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ASD Kramer's Briefing on the NATO 50th Anniversary Summit

Presenter: ASD for International Security Affairs Franklin D. Kramer
April 20, 1999 1:05 PM EDT

Subject: NATO 50th Anniversary Summit

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. This is the first of our afternoon briefings. We have with us Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Kramer, who is the assistant secretary for International Security Affairs. I think, as you know, we're all getting ready for the NATO summit this weekend. And Mr. Kramer is here to outline for you the Defense Department's support of that and the various issues that Secretary Cohen will be addressing during the course of the summit. Mr. Kramer.

ASD Kramer: Let me talk to you briefly about the defense points that will be raised with respect to the summit other than the obvious point, of course, of Kosovo for a minute. What Kosovo shows and, for that matter, what Bosnia shows is that the alliance from time to time has to act militarily. The Secretary of Defense has been working for over a year now on several specific initiatives to help enhance the alliance's capability. One is called the Defense Capabilities initiative. Second is called the Weapons of Mass Destruction initiative, WMD initiative. And the third area, which doesn't have a specific initiative but overlaps the other two and has some other specifics, is to help the alliance be able to deal from a military point of view with the problems of terrorism.

The Defense Capabilities initiative was put forth by the Secretary formally last June. It was talked about at the NATO informal in September. There have been a series of conferences and meetings since then. And what the alliance will do is it will focus on the kinds of problems or creating the kinds of capabilities for the kinds of problems it expects to see in the future. Those are problems outside the area of the NATO countries themselves. Those are problems where there will have to be attacks with precision guided munitions where the effort might have to be sustained and where there can be issues of survivability. So there are a series of short-term and long-term initiatives on the mobility such as the use of sea and air lift, cooperative and shared use of sea and air lift among allies. There will be on the logistics and sustainability side, the establishment of a multi-national joint logistics center by the end of 1999. The greater acquisition of precision guided munitions by the alliance, greater survivability with greater capabilities to detect chemical and biological actions by any opponent of the alliance and a greater focus on interoperable C-3, command, control and communications.

With respect to the Weapons of Mass Destruction initiative, you have all heard the Secretary talk about some of the problems that have occurred and could occur. The attack in the Japanese subway, the attempt at using chemical attack at [the] World Trade Center, the obvious problem caused by Saddam Hussein's weaponization of chemical and biological weapons. And the alliance will seek to be able to respond to these types of problems through the Weapons of Mass Destruction initiative, the WMD initiative. That will focus on three main things: increased intelligence sharing; increased military readiness to operate in a WMD environment, suits and the like; and increased cooperation among allies if there were actually a WMD event. What we have sometimes talked is consequence management, to use the jargon word, how do you deal with the problem if it actually occurs.

The last point on terrorism -- it's an obvious problem. We've had the example with respect to our own forces at Khobar Towers. The State Department obviously had a terrible problem in Kenya and Tanzania. And so the key issues are one of force protection, two, how do you respond to a terrorist attack, three, how do you reduce the effect of any such attack by passive defense and the like and four, just as in the WMD initiative, how do you share information so that you can prevent terror and respond and have the militaries do it.

On the terrorism side, the military generally speaking would not be what is sometimes called the first responder. There are civil authorities that already do this kind of thing in all countries, FBI in our country, for example, and comparable organizations in others. But the militaries can have a role. And certainly, if there is a significant terrorist attack, the so-called first responders, the police and the firemen, could be overwhelmed, and then the military would be expected to be called in to support them. So what the approach is is to have these initiatives give the alliance real world capabilities to, in fact, respond to problems of the future. These would be the kinds of capabilities that would support the strategic concept. If you want to go into that, I'll be glad to. But the focus is on what we're actually going to do and what we'll have the forces be ready to do.

With that, let me take your questions.

