Updated: 19-Oct-2005 NATO Speeches


18 Oct. 2005

Press briefing

by NATO Spokesman on NATO's assistance to Pakistan

12/10/2005 - NATO
NATO delivers first aid to Pakistan
Audio of the press point .MP3/20101Kb

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Friends, thank you for coming. I know I alerted you a little bit late, but I wanted to update you on NATO's support for the relief effort in Pakistan .

Obviously this is something which everyone, including the NATO Ambassadors and the Secretary General, are very engaged in. We've all seen the latest reports of millions of people without any shelter and temperatures dropping. There's a very urgent requirement for assistance, and NATO is doing its best to try to play its part where it can in meeting those requirements.

We have a senior NATO official in Islamabad who has met with the Prime Minister, as well as other senior officials in Pakistan , to try and match the Pakistani requirements to what NATO can do, to help meet them as part of the overall international effort.

What has happened and what is happening, let me give you a snapshot.

As you know, NATO has already transported one base camp for UNHCR on an Antonov. This was a base camp donated by Sweden , with accommodation, with vehicles, with communications equipment.

One NATO transport aircraft has already been to Islamabad with relief supplies donated by Slovenia . There is another NATO transport aircraft on its way. It will land there sometime tonight. There is another NATO transport aircraft leaving in a few days, which will shuttle, at least once, maybe more, between Europe and Pakistan providing relief supplies.

On a much larger scale, one NATO C-17 aircraft, which is our largest transport aircraft, will be leaving tomorrow from Ramstein Air Base, which is the hub for our air transport from Europe, with Danish and German donations.

The next thing I wanted to tell you was that NATO and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, have agreed that the Alliance will begin transporting UNHCR supplies to Pakistan in what I would call significant amounts. UNHCR has several hundred tons of relief supplies, blankets and tents, amongst others, in Turkey . Supplies which are now moving to Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey , and being prepared for flight.

NATO has begun to transport, or beginning to transport, these supplies. One C-130 Hercules aircraft will leave today. Other aircraft are on their way and will begin transporting these.

It is too early to say the length or the scale of how much of these supplies NATO can transport, but as I say, it has begun, we are in discussions with UNHCR and NATO is in discussions with allies to provide further airlift.

While again I cannot say how much will be transported, I can tell you I'm confident that it will be a significant amount of these UNHCR supplies.

Finally, the... and this is not news to those of you who have read El Pais. The Council has requested military advice from our military committee and our operational headquarters on what further steps the Alliance could take to enhance its support for the Pakistan relief effort. The military is working as quickly as possible to develop these options for political approval later this week and we will see at that point what more the Alliance can do, but I do expect that the Alliance will do more as we do our part, as I say, in this broader international effort.

That is what I wanted to tell you. I'm open to your questions.

Q: James, the problem... the biggest problem seems to be not a question of getting aid to Pakistan, as getting aid from Islamabad up into the regions where it's most needed. What can NATO do about that? I mean, are you using smaller planes, helicopters to fight this?

APPATHURAI: What NATO has agreed to, of course, is what I've mentioned to you, and you know that there is not a surplus of helicopters. But what I can tell you is one of the options that, of course, has to be considered and is being considered by all allies is what more they can do to support that effort in-country.

We will see, I think, by the end of the week, what the military advice is and whether or not NATO can do more, but I cannot speak more to that subject now.

Q: James, but advice was giving very concrete details on what the aid would be like, sending troops of the NRF to Pakistan . Is there any plan to move these troops?

APPATHURAI: The military advice under discussion, and these are just options of course for consideration, no decision has been taken, but do, of course, yes, you're right, consider potential deployment of elements of the NATO response force, the fifth rotation of the NATO response force, which is the current rotation, which could potentially include fixed wing support or engineering support forward deployed into Pakistan, but none of this, I should stress, has yet been agreed. These are simply issues under discussion. But there is the possibility that these might be deployed from the RF, yes.

Q: Will there be another NAC meeting to approve this?

APPATHURAI: There would have to be political approval by the Council. That will happen later this week when the military advice has been developed and approved by the Military Committee. It would then go to the North Atlantic Council. So this will happen as soon as possible.

Q: So this is not an NRF operation yet, or... I mean, the C-130, for example, is not part of the...

APPATHURAI: For the moment this is not an NRF deployment.

