Remarks by William J. Perry
Secretary of Defense
SACLANT Seminar, Norfolk, Va.
June 27, 1996
In June of 1995, just one year ago, I attended the Defense
Ministerial in Brussels. Without question, this was the most
dismal NATO meeting I have ever attended. Those of you who were
there might share that judgment with me. Bosnia was being
ravaged by unspeakable atrocities. The U.N. was being humiliated
with its peacekeepers chained to Bosnian-Serb radar. European
nations and the U.S. were at complete odds with each other. At
that meeting, the United States was pushing to take robust air
action to punish the Serbs for violating U.N. sanctions, and the
European nations, with troops on the ground, feared such action
would endanger their troops.
As a result, NATO, paralyzed into inaction, was shown to be
irrelevant in dealing with the Bosnian crisis. At that meeting,
we rightly asked a critical question. If NATO is not relevant to
Bosnia, the greatest security crisis in Europe since the end of
the world war, what is it relevant for? In sum, at that meeting,
it appeared to me that NATO was in the process of unraveling.
What a difference a year makes. Two weeks ago, I attended
its defense ministerial in Brussels. This year, the meeting was
one of strength and of hope. The alliance was vibrant and self-
confident. The United States and European nations were working
together, harmoniously, and NATO was conducting its first
military operation and conducting it with great success.
In this heady atmosphere, the defense ministers met, not at
15, but at 16. We were joined by ministers from 26 Partnership
for Peace nations, including Russia. We all realized that 1996
had already been a year of truly historic change for NATO. We
continued that process of change at that meeting by taking
actions that will help build the kind of NATO that Europe will
require to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
So today, based on the Brussels meeting, I'd like to offer
you a six postulates about what that NATO alliance of the 21st
Century will look like.
The first postulate is that NATO itself will be stronger and
IFOR is the first major military action in the history of
NATO, and it has revitalized the alliance. It has proven that
the NATO nations, who have decades of experience exercising and
training together, and who share common doctrine and standards,
can operate together, and operate with great effectiveness.
Because of NATO's efforts through IFOR, the nations of the
former Yugoslavia are experiencing their first peaceful spring in
five years. Today, for all of the problems still in Sarajevo and
Mostar, you can go there and, instead of dodging mortars and
artillery shells, you see people sipping coffee in the sidewalk
cafes. This spirit of solidarity infused the meeting in Brussels
as we also welcomed France's full participation in a formal
meeting of NATO defense ministers for the first time in 30 years.
The second postulate is that NATO will continue to build a
zone of stability throughout the continent through the
Partnership for Peace.
The Partnership for Peace, which I will call PFP for short,
is now hitting its full stride. In 1996 alone, we will conduct
15 major exercises and scores of other PFP-related activities.
These exercises and activities not only help us tackle such post-
Cold War military missions as peacekeeping, humanitarian relief,
and search and rescue, they also help us foster trust and
cooperation between East and West, and among the Partner nations
In Brussels, we sought to strengthen PFP and ensure that it
becomes a permanent pillar of Europe's security architecture. We
agreed to increase Partner participation in planning for
exercises, even contingencies. And building on the experiences
of PFP nations in IFOR, we agreed to increase the number and
complexity of PFP exercises.
In my remarks to my colleagues, I stressed the need for
individual NATO nations to build mentor relationships with
individual Partner countries, particularly those whose resources
limit what they would like to do in the Partnership for
participation. I suggested, for example, that a NATO country or
group of countries should consider sponsoring the Polish-
Ukrainian peacekeeping battalion in the same way the Danes are
sponsoring the Baltic peacekeeping battalion. Others could
mentor the South Balkan nations as they seek to implement goals
that came from their recent meeting of the South Balkan
Ministerial meeting or give special assistance to Partner
countries in defense budgeting, strategic planning. These in
the spirit of PFP activities strengthen not only the
Partnership, but also NATO and the security of Europe.
The third postulate is that NATO will be larger.
Enlargement is moving along as planned. Last fall, NATO
completed its study on the how and why of enlargement, and we
are now proceeding with the second phase -- conducting intensive
consultations with those Partner nations interested in joining
the alliance -- to help them prepare to meet the criteria and
responsibilities of membership. Let me talk about what I see as
I'd like to start off by noting that NATO is not a social
club. It is not a fraternity. It a military alliance. And
therefore the potential members must be prepared to defend the
alliance, and have the professional military forces to do it.
NATO must continue to work by consensus -- whether we have 16 or
18 or 20 members -- we must continue to work by consensus, and
new members must respect this tradition which has allowed this
consensus mode to function so effectively in the past.
