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NATO Summit Background Briefing

Presenter: Senior Defense Official
June 28, 2004

            Briefer: The purpose is to give you an update on some of the meetings that transpired since you all met with the Secretary and then I can brief you with more.


            I just want to add a couple of points of context about this summit. First is a point that the Secretary emphasized to you, is that the summit is occurring in the midst of a period of unprecedented activity, unprecedented operational activity and transformation in the Alliance. He mentioned that over the last 18 months you can point to a number of decisions and initiatives that make clear there's more constructive change in developing the Alliance than in any previous 10-year period. I'll just briefly review what he said yesterday.


            He mentioned that we established a NATO Response Force.


            We stood up this week the NATO Chem, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear -- CPRN -- Defense batallion led by the Czechs.


            We have consolidated and modernized and streamlined the Alliance's command structure. A key element of that was establishing Allied Command Transformation which is already proving itself to be a new backbone in Alliance interoperability and military unity.


            We have moved Alliance thinking and action to a new phase on missile defense where we're talking about new options to defend Alliance territory and population centers taking in a full range of missile threats.


            The Alliance, as you know, in August of 2003 undertook command of ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, in Afghanistan and it's been providing assistance to the Pole-led multinational division in Iraq. Those two operations I would add clearly put to an end the debate, out of area or out of business.


            Two years ago some were asking would NATO go out of business because the threats for which it was originally established no longer exist and it had no more utility to accomplish this purpose. Afghanistan and Iraq and the Balkans operation, Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean against terrorism demonstrate that the Alliance is very much in business and is very much out of area.


            On top of that, of course, today we're celebrating again the accession of seven new members who since this date are participating in their first summit.


            Two other firsts to keep in the back of your mind on this summit is that it's the first NATO summit since NATO has gone out of the traditional North Atlantic area. In Prague we were still debating that. Today we're in Afghanistan and there's a small group of countries in Iraq and of course we're talking about what the Alliance can do to assist the new Iraqi government.             Then of course this is the first summit with the seven new members.


            The summit's agenda as we talked to you yesterday about has four elements -- operations, enlargement, engagement and transformation. I'll just touch on each of those.


            In operations, of course a big focus of attention is Iraq and we're confident that today we'll be issuing a NATO statement expressing support for the new Iraqi government. We're confident that we're going to agree to undertake a training mission for the Alliance inside and outside of Iraq, Secretary General Scheffer's [word], and I'm fairly confident that we'll have some sort of taskings of NATO military authorities to review what other options there might be for which the Alliance could provide assistance to the new Iraqi government.


            We've got the basis to move forward in execution of ISAF expansion that we wanted to look at in the course of this summit and we're looking still at how the Alliance can provide support for the September elections in Afghanistan.


            I'm confident that they're going to announce the termination of SFOR at the end of this year. It's important to remember that termination of SFOR while it is a huge success for the Alliance does not mean the end of NATO's role in Bosnia. There will still be a NATO presence through a NATO headquarters as envisioned in our plan. That will focus on assisting in defense reform in Bosnia and undertaking counterterrorism, particularly for hunting for war criminals type operations.


            We also hope to announce that Russia will join Operation Active Endeavor, the counterterrorism interdiction mission in the Mediterranean.


            In the enlargement we're celebrating the accession of again seven new members, but we're going to emphasize the floor remains open. We're going to encourage the three MAP countries, Membership Action Plan countries, to continue their progress -- Albania, Croatia and Macedonia.


            And we're going to have a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission tomorrow which would be important because it will be one, be a vehicle by which the Alliance can demonstrate the appreciation of force cooperation with Ukraine. Ukraine of course is contributing to operations in the Balkans. It's also an important contributor in Iraq as part of the coalition. It will be an opportunity for the Alliance to reiterate its desire to see Ukraine eventually integrate into the Alliance and Europe’s institutions, but allies will probably, the U.S. government, will also assert that local reform is a key requirement for Ukraine's integration into the Alliance. Political  reform is as important as defense reform and a key test of that commitment on the part of President Kuchma will be the degree to which he conducts free and fair elections in Ukraine this coming fall.