Q: Sorry, yeah, the Secretary General raised the possibility of troops, helicopters, and obviously air being used in any NATO support as long ago as I think last Monday after the NATO PRC meeting with Javier Solana. Why wasn't that included in the original military instructions? Why has it taken so long and we've had to go back and try again, almost, to get some kind of mandate which would allow for these other elements to be used?

APPATHURAI: Well, this is a rolling... let me rephrase that. We are constantly assessing the requirements and the requirements are changing. We have, as I mentioned, a liaison officer in Islamabad who is holding daily talks with senior Pakistani officials, and of course, the conditions on the ground are changing as well.

We responded... NATO responded immediately to the Pakistani request, in particular for the relief supplies, and that airlift began virtually the day after... certainly the approval was given the day after the request arrived.

So we are constantly in the process of assessing requirements and going to nations to see what more we can do. And that is being done, I have to say, at a lightning pace for this organization. So, this is... what is under discussion now is an upgrade, a potential upgrade to what NATO is currently doing, which could potentially include some of the elements that you and the Secretary General have both mentioned. I can anticipate that NATO will continue to assess requirements and it will continue to change as time goes on.

We're trying to do more. I think that's the story here.

Q: Can I just do a follow-up... I mean, you say it's a lightning pace for NATO, but I mean, do you acknowledge that perhaps it's a little bit too slow compared to what other countries are doing bilaterally? I mean, one obvious example is what the United States has done in terms of putting helicopters into Afghanistan ... I think ten days or so after the earthquake. Yet we're still talking about what additional support NATO (inaudible)...


Q: Well indeed, I mean, I think the first point to mention is from the day after we got a request from the Pakistani authorities as NATO, NATO was beginning to move to provide support.

I think the second point to mention is that these are indeed NATO allies who bilaterally almost immediately have provided support, and that's a worthwhile point, that these are NATO nations providing direct bilateral assistance.

NATO is an intergovernmental body. It can move a lot when it moves, but it, of course, does not, cannot move as quickly as an individual nation. There has to be military advice, there has to be political consensus among allies. I would say that NATO has done a lot. It has done it very quickly. And continues to do more. So, in fact, I think this is a good news story for NATO and the airlift of UNHCR supplies, for example, is a good example of NATO doing a significant amount of airlift in close cooperation with the UN. I dare say this is probably the most extensive cooperation NATO has had with the UNHCR in the history of either organizations, and that's a good thing.

APPATHURAI: One, two, three... go ahead.

Q: What is actually the difference between... at least qualitatively, between what's happening with Pakistan and with Hurricane Katrina? I mean, is this basically the same? I don't... other than maybe the number of flights, I don't see any difference, although with Katrina it was called an NRF or use of NRF assets.

And then assuming that the NRF 5 or elements of NRF 5 are deployed, how would that differ from Katrina? I suppose then it would be qualitatively different.

APPATHURAI: I think if you're going to look for qualitative differences we should... up to this point, and I don't know if we need necessarily to qualify what is quantitative or not, this is a major airlift relief operation, and in that sense, of course, it is similar to, in character, until this point, to what has happened... what NATO provided for Hurricane Katrina.

The scale, however, is much greater of the disaster and I think the scale of the NATO support that you can anticipate will be greater as well. Whether or not the character of it changes when the military advice comes forward we'll discuss again on Friday, but for the moment this is, indeed, similar to Katrina support in its character, but I think greater in its volume.

Q: Yeah, but I mean, at the stage of these type of assets being committed for Hurricane Katrina you were saying that this was an NRF operation.

APPATHURAI: Yes, well, the potential deployment of the NRF, use of the NRF, is one of the elements under discussion, so we'll come back to this on Friday.

Leon ?

Q: Yeah, one technical question. The C-17 you mentioned. That's obviously not NATO's right? That's probably the U.S. who's leasing it and giving it to NATO.

APPATHURAI: Indeed. It's not in the NATO AWACS fleet in other words. It's U.S.

Q: Okay. Okay. And just to come back to this NRF part, the first release by the Secretary... I mean, this press statement by the Secretary General mentions specifically that... ten days ago, that you would be able to use... I mean, NATO would consider further assistance, specifically the NRF, but I'd like to know why that wasn't immediately taken into account in the plans, to follow up a little bit to Mark's question, and I mean, what has happened specifically that you are so quickly entering into this phase?

