NATO Summit Calls for Military Know-How
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 15, 1999 Army Col. Phillip J. Gick will face the transportation challenge of a lifetime during NATO's 50th anniversary summit here April 23 to 25.
More than 1,700 delegates from NATO's 19 member nations and 24 Partnership for Peace nations are expected to attend the summit hosted by President Clinton. Delegations will include heads of state, foreign and defense ministers, and uniformed chiefs of defense. About 3,000 international media representatives are also registered to attend the three-day conference.
A commemorative ceremony marking the 50th anniversary will be held April 23. Then, in the course of the next two days, the delegates will hold formal meetings.
It's Gick's job as transportation coordinator to move delegates and staff from their hotels to the meetings and other conference events. His biggest single challenge is Saturday night, when he has to get up to 800 people -- heads of state, foreign ministers and other international dignitaries -- to the White House for a dinner hosted by the president.
And if that's not enough to cause motor pool nightmares, Gick also has to move 900 senior foreign delegates and nearly 300 international press to a reception at the National Press Building Museum the same night. Gick's routing schedule is further complicated by the fact that the 2,000 or so guests have to be picked up and returned to more than 20 hotels in downtown Washington.
The colonel says he's got the situation under control. He just needs a little help from a whole battalion of soldiers from Fort Eustis, Va., the District of Columbia National Guard and a fleet of about 600 limousines, sedans, minivans and buses. Asked how he plans to make it all work, the colonel calmly replied, "You take a little bite at a time. Sometimes it's a case of getting people to agree to go sooner or later, then you can use the same assets to make another movement at a different time."
For several months, Gick and other military specialists on the State Department's NATO Summit Staff have been preparing for what will be Washington's largest international event to date. Led by Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Garrett III, a 40-member military team has worked with 50 State Department and U.S. Information Agency officials to plan all aspects of the summit.
The State Department was designated the lead agency for the event, but DoD is playing "a full and collaborative role in providing support," said Garrett, deputy director of the summit staff. During the summit, the military will be providing support in three principal areas: ceremonial, transportation and security, Garrett said.
Military units will participate in the main commemorative ceremony April 23, with honor cordons welcoming arriving dignitaries and social events at the White House and other venues, he said. "With 44 international delegations coming into town, just keeping track of all the flags will be a busy chore."
The Defense Department is in charge of ground transportation for the summit, Garrett said. The District of Columbia National Guard Armory will serve as operations center for about 600 vehicles and 500 personnel, mainly soldiers from 6th Battalion, 7th Transportation Command, Fort Eustis, Va. "A planning team from 7th Transportation Group has been working with us since first of the year," he said.
Military transport will service the areas four major area airports, Dulles International and Reagan National in Virginia, and Baltimore-Washington International and Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Along with providing motorcades for senior officials, military transportation specialists will run shuttle service for delegates, staff and media each day from early morning until about 8 p.m.
DoD is also providing essential security support, Garrett said. "We have the protective service mission for the ministers of defense and chiefs of defense that will be here," he said. "In addition, DoD works with other federal security agencies to provide appropriate contingency support during an event of this magnitude." Agents of the military criminal investigative services, explosive ordnance disposal teams, chemical-biological specialists and medical specialists will also be on hand.
Garrett said planning for the event has involved NATO, the District of Columbia, the White House, National Security Agency, Secret Service, FBI and other major law enforcement agencies. "Although the president is the host of this event, it still is a NATO event," Garrett said. "The secretary-general and his staff have a lot of say in how the summit gets put together and what we do." Although the American planners basically started with a blank sheet of paper, he said, they've had good support from the alliance which frequently holds large-scale international meetings.
About 25 percent of Garrett's joint-service planning team is from the reserve components. "We have military representation in every element of the planning staff from accommodations to telecommunications, to protocol to events," he said. "The military is very adaptable and fits in well. The services have sent us a lot of bright, creative folks, and we've tackled some tough problems and come up with some real good solutions."
The treaty forming the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was signed at the Mellon Auditorium here in April 1949. An Air Force architect, Maj. Catherine Fairlie is the DoD site officer preparing the Auditorium for the summit. She said she had to consider the needs of the delegates, security officials and the media.
Built in 1935, the "grand, historic building," she said, had to be updated to accommodate high-intensity lights, cameras, audio and infrared translation equipment and other special summit needs.
On April 23, the Mellon has to have auditorium seating for the anniversary ceremony. The next morning, the site must be ready for the 19-member North Atlantic Council meeting and the next day for the 44-member Euro-Atlantic Partnership meeting. Twenty languages will be translated into two -- English and French, Fairlie noted.
"Our job is to ensure the Mellon is at its optimum -- aesthetically and architecturally -- so we can host the NATO leadership," she said. "We're designing a table for the 44 countries. The different plenary sessions have different numbers of people around the table, so we had to design a table that could accommodate the changes."
Contractors readied the lobby to display the original NATO peace treaty and interior decorators restored a 1930s reception room. "We were able to furnish the rooms with leased-antique replicas, tapestries and artwork," Fairlie said.
A Marine Corps facility engineer, Lt. Col. Andrew Campbell, has spent the past few months making office space for NATO's 44 international delegations by overhauling the Old Customs Building here. The 1930s-vintage building had already been slated for a new tenant, the Environmental Protection Agency, so Campbell and crew were just renovating it early.
"We literally had to bring the building back on line to restore steam heat, water, lights, safety services and to bring it up to a state of industrial hygiene that would be acceptable to everybody," Campbell said. "Our effort is to make the building as presentable as we can. It is an inherently attractive building, but it's tired. There's a lot of art deco and there's a lot of really creative use of stone and brass and stainless steel."
The project called for painting walls and ceilings, installing new carpet, knocking down interior walls, adding more electrical outlets and stocking furniture for more than 220 offices, he said. "We have a courtyard in the middle of the building that's going to be completely refurbished with flowering plants for the April summit.
"We've had five months to bring in all the furniture and equipment," Campbell said. "We'll have five days to take it all out because we have to turn the building back to the contractors for the modernization. There's a severe penalty if we're late."
Campbell said he's enjoying the hands-on assignment. "It's not an in-basket, out-basket routine like I'm used to in a headquarters environment," he said. "It's been kind of fun getting dusty and to see the progress on the building. There's no theory here. This is not policy. This is hands-on facility maintenance and building restoration. It's working with GSA, DoD, Department of State, and then the various contractors. It's challenging, but also enormously rewarding work."