From the event




28 Mar 2008


with NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment Peter Flory on NATO's work on missile defence, defence against terrorism and cyber defence, all issues which are high on the agenda for the Bucharest Summit

Q: We are here today with Peter Flory, the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment. Welcome, and thank you for coming.

PETER FLORY (NATO Assistant Secretary General): Thank you.

Q: Missile Defence is one of the many issues which will be addressed at the Bucharest Summit next week.  Can you please give us an update on the missile defence program?

FLORY: Sure.  Missile defence is an area where we have made, I think, a great deal of progress in the last year.  NATO has been working on missile defence since the mid 1990s and just in time for the last summit at Riga produced a missile defence feasibility study that looked at the feasibility of providing a territorial missile defence, i.e of covering all of NATO territory and population centres not just deployed forces, but the announcement last January that alliance members, the US, the Czech Republic and Poland were having discussions on a possible element of the US ballistic missile defence system to be deployed in Europe have helped energize and focus our discussions as has the growing awareness of the ballistic missile threat to the alliance.

So we have made, I think, a number of progress on several levels; on a political level we have had extensive political consultation-- the North Atlantic Council (NAC) has had a number of meetings devoted to a discussion of missile defence.  We have also met with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) because, as you know, Russia has expressed concerns about the US proposal and also with possible NATO development of a NATO missile defence system.  We have worked very hard to sit down with Russia to explain both what the US is doing; the US has sent high-level briefers on a number of occasions, also to explain what NATO is doing in an attempt to overcome Russian concerns.

On the political-- on the threat level, we have agreed on an update to the threat assessment that we did for the Riga Summit, one which found a growing threat of ballistic missiles to the alliance and alliance territory.  This work has been updated and their current assessment tracks the work that's been done.  Before, on a political military level we have looked at questions such as what is the role, potential role, of missile defence in an overall policy of dealing with weapons of mass destruction.  We have arms control agreements, we have non-proliferation agreements, we have traditional deterrence, both conventional deterrence and also nuclear deterrence, so there has been a great deal of discussion of how does missile defence fit into this continuum, this spectrum, and how does missile defence compliment and, in a sense, serve as a backstop to all these additional measures as part of an overall, what you might call, comprehensive or layered strategy for dealing with ballistic missile threats.

And lastly, we have done a great deal of work in the technical area.  We, as I mentioned earlier, we had done the missile defence feasibility study which found that missile defence was feasible for NATO territory and population centres, but the proposed US-Polish-Czech site obviously changes the equation.  So we have done work to analyze the impact of this new element on the work done, the analysis done in the NATO study, how does it change the requirements, how does it change the costs, what areas would it cover, what might the requirements be to cover those areas that remain uncovered under the proposed US system and we recently completed a report that will go to the heads of state in Bucharest next week to support their discussions on the overall question of missile defence.

Q: What progress do you expect at the summit talks on missile defence?

FLORY: I expect a substantial and very high-level of political discussion of the issue and what I expect, what I hope we will come away with is a way ahead for future work at NATO on missile defence.  This would build on the work that's been done in the last year that I just described in the political sphere, in the political military sphere, the technical sphere, the analysis of the threat.  And I think that what I can envision and obviously people are still working on this is some kind of statement that would take into account several factors, one of which would be the ballistic missile threat, of course; one of which would be the potential role of missile defence in dealing with that threat.

Another element would be to note the substantial coverage that we have determined, we at NATO have determined that the US system would provide to NATO-Europe, it would note the fact that some areas of NATO territory would remain undefended and it would raise the question of what might be the role of a NATO system in defending those territories and would task us, the international staff, to come back and develop more refined options that could be considered at the 2009 summit.

I do not expect an acquisition or a procurement decision at this summit, in Bucharest, but what I hope we will get is a clear way ahead that will give us our homework to do for the next summit so we can tee up possible final deployment decisions there.

Q: How is NATO's missile defence plan connected to the one being developed by the United States?

