NATO Lisbon Summit - general matters and policy
Lisbon summit: the real challenge for Nato
Nato's summit in Lisbon has had to address a host of challenges that will shape the future of the alliance, says Richard Dannatt, the former Chief of the General Staff.
David Cameron addresses the NATO summit
By Gen Sir Richard Dannatt 7:50PM GMT 20 Nov 2010
More than 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the most surprising thing about Nato is that it still exists at all. In doing so it has defied the received wisdom of history, namely that an alliance collapses when the threat that spawned it is no more.
To continue to survive — and to do so with credibility and utility — Nato had to adapt. Indeed, its staff have talked about doing so for the better part of a decade. It was only this weekend, however, that the leaders of the 28 member states endorsed a new strategic concept — the blueprint for the alliance over the coming years.
While this is to be welcomed, it can be argued that the new concept is merely a codification of the realities of 2010. A shield against ballistic missile attack, protection from ill-defined, but alarming, cyber-threats and countering terrorism constitute an agenda that almost writes itself.
The conventional capabilities for state-on-state warfare that Nato honed during the Cold War are — quite properly — to be shrunk, as Western governments squeeze the last drop of the peace dividend from their defence budgets, against the background of global financial austerity.
Yet there are also real issues with which this summit has had to grapple. Top of the agenda has been Afghanistan. Failure there would drive a stake through the alliance’s heart from which it would never recover. Success is mandatory — but it now has a timescale. By 2014, the security operation must be in Afghan hands; by then, it will be the Afghans’ responsibility to ensure that their territory does not contain the kind of ungoverned space to which terrorists can return.
For that condition to be fulfilled, however, the international community must remain engaged in all aspects short of combat operations. The Afghan security forces will need mentoring, training and encouraging for many years to come. More importantly, moving the Afghan economy away from the illegal production of opium will take decades, not years — but it is the absolute prerequisite for establishing better governance, some semblance of a rule of law and a reduction in corruption. Unlike some of Nato’s own members, Dmitry Medvedev understands this. Why else would Russia’s president be willing to help Nato? And why else would Nato be toning down its expansion plans on the Russian border?
The challenge in Afghanistan — on which rests the very existence of Nato — has pushed the accession aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine on to the back burner. But ultimately the importance of Afghanistan and the new strategic concept are relatively easy topics on which to reach a consensus. The really thorny issue —and the alliance’s Achilles heel — is Nato’s internal restructuring and its implications for jobs and national economies.
In these financially constrained times, few states seem willing to give up lucrative headquarters on their soil and subordinate national interest to the greater good. Too many want to keep an inflated number of admirals, generals and air marshals to flatter their national egos and an overly large number of headquarters to boost their economies. Here lies a real danger: that America will look at the European members bickering over scraps and be further persuaded that a transatlantic focus has had its day and a pan-Pacific policy is more in its national interest. Nato without the United States would be a boxing glove without a fist, an item only fit for the trophy cabinet of history.
Should the alliance rise above these dangers, the major opportunity still to be grasped is in the field of conflict prevention. The experience of Iraq and Afghanistan will make governments most wary of committing their armed forces unless their vital interests or territorial integrity are directly threatened. So the logical switch of focus for member states individually, and for the alliance collectively, should be towards scanning the horizon for potential new threats, engaging early with struggling or failing states and building up their ability to stand on their own feet.
Iraq and Afghanistan have shown the difficulties of nation building under fire. Far better, and cheaper, to pre-empt such situations and engage early. Unfortunately, for liberal democracies, acting independently of the media-driven, “something must be done” agenda does not come easily. If leaders can give real consideration to preventing conflict, not just managing its consequences, this summit will have had lasting value.
Gen Sir Richard Dannatt is a former Chief of the General Staff. His autobiography, Leading From The Front, is published by Bantam Press
Nato must continue operations 'beyond our borders'
Nato must be prepared to launch new military operations outside its own territory after it pulls out of Afghanistan, its secretary general has said.
Mr Rasmussen believes that Nato must be prepared to tackle potential security threats beyond its members' borders Photo: EPA
By James Kirkup in Lisbon 7:03PM GMT 18 Nov 2010
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said alliance members must be willing and able to exercise military power "beyond our borders" to combat threats such as terrorism and missile attacks.
Mr Rasmussen spoke to The Daily Telegraph as Nato members prepared to gather today in Lisbon to plan the future role of the alliance.
After almost a decade of military operations in Afghanistan, some European Nato members have suggested that the alliance should focus on defending its home territory.
By contrast, Britain and the US believe that to remain relevant, Nato must be prepared to tackle potential security threats beyond its members' borders.