Military forces of the new members must be capable of
operating effectively with NATO forces. This means not only a
common doctrine, but interoperable equipment -- especially
communications equipment. And potential new members must uphold
democracy and free enterprise, respect human rights inside their
borders, and respect sovereignty outside their borders, and their
military forces must be under democratic, civilian control.
Every time I meet with a Partner nation that aspires to NATO
membership, I tell them: "This is what you're aspiring to. This
is how you will be judged when the NATO ministers meet and judge
which of the applicant nations should be considered for
membership." These principles are not set forth as hurdles to
NATO membership, but rather guarantees that the alliance will
continue to be as effective and capable for the next 50 years, as
it has been for almost 50 years. Many Partner members have
already made great strides to meet these principles, and the
intensive consultations we are now engaging in will help them
move even further.
My fourth postulate is that NATO will build a cooperative
relationship with Russia.
Russia has been a key player in Europe's security for over
300 years. It will remain a key player in the coming decades.
The question is only whether it will play a positive role or
negative role. Quite clearly, we want Russia to play a positive
role. Russia has taken the right step by choosing to participate
in the Partnership for Peace. We welcome Russia's participation
indeed, we hope that Russia will take on a leading role in the
Partnership commensurate with its role as a great power.
NATO's cooperative relationship with Russia should be in
addition to and apart from Russia's participation in the
Partnership for Peace. Ironically, the blueprint for this
cooperative relationship comes from working together in Bosnia.
Not long ago, I visited the American Division in Bosnia that
includes the Russian Brigade and met with all of the brigade
commanders, including the Russian brigade commander. I can
report that the operation is going smoothly, and that the brigade
commanders -- the Americans, the Russians, the Nordic, the Turks
-- are all working together cooperatively. I will have another
chance to see the operation next week when I visit our troops and
the troops of other nations in Bosnia over our 4th of July
By its participation in IFOR, Russia is demonstrating its
commitment to participate in the future security architecture of
Europe. In Brussels, we built on this commitment when the NATO
defense ministers met with the Russian defense minister in a 16
plus 1 format. At this meeting, we essentially agreed to station
Russian officers at SHAPE headquarters and at subordinate NATO
commands, and Russia agreed that we would send NATO officers to
the Russian General Staff in Moscow. These arrangements
essentially institutionalize the liaison arrangement already
created on an ad hoc basis in order to carry out the IFOR
My fifth postulate about NATO in the 21st century is that
NATO will be more flexible and more efficient.
As it moves from the one-threat scenario that determined
NATO's response and command structure for nearly 50 years, NATO
is adopting a mechanism that will reflect NATO's new flexibility
to respond to new challenges -- the Combined Joint Task Force --
CJTF. We are working hard to complete the CJTF concept, but we
already have a CJTF in practice, in Bosnia. So we don't have to
spend too much time on the theology of what a CJTF is. We have
one in practice working today, and all we have to do is
generalize what is already a successful CJTF in operation.
In addition to becoming more flexible, NATO recognizes the
need to become more efficient. In many ways, NATO was not well-
structured for the Bosnia mission. Our command and decision-
making structures were geared almost exclusively toward executing
a known plan with already designated forces against a known
adversary. IFOR, on the other hand, involved much greater
uncertainty, and it highlighted NATO's need to streamline and
modernize. In the fall, our military authorities will issue a
report that will make recommendations on how to make the command
structure more responsive and flexible and how to adapt the
defense planning process. We are also taking actions to simplify
and speed-up the entire decision-making process through the
creation of the Policy Coordination Group and the Capabilities
Coordination Cell. I have to say that I have some misgivings
about these bureaucratic organizations designed to streamline
NATO. But, just think about that a little bit. The goal is
clear even if the mechanism is a little shaky at this stage.
Let me be absolutely clear that the goal of NATO's efforts
to become more flexible and efficient is to allow all the allies
to work together more effectively. It is not an effort to get by
without the full participation of the United States. We need to
get better at operating at 16 before we even consider how to
operate more effectively at less than 16.
And so this leads me to my sixth and last postulate about
NATO's future. NATO will remain a true trans-Atlantic Alliance.
I think the clear lesson from Bosnia is that, as a trans-
Atlantic alliance, NATO operates best when we are all together.
I hope that everybody on both sides of the Atlantic has learned
this lesson and that NATO continues to operate together on all of
its major missions. The security of Europe remains critical to
the security of the United States. And America's involvement in
Europe remains critical to the security of Europe. Forty-nine
years ago, George Marshall laid out a vision for Europe in the
future. A Europe united from the Atlantic to the Urals -- united
in peace, freedom and democracy. We have it within our grasp to
realize that vision. That vision can only be achieved through a
strong, vital trans-Atlantic partnership.
I thank you.