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"Mr. NATO" Explains Enlargement

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Belgium, April 28, 1998 – Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic. NATO members? Why should the United States pledge to defend these countries? What's in it for us?

Peace and stability, according to Clarence Juhl, deputy defense adviser to the U.S. Mission at NATO. And Juhl should know. Among his American colleagues here at NATO headquarters he's known as "Mr. NATO."

Juhl has focused on the Atlantic security alliance during most of his 36-year federal career. A retired U.S. Navy commander and former P-3 pilot, Juhl spent nearly half his 24 years in the military at NATO's Supreme Allied Command Atlantic and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

"After the Berlin Wall fell," Juhl recalled, "people thought NATO would be relegated to the dustbins of history. The Cold War was over; the big threat was gone." It was a new world and NATO now had to adapt its strategic concept, he said.

Standing combat defense forces were no longer needed along the Fulda Gap in Germany. The inter-German border was gone. But there were still threats to peace stemming from instability, uncertainty and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Juhl said. Therefore, the alliance still needed to maintain some form of collective defense.

NATO authorities developed a new reinforcing strategy based on the ability to immediately deploy forces when and where necessary. This ensures a credible collective defense capability within the context of the new security concerns without the expense of maintaining standing forces, Juhl said.

"National forces are identified for NATO, but they're not assigned operationally to NATO until they're needed," he explained. "The nations control these forces, deciding how and when they're going to be used. They train and exercise together and that gives the overall capability when you want to bring them together."

A new problem also surfaced for NATO following the Soviet empire's collapse, Juhl noted. Newly independent states were emerging in the East. How would they relate to the West?

As NATO officials considered this question, they looked to the past and the future, Juhl said. They knew NATO had anchored peace in Europe for nearly 50 years; they also realized there was more to the equation than just a group of countries pledging to defend one another.

NATO is based on the concept "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts," Juhl explained. Nations standing together are obviously stronger than one nation standing alone.

"The alliance was built to preclude a Soviet buildup that looked like it might overrun Western Europe," Juhl said. "It also brought the nations of Western Europe together in a way that precluded the need for them to build large national military forces as they did before World War II. Because NATO nations contribute to a common defense, each is spared the expense of building the much larger force structure needed if they were solely responsible for their own military defense."

NATO also has served as a vehicle for members to resolve border disputes and other regional problems through peaceful consultation rather than military conflict, Juhl said.

"The nations of Western Europe no longer had any reason to go to war against each other," he said. "They each had transparency in their defense planning and their national defense establishments contributed to the collective defense."

NATO authorities concluded that drawing together the newly emerging states could do the same in Central and Eastern Europe. Extending NATO's reach could help ensure peace well into the 21st century, Juhl said.

"The question then became, how do you export that kind of stability?" he said. "The only way you can do it is to make sure these nations don't have to worry about their own security. If they don't have to spend money -- money they don't have -- on military forces, then economic and political dimensions can start to flourish."

NATO first set up the North Atlantic Cooperation Council so the new states could seek NATO's advice and counsel. Then in 1994, NATO created a program so non-NATO countries could become NATO partners and eventually seek membership.

"Partnership for Peace is a process," Juhl said. "It's a way for nations to come as close to the alliance as they wish. They can participate in NATO missions. They can discuss the kinds of forces they need and other ways to cooperate with the alliance in very meaningful ways."

Today, 27 nations are full-fledged partners. Their forces train with NATO forces. The real value in the program was found in simply setting up the training and, more importantly, in the one-on-one contact among the troops.

"Even if you're just trying to get two platoons together, you'll have probably 100 contacts at different levels to figure out where and how you're going to do it," he said. "Even if they just get together and walk around in the woods for a little while, the fact is, you've done a whole lot of coordinating that's helpful in this process."