Mr Rasmussen supported that view, urging alliance members to accept that new security threats may have to be met.
"Our core function will remain territorial defence of our populations," he said. "But we must realise that in the modern world we have to go beyond our borders to actually protect and defend our borders."
Afghanistan could serve a template for future threats and Nato's response to them.
"After the Cold War, we have seen a number of new threats emerge," he said. "Terrorism is one of them."
The Lisbon summit will adopt a "strategic concept" or mission statement in a post-Afghanistan world.
"The purpose of the new strategic concept is to prepare the alliance to address the new security challenges – missile attacks, cyber attacks, terrorist attacks," Mr Rasmussen said.
He also promised that a reform of Nato's command structures will make alliance forces "more flexible".
As well as the mission statement, the summit will also consider a European missile defence shield. The shield, based on US interceptor missiles, will rely on British radar stations to detect attacks.
The missile shield is being developed primarily because of fears of Iranian missile programmes, but Mr Rasmussen said other countries could also pose a threat.
"More than 30 countries have missile technology or are aspiring to get missile technology," he said.
"Some of them can also hit the Euro-Atlantic area."
Alliance leaders will later confirm a timetable for starting the "transition" of security responsibility from Nato forces to the Afghan government, starting next year and concluding at the end of 2014.
Mr Rasmussen said he was confident that Afghan forces will be ready for that responsibility in time, but accepted that the timetable could slip.
He said: "If conditions are not met fully by the end of 2014, then we will have to continue the combat mission."
A NATO for the 21st century
By Anne Applebaum, Washington Post Op Ed Columnist
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
In Afghanistan a couple of years ago, I flew in one plane with a Portuguese pilot and another plane with a German pilot. I met a Turk who worked in NATO's Kabul headquarters and a Dutch woman who lived on a NATO base in the south. During the course of a very short visit, I also met Frenchmen, Czechs and, of course, Americans. When the International Security Assistance Force leaves Afghanistan in 2014 or thereabouts - as last weekend's NATO summit has agreed - NATO's soldiers can return home having proved, if nothing else, that the Western military alliance still exists.
Not that future historians will call NATO's Afghan mission an unqualified success: NATO wasn't prepared to fight in Afghanistan and at first had no leadership and thus no clear objectives in Afghanistan, either. Some countries put large numbers of troops on the ground and fought hard. Others hid behind national "caveats," which dictated where, when and how their soldiers were allowed to fight. Almost all of the alliance governments avoided an honest discussion of the war with their voters.
NATO didn't fail, in other words, but neither did it shine. To save the alliance's honor - and possibly to save the alliance - its soldiers should therefore come home, unpack their duffel bags and start planning their next mission: the defense of democracy in Europe.
This, of course, is what NATO was set up to do. But while NATO has enlarged itself seven times since its creation in 1949, most recently in 2009, the placement of NATO forces and institutions has hardly changed in two decades. The alliance now has 28 members, including almost all of the states that used to be the Warsaw Pact, but the three joint forces commands are all still in the south and the west of the continent, in Portugal, southern Italy and the Netherlands. American forces are dispersed in odd ways as well. More than 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Germany - a country now surrounded on all sides by NATO allies - while Poland and Norway, countries with long, non-NATO borders, have 100 and 80, respectively.
The alliance could also update its military plans for a new era. Europeans and Americans already cooperate over terrorism and are rightly adding cyber-terrorists to their list of joint enemies. NATO does now have contingency plans for the defense of some of its newer members, notably Poland and the Baltic states (the latter drawn up this year after the Obama administration finally noticed their absence).
But the alliance has not held serious military exercises for more than a decade. Once upon a time, NATO conducted a major annual exercise called "Reforger" ("Return of Forces to Germany") designed to prove that the United States could still move troops quickly into Europe if necessary. The last, anemic version of that exercise was conducted in 1993.
In times past, such exercises were meant to scare Russia. Now they should be renewed, not to scare Russia but rather to ensure that NATO's military establishments remain integrated, that American generals get to know their European counterparts and vice versa - and so that NATO's members and neighbors continue to believe that the alliance is real. The alliance's strength lies in its ability to project the image (and to maintain the reality) of strength, confidence and integration. Exercises, in reality and in cyberspace, can help achieve this. I can even imagine Russia being included, at some date. Who knows? One day we may find ourselves helping Russia defend its borders against China, so we might as well start practicing. It looks as though Russia has tentatively agreed to join in a missile defense pact, whatever that means.