FLORY: Well, command and control is an area where NATO has substantial experience going back a long way, including during the Cold War when we had command and control systems that had to deal with the prospect of a terrible all-out war in Europe including possible use of nuclear weapons.  We have, today, an integrated NATO air defence system, for example.  We have command and control systems on the ground in Afghanistan and Kosovo, so this is something that NATO as an alliance with a growing number of nations has had a lot of experience with.
The question of how you might link a NATO system with the US system is not primarily a technical question. I mean, there are technical issues and obviously technical work needs to be done, but it is really not so much of a wiring problem or a plumbing problem, it is a question of how do you create the political military consultation framework in which the command and control system would operate and how do you come up with procedures and rules of engagement, because one thing everybody understands is that missile defence has pretty tight timelines; if a missile is in the air, there's no time to convene the NAC, so what is necessary is to have political military guidance worked out in advance that can then be delegated to the commander for use in a particular situation.

And this topic has been discussed.  It  is come up, it is one that nations are concerned about, but I am confident we could work out, if we were asked to develop a system, we would be able to do it and nations recognize that this is going to be something where there is going to have to be a certain amount of pre-delegation.

Q: How would such a system work and how much would it cost?

FLORY: Well, we have looked at a number of what you might call architectural options designed to achieve comprehensive coverage of NATO territory and population centres and we have, as I have said, identified options-- at the end of the day political decisions will determine what the scope of such a program might be and that will determine what the requirements are and that'll determine what the costs are.  I could say that it could, as you would expect, the addition of the US system in the equation, which was not part of the original NATO analysis, has had a substantial impact on what the cost might be, driving it down because the US system would provide substantial coverage of NATO territory and population centres against the full range of threat scenarios, but it doesn't provide complete coverage against all scenarios.

So, we are going to work on further refining the costs.  We have come up with some estimates.  We have come up with some options to deal with the threat, but that will be some of the additional work that we will continue to fine-tune.  Again, we have done a great deal of it but we will continue to fine-tune it and in the expectation, at least certainly to be ready if tasked at Bucharest to present options to the alliance leaders in 2009.

Q: Defence against terrorism is another item high on the agenda of the alliance.  What is NATO's contribution to the fight against terrorism?

FLORY: Well, NATO is active on several levels in the fight against terrorism pre-eminently, of course, in our operations in Afghanistan.  We are also very active as a high-level political forum for discussion of terrorism and the response to terrorism. The part that I am responsible for is capability development; how do we develop and share technical capabilities to deal with the asymmetric threats that terrorism represents.

After the Madrid bombing in 2004, NATO set up a program called the Defence Against Terrorism Program of Work, and what we try to do is to develop technologies, to encourage the development of technologies, to socialize technologies that is encourage the sharing of technologies, it is not just about technology, it is also about best practices, what we call TTP, Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, information, sharing all of these things are critical elements to a response.

So, we have 11 programs.  We are focusing very heavily on counter-IED and counter-explosive devices because that is a pre-eminent, asymmetric threat to our troops active today but also looking at things like defence of helicopters against rocket propelled grenades; defence of large aircraft; harbour protection; critical infrastructure protection; defence against mortar attacks; also work on non-lethal capabilities that would allow our commander's response options short of the use of deadly force which is particularly important, of course, in a situation like Afghanistan where you fighting an insurgency, you are fighting a ruthless enemy that does not hesitate to hide behind or disguise itself as a civilian and even in some cases as Afghan women in order to carry out its attacks.

So, these are some of the areas we are working on.  We are not using a lot of money, the focus is on relatively low cost and relatively short-term solutions.  We have had good results in a number of areas and we are continuing to work hard on others.

Q: And finally, cyber defence is another important issue that will be discussed at the Bucharest Summit.  Do you care to tell us a little bit more about that?

FLORY: Sure, and as you say, cyber defence is one of the new and emerging challenges that we will be discussing next week.  The Alliance had already been doing work on cyber defence particularly in hardening our own capabilities, but the attacks against Estonia, an alliance member, about a year ago obviously served as an incentive to intensify and refocus our work and I am pleased to say we have been able to work in a very non-contentious way with a great deal of consensus to produce very quickly a NATO cyber defence policy, a NATO cyber defence military concept, and also to agree on measures in which to accelerate the hardening of NATO's own information systems against potential cyber attack.  I think this has been a real success story.  Again, the Estonian example was the kind of incentive that helped us refocus our efforts and I think we're going to have a very good story to tell next week in Bucharest.

Q: Sounds good.  Thank you for coming.

FLORY: Thank you, a pleasure.