Q: Does the Secretary plan, is there going to be any meeting -- generally at a meeting like this, your heads of state and your foreign ministers or front row players generally take a back row seat. Are all the defense ministers going to meet on Kosovo, or are they going to hold a general meeting of defense ministers (inaudible) is he going to have a meeting over here of defense ministers to discuss Kosovo from the military standpoint?

A: There's going to be a heads of state meeting on Kosovo, which if I recall correctly is Friday morning, and it's going to go for about three hours. You can get the exact time. There is also planned to be a ministers of defense meeting Friday afternoon. The final details aren't worked out as to the exact time or place. It might be here; it might be some place else just because of the problems of moving around the city. But I expect that there will be that meeting. And certainly, I would expect that they would talk about Kosovo. They also might talk about other things.

Q: Will they talk about -- do you think they'll talk about using ground troops in Kosovo?

A: I don't think anyone in the alliance is at that point yet. You have heard, again, the President, Secretary, Secretary of State and the national security advisor about half an hour ago talk about this very issue. I think our expectation is that we would continue on the air campaign.

Q: Obviously, some of the issues are new members. We have three new members this time. Is there, going to be any consideration or discussion of adding new members? And specifically, has the war in the Balkans prompted discussion of having Albania join NATO?

A: In addition to the three members that just recently joined, the alliance is committed to an open door. It's committed to working with all of these countries who are so-called aspirants to make it possible for them to join. There will be a specific program, the name, and I think it will stay the name, is called the Membership Action Plan, which will help them focus on what they need to do to become members in due course. But I don't anticipate that there will be anything specifically this summit with respect to additional new members certainly not being picked.

Q: Follow up then regarding Albania. Is the U.S. building any bases in Albania right now?

A: No, the U.S. is not building any bases. You know because it's public that we're sending the Apaches over, and obviously, we have to build an operating area. But if I take the word "bases" to mean what you're talking about as something permanent as opposed to an operating area for the Apaches, no. We're also committed potentially to putting a refugee camp, so there's also construction. But again, given the way I understand what you're talking about, no.

Q: Is this a spearhead, the Apaches and their protective forces, is this a spearhead for having ground forces from NATO near, at least near the combat zone?

A: Let me let -- let me let Ken deal with the spearhead question. The answer is no, but why don't we try and see if we've got any questions on the things that I want to --

Q: (Inaudible) Kosovo and what's happening there has had an effect on the relationship between the members of NATO now that it's actually under way?

A: Do we have any questions on any of these issues about Defense Capabilities, WMD and the like?

Q: It's not clear to me. Are you saying that these initiatives are going to be -- do you expect that these initiatives will actually be adopted formally at the summit and then carried through with actions from here on, or is it going to be discussed.

A: Yes, they'll all be adopted at the summit, and they'll all have implementation plans. So for example, on the Defense Capabilities initiative, there will be created a so-called high level steering group that will implement it. And in addition, you will have specific targets of things to do like the multi-national logistics center is sort of the logistic part of the combined joint task force operation. And obviously, you can, just as when we go to deal with Kosovo, we had to move forces over. You also have to move a logistic base. And this will allow the alliance to do that more quickly.

Q: Mr. Secretary, a few moments ago, Secretary Albright said the NATO summit will focus (inaudible) Greece and Turkey. (Inaudible) in the Balkans. How do you plan to address this issue as DoD during the summit?

A: I'm going to hold that question and stick with the three things that I talked about first.

Q: Could you talk about the complexities of tying, especially with the military operation now ongoing, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in? Do you see the Warsaw Pact -- can't expect that they would have the right C3 to work with NATO. How is that being addressed operationally?

A: We undertook, I think you know, to do an assessment with respect to each of those countries to make sure that they could be integrated and reinforced and defended under Article V if necessary. Those are called the minimum military requirements. We also, beyond the formality of it, have been working with them for years, both in the Partnership for Peace and bilaterally so that we have connectivity with each of these countries, which are able to work with them. We've also worked with them in Bosnia. All of them have provided forces in Bosnia. And so, the issue of being able to work with them is not really a question. What really is an issue is how much interoperability, not whether there's any. There's a reasonable amount. We think we can do a lot better.