Institutions should do what they are good at. And the expansion of NATO is one of the few true post-Cold-War foreign-policy success stories. By including some of NATO's old enemies inside its security umbrella, we ensured, at a minimal cost, the political, economic and ideological "Westernization" of an enormous swath of the continent.
We could continue that process. The stakes are lower - 2010 is not 1990, and the countries outside NATO are poorer and more turbulent than even those that have recently joined. Nevertheless, the very existence of a credible Western military alliance remains - yes, really - an encouragement to others on Europe's borders. This is a uniquely propitious moment. Right now there is a pro-Western government in Moldova; Ukraine's geopolitics are up in the air; elections are due to take place in Belarus in December. We in the West might have gone sour on ourselves, but Europeans on our borders still find us magnetically attractive. But we will only remain so if we try.
Flournoy: NATO Action Must Follow Lisbon Vision
(Source: U.S Department of Defense; issued November 29, 2010)
WASHINGTON --- Agreements reached at the Nov. 19-20 NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, represent a blueprint the alliance must follow with “long-term construction projects,” a top Defense Department policy official said today.
In remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, summarized the summit’s key agreements and the work the alliance faces to implement them.
“While the Lisbon summit was certainly a major milestone for the alliance with a number of achievements, the … hard work of implementation still lies ahead of us,” Flournoy said, “whether you’re talking about NATO’s work in Afghanistan, about rebalancing to meet the new challenges, or about our relationship with Russia.”
Afghanistan is the most immediate and consequential issue facing the alliance, she said, and summit agreements on a NATO-Afghanistan strategic partnership and a framework for security transition demonstrate long-term commitment on the part of participating nations.
“Trainers are the ticket to transition” in Afghanistan, Flournoy said, noting that NATO must continue to assist Afghanistan’s development of “credible and effective” security forces if that nation is to meet the goal of assuming full responsibility for its own security in 2014.
The Afghan army and police are successfully building numbers, quality and retention in their ranks, and they need the support of NATO trainers to sustain that trend, she said.
“I especially want to tip my hat here to our Canadian friends, who announced just before the summit that they would be providing 750 trainers and 200 support troops,” she said. “We expect many others to come forward with additional such commitments in the force-generation conference that began today.”
“There’s a long way to go in Afghanistan, … but we have seen before what happens when we abandon it,” she added. “In Lisbon, we saw a real commitment on the part of the NATO allies to ensure that we do not make that mistake again.”
The second key summit topic was rebalancing NATO forces to meet current and future challenges, Flournoy said.
“The centerpiece of this effort was, of course, the new strategic concept, essentially the new mission statement for NATO,” she said, noting this is the first such document for the alliance since 1999. The document lays out a balanced concept for NATO’s future that reaffirms the centrality of the alliance’s mutual security guarantee, she said.
“Crucially, this strategic concept also includes missile defense as a new mission for the alliance,” she said, calling that provision, “a great example of a theme that runs throughout the strategic concept – the need for this great alliance to adapt to address new threats.”
The strategic concept “clearly articulates the real threats” to NATO’s collective security, she said: terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber warfare, destruction of the global commons, environmental and resource constraints, and “the chronic instability that can foster extremism and erode the rule of law.”
The cyber threat defies established security concepts such as escalation control and military notions of offense and defense, she said.
“Unfortunately, NATO’s ability to defend its own cyber networks is not what it needs to be,” Flournoy said. “This is why we agreed to undertake a cyber policy review … [that] should result in a plan of action to improve the protection of our systems.”
While NATO works to address current and emerging threats, Flournoy said, the global economic downturn requires that member nations find creative ways to redirect spending and pool resources.
“In Lisbon, the allies took meaningful steps … to strip out some of the bureaucratic layers in order to make more funds available for vital operations and capability investments,” she said. “Specifically, the allies agreed to … the elimination of some seven headquarters and the reduction of headquarters personnel by about 4,000 people.”
A notable example of pooling defense resources, she added, can be found in the recent treaty signed by France and the United Kingdom allowing for cooperation in nuclear testing.
“The U.S. fully supports this cooperation between two of our staunchest and most capable military allies, and we call upon other members of the alliance to see similar opportunities where appropriate,” she said.
Flournoy then touched on what she termed the third key summit outcome, a NATO “reset” with Russia.
First, she said, NATO and Russia signed a joint review focused on common security challenges including counter-terrorism, combating weapons of mass destruction, disaster preparedness, piracy and Afghanistan.
“This document charts the way ahead for concrete cooperation between NATO and Russia,” Flournoy said.
Second, Russia agreed to “even greater cooperation” on Afghanistan, she said, in areas including enhanced shipment of coalition supplies through Russian territory, expansion of joint counternarcotics training, and a new initiative to help Afghanistan maintain its helicopter fleet.