I mean, either you could have done it last week right away, since he already mentioned it, or do it a little bit later, but I don't see exactly why it comes up now.

Basically, why now, what has changed?

APPATHURAI: No, I understand. In the initial planning that NATO did there were in essence three stages. And the first stage was to respond as quickly as possible and as immediately as possible to the most urgent requirements that we could identify at the time based on the information that we had. And that was to put on the airlift using the NATO owned and operated cargo planes, and of course, to lease the Antonov with support from one NATO nation to transport that.

As we have gotten more information the Alliance has recognized that clearly looking to at least the second stage of support, further stages of support is necessary. And these, of course, have to be fleshed out in detail.

What exactly will NATO do as a next stage? Taking into account the necessary military advice, taking into account, of course, resourcing of this next and potentially more enhanced level of support. And that's what's happening now.

And as I say, it is moving as quickly as possible, very quickly. And I think based on our assessment of the requirement now, based on the discussions that our representative has had with senior officials in Pakistan and based on what we can all see to be changing requirements... You might remember at the beginning one of the major requests was for, for example, for food. Now the Pakistani authorities have changed that. The weather has dropped and they are quite clear in saying the major priority is tents. I heard this morning, I think on BBC, that they need more tents than exist in the world. So there is a major requirement for shelter and that is a changing requirement as the temperature changes.

So all this to say this is a moving target, and NATO is adjusting as quickly as it can to try and meet the Pakistani requirements.

Q: I wanted to know, will then the plan with all its details be released by the end of the week? And if so, will it be on Friday?

APPATHURAI: I cannot confirm. Certainly by the end of the week I anticipate that we will have, certainly a discussion in the Council. As soon as the Council agrees I will do my best to make you aware of what's been decided. Don't worry, I don't keep it hidden.

Q: Just more of this question again because I don't understand it. I mean, given that the Secretary General had already foreseen that the operation would inevitably be wider than just operating a simple airlift for initial relief supplies, and given that with so many homeless I think it was foreseeable that there would be a need for quite a substantial amount of tents, why couldn't all of that been built into the initial call for military instructions, you know, a week or so ago?

APPATHURAI: Well, I think it's the inevitable word that may be called into question. The original military and, indeed, political planning envisioned the possibility of having to step up the immediate response. The immediate response was put in place, and then, of course, as that response was being carried forward, allies looked at whether we needed to move to the next stage that had already been in essence laid out, but not fleshed out.

And therefore, once that... once the assessment was made that indeed we needed to move to a higher level--and that took place very quickly--we have indeed begun the necessary process to assess the changing requirements, because they're not the same as the requirements were ten days ago.

And provide the appropriate staffing and assets in cooperation, again, with other organizations who are also now changing their, or at least putting on different levels of support. That's what's UNHCR is doing in cooperation with us. So everybody is trying to adjust to a moving target. And we are doing that.

Q: Has NATO offered any aid for the Indian part of Kashmir that was also hit by the earthquake?

APPATHURAI: No request has come to NATO from the Indian government for support, and in that context NATO has not, of course, offered. We do not want to offer where no request has been made. But I should mention that there is... there will be information coming from NATO to Pakistan 's neighbours, all of Pakistan 's neighbours, to inform them about what NATO is doing. So we will be in contact with all of the neighbouring countries of Pakistan , so that they have visibility about what the Alliance is doing.

Q: When you say all the neighbours of Pakistan , to Iran also?

APPATHURAI: All the neighbours of Pakistan .

Q: And can you give us some idea of the resources which NATO has available which potentially could be used for this? How many heavy lift helicopters, how many engineering battalions and this sort of thing?

APPATHURAI: I really can't and the reason I can is some elements, of course, are in NATO's owned and operated fleet. You're well aware of that, and indeed, the training aircraft from... and cargo aircraft from the NRF... from the AWACS fleet, have been used. These are part of NATO's owned and operated fleet. These, of course, are easily identified.

Beyond that, of course, forces need to be generated, and for each stage they need to be generated. So it is impossible for me to identify what will be put under NATO's umbrella by nations. I can tell you that nations are being very forthcoming. But, for example, the airlift of UNHCR supplies, that is beginning out of Incirlik includes C-130s from at least three NATO countries. I'm sure that number will grow. But they are, of course, assigned to NATO for the airlift; they are not NATO's. So this is again a moving target and I simply cannot say what is... what will be made available by nations.