Q: You're a lawyer, right?

A: I'm the Assistant Secretary.

Q: What is the legal justification or basis for NATO bombing a sovereign country?

A: We're going to do Kosovo in the next here.

Q: Another question on the new members, Czech Republic and Hungary. How, if at all, does the, this is straining my brain a little bit, CFCE (sic) agreement affect the introduction of conventional forces in those countries?

A: CFE -- conventional forces.

Q: Is that a rub at all in introducing (inaudible) forces into those countries?

A: Just as a technical matter, it doesn't happen to cover this area. But even if it did, it doesn't bar movement. There are limitations and ceilings. One of the things we've done in working on a so-called adaptation of the CFE treaty is to make sure there's sufficient flexibility to allow these kinds of things to occur.

Q: It does not cover those countries.

A: Just to make sure we're clear, the particular countries in the Balkans that we're talking about. Right, they just don't happen to be members.

Q: NATO's taken an awful lot of flack for operating outside what people perceive to be NATO's area of operations. Is there any movement at this conference to formalize what NATO's AOR might be?

A: NATO's AOR in the old terms is the actual area of the countries that are in NATO, 16, now 19. This is a non-formal term; there's the area of interest, if you will. What Bosnia showed is that NATO will operate outside NATO's own boundaries. And the reason for that is because it's in the interest of the national security interest of all the countries to do so. The strategic concept that will be proved will, if you will, formalize that NATO will take action when it deems that it's in its interest to do so outside its area as well, of course, collective defense for the countries. So the answer to the question is yes and that will be done through the strategic concept, the adoption of the strategic concept.

Q: Balkans conference seemed to have reinforced Russian fears about NATO. They've pulled their officers back from Brussels. Could you comment on that? What are you trying to do to get the Russians back involved --

A: I think again, as you know from stories you all have written, and in any event, what's in the media, we're in continuous contact with the Russians. As Secretary Cohen's pointed out, the President's pointed out, the Russians participated in Rambouillet. They were in support of the political agreement. We came to a difference, obviously, on the issue whether or not and how to use a force to implement the agreement. There is constant contact. Secretary Albright talked with her counterpart -- I think today is Tuesday -- last week, I believe. There are phone calls and the like. The President talks to President Yeltsin. I mean, again, I can't tell you more on the specifics then you can probably tell me.

Q: Any Russians coming to this summit, representatives at any level?

A: I don't anticipate -- at any level, I don't know, but I don't anticipate any high level delegation.

Q: Let me try another approach.

A: It's only fair, it's a press conference.

Q: This has to do with the solidarity and the viability of NATO after 50 years. There were some, endless on the television last weekend that were talking about, well, NATO will not survive if there's not a decisive victory in Kosovo, and it sounds like a lot of bull to me. What would be your reaction?

A: I think that what you're seeing so far is that the alliance has made decisions together and stuck together, and all the leaders said we'll continue to stick together.

Q: The Ukraine has been critical of some of NATO's activities lately in Kosovo. What's being done at the summit to try to smooth relations with Ukraine?

A: The Ukraine, obviously, is a sovereign country. It's entitled to say what it chooses to say. What is happening at the summit is that there will be a separate NATO-Ukraine meeting. If I recall correctly, it's on Saturday afternoon. But in any event, it is what it is. And that meeting will work on enhancing the relationships between NATO and Ukraine. Obviously, what we want to have occur is a Europe, a whole Europe that is dedicated to working toward the same kind of values as the NATO countries are and that the countries all participate in building the peace. Ukraine was engaged, as you recall, in Bosnia, and we would hope that they would help with respect to the problem in Kosovo.

I'm just going to ask one more time, any more questions on this? The Secretary will be extremely interested to --

Q: How detailed do you expect this agreement to be on capabilities for the future such as guided weapons and things? Do you expect just general goals to be set and study groups to be initiated?