Finally, Russia and NATO also agreed to restart their theater missile defense cooperation program, stalled since 2008, and to “develop a comprehensive framework for future missile defense cooperation in time for the June ministerial [conference],” Flournoy said.
In the NATO-Russia reset, as with other areas of progress coming out of Lisbon, Flournoy emphasized, true success will only come with follow-through.
“We have to back up our words and our agreements with real action,” she said.
Post-Summit Analysis: Great on Presentation, Less Good on Substance
17:21 GMT, November 29, 2010
The NATO Summit in Lisbon on 19 November was hailed as a 'tremendous success' by US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. But how much of a consensus was actually reached on the 'headline' issues? And were smaller details glossed over for political expediency?
A Successful Summit?
Has NATO's Lisbon summit been a success? In purely diplomatic terms, the answer must be yes. But, as always, the devil is in the details and, on that, we are none the wiser.
It is easy to forget that, when Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary general, embarked on the project of drafting a new strategic concept for the alliance, everyone expected an almighty debate about fundamental issues: was NATO's primary purpose to undertake crisis-management operations 'out-of-area', should it re-focus on its 'core' task of guaranteeing the territorial security of Europe, or should it transform itself into a mechanism for managing 'new' threats such as cyber or missile attacks?
The laborious way by which Mr Rasmussen went about drafting the strategic concept added to the cacophony of sounds. But it all ended with a whimper; a mercifully short, very plausible, and eminently readable document which was ready by the time the heads of states and governments landed in Lisbon, and was barely discussed during the summit. The East Europeans did not throw up a tantrum about the 'centrality' of Article 5 in the Washington Treaty, guaranteeing collective defence. The old debate between 'in area' and 'out of area' operations was not rekindled. Russia was offered co-operation and President Medvedev graciously accepted the offer. Existing operations - principally Afghanistan - generated consensus and future threats were duly mentioned. In short, NATO's Lisbon summit has successfully drawn a line under previous debates. It may not be 'NATO 3.0', as politicians would like to claim, with due deference to the 'hip' language of computers and software, but it was certainly a more poised and calm alliance.
Yet the consensus remains fairly superficial; the alliance may no longer be suffering from a crisis of identity, but it is still beset by serious problems.
A Real Consensus on Afghanistan?
Take Afghanistan as an example. 'The direction, starting today, is clear: toward Afghan leadership and Afghan ownership. That is a vision President Karzai has set out, it is a vision we share, and we will make it a reality, starting early next year,' vowed Mr Rasmussen at the end of the summit. However,, despite all the reassuring statements about the existence of a clear plan, the reality remains that there is no consensus about what should be done, and on whether what the alliance is currently doing has any chance of success. On the one hand, there will be an accelerated handover of authority to the Afghan government, indicating that NATO's commitment is clearly-defined and time-limited. But, at the same time, there is also a pledge that NATO will remain on the ground 'as long as it takes', despite the fact that, as every leader who attended the Lisbon summit knew very well, this will not be case.
Of course, everyone genuinely hopes that the current military surge and intensive training of Afghan forces will produce some results. But the question still remains whether the political timetable in the West - including the looming presidential elections in the US - can ever be synchronised with the realities on the ground in Afghanistan. Of course, it would have been too much to ask NATO leaders to contemplate in public the possibility of failure but this is precisely what will have to be contemplated in the year to come. Either way, one conclusion from Afghanistan is already clear: NATO's future will not be that of a global policeman, if only because no country would rush to repeat the Afghanistan experience.
The Question of Russia and NATO's Missile Defence
The most important practical decision taken by the summit - to build a missile defence shield against a potentially nuclear Iran - was also a political compromise. Russia ? whose president Dmitry Medvedev attended the gathering ? opposes the project, because it sees it as directed against its own military. Turkey, a NATO member, initially refused to support any scheme which singles out Iran as a threat. The alliance skirted around these difficulties by agreeing to build a scaled-down umbrella of rockets and radars centred on bases in Romania, Poland and possibly Turkey, and linked to existing defences. The project - which is supposedly directed against no-one in particular ? will take a decade to construct, and may cost only US$ 250 million, a paltry amount compared to previous US plans.
Finally, Russia was invited to participate in the development of the missile defence shield. The Americans tried to portray this as a major achievement for president Obama: 'Previous administrations tried to get a European missile defence system and didn't succeed,' claimed Mr Ivo Daalder, the US ambassador to NATO. But all the details still need to be worked out, the technology is untested, and no diplomat was able to say how Russia would be involved. Furthermore, if the missile defence shield is a serious project, it will have to be advanced much quicker than the current plan, which is supposed to be spread over a decade.
