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DoD News Briefing - Update on NATO Defense Minister's Mtg - Dec. 17, 1996

Presenters: Admiral Garnett, Deputy, Supreme Allied Commander, NATO Allied Command Atlantic
December 17, 1996 1:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, December 17, 1996 - 1:30 p.m.

Admiral Garnett serves as Deputy, Supreme Allied Commander, NATO Allied Command Atlantic. Also participating in this briefing is Captain Mike Doubleday, DASD (PA).

Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon. I have a couple of announcements.

As most of you know, the NATO Defense Ministers meeting ends tomorrow in Brussels, Belgium. We are fortunate today to have with us the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, Vice Admiral Ian Garnett, of the United Kingdom Navy. He has just returned from Brussels.

Admiral Garnett has also been extensively involved in issues relating to Allied Command Atlantic and also the Partnership for Peace initiatives.

He is here today to provide you an update on the conference that went on last week and the challenges facing NATO as it approaches its 50th anniversary. With that, I'll turn over the microphone to Admiral Garnett.

Admiral Garnett: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I stand before you as a European working for a U.S. CINC in an international headquarters in CONUS. There's only one of me. I'm unique.

What I want to do this afternoon is to bring you up to date with what happened last week in Brussels, because I attended the NAC and the NACC, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, on behalf of General Sheehan, which is what I normally do. And although I'm sure that some of you may be familiar with the communique that came out, you may not have had time to read it. So I'd like to run through some of those issues, and then I can answer any questions you might have.

The issues I'm going to mention are the ones you see on this board. The whole business of new members, enlargement, expanding the Partnership for Peace program, which has been very successful, the special relationships that NATO is developing with both Russia and Ukraine, the whole business of command and control of NATO operations and more important, WEU-led operations reflecting ESDI within NATO, the resources issues which is beginning to bubble up now, and then finally, finish with the summit.


Enlargement, I'm sure you're familiar with. A number of countries aspire to join NATO and NATO has said that, of course, the Alliance is open to new members. It has, of course, welcomed new members twice in the last 50 years. But the points that were made last week at the NAC were that all new members would be new members, full members in all respects -- there will be no halfway house. That there were no plans to deploy nuclear weapons in the territories of new members, and I think Russia was very pleased to hear that. That some time next year they would invite one or more countries to start negotiations for accession to the Alliance, and that once those negotiations had been completed successfully, then they hoped to welcome one or more new members in 1999, the 50th birthday of NATO.

The dialogue that would take place between the summit next year and 1999 would probably be on a 16+1 format. And of course, most importantly, and in accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, the Alliance would remain open for further accession after the first tranche.

Moving on to Partnership for Peace, a very successful program, as I mentioned just now. But people recognize that it needs to be built no. It needs to be broadened, it needs to be deepened, it needs to be expanded. We must provide opportunities for partners to join in the process of political consultation, particularly regarding those NATO-led PFP operations in which some partners take part -- rather like they're taking part in Bosnia today.

We must expand the potential for partner missions. At the moment, it's very much based on search and rescue, disaster relief, and such like. But the recognition within NATO, expressed at the NAC last week, that we must expand the Partnership for Peace program to the full range of the new NATO missions -- particularly peace support operations. We must involve partners in the operational planning of that involvement, and perhaps we have to expand the PFP process to regional cooperation between partners. This is a point made very much by Sweden.

We need to broaden exercise programs, involve partners in NATO exercises that are based on non-Article 5 missions. Those are missions that don't involve collective defense of NATO territory, which, of course, is the Article 5 mission. And we involve partners more in the peacetime work of NATO. There are many strands to that.

We're going to offer diplomatic missions in NATO to a number of countries. For example, in the next year or so we are likely to see Russian missions at SACLANT down in Norfolk, and at Mons, as well as, of course, developing the Russian presence in Brussels. Now whether those Russian missions are expanded down the command chain remains to be seen. At the moment, I think the mood in NATO is one step at a time.

There was universal agreement last week of the need to establish an Atlantic Partnership Council, known for short as APC. This is a new cooperative mechanism to achieve greater coherence between the Partnership for Peace program and the North Atlantic Cooperative Council. Now just what that will consist of, what the mechanisms will be, remains to be seen. That's all to be worked out.

