes we need to make, but there might be an over-riding political reason as to why you would need country “Y” as a member of the Alliance. So it is properly a political decision, will be a political decision, it should be informed by military advice and at SHAPE headquarters we have provided our best military advice to the political authorities – that is being worked on and I am very confident that the proper decisions will be made.

Question (Ulla Gudmundson, Swedish Policy Institute)
I would like to ask you: what role do you envisage for nuclear weapons in NATO doctrine and capabilities in the future?

General Joseph Ralston:
I think as I said before, that the Alliance needs to have the full range of capabilities and until we live in a world that does not have nuclear weapons there is a need to have a deterrent, a nuclear deterrent. That is where we are today: this is a proper decision again for the political authorities, but my advice would be that you need to maintain capabilities across the spectrum.

General Ralston, I wanted to ask you a questions as an airman. If the Prague Summit decides on enlargement, and I suppose it will, some of the new member countries on the perimeter of NATO such as the Baltic countries, have no Air Forces at all. They do not have any flying planes. So how do you plan to protect the NATO airspace after the enlargement?

General Joseph Ralston:
Well let me give you an example. Not long ago I visited Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. I went to the Air Defence Centres in each of those countries. Let me give you an example in Estonia. In the Estonian Air Defence Centre it was one of the finest air defence centres I have ever seen. It is something that when I was the Alaskan NORAD Region Commander I would have killed to have had an Air Defence Centre that was that good. With a lot of help from their Finnish friends and Nokia it was very well wired together computer-wise; it had good equipment that was there; the Lieutenant on this scope on my right was a graduate of Westpoint Military Academy, the Lieutenant on this scope on my left was a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. They were a very, very professional force. And so if NATO, if they would become a member and NATO would need to go there, they have a wonderful infrastructure in place and I think that that is appropriate.

General, I would like first to thank you for your comments about French efforts in defence-spending. As a matter of fact, we have increased our defence spending budget by 6.2% and to tell the truth it is not easy, but also to tell the truth you can make it if you want to do that.

I would like to underscore the fact that if you look at Petersburg Missions, the third Mission is Peace Enforcement and we, all of us, know that peace enforcement has a wide range of meanings which includes war on terrorism, and war. Having said that, my question is: As we are in a process of defining the role of armed forces in the war on terrorism, I would like you to precise what kind of adversary, what kind of enemy do you envisage for the Rapid Response Force of NATO. Is it related to terrorism, is it related to some kind of dictatorships, and could you precise that?

General Joseph Ralston:
Sure. I think I would have to say that the NATO Response Force has to be prepared to carry out whatever mission is given to it by the North Atlantic Council. Let me give you an example: If Country “X” tonight launches a missile with weapons of mass destruction against a nation within NATO, then I would daresay that there would be a call at the political level to respond against that to make sure that they do not launch more missiles tomorrow and the next day, and under that scenario we have to have the capability to respond very quickly wherever that threat emanated from. That is one example at the high end of the spectrum that would be required from the NATO Response Force. And then there are a whole series of scenarios I can give you all the way down through peace enforcement, peace keeping, humanitarian operations. I would also like to say, with regard to war on terrorism, my own personal view is that the military aspects of the war on terrorism are the smallest piece of this thing. By far the greater effort can be done with domestic law enforcement, with financial network disruption, with passport control, with border control, intelligence sharing. All of that is far more effective than the military, the military is sort of the last resort of this thing and is a smaller piece of the overall war on terrorism.

Thank you very much for your time.

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