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Warsaw Meetings May Presage Rumsfeld's Agenda at Prague NATO Summit (Revised)

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2002 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld leaves Sunday to attend NATO ministerial meetings in Warsaw, Poland, a senior DoD official said here today.

The Warsaw NATO meeting is the last major ministerial-level event NATO ministers can use to prepare for the NATO's November summit in Prague, Czech Republic, the official told Pentagon reporters.

He ticked off main topics to be discussed in Warsaw in preparation for Prague: new NATO membership; new relationships, such as with Russia and Ukraine; and new NATO capabilities.

Rumsfeld is expected to propose creating a NATO Response Force during the Prague summit, the official said. That new force would provide NATO the capability to deploy perhaps a brigade-sized unit on short notice to perform either low- or high-intensity military missions. He said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America and new defense realities of the 21st century sparked the idea of having such a force.

The response force is an upshot of a NATO capabilities initiative that came out of NATO meetings in June, the official said.

The initiative's first component would include the ability to rapidly deploy and sustain NATO forces outside the organization's traditional European area of operations, he explained. The second part is an ongoing NATO command- structure review to streamline resources and to provide agility and sustainability.

The official noted the new capabilities would involve allies joining together and committing specific forces for duty at specific times and dates. He said NATO could use the new capabilities and command structure review initiative to produce the new response force, with land, air and sea assets that could be deployed outside of Europe.

While in Warsaw, the official noted, Rumsfeld would also meet with senior Polish government and military leaders. The secretary is slated to return to Washington Wednesday night.

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