            On the partnership or engagement area we're celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Partnership for Peace and now directing our focus towards the Caucasus and Central Asia. We're going to enhance the Mediterranean dialogue to make it a bit more operational, focusing on CT (counterterrorism), border security, counterproliferation. Then of course there will be a major initiative which will be the broader Middle East initiative which we'll call the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative in which NATO will work with countries in the greater Middle East -- Persian Gulf countries -- that are interested in individual relationships with the Alliance. Again, giving an opportunity to work with the transatlantic community more deeply on practical areas such as defense reform, CT, counterproliferation, border security.


            On transformation, that's been an important part of the Alliance's agenda over the last 18 months. Yesterday we had a meeting of the Defense Policy Committee and the NACV on it in which the Defense Ministers, including our Secretary, Secretary Rumsfeld, reviewed progress and the core capabilities commitment to the initiative through which the Alliance is trying to get allies on a multinational or individual basis to improve their combat capabilities, the deployability, capabilities of the nation, interoperability. They reviewed progress in the NATO Response Force. They reviewed progress and announced the launching of a CBRN Battalion.


            They also approved the 2004 force goals. These are the individual and national commitments that allies make to the Alliance -- forces they make available to the Alliance. It's interesting to note that these commitments are smaller than before, they're more focused, they're more focused on the kinds of capabilities we need for today's operations. There's less emphasis on heavy divisions, more light divisions, particularly heavy emphasis on logistical support necessary for operations, for example, for those around the globe.


            They also approved reforms to the defense planning process. If there are two aspects of the Alliance that are unique it's one, the consensus rule; and second, it's the defense planning process. The defense planning process is the core means by which the Alliance develops forces that are interoperable and work together. No other Alliance has had an institution like this. It's what distinguishes the foundation for our ability to work with allies be it in the Balkans, be it in Iraq, be it in Afghanistan. But the process has been intuitive in Cold War metrics are not metrics of the 21st Century. Toward that end the Defense Ministers decided to reform the process in three ways. One, they're going to have what they call reinvestment goals where the Alliance will be available to help individual countries identify how much force structure that are antiquated and tied down to territorial defense that are really not useful for NATO's operations that can be eliminated. The idea being that the long term savings from those eliminations are not sent back to Treasuries but reinvested in communications, lift, and other elements that are needed for modern operations.


            We're also bringing in a new set of targets for allies to shoot for on usability targets. One target they agreed to was, the goal to shoot for is to have 40 percent of land forces truly deployable and the ability to have eight percent of those land forces deployed at any one time. It's a good standard.


            Q:            [inaudible]?


            Briefer: There is no usability standard. This is new.


            Q:            [inaudible] standard but there was [inaudible].


            Briefer: The two percent figures relates to defense spending as a percentage of GDP. It's a commonly-agreed goal, two percent, and about half the allies fall under that, which is unfortunate because more resources are needed for defense modernization.


            Q:            If the goal is impossible now --


            Briefer: Most allies far less than that. Some allies are higher.


            Q:            [inaudible].


            Briefer: No, I don't think some fall in the single digits, but it's hard for me, each country is very very different. There's not one overall figure, but 40 percent will be an aggressive goal for most of the allies. There are a couple of allies, ours included, that surpass that objective projected right now, even in land forces. We have an agreement for land forces. We still have to develop one for maritime and air forces. It's a tough nut to crack because it's bringing a certain amount of rigor into the force planning process that hasn't existed before, and it's up to allies to agree to this.


            One of the taskings is recognizing this process is not done at the summit, it has to continue. And Ministers are tasking the international staff to come up with further reports in the fall and the spring of next year to push this process, push the process forward.


            The Secretary in his interventions emphasized welcoming the seven new allies, emphasized the need for greater deployability, usability of forces. He also emphasized the need to bring greater transparency into this force planning process. The idea being that the more that is known publicly about an ambition that NATO has, the number of operations it wants to be able to undertake at a particular time, more insight into the goals that particular allies sign up to. But the fear of transparency is more likely a fear of commitment. We're going to have a defense planning process that delivers more effectively than it has in the past. Today's operations with which are stressing allied forces, demonstrates there's real urgency in this reform.


