DoD Re-emphasizes Importance of Europe to U.S. Strategy
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2000 The world has changed. The Cold War is over, the Soviet Union fractured and members of the Warsaw Pact are free.
But the bedrock underlying American security has not changed -- NATO.
The trans-Atlantic alliance has weathered the changes of the last decade and is itself changing to deal with the world as it is.
DoD re-emphasized the importance of the alliance by releasing another in a series of reports dealing with U.S. strategy in the 21st cntury. Entitled "Strengthening Transatlantic Security," the report details the importance of Europe to U.S. vital interests and draws a map showing the route the United States believes the alliance should follow in the future.
"Basically, the report has two main points," said Franklin Kramer, assistant defense secretary for international security affairs. "The first is that Europe remains an area of vital interest for the United States, and so it's crucial for us to continue to deal with the security issues that Europe raises. Secondly, ... we have to have a multifaceted strategy to do it."
Kramer said U.S. strategy in Europe could be boiled down to the phrase, "NATO-plus": NATO-plus means NATO plus new capabilities; NATO plus additional institutions, like the Partnership for Peace and the European Union's European Security and Defense Identity. It means NATO must continue to deal with conventional threats, also it must face new challenges such as the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and cyberterrorism.
NATO-plus also refers to concerns beyond traditional NATO territory such as the Mediterranean's southern littoral, the Caucasus region and Africa, Kramer said.
The changes to the alliance to meet the challenges of NATO- plus have already begun, he said. The Defense Capabilities Initiative, signed by NATO members here in April 1999, calls on all NATO members to develop capabilities that will deal specifically with new threats.
"Operation Allied Force reinforced the fact that we need more deployable, sustainable, interoperable and flexible forces to engage effectively in a wide variety of situations," Defense Secretary William S. Cohen wrote in the foreword to the report. "The United States is already moving to address these requirements, and we look to the rest of NATO to do its share."
Kramer said almost all the allies have changed the type of force they possess from "an in-place, relatively immobile force to a mobile, deployable and more modern force." The United Kingdom, Norway, France and Italy have already begun the process. Germany, he said, is the most recent NATO ally to jump on the mobility bandwagon.
NATO force planning goals are also focused on such a capability. Various countries are working on other aspects of the NATO strategy. France and the Netherlands, for example, are working together on a maritime cell that will increase sealift, Kramer said. "The Germans have taken the lead in trying to generate a European transportation command, with a focus on airlift," he said.
All NATO allies are budgeting to buy precision-guided munitions. "But what is most important ... is that each of those countries in their national planning process, in their national budgetary processes, are actually putting money into this end," Kramer said. "That's a big difference."
He said NATO would work with the European Union to incorporate the European Security and Defense Identity into NATO planning. The European Union has set a goal to field a corps-sized rapid reaction force in 2003. The 60,000-man force would be used in cases where NATO as a whole is not engaged. The United States will work with the alliance and with the EU to incorporate this European force, and to make available to the force NATO assets the force may need.
The 15-nation European Union is composed of Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and 11 NATO members -- Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom. The eight NATO allies not in the EU are Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Turkey and the United States. The full report is available at www.defenselink.mil/pubs/eurostrategy2000.pdf.