NATO at 26

Posted in NATO | 01-Apr-04 | Author: Dieter Farwick

First NATO Commannder in Kabul General Götz Gliemeroth and General James L. Jones, SACEUR
Today is a great day for NATO. In Brussels seven new member states are taken into the most successful politico-military Alliance in history. These countries are from the North to the South: Estonia, Latvia, Litvania, Slowakia, Slowenia, Romania and Bulgaria. The first three countries were members of the former Soviet Union, all of them – except Slowenia – were members of the Warsaw Pact.

Thus, for Russia the geostrategic and geostrategic map has totally changed. The “Strategic glacis” has changed the sides. Russia is “encircled” by NATO-member states. After the demise of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact Russia was not able to avoid this develop-ment. Whether it was wise by the West to exploit this weakness history will tell us.

It is neither the mass of the population nor the military clout which make these countries attractive for NATO. It is the buffer they form. They offer some advantages in NATO Air Defence and stationing areas closer to the “Arc of Instability”.

The new member states should not be forced to buy modern military equipment across the board. Burden sharing and role specialisation should lead to an affordable and intelligent division of labour within the Alliance.

The money should be invested in C4ISR, education and training.

Because NATO enlargement is not an end in itself the problems survive this day of joy.

After frustrating years of “disuse” or regarded as “a toolbox” for the United States the Alliance is back in the game.

The invocation of the Collective Defence Art 5 – the first in NATO’s history – went almost unnoticed.

But 2003 gave NATO a new chance as Alliance. In August NATO took over the responsibility in Afghanistan – parallel to the US forces executing “Enduring freedom”.

Based upon a close cooperation with the US forces NATO contributed to enhance stability and security in Afghanistan – even “beyond Kabul”.

The success in Afghanistan will bring the next mission: Iraq.

Given a sovereign Iraqi government and a UN mandate to support this government NATO will play a decisive role in Iraq, where 14 0f the present 19 member states are already committed. NATO’s commitment will allow USA to get a lower profile and some relief from the present burden.

A third issue for NATO is the further development of the “NATO Response Force” which should be operational in 2006.

The NRF is designed as a high-tech, quickly deployable “Joint force” with about 23 000 soldiers, airman, marines and sailors.
This force gives the Europeans the chance to match high standards.
NATO of today is not yet ready to fulfil all these tasks world wide. The so-called “strategic assets” – i.e. Strategic airlift, C4ISR and precise ammunition – still lack in many NATO forces.

Therefore, transition has become the codeword for the efforts NATO has to undergo.

Transition is the message of the interview the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), General James Jones, US-Marinecorps.

This interview, which was published in the “Neue Züricher Zeitung” Febr.7/8, covers all aspects of this process. General Jones talks about the “strengths and weaknesses”, the need for modernisation and streamlining of the forces.

The lead in this transition process has the newly formed “Allied Command for transformation” in Norfolk, USA. So far, this command shows a lack of European experts.

It would cause wrong perceptions if the American side would be seen dominating the process of transition. The Europeans should send their best planners and operators to Norfolk to give birth to the “NATO of the 21.century”.

Meanwhile General Jones is concentrating on the military side of NATO James Thomson’s article “National Interests as a guide to the future” is dealing with political issues.
One of the most important conclusions:

“The largest divergence between the European and American strategic outlooks is over the role of military forces in security policy”

The third article shows the road to the membership of the seven countries