Speech by Dr. Peter Struck at the 40th Munich Conference on Security Policy

Posted in NATO , Europe | 09-Feb-04 | Author: Peter Struck| Source: Munich Conference on Security Policy

Future of NATO

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Whereas not so long ago a frequent question was: "Is there a future for NATO?" the questions asked today are : "What is the future of NATO?", and: "What must we do so that NATO can continue to perform its task in future?".

I believe that the "existential crisis" of NATO which some people forecast is a thing of the past. Even so, not all questions on the future course of the Alliance have been answered yet. The NATO Prague summit in 2002 was the decisive step forward. The decidedly global orientation of the Alliance embodied in the commitments undertaken at that summit, in keeping with the new security situation, is right.

The Alliance must be able to defend the security interests of its members wherever they are endangered. Otherwise it will lose its relevance. The decisions taken in Prague on enlargement of the Alliance, on reform of its command structure and on transformation of its forces - reflected particularly in the establishment of a NATO Response Force - laid the foundations for the fact that today, at the beginning of the year 2004, we are discussing the role and operations of NATO under changed conditions.

In Istanbul the Alliance must therefore issue a clear message:
  • First: The members of the Euro-Atlantic community are determined to maintain and further develop NATO as their central security institution.
  • Second: The adaptation of the armed forces of the Alliance to the security environment of the 21st century must be completed as swiftly as possible.
  • Third: NATO is taking on an increased amount of international responsibility and is contributing decisively to mitigating dangers to our security in crisis regions - for instance, in the Balkans and in Afghanistan.
Particularly in Afghanistan the process of stabilisation and democratisation would be inconceivable without the role played by NATO and the capabilities which it contributes. In Kabul and in Kunduz ISAF has, under NATO command, won considerable trust among the population.

This is indispensable to the success of ISAF and hence also to the rebuilding of the country. But one thing is clear: the responsibility for the overall process is in the hands of the Afghan government. ISAF plays a supporting role.

The present PRT concept of ISAF islands, i.e. extension of NATO's commitment, too, which Germany for our part particularly championed, is right. The Kunduz PRT has virtually assumed the role of a pilot project for NATO. Our experience is encouraging. I was able to witness this again during my visit a week ago. Security in the region is being boosted.

Working together with civilian agencies and civilian organisations on the spot is a great success. Civil military cooperation is the model for helping people to help themselves with a good chance of success.

The positive experience gained so far suggests that the concept should be quickly extended, as planned, by further PRTs where this appears sensible and the security situation permits and should be placed on a wider basis by the participation of further countries.

For the security situation continues to be anything but stable. We should therefore continue to pursue unchanged the successful concept of the operations ISAF and Enduring Freedom which are separate but mutually complement one another.

The success of one depends on the success of the other. And success is only possible if both operations, which are pursuing different aims, remain separate. That is my firm conviction.

I fear that the population's support of ISAF will dwindle causing the failure of the mission if we do not make a clear division between international security presence to stabilise the country and the active fight against terrorism. The fact is: failure of ISAF would also damage NATO considerably. Surely nobody wants this to happen.

First fact: renewal of transatlantic relationship

Ladies and Gentlemen,

the past two years have been a major test of endurance for the transatlantic relationship as a result of the Iraq crisis. But if trust and respect get lost over the Atlantic, NATO is also cut to the quick. I do not want NATO to be under discussion, though, but discussion within NATO - about the necessary joint action to be taken in the face of the diverse challenges.

We are looking ahead. I would therefore like to identify three factors which I consider especially important for the future course of NATO:

First: Transatlantic relations must be renewed and reinforced. Quite a lot was already said on this subject this morning. I will therefore just touch on it very briefly.

The starting point of all considerations, as far as I am concerned, continues to be what in my opinion is still the core security task of the transatlantic partners: To establish a stable international environment which contributes to security on both sides of the Atlantic.

The major tasks facing this world, also in the field of security, are easier to solve if Europe and America stand shoulder to shoulder. These include effectively combating international terrorism, containing proliferation, overcoming stagnation in the Middle East, transferring stability to the Greater Middle East region - to name but a few.

The transatlantic relationship must, however, be aligned with the changed conditions and changed partners. This calls for a comprehensive strategic dialogue between America and Europe.

This calls for trust and the will to reconcile strategic analysis and options for action primarily within NATO, but also between NATO and the EU as well as at bilateral level. The National Security Strategy of the USA and the Security Strategy of the EU have created important prerequisites for this.

It is therefore time to press on with this dialogue with the aim of defining the political and strategic self-image and the changed role of the Transatlantic Alliance more clearly.

In so doing, we should not just leave it at a dialogue, but should lay down the result in a new conceptual document as a foundation for the future NATO. I would therefore like to put forward a proposal here in Munich for preparing something like a new Harmel Report.

This report on the NATO of the future could be commissioned at the Istanbul summit. It could be compiled by selected European and American experts. Its task would be to develop the appreciation of a renewed transatlantic partnership and to determine the role of the Alliance in a changed world. Effective joint action will only be possible if the Alliance partners develop a common understanding of the future role of the Alliance.