A: No.

Q: And will this address -- these guided weapons -- will this address the fear that many nations have especially in Europe, NATO nations have that U.S. military is outstripping the rest of NATO in terms of advanced capabilities?

A: The agreement is actually fairly detailed. There are actual so-called decision sheets that will set forth particulars. Those decision sheets, if you will, go on top of reports that the allies have agreed upon. So you'll have particular things approved. Let me see if I can -- I can't do it by memory. I don't want to waste anyone's time. I mean, for example, they will talk about things, just in terms of engagement, I already mentioned precision guided munitions, but also things like capabilities for suppression of enemy air defenses, support jamming, electronic countermeasures, combat identification, reconnaissance, stand off capabilities and the like. So what you will do is have an agreement that's where they ought to go. And at the end of the day, there have to be national decisions taken to implement the actual NATO decisions, just as is true in any force goal.

Q: But the idea is to spread these capabilities across NATO --

A: Correct.

Q: -- across the spectrum rather than have them rest mainly with the United States. Is that the idea?

A: It is. And a lot of the countries have undertaken to make decisions to change the nature of their forces. The U.K. underwent a strategic defense review in the last year. Germany is undergoing a similar review now. France is changing the nature of its forces. Italy has a like review. The United States has already gone through all this, but if all these countries do the kinds of things that they say that they are interested in doing, they will have forces that are more flexible, more mobile, more able to do precision guided attack. And this initiative is designed to help guide that overall effort. Prime Minister Blair, as you recall, has talked about Europe having greater capabilities. Well, that call for greater capabilities is exactly what this Defense Capabilities initiative is about.

Q: Related question. I think the only aircraft -- there's several of AWACS aircraft NATO as a collective group actually owns. Is there any thought of NATO as a collective group purchasing assets in that way to fill some of these things like reconnaissance or jamming or whatever?

A: There is some discussion of that. You'll remember that there was a look at NATO buying JSTARS aircraft. There's some discussion about the possibility of --whether it's through NATO or through nations is not decided -- but having greater mobility aircraft being purchased. Right at the moment, the British, for example, are going forward in leasing, undertaking to lease -- I don't think it's occurred yet -- four C-17s. Whether other countries would do that on a national basis or there would be a NATO fleet is undecided, but it's certainly something people are thinking about.

Q: Is there any missile defense component to this?

A: In this particular set of initiatives, there is not. But in the alliance as a whole, as you may know, there is a group that's working on that, and they have approved what I would call an early version of an architecture. So there has already been activity on TMD in the alliance. Then, obviously, you have the national programs. The United States, Italy and Germany have the so-called MEADS program, which we've just put $150 million in for the next three years. They'll put a comparable, well, proportionally comparable amount of money into it.

Q: But in the final analysis, as you pointed out, it's up to the individual countries, on what they're going to do. For instance, Britain now can fire TLAMs from a submarine and one assumes eventually from its warships. But other countries -- as of now, the United States and Britain are the only countries in the alliance able to fire --

A: That's right. At the end of the day, it's critical for countries to provide the resources, structure the forces, undertake the training and acquire the systems that allow [them] to do things. NATO, with limited exception -- AWACS is one example -- has a limited amount of hardware assets. What it has is a command structure and political process that allows national assets to be provided to the NATO commander, and that's in fact, what's been done. If the countries don't have them, they can't undertake them. The Secretary has talked about the importance of these countries doing that. And this initiative, the Defense Capabilities initiative is a focused effort to have these countries buy the most highly leveraged and effective types of assets that we can see given the kinds of problems that we expect the alliance will face in the future.

Q: Speaking of finance, the U.S. is raising $6 billion. I think that's to pay for our part, our people and our operations. How much are the other partners in NATO total going to raise and contribute?

A: This is everybody pays for their own, so whatever the cost of their forces are, they'll pay. It's the same as in Bosnia.

Thank you.