Updated: 23-Jan-2004 NATO Speeches

linking NATO HQ
in Brussels,
Pentagon Press
Corps in
and the Joint
Analysis and
Center (JTASC)
in Suffolk, Va.,

22 Jan. 2004

The future
of the NATO Response Force

Video teleconference with Lt. Gen J.O.M. Maisonneuve, Canadian Army, Chief of Staff, Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and Adm. Sir Ian Garnett, Royal Navy, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe (SHAPE)

Video interview
Audio file .MP3/11585Kb

Captian Smith: Well, good morning. Thank you very much for coming. This is somewhat a unique event. I'd like to say we're bringing it to three locations. We are indeed doing that. We have locations here in Suffolk, Virginia, locations in the Pentagon, as well as the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, although I don't believe we have anyone in the Pentagon at present.

This morning's press conference is to discuss Allied Reach '04, and we have two very special guests to do that for us. My far left is Lieutenant-General Michel Maisonneuve, who has been with the Canadian Army for the last 28 years. He is the Chief of Staff on the Allied Command Transformation. And to my immediate left is Admiral Sir Ian Garnett, who is the Chief of Staff for our Allied Command Operations, working for General James Jones in Europe. The two gentlemen will have brief comments, and then we'll take your questions as time permits. Michel.

Lieutenant-General Michel Maisonneuve (Canadian Army, Chief of Staff, Allied Command Transformation): Thank you, Captain Smith, for that introduction. On behalf of Admiral Ed Giambastiani, Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation, and General James Jones, Supreme Allied Commander for Operations, Admiral Garnett and I are pleased to have this opportunity to discuss with you today Allied Reach '04, which is the next exciting step in NATO's Transformation.
Mesdames et messieurs de la presse francophone; bienvenue à cette session d'information. Mes remarques seront en anglais, mais il me fera plaisir de répondre à vos questions en français si vous le voulez.

Today I'm going to talk to you about Allied Reach '04 and NATO's Transformation. I will then turn it over to Admiral Garnett, who will go into greater detail on the NATO Response Force and how it will act as a catalyst for NATO's Transformation. Afterwards we'll be glad to take your questions.

NATO is transforming for the future. It is a never-ending process, transformation, one that we wake up focused on every day at Allied Command Transformation. We're working with Allied Command Operations and the individual nations of the alliance to find creative solutions to the operational challenges of coalitional warfare and the complexities of the new threat in the new millennium. In short, NATO must transform a military that won the Cold War into a modern, flexible, highly trained force that can deploy anywhere it's needed. Transformation means more than just purchasing new technologies or new systems or new platforms. It means changing our thinking, organization and culture by adopting new structures, improving training methods, adapting doctrine and educating leaders.

Allied Reach '04 is the next step in the transformation of NATO, and it's a natural follow-on from the Dynamic Response '07 study seminar which was held last October in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There NATO's Ministers of Defence and Chiefs of Defence focused on the decision-making challenges the Alliance will face in the 21st century and how NATO's transformation and the new NATO Response Force can be used to address this changed security environment.

The Supreme Allied Command of Transformation is hosting Allied Reach '04 starting tomorrow, and it will go on until January 25th, Sunday to provide a forum for NATO's military and civilian leadership to focus on the multinational operational training capability and deployability of the newly established NATO Response Force, the NRF. Planning for the study seminar has been in the works for several months between the two strategic commands: our command, Allied Command Transformation here in Norfolk, and Allied Command Operations in Mons, Belgium. I'd like to express our thanks at this point to the Joint Training, Analysis and Simulation Centre and to the United States Joint Forces Command for allowing us to use these outstanding facilities to support this significant event.

The theme of the seminar, 'The NRF Challenge: Vision to Reality,' represents the challenge of taking the newly formed NRF from its infancy and developing a way ahead aimed at achieving full operational capability in 2006. The study seminar will employ a fictional scenario based in the year 2007 that will allow participants an opportunity to discover the potential employment of the NRF while being challenged by a complex and dynamic environment requiring rapid planning, decision making and execution.

I think you'll understand that I won't be able to discuss the exact details of the scenario at this time. We want to keep it fairly clear and mobile and ready for execution. However, I will point out that during… that just like the study seminar held in Colorado Springs last October, it will involve a purely fictional setting involving a rapidly changing crisis to which NATO has approved the deployment of the NRF. The scenario is designed to stimulate discussion between the participants and to highlight the challenges associated with the employment of NATO forces to an emerging crisis. The study seminar is not designed to determined specific decisions or outcomes for employing the NRF.