Nor was there much progress on the broader question of relations with Russia. True, there was plenty of talk about future co-operation, and pledges from all sides that the existing structures for dialogue would be 'revitalised'. But the confusion which surrounds Russia's adherence to existing arms control agreements - such as the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty - continues unabated, nobody was prepared to talk in public about Russia's proposals for a new European security conference, and the US president could offer no guarantees that the new START agreement would be ratified by the Senate in Washington. So, although the mood was much better, the results were scant.
Conclusions: Unfinished Business?
A whole host of smaller issues were not addressed. Although there was a cull in the number of the various committees and 'councils' which have proliferated inside the alliance, there was no assessment on whether this would result in a leaner and more efficient organisation. Nor was there any serious debate about the central funding requirements of NATO, or about the defence expenditure of its member-states. All these questions were deemed as either too politically-sensitive or too remote from the main business of the summit, which was to convey the image of an organisations which is no longer bickering, and which knows what it is doing.
As NATO summits go, the Lisbon gathering was clearly well-prepared and trouble-free. The adoption of a new strategic concept is also an achievement: this is only the third such document in the alliance's 61-years existence. Still, none of this is enough to provide real content to NATO's own vow in its new strategic concept: to remain 'the unique and essential transatlantic forum for consultations on all matters that affect the territorial integrity, political independence and security of its members'.
By Dr Jonanthan Eyal
(Please note that the views expressed in this article are the views of the author and do not represent the views of RUSI)
NATO Strives to Fill Capability Gaps
(Source: U.S Department of Defense; issued March 17, 2011)
WASHINGTON --- NATO is working to shore up capability gaps –- from those in its ability to defend against cyber and missile attacks to shortcomings identified during current operations in Afghanistan, the alliance’s supreme allied commander for transformation said here yesterday.
Gen. Stephane Abrial of the French air force called NATO’s new strategic concept, adopted during the alliance’s November summit in Lisbon, Portugal, a big step toward building capabilities needed to stand up to new and emerging threats.
“The world is changing fast, and the threat, as opposed to what it was years ago, is less visible, more diffused and more multiformed,” he told reporters during a media roundtable. “But nevertheless, it is very real.”
NATO leaders agreed to a strategic concept that better postures the alliance to face these challenges for the coming decade, the general said. Among its provisions is an agreement to enhance cyber defenses as well as missile defense capabilities able to protect not just NATO forces, but also European populations and territory.
NATO began defining a cyber policy in 2007 after a series of cyber attacks in Estonia inflicted heavy damage on military targets and key civilian infrastructure. But Abrial said the new strategic concept, in which NATO leaders formally agreed to enhance alliance cyber defenses, finally moves this effort to the front burner.
“Now we are engaged much more forwardly … and are developing an action plan to see which type of capabilities we need to build up to make sure we keep current in this environment,” he said.
Emphasizing that “NATO cannot wait,” Abriel described the challenges in defending against cyber attacks.
“Geography is not a factor anymore. The adversary can be anywhere in the world,” he said. “We have difficulties to identify who is the bad guy, but there are thousands of them out there. [So] we have to make sure we can defend ourselves and continue to operate in a cyber-heavy environment.”
Meanwhile, recognizing the growing threat of proliferation, NATO leaders also agreed in Lisbon to expand the alliance’s missile-defense capabilities. More than 30 nations possess or are working on ballistic missiles and other weapons systems, with some of those missiles already capable of striking parts of Western Europe.
The new strategic concept includes a plan to extend NATO’s capabilities to protect not just deployed forces, but also members’ populations and territories. The plan, Abrial explained, is to build defenses around member nations’ existing capabilities. NATO will serve as command and control, aggregating these resources into a single, broad-scale missile defense capability.
Abrial welcomed the decision to invite Russia to participate, calling it “a good test” in efforts to foster closer cooperation between NATO and Russia.
“It is extremely important to show we are out of the Cold War era,” he said, emphasizing Russia’s important role in regional security. “It is vital for the stability of Europe to ensure that Russia is an actor. The Lisbon summit has shown a willingness on both sides –- NATO nations and Russia –- to cooperate more and to make sure we improve the relationship in those domains.”
As NATO postures itself to better deal with new and emerging threats, it’s also working to shore up deficiencies affecting the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Three gaps it’s working to fill involve information sharing, battlefield medicine and logistics.
Abrial cited tremendous strides on the information-sharing front with the standup of the new Afghan Mission Network. The network, slated to reach full operational capability this summer, gives the United States and its ISAF partner nations the opportunity to link up over a common mission architecture.