            He also talked about the need to start thinking aggressively about using the NATO Response Force. We're into our second rotation or about to end our second rotation and begin our third rotation -- a six-month rotation. The good news is that we're well ahead of schedule in terms of standing up the NRF, making it have capability. The goal was originally IOC of October of this year, full operational capability in October of 2006. But we believe, one of the positions we’re starting to think about is where we can actually use the NRF. That's important. It has to be a force that's used if it's going to be a force that's transformational. Countries won't want to dedicate forces to a force that basically avoids missions. If it's actually used we'll shake it out, we'll learn from it, we can actually undertake something that's useful and helpful to our security interests, and we can also make it a force that through its experience really starts to reverberate in transformational messages, lessons, lessons learned throughout all the allied force structures. One idea is for election support in Afghanistan, which allies are considering.


            Following from that, we had evening receptions. This morning the Secretary had breakfast with the Defense Minister and Foreign Minister from Iraq.


            Q:            [inaudible] considering lessons [inaudible] in Afghanistan?


            Briefer: Use of the NRF for election support. There is a political commitment to provide election support.


            Q:            [inaudible]?


            Briefer: Probably not because we're still in the process of -- there's agreement already to do election support. The question is can we generate the force necessary to do election support correctly. We're in the process of force generation for that.


            Q:            Do you mean NATO is considering use of the NATO Response Force?


            Briefer: It was discussed yesterday.


            Q:            It was discussed yesterday.


            Briefer: Yes.


            Q:            At the behest of the Secretary or was there a general discussion and agreement that this thing should be considered or thought upon?


            Briefer: There's been discussion about this in the weeks coming up to the summit. It's an option and the Secretary iterated his support for this concept.


            Q:            So the troops would be used to support the election [inaudible]?


            Briefer: Right. That's an option. Not a vision yet. It's an ongoing force generation process.


            Q:            What makes you think that's a viable option when you've had problems generating forces needed for a PRT?  Even though you're standing the NATO PRTs, you still don't have the forces necessary to do more than five.


            Briefer: I'm optimistic that we're going to meet the requirements for ISAF expansion for stage one into the north, based on the formal and informal commitments that allies have made. As to whether or not one can be confident the NRF can be used for election support, NRF is a little bit different. NRF is a standing force.


            Q:            [inaudible]?


            Briefer: Right, so the forces are committed. It really is a decision no the allies to use it in that fashion.


            Q:            A political decision.


            Briefer: It's more a political decision than a decision driven by force generation.


            Q:            [inaudible]?


            Briefer: Stage one is, there are five PRTs that would fall under the north. But when we talk about five new PRTs we're talking about stage one and stage two. Three new ones in the north, two new ones in the west. Over and above the ones that have already been established.


            Q:            The [inaudible] have two, or --


            Briefer: I'd have to get back with an exact number of PRTs there are in the north. But the idea is three new ones in the north and two new ones in the west. For example above and beyond Harat --


            Q:            [inaudible]?


            Briefer: There are 16 now. This would be five new ones. You get into conflicts. Kanduz, for example, can be double-counted.


            Q:            Is there any consideration of the idea of having NATO supply  the protection for the UN in Iraq? I know it’s not a formal NATO idea, but it was floating around Washington last week. The UN needs I’m guessing 4,000 people. Apparently military commanders suggest that it NATO could provide those troops, not only the Americans, because it would stress the forces even further. I'm just wondering if that's actually getting formal consideration.


            Briefer: That will get formal consideration probably. I don't know what's going on in the council right now on that particular issue. We'll have to see how it evolves. But the most likely outcome was that it could become part of the options that NATO military authorities present to the North Atlantic Council sometime in July.


            It's an idea, you're absolutely right. It's one of the options that people have been talking about in the spectrum of things that NATO could do to help the new Iraqi government.


            Q:            What are some of the other options?


            Briefer: If you go from -- a spectrum is a spectrum. You can do more of what, for example, the Alliance has been doing for the Polish multinational division. The Alliance in that case provides the force generation support, operational planning support and the communication suite.


            In the spectrum, again this is giving you a theoretical list here, you could have the Alliance lead one of the divisions. You could have the Alliance lead an operational sector, a core sector. You could have the Alliance assist in border training. You could, well, training of Iraqi forces is one option that's been under discussion for quite awhile. Guarding sites is another. All of them have pros and cons and those are some examples that might, for example, fall into the spectrum of options that NATO military authorities present to the NAC at some time next month, in July.


            Q:            And this is as an Alliance as opposed to urging Alliance members to do this? This is under the Alliance umbrella?