Allied Reach '04 is the first time NATO has experienced this level of senior military and civilian participation, to include the staffs of NATO's major operational headquarters at an event such as this. In all, more than 93 individuals are scheduled to attend, representing the 19 member nations of NATO as well as the seven countries that will formally join NATO this year. In terms of senior participation, this includes General Harald Kujat, the Chairman of the Military Committee of NATO, Admiral Ed Giambastiani, the Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation, and General James Jones, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. NATO's new Secretary General, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is not scheduled to attend, but he will be addressing the participants by video.

At this time I will hand it over to my colleague, the Chief of Staff of Allied Command Operations, Admiral Ian Garnett. Ian?

Admiral Sir Ian Garnett (Royal Navy, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe): Thank you, Michel. As many of you know, at the Prague summit held in November 2002 NATO Heads of State and Government endorsed the concept of the NATO Response Force, or the NRF as we know it. The NRF is perhaps NATO's most important initiative in recent years. It's at the centre of NATO's Transformation. In less than a year an initial operational capability with an embryonic force of approximately 2000 troops was reached in October 2003. The full operational capability of the NRF will be achieved in 2006.

The purpose of the force is to provide NATO with a robust and credible, high-readiness capability which is fully trained and certified for the joint and combined armed force, able to deploy quickly, to participate in the full spectrum of NATO missions wherever required. The NRF will act as a catalyst for collective capability development, will provide the Alliance with an expeditionary capability, and act as an engine for transformation within NATO, and in due course those of our NATO partners within the Partnership for Peace programme.

The NRF will be a technologically advanced, flexible, deployable, interoperable and sustainable force tailored to a specific operation, based on the brigade size land element, including Special Operations Forces, a joint naval task force, and an air element capable of 200 combat missions a day. NRF missions will include crisis response operations, long combatant evacuation operations, and the full range of consequence management as a result of chemical or biological attack, peacekeeping, counterterrorism and embargo operations. More significantly, the NRF will also be able to deploy as a combat-ready initial entry force in advance of follow-on forces.

The NRF will be used wherever the North Atlantic Council determines, within the NATO AOR, adjacent to it, and beyond its boundaries. It's designed to move fast. By that I mean the first headquarters elements will be on the move in five days, with the remainder of the force in between five to 30 days. It will be matched to a specific mission and able to sustain itself logistically for up to 30 days. As a combined and joint force, it is designed to fight and win.

Allied Reach '04 will help focus future NRF commanders on the deployability as well as the operational and capability challenges that the NRF will face in the year 2007. Participants will also gain a further appreciation of the new asymmetric security threats and the scope of NATO's Transformation efforts.

With that as a background, we'll be happy to take your questions.

Captian Smith: Can we get our first questions in the room?

Q: (inaudible)... Is there some urgency today to have this force ready to go? (inaudible)... it just seems like three or four years is a long time. Are you anxious to have it (inaudible)... yesterday, for example?

Admiral Garnett: Yes, we all want things by yesterday. But one has to understand that in NATO the capabilities lie with the nations. Agreements have to be reached by consensus. This is a very complex task, and it will take time to get it right. And so that is why we have an initial operational capability pegged for October this year and full operational capability for 2006.

Because putting in place, for example, all the certification criteria that the force elements will need to meet, which the nations will have to agree in advance; putting together the development of the combined joint statement of requirement, which the nations will also have to agree; putting together a training and exercise program in order to bring the force up to the required capability, which the nations will also have to agree; it can't be done by yesterday. It certainly can't be done by tomorrow.
But let me say that what has been achieved in less than a year has been… it may be slow by your metric, but actually, for NATO standards, it's moved remarkably fast.

Lt-Gen. Maisonneuve: If I could just add on to that that essentially yes, we want it as soon as possible, and for the operational reasons that we have mentioned, but also we see it as the engine for transformation. This is how - once we… we get this force fully operational and capable, it will then become not only a tool for us to react to crises and so forth in the different missions that we've told you about here, but it will also form the basis for us to transform NATO, to try new… to experiment with new methods, the new way of war if you wish, and to actually use the latest technology, the latest doctrine, the latest training to make this force and keep it at the state of the art in terms of an operational force.

So yeah, we want it as soon as possible, but we have our challenges, and we've already made excellent progress, we think.

Captian Smith: Robert, we'll take our next question from your location. Robert, your first question?

Q: It's Brussels here. There is a question from the journalists here. No?

Q: (Reporter): Nick Fiorenza, Armed Forces Journal in Brussels. I'm… Can you give us any more idea of the scenario? Because, I mean, the fact that it's purely fictional doesn't really give us much of an idea. I mean, how does it differ with the exercise in… or the study seminar in Colorado Springs? And are the people involved only military? I think maybe that's one of the differences, that there were ministers in Colorado Springs, whereas from the sounds of things, it's senior military this time around.

