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NATO Countries Have Same Goal, Says Secretary-General

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Oct. 9, 2003 – The message from the NATO defense ministerial conference is that "in a dangerous world, we need real, deployable forces and not paper armies," NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said here today.

Twenty-seven defense ministers -- NATO's current 19 members, ministers from the seven countries that have been invited to join in spring 2004, and the Russian defense minister all agree, Robertson said in his remarks closing the meeting. "Twenty-seven ministers (are) singing the same song,"

The secretary-general said the meeting was dedicated to discussions of transformation, usability and NATO operations.

He said Dynamic Response '07, a study seminar to explore what transformation means for the alliance and how the NATO Response Force could be used in future crises and conflicts, has been followed by discussions on what NATO needs to implement.

While the alliance has not yet met all its goals for the NATO Response Force and the combined capabilities commitment, Robertson said ministers agree, "We're well on the way."

Transformation is the central pillar of NATO's future effectiveness, he continued. "Equally important is the challenge to make these forces more deployable, usable and surviving," he added.

Robertson said the ministers also agreed that deployability figures of 55,000 troops from almost 2.5 million soldiers and reservists from non-U.S. members were "unacceptable." NATO must be able to field more than these 55,000 troops without being overstretched, he added.

NATO will leave Colorado Springs with a new comprehensive program of work, said the secretary-general. This will include an end-to-end review of decision-making, an overhaul of the force generation process and a range of new output measures to increase usability across the board, he said.

Ministers also took a long, hard look at NATO operations, said Robertson. "This is an alliance ensuring stability from the straits of Gibraltar through the Balkans and Afghanistan," he added.

The ministers also discussed the challenges of expanding the international security assistance force in Afghanistan beyond Kabul.

NATO delivers, said Robertson. "Just ask those who benefit from the NATO patrols in the Mediterranean, ask the people of Bosnia and Kosovo who are at last able to live in peace," he added.

With a transformed alliance and more usable forces, NATO will be able to do even better in the future, concluded the secretary-general.

"This meeting demonstrated that 26 NATO members (current and future) are committed to the same goal modern forces making a real contribution in the 21st century."

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