Already, coalition forces are calling the network –- which enables one coalition partner to share information that may affect another partner’s operations -- a major asset, Abrial reported. “Pushing the information into the system enables the other nations in this area to better plan their own operations,” he explained, making them “more effective and safer for the troops.”
Abrial said he sees the network’s long-term benefit for future NATO operations. “My vision from the beginning was that we not build something that would be specific for Afghanistan, and then put it away when the operation [is] over,” he said.
Rather, Abrial said he envisioned a network “that can be useable in the future, whatever the operation,” with an open architecture adaptable for those specific circumstances.
“So it is not a one-time effort,” he said. “It is a good lesson for the future.”
On the military medicine front, Allied Transformation Command is working to ensure wounded warriors get the fastest and best care possible.
“One of the gaps is multinational medical support. How [do we] make sure we are more effective collectively?” Abrial asked.
The problem, he said, is that every NATO nation has a different way of handling combat casualties –- some that he said take too long to get treatment to the wounded.
But implementing change isn’t as easy as it might seem. “It’s a very difficult matter, we understand, because each country has its own health and medical culture, and does not accept if it is modified for the sake of consensus,” Abrial said.
Allied Transformation Command also is looking at better ways to keep NATO forces supplied with equipment and provisions.
“We are not very good at pooling logistics,” Abrial acknowledged. Better processes will make logistics more efficient and save money at the same time, he said.
As NATO transformers strive to fill recognized gaps, they constantly are striving to identify deficiencies that might not be so obvious. One of the areas they’ve explored is space.
“NATO doesn’t own anything in space,” and relies on services provided by nations that do, Abrial said.
“Is it satisfying? Does NATO want to develop something specific [in space]?” he asked. “There’s no answer so far, but the question must be asked.”
A Defense Technology Blog
NATO Looking at Outsourcing Defense?
Posted by Paul McLeary at 3/18/2011 6:34 AM CDT
The United States’ woes when it comes to its tightening defense budget—while real—are still the envy of many of its European friends, who are making huge slashes in their force and capability structure unthinkable in the U.S. NATO's European member states however are talking about making some real changes in how they practice security, including possibly outsourcing some capabilities to the private sector and sharing capabilities across the organization, and plan to have a blueprint on the way forward by this fall.
The French air force’s Gen. Stephane Abrial, Commander of NATOs Allied Command Transformation, sat down with a group of reporters earlier this week in Washington to explain the organization's thinking on the matter.
Abrial said that the organization has set up a task force under the direction of U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, ACT's deputy chief of staff for capability development, to be staffed by a mix of military and civilians from across NATO. “The objective is to first identify what is existing as far as multinational cooperation is concerned, identify what could be possible,” and come up with new ideas for capability development, he said.
Such a review has become necessary because of what Abrial termed the “budgetary winter” that is setting in among NATO member states, and the need to develop new technologies and new doctrine to confront future challenges with less money. “We have to redouble our efforts to see how we can be more effective and more efficient,” the general said, adding that NATO needs to develop “the capabilities we need across the whole spectrum with reduced budgets, with reduced manpower, and we need to be able to do better with less” in the future. Part of this involves avoiding any “unnecessary and unwanted duplications.”
I asked Abrial if “doing more with less” meant that some NATO members would specialize in certain areas—airlift, special operations, etc.—which would mean each nation would then have some security gaps that others would have to cover. The answer, obviously, was complicated, and will have to await the findings of the task force due in September, to be followed by debate among NATO member states.
Abrial replied that “the issue of specialization is twofold: on the one hand you have some countries who have high levels of expertise in a given field. Are these countries ready to share with all of the members of NATO, and will these countries be ready to bring these capabilities to [different operations?]” Also important to consider is if such a plan would be acceptable from a domestic politics point of view. Will the parliaments and public of member states willingly give up some capabilities for self defense in such a tradeoff?
The general also said that the NATO task force will consider the possibility of outsourcing some elements of security and defense. He cited the example of Luxemburg, which has developed maritime patrol capability by leasing aircraft from a civilian company. Everything is on the table, he said.
While everything might be on the table, the general’s comments are coming very early in the game, before the task force can even begin its work and before member states can open debate. Still, Abrial’s views are significant, since they show that things have most definitely changed, and the future is most surely up for debate.
