NATO Commander Urges Unity Within Alliance
American Forces Press Service
MONS, Belgium, Feb. 17, 2009 NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe stressed the need for international cooperation and partnership to members of the alliance’s Parliamentary Assembly here yesterday.
During discussions with the assembly, Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock emphasized the assembly members’ role in advocating for NATO’s political will to rise and strengthen into one, which matches the alliance’s mandate for addressing collective security.
“The importance of your role as a forum for dialogue and consensus-building on matters of defense and security is becoming increasingly important,” he told assembly members.
The general invoked sentiments expressed by alliance political leaders at the Feb. 7-8 Munich Security Conference: renewed partnership, increased international cooperation, NATO as the central anchor of the transatlantic alliance and the need to do more in existing operations.
While the threats and challenges the alliance should address are agreed upon, “we do not necessarily agree on the who, the what, the where, the when and the how,” the general said.
“As we go forward, we will need to resolve the seeming disconnect between our level of ambition and our political will, which is at the crux of Allied Command operations’ ability to deliver security,” Craddock said
He congratulated assembly members on their resolution urging nations to redouble efforts to fill shortfalls and eliminate caveats -- restrictions some countries place on how NATO can use its forces -- but he further exhorted them to take on other immediate challenges he assesses are critical to progress.
“The current and evolving security environment -- both within and beyond the Euro-Atlantic area -- calls for expeditionary capabilities rather than widespread permanent military presence,” he said. “Whether operating ‘in area’ or ‘out of area,’ the requirements are consistent. We must be capable of rapid response in times of crisis.”
While acknowledging the need to improve and develop military capabilities, Craddock emphasized that policies and processes also had to evolve from those created during the Cold War -- policies and processes that hamper nations’ -- and therefore NATO’s -- ability to invest in expeditionary capabilities.
“To be truly expeditionary, truly capable of rapid response, our internal processes and headquarters elements must function more effectively and efficiently,” he said.
“Our alliance continues to operate with a ‘costs lie where they fall’ policy,” said Craddock, explaining that deployment costs fall to those nations committing and deploying troops. “That means nations choosing to
bear the burden militarily are the same nations bearing the burden monetarily.”
An expeditionary alliance must find a better way, he said. NATO needs to explore using common funding, in which deployment costs are shared among all nations, thereby reducing the strain on national defense budgets, he said.
Craddock wrapped up by commending the assembly’s 2009 agenda, which will address cyber defense, missile defense, energy security, NATO-Russia relations, NATO-European relations and civil-military cooperation in Afghanistan, among others.
“I see you have not opted for the easy road,” Craddock said. “I applaud your willingness to meet these challenges head-on.”
(From a Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe news release.)