Q: James, a couple of questions. Precisely on this Incirlik things. Basically NATO is helping to airlift the UNHCR supplies, but NATO's not alone in doing that. It's not a NATO mission as such.

APPATHURAI: It is... I don't know if the UNHCR has gone to anyone else. I am not aware that they have gone to anyone else. So I don't know. I don't know what other transport arrangements UNHCR has on. But I know that they have agreed... they have requested support from NATO. NATO is providing it. That's the most I can say on that.

Q: Yeah. And second question, you say you need... well, first of all, if there was a NAC meeting yesterday, and it goes through the Military Committee, but we won't expect anything until the end of the week, you could say that's quick for the... for an organization such as NATO, but it doesn't seem so quick to me. And specifically, because I relate that to that, if you say you're potentially going to use NRF elements, why do you need force generation? Normally that stuff is already generated.

APPATHURAI: Indeed, and so first the point, yes, NAC meeting yesterday, which set the parameters for the military to develop the military advice in terms of the aim, in terms of the breadth of the support, which of course the military must have to develop appropriate military advice, so that it what has happened and that gives them the parameters upon which they can do their planning.

In terms of... sorry what was the... oh NRF-generated forces.

Q: (inaudible)...force generation, but the NRF is already generated.

APPATHURAI: The NRF is already generated, but if... I hate to use the word if, but even if elements of the NRF are used that does not mean that that would comprise the full package of what NATO would require.

For example, all of these elements that I've already mentioned do not necessarily comprise NRF elements, and these elements would continue... could potentially be also required. In other words, more than the NRF... sorry, let me put it simply... more than the NRF could be necessary for enhanced NATO support, and therefore force generation could well be necessary for enhanced NATO support. And in that context that is why I cannot be precise. I simply don't know what the military will provide in terms of support.

UNIDENTIFIED: Can I offer a... let me just offer an example or so of that.


UNIDENTIFIED: One of the... one or two specific examples of why force generation would be required in a case like this is that the NRF is constituted to do a variety of tasks, one of which is humanitarian assistance, but that obviously is not its prime capability.

So with each... with a situation like this you need to task tailor your forces to the situation. So, for instance, the medical support component of the NRF is designed essentially to support military forces in a sustained combat situation.

Now it so happens that a lot of those medical assets can be used for other things, but in this case if it was to be decided to dispatch NRF medical elements, well, you would need to actually look at how you reconstitute that to look after pediatric and geriatric cases, which isn't a situation that you would normally have your medical assets in the NRF looking after. So you need to task tailor that.

In the NRF, for example, there are components of engineers, but not a lot of construction engineer battalions. In this case, in Pakistan , for instance, you would arguably need more of that type of asset than other types of engineer assets.

So this is why as part of the whole build-up process you sense reconnaissance elements out to a country to determine what the specific requirements are, what the nation asks for, and then you have to go back and you look at your package that is part of the NRF and say okay, what in this whole package can we take, and then what additional do we need? And that is why you would arguably then go back and force generate additional forces that are specific to what the requirement is in threat.

Q: On that, why the NRF? I mean, why not just generate forces outside it?

UNIDENTIFIED: Because the NRF is the... because the NRF has a capacity to be able to mobilize much faster than arguably any of the other assets because it is on a... anywhere from a five to thirty day notice to move.

So those are your first... within NATO, if the decision is made to deploy the NRF, those are your forces that are available at fastest possible response time. And other forces are not necessarily available as quickly.

So, when you determine that you need additional construction engineer battalions, for instance, those that are not part of the NRF would take longer to get there, so you're talking about a number of... potentially a number of weeks as opposed to a number of days. So you take from your NRF first those assets that can get there quickly, and you identify those others through the force generation process to get there in the medium term, if you will.

Q: James.


Q: Since it's know that Spain is saying that they are going to send 300 engineers, apparently, can you confirm this, since it's not a secret anymore, everybody knows it?

APPATHURAI: Well, actually, we are no in a position to confirm it, because until the military advice comes to the Council...

Q: But they offered this.