A Defense Technology Blog
NATO Cuts More Fat
Posted by Nicholas Fiorenza at 6/9/2011 12:02 PM CDT
At the end of the two-day defense ministers meeting, NATO revealed plans for a new defense structure which will reduce personnel by 30 percent and save tens of millions of dollars over the next few years. Belgian air force Brig. Gen. Patrick Wouters, deputy director of the plans and policy division of NATO’s International Military Staff, said the new command structure would be leaner, more efficient, more deployable and affordable, and adapted to the new strategic concept adopted by NATO leaders at their Lisbon summit last November. The new structure will reduce personnel by 8,000 from the current 30,000, cut four headquarters and three command elements.
The two NATO strategic commands -- Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, Virginia; and Allied Command Operations, more commonly known as Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), in Mons, Belgium -- will remain in place. The two joint force commands in Brunssum, the Netherlands, and Naples, Italy, will be converted into larger joint force headquarters able to deploy 500 of their 850 personnel. These new headquarters will take back the regional focus they lost during the last NATO command restructuring. ACT, SHAPE and the two new joint force headquarters will take on new tasks outlined in NATO’s new strategic concept.
The land, air and maritime component commands will be reduced from two each to one each. The land component commands in Madrid and Heidelberg will be closed and replaced by one in Izmir, Turkey, grouping together land components available in NATO, providing command and control of land operations, and conducting multi-corps operations.
Izmir will lose its current air component command, while the one in Ramstein, Germany, will take on new tasks like missile defense. Wouters said the air component command in Ramstein would be better adapted to use NATO’s joint air component air command concept and would easily be able to revert to a wartime structure such as the one presently being used for air operations against Libya.
NATO’s Coalition Air Operation Centers (CAOCs) will be reduced from four to two, with the others adopting a national or multinational character. The four current CAOCs are in Larissa, Greece, Finderup, Denmark, Poggio Renatico, Italy, and Uedem, Germany. The latter two will continue as part of the new NATO command structure and remain static, providing air policing and air command like Poggio Renatico is currently doing over Libya.
In addition, a new deployable air command and control center detached from the CAOCs will also have air command functions. The deployable air control system, recognized air picture production center, and sensor fusion post (DARS) in Nieuw Milligen will be combined with a new deployable air operations center in Poggio Renatico providing air command and real time control of fighters like that being provided over Libya.
The maritime component command in Naples will be closed, leaving the one in Northwood focusing on maritime surveillance.
The new Command and Information (C&I) Agency will combine the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A), parts of the NATO Communication and Information Systems Agency (NCSA), and NATO Air Command and Control System Management Agency (NACMA). The NCSA’s 18 deployable communication modules (signals companies) totalling 1,300 personnel will be transferred to SHAPE.
Canada to Pull Out of NATO Air Surveillance
Published: 9 Jun 2011 20:27
OTTAWA - Canadian Forces will soon announce their withdrawal from a key NATO air surveillance program as part of cost-cutting measures, an official told AFP June 9.
The NATO Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) is widely used by the alliance in Afghanistan and Libya to monitor air space and guide fighter jets to their targets.
The planes, with massive radar dishes mounted on top, are staffed by multinational crews. Of their 2,900 air crew and support staff from 17 NATO nations, about 100 are Canadian.
The senior Canadian official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the Canadian air force has decided to pull out of the program to trim costs as the government looks to eliminate a CA$36.2 billion budget deficit.
Defense ministry spokesman Jay Paxton said the military has "identified numerous efficiencies that do not affect the core capabilities or readiness of our military, as part of this government's efforts to ensure best value for tax dollars."
Canada's withdrawal from the AWACS program comes as it looks to extend its participation in the Libya mission to September.
Gates says NATO outlook dim; future president may decide it’s not worth the money
By Associated Press, Updated: Friday, June 10, 8:02 PM
BRUSSELS — America’s military alliance with Europe — the cornerstone of U.S. security policy for six decades — faces a “dim, if not dismal” future, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday in a blunt valedictory address.
In his final policy speech as Pentagon chief, Gates questioned the viability of NATO, saying its members’ penny-pinching and lack of political will could hasten the end of U.S. support. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed in 1949 as a U.S.-led bulwark against Soviet aggression, but in the post-Cold War era it has struggled to find a purpose.
“Future U.S. political leaders - those for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was for me - may not consider the return on America’s investment in NATO worth the cost,” he told a European think tank on the final day of an 11-day overseas journey.
Gates has made no secret of his frustration with NATO bureaucracy and the huge restrictions many European governments placed on their military participation in the Afghanistan war. He ruffled NATO feathers early in his tenure with a direct challenge to contribute more front-line troops that yielded few contributions.
Even so, Gates’ assessment Friday that NATO is falling down on its obligations and foisting too much of the hard work on the U.S. was unusually harsh and unvarnished. He said both of NATO’s main military operations now — Afghanistan and Libya — point up weaknesses and failures within the alliance.