            Briefer: What will have to be worked out is depending on the type of assistance that the Alliance decides to provide, what the Alliance's formal relationship would be with CENTCOM, General Casey and the operation in Iraq with OIF.


            Q:            Can you talk a little bit more about training details in terms of how the NATO training fits into the process?


            Briefer: They're just beginning to develop that right now.


            Q:            Can you talk about what some of the numbers, some of the options, both in control, where the training takes place, notional numbers of the trainees? I know it's all very fluid right now, but can you give us a sense of what's under discussion?


            Briefer: Probably the best person to talk to -- somebody who is familiar more with the efforts we're having under General Patraeus and General Casey in terms of training the Iraqi border guards, the Iraqi national guard, the Iraqi armed forces, the Iraqi police, et cetera.


            Q:            The NATO component [inaudible]. [Inaudible] discussed in [inaudible].


            Briefer: I'd be out of my limit to do that. Not that there -- NATO has a lot of experience in training. We've done some in the Balkans. We have an extensive set of schools that we put NATO officers, NATO NCOs, NATO civilians through that address everything from the principals in civilian control of the military to NATO doctrine, down -- education to NATO structures, business, tactics. We're setting up centers of excellence on counterterrorism. We have training and seminar programs we do in Partnership for Peace on border security and such. These are types of NATO opportunities that can be made available to the Iraqis. Then of course there could be an actual role that NATO has in terms of actually getting on the ground in Iraq and assisting with the training of these five elements of the evolving Iraq security structures.


            Q:            Let me see if I can get the process straightened out. I take it what happened is you get this straight from the NAC, in the next two days saying NATO is prepared to provide training inside and outside of Iraq. Then NAC would go to the military planners, they would task the NATO planners to look at exactly what the options are. They would then, as you say, come back to the NAC next month with this set of options and the NAC would then consider the specifics of what NATO might be able to provide.


            Q:            Then [inaudible] to the Secretary --


            Q:            [inaudible] specific --


            Briefer: Exactly. Just one nuance. Knock on wood, if they agree on training today, there will be a specific tasking to develop how to go about and do that mission.


            Q:            Right. But this --


            Briefer: Then the second document that would come out would be the list of other options that NATO would consider to assist the Iraqi government.


            Q:            They could actually say here's the training option and here are the other things we might be able to provide –


Briefer:  That’s one way of putting it –


Q: … the NATO planners, and then the NAC next month. Is that how it would work?


            Briefer: So I'm clear on this. There would be a decision to train, to assist in the training of the Iraqi security forces inside and outside of Iraq


            The NATO Military would be tasked to develop the plan to do that. The plan would be developed, brought back to the NAC, the NAC would approve it. At the same time we're hoping that the Secretary General will pass NATO military authority saying what else can be done to assist --


            Q:            A general request.


            Briefer: A general request. What else can be done? What are the spectrum of options that are out there? In addition to training what the Alliance could do to assist the new Iraqi government.


            Q:            And one of the options that has been discussed is the discussion of a brigade to provide protection for the elections in Iraq.


            Briefer: It's been discussed in a wide variety of circles. I would put it down just as a broad what can we do to assist with UN security --


            Q:            In Iraq?


            Briefer: UN security


            Q:            But [inaudible]?


            Q:            In Iraq?


            Q:            Not [inaudible], you, mean --


            Briefer: For the UN which will be organizing [inaudible].


            Q:            Right.


            Briefer: I don't want to prejudge what the NMAs will come up with.


            Q:            On another subject, [inaudible] the Marines [inaudible]?


            Briefer: I just --


            Q:            Apparently the Marines have said that -- I don't know if this is confirmed, this is [inaudible], there is apparently a Marine [inaudible].


            Briefer: I think I [inaudible].


            Q:            What about the [inaudible] who is apparently [inaudible]?


            Q:            When did you all know -- Is this a sudden decision or --


            Briefer: I'd have to refer you to the White House on that.


            Q:            But there will be a statement today from the NATO summit leaders on commitment to Iraqi sovereignty?


            Briefer: I don't know the exact details on the timing of the transfer, so therefore I don't know how discussions going on in the NAC will relate to that. But I'm fairly confident there will be a statement of support for the UNCR 1546 and for the new Iraqi government.