APPATHURAI: I... let me start again. I have seen the article in El Pais. I understand that the Spanish government may or may not have confirmed an offer, but here at NATO we cannot confirm that anything will be... further will be deployed form the NRF until the military advice is confirmed and agreed by Council.

So until that moment I cannot confirm.

Q: Now, can you tell me, Spain has the command of the NRF Land Forces this semester. Would that mean that they would provide... if Land Forces were deployed, they would provide the bulk of these forces?

APPATHURAI: I think we're not in a position to say that yet.

UNIDENTIFIED: Not necessarily. Not necessarily, because again, as you undertake any mission you need to task tailor that mission. So what resources do you actually have to apply to it, to the problem? In this case obviously the situation is... would require land and air assets. So you would actually compose a deployable task force headquarters with existing assets.

Certainly the Spanish land component would be one that would be top of mind, but I wouldn't want to say right now that, you know, should the decision to send NRF be made that yes, that's it. It's just a little too early to say that. That would be part of what the military planners at SHAPE would be undertaking, is to say, okay, which... with this force package, with all these assets that we actually have to send over, what's the best way to command and control that? And that's still a bit earlier to say that it would, in fact, be Spanish.

APPATHURAI: Thank you.

Q: I'm going to narrow the focus...

APPATHURAI: Microphone.

Q: I'm going to narrow the focus of my earlier question. What air assets does the NRF have currently, both fixed wing and rotary wing, that could be used in this sort of situation? Theoretically.

APPATHURAI: The NRF is, of course, a complete package. It has both fixed wing and rotary wing assets assigned to it for any rotation. Which one of those... which of those fixed wing assets, which of those rotary wing assets, both for example, heavy lift helicopters, medium lift helicopters, would be or could be required is one of those things that the military has to assess. At that point, when it comes back to the Council for a decision, then we will know what...which of those fixed wing and rotary wing assets a) could be required, and b) could be deployed.

Q: What I want to know is, how... I understand that that decision has not been taken, but how many helicopters, both medium lift, heavy lift, does the NRF have at the moment?

APPATHURAI: I don't know the answer to that.

UNIDENTIFIED: I don't know the answer to how many specifically are committed to the NRF, but I've made a note and I will look to get back to you and others over the course of this morning or early afternoon because not... NRF only gives you a sample size, if you will, and it could well be the case that assets additional to what are in the NRF are, in fact, made available. (inaudible)... I will...


APPATHURAI: (inaudible)...too.

UNIDENTIFIED: That's right.

Q: Just trying to get an idea whether...

UNIDENTIFIED: (inaudible)... numbers, I don't...

Q: ...whether NATO is looking at, you know, three helicopters or three hundred helicopters basically. You know, it's...

UNIDENTIFIED: Closer to three than three hundred, but...

APPATHURAI: Again, I don't think the three... even... we have to be careful to avoid assuming that whatever's in the NRF will be sent and whatever's not in the NRF will not be sent. That is not an accurate... It can be rotary wing from outside the NRF. So this question will not necessarily enlighten you at the end of the day as to what the Alliance will send.

I know I'm being very cautious here, but it is an appropriate moment for caution on numbers. It is not yet clear on what NATO will do exactly and what the numbers will be, and I don't want to raise... and we should not raise expectations beyond where we are now.

So I understand that you have to ask this question, but please understand that I do not want to raise expectations here about what the Alliance will do beyond what I have announced.

Q: James, you're not going to like me for...


Q: Let's get real, I mean, we're not talking about some top secret, special operation here. We're talking about relief to people in Pakistan. So I know... I understand how this organization works. I know there's sensitivities, 26 countries, blah blah, but let's get read. What are we talking about? We're not going to come to some sort of major NATO operation in Pakistan. I mean, if we're talking maybe three or four helicopters and a couple of engineers let's say so, but this sort of shrouded... this sort of un... ambiguous caution, I mean, you know, where's this going to? I mean...

APPATHURAI: Well, I think... you're going to hate me for this answer, but in fact, I'm not the one who brought up the NRF. Nor did I, in this... when I asked you to come here mention any potential deployment of the NRF or other associated forces for enhanced partnership.

This is, of course, something that flowed from the El Pais article and other sources. So I understand that you are curious about what more NATO could provide, but I'm not trying to sell it, nor am I trying to shroud it in secrecy.

