Cohen to Meet with NATO Allies
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2000 Defense Secretary William S. Cohen will attend the NATO Defense Ministerial Dec. 5 and 6 in Brussels, Belgium.
Cohen will discuss NATO force structure and the European Security and Defense Identity planning progress. He will also meet with the Russian and Ukrainian defense ministers.
The ministerial will "focus heavily on the kinds of forces that NATO ought to have -- more deployable, more lethal, more survivable -- and will be a change away from the in- place territorial kinds of forces that NATO had in the Cold War,” said Franklin Kramer, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.
Cohen and his fellow ministers may approve a defense planning process that incorporates the countries of both NATO and the European Union. “The secretary put this in terms of having a planning process at 23, because that's the total number of countries in both of those institutions,” Kramer said.
Cohen will also discuss NATO’s Defense Capabilities Initiative. Kramer said the outlook is good for the DCI, signed at the alliance's Washington Summit in April 1999. The allies are investing in sealift, airlift and precision- guided munitions, he said. The allies are also changing their force structures to match the alliance’s needs for a more mobile and flexible punch.
Cohen is expected to bring up U.S. concerns about Russia’s possible sale of missiles and other military equipment to Iran when he meets with Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev.
This is Cohen’s last NATO meeting as U.S. defense secretary, but, Kramer said, anything agreed to in this meeting will probably be followed by any new administration.
“I don't know which new administration we'll have, … but if you looked in this particular set of issues, there is a tremendous overlap between where Vice President (Al Gore) was and where Gov. (George Bush) was during the campaign,” Kramer said. “I am not going to speak for either of them precisely, but my anticipation is that there's going to be a lot of continuity between what's been set out in the four years that Secretary Cohen has been the secretary, and whoever will be the next secretary of defense.
“And the reason is because the interests are the same,” he continued. “Everyone wants NATO to be the major force in Europe, from a security point of view.”
He said while all administrations put their own stamp on issues, “one of the hallmarks of what went on in the Cold War years was a tremendous continuity between administrations. I anticipate that will be true once again.”