Lt-Gen. Maisonneuve: OK, thank you for that question, and I'll take it, and Admiral Garnett, if he wishes, can add some comments after.

Allied Reach '04 is a natural follow-on from the Defence Ministers' exercise in Colorado. And so what you're getting here is taking this strategic discussion study seminar that took place in October, and we've distilled it down to questions that would be of interest for the next level, which is the operational level, as we call it here. And so what you have here in Suffolk right now… in Norfolk, in the Norfolk area, is all the potential NRF commanders, NATO Response Force commanders.

And they are going to take the same scenario, so if you were in Colorado Springs and you heard what that scenario was, based on a small country having difficulties, a friend of NATO and so on, that NATO wants to go and help… And as I said in my briefing, we can't get into much detail of the scenario because we want to keep it dynamic. But essentially we'll look at the same issues but at one level lower: the challenges that a potential NRF commander may have in terms of employing the NRF.

And so it's much more focused, if you wish, yes, on the military side, but we'll also have participation with the political advisors and so on, and keeping civilian direction and guidance from the ministers, if you wish, in Colorado Springs in mind. So it's a nice follow-on. It's the natural, if you wish, progression of these types of exercises.

Smith: Let's have a question from the Pentagon. Did any media show up there?

Q: Yes, I was wondering…

Q: (inaudible)... I was wondering what kind of a political decision mechanism is involved in a rapid reaction force? At which level? And in the future, the Ambassadors, the 19 or 27 Ambassadors, will they involve in a military a decision?

Admiral Garnett: That's a very important question, but I don't see the political decision making process for the deployment of the NRF being any different from any other political decision process that leads to any other NATO military activity. It's exactly what I was saying. The decision lies in the North Atlantic Council where Ambassadors represent their nations and they agree action by consensus.

Now, one of the issues that of course will need to be thought about very carefully is the extent of authority the North Atlantic Council gives SACEUR to commence early operational analysis and perhaps even planning. Because we're talking about a force that can move between five and 30 days. That means the political process must be done before that. That process takes time. And out of a scenario like we have here, and out of early discussions that were in Colorado Springs, there is increasing debate within NATO between the nations about how to speed up the early approvals that the military will need to collect the information, to present options to the North Atlantic Council to allow the ambassadors to make the appropriate decision.

So again, when we talk about the NRF being an engine for change, an engine for transformation, this is feeding back up to the political level for them to consider what changes they might have to make to the processes they have today.

Q: Can I have a more (inaudible)... and I guess you had to set a goal (inaudible)... about how this force would be viewed, what would they be doing, if you can give sort of a hypothetical example.

Admiral Garnett: Yeah. Let me give you a national example. Some years ago we went… UK went to Sierra Leone to carry out a non-combatant evacuation. We began to see the rebels, the RUF, approaching on the capital. We knew that it was getting dangerous. Eventually the decision was made politically in the UK We had to take out the civilians who were our responsibility. And so we deployed very rapidly a small but joint force -- not combined, because it was UK only -- and we deployed a rescue team, we deployed early elements of our UK forces in 48 hours, helicopters self-deployed. Eventually within ten days we had created 3000 miles from the UK a combined and joint force of three-and-a-half thousand people able to carry out (inaudible)... a non-combatant evacuation.

Now, that is just one small vignette of what the NRF might be used for if the nations found that a situation in a country far from Europe, a strategic distance from Europe, was getting out of control. They, the nations, are either asked to intervene by that nation or were given a mandate by the United Nations, and they had to deploy a combined and joint force able to do something. Does that help?

Captian Smith: Robert, a question from your end.

Q: Yes, there's one more question from Nick.

Q: As far as the… well, two questions, maybe follow-up of my previous questions. Does the scenario involve weapons of mass destruction at any point? And second question, how… OK, you've gone down one level from political to the operational level. Is this the same level, or what you do at Stavanger, is that going to be yet another level lower? Is that battle staffs? Or maybe you can explain the difference between what you're doing and what…

Lt-Gen. Maisonneuve: Yeah, thank you. I'll address your second question first. In Stavanger in fact we are planning to do this kind of effort. It will be a little bit at the lower level. This is a study seminar, and therefore it's discussing the challenges in a more general way. What we will be able to do in Stavanger is certainly this kind of event because Stavanger we see as being a mini replication of this building and its functionalities, and so for NATO, on the NATO side. And if… for the American audience, Stavanger's in Norway, and we hope to build the same kind of functionality there. We have stood up right now a joint warfare centre, which is… we hope that it will perform the same type of mission as this particular facility does here.