“The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress — and in the American body politic writ large — to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense,” he said.
Without naming names, he blasted allies who are “willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets.”
The U.S. has tens of thousands of troops based in Europe, not to stand guard against invasion but to train with European forces and promote what for decades has been lacking: the ability of the Europeans to go to war alongside the U.S. in a coherent way.
The war in Afghanistan, which is being conducted under NATO auspices, is a prime example of U.S. frustration at European inability to provide the required resources.
“Despite more than 2 million troops in uniform, not counting the U.S. military, NATO has struggled, at times desperately, to sustain a deployment of 25,000 to 45,000 troops, not just in boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters, transport aircraft, maintenance, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and much more,” Gates said.
Gates, a career CIA officer who rose to become the spy agency’s director from 1991 to 1993, is retiring on June 30 after 4½ years as Pentagon chief. His designated successor, Leon Panetta, is expected to take over July 1.
For many Americans, NATO is a vague concept tied to a bygone era, a time when the world feared a Soviet land invasion of Europe that could have escalated to nuclear war. But with the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO’s reason for being came into question. It has remained intact — and even expanded from 16 members at the conclusion of the Cold War to 28 today.
But reluctance of some European nations to expand defense budgets and take on direct combat has created what amounts to a two-tier alliance: the U.S. military at one level and the rest of NATO on a lower, almost irrelevant plane.
Gates said this could spell the demise of NATO.
“What I’ve sketched out is the real possibility for a dim, if not dismal future for the trans-Atlantic alliance,” he said. “Such a future is possible, but not inevitable. The good news is that the members of NATO - individually and collectively - have it well within their means to halt and reverse these trends and instead produce a very different future.”
Gates has said he believes NATO will endure despite its flaws and failings. But his remarks Friday point to a degree of American impatience with traditional and newer European allies that in coming years could lead to a reordering of U.S. defense priorities in favor of Asia and the Pacific, where the rise of China is becoming a predominant concern.
To illustrate his concerns about Europe’s lack of appetite for defense, Gates noted the difficulty NATO has encountered in carrying out an air campaign in Libya.
“The mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country, yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the U.S., once more, to make up the difference,” he said.
His comment reflected U.S. frustration with the allies’ limited defense budgets.
“To avoid the very real possibility of collective military irrelevance, member nations must examine new approaches to boosting combat capabilities,” he said.
He applauded Norway and Denmark for providing a disproportionate share of the combat power in the Libya operation, given the size of their militaries. And he credited Belgium and Canada for making “major contributions” to the effort to degrade the military strength of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.
“These countries have, with their constrained resources, found ways to do the training, buy the equipment and field the platforms necessary to make a credible military contribution,” he said.
But they are exceptions, in Gates’ view.
A NATO air operations center designed to handle more than 300 flights a day is struggling to launch about 150 a day against Libya, Gates said.
On a political level, the problem of alliance purpose in Libya is even more troubling, he said.
“While every alliance member voted for the Libya mission, less than half have participated, and fewer than a third have been willing to participate in the strike mission,” he said. “Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they can’t. The military capabilities simply aren’t there.”
Afghanistan is another example of NATO falling short despite a determined effort, Gates said.
He recalled the history of NATO’s involvement in the Afghan war — and the mistaken impression some allied governments held of what it would require of them.
“I suspect many allies assumed that the mission would be primarily peacekeeping, reconstruction and development assistance - more akin to the Balkans,” he said, referring to NATO peacekeeping efforts there since the late 1990s. “Instead, NATO found itself in a tough fight against a determined and resurgent Taliban returning in force from its sanctuaries in Pakistan.”
He also offered praise and sympathy, noting that more than 850 troops from non-U.S. NATO members have died in Afghanistan. For many allied nations these were their first military casualties since World War II.
He seemed to rehearse his position in the coming debate within the Obama administration on how many troops to withdraw from Afghanistan this year.
“Far too much has been accomplished, at far too great a cost, to let the momentum slip away just as the enemy is on his back foot,” he said.
He said the “vast majority” of the 30,000 extra troops Obama sent to Afghanistan last year will remain through the summer fighting season. He was not more specific.
In a question-and-answer session with his audience after the speech, Gates, 67, said his generation’s “emotional and historical attachment” to NATO is “aging out.”
He said he is not sure what this means in practical terms. But if Europeans want to keep a security link to the U.S. in the future, he said, “the drift of the past 20 years can’t continue.”
Robert Burns can be reached at http://twitter.com/robertburnsAP
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.