Another benefit is the human relations element. "Maybe the first set of exercises were nothing more than a bunch of guys sitting around a campfire drinking coffee," Juhl admitted. "But you can't beat two soldiers getting to know each other. It's very important for them to find out we're not the bad guys they thought we were, and for us to find out they're perhaps a lot better than we thought they were."

Partnership for Peace is also the first step on the road to NATO membership. Partners work toward meeting such NATO membership criteria as peacefully resolving any territorial or ethnic minority problems. "They are required to become good neighbors," Juhl said. "After all, we're talking about partnership here, not controversy; stability, not instability."

In July, NATO authorities decided three of the 12 partner nations requesting membership were ready to join the alliance: the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. The next step in the process is for the three invitees and the 16 current NATO members to ratify the protocols of accession. NATO authorities hope this will happen by April 1999, the 50th anniversary of the alliance. In the meantime, member nations are debating the effects and cost of enlargement.

Juhl said, one main question is what impact new members will have on NATO's collective defense capabilities.

"The real answer is that it's additive," he said. "Let's face it, the Poles have a very large country. They have a good military and a good military tradition. They may have to do some downsizing, some shaping, but they'll bring a major contribution to the alliance. The Hungarians and the Czechs will, too."

New members must be prepared to defend the old. Under NATO's Article V, an attack on one member is an attack on all. "The big question we had for a lot of the countries was, 'Are you prepared to go with us to defend Portugal?'" Juhl said. "It's not like putting a sign in your backyard saying, 'Don't mess with me, I've got powerful friends.' New members must contribute, not just consume security."

The cost of enlargement is another major area of concern. "Initially, there were some very large numbers floating around that led to some confusion," Juhl said. It will cost the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland less to join the alliance than it would to develop their own individual defenses, Juhl said. "By joining the alliance, they'll build an NCO corps; they'll resize their forces so they don't have a top-heavy officer structure. They'll have a much more efficient military structure. They'll be able to contribute more effectively to common defense with a much smaller structure that should be less costly."

NATO does not build airfields, barracks or other facilities for national forces' use. NATO does provide the facilities it needs to ensure it can mount an adequate and credible reinforcing operation if required. NATO's infrastructure budget, commonly funded by member nations, is intended to ensure member nations' airfields, communications, air traffic control and other key systems are compatible.

NATO authorities have estimated they will need about $1.5 billion over 10 years to upgrade invitees' existing facilities, Juhl said. While that amount might sound considerable, he said, NATO's annual budget already includes $800 million a year for such common-cost projects, which are requested and planned 18 months to two years out.

Juhl said no discussion of NATO enlargement would be complete without mentioning Russia, which has opposed NATO's eastward expansion from the outset. They seem to be coming to terms with it, he said. Russia still needs to accept that NATO is a collective defense structure that creates stability, however, he said.

"The Bosnia experience and the fact that Russian forces are part of that in a very positive way is an indication of how things could be in the future when our interests coincide," he speculated.

Bosnia -- NATO's first military mission -- proved the alliance can come together and act, Juhl said. It proved NATO has a command structure that works, and it put NATO's reinforcing strategy into action -- "You can move forces and sustain them," he said. It also proved the idea of partnership -- "You can form right-sized military forces to work certain contingency issues and be successful." While NATO's Article V collective defense pledge remains the heart of the alliance, the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia demonstrates NATO can tackle other contingencies effectively, he remarked.

All in all, Juhl said, his long experience with NATO, witnessing the changing Atlantic security architecture, has been rewarding.

"It still blows my mind when I go down the hall and see all the partners. It fascinates me to no end that this has all come together this way. I spent hours and hours chasing Soviet submarines in the Atlantic Ocean," Juhl said. "I enjoyed my time flying airplanes, and all that was exciting, but I think we're a generation that really is standing on a threshold of opportunity to shape a very positive future. To be a small part of that, to have observed it, and to have had some experience with it -- I pinch myself every day."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageClarence Juhl gives a briefing on NATO expansion at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Linda D. Kozaryn  
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