What I want to give you is accurate information. When that information is indeed available. So what I have told you today is what we are doing. What we will potentially be doing I've tried to give you parameters on that, and on Friday I hope we'll have much more detail.

I can tell you two things: One is, what we are discussing is to do as much as this organization can do in support of the Pakistani relief effort. We are already doing that, but discussing what else we can do.

Second, nobody here ignores the importance or the urgency of what's happening in Pakistan. On the contrary this organization is working 24 hours a day to provide as much as it can. And not only here, but down the street at SHAPE.

And we will continue to do that. When we know what more we're doing we will let you know. But what we do not want to do, and I say it for the final time, to raise expectations precisely amongst the people you're talking about, amongst the Pakistani people, that are unrealistic to what we can provide. We want to give them accurate information of what we can do. And I will not speculate beyond that, because it is simply not the right thing to do.

Q: Yes, let me clarify something for me. I have here my note from the informal meeting in Berlin, and apparently it's not so clear that every country agrees that the NRF can be used in such missions like this one in Pakistan. So (inaudible)...wider concerns (inaudible)... now to use in this occasion?

APPATHURAI: In fact, as was already mentioned, elements of the NRF were already used for Hurricane Katrina, so while in the larger sense there is a... let's say, a theological discussion about the role that NATO can or should play in disaster relief, in this case I think the urgency of the requirement would make potential use of the NRF, potential use of the NRF, non-controversial. But we will see on Friday.

Q: I mean, I don't doubt for a moment the commitment of the people in this house to getting these done quickly, but what is striking is that whereas international teams of medics were on the spot within hours of the earthquake taking place, here we ware 10, 12 days later talking about the possibility of tailoring NRF assets under the hypothesis that the NRF is actually called into action. And is this really an acceptable timeframe for NATO to be acting in humanitarian situations? It tends to raise the question as to whether, with the current structures of this organization, it can actually be a kind of a high-end humanitarian player at all.

APPATHURAI: Well I mean, that's a very good point. I don't think NATO has envisioned itself, nor has it structured or designed itself, indeed, to be a high end humanitarian organization. There are other organizations that are in the front line to be... to do precisely that, to do immediate humanitarian relief work.

NATO is a political military organization that has, in the face of this disaster, responded to provide military assets in support of humanitarian efforts.

But you're quite right, NATO is not, nor does it see itself to be primarily a high end humanitarian organization.

That being said, and I stress it again, let us not leave this room with the feeling that this is the first thing NATO has done, because it is not. The airlift of assets of relief supplies into Pakistan has begun almost from the day that we received a request from the Pakistani government, indeed, the day after.

So we should not leave the room thinking that this is when it began. It began immediately, or almost immediately upon request.

The theological discussion of whether NATO should be a humanitarian organization is another one.

Paul, and I think there was someone over here.

Q: I'm a little bit curious about the timing. I mean, you mentioned this will likely be on Friday. Well by Friday General Jones has scheduled a new conference for tomorrow about this self-same subject. I'm kind of at a loss to see what he's going to be able to tell us if the political co-ahead does not come through by tomorrow?

APPATHURAI: He didn't clear it with me, so I don't know what... (Laughs)... I don't know what he's going to say, but you'll see tomorrow. And if you could give me a call in Kiev I'd love to know.


APPATHURAI: Go ahead, Nick.

Q: When you talk about NRF being read within five... or can be deployed in five to thirty days, I mean, are we saying that for humanitarian operations it's not capable of being deployed in five days, but for high-end whatever... the high end of the missions it would be deployed...

APPATHURAI: No, I don't think the hold-up... let me put it another way. The timing that we have here is a staffing procedure. The assessment of requirements, the appropriate military advice and the political decision. Obviously all of NATO's authorities are perfectly well aware of the urgency of the requirement and the poten... the possibility of the use of the NRF. So I would not foresee any delay based on the requirement to engage the NRF, if that's what you're getting at.

Q: So I mean, if I were to start counting I would have to wait until Friday if and when there's a decision to deploy the NRF and then from there it's expected to deploy within five days? Okay.

APPATHURAI: For deployment, yes. Yes. Yes. No no no. No no no.

UNIDENTIFIED: Five to thirty.

APPATHURAI: No no no. Not that the NRF would just be warmed up, starting a political decision. What I'm saying is, everyone is well aware of the possibility of potential use of the NRF. So once a political decision is taken I can tell you almost immediately thereafter military assets will move.