But essentially, in Stavanger we will take it to the next level. That is where we'll be able to actually bring in a total headquarters, i.e., the personnel that work in the staff of the headquarters, and train them, either for a specific mission -- if it's a headquarters that is to deploy on a mission -- for example, ISAF Five right now is training, performing this kind of exercise, where we bring the staff together and get them to work together, and specifically important here because of course it's a combined staff of many nations. So these types of events will take place, we see, in Stavanger in Norway.

Now, in terms of whether we are looking at weapons of mass destruction, I believe in any scenario that you're going to find in the future that will always be something that is in the background, in the back of your mind. Therefore I can say that in this case, within the scenario that we're going to use for Allied Reach, the idea of weapons of mass destruction will be in the scenario as a background.

Q: (inaudible)... the Transformation process, what do you think is more difficult: to obtain interoperability (inaudible)?

Lt-Gen. Maisonneuve: I'll start, and then if you want you can… (Laughs)

Which is more difficult? I think the challenges are probably obviously, I would say, more complex in a multinational environment. Because yes, of course every nation has the challenge of its services and components working together jointly. And I think all nations certainly of NATO have been trying to get better at that. Then when you take it and you bring the next level of complexity, that is the combined aspects, bringing all these nations who obviously have to work together in a common language, or at least try to work coherently so they understand each other. And then the procedures have to be, you know, as much as possible coherent and so forth. We're going to need some special tools to make that happen. But it is definitely the next level of complexity, I believe.

Admiral Garnett: Just on the topic of joint… and I agree that putting a combined or multinational force together is probably the biggest challenge.

The extent to which national force elements are happy with jointness depends on their training, their education and background. If, for example, a country like mine has a joint staff college, has a permanent joint headquarters, it's much easier for UK people to understand the concept of jointness, to understand what their service colleagues are thinking, how they react to certain situations, because that's part of our culture and training. Other nations do it differently. And so in their case they might find it more difficult to approach a problem from a joint perspective.

The other aspect is whether you're talking about maritime forces, land forces or air forces. To give you an example, the maritime forces, they have been certainly multinational since the founding (inaudible)... North Atlantic stood up in 1968. Air forces find it fairly easy to work together on the multinational side. Land forces find it much more difficult because actually it depends whether you're in peace support… and I shouldn't be saying this because I'm standing beside a distinguished soldier, or whether you're fighting. And if you're fighting you have a different metric for the extent to which you can become the land component, multinational.

So it is a very complex operation, a very complex subject. But I would agree with Michel that really getting nations together is a more demanding task.

Lt-Gen. Maisonneuve: And then if you take it to the next level, just to finish up on this, really what we are trying to do is transform. And it all brings it back to what are we trying to transform into. Well, we want to get better, transform in terms of our capability to work together, both at the service level and also at the combined level. And as Ian correctly points out, different nations are at different levels of this jointness even within their own forces.

So using the best ideas from the countries, we hope to propagate the message, the lessons, the experiences, and that way kind of foster a better interoperability, both from a national point of view and also from a multinational point of view.

Captian Smith: (inaudible)... back to you. Any other questions in your location please?

Q: No I think from us that's it for the moment.

Captian Smith: Thank you, Robert. Any questions here at Suffolk?

Q: (inaudible)... You had mentioned a mutual (inaudible)... How large is it going to be when you're fully operational? And will all the member nations participate equally, or will the U.K. and the U.S.… I mean, are the larger countries (inaudible)...?

Admiral Garnett: (inaudible)... of the force about 20,000 all up. Now, the extent to which nations form part of that NRF will depend on their willingness to offer force elements during what we call the force generation process. In other words, there will be a standard menu of force elements that we want to create the NRF with. And the process is that Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe goes out to the nations in what's known as the force generation conference and says right, what offers do we have? We're going to pull out the ships, the aircraft, force elements, the land elements. And then he balances the offers from the nations. And hopefully he can fill the bill. If he can't, we've got a problem.

So in the end it depends… I mean, remember NATO nations lend their forces to NATO. I mean, they put them under command of NATO, but in a sort of political sense they're saying yup, you can have these force elements for this operation, and afterwards we want them back.

Q: The example you used a while ago (inaudible)... Are there some other examples back in history where such a force could have been used effectively, such as Kosovo and Bosnia and perhaps even Liberia, those crises? And my second question is does NATO have any boundaries anymore?