And it will only be possible if the internal transatlantic relationship is adapted to reality - without wistfully looking back, but even so safe in the knowledge that we have the same basic values and basic interests. It is not a question of European "counterweights" to a dominating superpower.

It is a question of an efficient partnership on equal terms between democratic states which are and will remain dependent on one another to guarantee their security. Multilateralism is therefore not an irksome embellishment or concession to smaller partners. A NATO which is limited to a "toolbox" role will not be viable.

Neither can an America without opponents at a level with it manage without strong partners. Conversely the following applies: even a more united Europe more capable of taking action cannot be successful without consensus with America on basic matters affecting its security!

Second fact: renewal between NATO and the EU

Second: The relationship between NATO and the EU's crucial to the future of NATO.

The relationship of NATO and the EU must be developed with the aim of sensible complementarily, and not weakened by unnecessary competition. Relations between NATO and the EU must be based on trust and not mistrust.

Both organisations must coordinate their "level of ambition", so to speak . A strong Europe capable of taking action is in the American interest and can relieve the USA and NATO of some of their burden.

Only a strong and integrated Europe will also strengthen transatlantic relations! To an increasing extent the EU will conduct own operations using NATO assets and capabilities, as it is already doing in Macedonia, will soon be doing in Bosnia and possibly in Kosovo; in some cases it will do so - as in the Congo - even without recourse to NATO.

Cooperation between the two organisations NATO and the EU is becoming increasingly important. This has again become apparent in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the EU - in close cooperation with NATO - is to relieve SFOR in the foreseeable future.

In all, the Euro-Atlantic states and institutions are becoming more flexible in their options for taking action on security matters. In a crisis they can choose how best to employ their forces from both the political and military point of view under NATO or EU command.

NATO will continue to be the first choice for crisis operations with the participation of the European and American Alliance partners. On the other hand, the EU has unique possibilities for combining the use of military and civilian instruments, which is particularly important in the case of "nation building".

Today, nobody can any longer afford the luxury of counting on just one organisation, anyway, in view of the greater complexity of security tasks. Together we must bring our respective strong points to bear and use them to the best advantage.

For NATO this means: the more it is relieved of tasks which others - such as the UN, EU, OSCE or non-government organisations - can perform better and more effectively, the more efficiently it can be employed.

The same applies to the dynamically developing relationship with the EU. The aim here will still be to avoid unnecessary duplications in structures and capabilities. We have only one "single set of forces" and can only spend every euro once!

Outlook: The Bundeswehr - reorientation

The transformation of the forces of the Alliance cannot succeed without the transformation of the armed forces of every single member of the Alliance. This is one more reason why it is important that Germany has now taken the necessary decisions.

This means that the Bundeswehr, which is more deeply integrated in NATO than any other army, is being adapted to the changed tasks. The new, operations-oriented Bundeswehr is taking shape.

Bundeswehr planning is being brought into line with the actual tasks of our armed forces and with a realistic financial framework. We can no longer afford to cling to outdated operational scenarios and wish lists for equipment!

This is why the Bundeswehr is being consistently oriented on the most probable operations. These focus on global conflict prevention and crisis management, including the fight against international terrorism. Other important tasks of the Bundeswehr are support of Alliance partners, protection of Germany, rescue and evacuation as well as disaster relief.

In view of the changed requirements I have set new targets for the scope of the Bundeswehr which will comprise 250,000 military posts and 75,000 civilian posts. Taking into account our international commitments and changed operational requirements, completely new force categories have been set up, namely, response forces, stabilisation forces and support forces.

These categories differ in structure, equipment and training and are thus optimised for the changed and differentiated operational spectrum. All materiel and equipment planning is now strictly tailored to the new capability profile defined in the Defence Policy Guidelines.

In other words: from now on we will only invest in priority capabilities. We will procure what the Bundeswehr needs. We will dispense with what it does not need and can hence no longer afford!

This does not mean a reduction in investments in the defence budget, but a shift from the unrealistic to the realistic, from a wish list to a list of projects which can be implemented. I will just touch on the subject of conscription: it remains a firm component of the new, operations-oriented Bundeswehr.

I will continue to do my utmost to retain conscription. For Germany and the Bundeswehr, general compulsory military service is the right form of armed forces legislation.

Incidentally, not only do I assume that my party will retain conscription. The majority of the German people are of the same opinion and continue to reject a professional army.

Outlook: The Bundeswehr - Involvement in NATO

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The new course which we have set makes the Bundeswehr fit for the future. We are establishing the prerequisites
  • so that as the largest European partner in the Alliance, Germany can continue to accept responsibility for safeguarding peace, and
  • the Bundeswehr can make its contribution to the necessary transformation of NATO.
The global dimension of our security and the future of NATO are two sides of the same coin. Let us draw the logical conclusions from this for resolute transatlantic action.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good friends have discussions, they have different opinions, even on important issues, but they have one feature in common: They always reunite!

The spoken word is applicable!