Admiral Addresses NATO Transformation Challenges, Solutions
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
NORFOLK, Va., Dec. 13, 2012 With fiscal challenges affecting the U.S. and Europe, many NATO member nations are bracing for reductions in military capabilities and forces, a senior official said here yesterday.
U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, deputy chief of staff for capability development for NATO’s Allied Command Transformation based here, said the two-day Norfolk 2012 Chiefs of Transformation Conference enabled command officials and NATO members to work together on their transformation priorities. The network unites hundreds of NATO partner, industry and government agency professionals to share best practices and expand collaboration.
“The conference is a culmination of a year-plus of work in the rearview mirror and the beginning of a year-plus of work in the headlamps,” Pottenger said, noting the commitment of NATO’s 28 member nations and 17 partner countries.
Amid an uncertain global economic climate many NATO member nations are bracing for reductions in military capabilities and forces.
“There is certainly anxiety, but also realism in capitals in doing what they can now and setting the stage for the future,” Pottenger said.
At the conference, European nations discussed strategic priorities and how they’ll provide security and defense with reduced forces. Efficiencies programs such as Smart Defense and the Connected Forces Initiative are designed to allay anxieties and provide opportunities to mitigate fiscal concerns.
The admiral acknowledged that every NATO organization or agency will face cuts as well as mandates to become more cost-effective.
“We’ll have about 80 percent of the equipment we have now through the next decade,” Pottenger said. “But we know that nations don’t have the ability to invest in new equipment and capabilities right now.”
Pottenger said the remaining 20 percent of the calculation represents either future capabilities or investment necessary in existing capabilities to keep them from becoming obsolete
While cyberdefense, ballistic missile defense and improved explosive device technologies will be imperatives, the admiral believes training, education and under-used resources such as reserve forces will also emerge as mainstays.
Many European nations still use a somewhat “Cold War mobilization construct,” similar to how U.S. forces mobilized in decades past, Pottenger said.
“We’ve completely reimagined how we use our reserve forces in the United States and so have some other nations,” she said. “Let’s share those best practices and organize existing forces to deliver more effect.”
The admiral also recognized the significance of joint and coalition partnerships and the need to retain the teamwork concept as the Afghanistan mission winds down.
“The International Security Assistance Force] is a stunning example of joint and coalition success in operations,” Pottenger said. “We won’t have that compelling factor of doing stuff together anymore -- the boots on the ground.”