UNIDENTIFIED: There's a certain amount of concurrent activity that takes place. I mean, we need... military authorities do not simply arbitrarily decide on their own they're going to dispatch assets. There needs to be a political decision to, in fact, dispatch those assets.

So we're also cognizant of the fact that there's an interest in seeing those assets move as quickly as possible when a decision is made. So in theory, elements of the NRF are deployed within five to thirty days of a political decision being made.

That being said, you know, nations are taking appropriate steps to make sure that should the decision be made that these assets can be deployed fairly rapidly.

And as James is pointing out, in fact, one of the things that NATO did, right off the bat, was to discuss with the ISAF commander and see which assets from that theatre of operations, could be made available in direct support and immediately to the Pakistani authorities.

And in fact, as you well know, the Germans in particular have made available some of their assets from a theatre that is relatively scarcely supplied in rotary wing helicopters.

So, in fact, from the start NATO has looked to provide the assets it could for the immediate needs, and now we're into an assessment of what additional can be done. And that is what the military authorities are, in fact, assessing right now, is the... is providing advice based on direction from the NAC, to assess and assess quickly what additional resources could be brought to bear to help assess and assist the situation.

So I suspect that the SACEUR will be able to... is looking to speak to the process and prospects for that tomorrow.

APPATHURAI: I have time for two more.

Q: Some nation perhaps still need parliamentary approval to deploy forces. I think to Germany and to the Netherlands?

APPATHURAI: Each government will take its own national decisions. I can't speak to that. If they need parliamentary approval they have to get parliamentary approval. But that's a national... a national issue.

Q: When they're talking about the NRF they're thinking about all three components of NRF, air, land and sea, and then you said NATO is responding to changing requirements. Have there been any new requirements from the Pakistani government? I mean, you say it's tents, but would one need land forces to send more tents to Pakistan? I mean...

APPATHURAI: There are a whole host of issues. In terms of what will be required from the NRF let us see what the military advice is. Again, I do not want to speak to it until it comes up through the military change.

In terms of the changing requirements on the ground I can give you one example. Pakistan has an enormous challenge simply managing the number of aircraft that are coming in and have... certainly could use air... what we call air movement teams to help them with the logistics of bringing in all of these aircraft. And I do believe, in fact, that NATO is considering sending air movement teams to Pakistan to assist them. Not only in Islamabad, but in the other airports that they have opened up precisely for bringing in forces.

So this is just one example of the kind of requirements that become clear as time goes on in a relief operation. The other one I've already mentioned, the emphasis that the Pakistani government is putting on tents, which the entire international community is now looking to provide. And I don't mean just other international organizations, but individual countries as well, are sending huge volumes of tents and are looking to get them there.

So this is a changing set of requirements as the weather changes, as the logistic challenges change, and of course, we are moving, along with the international community, to change and upgrade our support to make it appropriate for the environment.

Last question, Leon.

Q: I was just wondering, on a more political question, the fact that Pakistan obviously is not a member. Does that have any implications specifically when you're in this new tasking of the Military Committee? You know, if you are, for example, you were to send NATO troops to Pakistan that... what is the implication of that?

APPATHURAI: It is a force... it's a relevant question, because of course the relevant Status of Forces Agreement of course that exist for NATO transit or presence, the transit or presence of NATO forces in NATO countries, and in some partner countries as well, most partner countries, don't exist with Pakistan.

That being said, of course there is no problem. The Pakistani authorities have been very careful, as we have been careful, to ensure that all the necessary legal arrangements are in place, or would be in place if necessary for NATO personnel.

So that you're quite right to raise the question, but there will not be any problem in that regard.

I really... I'm out of time, so if this is a quick one...

Q: Just very quick. I mean, the Antonov that you mentioned at the beginning, is that Ukrainian or Russian? And who is the senior official in Pakistan?

APPATHURAI: It is a Russian Antonov leased with funding coming from a NATO nation and it flew, as I mentioned, a Swedish donation. So if this is a good example of NATO partnership there it is. For the UN, I might add.

The senior official is Deputy Assistant Secretary General Maurits Jochems. J-O-C-H-E-M-S. Deputy Assistant Secretary General of Operations. Jochems.


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