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Remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at
the fourth Strategic Concept Seminar on Transformation and Capabilities,
Washington D.C. on 23 February 2010
Vice Admiral Rondeau,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When I last August appointed the Group of Experts to prepare
the way for NATO’s new Strategic Concept last August, I
asked it to look at all the issues facing our Alliance objectively
and dispassionately. I also asked the Group not only to analyse
NATO’s challenges, but to come up with creative solutions.
In no other area of NATO is the need for creative thinking more
urgent than in the area of Transformation and Capabilities. Getting
these right will be absolutely crucial to any NATO Strategic
Concept and by extension to the relevance of the Alliance.
If we draw up an ambitious political vision but neglect to specify
how we are going to reform NATO, then unfortunately our new Strategic
Concept will have a very short shelf life.
Today, Secretary Albright and her fellow Experts are shifting
their focus from the “why” to the “how” of
NATO’s 21st century role and missions. With the support
of Allied Command Transformation and the National Defense University,
I believe that they will provide some of the answers.
It is not my intention today to set out a detailed roadmap for
NATO’s political and military transformation. I want to
respect the Group of Experts’ independence and wait for
its report to me on 1 May. But I see this issue as so urgent
and fundamental to NATO’s credibility as a security actor
that I would like nonetheless to give some pointers and underline
some key priorities.
First we must answer a basic question: what is transformation
nowadays? It is about improving our working methods and preparing
for the future, while spending our resources efficiently. We
must face new challenges. Terrorism, proliferation, cyber security
or even climate change will oblige us to seek new ways of operating.
And in a time of financial and budget constraints, we need to
maximise our efficiency within limited resources.
In order to achieve this goal, we need to reform the three fundamental
elements of our modus operandi: the way we do our traditional
business, the way we address new threats and last but definitely
not least, our structure and organisation. Here are some suggestions
on how we can proceed down that path:
Firstly, transforming the way we conduct operations. The experience
in Afghanistan has clearly showed how we should do things and
how we should not. The way we deploy our forces should be a collective
effort, not a patch up of different national contingents with
different caveats. As we deploy in operations with over 40 participating
countries – Allies as well as partners – we have
to move beyond a multinational force to become a truly unified
force, - a force where information and capabilities are shared
among all to the benefit of all, and to get the job done.
We have to seek common solutions to common problems, whether
we talk about upgrading helicopters, deploying missile defence,
or countering road-side bombs. Having multiple national projects
running at the same time is not only a waste of time and money,
it ultimately also puts the lives of our soldiers at risk.
We also need to extend our common funding activities. We have
had considerable success involving a number of Allies – as
well as several partners - in the acquisition and operation of
heavy lift transport planes- a strategic airlift capability.
But we really need to engage all the Allies in such projects,
because they would all benefit.
And we need to expand our cooperation with the EU. We have to
go beyond exchanging views and information. We need to act together,
since we are both pursuing similar objectives and face similar
challenges. We have to combine our efforts in developing capabilities,
such as heavy lift helicopters. It makes no sense engaging in
two parallel projects without talking to each other and spending
double the money. Our key objective must be to avoid duplication
and ensure greater operational efficiency. This should appeal
to Defence Ministers as well as Finance Ministers, and certainly
to our publics as well.
These are not just interesting proposals, they are necessities,
if we want to be more efficient, capable and maximise the use
of scarce resources.
Secondly, we have to transform the way we address new threats.
For instance, cyber security was not on our agenda a few years
ago. Since then, some of us have faced the consequences.
We can not stay idle against such threats. We have to develop
our defences in order to protect ourselves. We have already set
up mechanisms that protect NATO HQ from such attacks. But we
should move further and make NATO the place where standards and
best practices can be developed. Standards that will enable all
of us to detect and respond to cyber attacks – before our
systems are disrupted and paralysed.
We must pool resources in order to develop this joint strategy.
We have set up a multinational centre of excellence in Estonia,
where experts from several Allied countries are already working
together on devising such a strategy.
But cyber defence is just one example. We need to examine now
what capabilities we shall need in the future so as to protect
us from other threats such as nuclear proliferation. Clearly,
the development of a common Missile Defence capability will be
more efficient and more cost effective if it is developed in
common. The effects of climate change will require us to adapt
to a more unstable security environment. In order to face these
challenges, we need to improve NATO’s ability to analyse,
to consult, to collect and share intelligence and to respond.
This brings me to the third and final point: we have to reform
our structure and our organisation. We need to have a different
NATO organisation in the future – more operational, less
bureaucratic, and with human and financial resources devoted
to the real priorities.
For this reason I have decided to establish a new division at
NATO Headquarters to deal with new threats and challenges. Naturally
Allied Command Transformation will be a key partner for this
new division, which will become operational after the summer.
Moreover, I also have a mandate from Defence Ministers to overhaul
NATO’s Command Structure and the whole way in which we
manage our resources. This is a mandate for real reform which
I intend to use in full.
I am convinced that transformation will only succeed if we do
it together. We will all benefit if we all invest in it. The
choice for many nations is to either acquire a capability multi-nationally
or not to acquire it at all. Transformation is about spending
our resources better, achieving economies of scale, working more
effectively together and saving lives through better technology,
doctrine and mission preparation.
Our common effort should be to minimise the bureaucratic overheads
and devote our scarce resources to our operations – to
our soldiers in the field. And I have no doubt that this seminar
will generate interesting ideas on how best to achieve these
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