Cohen Ties Together European, NATO Proposals
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
MUNICH, Germany, Feb. 4, 2000 Defense Secretary William Cohen will make the case for tying together the European Security and Defense Identity and NATO’s Defense Capabilities Initiative at the annual Wehrkunde Conference here.
Cohen, who spoke to reporters on the plane, will also use the conference to highlight U.S. concerns over the slow pace of getting civilian police into Kosovo, and will discuss with European allies the need for them to increase defense funding.
Cohen said he would speak on the need to put ESDI and NATO’s DCI in sync. “I intend to raise this issue in conjunction with lessons learned from Kosovo,” Cohen said.
NATO understood there were deficiencies in the alliance before Kosovo, but Operation Allied Force highlighted the need for change. "We had many successes, certainly, in Kosovo,” he said. “Nonetheless we did have deficiencies in secure communications, deficiencies in strategic lift, deficiencies in precision guided munitions.”
Correcting these deficiencies will take commitment and money. The NATO allies agreed to the Defense Capabilities Initiative at the Washington summit in April 1999. At the same time, the European allies began the European Security and Defense Identity discussions. This program looks to forge a European defense identity. Cohen said it is important for the United States and for NATO that these two programs work together.
“Having recognized the shortfalls [in defense], we have to measure up to what the NATO countries signed up for last spring,” Cohen said. “We have to make sure this momentum toward [ESDI] is compatible with the goals of the [DCI]. Otherwise there’s a risk of seeing the creation of a bureaucratic system with capabilities that don’t measure up for the requirements of NATO itself.
Cohen said that money certainly is a part of it. He said some of the European allies have the notion that they can increase defense by increasing efficiencies. “Sounds great, but I pointed out during the NATO conference in Brussels that efficiencies may be as hard to come by as raising money,” Cohen said. “I talked about base closures, for example, to save money on infrastructure. Those are not easy matters to resolve, certainly not in the United States, and not in the European countries as well.”
The Secretary said he would reiterate his point that the European allies not bank on efficiencies to provide the necessary capital to make these security investments. “It’s likely to require higher spending,” he said.
But, he said, this is only fair. “You have a situation where the United States is making every effort to modernize its forces,” he said. DoD received a $112 billion increase over the future years defense plan.
“We’ve allocated these resources to modernize our forces to deal with the deficiencies we’ve identified,” he said. “And then we see our allies cutting our budgets.”
Cohen said this type of attitude would cause a reaction in Congress. “They will say this is not a fair distribution of the burden. There must be an equitable sharing of the burden.”
Cohen said he would discuss problems with civilian aid in peacekeeping operations. For example civilian police were to take over the vast amount of the law enforcement mission. This has not happened and Kosovo Force soldiers are still performing the duty.
Cohen said the “lag time” between military involvement that stabilizes an area and the entry of civilian agencies that ensure smooth running of an area is too great. “We stand the risk of conducting a successful military campaign but have the mission ultimately fail for a lack of civilian implementation,” he said. “[NATO] commanders [in Kosovo] are concerned about the problem because of the possibility of mission creep in which the military is being called upon to engage in police functions.”
Cohen said soldiers are not trained in law enforcement and it is a mission “we do not want them carrying out.”
Wehrkunde is also called the Munich Conference on Security Policy. They began in 1964. Cohen has attended since 1978. A U.S. Congressional delegation will also attend the conference. Cohen said this was important because it gives the Europeans the chance to find out what’s important to the members of Congress and the members of Congress to find out what’s important to the Europeans.
The conference has grown from strictly NATO to include other areas of the world including Russia and China. Cohen also said the idea of security has been expanded to include economic security.