            Q:            Can I ask you, did this come as a surprise?  [Laughter]


            Briefer: Nothing's a surprise to us.


            Q:            -- your knowledge some last minute decision or was this contemplated before? I think the Secretary's even mentioned possibly [inaudible] could happen.


            Briefer: I'd have to refer you to him or the White House on this particular development.


            Q:            A broader question. You NATO is definitely [inaudible] out of area. It's certainly seen to be [inaudible] utilizing the Response Forces. The difficulty [inaudible] getting the resources together in terms of relatively modest requirements with the PRTs suggests that there's still a disconnect between where the Alliance is politically on [inaudible], and understanding [inaudible] security environment, and the reality on the ground [inaudible] nations that [inaudible] troops, the resources, helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, whatever it is. Can you address that tension and how [inaudible] of what the Alliance is struggling to reconcile?


            Q:            Is it among nations? This stuff costs money. For instance, [inaudible].


            Briefer: It's part that. I won't give an excuse for it because I don't think it looks great for NATO to struggle over so many months on these shortfalls which we know are easily filled by our allies. Our allies have the capability to do it.


            Some of the background for this difficulty is that when you have 26 people around the table with capabilities, and these 26 are in large part, these 26 allies are contributing to operations in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, in Iraq. They're facing stresses on their force structure that they haven't felt before. They're facing budgetary challenges in their MODs for which they weren't adequately prepared. And so even small initiatives like a few helicopters, a company or a battalion, can become a lot more difficult to resource. There's a tendency to the point of if I can do it and he can do it, why can't he? They all point around the table.


            This is a problem that we're trying to address through the reforms we're undertaking of the defense planning process so that we can bring a little bit more predictability to the Alliance and it's understanding of the operations that it's likely to undertake. We're trying to reform and improve our force generation process. We're trying to tie that process more closely -- force generation being generating the forces for a particular operation. Force planning in development over time on the forces that NATO needs to accomplish its mission. We're trying to not to open the gap between the two. We're trying to link them a little bit more tightly so that we don't have these episodes where we're struggling for what are not necessarily hugely significant volumes of capabilities of forces.


            Q:            [inaudible]. What can you [inaudible]?


            Briefer: One would be new outreach to the greater Middle East; two would be the fact that it's making important decisions and expanding what it has begun as a truly global outreach; three, it will be remembered for the largest round of enlargements. The most significant step towards fulfilling the vision of a Europe that's truly whole, undivided, free and secure. And fourth, and this may reflect the Department of Defense perspective, but the first real aggressive effort at reforming the way it does force planning which is one of the two core defining features of this Alliance. And it's absolutely necessary if it's going to be able to fulfill the requirements for these missions that it's undertaking in Afghanistan, may undertake in Iraq. So we don't have more of these difficult force generation processes like we've experienced over ISAF.


            Q:            The force generation process -- during the Cold War you had countries defending your own territory so they were there [inaudible]. Now you have a situation where you want use of forces for missions elsewhere and that becomes politically more sensitive and difficult [inaudible]. Is that what the problem is?


            Briefer: It is in part. During the Cold War you were focused on the Fulda Gap. Everyone bordered everybody. Logistical support, movement of troops was challenging but not in the same way it is today. Even the Balkans was next door. There were train links, rail links, highway links that were, historically speaking, relatively reliable.


            Today we're trying to transform force structures, doctrines, that were focused on the Fulda Gap scenario so that they're relevant to kind of the lightening scenarios that bring us as far as Afghanistan, halfway around the globe, in environments that are different – that are drier, that are higher, that are colder -- than experienced in Europe.


            To give you an example, there are a number of countries that have large territorial forces. One country has about 25 brigades, but only three or four of them are really deployable. The rest of them are either tied down to territorial defense or inadequately resourced. It's all kind of a hangover from the Cold War 10, 13, 14 years ago. That's what we're trying to pull the Alliance out of.


            What's interesting is over the last 18 months there's been more enthusiasm, more recognition, more enthusiasm for this transformation and more recognition of its urgency than I anticipated. Does that mean we have made some significant accomplishments? Yes. Does that mean we have a significant way to go? Absolutely. And the challenge for allies will be to continue the momentum we've developed over the last 18 months. It's challenging because it's exhausting on resources. Change, as Secretary Rumsfeld says, is hard, but necessary.


            Thank you very much.

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