Moving on now to some very important special relationships - - all relationships NATO has with countries are special, but some are more special than others.

Russia, of course, has a very important part to play in European security, and we recognize that in NATO. There was much debate last week, both in the NAC and the NACC, about how we build a special relationship with Russia. For the moment, and I attended the meeting on Wednesday morning at the 16+1, NATO Foreign Ministers with the Russian Foreign Minister, that was a very helpful discussion. Russia, of course, reiterated opposition to NATO enlargement, twice, but without quite the conviction that I detected at earlier meetings. But Russia welcomed a charter to express a new NATO-Russian relationship, and that would deal with principles, specific areas, cooperation and the mechanisms of how NATO and Russia work together. The SecGen is going to negotiate with Russia on behalf of the Alliance.

But of course it's not only Russia NATO sees as requiring a special relationship. We also recognize that there needs to be a special relationship with Ukraine. More Partnership for Peace activity in Ukraine, for example, and certainly SACLANT is planning a Partnership for Peace exercise in 1997 based on logistics support that hopefully will take place somewhere in Ukraine.

Finally we touched on the Mediterranean, an area which is not involved in the Partnership for Peace program at the moment, but which we recognize in NATO as being strategically very important. There are developing relations and a developing dialogue with countries such as Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. At the NAC last week it was recognized that we had to build on this Mediterranean dialogue to involve NATO with those countries to make sure that we achieved a secure Mediterranean area as well as an area to the east of Europe.

The NAC then moved on to discuss the new command and control within NATO. One of the issues that was taken forward a long way, Berlin early this year, and we came back to last week with the whole business of the European Security and Defense Identity, which, as you know, is ESDI for short.

Essentially what we're talking about is the ability for European members of NATO to carry out operations under the political and strategic leadership of the WEU. That, of course, involves a lot of detail. Which bits of NATO, which bits of NATO command structure could the WEU call upon? Which staff members of NATO could work for WEU? Which assets, NATO assets, could be allowed to be part of a WEU-led operation? And what particular missions do we envisage the WEU tackling? All that is being worked on at the moment.

With regard to the new command structure in NATO, the long term study, there wasn't a great deal of discussion because there is broad agreement at the moment, that's subject to political agreement, of course, that within the Atlantic Command area there's not going to be much change, still three regions, perhaps. But within the Allied Command Europe (ACE), it is a much more difficult issue. There are far more countries involved and there is no agreement yet as to whether there should be two or three regions.

The Combined Joint Task Force, the CJTF, was emphasized last week as being a very important aspect of the new NATO and new NATO missions. Three headquarters have been nominated to develop the Joint Task Force doctrine and procedures: a striking fleet based down in Norfolk, Virginia, is one of them; and in 1998, there will be a major NATO exercise, Strong Resolve '98, which will hopefully prove the new CJTF concept.

Finally, before I come on to mentioning the summit, resources, as I hinted at earlier, is attracting people's attention more and more. We all recognize that defense budgets are more likely to reduce than increase. We know that within Europe there is considerable pressure on European budgets as a whole with regard to the EMU criteria, and perhaps a squeeze will come on defense budgets any more. We know in NATO our missions and commitments will increase, and therefore, we have to find a way of squaring the circle. We need an investment strategy, we need to establish priorities, we need to make optimum use of the resources that countries bring to NATO and we need to identify the cost of our new commitments, such as enlargement. There was a lot of discussion last week, rather more than I'd heard before, about these issues. I know that in 1997 the Secretary General and a number of the permanent representatives will tackle the whole business of resources and investment strategy, and that's very encouraging. It's something that we, in fact, have been urging for some time.

Finally, turning to the summit, which as you may know is going to happen in Madrid July 8th and 9th, 1997. The agenda is quite a demanding one. And when you think that anything agreed at the summit will have to be agreed by Ministers at least a month before that, and agreed by staff a month before that, there's not much time to agree on these issues. But hopefully at the summit heads of state will agree on a new command structure. They will finalize arrangements for ESDI. They will invite one or more countries to start negotiations for joining NATO. They will further establish an enhanced PFP program based on the Atlantic Partnership Council. They will perhaps develop even more the special relationships with Russia and the Ukraine -- whether or not a charter will be ready for signing by then remains to be seen. They will further enhance the Mediterranean dialogue. They will develop more mechanisms for conflict prevention and crisis management. And they will concentrate, as ever, on efforts against proliferation.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's all I have to offer you, but I'd be glad to answer any questions you may have or amplify any of the points I've made.

