Exclusive WSN Interview with Deputy SACEUR Admiral Rainer Feist

Posted in Europe , NATO | 25-Jan-04 | Author: Dieter Farwick

Admiral Rainer Feist is Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Dieter Farwick, Global-Editor-in-Chief of Worldsecuritynetwork.com, had the chance to interview DEPUTY SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER,EUROPE (DSACEUR), Admiral Rainer Feist,58, German Navy. DSACEUR would play a vital role in any Europe-led military operation. The Admiral’s biography shows a brilliant military career. He was Commanding officer of the guided-missile fast patrol boat “Greif”, Branch Chief “Planning” at NATO Headquarters BALTAP in Karup, Denmark, Branch Chief “Politico-Military Affairs”, Armed Forces Staff, MOD, Bonn, Chief of Staff of the PFP Co-ordination Cell in Mons, Belgium, Commander of the Military District Command I, Kiel, Vice Chief of Defence in the Bundeswehr. He was appointed DSACEUR on September 18, 2002.

Dieter Farwick: Sir, what is your responsibility for European-led military operations?

Following the so called “Berlin plus” arrangements between NATO and the European Union, the EU may, for its own military operations, have recourse to NATO capabilities and common assets. This includes, amongst others, the availability of the Deputy SACEUR (DSACEUR) at the military strategic level as EU Operation Commander for such an operation, and the availability of NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) also as EU Operations Headquarters (OHQ).
In addition, DSACEUR acts as NATO’s Strategic Coordinator for the EU with respect to European issues

Dieter Farwick: What are the major achievements so far?

The EU launched her first military operation ‘Concordia’ in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in March 2003 following the termination of NATO’s operation “Allied Harmony”. As DSACEUR, I was appointed Operation Commander for this operation, and SHAPE assumed the additional role as EU Operation Headquarters. Thereby, the “Berlin plus” arrangements were put into practice for the first time. The operation itself was successfully completed by 15th December last year and the process of analysis and evaluation is currently ongoing. Many lessons have been learned and these will help us in the planning and conduct of future EU military operations with recourse to NATO assets and capabilities. This is important, because Concordia was a rather limited operation which enabled pure pragmatism to help us overcome problems, in particular in administrative and legal areas. I am very optimistic that, for any future, larger operation, the necessary rules, memoranda and agreements will have been settled.
The main lesson is, however, already perfectly clear: “Berlin plus” has proven itself as an excellent tool to guide a fruitful cooperation between NATO and the EU and to make the best use of scarce resources. This cooperation worked in an excellent way between all the levels and fora of both organisations down to the level of the Force command in Skopje, where the EU Force Commander, the French General Maral, followed by the Portugese General dos Santos, and NATO’s Senior military Representative, the Spanish General del Manzano worked together on a daily basis.

I took over responsibility as EU OP Cdr in February last year and, following an initiating military directive from the EU Military Committee, oversaw SHAPE’s development of the OPLAN, which was finally approved by the EU General Affairs Council. The adoption of the new role by SHAPE as EU OHQ was quite easy: We simply established an additional EU Staff Group (EUSG) and integrated it into the SHAPE Strategic Direction Center (SDC), the operational heart of SHAPE itself. From this central position within the SDC, all aspects and all elements of the SHAPE structure were included in the planning and direction of the operation. Besides “Berlin plus” and the military achievements, one particularly important aspect for the success of the operation, was the achievement of full transparency for all involved. Transparency was ensured for those nations who are Member states in the EU, but not in NATO, through the integration of officers in the EU Staff Group. It was also ensured for those NATO nations which are not members of the EU through their regular and national representation in SHAPE. Finally, it was ensured for the many partner nations who participated in the Operation, through their representation in the SHAPE International Coordination Center (ICC), which coordinates all the participation of partners in NATO-led operations.

In sum, it became quite obvious, that NATO´s integrated military structure was, and remains, well suited to conduct military operations for both NATO as well as the EU. Moreover, we should not forget, that the force contributions are provided by nations, including partner nations.

Dieter Farwick: What are the major stumbling blocks?

There are no major stumbling blocks. But as already mentioned, “Concordia”, as the EU’s first military operation, has highlighted many lessons that have been learned, and identified some problems which require follow up action, particularly in administrative and legal areas . Moreover, because ‘Concordia’ involved the first launch, planning, conduct and termination of an EU led operation with recourse to NATO assets and capabilities, I foresee a careful analysis within the EU and NATO, and between the two, on how to further improve future operations of this kind and the procedures and cooperation-mechanisms between both organisations, based on the principles of “Berlin plus”.

General Stöckmann (left) welcomes his successor Vice Admiral Feist (right) during the Honour Guard ceremony
Dieter Farwick: What are the major gaps in European capabilities?

The EU established her force-and capability requirements in the Helsinki Headline goal force catalogue. Not surprisingly, existing gaps mirror those gaps identified in NATO’s Prague Capability Commitment (PCC), since the nations have only one single set of forces available for both NATO or the EU. All efforts to improve military capabilities are, therefore, complementary and to the benefit of both organisations.
This effect can also be observed in the development of rapidly deployable expeditionary forces. NATO is developing the NATO Response Force (NRF) as a force deployable within 5 to 30 days and employable within NATO’s entire Mission spectrum with a very high level of ambition. The EU, is also developing rapid deployment capabilities for the Petersberg mission spectrum and also has a very similar and high level of ambition.

Dieter Farwick: Do you see a role for Russia in NRF?

The NRF stood up with an Initial Capability in Autumn 2003. The target goal is to achieve Full Operational Capability by 2006. Therefore, at the moment we are concentrating on Allies’ commitments to generate the forces required.
On the other hand, the most likely operations for the NRF will be all kinds of Crisis Response Operations (CRO), and experience shows that many partner nations, participating in the Partnership for Peace programme (PfP), and even beyond PfP, have significantly contributed to ongoing NATO CRO. As a highly welcome partner, this certainly includes Russia and she will continue to be included with other partners possibly operating together with the NRF.

Dieter Farwick: What are the chances to integrate Russia more effectively in the PfP programme?

It is one of the firm principles of PfP that every partner is invited to determine himself the extent to which he wishes to participate. Therefore, ultimately the answer to the question will be given by Russia herself.
On the other hand, cooperation between NATO and Russia, under the terms of the NATO Russia Council during 2003, has developed and improved in a very promising way. We are looking forward for 2004 to arrange quite a number of concrete military activities between NATO and Russia, to include participation in PfP activities and exercises.

Dieter Farwick: What is the situation after the EU summit in Brussels Dec 15,2003?

Dec 15 was not only the day of the summit, but also the Termination date for “Concordia”, the first EU led military operation and the first implementation of the arrangements of Berlin plus. This constituted a clear success for the EU and for future successful cooperation between the EU and NATO.
The summit results provide us with a next step and further enhance this cooperation: A permanent liaison arrangement at the EU Military staff will be established which will support the DSACEUR in his EU responsibilities. A permanent small EU cell will be established at SHAPE to support DSACEUR in his role as EU Operation Commander and in his role as Strategic Coordinator for the EU. In addition, a civil military group will be established at the EUMS, to enhance the EUMS capabilities especially in areas as early warning, situation assessment and planning.
These summit results, once realised, will significantly improve our capabilities at SHAPE to serve the EU under the terms of Berlin plus. This will become even more important in the light of a possible EU operation in Bosnia to follow NATO’s current SFOR operation later in 2004. After the December NATO ministerial meetings, first contacts between both organisations have been established to plan and prepare for such a possible EU engagement.

Dieter Farwick: Sir, thank you very much for your frankness. We wish you good luck in future operations.