Admiral Garnett: Well, boundaries: We have one NATO area of responsibility. That is clearly defined. And that's a step forward, because we used to have several different ones. We now have one. I would also say that NATO has what I term an area of interest, which actually, through the Partnership for Peace program, goes all the way to the Chinese border and well into North Africa. So what we're trying to engage in is a much wider appreciation of the threats to our security, not just on our borders but further away.

Now, where could the NRF have been used in the past? Afghanistan, certainly possible in the Balkans. I mean, anywhere where there emerges an urgent need for a combined and joint force: that is where the NRF could be used in the future. Michel?

Lt-Gen. Maisonneuve: Yeah, and I would just add to that. One personal experience that I've had is during the Kosovo crisis. At the time that the bombing was taking place in Kosovo, I was sent into Albania. And within Albania we had the flood of refugees coming across. And NATO decided to deploy parts of the Ace Mobile Force at the time, which you could look at as a land element that was a predecessor to the NATO Response Force, but deployed it in Tirana to look after support to the refugees and so forth. So this kind of scenario is definitely one that the NRF could be used in the future, as the AMFL was used in the past.

Admiral Garnett: I think one also has to remember that we're not talking about using the whole force. You could use elements of it.

Lt-Gen. Maisonneuve: Tailoring.

Admiral Garnett: Eagle Assist deployed NATO AWACS components to defend Washington after 9/11. Tomorrow they will be part of the NRF. So you could have a similar situation where an element of the NRF was deployed either on a predominantly air mission, predominantly maritime mission, or a predominantly land mission.

Lt-Gen. Maisonneuve: It's tailorable to the mission, and that's what Admiral Garnett mentioned.

Q: We have one more question.

Captian Smith: Robert, go ahead please.

Q: I'm interested to hear the example of the Ace Mobile Force in Albania. What is the difference between… I mean, why couldn't the Ace Mobile Force have been built into the NATO Response Force? Or what are the differences between the two forces in fact?

Lt-Gen. Maisonneuve: Well, obviously the major difference is Ace Mobile Force - Land was a land element, a land force. We want the NRF to be a combined and joint force, and we want it to be a force that is much more technically enabled, if you wish, that is very capable, and that can react to the types of missions that we've mentioned.

Captian Smith: We'll take one last question here.

Q: (inaudible)... Transformation process, could you give us an idea how much the Transformation process of NATO is influenced by the various nations or vice-versa, how much the nations are influenced by what is developed in ACT?

Lt-Gen. Maisonneuve: Yeah, I'll start and then Admiral Garnett perhaps will want to add some comments. But I certainly see that… I see what Allied Command Transformation is doing as being a hub, a hub for information, a hub for transformation. And what I mean by a hub, if you look at a wheel, with the spokes and the hub in the centre, if you take that Allied Command Transformation as the hub, and outside in the… along the wheel, you have all the different elements that will want to help us transform and that we want to help transform. You'll have nations out there; you'll have Allied Command Operations. Those are our two major customers: Allied Command Operations and the nations.

And then we hope to create also a system of centres of excellence that will be outside also as in the wheel of the scenario I'm giving you here. You'll have different agencies of NATO that already exist. There's the Research and Technology Organisation, the NATO Consulting Command and Control Agency. All these different agencies that perhaps in the past were not working as coherently as they ought to have been. We'll have all the educational establishments, such as the NATO Defence College.

So all these will be on the outside, with us as the hub, then taking the best ideas from nations, from all these agencies, and kind of massaging them and sending them out back to the nations as kind of an analysed product that can be used. You also have all the operations that NATO is running right now, where we'll gain lessons and be able then to influence the way we train and operate, specifically with the NRF in this case.

So really, that's the way we see the transformation process happening, with us as the… in the middle here, bringing all the good ideas in, and propagating them throughout the structure. The beauty of Allied Command Transformation Headquarters is it's right here in Norfolk where the U.S. equivalent, the U.S. Transformational Headquarters is, and therefore we can gather the best lessons from them. They can also take the best lessons that come out of nations. And then it's a win-win situation. So that's how the process works, as far as I'm concerned.

Admiral Garnett: I'll give you one example from our perspective in Allied Command Operations. At the moment there's a national responsibility to provide national force elements with national logistics. Well, just imagine a situation where the NRF deployed 3000 miles, and consider what happens in the Balkans today. We have national support elements all over the Balkans providing support to their little national elements. How are nations going to do that 3000 miles from home? That is a transformational challenge, both in terms of technology, but most importantly in terms of culture, thinking.

That's the sort of challenge that we'll be working with Transformation Command on. Because actually, unless you get that right, the NRF won't work, or won't work very well.

Captian Smith: I think on that note we'll close. Peter, thank you so much for hosting us in Brussels. And thank you for those who came here in Suffolk.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Thank you.

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