Q: You mentioned on resources and commitment of money to future projects, is there a thought process underway about who will pay or how new members, when you enlarge, when you invite them in, does NATO also offer them help, financial help or otherwise, in bringing them in, bringing them up to standards?

A: Some of you may be aware of the Rand study which had a go at estimating the cost of enlargement. There are a number of studies. It depends very much on the assumptions you put in. No one really knows what the total bill will be when a country joins NATO. That is to be discussed in the process of the 16+1 negotiations next year. When that is established, and it does depend very much on the assumptions, the degree to which you need to invest in that country's infrastructure, the degree to which that country perceives it needs help to make its forces interoperable with NATO, to give you two examples.

I'm sure there will be a compromise, and clearly the countries joining NATO will contribute some sources, and I imagine NATO, too, will contribute some. But we are some way from agreeing on the details.

Q: There will be a cost to the present NATO members of enlargement.

A: I would envisage so. But we don't know the details yet. Personally, I'd be surprised if there wasn't. But it may not be as large as we may think. It does depend very much on the assumptions you put into the equation.

Q: It depends on whether you're asking for (inaudible)...

A: It does, indeed. But I wouldn't like to say it's going to be a huge cost or a large cost. There will be a cost.

Q: What's the strategy now for moving off dead center of every organization and major subordinate command and command of AFSOUTH?

A: The whole business of who commands AFSOUTH is above my pay grade. Let me comment.

It is a very important issue, we all know that. I don't see a solution at the moment. I just hope that staffs within NATO and within Paris and Washington will be able to arrive at a suitable compromise.

Now it is very much up to the Presidents of both countries whether any compromise arrived at will meet their requirements. I don't think anyone has a solution at the moment.

Q: My question was, whether on a senior military staff military level within NATO, is there any discussion of how to work this out? Can you guys make any recommendations on how to get this moving?

A: I suspect the discussion is more between national staffs rather than NATO staff. That's really where it has to be. Having got to the presidential level, it's really a matter for those two nations.

Q: Why no nuclear weapons on territories of new members?

A: Because NATO does not see it as being necessary.

Q: Is that subject future to negotiation and change if NATO decides...

A: No, they made it very clear in the communique there are no plans, no intentions to deploy nuclear weapons on the territories of new members.

Q: What about other installations, non-nuclear?

A: This will be subject to the 16+1 debate. When NATO decides whether to invite country A or B to be a new member, then we sit down with that country and we debate the detail of the infrastructure that both NATO and the country perceives as being necessary.

For example, if you're to retain the ability to deploy NATO aircraft to support that country or to operate from that country, you have to make sure the airfield where they're going to operate can support the aircraft. That's the sort of detailed discussion which we'll be getting into and which will determine the cost.

Q: What countries or country is likely to be invited?

A: Speaking on behalf of the countries who were sitting around the table, I'm sure that countries such as Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldavia, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, a number of countries, in fact about a dozen, expressed a concern, a willingness, a readiness, an eagerness to join NATO. Now that's their perception. That's their... For example, Romania said it was their top foreign policy objective. That's what they want. It will be a matter for NATO to decide how many it chooses to invite to become new members initially, but it has made very clear that that is not the only step. It will be a continuing process. The door will remain open for further accession in the future.

Q: Any sense of who's...Which country is best prepared to...

A: At the meeting last week there was no sense of who will be in the first tranche. There was no explicit statement of who would be invited. There was a very fruitful and friendly discussion around a very full NACC table about this whole business, but not in any definitive way.

Q: On nuclear weapons -- What is the current nuclear strategy of NATO? According to some reports the actual number of nuclear weapons, warheads, have been significantly decreased right now.

A: The policy for nuclear weapons in NATO is it is part of our armory, putting it simply.

Thank you.

Captain Doubleday: Thank you very much, Admiral Garnett.

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