Commander Describes NATO Transformation Efforts
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
NORFOLK, Va., Dec. 12, 2012 Partnerships, education and training are indispensable for NATO, the organization’s supreme allied commander for transformation said here today.
French Air Force Gen. Jean-Paul Paloméros spoke at a media roundtable during the 2012 Chiefs of Transformation conference hosted by his command. The event brings together hundreds of NATO, partner, industry and government agency professionals who strive to leverage work across the alliance by sharing best practices and expanding collaboration among the nations.
Paloméros described Allied Command Transformation efforts as an evolving endeavor rooted in collaboration and coherence with a focus on efficiencies and innovation.
“We are deeply involved in the heart of the U.S. military forces, which is good because we get a great opportunity for common connections, engagement and training,” Paloméros said. “We know that what we build today will be indispensable for the future, and what we don’t build today [we’ll need] for the future.”
The hub of transformation across the alliance, partner nations, military, government, non-government agencies and academia, Allied Command Transformation gleans and interprets information to identify opportunities to not only keep pace, but stay proactive in an ever-changing security environment, Palomeros said.
“We are here to share our experience and our vision,” he said. “[The command] works to supply the forces with the support they need [in] their respective challenges and tackle that in a wide and open way, not only from the military perspective, but with a comprehensive vision, approach and solutions.”
The general touted strategies such as Smart Defense and the Connected Forces Initiatives as avenues to increase collaboration and buffer against the inevitability of increasing financial austerity throughout the world.
Funded by participating nations, Smart Defense, he said, is an initiative encompassing 24 multi-national projects across logistics, munitions, aviation training and maritime capabilities and more to deliver improved operational effectiveness.
The Connected Forces Initiative helps develop the framework and interoperability by bringing a human-centered approach to the table, Paloméros said.
“Partnerships are the focus of these initiatives and we need to ensure we have consensus and share ideas from the very highest levels down,” he added.
The successes of major joint and coalition training exercises, such as one currently in progress at the Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway, may be the most visible solutions in establishing a collective vision of NATO’s future operating environment, Paloméros said.
“We are able to fulfill the task in this very important exercise preparing the staff and the forces for their Afghanistan engagement,” he said. “We take the best out of every nation committed within NATO, including the partners, [and] the best is possible.”
Paloméros characterized the challenge of maintaining relevance in a post-Cold War and post-Afghanistan environment as a “difficult but sensible question” in terms of NATO’s future, particularly after 2014 when many troops are projected to return from deployments.
“The perception of this world could be different from one country to the other in NATO and this is … the reality,” Paloméros said. “We are here to give coherence to these different visions and propose a common perspective for the alliance, as far as the military answer to those challenges.”
The general said recent summits in Chicago and Lisbonyielded useful discussion and solution-driven brainstorming for effectively steering NATO’s endeavors to maintain peace -- all while balancing political and military aspects with the consensus of 28 countries.
“This is the role of NATO: preparing itself for future challenges, being there, being relevant and making sure we coordinate that with the partners and coordinating that with partners.Presence is part of prevention,” the general said.
Paloméros added that despite NATO’s successes, the need to continually pursue balance remains.
“We [need to] keep focusing on the priority shortfall areas and the minimum capability requirements of NATO,” Paloméros said. “We are working on a day-to-day basis to ensure that every country can participate in NATO according to its own national priorities, perspectives, sensibilities and qualities.
The general did not dismiss the importance of cyber defense, intelligence, surveillance and response and information technology, particularly through distance learning, a critical component of training throughout the alliance.
“I see that as very promising in how we tackle the issue of cyber defense in NATO,” Paloméros said. “We are going in the right direction in keeping the overall deterrence policy of NATO clearly set up in the Chicago defense package.”
In the long run, the alliance, as with many government organizations, can only plan based on the projections and assumptions of resources, so fostering fruitful discussions between politicians and military leaders to better understand crucial requirements is key.
“That’s why we are here … for the countries; they are the stakeholders that provide us with the human resources and the budget,” Paloméros said. “Every country adopts its own vision with their economic and financial perspectives, [and] we will try to find any opportunity for connection between the different forces.”